Monday, January 18, 2010





Day 1
Orsoni Master Class. January 2010

For a creative Romantic, arriving in Italy is like basking in a warm friendly ocean. For a lover of visions and history, arriving in Venice is like reconnecting with a part of yourself that you’d almost forgotten.
For a Mosaic artist, arriving at Orsoni is like reconnecting with the Mother-ship. Like dying and feeling no pain or fear, and being instantly transported to the most heavenly Heaven imaginable.
Really, it is.

The entrance hall to the Domus Orsoni, which is a luxury B&B adjoining the glass foundry and factory of the Legendary Orsoni family, is like a gallery. A mosaic gallery containing some of the most wonderful pieces of mosaic, many of which are familiar to me from the many mosaic books and web sites that I’ve read. Unbelievable. Most of the pieces here are made by Maestro Lucio Orsoni, hereafter referred to as The Maestro. Also present is the infamous 3-D Night Shirt, by Julie Richie. It’s even much more amazing to see real than in photographs. Much like most mosaic work. Mosaic comes alive in the light.

The rooms at Domus Orsoni are also like works of art. Each individually designed, and decorated with..... mosaic of course. My room is divine, huge bed, turquoise and green mosaic on the walls, made with real gold smalti. And the bathroom....... white and gold, great shower. Huge bed, windows that open, quiet, luxurious, and all mine. For the next two weeks.
Yes! This is Heaven.

Five people are attending the course. Two from USA, 1 Swiss, 1 Belguim and me, the proud Saffer.

I walked the streets of Venice after I arrived yesterday. Bought roasted chestnuts, ate them as I walked, had a delicious plate of spagetti and vegetables in a little restaurant, bought some milk and then wandered back ‘home’. One block from home, I was amazed to find a restaurant called Gum Gum, a kosher eaterie. Insane I thought! What are the chances?

Well the chances are high when you find yourself living in the area of one of the oldest and most famous Jewish Ghettos in the world. Gheto Veccio. Oops. I forgot to do my history homework before I arrived.

Wandering through the area, I saw many galleries and shops selling Venetian Judaica, art, and books of course. While staring into the window of one of the bookshops I was seen by a young couple inside. Next thing, he comes outside, greets me with “Shalom”, and I return the greeting. Homeopathic principle I guess, like attracts like.

“You Jewish?” he asks. (please read with correct Brooklyn/Lubavich accent).
“Of course.” I reply. (I mean, just look at my features and colouring man!! Obvious Semite.)

Anyway, to cut a long story shorter, I came away with a gift of shabbat candles and the prayer (in Hebrew, which I can’t read, but don’t worry, my mother drummed that one into me), and an invitation for this Friday night shabbat celebration.
Got to love traveling.

Back to Orsoni.
This morning we started our classes at 9am. The class room is actually in the same building we’re staying in. Everyone’s designs were reviewed by Antonella, the main teacher, assisted by Iliana the translator and Mirta.

We spent about 1 hour touring the factory and watched the men blowing glass. Enormous elongated glass bubbles which are then cut into small pieces and used to cover the gold foils. The place has a medieval feeling about it all.

Next we viewed the stores and stores of coloured glass. Orsoni produces over 2,000 colours of smalti glass, and some 25 different colours of real gold smalti.

I’m revealing this now.
I’m so unbelievably moved and honoured to be in such a place, having this most privileged experience. I cried.
Standing there, among all those colours. In the heart of this Art Form which I am so passionate about, I cried.
Especially in front of the red glass. I can’t explain that entirely. I think it’s just because I find it so exquisitely beautiful. I cried.
I feel tearful again, even just thinking about it.

I must also admit here, that I felt incredibly anxious showing my design ideas, as well as starting the project I’m working on. But Antonella gave me the ‘thumbs up’ for my ideas, and when we got back to the studio/class room, the wood had been cut for us, and it was time to start working.
It was then that ‘The Maestro’ entered. What a presence he has. He’s in his 70’s, a serious, intense, strong man. He also approved my design, and advised me on how to begin and get the design lines onto the board.

He appeared later in the day again, encouraged me to carry on with a part that I was unsure of, and then in his finest Maestro voice, bent over me and said, “I think-a you must-a put-a a leetle more-a silver-a over here-a.”
Heavenly!

I’m in heaven.
I stayed and worked all evening after the teachers had gone home. Made a cup of tea and ate a stale piece of bread that I’d taken off the breakfast table this morning and stashed in my room. I definitely learned a couple of things from my old Bobba.
I’m happy with the couple centimeters I’ve worked on my mosaic so far.
I’m in Mosaic Mecca.
Melly Heaven.

1 comment:

Taryn said...

That's beautiful Mel. Everyone has their own heaven on Earth, and you're in yours right now! So happy for you. And shabbat shalom in advance, ek se.