Roberta Denni: Speaking through Weaving

weaving as medium of expression

Italian Io ho iniziato a tessere in un brutto periodo della mia vita. Fino a quel momento avevo provato molte arti ma in nessuna di esse sentivo di poter esprimere qualcosa di me stessa, così dopo un breve periodo ho sempre abbandonato. Una mia amica mi ha proposto di tessere al suo telaio perché mi ha visto molto triste: è stato meraviglioso. La tessitura mi ha fatto sentire subito che potevo esprimere tutto ciò che volevo senza dire una parola e con una fluidità a me totalmente sconosciuta. Il ritmo della tessitura e il suono del telaio sono i strumenti per entrare dentro di me e portare fuori parti di che altrimenti non riesco a emergere perché non hanno un senso, una forma comprensibile. Ogni fase della tessitura prevede una minuziosa organizzazione e la cura del particolare è talmente importante che a volte io mi dimentico quale deve essere il prodotto finale. Ma è proprio questa “cura del piccolo” che rende la tessitura una meditazione: mettere alla luce il particolare. 

My first encephalogram, was the year 1983. unbearable headache and long periods of isolation because the pain was unbearable. after 35 years, I reconstructed the layout: linen for the canvas and silk for the layout. with weaving, “touching” and “reconstructing” is possible. with weaving a “new touch” develops, a new “tactile sensitivity” … and life is no longer the same!

English I started weaving in a bad time of my life. Until that moment I had tried many arts but in none of them did I feel I could express something of myself, so after a short time I always abandoned. A friend of mine proposed me to weave on her loom because she saw me very sad: it was wonderful.

Weaving made me feel immediately that I could express everything I wanted without saying a word and with a fluidity totally unknown to me.

The rhythm of the weaving and the sound of the loom are the tools to get inside of me and bring out parts of what otherwise I can’t emerge because they don’t have a sense, an understandable form. Every phase of weaving involves a meticulous organization and attention to detail is so important that sometimes I forget what the final product should be. But it is precisely this “care for the little one” that makes weaving a meditation: bringing to light the particular.


The first weaving experience is to create order.

Creative Influences

Italian Mia madre era una sarta di alta moda: ogni abito è stato progettato e costruito come un’opera d’arte. Lei lavorava per molte ore ma non le dispiaceva e sempre con tanto amore e pienezza, il suo sorriso era sempre soddisfatto quando finiva il vestito nel cuore della notte: ho sempre pensato che fosse arte. Ho visto tante mostre d’arte, molti spettacoli teatrali e molti concerti, ma solo Louis Bourgeois, Anni Albers e Maria Lai mi sono arrivate dritte al cuore e mi hanno fatto venire voglia di creare “bellezza” come loro: il femminile diventa parte integrante dell’ espressione artistica. Attualmente il mio Maestro di tessitura, tintura e filatura Chiara Vigo è il mio riferimento all’arte contemporanea nella tessitura: lei mi guida nella ricerca di risposte che soddisfano la mia curiosità. Nella mia vita la curiosità è ciò che mi fa sentire viva.

Weaving is an active meditation, also an exercise in presence! linen, cane harvested from the lake dyed gold, and red wool from Morocco (I use it only for important projects). the energy that manifests itself in its heaviest form: the matter. sharpen my tactile sensitivity to recognize different energies with the touch, it is only possible if you have found your center.

English My mother was a haute-couture dressmaker: each dress was designed and built like a work of art. She worked for many hours but did not mind and always with so much love and fullness, her smile was always satisfied when she finished the dress in the middle of the night: I always thought it was art. I have seen so many art exhibitions, many theater performances and many concerts, but only Louise Bourgeois, Anni Albers and Maria Lai have come straight to my heart and made me want to create “beauty” like them: the feminine becomes an integral part of artistic expression. Currently my Master of weaving, dyeing and spinning Chiara Vigo is my reference to contemporary art in weaving: she guides me in the search for answers that satisfy my curiosity. Chiara Vigo is one of the last byssus weavers in the world. Byssus cloth is a rare fabric, also known as sea silk, that is made using the byssus of pen shells as the fiber source. She describes herself as a “master of ancient weaving”, because her hands move at the rhythm of a traditional craftsmanship that dates back to the Assyrian-Babylonian culture.

In my life curiosity is what makes me feel alive.

Children’s workshop – weaver for one day.

Alice caresses her fabric.

About the work

I am in my home-studio with my antique loom.

Italian La prima ricerca è la materia : il filato che io uso mentre io tesso deve essere “estremamente bello per me”: è fondamentalmente. È il filato che mi dice come vuole essere tessuto. Io tesso con un antico telaio piemontese e uso antichi schemi di tessitura che sono stravolti durante il processo perché è il colore e il tipo di filato che mi guida. E il ritmo…la tessitura è un vero Mantra gestuale! Gli errori sono parte integrante del lavoro; decidere cosa fare e come integrarli nell’opera finita è la parte più importante del mio processo di tessitura e, secondo me, è questo che io amo condividere durante i miei workshop: come rendere belli e integrati gli errori o le cose che non ci piacciono. Da quando ho fatto questa esperienza di conoscenza e cambiamento che ha coinvolto tutta la mia vita, ho deciso di radicarla in me e nella memoria collettiva: un’esperienza di conoscenza di cui mi sento responsabile 

This wool has an irresistible name: crazy she! I like to weave with wool selected only for the name: it is a big wick in very bright colors and at the touch it is very soft but of great structure.

English The first research is the matter: The yarn I use while I weave must be “extremely beautiful for me”: it is basically. It is the yarn that tells me how it wants to be woven. I weave with an ancient Piedmontese loom and use ancient weaving patterns that are twisted during the process because it is the color and the type of yarn that guides me. And the rhythm … weaving is a true gestural Mantra! Errors are an integral part of the job; deciding what to do and how to integrate them into the finished work is the most important part of my weaving process and, in my opinion, this is what I love to share during my workshops: how to make mistakes or things that we don’t like beautiful and integrated. Since I made this experience of knowledge and change that has involved my whole life, I decided to root it in myself and in the collective memory: an experience of knowledge of which I feel responsible.

I bought this red wool from a beautiful lady in Marrakech in 2008: my first backpacking trip to Morocco! I took her in my backpack for over a month: for her only projects that I love!

Advice for Artists

Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity

Experiments on materials with raku shuttle.
Nature is inspiration and it involves all the senses.
I live here on Lake Bracciano since 2011. I believe this was the most important and right decision of my life: in this nature I am happy!

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