Alchimia: Can you tell us what is the core of your teaching at Alchimia?

Marzia Rossi: The aspect that is most valued in the courses we propose, in my opinion, is the discovering and enhancing of the essence of the materials that are chosen each time. Trying to understand through tactile research, the weight, the very nature of the material we use, for example if it is natural or synthetic, or how it can be manipulated.

Metal, of course, is the material we use most, but even beginner students learn immediately that you can use various types of metal and each of them wants and has to be treated in a different manner. It is very important to choose the most suitable one in relation to what it is one wants to accomplish.

Daniela Boieri: The programs are tailored on the necessities and interets of the students. In the case of beginners we teach them how to familiarize with their creativity and with the tools that we use in the field. With professionals, we try to give new inputs to develop and challenge further their work.

Alchimia: What techniques or pedagogical methodologies do you adopt?

Marzia Rossi: We try to teach how many ways there are to wear a jewel; what feeling it should give, because it always is a very personal choice whether it is a more classic or completely experimental type of jewellery.

The process of “making ” a jewel in our courses is definitely practice-based, but it is indeed a creative process, where final objects are achived only via trials and experiments.

Even in the case of more technical courses it is important to understand, by talking to each student, what kind of project they want to accomplish: a series of pieces with a common theme/concept or a few unique very precious pieces require different choices.

Daniela Boieri: In the case of beginners we would start, for example, with the most simple welds, designing and building a necklace and then move on to more complex forms is the case of a box-ring …Or, if they are interested in the closure of the stones, we teach them to make a ring with cabochon cut stone, which is the first approach to this type of technique. In the process of realization of each piece we also examine aspects relating to things such as portability, weight, etc ..Typically in two weeks we get to finish at least three pieces (necklace, ring, brooch / earring).


Alchimia: Who are your students? Can you tell us what kind of people and professionals take part in your workshops?

Marzia Rossi: The versatility of the courses, which aims to respond to interests and needs that are different and quite unique every time, leads to a very interesting and heterogeneous type of participants, coming from all parts of the world. Most of the students that land on the benches of the Intensive Courses are looking for experiencing something new: we have people who were doing completely different jobs and have decided to now think with and through their hands; others are already working or studying as goldsmiths, but are curious to try new methods or others who arrive with many doubts and questions accumulated over time. And here, we try to answer or at least to offer our expertise to support them, and the beauty of it is that when you mix different experiences something new always comes out. This is why the dialogue between teacher and student and also between the students themselves never becomes an end in itself but rather always a good starting point.

Daniela Boieri: There are students of all types …Mostly it is women between 20 and 70 years old. There are those who approach jewellery for the first time to see if it is a type of work that they would like or not; those who already own workshops but want to specialize in some particular technique, those who want to discover and work with materials other than metal…

Daniela Boieri graduated in jewellery, costume design and fashion at the University of Florence in 2001 and specialised in contemporary jewellery in Alchimia from 2004 to 2007. She works as an independent jewellery artist, designer and teacher. She loves metal and its secrets as colourings and patinations, adding and joining, engraving and etching. Her jewellery is present internationally in various galleries and museums.

Marzia Rossi graduated in Interior Design in Milan and studied at Alchimia Contemporary School in Florence. In her work prevails a research for a transparency of materials, even when opaque. Her jewellery pieces have been presented in numerous exhibitions and they are exposed in international art and design galleries. Her work is represented by Antonella Villanova Gallery, Florence and Charon Kransen, New York. She is currently teaching at Alchimia School and she is working in her atelier in Florence.





What can you do with the notions of repetition, pattern and rhythm?

Alchimia’s first year BFA students are happy to present to the blog the outcome of a five-days workshop with Alchimia’s former director, artist and jewelry maker Doris Maninger.

How about starting with a potato?

By using only a potato students created hundreds of black and white patterns and collectively realized a wonderful window installation.


How do you work with a group?

The building of a sense of (temporary) community with fellow students and faculty is a central aspect of  Alchimia’s pedagogical method, as it strengthens self-security and encourages experimentation. Hence a second exercise during the workshop was the realization of a 1 minute music video revolving around the three magic words.


What is the size of a necklace?

The last exercise was about collectively realizing a necklace for the Gods, creating a piece of overly exaggerated size, moving from the micro dimension of jewelry to the space of a window.




The first year BFA is: Silvia Bonardi, Thomas Catry, Yara Diaz Salles, Yu Fang Hu, Daniel Jirkovsky, Ashleigh Mc Culloch, Sarah Ordóñez, Sarah Poupart, Alessia Prati, Yanqi Wuang, Shuang Yue



How do we handle materials, what is their known and usual use, how can their qualities be defined? These questions were at the core of Material and Rules, a five-days workshop tailored for Alchimia’s BFA program by Doris Maninger with the assistance of Carla Movia. The workshop dealt with acts of defining, ordering, categorizing and in essence has the aim to encourage the students to think about how they look at things, and how their own act of looking defines what they see.
During these five days students used play as a form of investigation, understanding the importance of experimentation before final decision making, how that moment of freedom is paramount while keeping an absolute respect for self-imposed rules.

An important part of the this year’s course was the visit to the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of Florence, one of the most significant in Europe. The Museum owns a very important patrimony, through which it is possible to trace the history of research methodologies adopted by anthropologists in the 19th and 20th centuries, and to gain knowledge over the colonial methods adopted to study any non european culture. The most spectacular section of the collections is the more than 25,000 artefacts deriving from exploratory journeys and scientific missions conducted in many regions of the planet in the late 18th – early 19th century. They consist of all kinds of objects: garments, clothing accessories, jewellery and ornaments, masks, architectural elements, boats, equestrian vestments, idols and amulets, offensive, defensive and hunting weapons, tools for farming, fishing and cooking, decorative items from houses, musical instruments, religious objects of different cults, books, paintings and manuscripts. These objects are all made out of natural materials: wood, bark, leaves and plant fibres both in their natural state and as components of fabrics and woven objects, fruits and seeds, bones, ivory, horns, shells, metals, stones, clay, natural dyes, skin, feathers and hair.

The colonial gaze vis-à-vis early scientific methods gave an important inspiration to the students projects, as did the incredible techniques developed to master natural materials all found in the museum’s collection.

Enjoy the visuals yourself and remember, mind your look.





The second year BFA is: Roberta Consalvo, Elisa Cassaniga, Lisiane Hilario, Kristin Knoll, Chloe Leigh, Victoria Matsuka, Ginevra Montoschi, Uta Myazawa, Luisa Quartin, Cosima Rohden, Piera Shi, Sophia Taul, FuYu Tsai, Ian Lai Wen.






















Dates: 25 to 29 July 2016
30 hours
Cost: 700 euro + 22% VAT
Deadline for enrollment: June 20, 2016

Due to popular demand and success, Alchimia offers again a workshop on filigree from July 25 to 29 2016, with Susanne Matsché (, an Austrian-American-German jeweller, specialized in this very particular method adapted to contemporary jewelry.

Take some time, just like this ancient technique requires, to carefully read Susanne’s account over her encounter with filigree, and the richness of its possible creative uses, in contemporary jewelry and beyond.

* When I went studying to Moscow as a young exchange student from Vienna (previously I had studied design for 2 years), I came across filigree which was hugely popular in the jewelry department there, and at first it seemed oddly exotic…but a good teacher managed to draw my attention to the magic of it. He taught me its secrets and I dived into the world of silver ornaments – one year of intense technical training. When I came back to Austria I experienced a cultural shock, and the pieces I had made were shocking for the department (not their style at all)! It took me a while, but after creating a few special pieces, I processed this clash. 

Ever since, filigree has played an important role in my works. Up to this day I am directly or indirectly influenced by this experience. Handing on my knowledge in the filigree workshops I teach, and introducing the technique to students of contemporary jewelry, is so interesting because I can perceive the wide variety of approaches to this ancient technique and the amazing different paths on which the students are taking the fine wires.

* The fine silver wire with which we work in the workshops is very soft, it has an almost textile quality, suggesting associations with techniques usually untypical for metalwork, like stitching, weaving, binding, wrapping…

Due to its softness the wire/the fine silver elements can also be used in a very organic way, as if the parts of the piece of jewelry were growing and flowing. Sometimes I see a vine and I think of various wires winding around the rigid structure of the fence…

* I find it intriguing to start out from a thin plain wire, like a first line in a sketch, and to first build a two dimensional surface from there, then moving on to the third dimension. Working with filigree is also about the excitement of working up all the elements from scratch (even the special solder) into a delicate, three-dimensional piece, which is a great source of inspiration for the students’ work and an opportunity for them to integrate this knowledge into their own previously acquired set of skills.

* In contemporary jewelry there is an overall tendency to create large, sculptural pieces. Working with this fine technique is definitely a challenge, because one’s attention gets drawn to the detail. A colleague of mine, who had never seen my work in real life, was amazed to find that some of the pieces he had seen in pictures were actually smaller than he had thought. The intricacy of this technique and the effort and time it takes to create large surfaces, can be an interesting motivation to “think smaller” (and this doesn’t necessarily have to always refer to the physical size of the piece).


* The roots of the filigree technique in jewelry lie in ancient mediterranean cultures (the Phoenician, Etruscan and Greek Empires). With the rise of the Constantine Empire in the first millennium BC, the technique was introduced to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Filigree was, and still is, used in many parts of Latin America (as introduced by the colonial powers) and the Oriental world (from Northern Africa all the way to the Arab peninsula) as well as Asia. Filigree was also practiced throughout Europe (from Portugal, Spain and Italy, through the Alpine regions, all the way to Scandinavia, the Baltic states and the Balkans). In many parts of central and Western Europe today however, the technique is barely used anymore. The high cost of labour made it hard to produce and its distinctive style became generally unpopular in mainstream jewelry in Europe during the 20th century. 

Since ancient times the challenge of this technique was “to use minimal amount of precious metal to create an object of maximum size” (Oppi Untracht, “Traditional Jewelry of India”) and it remains an interesting challenge for today’s young jewelers and a sure source of inspiration!

*Among the things I always find inspiring is to look at traditional pieces and costumes from all around the world. Often they involve filigree. It is not only inspiring to study the actual pieces, but also the context and the way they were worn. One of my favorite examples is the national costume of Zeeland (a region in the Netherlands) where women wear the most amazing headgears.

dutch lady

* In today’s world full of efficiency and simplifications, it can be rewarding to take some time for a closer look at such an ancient and intricate technique, which is so slow and so loaded with ornaments. I find that taking this step “backward”, can lead to unexpected steps forward/sidewards/inwards,… or it can lead to an in-depth examination of the present (work), with its underlying ideas and approaches.

* The word “filigree” is often used not only in relation to jewelry, but in general to poetically describe something fine, light, fragile and delicate, regardless of the dimensions. Many things, from sugar decoration for cakes to the work of the ingenious engineer Gustave Eiffel are all associated with “filigree.” When entering the German word “filigran” into an internet search engine, apart form jewelry one finds entries about insects, botany, tattoos, even construction of concrete bridges. No matter what size, “filigree/filigran” is a fascinating principle dealing with the use of the structure’s lightness to create space. Therefore, I believe that inspiration for fine pieces can be found anywhere, on the streets, in a hardware store, on a map, in a forest…





A workshop led by Doris Maninger with the students of the second year of the BFA program.

“Proust said something to the effect that we only see beauty when we’re looking through an ornate gold frame, because beauty is very much about familiarity and it’s reinforcing an idea we have already. It’s like when we go on holiday, all we really want to do is take the photograph that we’ve seen in the brochure. Because our idea of beauty is constructed, by family, friends, education, nationality, race, religion, politics, all these things.”

Grayson Perry, The Reith Lectures*
* By clicking here you can listen to all of them.
Between the 1st and the 11th of February 2016, the students of the Alchimia BFA Program participated in a workshop led by Alchimia co-director, jewelry maker and artist Doris Maninger, titled How Much of You is in Every Me?.

Through this workshop I stimulate students in thinking about the formation, the weight and the role of their own cultural identity and how much it influences their work, and the conceptual and practical decisions they take. Via a variety of exercises they reflect on how much their biography (influenced by history, context, gender, etc.) affects everything they do, whether consciously or unconsciously. This workshop is also intended to wash away the fear of not being original (I believe we are always and never original), of copying, of not being knowledgeable enough. My aim is to make them aware of how everything they make, the repetitions they happen to produce, the patterns they create, all deeply relate to their persona, so why certain forms and thoughts always reappear, and what it is they are staying away from…”

Doris Maninger

To fill the gap between course descriptions and actual experience, Alchimia asked Margaret Munchheimer, one of our participating students, to write an account of the workshop from her perspective.

“Interwoven into each one of us is a unique combination of collective memory, cultural references and personal experiences loosely defined as ‘Identity’. This month, Doris Maninger guided us towards an in-depth investigation of this topic. Using photography, sketching, and model- and jewelry-making, this workshop looked at the forces and currents that shape and define us, and how they resonate and return in our practice. As a starting point for the analysis of the patterns, shapes, numbers and themes that recur in our work, we realized freely-interpreted presentations of our cultural identity and shared with the group the images that inspire us.
By identifying a single shape to represent ourselves, we built 3-D models, dissected and reassembled the same form, used and worked on the shapes of others, and deconstructed everything in multiple ways,  contemplating how much of ourselves we project on the other. We finalized the worksop by realizing a self-portrait as a jewelry piece,  critically discussing our choices regarding both form and function, via the new lenses of how and why we define ourselves through what we create.
The results were challenging and also emotional, especially in relation to the definition of the Self via the use of one image, and the interpretation of someone else’s gaze over our own work. A final exhibition of everything we realized showed a very cohesive insight into each student’s aesthetic, revealing yet another link between our personal artistic vocabularies, adding another narrative thread to the reading of our work.”

Margaret Munchheimer


A summer course with Giampaolo Babetto

July 4 to 8, 2016

Alchimia is happy to present Cold Connections, a workshop by Giampaolo Babetto, returning to the school after several years. One of the most prominent Italian jewelry artists of our time and particularly known for his pieces in elastic hammered sheet gold, he will give a five-days workshop focusing on how to animate metal and create forms with only one tool: the hammer. In this short time-frame participants will learn how to realize bracelets like his famous pieces in the photos below, by only using cold connections.

Giampaolo Babetto was born in Padua (Italy) in 1947. He studied at the Pietro Selvatico Art Institute in Padua and at the Academy of Belle Arti in Venice. Since 1967 he exhibited his work in museums and galleries of the world, including in Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain, Japan, and the USA. His works are in the permanent collections of many important museums including the Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munchen; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Musee des Art Decoratives, Paris; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Museo degli Argenti, Firenze; Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among the others. He is the recipient of several awards such as the Andrea Palladio International Jewellery Award, Vicenza (2012); the RISD New York Athena Awards for excellent career, Providence (2003); “Ring of Honour” Foundation of the Ring of Honour of the Association of Goldsmiths, Hanau (1998); Herbert Hoffmann Preis, Munchen (1985 and 1975); the Grand Prix, Japan Jewellery Design Association, Tokyo (1983). He lives and works in Arquà Petrarca (Padua).


Bracelet, 1988, yellow gold


Bracelet, 1991, yellow gold, pigment


Bracelet, 1996, white gold, Niello

Bracelet, 1996, white gold, Niello


Bracelet, 2007, yellow gold, Niello

Practical Information

From July 4 to 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

30 hours in total

Cost: 800 euro + 22% VAT

Deadline for enrollment: May 31, 2016


For further information please write to the school office at



The students of the second year of Alchimia’s BFA  are  presenting  their November project,  a five day workshop with Doris Maninger assisted by Sana Khalil, dealing with definition – order – category.
How do we handle materials, what is their known and usual use, how can their qualities be defined, were some of  the arguments the students had to approach during these five intensive days.
The workshop also looked on the importance of play and investigation before final decision making, first utmost freedom in order to be open to surprise and then absolute respect for self-imposed rules.

We worked with a quite substantial number of materials, ordered and categorised them and handled them in ways we had never done. Rice, cellophane, leather, plastic, foam, tin, thread, paper, fabric, sponge were some of the materials we treated and the outcomes were often surprising.
Finding rules to follow for the final piece was quite hard but it allowed us to focus better and helped to take decisions.


The second year BFA is: Anna Hui, Bonnie Hsu, Clara Nguyen, Daria Olejniczak, Eleonora Natali, Irene Belfi, Lina Gorbach, Margaret Munchheimer, Marisa Leenutaphong, Vanessa Karla, Yanis Turcarelli, Zac Zhang, Ziwei Yi.