Ten or so years ago I was strolling through the halls of Fiera dell’Artigianato when I stumbled upon a stand showcasing a wool that captured my attention immediately
At that time I was looking for materials to realize the pieces of my first personal exhibition….
The stand that caught my eye was promoting the products of the Comunità montana della Garfagnana and they had a space solely dedicated to their local wool… moved by curiosity, I asked some samples.
As fate would have it, soon after I met Ombretta Cavani, owner of Azienda agricola Cerasa,in person on the occasion of “Percorsi di Orientamento”, a three year long project promoted by the Italian Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Policies in partnership with CNR-Ibimet, Tuscany Biomethereology Institute.
Percorsi di orientamento had the objective of promoting female entrepreneurship in rural areas in of Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Campania and Sardinia, focusing on agricultural and artisanal business dealing with textile expertise and know-how.
During the three years of the project I was able to know Ombretta, who manages to this day with her parents the Azienda agricola Cerasa, located in Pieve Fosciana on the tuscanian Garfagna mountains.
Through Ombretta, I came to know the genuine and poetic Garfagna landscapes and its people of few words but with big hearts, especially the staff of the Comunità montana that followed the journey of the garfagnina wool.
They all were kind people but I would like to cite here the dear Luciana Adami, my affectionate garfagnina wool friend.
Not only those people, I also met Ombretta’s flock of sheep.
Since then, garfagnina wool has become a part of my works and has yet to stop. It’s a durable and versatile material , almost multifaceted to me, that I like a lot.
With this wool I made some of my most loved works, like ‘’Ragionamenti’’, installation part of the ‘’Codici Tessili’’ exhibit , ‘’Totem’’ and ‘’ Giglio’ ’.
A classic example of the atelier production are the garfagnini baskets https://www.lauradecesare.it/en/product-category/baskets/, but with this wool I made also decorative panels and, with great results, fashion accessories and outwear pieces.
Not only that, last year we saw the Istituto Modartech of Pontedera (https://www.modartech.com) students collections with garfagnina wool inserts on the catwalk – a great pride for me since I teach Textile Merceology there.
Garfagnina wool : a sustainable path
The garfagnina breed of sheep is characterised by a ivory fleece. Once it was present all over the Appennino pastures but in the 80s it was at risk
of extinction . Thanks to the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies
and the Castel del Monte Sheep Husbandry centre (AQ) , in 2004 it was possible, through hard work of research and investment, to recover the first group of sheep and to reintroduce it in the Azienda Cerasa.
Today, thanks to a constant and strict selection, the Cerasa flock is consolidated, counting more than a hundred sheep, and represents the bigger reality of its kind, taking the garfagnina sheep out of risk of extinction.
using the garfagnina sheep fleece is part of a journey of sustainability chosen by more and more farmers and artisans in the textile field.
The list of wool kinds made by Italian sheep is long, varying from the finer to the more rustic ones.
Each of them can be used for many things, like making felt, weaving yarn or knitting yarn; the bristliest parts can even be used as construction insulants.
We could talk about hundreds of breeds, but to know more about the topic, it is possible to refer to the website https://tessereamano.it/ ,in particular Tam 2020 number 1 dedicated to sustainable supply chains.