Cristina Pacciani was born in Florence, Italy, in 1968.
Cristina studied languages at the International Linguistic high school of Florence, graduating 60/60 cum laude. She attended the University of Florence (1987-1991) where Italian language and literature, Russian, Japanese, anthropology, psychology, pedagogy, and art history, among other subjects, were included in her curriculum. In 1990, Cristina started teaching Italian language to foreigners at the European University of Florence. She travelled throughout Europe (Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium) as well as in the USA, working as an interpreter. Cristina won a scholarship to write a thesis on social geography at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands at the end of 1991. She decided to settle in Amsterdam and the result was a dramatic change in her life. Cristina stopped her successful academic career to become what she had always dreamt of being: an artist.
FROM ITALY TO THE NETHERLANDS
In 1992 Cristina opened her own studio in Amsterdam, specializing in the making of frescos, paintings, and restorations. After a few years of working with mixed media, she started producing handmade felt and became fascinated by the versatility of the medium. She made her pieces for local businesses and started teaching at various locations, while improving her knowledge and passionately experimenting with fibers.
Cristina’s work was exhibited in 2007 during the famous Italian event in the Benelux: “De smaak van Italië.” This exhibition was at the De Haar Castle in the Netherlands. Two more solo exhibitions followed at the same luxurious castle in the Netherlands in 2008 and 2009. Cristina was the artist in residence during the event and shared her passion for Italian style as well as love for authentic handmade products while engaging with the visitors. In 2007 Cristina’s work was also exhibited for the private art gallery Mira Dissen in the dutch town of Bergen which is home to many painters, writers and architects. In 2009 Cristina realized a special collection of felt shawls that were exhibited in the Textile Museum of Prato, Italy, during the “Lo stile dello Zar” exhibition. The exhibition was dedicated to the crossover existing between textile, fashion and painting from the 14th to the 18th century, and focused on the relationships between two worlds and two cultures, encompassing Western-Italy, Tuscany in particular, and The Grand Duchy of Moscow. From 2009 to 2011 Cristina was an active participant in the “Open Atelier” exhibits organized in Amsterdam West, The Netherlands, engaging with other local artists and the public, who were welcome to visit her studio and see her at work. She also participated in the worldwide online exhibit “Felt United” and other online events such as “Peace Felt”, encouraging exchange between artists all over the world and promoting the art of making felt. Cristina’s work was shown annually from 2009 to 2012 at the “100 artists” exhibition at WG art in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Cristina also participated in the Regional Art Days in the Netherlands in 2011, 2012 and 2013. These were juried shows in different cities in the Netherlands, and her works were selected each year for the following National Art Days in Amsterdam; an annual contest where she won the third prize in 2013.
THE ARLECCHINO PROJECT
Cristina’s studio and shop in Amsterdam burned down in 2010, leaving her with no workplace and no materials. They say that “in a dark time, the eye begins to see”. Cristina felt that invisible threads are the strongest ties. Determined to change this unfortunate event into something positive, she used the remains from previous projects to create a felt statue wearing a large colorful cloak, dedicated to feminine creativity; The Modern Goddess. This piece led to Cristina winning a prize at the National Art Days in Amsterdam. She succeeded in turning the misfortune of the fire into fortune and founded “The Arlecchino Project”. The Arlecchino Project is an ongoing worldwide collaboration. The aim was to connect people from the virtual and abstract world of social media and create a real, tangible work of art. She asked followers on social media to send her a little bit of materials and the response was overwhelming. Her wish was to inspire people to collaborate, exchange, and share. More than 350 participants from all over the world joined and sent a textile contribution. It was a great response and responsibility. The result was the 2012 creation of the first five, 10m long panels and the first of many Arlecchino Project exhibits in Amsterdam. Cristina reached out for a felt gathering of people, far from each other geographically but united in collaborating. She succeeded by connecting the varying threads from all over the world. The project is still ongoing and keeps growing and developing worldwide. A great exhibit took place on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2013 in Florence, Italy, at the Biblioteca del Palagio di Parte Guelfa. Cristina’s huge colorful felt panels were exhibited in this magnificent former medieval church, along with other selected pieces from Cristina’s work and those made especially for this occasion to benefit the Breast Cancer association. The exhibit, scheduled for a month, was extended to three months due to its great success.
SPONSOR and COLLABORATION
2014 was a year of giving back. Cristina organized a series of events and activities to share the joy and success of The Arlecchino project. Cristina was sponsored by DHG, an Italian company, and supported by many felt artists worldwide. In the spring of 2014, felt artist Dorie van Dijk hosted a benefit event at her studio in Nes aan de Amstel, The Netherlands, where Cristina guided a passionate group of women to make felt cocoons to honor the Lost Generation of Australia. Yvette Dorpeide, another Dutch artist, generously gifted her handmade collection of felt beads to the Arlecchino Project. It was a wonderful connection and a true enrichment for the Arlecchino Project. Also in 2014, Cristina presented The Arlecchino Project at the Italian Institute of Culture in Amsterdam along with her solo exhibition ”I Colori di Gaia”, which featured Cristina’s first collection of seamless gowns and was introduced by Dutch fashion designer Ronald Kolk.
HAUTE COUTURE EXPERIENCE
The felt seamless garments made by Cristina have raised the interest of several designers, especially in Italy where she was invited to the Coveri House in her native Florence, and in France as well. She collaborated with a few well known designers, while exploring new felting techniques to achieve different textures and drapes. In 2013 the well known Dutch fashion designer Ronald Kolk discovered Cristina’s work and particularly liked her winning piece : ”The Modern Goddess”. A very interesting collaboration began and Cristina created some pieces for Kolk’s then upcoming collection Pavlopetri, to be seen on the catwalk of the prestigious Huis ter Duin, Noordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. The experience was fun and enriching for both so they immediately began working on the next collection In 2014, the results of the cooperation between Cristina and Ronald were again presented on the catwalk at Huis ter Duin, Noordwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, during the show Classique à la Nouvelle. The core collection was enriched by Cristina’s four felt gowns and several felt shawls in black and white, from her collection “We are all made of stars”. Being known for her bold use of color, care for detail, and love of a challenge, it seemed appropriate to design a whole collection in black and white. Ronald Kolk, while presenting Cristina’s solo exhibit at the Italian Institute of Culture in Amsterdam explained that the work of a competent maestro like him is based on the observation of fabric, the way it drapes and on precision and the ability to cut skillfully. Cristina’s approach while creating a felt garment is very different. She creates the fabric while simultaneously shaping a seamless three-dimensional dress, without sketches and very rare use of scissors. Cristina enjoyed the collaboration with the maestro as she learned so much from his expertise, converting it all into a new vision of making felt and designing her pieces. For Cristina it was a truly valuable experience that she will always cherish.
OTHER INSPIRING COLLABORATION PROJECTS
In 2015 Cristina was asked to open the show “Wool Ways” at the OBA Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she presented a collection inspired by The Arlecchino Project. Her colorfully bold felt dresses and shawls, along with the pieces contributed by participants from all over the world were shown by a group of talented models. It was a tribute of thanks to a beautiful project and its participants, and an occasion to promote wool and its sustainability. In 2016 Cristina guided the making of a giant felt birthing ball for the project ”Look again.nl, birth in the Amsterdamse Bos” where a birth space was prepared in a yurt (traditional felt nomadic tent). Felting together, the participants made a giant felt ball for future parents who will experience giving birth in a natural setting.
Cristina is an experienced, multilingual, international teacher. In 2014 she went on tour in the USA, teaching classes in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida and in 2015 she returned to the USA to also teach in the Midwest and Arizona. Her programs included basic felt shawl making, the theory of color, shibori techniques, texture, and haute couture felt dress classes. The fellow felters who hosted Cristina and her classes made sure she had a wonderful time and an unforgettable experience. The students attending the classes were very talented and traveled from far to be able to join, making the great experience a cherished memory. In 2015 Cristina hosted several masterclasses in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on how to make a felt haute couture dress. She also taught this class in Italy, France, Spain, and at Atelier Fiberfusing in the Netherlands . The students all achieved great results and made beautiful gowns . In 2015 Cristina also taught a “super light nuno felt” class and a “theory of color in felt“ class at the textile museum of Prato, Italy, which was sponsored by the Italian company DHG. The students travelled from Russia, Chile, USA, Italy and other European countries for an interesting exchange of cultures and techniques. In 2016 Cristina taught a haute couture felt dress making class and a theory of color class in England for the International Felt Association, all fully booked. She was amazed by the talented participants and truly enjoyed her generous host, who made sure she felt spoiled while also providing impeccable organization. In 2017 Cristina taught a series of masterclasses in Florence, Italy, including subjects like haute couture felt garments, seamless coats, the theory of color and textures in felt. Returning to her native town and reconnecting with her roots is always a treat and every participant enjoyed the delicious food as much as making felt. Cristina is available to travel internationally to teach and can provide a list of classes with different subjects, varying from basic felt making to elaborate texture techniques, complete with all necessary details as to number of participants and workspace requirements/fees.
Cristina teaches classes for children aged 4 to 12 at her studio in Amsterdam. She inspires children to discover their innate fantasy and guides them into working with natural materials in a playful way. She also offers classes to local schools in Amsterdam. She teaches felt classes at the Steiner School to children aged 10-12 on a regular basis and has worked on special projects for several schools in Amsterdam. In 2013 and 2014 she taught weekly at the Leonardo da Vinci elementary school in Amsterdam where for the annual Leonardo da Vinci celebration day she guided more than 200 students (aged 4 to 11) to make a felt painting with different interpretations of the Mona Lisa. In 2013 she also worked on a special project “Het Winterkoninkje” at the elementary Montessori school, inspiring children to create an underwater landscape felt blanket/painting. Cristina also works with special needs children. Every year she volunteers her time and talents in Italy, creating and founding special projects to stimulate the integration of children in schools and society at large. It is a cause very close to her heart. Cristina is happy to organize creative birthday parties for children aged 5 and up, relying on years of experience to make sure that children have fun, enjoy the process and have an enriching experience. Feel free to contact her and ask about the many possibilities and variety of projects according to age and personal tastes of the participants. At her studio, Cristina organizes classes and masterclasses for adults and gladly shares her knowledge of felt techniques with beginners and advanced students. Her passion for the medium and her professionalism, as well as her innate Italian hospitality, are a warranty for an inspiring experience.
WORK ON COMMISSION
Many collectors have chosen their one of a kind felt paintings either from Cristina’s collection or have had them completely custom made. Cristina is available and willing to collaborate with both private and corporate clients. She has worked with designers, individuals, architects, and for theatre events. Cristina enjoys every interesting challenge whether it is large or small, so feel free to enquire . She is dedicated to translating the customer’s every dream into a very special and personal piece. Cristina’s work is always one of a kind.