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

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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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