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An Italian Maker Crafts Umbrellas With Personality

An Italian Maker Crafts Umbrellas With Personality


For many, an umbrella could seem a pedestrian, usually disposable object.

Not so for the umbrella maker Carlo Suino, 60, who believes an umbrella shouldn’t solely final a lifetime however also needs to mirror the character of its proprietor.

“It’s a bit like a enterprise card,” Mr. Suino mentioned on a latest cloudless morning in his curiosity-filled store on Turin’s slender Via Sesia.

“I’ve an umbrella that claims I’m an exuberant particular person, or I’m an individual who loves class, that I’m a really basic particular person, or that I’m loopy,” mentioned Mr. Suino, whose choices are meticulously handcrafted in keeping with his shoppers’ construct, tastes and habits.

Mr. Suino has umbrella making in his blood: He is the fifth era of his household to make umbrellas, beginning together with his great-great-grandfather Bernardo, who left Corio, a mountain village, in 1890 and headed to Turin seeking work. As a baby, he generally slept within the material cuts on the ground of his grandfather’s workshop, Mr. Suino mentioned. At age 10, he started studying the craft for pocket cash, and at 15, he may assemble an umbrella.

Now, because the proprietor and sole worker of Ombrellificio Torinese, the corporate his grandfather, Carlo, based in 1931, a lot of Mr. Suino’s work makes use of the information and expertise handed down from era to era. But “the principle goal is to have a product that’s all the time higher than the one made beforehand,” he mentioned.

Innovations embody computer-aided embroidery of advanced photos and features of textual content, for instance. There can be a possible collaboration — though he’s solely on the feasibility testing stage, Mr. Suino mentioned — with two creative younger firms that produce sustainable textiles: Orange Fiber, makers of cloth from citrus waste, and Fili Pari, whose materials incorporates powdered marble. (At current, the massive, colourful bolts and smaller folded cuts of water resistant, usually polyester-blend materials that fill his store are sourced from the one two remaining Italian weaving mills specializing in umbrella material, he mentioned.)

Among Mr. Suino’s extra uncommon creations are these for Arturo Brachetti, an Italian quick-change artist at present on a European tour with a big black umbrella made by Mr. Suino, which has been tailored to launch a puff of smoke.

In Italy, only a few individuals now can restore, make, or give critical recommendation about, umbrellas, Mr. Brachetti mentioned by cellphone from his dwelling in Turin. Here, “he’s the one one left,” the performer mentioned of Mr. Suino. “He’s very treasured for my work.”

At the starting stage, Mr. Suino will usually spend an hour with a shopper, deciding the 50 particulars that can go into an umbrella. Decisions embody which thread coloration and the type and end of an umbrella’s “suggestions” — the cover’s protecting steel ends. Larger issues decide material, measurement — eight or 10 panels measuring about 18 to 26 inches from the middle to the tip of the rib — and the deal with. Handle choices embody butter-soft woods and roots; hand-carved geese, eagles and toucans; and a one-of-a-kind collection of hole resin handles full of whimsical gadgets, together with curls of blue and white paper depicting a small white boat on an azure sea.

Work begins with slicing, mentioned Mr. Suino, who unrolled a bolt of gleaming plum-colored material throughout a slicing board on the store’s expansive counter to exhibit. Placing a triangular clear-plastic “mannequin” on the material, Mr. Suino reduce round its edges with a guide rotary cutter to create a panel generally known as a gore. (For the tartan materials which can be his specialty, the reduce should be meticulously pattern-matched inside half a millimeter, mentioned Mr. Suino, who added that he couldn’t bear to see an umbrella with mismatched strains.)

Production continues in a protracted room throughout a wisteria-shaded courtyard behind Mr. Suino’s store. This workshop is split into areas for the stitching and carpentry sides of his job.

In the shadow of the floor-to-ceiling industrial cabinets, full of a kaleidoscope of bobbins wrapped in colourful cotton and rolls of patterned ribbons, Mr. Suino sews the gores collectively on a decades-old Pfaff stitching machine to create a cover. Then he embroiders and hems the fabric earlier than hand-stitching the umbrella’s tricks to its edges.

Next he connects the umbrella’s body manufactured from “ribs” and “stretchers” to its picket shaft. Winding a skinny wire across the steel ring that runs alongside the shaft to open and shut the umbrella, Mr. Suino threads the outlet on the finish of every stretcher by way of the wire and twists it shut with pliers. He then repeats the operation to connect the ribs to what’s known as the highest notch (one other steel ring close to the highest of the shaft).The body full, Mr. Suino will connect the cover, pulling the ideas taut over the ends of every rib and hand stitching the material at two or three factors alongside every rib to the body.

There are round 35 steps from begin to end, Mr. Suino mentioned, with many umbrellas taking so long as 12 hours to create. Once completed, all are numbered and their particulars recorded on an index card to allow them to be remade exactly ought to a shopper depart one on a prepare, he mentioned.

Each umbrella usually sells for between 120 and 250 euros, or $131 to $273. There are exceptions: He as soon as made an umbrella for a collector, engaged on it for eight hours a day for a month. The €300 umbrella had a chestnut shaft, usable as a strolling stick, and a deal with that unscrewed to disclose a cupboard space for both a flashlight, a cigarette lighter, mosquito repellent or a knife (all equipped).

He retains a collection of classic umbrellas and parasols on show in an alcove. He eliminated one, unscrewed the tip of its deal with, and confirmed a customer a dagger hidden inside.

On the store’s lengthy counter lay a big, emerald-colored umbrella accomplished solely the day earlier than. “Look,” Mr. Suino mentioned, turning it to disclose an excellent blue inside. The picket deal with was made out of the gnarled root of a brush plant, he mentioned. Embroidered on its cover in royal blue thread had been the phrases “Nero Apota.” The phrase made no sense to him, but it surely had that means for the shopper, he mentioned.

He additionally provides some umbrellas in his on-line retailer. Among them is a Scottish tartan mannequin for €221, with a single, heat-bent, smoked maple shaft; and the Black Bond for €164, a Malacca-handled English-style umbrella (undecorated, strictly purposeful and barely extra curved with a tight-fitting lining).

In recognition of his work, Mr. Suino acquired the Master of Arts and Crafts Award in 2022 from the Milan nonprofit Cologni Foundation for the Métiers d’Art within the rare-métier class — the Italian equal of the Living National Treasure designation in Japan. Winners should fulfill 11 standards, together with creativity, savoir faire and innovation, Alberto Cavalli, the muse’s basic director, mentioned in a latest video interview.

Mr. Suino fulfilled all of them, with one addition, Mr. Cavalli mentioned: Passion.

His umbrellas are “one thing treasured,” Mr. Cavalli mentioned. “Once you are feeling and contact this high quality, then it’s arduous to return to the 5-euro umbrella that you just throw away.”

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