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Stitching the Boutis Blues

Europe is rich with magnificent historical buildings, many dating back to medieval times and earlier. Spending time exploring some of these amazing architectural structures is always a priority and highlight for me when traveling in Europe. After reading "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, I became particularly fascinated with cathedrals and living in France for a number of years gave me the opportunity to visit many of them.

Cathedrals provide a huge source of design inspiration for me. From floor to ceiling, inside to out,  they hold a treasure trove of motifs and patterns. I have spent hours photographing and collecting data in these churches and cathedrals and they have become an important resource for me. Rose windows, in particular, fascinate me and have become a recurring theme when I'm making patterns for my boutis. The radiating bars that divide the circular windows into segments easily lend themselves to boutis design.

With the help of my husband and Autocad, we took one of our photos of the "Rose Sud", one of the three rose windows of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,

and made a simplified template, from which I created my pattern for the boutis rosette.

The initial intent of this project was to do a very traditional white on white boutis.

I started with two of the most basic stitches used in boutis; "point avant" (running stitch) and "point du piqûre" (a tiny backstitch).

To emphasize the arches, I later outlined them using a tiny embroidery stitch. At that point, although the stitching was completed and the piece could have been corded and finished, I wasn't quite ready to let it go.

Adding interesting stitches to boutis is an acceptable form of embellishment, so as taught to me by the ladies in France, I tried my hand at making these "rosettes". As this was my first go at making "rosettes", mine are anything but perfect, even after having remade many of them.

When fire almost destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral last April, much of the world watched with shock and horror. It was a great relief when news came that the rose windows were spared.

However, the white, airy translucence that I had been trying to achieve, no longer seemed appropriate. Even though the centuries old stained glass had been spared, seeing the burned out ruins left behind inspired me to add a dark, smokiness to the piece.

Adding greys and charcoal seemed too dark and overwhelming, so I chose different shades of smoky blue thread to represent the charred remains.

This addition of the blue, however, means that much of the work has to be restitched. Perhaps a (little?) too ambitious, (or nuts?)

A close up of the restitching in progress.

It seems that this little piece is ever evolving, however slowly and steadily,  just as the cathedral itself.

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