Curiously Crafting: A Conversation with Colette Boulet
Posted: Mar 8th, 2021 | Education

Hello there! I’m Justice Stacey, your Educator in Residence. Welcome to Curiously Crafting, a journey into the wonderfully wide world of textiles. Through the stories of three textile artists and their practice, we are learning that people come to work in this medium from every background imaginable and in a multitude of ways. It is my hope that these stories will encourage us to work in methods of learning and making that we never thought possible, as a means of engaging in conversations about the past, present, and future of textiles. This series was made possible through a Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

In this edition of Curiously Crafting, we take in the intricate weavings of Colette Boulet, that speak to a long history of tapestry weaving. Listen in on a conversation about Colette’s apprenticeship at Les Gobelins and the focus on technique and mastery in her education. Then watch Colette Boulet demonstrate basic weaving techniques in her studio space.

Colette Boulet, 5555. Linen, cotton, silk, rayon chenille. 132″ x 30″. Photo courtesy of Colette Boulet. Not for reproduction.

Colette Boulet

Drawing from a wealth of weaving history, Colette Boulet blends mastery of technique with fresh sensibilities to create her contemporary tapestries. Having trained at the historic tapestry weaving factory Les Gobelins de la Manufacture in Paris, France, her work and skill demonstrate the value of learning directly at the hands of master craftspersons and of balancing tradition with experimentation.

Colette Boulet, Fireface. Polyester and vicose. 112″ x 36″. Photo courtesy of Colette Boulet. Not for reproduction.

I remember the day I first stumbled across the wonderful video “The Art of Weaving a Tapestry”, which documented the contemporary and historical work of Les Gobelins. Showing it to everyone who would watch it with me, I would excitedly proclaim how much I would love to observe the weavers at their work or to possibly study there myself. When I stumbled across Colette Boulet’s profile and saw she had trained at Les Gobelins I knew I wanted to share her story. The place weaving holds in our contemporary lives is an interesting one – we are surrounded by woven fabrics, but their production is so far removed from our daily lives that we spend little time reflecting on it. How often do we look closely at the woven structures of our clothes? Would we be so careless with our modern textiles if we thought more deeply about the history of weaving? 

Colette’s work invites us to think deeply – it is detailed and rich in colour, texture, and hand-manipulated techniques. The knowledge required to create these pieces was learned and honed over time. Quickness and instant gratification are not part of a tapestry’s story. Months to years of work would go into tapestries of incredible size and detail. Through her training at Les Gobelins and her continued textile art practice, Colette brings these values and skills into our modern world. Weaving asks that respect be given to technique and rules, after all, if a sound structure isn’t woven your work can collapse as soon as it comes off the loom. But there is room for experimentation once proper technique has been developed.

Colette Boulet, Transparence #4. Polyester, viscose, linen, silk. 55″ x 26″. Image courtesy of Colette Boulet. Not for reproduction.

At a time when innovation and lightning-fast progress are applauded and praised, I value the counter-narrative in the world of Colette’s work and our other Curiously Crafting artists. Her work has reminded me to take the time to go about my textile work properly and to draw inspiration from the work of the past. 

Colette Boulet, Goddess. Bamboo, polyester, linen, viscose. 96″ x 27.5″. Image courtesy of Colette Boulet. Not for reproduction.

Interview with Colette

Join me and Colette Boulet as we discuss everything from the history of tapestries to the experience of completing a residency.


Weaving with Colette Boulet

Join fibre artist Colette Boulet as she demonstrates basic weaving techniques in her studio space. Follow along with your own weaving, whether you are a long-time weaver or just starting out. 

Read more Curiously Crafting interviews

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