Making Papier Mache roses with Luisa Cotardo

Deep in the heart of southern Italy, the very heel of ‘the boot’ lies Lecce, a small Puglia town where Luisa Cotardo grew up. Known for its beautiful buildings and myriad churches, Lecce is also famed for its ancient craft of Cartapesta Leccese. Passed down from generation to generation, dating back to the 18th centaury, Cartapesta Leccese is the process of Papier Mache using a traditional glue, or ‘ponnula’, made from flour and cupric sulphate.

The practice was taught to Luisa by the elderly women in her hometown and is used to this day to create Catholic effigies, church statuary and architectural detailing. Intrinsically tying her to her past and her people, it is as much a part of her as it is the Madonnas in centuries-old churches, found atop sleepy Italian hilltop villages.

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 Paying homage to this long held tradition, her ‘Make a Papier Mache Rose Workshop’ is wonderfully relaxing, unique and fun. Using her intimate knowledge of the age-old art form, Luisa teaches you to craft intricate roses from recycled and reclaimed scraps of paper, collected on her travels. Artfully ripping, tearing and shaping without the use of scissors, you will practice self-expression, tactile exploration and gain a sense of pride.

Only as delicate as they appear, each rose is surprisingly sturdy and long lasting. Unlike real roses, their Cartapesta counterparts won’t lose their lovely petals, prick your fingers or droop miserably over time. Keeping their beauty and vibrancy for years to come, they make brilliant Valentines Day gift ideas, accessories and home decorations.

Katy Pryer @KTP_WRITES
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