A string to paint the Van Gogh’s thousand colours

Reproducing a Van Gogh painting using fabrics. Yes, it could be an unreasonable and impossible idea and this is exactly what some ladies from Rivalta (Turin, Italy) thought as soon as their teacher, Ornella Marelli Gallo, proposed it to them.


We all perfectly know the sad and penniless destiny of the Flemish artist. His fate played him a trick relegating him, when alive, to the most unknown and excluded painters of the Nineteenth Century. Van Gogh was forced to years of suffering, with personal and professional frustrations which then took him to suicide, while praising him after death. His paintings are now so appreciated that can be valued up to millions and millions of Euros and, as it just happened some weeks ago, his works can even be found within the confiscated booty of some Camorra men nearby Naples (Italy).


The reproductions of his paintings, full of colourful brush strokes, wavy lines and bends, can’t be no more counted, you can find them in the dentist’s room, in a bar, on the ads, everywhere. But it never happened to me, till last September, to see a worthwhile, beautiful reproduction that would make me stay for a long time in front of them enjoying every single extraordinary detail.

The last 24th of September, during the event “String by string, a knot will be created” in Collegno, Turin (Italy) four different exhibitions took place in the old school of the Leumann Village. In one of the rooms fifteen reproductions of the most famous Van Gogh’s paintings hung up, from the Self-portrait to the Starry Night, from the Sunflowers to the Café Terrace at Night. All of them were made without using neither a brush nor a pencil but sewing small pieces of fabrics together using the patchwork technique.




Ornella, who has been teaching an art textile course in Rivalta for years, decided to test her skinned students and challenged them to create these reproductions. They were at the beginning super anxious about the proposal but they started creating their patchwork tapestries, developing day after day a real passion to this charming technique and eventually creating some real masterpieces.



Ornella, enthusiastic of the achieved results, explained us the different steps of their work. “We started tracing with a pencil the tracts of a photocopy of the chosen painting on a piece of paper. Then we cut thousands and thousands of small rectangles made with fabrics of all the colours of the painting, choosing all the different shades. One by one, then, they glued the small pieces and, once all of them were put on the paper, they put it under the sewing machine which guaranteed the brushstroke effect.”

Brushstroke effect that we delightfully contemplated: those lines recreated with the string of the sewing machine, guaranteed this fantastic painting effect. Congratulations to all the students of the course and, off course, to their teacher Ornella!


Text and photos by Eletta Revelli

The latest issue of the print magazine packed with interviews and features on eco and heritage artists and artisans is available now.

You can talk to No Serial Number Magazine too. Join our Twitter conversation (#noserialnumber) as we talk to eco artisans and designers changing the way we think about our lifestyle choices. You can also share your views and keep up to date with our latest articles by joining the newsletter or following us on Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *