The origins of silk
How did the silkworm, used in China for thousands of years, make Lyon the world capital of the precious fabric in the 19th century? We follow the guide to the Maison des Canuts, the former headquarters of the weavers' union, now a workshop-museum, for a captivating history lesson. A look back at the epic of the industry from the monopoly granted by François I in 1540 to the Canuts' revolts in the 19th century, explanations of the different stages of preparation, weaving demonstrations and presentation of the last loom with the big draw... We are back in the time of the "bistanclaques", this onomatopoeia specific to the Lyonnais language referring to the noise of the looms!
The life of a silk castle
One thinks of the first "silk, gold and silver weavers" of the Renaissance when entering Soierie Saint-Georges in the heart of Vieux-Lyon. It is the last workshop in this district, once the stronghold of Lyon's textile industry! A captivating universe where Ludovic de La Calle, master weaver, and his two sons perpetuate the tradition of excellence of the French decorative arts: the house restores the antique furniture of the châteaux while collaborating with contemporary designers. Velvet or silk woven with silver or gold threads: we witness the birth of precious fabrics on authentic 19th century Jacquard looms!
Silk to weave for the "Gones"
How about learning to weave with your family? In a former passementerie workshop in La Croix Rousse (a real canut workshop with its 3.60 metre high looms!), the association Soie vivante invites young and old to plunge into the world of this fascinating material with introductory workshops from 4 years old. How does this funny little worm make silk threads? How are they interwoven to make a fabric? And what is the cocoon used for? This is the perfect way to get your gones (children in the Lyon language) to germinate the seed of silk before taking them down the traboules, the typical passages that were once used to transport bales of fabric!
In the workshop of silk painters
Brushes and cotton buds? What a strange set of tools to create exceptional fabrics! However, "hand-painting on velvet panne" is one of the techniques that can be observed during a visit to the Atelier de Soierie, which has specialised in printing and colouring silks since 1890. The workshop is also the last one in France to practice hand-frame printing, a process that one follows from the preparation of the colours to the final silk square. The result is a true work of art! Like Brochier Soieries, with which it is associated, the Atelier de Soierie has made a name for itself in the reproduction of paintings and the creation of limited series.
Tailor-made silk for fashionitas
Scarves, scarves, but also ruffles, bibis (small hats) or capes, silk lends itself to all kinds of audacity! To stock up on the softest (and craziest!) fabrics, we invite ourselves into the workshops/boutiques. Sculptural at Sophie Guyot, who dyes and pleats materials in the tradition of Japanese shibori, airy in a muslin style at Sfate & Combier, or more classic at Giles Hévair, who wraps it in pretty bow ties, the list of silk's metamorphoses seems infinite. At Brochier Soieries, the material is readily transformed into masterpieces. Monet, Chagall, or Picasso... The most chic thing: create your own scarf in their workshop!
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