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Newsletter – Craftsmanship, between creation and traditional techniques



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Creative Crafts Across Europe

In the delicate dance between tradition and innovation, Europe’s heritage crafts stand as the keepers of a profound historical legacy. Every chisel mark, brushstroke, or woven thread, bridges epochs, offering a tangible connection to our rich (in)tangible cultural heritage. Craftspeople, passing on their skills across generations, mold with their hands not mere objects but living narratives bridging the past, present and future.

Creations are not mere objects:

They reflect the quest to understand the complexity of the world

In the world of craftsmanship, ceramic stands as a testament to both tradition and innovation. Its plastic nature allows artists to shape it into intricate forms, embedding each piece with a unique story to tell.

credits reserved to: Fabienne Withofs

Among these artisans, Fabienne Withof emerges as a master storyteller. Influenced by her love for objects and architecture, Withof’s work transcends the boundaries of conventional ceramics. Each stroke of her hand, each exchange of ideas, becomes a journey into the depths of clay, where structure, deconstruction, and reconstruction intertwine to challenge the very essence of materiality.

credits reserved to: Fabienne Withofs

credits reserved to: Fabienne Withofs

Weaving Heritage:

Transmitting the tradition of basketry

Basket weaving is a time-honored craft that dates back thousands of years, found in cultures across the globe. Using natural materials such as reeds, edar, willows, cattail, sweetgrass… depending on the locations, artisans create(d) functional and decorative baskets, but also other objects, through a variety of weaving techniques.

In the village of Mijas in Andalusia, Sonia Lekuona López (MUSKETA) has taken the responsibility to safeguard and transmit the long lasting heritage of esparto basket weaving. For over two years she was tutored by Francisco Tamayo Moreno, the last master in the region, in order to master the intricate techniques of stitching esparto grass.

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credits reserved to: Sonia Lekuona López (MUSKETA)

Through extensive training also with other experts from Malaga province, Sonia managed, after years of practice, to become a teacher herself. From her School-Workshop in Mijas Pueblo, Sonia is pioneering a new concept of esparto weaving while steadfastly preserving tradition. Her commitment to passing on her knowledge ensures the continuation of this ancient craft, contributing to its generational succession

Wensleydale wool:

Reflection of the tradition and the beauty of the natural world

Felting is an ancient craft that involves matting fibers together to create textiles, with wool being one of the most commonly used materials. This tactile creative expression allows artisans to explore texture, color, and form, resulting in unique and versatile creations.

As a British Wensleydale wool artisan producer, Julia Desch  is committed to preserving felting heritage skills. 

Julia’s profound love for nature serves as a guiding force in her artistic journey. Inspired by the sights, sounds, and sensations of the natural world, Julia channels her passion into crafting hand-dyed and felted textile hangings, sensory wheels (designed to help children with difficulties to calm) , and distinctive garments made from Wensleydale wool fiber.

What sets Julia apart is her dedication to every aspect of her craft. She not only creates her artwork but also cultivates and hand-dyes her own Wensleydale wool fiber.

credits reserved to: Julia Desch

credits reserved to: Julia Desch

Transcendent Clay:

Creative Evolution in Porcelain Mastery

The ancient tradition of clay working, and the allure of this versatile and timeless medium, is an integral part of contemporary creative expression. Such contemporary declinations, far from being a mere modern pursuit, are a continuation of a tradition that spans generations. 

Crafts professionals such as ceramist Marik Korus (France), who approaches the raw qualities of clay through a profound union of technique, and the commitment of challenging the boundaries of such material. Modeling and triturating the clay gives birth to incredible membranes, a veritable ecosystem inspired by the seabed’s micro-organisms magnifying the transparency and lightness of ceramics.

Ostréa. credits reserved to: Marik Korus

Coussin de requin. credits reserved to: Marik Korus

A mobile suspension system composed of 894 porcelain elements strung on 186 wires on 5 levels. Its name was inspired by the upper part of the pearl oyster discovered in Polynesia. Each porcelain element is cut and shaped by hand, giving each piece a unique form. They are then threaded onto nylon wire according to a very precise plan.

Coussin de requin.
This porcelain sculpture was featured on Instagram just out of the kiln, when a Polynesian commented on its name. The piece is built on a hollow base made with a plate, then decorated with a multitude of shaped elements laid one after the other. 2 firings give the piece its distinctive coral-like porcelain color.

The poetics of "Structural Packaging":

Self-supporting techniques for contemporary paper crafts

As European techniques in bookbinding began to flourish in the Middle Ages, very different styles of paper crafts and design developed in northen and southern Europe. Yet, what the binding techniques had in common was the assembling system which relied on sewing supports and holders. Such bindig technique, based on locking support systems, is still common today. 

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credits reserved to: Grégoire Vigneron

In this context, the work of contemporary crafts professionals such as Grégoire Vigneron (Tokowo Reliure), based in Belgium, poses itself as unique and innovative approach to this ancient craft. For instance, his techniques of Paperoko and Paperoŝlo bookbinding deploy only paper, with the intention to create an original, self-supporting binding structure. As such, the sections are assembled directly together, in the tradition of “structural packaging”. The structure requires no intervention other than cutting and folding and is not held together by external elements (glue, ropes, ribbons…). The result is a versatile sculptural object, whose aesthetic blends tradition and creativity.

Technology of the Present for the Crafts of the Future:

Redefining the Art of Jewelry making

For centuries, crafts have materialised as singular objects from the union of the technique and the rich cultural background of craftspeople. In the case of jewelry, the evolution of technique, which made creation of unique crafts possible, traces back to the early times, marked by the discovery of fire, which laid the foundations for welding and amalgamation.

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credits reserved to: Manuel Faustino Fernandez 

Today, emerging technologies like 3D printing in resin, followed by metal casting, offer a revolutionary approach to maintaining the original purity of metals, adhering to the stringent standards such as the 925 law for silver (safeguarding its inherent “nobility”). Such craft technique is the one used by crafts professionals like Manuel Faustino Fernandez (XTRAS-pichi), from Asturias (Spain) a place of historical significance as the site of the first metal melting in the Iberian Peninsula.

Honoring cultural identity in the difficult times:

Weaving krayka ethnic belts, as a way of resilience

Cultural heritage serves as a bridge to the past, anchoring communities in their shared history and identity. It is a source of inner power during difficult times, providing a sense of continuity and belonging. By safeguarding cultural heritage during times of crisis, we not only honor our ancestors’ legacy but also provide a source of hope for generations to come, inspiring resilience, unity, and cultural pride.

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One such heroine is Maryna Tkachenko, an Ukrainian weaver. She weaves on antique floor 4-shaft loom, one small table 4-shaft loom, and a homemade rigid-heddle loom. On these looms, she weaves rugs, ethnic belts (krayka), scarves, and fabrics for clothing or accessories. Since Russian invaded Ukraine, her work has been focused on weaving of ethnic belts (krayka) based on the patterns of antique belts in order to reproduce the Ukrainian cultural heritage and popularise the Ukrainian costume.

Crafting Elegance:

Uniqueness and quality as tangible realities

In the era of fast fashion and over consumerism it is important to find balance and a desire to uplift artisans, guardians of quality and endurance, in a sea of fast fashion pieces.

Meet Teresa Bunting, a weaver of dreams and curator of artistry. She draws inspiration from the whispers of nature and the echoes of culture that envelop her. With her hand, she breathes life into original designs.

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credits reserved to: Teresa Bunting Scarves

Teresa’s artistry does not stop at canvas nor paper! Through the alchemy of technology and tradition, her designs are transmitted onto the finest canvas of all – 100% silk. Collaborating with revered Italian printers, masters of their craft, she entrusts her designs to their capable hands…resulting in unique scarves, kimono and distinctive pieces.


Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art 2024

📣 JEMA 2024, coordinated by the Institut National des Métiers d’Art (INMA). Program: SUR LE BOUT DES DOIGTS – April 2 to 7.

EXHIBITION: Extensions of Imagination

A collaboration between the  Mariemont “Atelier du Livre” and the Craftsmanship Office of the Hainaut Province. Royal Museum of Mariemont.

The exhibition will include moments of encounters, guided tours, and a workshop with Grégoire Vigneron, with a focus on his two techniques: Paperoko and Paperoŝlo.– 22.06.24 to 01.09.24

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