Friday, April 26, 2013


photo © Julien Faure
Some pretty ribbons to wrap up the week.

photo © Julien Faure
When you give a bouquet of flowers, why not make it even more special by wrapping a really pretty ribbon around the stems? As Louise de Vilmorin once said, 
they have the advantage of not wilting.

The talented Mme de Vilmorin had just the right, light touch in expressing things of the sort and didn't shy away from writing about simple things like ribbons.

Le ruban n'est pas un ornement superflu puisque son rôle est d'embellir. L'enfant lui-même y est sensible, et je ne connais pas de petite fille dont les mains ne se tendent avec avidité vers le ruban qu'une grande personne dénoue en ouvrant un paquet. Les ficelles sont pour les garçons mais ils n'en savent pas moins qu'un paquet, pour être beau, a besoin d'un ruban.
The ribbon is not a superfluous ornament because its role is to beautify. Even a child is responsive to it. I can't say I have ever seen a little girl who didn't reach out eager hands toward the ribbon a big person was untying to open a package. Strings are for boys, but they know nevertheless, that for a package to be pretty, 
it needs a ribbon.

There's no escaping it; the making of such intricate patterns can't be rushed. With so much artistry, time, energy and talent poured into these little bands of fabric, Virginie Wittmer, creative director at Julien Faure calls the high quality ribbons made by her company  "concentrates of humanity."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another kind of textile: Marc Bankowsky

all photos from M. Bankowsky

There's nothing quite like fabric in the material world, but that doesn't mean it is inimitable. In fact, I collect or at least mentally record the instances I find other media that express the drapes and folds of textiles, so I'll start showing you some I've found. 

I've admired this screen for several years, but  I've just learned that the designer, Marc Bankowsky, had spent many years of his creative career weaving and making impressive textile installations . A true textilian,  he participated for several years at the Biennale internationale de la tapisserie Laussane and has exhibited his textile sculptures at the Musée d'art moderne of Paris and the Centre Pompidou

 Bankowsky's work has been directed towards the decorative arts since the 1990s. He also sculpts and makes very appealingly fanciful furniture of bronze. You can find a full range of his work in bronze, plaster and polyester resin on his site.

Textiles clearly remain important for the artist.
 This hinged screen has something of the drape and drama of Staff swags from the 30-40s as do 
the series of  pieces that follow. 




Friday, April 12, 2013

Color by Monet

photo Le style et la matière
At Giverny, Monet's house and gardens.

The text is below...

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

photo Le style et la matière

"La couleur est mon obsession quotidienne, ma joie et mon tourment."

Color is my daily obsession, my joy and torment.

When the undertaker draped Monet’s coffin with a black shroud in sign of mourning, statesman ,Georges Clemenceau, intervened saying,

 Pas de noir pour Monet, le noir n’est pas une couleur !

Not black for Monet, black is not a color !

He then went to the window, unfastened the old flowered chintz curtain with colors of perwinkles, forget-me-nots, and hydrangeas to spread it instead over the coffin of his close friend.

(as related by Alexandre Duval-Stalla in Claude Monet, Georges Clemenceau: Une histoire, deux caractères)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The other side of fabrics: brocade vs. lampas

Esther by John Everett Millais
"The painting depicts Esther, the Jewish wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus, as she prepares to enter the presence of her husband. As she is uninvited, she risks death, but does so to inform him of a plot against the Jews.
Millais borrowed the Yellow Jacket, a gown given to General Gordon by the Chinese emperor after his defeat of the Taiping rebellion. In order to create a culturally unspecific effect, he turned it inside out, producing the abstract patterns visible in the painting."

Wikipedia explains this intriguing detail. The source of information is
Millais, J.G.,The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais

photo Gésbi-St Tyl

A wealth of silk on the back of some Tassinari & Chatel  fabrics.

Esther's gown is brocaded, which accounts for the great expanse of yellow ground. Tiny shuttles have been worked over certain zones on the loom to form the decoration. Like embroidery, the threads appear only where there is pattern, but as this is a brocade, they are woven in.

The lampas fabrics in my photo have supplementary decorative wefts that are mostly floating on the reverse side of the cloth where they are not worked into the pattern of flowers on the front -  the reason for an entire hairy cushion of silk across the back of the fabric.

This is possible when the fabric will not have heavy use, such as with certain curtains or in a museum or other historic reconstruction. Otherwise, a lampas weave uses a binding warp which extends from selvedge to selvedge to better anchor the weft threads to the back. If the fabric had been for upholstery, the decorative wefts would have been firmly bound to the ground, making a heavier, more compact cloth.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

For the curious

photo Gésbi/Le style et la matière

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - 
the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.
Albert. Einstein

Last weekend I visited the cathedral and museum of Sens. The museum holds many items of great artistry and beauty - and  this case of curiosties. An assortment très comme-il-faut of its kind:
a mutant lamb, an ostrich egg, an elaborate embroidery, 2 still born skeletons, an intricate lock, coral, coco fesses (sea coconut has a more colorful name in French = fanny coconut), a tribal headress,
birds of many colors -
in short, wonders of man and nature.

I'd saved the above quote sometime back.
I thought I'd place it  here, even if a cabinet de curiosités has a trophy case side
and our gaze on it somewhat voyeuristic.
What we find mysterious may differ through time, but it's a needed emotion.
Even when things get a little weird.

New post at St Tyl: Wooly Desks

Wooly desks

source lainesdespyrenees
Are you ready for a little etymology today? 
So many words and expressions relate to fabrics and weaving if you scratch the surface a little.

In French, bure refers to a rough, resistant cloth of heavy weave that is associated with hooded monks, watchful shepherds, and scruffy peasants from the Middle Ages. The name for the cloth derives from burel, a heathery quality of brown, black or ecru wool.

source Orpostal

This cloth was also used to cover tables. Henri Havard described the wool rugs that protected tables from ink and lessened the noise of clattering coins for money changers. 

source planetefacility

In the 14th century, this wooly rug became known as a bureau
By the 15th century, it was not only the rug but the piece of furniture - be it bench, table or chest -  together with the rug that was known as a bureau. The meaning, as we all know, went on to include a room for work at a bureau/desk and further, an administrative organization, i.e., bureau de poste, bureau de style,  bureau of investigation....