Shalateen mysterious place

To share experiences is one of my aims in this period. I have been very unsteady with my blog in the last years. Months of silence and then some ‘nervous’ activity and then silence again.

This is a moment of ‘nervous’ activity. Why? I don’t really know, maybe because a lot of things are happening, life is changing new projects coming up and the blog helps me to keep track of what I am doing.

Shalateen, mysterious place is the title I gave to this post. If you look the place up it is a tiny dot on the map, Egypt almost 350 km south of Marsa Alam near to the Sudanese border.

a little Beduin village, maybe not that little at the end there is a quite big camel market and a bank and a little handcraft shop, lots of children, beautiful people, lots of goats and the 4 of us Lili, Piero, Dina, me plus Ibrahim giving a workshop on Makrame techniques in leather to the ladies of the village.

I know this photo does not look like work, it was shot on the day of our departure.


We taught but we also learned a lot, there is lots to learn from the ladies

They hold the strings with their beautifully designed feet, the henna designs they do is absolutely amazing

this is my hand, I could not stop looking at it,



we worked a lot, 9 days without break with classes of 14 to 19 ladies. It was tough but also wonderful and enormously enriching.

the classrooms were simple but we had everything we needed and the outcomes were quite good for all of us

the very particular goat leather the ladies prepare was surprising for us and the results with the Makrame very interesting

Piero our photographer was of immense help, but not always welcome by the ladies

and then there was Ibrahim our guide, without him nothing would have been possible.

Here I got him together with Piero, while the ladies were working Ibrahim and Piero went to the market to smoke Shisha, eat wonderful falafel and other goodies from the area, especially the incredible coffee they make. But these activities have not been documented- unfortunately


selection, selection, selection

Some months ago I invited Martino Margheri a friend and wonderful photographer to shoot a series of photos in my studio. I wanted to document a certain state of mind and of things and to ‘freeze’ a moment for myself.

I wanted to see my studio and with it my work through the eyes of somebody else, what would be chosen, what would be enhanced, what would be left out…….
Isn’t work always about selection, or better living equals selecting, what does our brain decide to select of the innumerable inputs that arrive every second through our nerves.

Martino selected 40 shots from many more he took, I did not see the discarded ones and did not interfere in his selection. Now in this post I selected again the 20 photos I wanted to show. Are they the best ones -no they are the ones that in this given moment of time, I selected to go on the internet, and maybe some might be chosen by someone I don’t know and end up in another selection, selection, selection

the drawing room




ladies every where and then

they guide the visitors through the space, watching, listening, but at the end the visitor knows they don’t care





a room to really work, what is real work? hammers files, some little machine

the goldsmith table



the thinking room

books, computer, writing table, the window to lean out and observe the square below

and again ladies watching….




but also not


the multipurpose exhibition room






and drawings on the walls







Textile Techniques workshop in Cairo

Last February I held a Textile Techniques workshop in Cairo at DSAF, the Design studio Azza Fahmy.

It was a great experience. Students were very excited about this technique and my work

mostly girls, as usual, with some manicure problems. They had to work first with iron wire which is pretty hard and hurts fingers that are not used to it

but then once understood the technique and its potential, concentration was complete

Thanks to Lilian Mattuschka, my assistant and especially Piero Aricò who made the photos, the course was a success and students all happy at the end and able to take home pieces and new material and a new technique to further experience and use in their jewellery.




Magic December


natale - 7

December means magic,
only for children ?
the month most craved for, more than July and August.
Christmas with all its surprises, the old ending the new beginning……………
Rituals so necessary to human life, traditions that go back much further than the birth of Christ.
The shortest day in the year, the winter solstice,
six months of contraction, six months of slow loss of light and then the change,
like a u-turn,

IMG_8024 IMG_8026 IMG_8029

a new start is possible
we can forget the old and begin all over again, maybe.

EPSON scanner image

feeling part of something bigger,
entering in the eyes of a child
the final contraction and the light of the ritual cleaning your soul


EPSON scanner image

and then the new start,
everything fresh
a slow start not all the light at once
just some minutes a day
cold, fresh air,
hopefully snow falling, covering the loss and the gaps

natale - 3

Do to the other what you would like done for you.

All the best


They are here [ an army of nude bitches ]

My Final Presentation at the EKWC


Yes it took me more than three months to make a post about my own final presentation at the EKWC. It almost seems ages ago. I have been writing a lot on the Alchimia blog but I could not find the time to report about my own work. Good ? Bad ? I don’t know, it is hard to write about oneself and much easier to write about others. But now I decide that I just have to do it before……………… before its too late!


It was a breathtaking moment for me. My ladies on their blankets on the floor, my studio completely cleaned up. Everything taken away, drawings, textiles, tables ….I decided for a totally clean presentation.


It had been a hard decision, to leave all out and only show ladies and babies, but I needed to clean myself up after these three months of compulsory production.


It took me three days to decide the position of each lady, shifting them around, rearranging over and over again.


putting together the army of babies and letting go of the not strictly necessary


At the end I was happy and could say please come in and see….


a lot of friends came and made me really happy


What an emotion to see the reaction and try to answer all the questions


today when I think about these three months everything seems almost a dream, I can surely say that this period was one of the most beautiful of my life.

Dense and solitary, not always easy, often full of doubts, what am I doing here, am I really an artist, maybe I should stop it, maybe what I am doing is just ridiculous……


but at the end my final decision – yes, it is a great work, and I am an artist !


my mind following my hands – intuitive decisions – being able to give up to your hands – allowing yourself to be seriously not serious


spending three months in making thousands of babies and naked ladies


and lots and lots of friends!

A big thank you to all the staff who helped me to fullfill this obsession of mine………..


maybe lets hope I will be able to come back one day, obsessions need to be continued……








The columns of Jieun Yoo


White or better “bluish” white : pillars, obelisks, piles, stacks, stanchions, balusters, poles, posts..
It is difficult to find the right word for Jieun’s amazing work, maybe ghosts could be also a good description because they appear suddenly and their presence is both strongly real but also fading into translucent white like a shadow of some alien presence.




Jieun tried and succeeded in a technically extremely difficult process, it was incredible to watch her determination to master and dominate material, process and form. At the end of her residency she almost worked round the clock every day to get her project to the end.When her last kiln was fired the whole EKWC was with her.


It took hours to build it up, and Rob the kiln master made a fantastic installation.


One of the ladies entered for good luck, and Rob got help and good wishes from all sides


You can imagine the happiness when all succeeded


and the friends arrived for her presentation




You can see the difference between the first trials and the last ones, but actually a lot of people really appreciate also the “swaying columns” but  Jieun wanted them straight and she got them.


and as we would say in German “Hut ab” (hat off)  Jieun for your enterprise.

The Lady Kiln

Thirty ladies, their blankets and babies going in the kiln at 1280 degrees!!!!


You can see there is some kind of excitement going on


not that they are frightened……let’s say just a little bit in “disorder”

and in fact they ought to be ……


the fork lift is approaching……



the fork lift with Marianne contolling every move, so in reality nothing to fear but still quite scary



all up in the air and in this brittle state they are in, every sharp movement could mean the end



but Marianne puts them down soft and smooth and calm is reigning again


now for 24 hourse they will stay here, in the purgatory at 1280 degrees, no guilt could ever withstand


they fit all in and we close and fire, until….


until the next morning…….to open the kiln and see


all seems ok, but….


but no….something terrible happened during the night


a lady in pieces….


scattered in midst of the babies

Well, two ladies litterally exploded (who knows what their guilt was) but all the others are fine!!


and I could bring them up in my studio


where they can breathe fresh air again



and enjoy life.

Final presentation Alison Safford



Writing about a final presentation here in EKWC means the end of a residency and in the case of Alison this is pretty hard. She was my neighbour and became my friend and it seems we knew each other for years and not just for 4 weeks.



Final presentations mean to get all the 12 weeks you have spent here in EKWC to the point, you have to sum up, install, think about packaging, about getting all the final details done, you make your own resumee about the outcome of this intense period, you think about leaving your friends, about getting back to normal…..and its a huge stress…..




Alison got lots of help….. from Luzia





and from Samantha, who returned just to help her set up the three installations


it was a beautiful sight, these snowflakes which by getting nearer turned out to be all little white fingers, pointing at you and making you want to react



maybe with a bite ? A very ambiguos Christmas happening here ?



and her ships with the famous Hokusai wave – surreal and ambiguous kitsch coming from where?a kind of homemade and gentle Tsunami ? an invasion from outer space ?
Of course she had many more and the whole mass would have been really impressive, but not all of them were ready and the same happened to her misterious rocking houses


installed in the dark and moist clay room. But we got a glimpse of what it might be like when all finished and installed in a proper place. But this is also the charm of the final presentations, the work in progress mood you get and the insight into methods and working spaces.


and then the ritual of dressing up, and Alison had really highclass guests…


it was a charming evening that ended with a great dinner



and a memorable swim


under a romantic and drammatic Dutch sky




The day of the first kiln

I did it, my first kiln.


Kiln Nr.5 medium size was mine, what an excitement.


I needed a lot of help, it seems easy but there are many things to consider and to take care of


actually the so called leatherhard pieces are extremely fragile, and need to be handled with extreme care (I broke two legs of my ladies)

I fired directly up to 1280 degrees, almost the highest you can do and it is pretty risky, pieces can crack or deform or break. But I wanted the porcelain to reach immediately the vitrious state to get its hardness, lightness and white colour.

And I was lucky


Nothing broke and the porcelaine got its incredible quality


textile turned into hard and white sculpture without loosing its details and momentum.


and also my ladies in grey stoneware got an almost skinlike quality, only the broken leg remained






it was a great day and I can now contiunue to work with more knowledge of how to proceed. Lota of ideas and possibilities come up and wait to be realized.