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I’m Marco Montina.

Born with a passion for bicycles, photography, music and much more, as a child I dreamed of being an inventor and today I invent, design and create guitars, concentrating all the knowledge that comes from my passions.

While attending I.S.I.S. Malignani of Udine, where I graduated in mechatronics designing and building a track bicycle frame, I spent the afternoons building my electric guitars in the garage, thinking that one day I could exploit my knowledge and experience of bicycles in the world of lutherie .

I later graduated from the Civica Scuola di Liuteria in Milan, presenting an innovative classical guitar, which features a particular bracing of my design.

I love designing and making new tools. In short, I like to always have something new in mind and… build it.

Today in my workshop, in addition to giving shape to custom-made guitars, I repair, restore and customize different types of musical instruments, with an eye to the requests of customers, who I imagine are as demanding as I am.

Sono Marco Montina.

Nato con il pallino per le biciclette, la fotografia, la musica e molto altro, da piccolo sognavo di fare l’inventore e oggi invento, progetto e realizzo chitarre, concentrando tutte le conoscenze che arrivano dalle mie passioni.

Mentre frequentavo I.S.I.S. Malignani di Udine, dove mi sono diplomato in meccatronica progettando e realizzando un telaio di bicicletta da pista, passavo i pomeriggi a costruire le mie chitarre elettriche in garage, pensando che un giorno avrei potuto sfruttare la mia conoscenza ed esperienza sulle biciclette nel mondo della liuteria.

In seguito mi sono diplomato alla Civica Scuola di Liuteria di Milano, presentando una chitarra classica innovativa, che presenta una particolare incatenatura di mio progetto.

Amo ideare e realizzare nuovi strumenti. Insomma, mi piace avere sempre qualcosa di nuovo in mente e… costruirlo.

Oggi nel mio laboratorio, oltre a dare forma a chitarre su misura, riparo, restauro e personalizzo diversi tipi di strumenti musicali, con un occhio di riguardo alle richieste dei clienti, che immagino esigenti quanto lo sono io.





This interview is part of a series of interviews with European craftspeople conducted in collaboration between FRH, the European network for Religious Heritage, and Mad’in Europe, the network of European fine and traditional crafts and Cultural Heritage restoration professions.

1. Please introduce yourself (profession, area of expertise and years of experience).

We are 2 carpentry masters and teachers of the Centro de los Oficios de León. The trade schools in Spain were an initiative created in the 80’s, they taught traditional trades to unemployed young people. In these structures you could typically find professionals of the field and young people receiving training in heritage restoration. Our school began in 1987, following this tradition.

We have been professors of woodworking and carpentry for more than 30 years. We received the Richard H. Driehaus Building Arts Award in 2022 and obtained high recognition for the work we are doing in recovering and disseminating the Spanish carpentry tradition of “carpintería de armar” or “de lo blanco” (structural carpentry).

We have a very specific construction tradition developed in Spain from the 13th to the 18th century. These series of carpentry structures with strapwork are called Mudejares. There are more than 12,000 trusses of the period catalogued throughout Spain and South America. 

We have been researching on this topic for 22 years, from the works of the Spanish architect and specialist of the matter, Enrique Nuere. We started by building small models and structures, but we are now building large scale structures that can afterwards be installed in buildings, usually churches, in order to restore their damaged roofs and provide them with a very rich and well elaborated ornamental structure. All this while giving training to people who want to learn how to make and restore this kind of structures: students over 18 years old, architects or even heritage lovers.

2. What clients/markets do you work with (are they local, national or international)? Which needs does your work generally tackle? Which are the required skills and certifications that your customers request?

We do this “Carpinteria de armar” works punctually for clients throughout the summer during our summer classes, taking advantage of the agreements we have with associations or individuals. 

We are a municipal school so our city council reaches agreements with neighbourhood councils or individuals who agree to provide us with the materials we need and in exchange we give them back the work doneOnce the course is finished, they take care of the installation of the work. This way we ensure that the students who attend the course have a real work experience, in addition to the theoretical training we give them. 

We work in our immediate environment, although on some occasions we have also given courses in Madrid, Valencia and even in Colombia.

3. Please briefly explain how your profession is related to religious heritage and/or cultural heritage. 

Our work is related to religious heritage because we occasionally work with churches. Last year, a small town in the province of León, Valcabado del Páramo, contacted us to carry out the restoration of a truss in the central nave of their church. Our first intervention aimed to provide the entrance portico of the church with a small truss made of strap works. Then, we made a re-creation of the truss, because there were only a few remains of the original one in the presbytery. The new truss that we made during our summer course could then be installed in this church.

Moreover, in our area the dioceses have a lot of buildings and it is very difficult to maintain these buildings in good condition. Nowadays the needs for work are enormous. These buildings need urgent intervention, especially in the area of roofing. The inhabitants of the municipalities have an enormous role in the preservation of this heritage because they launch crowdfunding campaigns to finance this type of project.

4. Could you describe the main steps of your usual working process and the materials that you use the most ?

Our work begins with the selection of the intervention (according to the location and the needs of the work). Once the project is chosen, we make the plans and drawings that allow us to assess the price of the materials in order to generate the roof. Then we take care of preparing the woods, scheduling the classes in question, and the duration. Once the truss is built, it is moved to the site, we take care of the treatment and finally we install it ourselves or call another company to handle this task.

We work with conifers such as pine or fir. The denomination of “carpintería de lo blanco” comes from the constructive tradition in this type of wood, which are pale woods.

5. Do you regularly cooperate with craft professionals from other fields? If yes, can you explain which ones and why?

We have a direct collaboration between our school and external companies that are in charge of the remaining parts of the work that could not be carried in the timeframe of our summer classes. The workers of these companies are usually old students of the school. They are in charge of giving the appropriate treatment to the work or assembling the structures, for example.

6. Please mention any innovation that helped improve your work (technological, digital, material related, legal…) and explain the impact they had on your profession

In the design part we are helped by graphic design programs, which allow us to have a very precise control over the drawing process.

In the workshop we also use electro portable machine tools or some more complex numerical control machines. They allow us to facilitate the work and achieve greater precision. The technology applied to this specialty of carpentry is a great help. But we must keep in mind that technology is irrelevant without the craft, the constructive logic, the know-how. Both elements are complementary.

7. What would you recommend to a young person interested in your profession? What are the opportunities and areas in which they can work with your skills?

Ricardo: I finished high school and I suddenly told my parents that I wanted to train in carpentry. I was actually a student of the first promotion of this school, in Leon. That was an upset at family level. I discovered the carpentry trade and began to realise the deep satisfaction that working with my hands brings. Learning a trade is something you spend a lifetime doing, and you never finish. It is a job that mobilises all your creativity because you start from a material that you end up transforming into a unique piece.  

Agustín: I have discovered an exciting world where you can feel completely fulfilled because the creative part of designing and building brings great satisfaction. I would encourage young people to try to discover what they would like to do with their own hands or what skills they can develop because there is a lot of work to be done.

8. Which are the threats that may endanger your profession? Can you mention some difficulties that are associated with your work?  Which could be the solutions to better support your profession and preserve the transmission of skills?

We are a municipal school, so the biggest threat we have is that our city council, which finances the project, stops giving us this economic support. We need the institutions to invest in the recovery of traditional trades. Cultural heritage is not only a fundamental local economic resource but also a symbol of identity.

Learn more about the school HERE

This interview is part of a series of interviews with European craftspeople conducted in collaboration between FRH, the European network for Religious Heritage, and Mad’in Europe, the network of European fine and traditional crafts and Cultural Heritage restoration professions.


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Pasquale and Armando Marinelli. © Campane Marinelli.
Campane Marinelli has the exceptional distinction of being the oldest bell foundry in Italy. The business of the Marinelli family has been operating in the small village of Agnone, preserving the same techniques and materials for more than 1,000 years. The foundry is run today by the brothers Armando and Pasquale Marinelli. We recently had a conversation with Armando to look back at their long history and hear about the challenges facing this centuries old craftsmanship.

1. Please introduce yourself (profession, area of expertise and years of experience).

AM: I am Armando Marinelli and together with my brother Pasquale, I run the Marinelli Foundry. I have been in contact with the world of bell casting since I was a kid, but I got involved in a more serious manner when I was 20 years old. It was at that age, after the loss of my father, that I started working in the business, replacing him in the artistic part of the foundry while my uncle continued doing the managerial part. As time went by I also assumed the managerial part.

2. What clients/markets do you work with (are they local, national or international)? Which are the required skills and certifications that your customers request?

AM: Our main customers are churches, both in Italy and abroad. The relationship with the church is very important in this business. Apart from making bells, we have diversified our artistic work. We also operate the Historical Bell Museum. Approximately 30,000 visitors come come to learn more about bell casting every year. This is all part of the Marinelli family’s work.

We don’t have any special certification. Our factory has been functioning for 1,000 thousand years, so this is our certification. We take great care to ensure that all our bells have a perfect finish, out of respect for the past and the long history of our foundry. The name Marinelli is stamped on them, so we can’t afford any faults.

3. Please briefly explain how your profession is related to religious heritage and/or cultural heritage.

AM: The bell was born as the voice of God, a connection between Earth and Heaven. It was very important for men: it rang in the morning to tell people to go to work, at noon when they had to eat and in the evening to indicate that they should go home. It accompanied the shepherds along the transhumance. If you were lost in the woods, hearing the bell could allow you to find the village again. It was also the bell that gave happy and sad news. Until not so long ago it was still used to call the people to gather. Sadly we don’t hear the bells anymore – perhaps too much noise.

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Marinelli Foundry atelier. © Campane Marinelli.
4. Please describe the main steps of your usual working process and the materials that you use most.

AM: The bell-making process is very long and complex. There are various stages and each one has its own timing. The whole process of casting a bell takes a minimum of 3 months.

The mould is made up of three fundamental parts: the core or inner mould, the false bell which is the part that will later be filled up with bronze, and the outer mould. To create the moulds, you have to start by delineating the internal shape. This is called the bell’s soul. This part is then covered with clay, creating what we call the “false bell” that will help us delineate and create the outer mould. At this stage we can use plaster to create different decorations, the name of the country, and any other detail the buyer asks for. These decorations are placed on the false bell. And then we apply more clay on the false bell to create the “mantle” or outer mould. The last step is breaking the “false bell” in between the moulds, to free the space where we will pour the bronze.

The fusion is the most important moment. The bronze is melted in an oven at about 1,200ºC and poured carefully into the mould. This is the moment to bless the bell. Preachers often come to say a prayer. In 1995 St John Paul II came to the foundry to visit the litany of his bell.

Then the bell must dry. The drying process is also very slow. The bell mustn’t be exposed to the sun. It should dry as slowly and naturally as possible because if the process is not natural, there is a risk of cracking.

In the end, we have a bell that is unique, there is no such thing as an equal copy in this business. You can make two bells with the same mould at different times and each of them will be unique.

5. Do you regularly cooperate with craft professionals from other fields?

AM: The clapper that produces the sound in the bell used to be hand-forged here at the foundry, but today is forged by specialised companies. There are companies that provide us with computers so that we can digitise the bells, study the shape and give them a good finish in a simpler way. The clapper can be made of bronze, but it is usually iron because it produces a better sound.

Sometimes we also make iron bells and iron bell towers. With these, we need external help too.

6. Please mention any innovation that helped improve your work (technological, digital, material related, legal…) and explain the impact they had on your profession.

AM: It may seem trivial now, but many years ago it was a problem to work out how to get a bell up the bell tower. In the old days, two mountains of sand were made to roll the bell up to the tower. Now a lorry with a crane can lift the bell up the tower in a minute. It seems so insignificant, but these are modern things that have helped us a lot.

Another important change is how we ring the bells. In the past, the bell was rung by the sacristan. Today this is done with a computer. The bell is still the same, but the movement is now made by pressing a button or by programming the times at which it must ring with devices located in the bell tower.

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7. How did you learn the profession? Can you detail your learning path mentioning schools and workshops where you were trained?

AM: The world of the Foundry is a special world, you never stop learning. My father was a life coach for me and my brother. We walked this path together. I have always said that in life you gain experience with the sum of the mistakes you make. The more mistakes, the more experience you gain.

I went to technical college which helped me a lot. When I was a kid I used to play at the foundry. It was a bit of a nuisance for our parents, but also part of the Marinelli family DNA. As time went by, the game became a reality and I found myself making bells.

If someone asks from 1 to 1,000 how much have you learned, a bell caster can answer: “I know how to do everything, I understand everything”. And here comes the magic of bell casting, because you may think you’ve learnt everything but then one day comes a failure and you see you have not learnt everything. The only way to move forward is to learn day by day, make mistakes, understand and move on.

8. Do you pass on your knowledge to young people?

AM: We always have visitors who come to the foundry moved by the curiosity of our activities. Our museum is an important part of the foundry and we see that visitors are fortunately increasing more and more. Some of them are very knowledgeable and they really want to understand more about bell casting, and how our foundry and the way of working has survived so long.

We have realised that there is an important part missing in educational institutions: more attention to manual skills. Making children and young people understand that not everything is sitting in front of a computer, but they can use their hands to create extraordinary things. Now that everything is changing this seems like an important mission

9. What would you recommend to a young person interested in your profession?

AM: This is a complicated question. For young people, those entering the labour market today, the future is very uncertain. I have one son who is 30, another who is 27 and the third who is 18. The third one asked me once: “What should I do in the future? I would like to do architecture, but I need 6 years for that, and what will architecture be in 6 years?”. It is very painful for parents to see this situation.

For our children, it is difficult for crafts or any creative craft activity to be taken into serious consideration as a career path. Young people out there are pursuing a profession related to their qualifications and it is a bit difficult to go back and do a job that does not give them the satisfaction of working in what they have studied.

10. Do you think that your profession is threatened and in this case, what are the main threats?

When we were kids, our parents feared that bells would no longer be made. Not because we were no longer making them, but because bells were no longer needed or linked to the church. Let’s say that we are in a sense like a thermometer of faith: the more bells are made closer to the church closer to religion and Christianity we are.

Another problem is the time of production the customer wants. The job used to be done with more serenity. But times are accelerating and our job mirrors that acceleration, especially in our relationship with our customers. They want to have a bell right away, but we have no possibility of making the bells quickly. We dedicate a lot of time to Public Relations and increasing the relationship with the customers. We manage to make them understand how we do our work and why the process needs a certain time. Because this is what defines us, time should not be the most important factor in this business.

Except for the new needs in the relationship with the customers, our work has remained the same for a thousand years. Nothing has changed in terms of techniques and materials. We are tied to 1,000 years of history, and we do not want to break with this tradition. Perhaps this is what makes us modern today, trying to preserve this link with the past.

You can find out more about Campane Marinelli’s work and portfolio on his website  as well as on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

Descrivi la tua professione, dando dettagli sui prodotti, i servizi, le competenze specifiche e il saper fare.Mi chiamo Patrizia e applico la mia creatività a molte tecniche: lavoro a maglia, uncinetto, telaio, cucito, ricamo e moto altro ancora. 

Il mio prodotto distintivo però sono cactus, bonsai e fiori che realizzo in stoffa e filati, rinnovando il lavoro a crochet e dandogli una nuova veste, lontana da pizzetti e merletti.  

Che materiali usi? Come e dove te li procuri?Utilizzo di materiali di qualità, come tessuti da arredamento e filati pregiati, che mi ispirano e stimolano la mia creatività.

Descrivi le tecniche, gli strumenti e i materiali che usi nel tuo lavoro.

Qual è il profilo tipico della tua clientela?

A che età e in quali circostanze hai iniziato questo lavoro?Faccio lavori manuali fin da piccola, piccola. Mia madre, che aveva una manualità fuori dal comune, è stata il mio esempio. Lei mi ha insegnato tutto ciò che sapeva con il sorriso e con la gentilezza che possedeva e io ero una spugna. Divertendomi, imparavo molto velocemente.  A 14 anni ero in grado di confezionare maglioni e accessori su ordinazione.

Dove e per quanto tempo sei stato formato prima di essere pronto per iniziare la tua attività? In un istituto di formazione, con un artigiano o entrambi? Quale pensi sia il modo migliore per imparare il tuo lavoro oggi? Scuole, formazione con artigiani …?Ho fatto corsi per diventare padrona della tecnica, prima per la maglieria e poi per il Crochet, ricamo, cucito, pelle, pellicce… Studiavo e poi applicavo quanto appreso alla mia fantasia personale.

Che ruolo hanno “talento” e “creatività” nella tua professione?Sono fondamentali: il lavoro manuale mi dà divertimento e gioia e penso che sia un vero e proprio “balsamo per la mente”. Per questo, circa trent’anni fa, ho anche cominciato a insegnare: prima maglia, poi uncinetto, bigiotteria, pirkka, cucito creativo ecc. Penso che esprimere la propria creatività sia un viatico per il benessere di ciascuno. 

E per quanto riguarda l’innovazione, quali sono i cambiamenti da quando hai iniziato? Utilizzi nuovi materiali, strumenti o processi nella produzione e nel marketing? Qual è l’impatto dell’innovazione sulla tua performance? Come potrebbe la tua professione essere ancora più innovativa?Continuo a sperimentare e migliorare. Evolversi è il mio mantra: mai fermarsi pensando di essere arrivati, ma continuare a sperimentare usando tecniche e strumenti vecchi e nuovi e trasformandosi di continuo. Studiare a fondo i materiali, forme, colori e avvolgere tutto nella creatività.

Qual è il modo migliore per imparare la tua professione?

Qual è il tuo messaggio per le generazioni più giovani che vorrebbero scegliere la tua professione?Il messaggio che vorrei dare è nelle parole di Albert Schweitzer, premio Nobel per la pace: l’esempio non è la cosa che influisce di più sugli altri. È l’unica cosa.

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