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A work of art interwoven with works of art

Art tapestry, every Portalegre tapestry is in fact an original work of art by itself, due to its own properties and the means used to translate the original. By means of a totally manual procedure it has as the starting point an original painting by a known Portuguese or foreign artist.

The original is enlarged to the desire size onto a squared paper where each square represents a stitch – called the weaving drawing. The designer then works on the drawing, by comparison with the original, paying attention to the shapes, borders between colours and every detail that will have to be translated into the weaving. The colours have also to be selected, which involves matching the original with the colours (over 7,000 are available) in the manufacture’s wool palette. The decorative weft consists of eight threads, which means that different coloured yarns can be mixed in the same weft, producing very rich chromatic effects, enabling depth, transparency and surface superposition effects with virtually an infinity of colours.

The chosen colours are shown on the weaving drawing by a reference number, while the different areas are also identified by very light washes that help the weavers to identify which weft to pick.

Once complete, this drawing acts as the original for the weavers and will be hung over the warp together with the balls of wool of the selected colours.

Portalegre tapestries are woven by hand on vertical looms. They are woven from the base up and from the reverse side. The decorative weft wraps around the warp, crating a density of 2,500 stiches/dm2.

The tapestry grows horizontally. After each passage of the decorative weft there is a passage of a fine cotton weft which will be concealed by the thickness of the decorative weft.

Portalegre technique allows high definition on small details and the creation of very precise forms as well as unique structural characteristics.

Portalegre tapestries are highly decorative, the result of a combination of factors: being based on originals of recognised quality, their size, the fact that the technique produces work with a smooth surface, and that the decorative weft is 100% wool, which means that although the colours used may be luminous, the finish work does not shine like an oil-painting. Instead, the finished product improves the acoustic and heat conditions of any room where it is hung.

Portalegre tapestries are limited series of 1, 4 or 8 tapestries based on the same original, each one numbered and hand-signed by the artist on the bolduc, a small rectangle of fabric sewed on the back side of the tapestry. The bolduc also states the title, number and the dimensions of the tapestry.

More then two hundred Portuguese and foreign artists have had their work translated into Portalegre tapestries.

The initiative to translate into Portalegre tapestry an original painting can be from the artist or from the Manufacture. Contracts relating to royalties are always established. Commissions for individual works of art are also accepted, with the client providing the original and undertaking to pay the royalties to the artist.

The manufacture is located in Portalegre, and there is also a gallery in Lisbon – the Portalegre Tapestry Gallery – which has a permanent exhibition of tapestries, and houses most of the pieces available for delivery.

There is also a department for maintenance (cleaning and repair) of tapestries.

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