A cushion on his stomach, the back of the thighs propped up by a wooden bar, Patrick Guillot leans over the huge loom located at 2e floor of the International City of Aubusson tapestry (Creuse). 8 meters long, the workbench is one of the largest in France. With a pedal stroke, the weaver spreads the warp threads and slips a spool under the cotton fibers, several times, with a quick gesture. “There, I use a mixture of linen and rayon, to give an impression of humidity on a rock”, indicates the craftsman. It is difficult for the moment to distinguish what the tapestry will look like: given its size – 23 square meters -, the fall of the loom is not expected for a year!
Only certainty, the result will be unprecedented. To modernize its image, the Cité internationale d’Aubusson has decided to make five monumental tapestries taken from animated films by director Hayao Miyazaki, a first for the Japanese Walt Disney. The one whose weaving has just started will represent two of the characters of Princess Mononoke (1997), Ashitaka and her deer-ibex Yakul, who drink in the chiaroscuro of a forest.
A challenge for the weavers of the Aubussonnais workshop Guillot, to whom the tapestry was entrusted, as the effects of light and material are numerous. “We are going to do what is called multiple thread count, use different yarns to give relief, like terry wool for the foam”, explains Mr. Guillot.
To bring this image to life, 105 shades of color were created by Delphine Mangeret, the artist who produced the “cardboard” for the tapestry, a kind of paper replica in which the patterns and colors of the work are recorded. A profession that requires artistic sense and technical mastery (the plastic artist Victor Vasarely was a “card maker” in Aubusson).
Drawn to the actual dimensions of the tapestry, this “cardboard” is rolled up beforehand on the loom and serves as a pattern for the weavers. “But the margin of interpretation is important, a lot of things are decided as and when”, ensures Delphine Mangeret, who comes daily to supervise the work of the weavers. “We are like musicians who perform a score”, confirms Patrick Guillot. He himself immersed himself in the films of Hayao Miyazaki before starting his work, “To soak up the atmosphere, clearly define the colors”.
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