Pascucci 1826 is a craft workshop in Gambettola, Romagna, where the tradition of dyeing on canvas with hand-carved wooden molds has been preserved for seven generations since 1826.
Gambettola is a relatively new town, but with medieval streets and neighborhoods. The first time I visited Pascucci's workshop, while driving around Gambettola following the navigator, I wondered if there could really be a factory here that had existed since 1826.
However, when we arrived in front of their laboratory, we were greeted by the unmistakable scent of history and tradition that only such an ancient structure can offer.
When I am in a place where I can feel the connection of time and people from the past to the present, I feel at ease. Pascucci is just such a company.
There are two entrances along the sidewalk. One is for the workshop, where the dyeing process takes place with wooden molds, and the other is the entrance to the shop.
I was stuck in front of the workshop, which seemed to have been transported 200 years back in time, and gasped at the entrance to the shop, which was filled with hundreds of types of cloths and decorated linens.
Giuseppe, the seventh generation of the Pascucci family, with his long hair, his kind smile, and the look of a folk musician, took us further inside where the workshops overlook a courtyard. There the artisans work concentrated in silence, there is a huge mangle from the 1800s, more than 3,000 carved wooden blocks and scraps of various linen, everywhere, making you wonder what time you are in.
Since its foundation Pascucci has continued to use the traditional method of hand-carving wooden molds, soaked in coloring paste, to create geometric, floral, animal and other folkloric designs on linen. The only substantial changes in the past 200 years have been the use of linen instead of hemp, which is not found in quantity anywhere, and the use of modern drying and ironing techniques with flat irons instead of the mangano (dehydration press) used at that time.
At that time, the wealthier classes had the fabric embroidered with more or less elaborate designs of naturalistic motifs. Rural communities, however, could not afford the expensive embroidery, so they used wood dyeing techniques to mimic the most used motifs.
The colors used were predominantly the traditional rust tones of the region, produced by iron oxide. Today, the range of patterns and colors has expanded to suit modern tastes and needs, but traditional rust-colored decorated linen still has great appeal and is normally produced.
The mixing of colors is done in a traditional way that has been secretly preserved, the hand-carved wooden molds and their production techniques are part of the traditional heritage of the Pascucci family.
More than 3,000 molds, randomly arranged throughout the workshop, have been made by the family over many years. They are carved from hard pear wood and are so beautiful that they are already works of art themselves.
After dipping the pad mold into the color, it is carefully and precisely placed on the linen and struck once, twice, as many times as necessary with a heavy wooden hammer.
The canvas is then spread on racks of reeds to dry overnight, so that the designs can set, before being immersed in a basic solution for rust and natural colors, and in a bath of hot and acid water to definitive fixing.
The technique of dyeing on wood, in which the design is applied by hand, moving the mold from one side to the other, allows you to see the joints and to slightly vary the design and color depending on various factors. The subtle changes in the design of the dyeing technique on wood, in contrast to the flat, uniform colors of the screen printing technique, is like the sound of a hammer echoing in the depths of memory, and is perhaps the main reason why the decorated linen of Pascucci fascinates me so much.
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