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Tracing Venice

Renzo e Leonardo Scarpelli

Scarpelli MosaiciMosaic makerMosaic makers

The sound of a bow saw cutting stone was the music that accompanied Leonardo Scarpelli’s childhood. In fact, he was born into the workshop, where he spent years running after his father Renzo, a real master in the art of Commesso Fiorentino (Florentine mosaic) in pietra dura. After completing his studies at the Art Institute of Florence, Leonardo officially joined the family business and now works alongside his father at the Scarpelli Mosaici workshop. His studies of the great masters of art combined with his contemporary vision led the artisan to focus on more modern subjects in his work. To create their artistic masterpieces, Renzo e Leonardo personally collect the stones around Florence.


During the Italian Renaissance, the Commesso Fiorentino technique involved a painter, a stone finder, the artisan who chose the colours and the expert in charge of manually setting the stone. Nowadays, one highly skilled artisan carries out all of these steps, after learning the technique over a lengthy apprenticeship alongside a practised master. This craftsperson chooses from a wide range of stones taking their hue and grain into consideration. A motif is drawn on paper, which is cut into different sections and then stuck onto various shades of stones. The stone is then cut by hand using a small wooden bow fitted with a wire covered with an abrasive powder and water to work the stone precisely at an inclined angle. This precise cut permits the artisan to fit and glue the pieces together using natural glue made from beeswax and pine tree resin.

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