By Katherine DeVito, Fashion Merchandising and Management student
Being in Florence, there are local artisan shops around every corner. For my history of Italian fashion class, we took a walk to one of these workshops. This was a textile workshop called La Serra MK Textile Atelier, where the co-owners Margherita and Karl produce textiles by hand painting, screen printing, and digital printing. This workshop is located in an old greenhouse, and is decorated with various textile that they have produced. They source most of their fabrics from Prato (a huge textile hub in Italy) and design prints to put over top. They have produced prints for many people and stores around the world, like Bergdorf Goodman and even produced the textiles for a tent that the Saudi Prince would be staying in at the Burning Man Festival. Currently, they mostly just take small orders and teach workshops that they offer through Airbnb.
For our workshop with Margherita, she helped us design our own tote bags. There were 2 steps: screen printing and hand painting. Margherita let us choose among 5 screens. First, she aligned the screen on the bag, then put dollops of paint on top. She then used a squeegee to equally distribute the paint. When she lifted the screen, the design was perfect, as the screen acts as a stencil. After drying the paint with a blow dryer, we moved on to the hand painting portion, where we were free to do what we wanted. I decided to keep mine simple and just stippled on some yellow and orange dots. After the hand painting was done, she blow dried it again and finished by ironing the bag.
This experience was eye opening to how much work can go into producing textile designs. It was nice to learn that big stores like Bergdorf Goodman make the effort to buy from and support small, exclusive artisans rather than going through a factory. These artisans are often taught by predecessors and take their craft very seriously. I’ve visited a few local artisan factories in Florence, and this one was definitely the most creative. It’s refreshing to see locals doing what they love and supplying other locals and clients around the world.