Making figurines

Bagni di Lucca has long been known for making figurines. As a cheaper alternative to carved marble or stone, religious statues were made with Plaster of Paris, or gesso. Presepi, or nativity scenes, were particularly popular and salesmen from Bagni di Lucca took them to the world.

Arte Basanti

The industry still exists in Bagni di Lucca and there is now a plan to introduce a course in the making of figurines. A contribution from Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca has enabled a small group of people including the mayor, Massimo Betti, Alessandro Gabrielli, Sonia Lena and Mariano Mariani to initiate a course of lessons in this traditional art.

The lessons will be open to anyone over 16 and will be managed by Simone Fiori from Arte Basanti, a firm that still makes figurines by hand in the old tradition. (Click here to see the post about it) He will be helped by Mariano Mariano, Luca Marchi and Marco Fontanini from other local businesses.

Arte Basanti

Figurines in BdL

Applications for the course can be made until 23rd December at the education office in the Comune in La Villa or through the website http://www.comunebagnidilucca.it.

The course, or courses, if there is enough interest, will begin in the new year and will consist of lessons over 5 mornings and 2 afternoons. The cost will be €50 for residents and €80 for non residents. Each course will be limited to 10 people.

For information call (39) 0583 809940.

I think this is an excellent initiative and I hope it is successful. It would be great if it becomes popular and attracts people from outside the area as well as locals.

Residents of Bagni di Lucca took their plaster skills all over the world when they migrated to other countries. It would be wonderful  to revive the skill and provide a fun thing for visitors to do.

Please share this post and spread the word.

13 thoughts on “Making figurines

  1. This is so fabulous. I hope it’s a huge success. After arriving in Philadelphia from Bagni di Lucca, my father started out working for one of these small companies. Immigrants helped each other. These men would work long hours making the figurines during the day and delivering them to local fairs, bazaars, at night. With enough hard work and persistence, my father and his brother grew to be a nice size company making table lamps and lighting that was shipped worldwide. Pieri Creations, Inc employed quite a number of people from Bagni di Lucca. It is a unique art to Bagni di Lucca and created nice, employable skills for many people from the area.

  2. First time I visited my husbands village of Guzzano, there were several women sitting out side painting these. I wish I had bought them then, here in the states they are hard to find And I only have a few pieces. Nice memories!

  3. Like many artisans and craftspersons who continue the traditional methods of handmaking items, they find it hard to compete with the mass-produced and inferior similar items on the market. I do hope this will help revive interest in the skills of the figurine makers.

  4. I enjoy reading about Bagni Di Lucca and special Ponte a Serraglio where I was born and than at the age 17 I immigrate in the United State ,
    My life has been very happy and satisfactory in this beautiful state ,but I love to read ,seeing pictures and all the things that go on in Bagni Di Lucca.I lived there during my first 17 year of my life and I have a good memory of it. Many thanks from me to the persons the are taking interest ,Keep on writhing about the little village in the Vally , I loved it
    Tina Chicca in Di Biase

  5. I am delighted to see this project going ahead. I know that Simone Fiore has been wanting to do it for years now. If there is something typical from Bagni di Lucca this is the plaster of Paris figurines and Arte Barsantis keeps on making them all by hand, like in the old times. Most figurines that you see nowadays are made in China and out of resins.
    I also know that Simone has been wanting to open a museum in Bagni di Lucca, but you can visit his workshop where you will see many of the old figurines and even a small suitcase with samples that the salesmen from Bagni used to take with them on their trips. The workshop and talking to Simone, who is always happy to explain to everyone how the figurines are made, is a great experience.
    I do hope that this art goes through a revival.

  6. My grandfather comes from Bagni di Lucca and was one of the persons who went with the figurini abroad and ended up in Holland! Would love to do a course when we are there in summer, to learn his first profession at probably one of his former employers!

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