THE TECHNIQUE OF WEAVING
From interview with Ugo Scassa, by Franco Fanelli
understanding of a work through its transposition into a tapestry requires an
extremely sophisticated analysis of the compositional, chromatic and material
structure of the work. It is by means of this analysis that I am able to direct
the work of my weavers. I believe the art of the tapestry maker to be comparable
to that of an orchestral conductor. A conductor, with the cooperation of the
orchestra he is directing, gives a personal interpretation of a musical score.
The result he achieves depends on the beauty of the composition in question and
on the sensitivity and depth of his interpretation. The tapestry maker too, with
the assistance of his expert weavers, creates a tapestry by means of a careful
and critical interpretation of a figurative work of art which, in this case,
becomes his score.
concepts behind my work are very different from those in France. As far as the
quality of the cartoon is concerned, I tend to choose works of the finest and
best known contemporary artists, rather than opting for those of the "
peintres cartonniers", as their corporation would prefer. However, rather than
oblige artists to make their cartoons specially for turning into tapestries,
running the risk of imposing all the limitations on their pictorial language
that the "cartonniers" impose upon themselves, I consider it better to choose
from those works which seem best suited to the medium in which they will be
recreated. In other words, those works which are most appropriate as cartoons
Could you give an actual example?
Anyone who remembers the "carte" by Cagli, one of those paintings he made using crumpled paper on which light and colour create an infinite variety of effects, can understand how its transposition into a tapestry requires a special technique. The new work must preserve all the richness of the myriad plays of light which are the dominant artistic feature of the painting.
obtain this, we abandoned the easiest and most convenient type of weaving , the
juxtaposition of uniform sections of fabric which at most can be made to blend
one into the other using a hatching technique, and adopted the more difficult
and painstaking technique of ever-changing textiles.
this point, a number of skeins, each containing a blend of different colours,
can be used to create a practically unlimited range of colour and tone.
How have artists reacted to your interpretations?
have always been granted total freedom of interpretation by all the artists I
have ever worked with. The cartoon is normally chosen together by the artist and
me. We try to reconcile the painter's stylistic choices with the technical
requirements of weaving. Once the work has been chosen, it is entrusted to me
for the entire duration of the production process. It is my "grand
patron”and there is no intermediate stage of enlarging the draft to the final
size of the tapestry. At this point, work on dyeing the wool is carried out for
each individual tapestry, depending on the range of colours in the cartoon. My
workshop contains no pattern book of coloured wool.
rather than on the reverse, as in former times (and as is still the case in
other tapestry weaving mills today). This means the part being woven can
be compared directly with the original instead of having to look at a reflection
in a mirror placed behind the tapestry on the lower roller. When the
drawing has been made on the threads of the warp, the weaving starts. The areas
of colour are blended using the skeins of coloured wool which have been prepared