Glazig embroidery

11/07/2020

Article written by ElisaBrode (https://www.facebook.com/japprendsabroder/)
Translated by Claire de Pourtalès


Man wearing a Glazik costume (1930) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton
Boy’s costume with Glazik (1935) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

Glazig (or Glazik) means « little blue » in Breton (the language spoken in Britany). But this doesn’t mean you will use only blue thread. Far from it! This word comes from the traditional men’s costume worn in the Quimper area called Finistère (the Fin de la Terre or End of the Earth – as this is the last land before the Ocean). It was made with blue fabric. The name soon came to designed the whole county and the type of embroidery used to decorate the costume.


Boy wearing a Glazik costume (1935) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

The women’s costume was named after their very unique headgear, the “borledenn”.

Woman’s traditional costume (1940) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

For centuries, the embroidery techniques were only used for the clothes of the Aristocracy and the vestments of the Clergy. But from the 19th century onward, it became more and more popular (and affordable) for all the social classes.

Jiletenn vest (1910) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

From Brittany (1950), post card by Georges Geo-Fourier (1898-1966) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton
Boy wearing a Glazik costume (1935) / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

These costumes were stitched with great care, some more richly than others. They were worn for special occasions (Sunday, weddings, festivals…) and revealed the wealth and social status of their owner. Simpler costumes were worn for everyday life.

Motifs were stitched on the collar, on the chest as large bands, and on the sleeves.
Glazig embroidery is rich in colours, with golden yellow a favorite. Orange, green, violet, red and white are used abundantly.

The motifs used to be mostly geometrical, but with the passing time they were enriched with palmettes, fleurs de lys, hearts and flowers, usually done with silk.

The most common stitch is the chain stitch. To which is added the blanket stitch, the satin stitch, the stem stitch, and some very specific stitches with names such as Elliant’s braid, Plougastel’s braid, Neudé stitch, etc.

Man’s costume from the beginning of the 20th century / from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

Sketches by Dominique Villard (1928-2016) for tee-shirts – patterns « Le Guilvinec » and « Pont-l’abbé » (1980)

from the collections of the Musée départemental breton, Quimper.
Photo Serge Goarin, Musée départemental breton

Glazig embroidery today
There is a strong renewal of interest for this beautiful technique: transmission of knowledge, conservation of ancient costumes, creations of new costumes for the Celtic groups, Haute Couture creations, hobby, etc.

The embroiderer Pascal Jaouen brought a lot a modernity to this ancient technique and created new motifs appreciated by an ever-growing crowd of fans.
His School of Art Embroidery of Brittany in Quimper offers many different courses both yearly and during the summer. The success is such, that he had to open new classes around Brittany and in Paris.
The warmth of the colours and the beauty of the old or new motifs touch the creative cord of all generations. Marie-Laure Dubois (Communication): “Pascal was inspired by the old traditional Glazik motifs, with their particular colours, the way they fitted in the costume. From this background he created modern motifs. Flowers and leaves arrangement can be seen throughout the Glazik land”.

Pascal Jaouen (Photo Marie-Laure Dubois)
Pascal Jaouen – Jacket from the collection « Watching toward the West » /©BernardGaléron

Sources : Broderies en Bretagne – a book by Hélène Cario and Viviane Hélias – Coop Breizh
A blog : Filets Bleus – La broderie en Bretagne 

Pascal Jaouen (Photo Marie-Laure Dubois)

The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire

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