Ever since the Renaissance, the city has been an epicentre of craftsmanship, its residents proud patrons of the arts. Leather, jewellery, textiles, marbled paper, perfume and many more trades have a long Florentine legacy, but what makes the city so special is the way these practices have continued and evolved. Even in 2020, independent studios and ateliers are as vibrant as ever. From sunny corners of Il Conventino to historic workshops in Santo Spirito, makers are blending old traditions with new ideas. With impressive creativity, many of these independent artisans have diversified over the last few months to offer kits and virtual tutorials to teach skills at home during lockdown. Helped by initiatives like Creative People in Florence and Officina Creativa, we can support independent makers by bringing their activities into our own homes to keep us creative this winter.
Arts and crafts kits this winter from Florence
Florentine ceramicist Sara Bardazzi has paused her workshops during lockdown, but pottery enthusiasts can follow her flower vase-making tutorial on Mudmoiselle Ceramica Facebook page at home. In the 15-minute video, Sara gives a taste of her Cake & Clay workshops that visitors can look forward to when her studio in Vecchio Conventino reopens, and enjoy a fun craft activity for the family to get involved with at home. For those looking to get into pottery as a lockdown distraction, clay can be ordered directly from Sara, who will send everything you need to make pottery with the techniques she usually teaches: slab, pinch-pot, etching, carving and column-building. Alternatively, you can book a 2021 pottery class as a Christmas gift to look forward to.
Sara Amrhein’s clay earring making kit
Sara Amrhein has started selling clay jewellery making kits this festive season, which can be baked in minutes in your home oven to create colourful and long-lasting earrings. Sara has been working with polymer clay for over 10 years and has lots of tips that are shared on the instruction page she sends. The kits come complete with various circle cutters, blades, earring fittings and a rolling pin, as well as four bright polymer clay colours. For those wishing to get a deeper understanding, she’s also going to run some video tutorials alongside the kits. The kits cost 30 euro and make six pairs of earrings. Free delivery in Florence and Italy; 6 euro shipping for the rest of the world.
Knit one, purl one
Christmas crochet kits by Bettaknit
Tuscan wool company Bettaknit sell an array of knitting and crochet kits, allowing you to make unique garments using the best quality yarns, while supporting a local business. These vary from Christmas beanie hat kits to stylish cashmere jumpers, as well as homeware like crochet placemats, cactus baskets and hanging plant holders. Merging traditional techniques with contemporary style, the website is filled with wonderful projects for a winter indoors, plus a range of video tutorials and free patterns for crochet Christmas gifts. For those who already know how to knit, their yarns are just as exciting: recycled cashmere from old jumpers, and the softest skeins of ethically sourced yarn. Kits start at around 30 euro.
Don’t forget your keys
Florence Fashion Tour’s founder and CEO Alice Cozzi has channelled her haute couture expertise into DIY kits to get stuck into for everyone missing the city’s shopping scene. Most interestingly, a leather workshop will give insight into Florence’s world-renowned leather industry, and teach tips and tricks for recognising quality leather goods. Workshops are conducted over Zoom, Hangouts or Skype with a local artisan. For those wanting to make their own leather accessories at home, Alice has packaged together a leather tassel key chain kit, including two cuts of Tuscan leather, non-toxic glue, a ruler, small bowl, two hooks and a small brush: everything you need to make two tassel key chains. Kits cost 39 euro.
Make your own tapestry
In Santo Spirito, trendy makerspace Lofoio has launched some quirky DIY kits. The punch needle kits come complete with three balls of different coloured yarn and a variety of fabric to get you going on your embroidery journey, as well as all the tools and instructions you need to begin making your creations. Also called rug hooking, this traditional form of tapestry harks back to centuries of rural fireside embroidery and couldn’t be more wholesome for a drizzly night in. Once you’ve learned the basics with the kit provided, it’s easy to replenish materials using scraps of fabric you find around the house. Kits cost 54 euro, plus delivery, and can be delivered worldwide or collected from the Lofoio studio (via del Campuccio 23R, Florence).
If mask making is your thing, Lofoio also runs popular Pepakura mask-making workshops from the studio and has launched a do-at-home kit for those unable visit the studio right now. The Japanese-inspired method brings paper craft to a whole new level and is a new skill that’s as appealing for adults as it is for children home from school. Kits include all the top-quality materials and tools to build a paper mask and cost 57 euro, plus delivery.
Another stocking filler you’d usually pick up at Florence’s Christmas markets (all cancelled for obvious seasons), Florence Fashion Tour have teamed up with a boutique Florentine soap-maker to source all the materials to make soap at home: the perfect gift to cheer up random relatives this year. The package comes complete with dried flowers, essential oils, soap moulds and enough natural soap base to make six bars. Kits are 39 euro.