In early summer of 2015 "Ginestra", (a Lazzarini Firenze model etching press I had found in Urbino the previous November) was finally ready to be received in Tusa at the Officina Stamperia del Notaio. After traveling by truck from Urbino to Reggio Calabria, boarding a ferry, and transferring to a new truck, I got the phone call that the press was not going to be delivered for at least another day or two, but shortly after, I received another call saying the truck actually was nearing the highway exit for Tusa and would be up in town any minute. Naturally it was in the middle of lunch so Nikki Martinez (who was visiting at the time), my dad and I ran to the entrance of town to meet the driver and guide him through the narrow and steep streets to OSN. In true Sicilian fashion, all is well that ends well and the press got safely tucked away for the summer while we began a gut overhaul of Ginestra's new home. Formerly used as a chicken coop and a storage space for long-forgotten scrap material, furniture, and even old remnants of objects belonging to Allied troops that passed through the area in WWII, the stamperia began to take shape.
Through the rest of the summer Alfonsina and I collaborated with her team of contractors and skilled workers to figure out the best way to turn the small space into a functional printshop. Floors had to be reinforced from below and above to support the weight, new floors poured, walls resurfaced, sealed and painted, electricity and plumbing installed, lighting, doors and windows added and existing ones enlarged, new rafters and ceiling beams added, primed and painted. We even punched an opening through the wall of the main studio space to join the rooms together. It was a top to bottom make-over. Alfonsina, who has a keen eye and immense attention to detail as well as a passion for restoration, conservation, and the salvaging and reusing building materials, tirelessly forged ahead to create a new space that preserved the old architectural details including a niche in the form arab arch, the beautiful wooden rafters, and made use of salvaged wooden doors and shutters, tiles, light fixtures, and even a deep sink and marble slabs for the countertops. It was amazing to see the floor plans we drew on napkins and scraps of paper becoming a tangible space, changing day by day. Friends from near and far, including Andrea Buffolo, generously lent a hand painting and cleaning and the team made immense progress by the time I had to leave at the end of August to return to teaching in the States. Now begins the fun task of setting up the printshop, bringing Ginestra into the space and getting her rolling, and outfitting it with supplies and materials in time to host our first printmakers in 2016.
I look forward to posting photos of the completed printshop soon and I can't wait to begin making prints in the space. Stay tuned for news and updates.