Wednesday 9 December 2009

Tristan Boutis Workshop

I couldn't resist going up to the V&A in London on Saturday to try my hand in the Boutis Workshop hosted by Francine Nicolle from the House of Boutis in Calvisson (near Nimes), France. I was not alone, there were at least 40 other devotees waiting outside the seminar room in the light and airy Sackler centre in the V&A. Francine spent some time giving us the background to the making of the replica quilt while our eyes popped at the wonder of it, draped over a table before us. Stitched by 4 groups over 3 years with a total of 6,000 hours work, this is certainly a Gold Medal stitching achievement. Later, with the help of French volunteers, we were given a class in Boutis - all the materials and essentials were provided by the House of Boutis. I had tried Boutis before, but hadn't been too sure of my technique, so with the help of Marie, I ironed out a few glitches and now there will be no stopping me! To round off the session we went along to the fabulous, newly-opened medieval gallery to see the real quilt - some 600 years after its completion. It reminded me of superbly crafted ivory. It is definitely a must-see the next time you are in the V&A. In fact, go next week!

I am hoping that in these original portraits of King Mark of Cornwall and some boatment you can see the detail of the outline stitched channels into which a filling of cotton thread is introduced with a large round tipped needle. Only this part of the quilt is 'padded'. The remaining fabric, back and front is caught and held in place with tiny stitches. The whole quilt is reversible and when held up to the light, the light penetrates the thin cotton layers while the 'padded' chanels are cast into relief. Francine said that Boutis makes wonderful decorative lampshades. I feel another project coming on.....


  1. This is so lovely. I would love to have taken that workshop!

  2. Wow!Impressive...
    I'm looking forward to see a glimse of your comming project ;)

  3. How lovely, what a shame the workshop took place so far from the North West, I would have loved to hav attended. Oh well, maybe I need to encourage the Manchester museum to do something similar!

  4. I wish I could have been in London for that ! If I hadn't had to work (sigh). I adore the boutis, have been learning assiduously for a number of years now, and just can't get enough. And I have made a lampshade - more fun than I thought ! I have a little blog for it I hope to see your project finished ;-)

  5. A beautiful and effective piece of work. As you said, it seems very reminiscent of ivory work. I have not seen this piece before but am intrigued by what was achieved with so little scope in colour tones. Thank you for posting.