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.
Melbye. Her wrintings are musings about the choice she made to live in a tiny-house, called “La chouette” which is French for owl but not only as its also an exlamation that precedes a happy event “Chouette, we go to the beach !!” I’ll stop explaining and leave you to discover her writings first her introduction than the integral posting.
The Dragons and the tiny house.
The old and lovely tradition of gilt leather as wall coating is not usually associated with tiny houses. Indeed, there is a strong link between the tiny house movement and a certain purism of simple living. Also, there is a link between size and power in western agricultural society, making anything that might signal wealth tied inseparably to large things and buildings. Regardless of all that’s usual, I have known all along that I wanted gilt leather on my living room wall. It embodies a durability, an integrity, a delicate toughness and a pride in craft that I wish to include in my house.
After much consideration I chose two dragons. I needed panels that would give meaning to the room and not compete with it. This pattern gives me something new to look at every day, as it changes constantly with the different lights through my stained-glass window. There is also much company in my two dragons and they are very good at discerning visitors, recognizing at once those who know how to appreciate the subtle beauty of the world and make sure to capture their glance.
Everything in my house is chosen for its ability to affect all the senses, leaving nothing empty, nothing unconnected. In my time living and traveling with my house, I have found that all these things come together to form a unity,a living, breathing thing that has a life of its own. And my dragons are a vital part of this unity.
A house, as a person, as any living thing, must change if they are to live. But when you know what your center is, you need not fear threats to the borders. Knowing that I have my dragons as part of the center of my house makes the external threats and changes of travel easier to handle and lends the house a graceful calm when the wind and the road gets hard.
The posting as on Tinyowl:
For the wallpaper in my living room area I have chosen hand embossed gilt leather. It looks like this.
Yes, the panels have a dragon on them, yes the dragon has tits. I have two panels, and the dragons are named Sharon and Maude.
This, I know, is not a usual choise for a ‘tiny’ house, or indeed for any house. A feature this flamboyant is nowadays mainly used by banks, fancy restaurants and other places that wish to seem to embody power, using things to signify status rather than having the thing itself for itself.
I think tactile visuality is important, or ‘having something nice to look at’. But not only in the two-dimensional sense, but in terms of how the light falls and reflects off a surface. For instance, things seen on a screen will never be anything other than looking at a screen no matter what that screen shows. It will be frozen in distance, tactility and lacking in the things not quite seen, but that reflects shadows in the corner of your eye. All these aspects are important for what we think and how, for how we feel and what sides of ourselves we nurture. But there is a difference between surrounding yourself with beauty and using representations of beauty to cover up overall surroundings that can and should be changed, like the colourful posters covering the wasteland in Terry Gilliams increasingly realistic and brilliant movie Brazil.
Consumerism makes it appear as if anyone can have access to things only dreamt of before, but all you get access to is the symbol of that thing, a pale replica. Consumerism is a direct threat to all things beautiful as it denies anything to have a value in itself, only as a quick fix to feel better or as an instaworthy shot of status. I mean to have this wallpaper for decades, centuries if someone else takes over. It’s something I’m committing to, something I’ll care for.
And I don’t want my wallpaper to cover a wall that is something else. I want the things surrounding me to have as much integrity as possible. The wall is there for the gilt leather, not the other way around. These pieces have to them a touch, scent and visual quality that is filled with itself and does not represent anything else, cannot be confused for anything else. It is not merely a picture of a dragon, it is its own thing. Also, it’s absurdly beautiful. Also, it’s somewhat absurd. I mean, who does this sort of thing? No one. So I will. I’m not denying the side of me that grew up with Huysmans and longed for ‘The willed exile of the Introverted Decadent’.
Thanks you for these words Tone I wish you well wandering along the rivers, over the hills, enjoying panoramas, decending into the green valleys, visiting towns, seeing friends. Musing & Writing.
From the 22 03 2019 till 03 11 2019 runs the exhebition ” Tapeten Wechsel” in Schloss Mortizburg. We at Lutson were asked to participate by showing some of gilt leather panels from our collection. Honored and proud !
I hope to show pictures form this exhibition in a later posting as I will not be attending the vernissage.
Schloss Mortizburg is not only a fantatic place to visit its also a safe harbour for an important Gilt Leather collection
The 26 of March I’ll participate at Tatiana Tafur’s ” Springtime Session” where I’m performing as “The Boss of Embossed”
Gillis van Tilborgh the Younger, born in Brussels 1625. He is famous for his genre paintings, interior scenes and portraits.
The “Vlaamsche Kamer” (Flemish room) could be compared to a parlour. In these important houses they were often oak paneled rooms some combined the oak paneling with gild leather tapestries between dado and corniche other rooms were lined with gilt leather tapestries from plinth to corniche, for some of his paintings this setting was chosen.
Jan Siberechts a contemporary and friend of Gillis van Tilborgh has a reputation as a landscapes painter but as accomplished master he is a great portraitist too.
On a more humorous note: here a stunning portrait of …. my dog in front of his gilt leather tapestry. By Thierry Poncelet
Every craft requires time and precision, an able hand and a good eye. It is this human definition of craftsmanship that binds it so closely to the culture of a people and a place.
In 2015, the UK launched The Radcliffe Red List, an investigation into the country’s endangered crafts, identifying which professions had already or were at risk of disappearing. The list revealed that it is no longer possible to have a cricket ball handmade in Britain, and that there are only five people left in the country trained in making saws. If Belgium were to do the same, what would we discover?
Belgium has a rich tradition of craftsmanship, from medieval abbots collecting hops and brewing huge cauldrons of beer, to the lace makers of Flanders, who you can still watch at their tables threading hundreds of needles a day. These crafts play a central role in the country’s national heritage. Some are thriving and attract thousands of tourists to Belgium each year; in 2016, UNESCO added Belgian beer to its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Yet others are teetering on the edge of extinction.
Keeping the crafts alive
In Oostduinkerke, on the South West coast of Belgium, shrimp fishermen have been trawling the sea on horseback for over 500 years. Even today they are an unmistakeable sight on Oostduinkerke’s shores, wrapped in their yellow oilskin suits and wide-brimmed rain hats, being carried out into the waves by sturdy Brabant horses.
But this sight risks disappearing from view forever. Oostduinkerke is the last place on earth where people still fish with horses in the sea. Even here there are just 15 or so of these fishermen, known in Dutch as paardenvissers, left. In the 1990s their numbers dwindled to just two. Henri Lemineur, the official picture ambassador of the horseback fisherman, has lived and worked with them for many years. He explains, “Shrimping on horseback requires a great deal of skill. The first time the horse is taken into the sea it’s terrified; they’re almost blind while in the water, so they need complete trust in their rider. It takes about a year to build this kind of relationship.”
The trade is time-consuming, labour-intensive and does not make a profit. The local tourist board supports the fishermen by providing free stables and pastures for the horses. Why then do the paardenvissers persevere?
Eddy d’Hulster was taught to fish on horseback by his father, and he, by his father before him. He has been riding the shores of Oostduinkerke with his net for decades. He admits: “It’s not possible to make a living solely from fishing. It’s a passion not a profession. What keeps us men (and women) going is our love of the horse and our love of the sea. Being a fisherman is in our heart, our soul and our blood.” The unique sight of the yellow-suited, wellington-booted fishermen has begun to attract increasing numbers of tourists to Oostduinkerke, and the paardenvissers now supplement their income by performing demonstrations for curious visitors.
Reinventing and diversifying the activities
It is true that the viability of certain crafts as thriving industries is long since dead and gone. We’re unlikely to see a blossoming surge in the need for paper marblers (of whom Belgium used to boast a significant population). However, other professions are managing not only to survive, but to thrive, by resurrecting themselves in new forms.
Realising that his work was soon to be relegated to the shelves of museum exhibits, a Brussels blacksmith decided to rekindle the fire of Belgium’s forges by reinventing the craft as a social activity. His organisation, IJzer en Vuur (Iron and Fire), organises demonstrations, exhibitions and workshops designed to help people rediscover the art of blacksmithing.
Passing through gardens of old machines as you approach La Fonderie, the disused bronze smelting factory where IJzer en Vuur host their workshops, you’re greeted by the smoky smell of blazing coals and the thundering vibrations of an anvil being repeatedly struck by a hammer. The organisation’s founder Michel Mouton asserts passionately: “The craft of a blacksmith has a future. But without a modern reinterpretation, any craft is as good as lost.”
Michel Mouton, a Brussels blacksmith, set up the organisation IJzer en Vuur (Iron and Fire), which organises demonstrations, exhibitions and workshops designed to help people rediscover the art of blacksmithing.
For Michel, the appeal of the trade lies in its physical nature. “When you’re in the forge, you’re working with all four elements: earth, air, fire and water. You can feel your heart beat inside you. When can you get that feeling while sitting at a computer? I want to help people rediscover the pleasure of manual labour.”
Belgium’s craftsmen are not merely preserving traditional crafts, they are also bringing them back to life. Frederic Poppe, Lutgarde De Paepe and their daughter, Geraldine, all born and raised in Ghent, are refounding the art of gilt leatherwork in Belgium.
The husband and wife team first gained a reputation as skilled stained glass restorers. In the 1980s, they were approached with a special request: to reassemble an 18th century gilt leather tapestry from remaining fragments. It took them years of historical research, but finally they developed a technique to produce the embossing moulds needed and then to create the gilt leather. Frederic explains, “There are no schools where you can study the craft of gilt leather making, so we had to teach ourselves everything.”
Of all the opulent fashions popular in the 16th-18th centuries, gilt leather was one of the most expensive. Kings, queens, dukes and barons would vie to have the most rooms covered in these dazzlingly embossed leather hangings. Now Frederic and his family custom-make gilt leather items for clients across the world, from upholstered chairs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to couture garments for Versace’s catwalk shows. Their company, Lutson Goudleder, is one of only five in the world still making these exquisite leather designs.
In the 16th-18th centuries, gilt leather was one of the most expensive and sought after products. A family from Ghent has brought this art form back to life.
Outlining the numerous steps required to make each piece of gilt leather, Frederic comments: “The process takes time and skill. There are at least eight layers to be added on top of the base leather.” He and his family perform each step by hand – from pressing on the metallic foil to hand-painting the background with oil paints. “We try to preserve tradition, using the right materials and producing the gilt leather as it was made centuries ago.”
Passing on the legacy
From Verviers’ master gun engraver, Roland Baptiste, who has spent over 20 years embellishing firearms with his intricate designs, to Angel Barrero, expert in the arts of stucco-marble and Scagliola, Belgium’s workshops still buzz with the sounds of chisels, needles and easels of talented artisans at work – if you just know where to look.
Are these crafts viable professions by modern standards? No, possibly not. But we often forget that the origins of the word “profession” can be traced back to the Latin profiteri (to declare openly). A profession is something that you are proud to publically declare as your occupation. Just as monks profess their vows when entering religious orders, these craftsmen are willing to dedicate their lives to their chosen profession. That is something we should protect.
The answer most of these craftsmen seem to have found to the question “How you can make money?” is by passing on the legacy. Almost all complement their trade with workshops, master classes and demonstrations that are necessary both to sustain their own livelihoods and to convince others of the need to keep these professions alive.
After all, at a dinner party wouldn’t you rather profess to be a horseback shrimp fisherman than a pension fund manager?
By Marianna Hunt
Thank you for this article in which you describe the condition of craftsmanship today. What about the longer term, would you be able to write this same article in 2028 ? who will tell ?
However optimistic a person I am all of a sudden I become realistic which is depressingly close to pessimistic.
Yet, I see lots of interest for the crafts at the level of hobbies and note that many of these amateur craftsman (women) are highly skilled and produce quality objects.
Perhaps the question is more “how” will the crafts survive rather than”If” they will survive.
As a small business I think it will not survive. As part of a group, eventually.
As Long as humans will be humans they will want to do things, master techniques, touch, work with raw materials, to create, to express themselves.
Once more our UK distributor Tatiana Tafur Ltd is a the origin of an interesting order.
This time it involves a Marot panel we made decades ago and which Tatiana Tafur had in their London showroom.
One can see the damage of years of showroom use …
The client wishes to see some changes done 1) The panel needs to be muted so we work the antiquing 2) Greens need to be more emerald green…… okay done 3) All reds need to be deep burgundy…… taken care of 4) Finally he wishes to see the silvered inside-panels to be slightly darker which we tried to achieve perhaps with a disputable result as one needs to look closely.
Here under the final approved Marot panel
Some more details of this new panel which we ate Lutson like a lot.
In European mythology, the word dragon derives from two separate Greek words. One word means “a huge serpent or snake” and the other means “I see clearly”. Dragons in European traditions have wings, allowing them to soar freely above, resulting in a perspective that encompasses a huge panorama below. In this context, dragons can be thought to symbolize the ability to see the “big picture” as well as the ability to see far off danger or future circumstances.
European dragons are fire spitting evil forces.
Chinese or Feng shui dragons on the other hand are exuberant, playful, beneficent creatures that live on land as well as in water and in the air. They are associated with spring rains and water and are symbols of abundant life, strength, fertility, and prosperity.
Myths change over time. Oral traditions were not there only, to reproduce the exact tales told by the ancients. They were a basis for talented storytellers to catch the attention of an audience and storytellers have fantasy thus myths muted, stories changed and our perception on a subject or personage changed too.
If there must still be storytellers around the campfire, the main stories are told on media and travel the world in seconds, if the story is well told it is imprinted in our minds in its new updated from.
I don’t doubt the influence of series like Game of Thrones, and the influence they had on our perception of dragons I believe there will be a before and and after.
In Game of Thrones dragons are massive, flying reptiles that can breathe fire onto their enemies and cook their food with the same flame. They are rumored to have a strong connection to magic which seems to be proven true when magic begins to return to the world after the birth of the first three in over two hundred years. Dragons possess awesome and devastating power, capable of laying waste to armies and burning entire cities to ashes. Men who were able to tame and ride dragons as beasts of war used them to burn their enemies and forge vast empires across the continents.
At Lutson we breed Dragons since many years, Lutson Dragons are European dragons in their physical appearance. Our Dragons are exclusively female and are a magical mix of the European and the Chinese Dragons they are winged and spit water producing flowers and abundant life.
The Dragon panel is a reproduction of a mid 18th century Flemish design.
In our collection we have a 17th century panel in which a tiny dragon sits on a branch, innocent and cute.