Marie-Renée Otis, artist in residence in Paris, 
Fellow of the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec 
The Eleventh Week

Didier Guillemain Jewelry Designer

In the Passage du Grand-Cerf street there is also the workshop of one of the famous artisans of Paris: Didier Guillemain’s boutique.

In the Artisans de Paris guide book, that I affectionate, it is mentioned Guillemain’s father was a blacksmith and his uncle a diamond dealer. What an excellent heredity for becoming a jewel designer.

Didier Guillemain’s jewelry is characterized by the mix of gold metal and titanium. Titanium must be weld only by laser technique. Gold and titanium are also incompatible. Guillemain’s designing solution is to create nested pieces. Ingenious.

To tell the truth, I didn’t really meet Mr. Guillemain. His boutique was closed for renovation.

But... I did go to his premises. Does my effort count as a real visit?

A gold and titanium ring by Didier Guillemain

Open house at Radoslav Genev’s Studio

Recently, I visited the paint artist Radoslav Genev, another tenant at La cité internationnale des arts (where I live). This was at the very end of his Parisian journey, he went back home, in Sofia, Bulgaria, only two days later.

Radoslav made many sketches of Paris’ scenes with felt pens and pastel, showing through those pieces his talent as a colorist. In his painting, Radoslav expresses his interpretation of famous scenes: the Eiffel Tour, the church of Notre-Dame, the bridges over the Seine river, the Sacré-Coeur, the cemetery of Père Lachaise, etc.

For his open house, Radoslav was accompanied by his interpreter (he only speaks Bulgarian) and he suffers of impaired hearing. He can almost hear nothing. Nevertheless he draws so beautifully that he doesn’t need any word to understand our appreciation of his work. 

Jardins des plantes in Paris, by Radoslav Genev

Radoslav beside one of his Parisian paintings

Door 1, Church St-Pierre, by Radoslav Genev

Michelle Bordas, Glare Glass

I’ve just come back from Place de la Bastille, an important  crossroad, I wanted to meet nearby Michelle Bordas, pearl of glass maker. She makes those glass marbles for jewelry by heating them with the blowtorch technique.

First, I sent her an email. She didn’t answer. Even so, I took the chance to go to her workshop. This lady had such an interesting life.

Till the 13e century, on the island of Murano (near Venice, famous for its high quality of glass), if someone revealed the secret of glass making, one was liable of death penalty. Some handcraft traditions are still harsh. It took ten years for Michelle Bordas to have access, little by little, to the knowledge of fabrication of this particular technique of glass pearl. She learned mainly from Italian glass blowers. They were reticent to transmit their knowledge to a woman.

Near Place de la Bastille, I found the courtyard Damoye, a peaceful and narrow square bordered by a twenty of little workshops: restorers of old posters and artisanal paper designers replace nowadays the cabinetmakers, carpenters and ironworkers of yesteryear.

But where is Mrs. Bordas' workshop?

Unfortunately for me, she left the courtyard Demoye two years ago, without leaving an address.

Bracelet by Michelle Bordas 

Meeting Madame Maïté Tanguy

Madame Maïté Tanguy is a beautiful and accomplished artist. For her, the life and the hand weaving craft are united. In short, she has a holistic approach of philosophy, spirituality and art. Gratefulness is one of her main moral values. When I left her workshop I kept the impression that I learned a lot and I morally matured, in a certain way. This is rarely the case when we meet new people, isn’t it?

I first met Mrs. Tanguy at the event La neuvième triennale des mini-textiles du musée d’Angers (The ninth triennial of tiny textile pieces of Angers). We were both participating as artists and I noticed her work: a seafood weaved piece. In the aftermath, her name attracted my attention in other exhibitions in France.

But I didn’t know her life before being a textile artist, the numerous years while she wove fabrics for famous Haute Couture designers. She performs many duties at the same time: she still creates exclusive fabrics for designers from Paris and USA; she teaches hand weaving; and she creates work of Art. Phew! I’m not surprised she didn’t go on vacation last Summer. But she is homesick of Britany, her home country. Just listening at what she has to deliver in short notice, one is puzzled by how she will accomplish this feat.

I am so lucky to have the privilege of visiting great creators like her in their workshops. 

She literally lives in her workshop, among threads in all colors, books about Art and many hand weaving looms, boxes and boxes, samples and, of course, her beautiful pieces of Art. There is no more room left.

A magnificent mess where only Madame Tanguycan find herself.

Hand weaving, Les jardins de l’amour, by Maïté Tanguy

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much Marie-Renée for your interesting travelogue! How fortunate to have met Madame Maïté Tanguy. Her work is so creative and wonderful. Thank you for sharing your travels and pictures with us.


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