In the age of mass-produced goods and automated processes, there are some traditions that continue to stand the test of time. Copper molding and hammering is one of these art forms – a fascinating craft that has been passed down through generations in Italian artisan families. Today we want to honor Franco Minazzi, a freshly-retired Ruffoni partner artisan, who has devoted his life to turning pure copper into works of art.
Born in 1938, Franco began working with copper at the age of 11, assisting his father in their small workshop. Through this mentorship, the young Franco learned not only the technical skills but also the story of each piece they created – and, above all, he discovered a passion for this hard but rewarding job.
In 1962 Franco met Fremide Ruffoni and became one of his most active collaborators. 26,000 days have passed since that time. Working from both the Ruffoni and Minazzi workshops - in the basement of his family home - Franco has seen the Ruffoni company grow together with the Ruffoni family. Day after day, creation after creation, Franco fought to keep the art of traditional coppersmithing alive amidst the challenges of the modern world.
And he's not the only one. Step into the Ruffoni workshop – located in Omegna, in the beautiful setting of the Italian Alps – and you'll be transported to a world where time seems to slow down. The air is filled with the rhythmic sounds of hammering and Nerio's songs. Alan is in the tinning room, where he spends most of his time tinning all the Ruffoni Historia pieces by hand over fire, while Slava carefully polishes every pot, removing all the tarnishes and oxidation resulting from the tinning process to bring out the warm shine and sparkle of copper.
Alongside them, the “young” apprentices. Claudio, with his almost 50 years of spinning work, and Corrado support the craftsmen in their various activities, because for this work – which is actually an art form – one of the most crucial aspects of keeping the tradition alive is passing it on to the next generation.
It was Franco himself who taught Lorenzo – the youngest of the fourth generation of Ruffoni – how to use the old lathe in the Workshop basement!
It is people like Franco, Nerio, Alan, Corrado, Slava, Antonella and Elena who both allow us and inspire us to do what we do, every day.
As mass-produced goods and cheaper alternatives flood the market, tempting people away from the value of artisanal craftsmanship, our goal is to keep the Italian artisanal tradition alive, to allow artists like Franco to create beauty, day after day.
The video above is our grazie (“thank you”) to Franco for the passion, craftsmanship and love he poured into every Ruffoni he worked on. Because we strongly believe that by supporting and celebrating the work of copper artisans, we contribute to the preservation of a craft that weaves together artistry and heritage – helping it remain alive and cherished in the ever-changing world we inhabit.
PS: do you have one of the following Ruffonis in your kitchen, purchased before August 2023? (Great) chances are that it passed through Franco’s capable hands!
• Fondue Michelle
• Decorated Frying Pan
• Chef Pan
• Butter Casserole
• Kitchen Jar