Credit: United Hebrew of New Rochelle

Bianca Padula was only 6 years old when she moved away from her family and her native Italy to Tripoli. That was where she lived in a camp with other children, who were sent away to seek refuge during World War II, and Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini. 

The camps were run by nuns who taught children new skills and kept them company during their separation from their families. It is here that Padula fell in love with the art of chiacchierino.

Chiacchierino — known in the U.S. as “tatting” — is a technique for handcrafting durable lace from a series of knots and loops. It is derived from the Italian word “to chat.”

It is also the title of Padula’s new piece of art, which was selected as an award winner in a statewide art competition hosted by LeadingAge New York.

Padula’s piece was one of over 200 submitted by residents, staff and volunteers affiliated with the organization. The 70 winners chosen were displayed at LeadingAge New York’s annual conference and will be featured in a traveling art show.

Padula, who moved in 1968 with her husband and children from Italy to the Arthur Avenue area in the Bronx, is currently a resident at United Hebrew of New Rochelle. 

“Chiacchierino” was made up of numerous rainbow-colored knots and loops and created with a plastic tool called a “shuttle.”

Padula enjoys making other pieces of art with this technique and has in the past made lace collars, table runners, coasters, bracelets, and more. Friends and family members, including her son and four grandchildren, have been recipients of the creative gifts. 

“As soon as I finish one piece, I always start another one,” Padula said. “I feel happy when I’m creating new pieces.”

Happiness is staff members’ core goal for residents at the United Hebrew New Rochelle. That means, in Padula’s case, supporting her love of art.

“An important part of daily life on our campus, arts activities help our residents to create connections with each other and to their communities,” said United Hebrew New Rochelle President and CEO Rita Mabli.

“We’re happy to support them and facilitate participation in art shows, which provides a forum for their talent to shine.”