There are stories that deserve to be told and people that deserve to be met. Marisa Convento is both: a wonderful person with a lovely story. Here in Venice she is known also as the queen of impiraresse (bead-stringers), as she is practically the only one still practicing this ancient profession, which used to be the most widespread among Venetian women until the first half of the 20th century.
In the past, in fact, in the same way in which in other cities women, who could not work outside the house, helped with the family income as seamstresses, in Venice they would string beads, sent to their homes by the factories located on the island of Murano. Imagine groups of women of every age sitting in the calli and corti outside their house, or in the kitchen, all with their sessola (concave wooden container box for tiny beads, called conterie) on their knees, gossiping away while crafting precious jewellery.
Marisa learned the profession relatively late and in a very particular way. She had always been fascinated by this female world, so at the end of the 1990s, she bought a huge amount of conterie from a glass factory that was closing and wanted to delve herself into this craft. She had then the fortune to meet an elderly Venetian impiraressa who had moved to Padua to the same condominium of her mother-in-law and proved kind enough to teach her the basics, while the rest came with experience and ongoing practice.
In the early years, Marisa used to work as a reseller for Tessuti Bevilacqua and would sit down and use her hands to craft necklaces, earrings and more whenever she had some free time. It was at age 45 that she decided to make the step and turn her passion into a real profession and so, Venetian Dreams was born.
Her laboratory is her world. Located in Calle della Mandola, it exudes life, emotions and memories. On the walls her numerous collections of beads from all over the globe (my favourites, the matte African ones) and her beloved butterflies, many bought and many received. Books, spices, pearls, and fabrics everywhere, and her dog's bed just behind her desk. In this space, she spends most of her time, armed with patience and a good pair of glasses.
I met Marisa on the street about a year and a half ago. I remember we were crossing what we Venetians used to call Ponte dei Giocattoli, when she stopped me and encouraged me to continue with the blog and that she really liked the name (while usually -and rightly- people think it's complicated...). She seemed sweet and strong at the same time and her openness and energy positively impressed me; I could feel I had just made a new friend.
Anyway, going back to her atelier, the hours spent threading beads proved well used, as she has been asked to participate in many fashion events and has acquired quite a reputation in town and, also, in the world. Of all her pieces, my favourites are the corals. If I'm not mistaken, corals were among the first designs she learned. She makes them of different sizes, both incorporated into the jewellery and as objects of decor.
Marisa's jewellery is characterised by intense colours and the combined use of Murano beads, Burano lace, and other fabrics and metals. The style is elegant and timeless and if you decide to visit, in addition to the corals, I suggest to ask her to show you the pieces inspired by butterflies. I saw the pictures of the fashion show 'Madama Butterfly' held at her atelier on the occasion of the Venice Fashion Week 2018, with models featuring kimono dresses by Sartoria dei Dogi matched to her jewellery, and everything looked amazing! Marisa also offers workshops, both for privates and families, so don't hesitate to contact her for more info.
I must have spent about one hour at her atelier and really enjoyed our chit chats. A visit to Venetian Dreams is perfect for anyone looking for original pieces of jewellery with a story to tell and, especially, for aspiring bead-stringers! So, just ring the doorbell and let yourself be carried into her world, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Address: Calle della Mandola, San Marco 3805/a - map
Contact: (+39) 041 523 02 92