01/13/2018 - 3:25pm      15:25

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THE AGE-OLD SKILL OF TIMELESS CRAFTS


Riccardo Valletti's picture
Riccardo Valletti
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English

When Bertram Safferling visualises a new pipe, he does so holding a piece of wood no bigger than a rye bread roll. He muses on it at length, turning it around his fingers until his creative impulse lights upon the image of the new precious object. Workshops, laboratories and ateliers are an incredible heritage hidden away in the winding alleys of Bolzano’s old town, where many of the streets still today bear the name of the old trades of the merchant city, and where it is not uncommon to find romantic craftsmen whose ancestral knowledge stands out in stark contrast with the euphoria of consumption.

"It is the wood that dictates the rules," says Bertram the pipe maker, "You have to yield to its lead, follow its veins and respect its vocation." He says, blowing out little clouds of scented tobacco. In his atelier in Via dei Conciapelli he creates, exhibits and sells his creations. Briar root pipes, a plant growing near the sea, of which he keeps a small supply which has aged over thirty years. A lifetime of carving, sanding and visualising pipes. Today, Bertram is an internationally renowned master of the craft who travels back and forth between Chicago and China. His collection includes a number of unique pieces, such as the three black pipes carved from the wood of a seven thousand year-old ancient larch, felled by a storm near the sanctuary of Pietralba.

Within walking distance, you will find the shop of Martin Hilpold, shoemaker, fashion designer, and protective curator of a curious archive. "Over the years, we have archived the feet of around two hundred and fifty men and women for whom we have created hand-made shoes," he says. As with the wood for pipes, shoes are the result of a constant dialogue with the leather, which is scrutinised and caressed long before it takes on its final shape. The models on show in the boutique in the Via dei Vanga are many: “My favourite model? The heeled brogues." There are also the traditional patterns, the result of historic research on how to stitch peacock feather embroidery. Having spent his youth in the workshop learning from the great craftsmen of Bolzano, Hilpold now produces handmade shoes for numerous well-known names who have left their footprints in his atelier, cast while seated on the sofa in his atelier.

Across the Talvera, in Via Longon, the heady smell of the leather welcomes the customers to the Sir Arthur workshop: we are now in the demesne of Patrizia Rossi, designer of artisan creations "exclusively handmade by her, in person". For forty years in the small lab behind the counter she has been designing new styles of handbags, suitcases and all manner of accessories, bolstering some trends and anticipating trends. "I started when I was young and I am one hundred percent self-taught," she says proudly, showing the collections of hundreds of sketches that have accumulated over the years. "These bags have been an enormous success," she explains, caressing a model made in paper. "I made them for years, and then the trend passed." But then another came along to take its place, and another one after that.

(Translated into English)


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