Every settlement that was a part of the nowadays Bulgarian theritory, from Thracians to medieval Bulgarians was dependent on leather, hence leatherworking certainly was one of the most important professions of the ancient people. When the Bulgars (tribes that the Bulgarians originate from) settled on the Balkans, they were already familiar with the craft of leatherworking.
On entering I’m greeted by two things – a young smiley woman and the well too familiar pleasant scent of leather. Learn more about what leather actually smells like here.
“Welcome to Art Studio Giovanna. We hand make leather bags, backpacks, purses, belts and all different kind of accessories.” She explained. As we started to talk I understood that her name was Plamena and that she was not the only one working there. Her mother, Ivana, hence the name of the studio- Giovanna, started this business in 2016.
“After working twenty years for brands like Versace, Chloé
As our conversation advanced, the topic of present days in Kapana was started, I was really curious to see what an artisan of the 21st century thought about it. “It definitely is the place for craftsmen. I only wish more people would open their workshops here. Instead, now there is a flood of cafés and restaurants. We need more art and culture in this neighborhood, after all, wasn’t this the primary idea?” Learn how this neighborhood changed by visiting our tour.
I was about to ask what makes their studio unique when I saw a customer coming in to pick up their custom- made hand bag. Plamena later explained that most of their products are made upon request. “We seek to make strong relationships with our clients. We aim for the highest quality by using only the finest of leather. It is more than just making bags, there’s a part of us in each product we create.” This definitely answered my question. Just as I expressed my admirations and thanked her for her hospitality, she invited me to craft something myself. How could I refuse?
Plamena guided me through some simple leatherworking tasks for beginners. I had no idea how meditative and fun the process could be. When I was ready she encouraged me to make a present out of the small souvenir I made. “If you really want to know how we feel as crafters, you have to make something for someone else.” After hearing the inspiring story of her family business, I felt motivated to give more to others. If you would like to become an apprentice at Art Studio Giovanna for half an hour, like me, and see more of the local artisans, join the Kapana Arts and Crafts tour.
It’s incredible how passionate and mature this young lady was. As I left bright and uplifted, I appreciated the people of Kapana more than ever. Most importantly, I finally realized why it was common in the past to spend your entire day at the workshops while your requests were taken care of by the skillful hands of the craftsmen.