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18th c. Passementerie Classes – Paris & Lakewood

In the last few years, I’ve discovered I LOVE teaching and seeing how excited my students are to learn new skills. Online classes are all well and good, but there is something special about being able to connect in person.  In September I had two great opportunities to teach 18th c. passementerie & “fly” fringe and meet new students.

First up, a trip to Paris to teach in the Au Ver à Soie showroom. The idea for the class was born when I visited last year and realized they were just around the corner from my apartment. Siblings Nathalie and Marc run the 200-year-old family business, which makes luscious silk threads and ribbons that I use in many of my designs. They graciously welcomed me and my students into their beautiful space.

For this class, I focused on knotted fringes and trims that don’t require a loom. I’d say roughly 30-40% of the extant fringes I’ve studied fall into this category. I also covered two types of silk rosettes that can be added as accents to create an endless variety of passementerie.

I was really proud of all my students in this class, who successfully tackled some pretty complex techniques in just a few hours. Plus, they were working with an instructor (me!) who is not a native speaker of French.

Since I was (relatively) close to London, I decided to schedule a side trip to the V&A Museum to study some 18th c. fringe in person. I brought all my samples with me so I could compare them to the originals.

I learned that the construction methods I’m using look the same as period examples, though the scale of my work is a bit too big. I also discovered a few new types of embellishments I look forward to adding to my online class this fall. I’m so glad I made the appointment, because I learned so much in just a few hours that I never could have figured out from pictures alone.

Back home, I taught a class in Lakewood, WA as part of a private costuming event organized by Vanessa Wood of @pinksewing.

Lakewood passementerie class

Photo by Vanessa Wood

This time I focused on fringes combined with warp-faced braids made with an inkle loom. This takes more up-front investment due to the cost of the loom, but pays off by being able to make a wide variety of woven trims for multiple periods. Again, all the students did a great job picking up the basic techniques and a few tackled more advanced concepts like adding picot loops to their braids.

Passementerie student work in progress

Photo by Vanessa Wood

Between the two classes (9 hours total), we covered most of the basic techniques included in my online class. Even so, there are several styles of knotted fringes and embellishments I wasn’t able to include. There’s a LOT more information in this class than I realized!

It was wonderful to get to teach these techniques in person and give in the moment feedback to students. It looks like the next class will be in Atlanta, and after that.. who knows? I’m open to suggestions. If you’re interested in an in-person class in your area, let me know in the comments or send me an email and I’ll see what we can put together.

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