Home > Japanique Boutique > Artisan Profiles > Francesca Partenza

ETSY shop: www.etsy.com/it/shop/COUCOUJAshop
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coucouja

How would you describe your art/crafts? I make accessories and home decor using vintage silk or cotton cutouts from kimono, obi and yukata.

What kind of items do you sell? What is the price range? In addition to making accessories and furnishings, some time ago I was inspired by the tradition of o-mamori ((Japanese amulet charms), so now I also design these in Japanese wood and silk. My home décor items are wooden frames with a “floating” padded fish or heart.
My prices range between 25 and 120 euros.

How long have you been doing this? COU.JA was founded in 2013, although initially I was making items very different from what I make now. My passion for sewing started long ago - I learned to sew from my mother who also began to sew as a child. Over time she became an extraordinarily skilled and original seamstress.

Have you traveled to Japan? I've never been to Japan. It is the dream of my life that I intend to realize as soon as possible. Meanwhile handling - petting almost! - Japanese vintage fabrics every day allows me to travel even if only in my imagination.

What's your favorite thing about working with kimono fabric? Vintage Japanese fabrics have a particular color, texture and scent. I think it's because of the time and process that turned them into something unique and irreproducible. When I make my products I always think about the story that accompanies the fabric that I have in my hands. Who were the people who wore those kimonos? What did they think when they dressed in yukata - what were their thoughts, their emotions? It's as if time has entrusted me with their secrets and I, in turn, have to guard and pass them on.

What is the most challenging aspect of working with kimono fabric? It often happens that vintage fabrics have small imperfections due to the use and effects of time. Initially I was trying to hide them or eliminate them by discarding the damaged portions. Now I have understood their importance and I really like that my creations retain those signs of the time and tell the story.

Tell us more about yourself, about your business ...
I came into contact with Japanese culture almost by accident. The credit is to my husband who, on the occasion of our wedding anniversary, wanted to give me a special gift and, following my passion for sewing, gave me Japanese fabrics. It was love at first sight! Now the use of Japanese fabrics is the most characteristic feature of my work.

At the same time, I like to mix different inspirations. In particular, I am working on a project that involves the use of Japanese fabrics and fabrics from Sardinia, the Mediterranean region where I live. In fact, I have discovered that there are so many things that unite Sardinian culture with Japanese culture. It's nice to feel so close despite the distances.

Here's more of Francesca's creations: