LE SIBILLE ︎︎︎
Rome, 18 July 2019
I am just arrived in Rome. They always describe Rome as a beautiful lady, but decrepit. The city where you find the most beautiful works of art in the entire world, but where nothing works. Where the Great Beauty is in the middle of hols, rubbish and crumbling buildings. The Rome where, the metro stations, are always closed. Today I’ll tell you a different Rome. The Rome that exists, that works, innovates, the Rome that keeps the past values and projects them into the future. The taxi stops. Via Muzio Clementi 68 B. I am arrived at “Le Sibille”. Camilla, Francesca and Antonella, the founders, welcome me. From now, I’ll start to tell you about their story.
Le Sibille born in 1990, from the meeting of three personalities, unique and complementary. Camilla is the concreteness, Antonella the reflection, Francesca the creativity. Three rare ingredients that met inside the “School of Ornamental Art of Rome”, where, since the first meeting, thanks to a common feeling and a deep passion for jewellery, born the alchemy. These three fantastic women decide to challenge all the rules that the society force to follow: you graduate, you get inside a corporate company, staying there until you have a stable job. No. They begin to experiment innumerable techniques on handmade jewellery, day and night, with a careful research of materials. Walnut, cherry and ebony woods combined with gold. Elements of Murano glass chandeliers. Ceramics, lava, cameos. Until they arrive at the experimentation of the paste of glass and the Micro Mosaic.
In those years, they tell me, nobody had dedicated themselves to the Micro Mosaic, which is not just a craft technique, but is much more. The micro mosaic represents, in some way, the preservation of beauty over time. That’s right! It was born in 1700 in Vatican, in the areas of Borgo Pio and the villages that grew up around it. In those years, the frescoes of Saint Peter were deteriorating due to time and the black smoke of the torches (the luminous source of the period). In Borgo Pio there was a small craftsman, forgotten in the noise of carts and horses, who worked the glass pastas in the silence of his laboratory. The craftsman did not know that his intelligence would have been able to save those frescoes, which were covered by the micro mosaic and that we can still contemplate today. Francesca continues to tell me the story, with a deep and passionate voice. At the end of the 1700 and early 1800, she tells me, in Rome were opened the first boutiques of souvenirs for the tourists who made trips like the Grand Tour. Francesca opens the safe and proudly shows me a necklace in Micro Mosaic, a souvenir of Rome of the late 1700. I wonder who it belonged to. In the nineteenth century, the Micro Mosaic moves to Florence until it reaches Venice.
But what is Micro Mosaic? The Roman Minute Mosaic is a Roman virtuosity. The vitreous paste is heated to very high temperatures and during its heating the Master of Micro Mosaic must shape the material in order to obtain the consistency and the congenial colour.
When the vitreous paste is mouldable, the Master, pulls a very thin wand that cools and breaks in an instant. She/he continues the process until she/he obtains many rods that, viewed vertically, have sections of different colours and shades.
Nicoletta, the Master of the Roman Minute Mosaic for Le Sibille, tells and shows me the technique in person. – “You understand that, the Micro Mosaic” – she tells – “it’s not a job like any other, it’s something you have to feel inside yourself.” She breaks a millimeter of paste of glass and shows me how she attaches it to a Micro Mosaic ring, representing the erupting Vesuvio; so beautiful that it seems painted.
The work is refined, meticulous. Le Sibille and me are all around Nicoletta who needs a thinner paste of glass. She lights a small flame and performs the same method of heating as glass dough when it is raw, but this time heats a stick, creating another one even thinner. “I need the perfect color” – she says – “it is a research that goes beyond time. Sometimes it is sought for hours, for days. It is something that becomes an integral part of your being.”
Nicoletta’s words strike me and make me think that when someone pursues excellence, excellence itself becomes a method of acting in everything we do.
From the stick she cuts a tile of 3 millimeters high and one millimeter wide and through a special putty (whose recipe is secret), composed only of natural ingredients, she carefully sinks it inside.
It will take many days of work before that handmade piece will be finished. Time is part of the pursuit of excellence and the soul of this jewel. Francesca, the creative genius of Le Sibille, looks at Camilla and Antonella and she become the spokesperson of their mission: “Just like in the cave of the Sibilla Cumana, mediator of Apollo, where the Roman generals went to receive oracles and fortune, we are the mediators of the new concept of jewelley. The jewel is our way of awakening people, communicating what has always been and what we have forgotten. Beauty is a transformation and, when it is found, we understand that heaven is precisely our present.”
It is no coincidence that the vitreous paste is composed of four elements: salt, fire, water and air. Elements that are part of man, from the most remote times and that together create the basis for the birth of beauty (the Minute Micro Mosaic). Each jewel thus, becomes the spokesperson for innumerable intertwined stories.
Le Sibille show me a Micro Mosaic ring representing the Pompeian Domus. The colour of the cabochon ruby recalls the Pompeian red of the interior walls of the Domus. The micro mosaic is the view of a Roman courtyard from the inside, where, with hundreds of shades of micro mosaic, a fountain is gushing and it is symbol of life.
A pendant in micro mosaic represents two carps, symbol of infinity in the oriental culture. They are arranged like the Yin and Yang. The pendant has been enriched with a natural pearl from the Tahitian seas. With the pearl, Francesca tells me that the Le Sibille wanted to recall the sea, the symbol of infinite and the perseverance of the mollusc that, for days, sometimes for months, creates the pearl. “This is how we will continue to let the heart speak without being afraid to always seek beauty more deeply and to share it with people through our jewels.”
I look at the clock, it’s been hours, I’ve never looked at my phone! It’s late and it’s time to leave. Le Sibille are making jewels that will soon leave for Japan, China, America and Europe. I look once again at the atelier to stop the image of these strong, courageous women, spokesmen for that beauty that we sometimes forget that we are all spectators.