Our Colonne velvet is going to dress the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute this year, too, on the Salute Festival. On this occasion, we’ve talked about this upholstery fabric with one of the weavers who made it, who told us quite a few interesting facts about her work.
The production of the velvet upholstery fabric of the Salute
The Colonne velvet is one of those fabrics that took our weavers years to complete, and required the use of 2 looms. In truth, they had to weave a great deal of metres: you can easily understand why if you enter the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute on November 21st. You’ll see this velvet hanging on the pillars of the main altar, as well as on those of the 8 chapels.
“That’s why I keep on entering this church every year, during the celebration days”, Mariella Bearzi told us, who started working in the weaving mill at 12 and retired at 67. “There must surely be a piece of velvet I made on those pillars”.
And this is definitely no ordinary velvet: the Salute Festival has always been one of the celebrations Venetians love most. So it deserved a handmade silk velvet which was up to it, with:
- pure gold threads inside;
- a very complex pattern: you can notice it in its weave drafts here below, bursting with details. Which means having to deal with a large amount of threads. As we told you in this article on the story of this precious fabric, the pattern actually was the copy of the cloth that had covered the Basilica’s pillars for years, but had started falling to pieces.
Guess who prepared these weave drafts? Or punched and tied the 8.000 punched cards that the Jacquard machine had to read? The weavers, because “at that time the Tessitura Bevilacqua was a bit different from today”.
The evolution of the Tessitura Bevilacqua and of its weavers
Between the Fifties and Sixties, when the Colonne silk velvet came into being, the weavers at Bevilacqua’s were 60 and did everything they needed to weave: from the making of the metal bars to the preparation of punched cards. Now they’re 6, but the building is still the same. How is it possible, you may ask yourselves?
Now our weavers work on a single floor and mainly produce soprarizzo velvets. But some years ago there were looms on each of the 3 floors of our building, and our craftspeople made any fabric by hand: lampasses, brocade, satins, damasks and velvets.
Anyway, the hardest fabric to produce is the soprarizzo. But others are almost as difficult as it, like the Grottesche damask, which is extremely heavy, completely made of silk and has a very complex drawing. Or the Lancé velvet, with its silver threads, which is very heavy, too. We needed a lot of strength to work here, but most of all we needed to know a lot, because we had various tasks. I loved this job, and I loved the fabrics we made, too. And I think they should never pass into oblivion.
Photos by Angela Colonna