A Matter of Choice

“la Chapelle des Gicons – la  Mère Eglise”

It’s just a small Roman chapel that sits on a “promontoire” which means a dream location… in the French Alps. From the outside one will note that the tower has no tiles, nor slates, but is built in solid masonry, in contrast, the radiating chapels which have thatched roofing. The strongest next to the most care demanding roofs united in one building …

Inside the chapel there are two Alters one specifically dedicated to Marie.

Principal Alter

Side Alter: of “Marie” the dominant colour is red which is unusual

Meanwhile the Alters have been dismantled, Stored and have been restored.

The principal Alter

The Alter of Marie

Samples for the colouring and the metallic backgrounds had to be made for the Architects of Historic Monuments to choose from. At this stage the samples focus on the metallic ground, 6 samples  were produced in 3 different metallic grounds. From each of these metallic grounds a sample was painted with a red flower and one with bleu flower when the metallic ground is chosen it’s easy to adapt the colours afterwards. The painting is in the early 18 century tradition.

Classic Gilding









Flat Silver-gilding

And Flat Silver-gilding with a yellowish varnish

This is where we are presently and awaiting the dicision of “les Monuments de France and la Drac” and who else ?

Anyone’s Guess

As Always



Giltleather Altar cloth

This is the Altar of St Martins Church in Vic-en-Bigorre

Here under the draped Altar cloth is replaced by a Gilt-leather Antependium, mind you its only photo-shopped picture, yet it tells the story.

Some examples of Lutson Gilt-leather alterantives to a fabric Altar Cloth: Double Damask: Gilded and hand painted Antependium

Fleurance: Tender colours on a silvered ground

Marot: Full Polychrome


All the designs for Lutson Gilt-leather Altercloth’s are traditional 17th and 18th century designs, they don’t carry specific symbols, they were not made for a specific Religion nor for any Christian denomination which makes our Gilt-leather suitable for all situations where one wishes create a setting with a great decorative impact.

Lutson leathers:  Custom Made

As Always



Larvick Museum Chairs / Lages Upholsterers / Lutson Leathers

The Baroque chairs as they came from Larvick Museum, Norway.

What happened to the Larvick chairs at the Lages upholsterers facility in Nora Sweden.


This is Master Leif and behold, he means business !


Master Leif attacking precious Lutson leathers with his hammer !

After hours of removing all the sick internals, putting in new springs, horse-hair, stuffing and canvas, after hours of cutting with dexterity and hammering like mad, but alert and vigilant so the hand and the hammer do what the mind orders. Its time for Mistress Annika to appear, sharp eyed to judge the work done.

Leif worked hard, Annika inspected severly and found the work excellent !

Mistress Annika taking the pose.


A detail: note the nice trimming cut from the excess of a panel its perfectly positioned and hold in place with the appropriated copper studs.


The Lages Team, top upholsterers !


As Always




New Reliquary for St Fris of Bassoues

Saint Fris Reliquary, Bassoues.

Jacques Dubarry de la Salle (90 !)

He came to the workshop with the idea to search the drawers for some forgotten leather panel he could use as a covering for Saint Fris’s  new reliquary.

He came, He saw, He went (with a panel under the arm)

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "jacques dubarry de la salle"

Jacques, here lecturing on marbles, one of his great passions, he is at the origin of the Marble Museum in Bagnères-de-bigorre which is soon to open doors

Ivory roof tiles comes from ancient piano touches, the woodwork form bits and pieces made and found in his workshop and a gilt leather panel from my drawer. All the work and intelligence by: Jacques !!

This reliquary reflects the spirit of the remote area I live in, small budget, great creativity, good will….. I love it.

Some pictures in situ at the Basilique St Fris will follow in a later posting.

As always



Gilt Leather Alter for the St Peter church of Vic-Fezensac

Regularly we are asked to supply Gilt leather for alter pieces (Antependium).

As here in the St Peter church of Vic Fezensac.

The four sides of the alter are covered with leather.


Front covered with Marot


The back being covered with Abondance

The sides are covered with our Lauderdale.

This is a small alter which allows easy picking-up and re-positioning.




Hope you enjoyed this

As Always


Antependium or Gilt leather Altarpiece in the church of Mont

Finaly, here some pictures of the Antependium of the church of Mont


Verentuil Antependium they have chosen “blend in colours”

Mont is located in the French department of the Hautes Pyrenées

Way in the mountains close to the Spanish Border


The interior of the church is just restored, it took a team of three painters  two years

to restore the wall paintings.

The Church of st Bartolomeo was build in the 12 century and  embellished as time passed by.

Last added was the altarpiece at the end of the 17th century


Next to the alter my friend Alain Lacoste from Atelier 32 the excellent restorers whom took care of the altarpiece


amazingly enough the old altarpiece, which was a painted fresco type altarpiece was conserved behind the “new” sculpted altarpiece.

Mont is tiny village of less than 100 inhabitants, in the 80’s they were less than 20 inhabitants !

Yet, amidst this little community they build this treasure.


Yours Truly


Antependium or Pallium Altaris

Antependium or Pallium Altaris


In the tranquility of a humble chapel or in the greatest cathedrals where one is overwhelmed by the proportions and majesty of the architecture. Where one feels elevated by the dazeling light  of the century old stained glass windows, once mass starts, all are focused to what is happening arround  the Altar.

The Altar is a representation of the Jesus Christ therefor great attention is given to the Alter in the liturgy of the Church of Rome ;

Over the years we have been asked at several occasions to provide giltleather alterpieces called Antependium or Palluim Altaris

Since the 17th century alterpieces of giltleather were quite frequent certainly in the southern part of Europe .

In the earlie 18th century there was gilt leather workshop specialised in Antependia near the town of Ex-en-Provence, form the catalogue one could order a giltleather Antependium  of various designs with or without a central medaillon representing the Church protector or theVirgin Maria or one of the Apostels

My knowledge on the theoreical side of the subject  is limited therefor I did some research on the subject and found (and copied)  from http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2013/01/the-history-development-and-symbolism.html

An interesting reference to the doctrinal significance of clothing the altar is given by Amalarius [of Metz] (d. 859). “The Altar signifies Christ, as Bede narrates. The robes (vestimenta) of the Altar are the Saints of Christ.”


The purpose of a frontal is threefold.
1) a frontal helps to make the altar stand out from its surroundings. It has always been the mind of the Church that, in a mystical sense, the altar is Christ, and that, like the priest who celebrates Mass, it should be clothed in precious vestments on account of its dignity… the frontal is one of the most ancient of all the furniture of the altar.

 2) It is a covering of honour for the body of the altar which, as we have already seen from the liturgical books, represents Christ Himself; and if further proof is necessary, it is provided by the five crosses incised upon the upper surface of the altar, representing the five wounds in Our Lord’s Body on the cross. Van der Stappen, Sacra Liturgia, ed. 2, vol. iii, Q. 42, i., says, “For the altar is Christ, therefore, on account of its dignity, it is clothed in precious vestments, as the Pontifical says in the ordination of sub-deacons.” Moreover, on Maundy Thursday this frontal and the cloths are stripped off during the recitation of the psalm, Deus, Deus meus, in which the verse foretelling the parting of Our Lord’s garments occurs…

3)The frontal is a means of employing colour to bring out the full meaning of the very beautiful symbolism in that same office of ordination of subdeacons which speaks of “the faithful with whom the Lord is clothed as with costly garments.” The red frontal, for instance, reveals the victory of the Rex Martyrum, realized afresh in yet another of His members…

Our Lord, as represented by His consecrated altar, puts on robes of majesty to identify Himself with those in whom His victory has borne fruit; His own purity reproduced again in the white robe of the virgin saint; His own heroic fortitude in the red robe of the martyr: and thereby additional emphasis is given to His invitation to be approach through the intercession of the saint with whose colour the altar is robed. And when the Robes of Majesty are all removed on Holy Thursday, more is indicated than the removal of His garments. His faithful, His costly garments, His disciples, are all stripped from Him; and His desolation is made the more evident by this complete annihilation of colour. But in addition to emphasizing the union of the Head with the saint commemorated by the feast of the day, the coloured frontal also serves to bring into clear prominence the union of the Head with His ministers of the altar, who are vested in the same colour…

The frontal — the altar’s clothing — has a deep, symbolical value. As the early linen clothing of the altar recalled our Lord’s burial shroud, so the precious coloured fabric of the later frontal is to recall his royalty. At the ordination of a subdeacon, the bishop in his charge to the candidate says “the cloths and corporals of the altar [which represents Christ] are the members of Christ, Gods faithful people, with whom, as with costly garments, the Lord is clad, according to the Psalmist: ‘The Lord reigns as king, robed in majesty’.” The clothed altar with its beauty and changing colours is a symbol of the Mystical Body — the whole Christ, Christ united with all his saints — it translates this doctrine into the language of colour and form. In addition to its symbolical value, the frontal — with its sequence of colours and its changing form and decoration — lends variety and new beauty to the altar, and helps to mark the degrees of festivity in the Church’s liturgy.

Another interesting reference to the doctrinal significance of clothing the altar is given by Amalarius [of Metz] (d. 859). “The Altar signifies Christ, as Bede narrates. The robes (vestimenta) of the Altar are the Saints of Christ.”

…a frontal helps to make the altar stand out from its surroundings. It has always been the mind of the Church that, in a mystical sense, the altar is Christ, and that, like the priest who celebrates Mass, it should be clothed in precious vestments on account of its dignity… the frontal is one of the most ancient of all the furniture of the altar.

Some pictures of Antependia made by Lutson



These are pictures  from the Antependium we’ve made for the Chrurch of Mingot France , Hautes Pyenées

restauration by Regina Purkat


This is the Antependium of the church of Germ

France Hautes Pyrenées

 We were involved in some other Antependia, I’ll promise to travel and take some decent pictures.

As Always