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

The French Sculptor Martine Bartholini

At the Cité international des arts, in the courtyard, Martine Bartholini exhibits a large piece of art, placed on three desks. 

Her piece of art is like a large winged siren made of the Host (consecrated bread) and pins. The Host, on certain section of the piece, are tightly assembled seeming to be fish scales. 

With this strange material Martine Bartholini creates gracious curved shapes.  This is a fragile sculpture. Martine has to be very cautious with this material. The humidity makes the Host rotten and the varnish makes it melt! The piece has a short life expectancy. But that doesn’t matter for this artist. Her purpose is to use some material in a completely disconnected meaning, away from their genuine usage.  Indeed, this is the title of her open house Détournées (Hijacked).

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault
Marie-Renée Otis, artist in residence in Paris, 
Fellow of the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec 
The Seventeenth Week

Moving to Another Apartment

I have been living in Cité internationale des arts for 3 months now. Since the beginning I was supposed to inhabit in the official apartment dedicated exclusively to Quebecer artists, recipients of scholarships. Unfortunately, the Studio du Québec à Paris needed some repair. Everything is under control now and I can move into.  

The new apartment is one floor down. Mainly, I have the same view but I can better see the River Seine.  I enjoy this new apartment. In comparison with other studios, I have the impression of living in a Five Star Hotel. This is a well equipped apartment: a diner corner (a table and 4 chairs); a toaster oven; a micro-wave oven; a salad spinner, very convenient, I eat a lot of salad. 

The lighting is also better, for embroidering and reading it makes a big difference. There is a large closet; a balance scale, not for checking my potential gain of weight, rather to weigh the luggage before going to the airport. 

And there are bookshelves with many books from former tenants, who surely couldn't bring them back home, their luggage suffering of overweight. There is a large variety of readings: theater plays, books about dance, music, cinema and literature. When it will be my turn to leave Paris, I will manage to add something on those shelves.  Following are some photos of my Parisian nest. I warn you, in the kitchen what looks like a dishwasher machine is in fact the refrigerator...

The Artist Quilter Cosabeth Pariaud

To visit Cosabeth Pariaud’s exhibition I went far from downtown, to the suburb area of the 17th borough. This is a theoretical frontier, only existing on maps. In fact like everywhere in Paris, you can see lots of 7 or 8 story building, restaurants, little grocery stores, bakeries, boutiques of all sorts and people speaking every possible language, of every possible nationality.  What has astonished me was a big truck. You know the size of trucks we have in Canada for oil deliveries. Well, I saw one like that delivering what do you imagine?... flour for a bakery! An enormous quantity of flour passing by a large pipe. Enough flour to make baguette breads for the entire surrounding for a long period of time.  Oh! the Parisian baguettes, they are so delicious still warm, freshly baked in the morning.  So, here I am at Gustave-Eifel library, a kind of community center where five people, sitting in front of computers, are looking for jobs or good deals.  

And what about Cosabeth Pariaud pieces of quilting?  

They are hanged on the community center main room walls. They splash colors and colors and even more colors. The colors take simple geometrical shapes: rounds, squares, rectangles sewn in different types of fabric texture. Or they are striped with paint. 
Others exhibit photographs. transferred on fabric and embellished with stitching and... more color.

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault
As most of you know, my son Devin got married on November 15th. The wedding was wonderful and everyone had a great time. In fact, the wait staff mentioned that with all the drinking that was being done, they were surprised there were no brawls. Just everyone enjoying themselves and getting along with each other.

I did a lot of sewing for the wedding. I made eleven wedding bags; one for the Bride, three for the bridesmaids, two for the mothers, two for the grandmothers and three for the aunties. I used the same bag pattern, with each bag having it's own focus fabric and the pocket stripes used fabrics from the other bags. The Bride picked which bag each person was to receive and jewels were sewn in their initials on the bags. For those who are Harry Potter fans, the Gryffindor colours of Red and Gold were chosen by the Bride.

Maid of Honour Bag

Bridesmaid Bag

As my son and new daughter-in-law are also comic book aficionados, I also sewed 16 table runners in gold lamé with red binding. Again, the Gryffindor colours were chosen. The table runners were lined and on the top a square of superhero fabric was sewn. Fabrics for Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Spiderman, Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, Green Lantern and The Hulk were found and used. 

Table Runner for Gotham City Table

Table with Runner and place settings

My son and daughter-in-law wanted a "nerdy" wedding, they provided gold boxes with special wedding M&Ms and a saying from The Simpsons show on the box. A card box was made like Dr. Who's TARDIS (time machine). Each table was labelled with a city where a superhero resides. The bridal party made their entrances to wrestling music. 

The wedding cake was from The Nightmare Before Christmas with Jack Skellington and Sally as the bride and groom and Zero at the bottom of the cake. The crocheted tablecloth under the cake was handmade by the Bride's grandmother before she died and was designated specifically for her wedding day.

Nightmare Before Christmas Wedding Cake

The bride's and bridesmaid's bouquets were origami flowers made from old comic books. 

Bride's Bouquet

Because my son is a Maple Leafs fan, Deja was able to find a garter from the team to surprise Devin when he took it off to throw to the single men. He wasn't going to throw it until she let him know that she bought two as she knew he'd want to keep one.

Toronto Maple Leafs Garter 

The final item I sewed was a bag to hold a wine glass that is broken at the wedding. This is a Jewish rite to symbolize the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and a reminder that sorrow is as much a part of our life as joy. The bride and groom keep the broken glass as a memento of their special day.

The Groom breaking the glass

This was a very eventful day in my family's life and will be long remembered and cherished.

Linda Brenner

February may be the shortest month, but in Canada it often feels like the longest one. 

It does, however, have some good things going for it, one of which is that when we get to March, we know that winter (for some of us at least) is nearly at an end.

Shopping malls and advertisers would have us believe that the most important day in February is Valentine’s Day, the day when we celebrate the love we have for our spouse, our significant other, and our families. Valentine cards and hearts appear everywhere from February 1st

Hearts are a symbol that have got much attention over the years: flowery hearts on Valentine cards, hearts used to advertise and to attract our attention – think “Heart and Stroke Foundation”, the CPR heart, emoticon hearts on T-shirts and bumper stickers. 

I ♡ my poodle

I♡ Toronto 

I♡ whatever

We stitchers should have a bumper sticker that declares I♡ the heart! We love the heart motif. It can be worked in so many ways. If you want to find out just how many, visit and search for “stitched hearts”. 

There is even an anatomical stitched heart here:

I have some heart designs to share with you. Kim Beamish designed and stitched these pieces:

Canvas work heart; this is a lovely design.

Hardanger heart, so lacy and delicate.

Blackwork heart; what a great design.

Here are some hearts I stitched:

I stitched these heart cards last February.

This year, I stitched these two heart ornaments from a design from the Marigold Guild of Needle Arts.

This last photograph is of a heart motif on a denim jacket that I am embellishing. The design is from Patchwork Loves Embroidery by Gail Pan (my new favourite book!).

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones, and remember, 

we’re now half way to March! 

written by Sue Thomas

Blog for February 2015

Another new year... not many days old, stretching before all of us.. what will we accomplish in the year? The possibilities are only limited by our imagination and desire to chase our goals (dreams). 

I recently read a blog by a stitching colleague in which she reviewed her 2014 goals.. and one of them is both quite simple yet addictive.... Stitch for 15 minutes each day. This will lead to more stitching. She went on to write that without such a resolution it is easy to skip days without stitching.. which leads to more non stitching days... you can see where I am going with this.

So... perhaps I Will make a resolution (or two)... and start by resolving to stitch at least 15 minutes Each and Every Day. Now that I have publicly stated this... I will have to ‘report’ back at the end of the year!

I find that this is also a time when I am most reflective, perhaps some of this comes from the packing away of all the Christmas decorations, thinking back to the many individuals who I have encountered in my years, some from work places, some from volunteer activities and some of the very old ornaments which are now over 100 years old!

I thought that it would be a shift from when we usually share Christmas ornaments if I showed you some of my collection now. 

The two framed pieces and the handsome painted fellow are my works and the others are some of the ornaments that I have acquired in exchanges or that have been gifted to me. 

Time to gather my stitching supplies and get started on catching up on my ‘missed’ stitching time for this year....

Until the next time ... perhaps you might share some of your stitching resolutions in the comments section. 

Happy Stitching

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

The Exhibition Contenant (Containers)

Why did I travel to Argenton, in the center of France?

My first purpose was to be present at the opening evening of the Exhibition Contenant to which I participated as an artist.

This exhibition and contest were organized by the group Textile-résonnance (Resonating Textiles) one year ago. The theme of the contest: Containers. If you would have to participate to this contest, what kind of embroidery piece would you create?

For my part, I have created embroidered sacred vases: a representation of a chalice and the Holy Grail. The link below leads to the virtual catalogue of the exhibition, my pieces are printed into pages 41 and 42.

Among other invited artists for this exhibition were: Corinne Gradis and Elodie Watanabe, who work in team, two dynamic artists with depth of thinking. Next year, Corinne and Elodie’s pieces will occupy the entire Museum of Shirt and Masculine Elegance. What a huge challenge.

A little anecdote: My artist colleagues and I were informed that a snack would be served later in the evening. The opening goes well, presentations, speeches, chatting are like in Quebec. Then, we are invited to go downstairs for snacking. In the dining room the tables are overloaded with appealing appetizers. Waiters circulate with trays and the trays are quickly refilled for circulating again. Suddenly, the rumor is spread that we have to restrain ourselves of eating because the dinner will follow soon.

Really? That magnificent snack was only a part of the meal? So, half an hour later, here we go again, a three course meal! The French are truly faithful to their reputation. 

Did you know that French Gastronomy is part of the Masterpieces of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, as stated by UNESCO? Bon appétit!

Graal by Marie-Renée Otis
Graal by Marie-Renée Otis, close-up
Calice by Marie-Renée Otis

Calice by Marie-Renée Otis, close-up

The last Indian Embroidery Class

This is the last Indian Embroidery Class that I follow, this is a pity. I like the ambiance at Zardosi School. There are two students (an American from California and me) for this Gujarati embroidery technique course, also called Sindhi embroidery in the province Kathiawar. The English language is used for the course and we take the time to share our experiences.

The Gujarati embroidery technique uses little mirrors that we often see on Indian pieces. Nowadays the use of mirrors has no more meanings, if not for designs. But at the source, they were supposed to chase out bad spirits. Seeing their ugly reflections in the mirrors, the bad spirits were supposed to be frightened and to run away.

For this class, we work with real glass mirrors, cut in round shapes. The traditional glass mirrors are rarer than the mica sort we can generally purchase. We learn to fix the mirrors with Chain stitches and Buttonhole stitches. Many different colors are required, in addition of pearls and combinations of other decorating stitches. I can say fixing mirrors is the easy part.

The next steps are more complicated... Sophisticated oriental knots link the mirrors and ornate the border of the piece. Those knots are like high level skill of macramé technique. Happily, we are only two students, because we constantly need the help of the teacher for finding our way through the crossing and re-crossing of the threads.

The result is superb. I hope I will be able to redo and reproduce the result when I will go back home...

Indian Gujarati Embroidery with mirrors

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault

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

The Museum of Shirt and Masculine Elegance

The Museum of Shirt and Masculine elegance is located in Argenton, in the center area of France, near the river Creuse, at 2:30 hour road from Paris.

The museum inhabits the building of the first mechanised lingerie workshop, inaugurated in 1860. At the time, female workers sewed in the workshop location itself or at home. Their salaries were paid by the piece. Their production speed had a crucial importance, they worked long hours to earn a decent salary. At Argenton, in 1909, 2777 female workers confectioned shirts at home.

The history of shirts at a glance:

-During the Middle Ages, because people washed themselves often, they owned only 2 or 3 shirts. They took good care of them, keeping them clean and white.

-From 16th century to 18th century, people didn’t wash themselves anymore. Water was considered dangerous for health. Therefore, people owned a great number of shirts. Heavy perfumes were used to cover up bad body smells.

- At the beginning of the 20th century, running water and baths appeared in bourgeoys’ apartments. People began to wash themselves again. They owned numerous shirts for which pristine white cleanliness was required.

And nowadays, what are our habits with shirts?

Do you know a very famous shirt? René Lacoste, a well renowned tennis player, designed in the 1930’ his famous shirt: the polo t-shirt. He was inspired by the players’ uniform of Polo sport. That was a huge hit even out of tennis courts, a symbol of high social status.

Musée de la chemise et de l’élégance masculine at Argenton-sur-Creuse
Long sleeve shirts, the tennis player's uniform before René Lacoste’s revolution
René Lacoste
An old advertisement for the brand Lacoste

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault

Editor note:  Travelogue No. 16 will appear in three posts spread out over this week. 
Please come back and visit all three parts.

We have a winner of our giveaway of a copy of Janet Haigh’s “Crazy Patchwork”!  Thanks to a random number generator, comment #34 is the winner:

Dawn     January 19, 2015 at 11:49 AM                                    
Oh this book looks fabulous! Thank you for the chance to win. 

I’ve sent you an email, Dawn, requesting your snail mail address so I can get this sent off to you.  

Thank you to everyone who entered and showed interest in the post.  Please follow the EAC blog for more inspirational stitching and more chances to win!


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About EAC

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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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