THE MALTESE CLOCK
The Maltese Clock’s real origin is difficult to trace. However, tradition has it that they adorned houses of the Maltese nobility as far back as the 17th century.
The clock was made of wood suitable to take on several layers of gypsum, which was then engraved and decorated with gold. The case had two doors. The inside door incorporated the hand painted dial to which a hand made clock mechanism by Maltese Clock Master Makers was fixed from behind. Further down in the clock face the moving pendulum could be seen through a decorated aperture. On the front there was another door, which was framed with glass to protect the dial and ornate hands. The clock case was then painted and abundantly decorated with flowers typical of the colourful finish for which the clock is renowned.
These clocks were made either as wall hanging or table clocks. The former were, however, the most popular. Today, the Original Maltese clocks are collectors items and very hard to find for acquisition as they fetch very high prices running into thousands of Liri.
However, the tradition goes on with the reproduction of these clocks. They are made in the same original manner using the same technique. The only difference is that one cannot find the original hand-made clockwork. Two types of movements are used nowadays: a mechanical movement, which is adapted to be wound from the inside of the clock or a quartz battery movement. The latter is more commonly used being more practical.
The Maltese Clock reproductions come in different colours, the most popular being green, black and terracotta (maroon colour). Our clocks are decorated in 22-carat gold leaf. They carry the Clock Studio’s certificate of authenticity. Every clock is carefully made after a long process. Mass production is not possible!
Malta has a tradition of making some remarkable clocks, in designs unique to the Islands. The industry today is small, but has a fascinating history. These clocks are nicknamed ‘Arlogg tal lira’ clocks, or clocks that cost one Maltese pound. Today, you would need to add a couple of digits to that price. The clocks are laboriously made in intricate stages. Their casings are finely painted and gilded. An exhibition held by a heritage foundation Patrimonju Malti in 1992, displayed some 73 of the most interesting and historic examples on the Islands. The exhibition included wall-mounted domestic, mantel and grandfather types and clock movements including one of a turret clock, various sundials and a full-scale diorama of a fully equipped clockmaker's workshop of the period
Another distinguishing feature of Maltese/Gozo lace is the 8 pointed Maltese crosses that are worked into most, but not all of this lace. These crosses are done in what lacemakers call whole or cloth stitch. (see photo)
The last of the most recognizable features are the leaves known as "wheat ears" or "oats". They are plump and rounded in shape compared to the long narrow Bedfordshire lace leaves. Bedfordshire lace, which is sometimes compared to Maltese lace, has some similarities and were probably both developed from the Genosese bobbin lace.
It is interesting to note that larger pieces of real Maltese lace are made by piecing together sections rarely wider than 6 inches. One more thing to look for in assessing Maltese design is the more fluid styles. Genoese lace is more geometric and without the swirls developed in Gozo. Another interesting item that lacemakers might find interesting is that the patterns do not have the pin holes pre-marked as in the closely related
A wide variety of made in Malta sterling silver jewellery are available in this category. Look out for the very popular hand-made sterling silver Maltese Cross which comes various shapes and patterns making it suitable to all ages and preferences.
You can find sterling silver jewellery items which can be used as earrings, pendants, rings, necklaces, bracelets as well as many other decorative items making them suitable for a gift or as a souvenir.
All finished products are certified for authenticity and hallmarked accordingly by the Government Consul
Basket-making is an old craft developed for the needs of the fishing industry, agriculture and for households. Wicker furniture is also a flourishing craft industry today; many workshops export their goods. Gozo’s markets are full of useful and fun items from log baskets to decorative fishing pots to sunhats
Fabrics & Knitwear
Since classical times, the Islands have been renowned for the excellence of the local cloth. Roman orator and senator Cicero refers to quantities of Maltese cloth that had been stolen. He also states that Malta had ‘become a manufactory for weaving women’s garments’.
The cotton industry thrived up to the early 19th century, then declined. Up to World War I, the Islands produced coarse and finer weaved cotton on traditional hand looms. Today, fabrics are produced by both hand spinning and mechanised means.
The woollen industry remained small, but Gozo today produces useful heavy knitted garments and rugs. You will find a wide range of woollen and fabric garments and accessories including skirts, handbags, ties and wall tapestries
Pottery & Glassware
Pottery ranks among the most ancient of Maltese crafts. Many pieces unearthed from the Megalithic period are works of art in their own right, such as the ‘The Sleeping Lady’ found at the Hypogeum, the most precious of all.
Today, the pottery industry creates useful and fun objects, household items and souvenirs ranging from candlesticks, pendants, decorative tiles to lamps and flower pots.
Glassware is a relatively new craft, although the industry was present on the islands in Phoenician times. Entirely mouth blown and hand made, much of the glassware today is a type of original Maltese glass in strong Mediterranean colours
HISTORY OF GANUTELL
Flowers were always used as a means of decoration with artificial flowers being first used in Eastern countries. These Flowers made of different material such as fabric, paper, seashells, woodshavings ,ribbons, and silk were mostly used for decorating dresses and hats and years later were mounted to decorate houses and churches. These beautiful mounts, which were kept under glass domes can still be found in private collections and in churches.
In the sixteenth century our ancestors made use of the spiral gold and silver wire called canutiglia, and together with silk thread, glass beads, pearls, gems, and gold and siver wire, made these beautiful flowers called Ganutell. In fact the word Ganutell is derived from the Spanish word canutillo.or the Italian word canutiglia.
This craft or better still art was practised in monastries and apart from the nuns,few indeed were those who really mastered the craft. The knights of St John commissioned nuns and monks to produce beautiful mounts to be given as gifts to Popes and Royalties.
In 1775 mounts were sent to Rome as gifts for the Pope. In 1787, Grand Master De Rohan sent a mount to Catherine of Russia. A very precious mount enjoys pride of place in a small chapel in Lija, a small village in the centre of the Island. This was a present to the Virgin Mary from the cousin of Pope Pius IX .There are many more of these artistic treasures for as time went by even monks in monastries worked Ganutell.
Because of the second world war the art of ganutell almost came to an end as only a handful continued to practice this art. In 1970 enormous interest was shown in natural flower arranging, indoor plants and dry flower techniques. Attractive as these were, they could never replace Ganutell. The late nineties brought about a sudden revival of the Ganutell flowers
Nowadays many are those who teach the craft but according to Guido Lanfranco, an authority and writer on local natural history and folklore, only a few have the real inclination and artistic qualities to reach an excellent standard of technique and proper presentation of Ganutell mounts.
Today we can find all the materials we need.. Rayon floss is spun with silver gold or coloured wire on a wooden spindle. Once the thread is prepared, various petals are worked. These petals can also be trimmed with zig-zag or twisted wire, or decorated with colourful glass beads, Once the required number of petals is complete, the flower is mounted. The required number of flowers to form a bouquet or, to give it its technical name, the mount, must then be made.. The mount must obviously be designed beforehand, giving due regard to colour and form, and when these together with all the necessary leaves and flowers are in the hands of the artist, the end result is sure to be an awe inspiring work of art.. The finished mount is usually placed under a glass dome or placed in a box-frame to help preserve it and is normally placed in a prominent place to be admired by family and friends.
Ganutell is presently being also used to make head dresses for weddings and special occasions, wedding and Holy Communion dresses are also being trimmed with ganutell flowers. Notwithstanding the fact that the flowers are somewhat fragile, they are strongly gaining in popularity and this augurs well for a craft which had practically died out.
Ganutell flower making consists of first and foremost twisting silver or gold plated thin wire with thread. Thin thread of various colours is used to produce different colour schemes. Soon after assembling the wire and thread, this is twisted over a slightly thicker silver/gold plated wire to produce petals. After creating a number of petals, these are assembled around a bead or pearl so that a flower is shaped. Different sizes are produced according to the sizes of the petals twisted. The petals can be made of different patterns. Besides, sequins, beads and small pearls could also be inserted within each petal to offer a richer looking flower.
The advantages, when compared to beaded flowers are; the flowers are light weight and have a satin-look and easier to create. The flowers incorporate several basic techniques, all are outstandingly elegant. These flowers are infinitely suited to apparel and jewellery applications.