|Traditional boutis stitched in a traditional design. (Francine Born)|
The tradition and heritage of boutis, which is a technique of corded white work whose provenance is specific to the southern areas of Provence and Languedoc, is still being actively promoted and practiced by many needle artisans from the region. It's origins in France date back to 15th century Marseilles, where between 5,000 to 6,000 women were employed in needlework ateliers producing between 40,000 and 50,000 finished pieces of "toiles piques" (hand stitched needlework), mostly for export. Fortunately, subsequent generations have understood and appreciated the rich heritage of this craft. They have continued the tradition with dedication and enthusiasm, both by creating and by teaching.
For the past two years, I have had the privilege to further my study of boutis (it's techniques as well as it's historical significance) from Madame Francine Born , www.boutis.fr, who herself has learned from and worked together with Madame Andree Gaussen, http://boutis.chez-alice.fr/ , author of the book "le Manuel de Boutis" and who is considered to be one of the sage authorities on boutis. Mme. Born has been handed the torch from Mme. Gaussen to educate and perpetuate the craft, which Mme. Born does with much dedication and competance.
|Mme. Born is holding up a tapestry cushion cover, luxuriously stitched and rich in colours. Although this is not boutis, she does appreciate and promote other handwork.|
Mme. Born presides over two local "boutis" groups that meet monthly. This past spring she invited me to join the group that meets in a town near where we live. Just as is the case with quilting groups in North America, these "ladies of the club" all come prepared to spend the day working on their current projects, are eager to learn from each other, and enthusiastically and generously share their specific talents and knowledge with others. And of course, Mme. Born is there to offer her expertise and experience and to provide inspiration.
As is consistent with quilters from all over the world, the enthusiasm of today's generation of "boutiseusses" to share their knowledge and the history of boutis is done with generosity and patience, even to "etrangers" (foreigners) such as myself.
|"Boutisful" ladies all working on their various projects!|
|A beautifully designed and expertly stitched christening gown, made by Nelly (3rd from the right in the photo above).|
|More "boutisful" ladies intensely focussed on their stitching. Mme. Born, standing, is always available to offer guidance and advice.|
|Another individuated (personalized) design of Mme. Born's, stitched by Helene. Helene is an expert on some of the less commonly used lace stitches, like the ones used in the insets above.|
|This class example is made from yellow batiste. Although not as widely used, yellow is another traditional colour used for boutis.|
Since the group does not meet over the summer months, this was the last meeting that I will be able to attend this year, but I am looking forward to continuing my boutis experience in future years and in getting to know these warm, generous ladies better. (And with any luck at all, I will come equipped with a better understanding of the French language!)
The ladies also generously gave their consent to have their work photographed and posted to this blog. Merci beaucoup mesdames!