Wooden crafts

Miniature nativity set in shell and olive wood handmade in Sicily

At MediterraneanArt we made available for shipping few nativity sets made of walnut shells and sliced olive wood picked locally (Messina) from our and friends fields.

My uncle Salvatore collects and picks during sunny afternoons branches cut for pruning and selects which walnuts are the best for his project. That is why every listed item is unique, I enjoy making many pictures of it. It depends on the walnut shell shape and sliced wood. About the whole process, the first step is the cleaning and smoothing the inner part of a shell, then brushing and varnishing to harden it. The second step is choosing what the best slice matching with the shape of the walnut, later cut accordingly to be stuck together. Once dry, my uncle glues the Holy Family in a circular shape, keeping Baby Jesus at the centre. All statues are stainless silver metal. I usually ship it safely and nicely using a thick paper box made by myself to fit the specific nativity. Please find purchasing details on the item page.

Give it not for Christmas only, is a unique gift for an extra-special family or person. When an item is handmade, it has meaning and value. Gift it saying you know the name of the craftsman who made it. Salvatore works hard making beauties with organic and recycled material, dedicating on his projects his experience and love. Visiting Sicily, everyone may notice in each house a nativity scene, bigger or smaller. It is our tradition.

When an item is handmade, it has meaning and value

Italy is worldwide known for Christianism. Nativity art has been crafted in Naples and later in Palermo. The first crib has been carved by Andrea Mancino back to 1494 in a town called Termini Imerese, inside the church Maria Santissima dell’Annunziata. Following are some reference links:




About the team and Etsy shop

My uncle and I come from a Sicilian village far from touristic routes, lived by local resident only. Back in 2013, we both did not have a stable job. I decided to open an online shop on Etsy. I can consider myself lucky to learn a lot from him. All started when he gave me some fabric yarns purchased in a craft fair. Since October 2012, I have not stopped knitting and sewing fabric jewellery. It really works on self-esteem and makes me proud of my abilities. I am passionate about craftsmanship. Now I live in Malta working as a librarian while I keep helping my uncle managing our shop. I strongly believe in a sustainable environment and in human being, supporting handmade and small business.
My uncle’s crafts are principally made of local or traceable wood and driftwood, getting inspired by the Mediterranean and the Aeolian Islands, so close to our coastline.

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Textile jewellery · Wooden crafts

Buying and selling on Etsy

I opened our Etsy shop already seven years ago, it was the beginning of March 2013. It was not a decision taken in a few days but an idea born during the Christmas market after talking to my uncle’s daughter, who is a jewellery designer. She was the first introducing me into the Etsy world. Starting from reading the “Seller handbook” and make research how to write a good description and title, I tried several times how to make clear and nice pictures using my uncle’s camera and very important, studying British English and American English after 12 years, when I studied it at school.


My uncle makes cute and colourful home and outdoor decorations and ethnic jewellery. He is the maker of our family. Where we come from (North East of Sicily coast) has never been proper tourism, are mostly relatives coming from Northern Italy or heirs from abroad during summer peak months and the only chance to sell is standing on the promenade where folks walk at night having an ice cream or a drink. I have also thought that it is a hard task working long hours while uploading and downloading boxes, standing at a stall for a very short period of the year. And this summer would be even complicated because of the breakdown. I still cannot figure out this. Back in 2013, I was unemployed so I had all time possible to learn new skills I trusted I would be found useful for future jobs. Looking at what is happening all around us I am happy to still keep open and manage our Etsy shop. it is my daily aim of improving it and get sales to compensate my uncle missed earnings.


Our first sale arrived four months later. They were two doorstops to be shipped to the US. After the enthusiasm I had a sort of panic attack, asking myself what kind of packaging would be best and how to ship, not forgetting the receipt. Opting for a simple gift wrap and bubble envelope, I went then to the post office. For a long time I hoped for a reply from the buyer but it never arrived. In all these seven years I must admit the most exciting moment of this business is not the famous “cha-ching” (sound of purchase) but reading the message or the review of a buyer who is happy and says: <<keep up the good work>>. Reviews boost me and confirm I am on the right way.

It is hard trying to sell online if you are never done this before. First of all, everyone should know laws, digital and marketing skills. If you do it without any help and little money is much harder. Having and manage time is another requirement too, even for those who have digital skills. My obsessions are the views of listings, especially when in a full month I have zero views. I struggle to find the right keywords for both Italian and English, but English is more time consuming and attempts. Photography is as well a critic moment since I do not live in a large apartment and have a lot of natural light. There are just specific timings of the day when I can shoot, making my best to get clear and nice pictures. It has been in the last two years I took this business seriously, studying and reading digital and content marketing in my spare time, following group chats on social media and experimenting myself.   

In the meantime, I built up a collection of fabric yarn necklaces which I started making and selling first in Sicilian open-air markets and later in Malta. In this small country I also finally got a job as Assistant Librarian after several years after reading a master degree in Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Moving to Malta has enabled me to think in English rather than use a translator any time. I believe that otherwise, I would not be able to support buyers from the US first, then Australia, Canada, Japan, Hawai, Thailand, Singapore, Israel among the countries I shipped handmade items with a vivid joy of my uncle.

Starting this business has changed my interests.

Ten years ago I was not used to read fashion magazines, I was not keen on psychology and communications techniques. Since I manage this virtual space including this blog, I realize that interests expanded. Today I mostly read essays than fiction but this might be influenced by my main job as academic librarian. I must confess digital marketing is fascinating and transferable in each field.


Why Etsy and not a different marketplace, maybe are you asking dear reader.

Because I liked the way of thinking and approach passing through the website. It was the first marketplace to admit of causing pollution because of emissions due to deliveries and trying to support sustainability planting new trees. It is a specific platform where you find marvelous gift ideas and lovely vintage items. There is so much great design and art that you are never tired of browsing.

Links below might be useful for those of you who want to learn more:




Wooden crafts

Heart and butterfly olive wood keyring handmade in Sicily

Find us on Etsy: www.mediterraneanartmt.etsy.com

Olive trees grow across all the Mediterranean countries and their particular shape make them recognizable even from those who have not much knowledge about tree species. They have twisted branches and large trunks and some are old, it is amazing overlooking a field of olive trees.

I would like to say something about symbolism and history of this kind of tree, called in the proper way “Olea europaea”. It was known and used from the Greek and Roman period. Olive oil was a luxury good well traded while during Olympics athletes and later in the Roman empire valorous men were given on their head an olive round branch as a symbol of glory. The sacrality of the olive branch is also documented in the Bible and it is important for both Hebrews and Christians as an expression of peace and fraternity.

But this marvellous and beautiful tree has many other healthy features: its bark can be used in wood-burning oven releasing delicious smell on baked food, its leaves can be boiled for herbal teas which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Olive oil is full of vitamin E and can be used for improving hair and skin. 

And that is not all. Olive wood has been used since Middle ages in arts and decorative furniture from artisans making pulpits and statues in churches, columns and decorations in private villas, toys, plates, cutlery, trays and more other stuff. It has been used in various ways because of the beautiful pattern of its inner lines it has and a good consistency when carving it and what a smell it makes! 

It is largely used in Italy in almost all center and south regions, Sicily included. 

Whoever holds an olive wooden craft has love and respect for nature

If this one chooses to buy an artisan piece has the awareness  

and respect the work and talent of that man or woman who made it.

My uncle, who has always been a great lover of this wood, creates simple animal-shaped keychains using pieces of the olive tree from the annual tree pruning. With the same template that he uses to make magnets of fir wood, he cut out the shape of the keyring with the reciprocating saw, which he then models with sandpaper. With the drill, he affixes a small hole on each keyring to be able to insert later a cotton thread that weaves and knots or a semi-rigid steel cable and a stainless steel ring. To have an even smoother final effect and a vivid colour, it buffers them with oil which reduces water absorption. They are almost all unique pieces all handmade by himself only and really practical, solid and long-lasting. Mine is a dolphin that I use every day to open the front door from the last three years already. Its shape makes it easily recognizable when I look for it in my bag, especially when I don’t look into it.

Would you like to browse more? Visit our shop mediterraneanartmt.etsy.com

Blog in Italiano · Wooden crafts

Portachiavi artigianali in legno d’ulivo

ENGLISH: Heart and butterfly olive wood keyring handmade in Sicily

Su www.mediterraneanartmt.etsy.com sono disponibili portachiavi farfalla, cuore, gatto, ancora in legno d’ulivo.

Gli alberi d’ulivo crescono dappertutto a nord e sud del Mediterraneo e sono facilmente riconoscibili anche per chi non conosce particolarmente le piante. La sua forma nodosa e il grosso tronco ne fanno un’opera d’arte naturale. Ma prima di parlare dell’utilizzo del suo legno e dei suoi frutti vorrei fare presente anche l’aspetto storico e simbolico di questo arbusto, presente da millenni nella cultura e religione. Se era già considerato sacro per Greci ed Ebrei, assume maggiore rilievo l’uso del rametto d’ulivo con la religione e tradizione cristiana, è generalmente oggi considerata come pianta simbolo di pace e fratellanza.

L’Olea Europea ha tantissime proprietà terapeutiche.

L’olio è sia alimento che medicina mentre con le foglie si possono fare decotti e infusi che

sono degli antifiammatori naturali.

In Italia la diffusione dell’ulivo è in tutte le regioni e proprio per questo in quelle regioni che ne sono ricche, nell’arco dei secoli si è diffusa una grande tradizione dell’artigianato del legno. Sin da tempi antichi e medievali, si realizzano oggetti unici dalle irregolari venature scure che hanno l’odore intenso e profumato del suo legno. Ebanisti, tornitori e altri artisti del legno hanno realizzato numerose opere scultoree nelle chiese, raffigurando santi e beati, pulpiti e altre decorazioni e nelle abitazioni private come giocattoli, cornici e altri oggetti ornamentali

Chi tiene un monile di ulivo ha amore e rispetto verso la natura

e se sceglie di acquistarlo artigianale ha anche coscienza e rispetto del lavoro,

dell’ingegno di quell’uomo o quella donna .  

Mio zio, da sempre grande appassionato di questo legno crea dei semplici portachiavi a forma di animale usando dei pezzetti di ulivo provenienti dalla potatura annuale dell’albero. Con la stessa dima che usa per fare le calamite in abete, ritaglia con il seghetto alternativo la forma del portachiavi, che dopo modella con la carta vetrata. Appone con il trapano un piccolo foro su ogni portachiavi per poter inserire in seguito un filo di cotone che intreccia e annoda o un cavetto semirigido di acciaio ed un anello in acciaio inossidabile. Perche’ abbiano un effetto finale ancora piu’ liscio al tatto e un colore vivido, li tampona con dell’olio per il legno che li rende poco assorbenti all’acqua. Sono quasi tutti pezzi unici, fatti solo da lui e sono davvero pratici, solidi e duraturi. Il mio e’ un delfino che uso ogni giorno per aprire il portone di casa. La sua forma lo rende facilmente riconoscibile quando lo cerco nella borsa. Anche non guardoci dentro.

Per vederli tutti visita il sito : mediterraneanartmt.etsy.com

Wooden crafts

How a gecko, a butterfly and a turtle can make positive vibes at home

Hand-painted wooden decoration for desk, shelf, wall. Made of wood, cut and smoothed, it has been painted by hand with acrylic colors and then with protective varnish.
The gecko is a very common reptile in temperate climate areas and has several peculiarities that distinguish it: the ability to adapt and change colors, its legs manage to adhere to various types of surfaces and still the equipment of the voice instead of a hiss which allows to communicate with each other. It is harmless but above all useful, in fact it feeds on insects, for its intervention it is appreciated in homes. For many cultures it represents adaptability, regeneration, strength and survival skills. It is also a symbol of eternal friendship.

Sperm whale made of wood cut and smoothed, hand painted with acrylic colors and then with protective varnish. Unique piece very special thanks to the copper tail, obtained from scraps of other processes. Eyes are made from a nail and a leather disk.
On the back a string of twine will allow you to hang it in the direction you like most.


Sea turtle inspired by the Mediterranean species “Caretta Caretta”.
Made of wood cut and smoothed then painted by hand with acrylic colors and protective varnish. As unique piece this colorful decoration can be also hung on the veranda, as long as not directly to the sun’s rays that can alter its color. An enclosed envelope contains the kit to fix it on the wall in the position you like best.


Carved and painted unique butterflies for a nursery and baby room. They are different in shape and colors, hand painted on both sides. Choose the way you like to hang them, they do not have any hole. Use a strong double-sided tape and personalize your wall!

Wooden crafts

Handmade linen peg bag : a special housewarming gift

When the time to arrange our wardrobes comes, we never know where and how arrange small accessories such as belts, scarves or socks. At home we started using a linen peg bag as solution for tidying up and it was also an original gift idea for Christmas.

It looks like a girl’s dress instead it is a bag. It can hold towels, linen, socks, clothes pins, wool or crochet kits. Equipped with a hanger sewed inside, it can be easily hung and moved in the wardrobe, behind the door or on the wall. In addition to the central hole where you can store whatever you want, two external pockets are as well sewn. It is very resistant because fabric is double. It is a unique piece because it is made with fabric remnants. Look at other available colors here:


Does not matter if it is a bit messed up, I still feel happy when I am in a place I can call home. When I make order in room spaces and arrange objects, I also put my ideas in order and reflect on what to do next.

Blog in Italiano · Wooden crafts

Tasca portaoggetti fatto a mano : cucito creativo per casa

Quando arriva il momento ad ogni cambio di stagione di sistemare piccoli accessori nei nostri armadi come ad esempio le cinture, le sciarpette o le calze non sappiamo mai dove e come sistemarle! Il “vestitino” é stata una soluzione per ordinare in casa ed una originale idea regalo per chi come mia mamma, ama cucire.

Sembra un abito da bambina invece é un un porta sacchetti, asciugamani, biancheria, calzini, calze, mollette per il bucato, kit lana o uncinetto. Dotato di una gruccia al suo interno, si può facilmente appendere e spostare nell’armadio, dietro la porta, al muro. Oltre al foro centrale dove riporre ciò che si vuole, sono cucite due tasche esterne. E’ molto resistente perchè il tessuto cucito é doppio. E’ un pezzo unico perche’ realizzato con scampoli di stoffa. Guarda qui gli altri colori disponibili : https://www.etsy.com/it/listing/545041309

Nell’ordine o nel disordine mi sento comunque allegra, ma se sono in un luogo che posso chiamare casa. Quando organizzo gli spazi e dispongo gli oggetti, metto in ordine anche le mie idee e rifletto sul da farsi.

Wooden crafts

The light wool offcut : a handmade loop scarf necklace

What I have learnt in my childhood and what I keep trying to adopt in my everyday life, are my mum’s lesson on recycling, especially of clothes, fabrics and sewing equipment. 

That is why I would like to say something about it. 

When I was a child there were times where people used to buy fabrics at the weekly open air market or else in the only two haberdasheries of the local area that sold fabrics and finishing named “Cubo magico” and “Merceria Raffa”. Thirty years ago it was not custom to purchase all one’s clothes from shops. Much rather there was at least a tailor in the family or in the neighbourhood.

I can still remember when the kitchen table was full of tailor’s paper pinned on cloth strips of different sizes. Women of our village came to sew together almost every day with my mother or just to ask her advice. I liked listening to their conversations about new issues of those fashion magazines with included all model patterns that they usually swapped. 

During the last Christmas holidays, some family friends came for dinner. The topic of  conversation was firstly on Christmas presents. We overall receive clothes or accessories, so the talk moved around fashion and trends. What all of us agreed was that nowadays people buy “fast fashion” because there is not time to sew anymore. Apart from that, it may be a paradox but in our area it is now difficult to find fabric sellers.

It was there that my mum’s friend remembered a stored beautiful woolen offcut gifted a long time before. She said that it had a floral pattern with dark red tones, soft to the touch and lightweight. She partially used it years before to make a shirt, but she did not know what to do with what was left. As soon as she asked if it could be useful to me, I looked at my mother who nodded and enthusiastically replied: <<Of course! I love vintage fabrics, they make you think and travel within your mind >>.

A few weeks later me and my mum put our ideas into practice. 

She started with measurements and claimed that the length was not enough for a long stole, as I had thought at the beginning. Instead she suggested sewing two loop scarves and immediately we both  agreed to adorn them with some vintage buttons. I went straight to find two good ones in an old biscuit tin where she keeps them.

I suppose it took her only an hour to sew them. Even though if they were been two simple things, the satisfaction you feel by creating something with your hands it is so much that makes time pass by quickly.

Wooden crafts

A wooden fish mobile : unique carved and painted marine decorations

The first time I decided to go out with my uncle looking for some driftwood was not as easy as I thought while closing the house door. I can still remember it was in January in the early afternoon.

Once there, I got in mind the same place but during the summer season when it looks so noisy, full of umbrellas and inflatables. In front of me then I could see just an isolated sandy beach. Wherever there were trunks, large stones and an overall smaller space than I could remember. In winter storms waves are so long that they halve the depth of the entire beach, but it is also true that the erosion of the coasts is visible without technical tools. In short, I got lost in my environmental thoughts when, after listening to my name, I turned back to look at my uncle’s bag. It was full. I looked at mine. It was empty. Wisely he suggested swapping our shopping bags so he could gather two or three more driftwood before going back home.

Later, he made a more accurate selection of wood. Those which were discarded would rather go into the stove, others would stand aside for a while to check they would not have “disagreeable guests”. It would be a pity to make a wooden mobile and then find out to burn it into the stove! After “quarantine” those will be used to create fish mobiles. It depends on the length of a single branch how big and high will become a wall decor. 

Regarding other wooden decor and magnets as fish, butterflies, swans, geckos so on are made of fir that is sold in boards of different sizes and thickness in carpentry stores. On each board (approx size is 28″x 40″) first he draws the contours shaped with the template, trying to leave as little scrap as possible (which will eventually only end up on the stove) and then starts to carve. The following step is smoothing. The latest phase is painting while listening to the radio.

During winter months as of February and March, his whole apartment is full of boards where literally lie all these “creatures”. 

Fish mobiles follow a different process. Usually, their eyes are painted one part at a time if not color of the iris would be mixed with the white of the pupil. All wooden decors are painted first of color on both sides, but on magnets and wall decors finishing is made on one side only.  Once the paint has dried, drilling is the following step so then every part is ready and he can make mobiles.

A wooden fish mobile : unique carved and painted marine decorations


Blog in Italiano · Wooden crafts

Lo scampolo di fresco lana: Sciarpa ad anello in tessuto floreale rosso fatta a mano

Fin da ragazzina mi hanno insegnato a fare sempre domande per capire la natura delle cose e la mia insegnante di storia e filosofia ha lasciato un gran segno nel mio modo di pensare e fare. Per ogni cosa cerco una causa ed un effetto, possibili connessioni esistenti…solo pensando in questo modo sento di raggiungere una migliore comprensione di un fatto o comportamento e un diverso livello di significato per qualcosa, oggetto o astrazione.

Un’altra cosa poi che fa parte di me e che ho appreso in particolare dalle donne di casa, nonna e mamma, è riciclare il più possibile, con riferimento a vestiti, tessuti e finiture come bottoni, cerniere e quant’altro. Detto ciò vorrei raccontare di una, o meglio due collane sciarpa.

Gianna, una cara amica di famiglia, conservava da circa trent’anni uno scampolo di tessuto che le aveva regalato la cognata quando ancora lavorava in una fabbrica di tessuti su in Veneto. Erano tempi in cui dalle parti dove sono cresciuta si comprava la stoffa al mercato o dalla signora Raffa o al Cubo Magico (le uniche mercerie della zona che vendevano tessuti per abiti). Allora non tutti avevano il guardaroba acquistato in negozio, piuttosto si facevano gli abiti in casa, soprattutto ai bambini e signore. Mi torna in mente quando da bambina vedevo spesso sul tavolo della cucina carta velina puntata con gli spilli sopra strisce di stoffa di formato diverso e alcune donne del paese invitate o per cucire con mia mamma o per discutere su come rifinire o modificare un capo. Mi piaceva ascoltare le loro conversazioni sul nuovo numero della rivista di moda con tutti i cartamodelli che si passavano e si scambiavano e su quello del catalogo di Postal Market dove potevano trovare nuovi spunti e idee.

Durante le scorse vacanze natalizie Gianna e il marito erano da miei a cena e si discuteva che al giorno d’oggi si compri “fatto e buono” perche’ non si ha più tempo da dedicare alla realizzazione di un unico capo e anche perché in zona è ormai difficile trovare commercianti di stoffa.
E’ così fu che Gianna ricordò di avere a casa un bellissimo scampolo di qualità regalatole molto tempo prima che in parte aveva utilizzato cucendo una maglia ma che le erano rimaste due “strisce di stoffa” che non sapeva come usare. Appena mi chiese se ero interessata per crearci qualche gioiello in tessuto, diedi un’occhiata a mia madre che annuì e risposi entusiasta: <<Certo! Adoro le stoffe vintage, ti fanno pensare e viaggiare con la mente>>.

E’ fu così che mia mamma, con le sue abili mani qualche giorno dopo, mettendo in pratica le misure e le constatazioni da esperta, sostenendo di non poterli trasformare in tubolari (vedi qui sotto) perché la stoffa si potrebbe deformare al passaggio delle perline, era d’accordo nel cucire due sciarpe ad anello. Facendo una prova davanti allo specchio e pensando che con tutti i bei bottoni contenuti nelle nostre scatole di latta qualcuno da abbinare ci sarebbe sicuramente stato.

Delle due realizzate, una si trova in America, regalata dal figlio alla madre per Natale. L’altra sta continuando la sua storia in Olanda…

Diventiamo amiche!

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