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Casa Clementina Association: natural dyeing between art and the textile industry

Italiano (Italian)

Translation by Marina Dlacic 

Over a course of about two thousand years, the colors of nature have always inspired and fascinated man. The dyes of natural origin used from antiquity until the mid-19th century – when they were gradually abandoned due to industrialization and the production of synthetic raw materials – characterized the way of representing and appearing of the human race, oscillating between variations, recurrance and persistence.The use of color to portray and weave has always been connected, in an articulated and complex way, to symbolic, aesthetic and cultural values; it is no coincidence that the intrinsic meaning of a color can be compared to that of a “symbol”. Each chromatic nuance has become, over the centuries, an index of certain social, political and religious spheres.

Reconstructing the history of natural dyeing is very difficult today, as this art was confined within the shops, the technical-productive knowledge and the secrets about the origin of the raw materials were often handed down orally, both for reasons of prestige and competition…

In this video we will take a leap into contemporary dyeing art thanks to the skills of a “master dyer”: Stefano Panconesi, founder together with the architect Sissi Castellano, of Casa Clementina Association, current headquarters of a textile study center focused on the arts of weaving by hand and natural dyeing.

Stefano Panconesi graduated in Economics and Commerce with a thesis on the marketing of dyeing plants and has always had the passion, transmitted by his father, for natural dyeing.

For over thirty years he has been an expert in natural dyes applied to industry and an organic and ecological textile consultant. Initially with the PAI company, and later as a specialist, he researched uses, applications and dyes in the world, deepening the theme of historical recipes in order to make the material more usable for large-scale production.The documentation on ancient and modern manuals and the comparison with master dyers he met in his travels, allowed him to develop innovative dyeing processes, adapt existing machinery in today’s dyeing plants, and design new ones.

The “mission” of Stefano Panconesi has always been to recover and transmit such millenary knowledge and techniques, so much so that in 2011 he founded Casa Clementina, a redeveloped historical space that belonged to the eccentric photographer and director Clementina Corte, who lived in the Biella area at the beginning of ‘900. Over time, the Association has become a point of reference and cultural exchange for creatives, artists and artisans of different cultures.

Luzzatto and R. Pompas, Colors and fashion, Bompiani editore, 2018.


© Copyright 2020 Stefano Panconesi | All Rights Reserved

Elisa Monfasani

English version Fin dai primi anni mostra una certa propensione per il campo dell’arte, diplomandosi in Arti Figurative al Liceo Artistico “Bruno Cassinari” di Piacenza. La passione per l’arte tessile antica e contemporanea derivano dalla sua formazione come Restauratore di Materiali e Manufatti Tessili e in Pelle. In parallelo all’attività del restauro, da settembre 2020, è Amministratore ed Editor Social Media del profilo “Festina Lente Studio”, dove insieme alla collega Emanuela Fistos, si occupa di divulgare la conoscenza dell’arte tessile. Di recente, è entrata a far parte della redazione del sito web “Storie Parallele”, nato nel 2019 come strumento didattico e divulgativo della storia e dell’archeologia. La sua mission in ArteMorbida è quella di portare la “matericità” degli oggetti d’arte a contatto con il lettore; l’osservazione del “micro”, degli aspetti merceologici dei manufatti tessili, sono, infatti, fondamentali per accede al “macro”, alla comprensione dell’opera d’arte nella sua totalità.