Originally published on Slowear Journal on Oct 8th
Thanks to Francesca Stignani for translation
Weaving like in the old times is an anachronistic and yet intriguing job. In Peillac, a small town in Southern Provence, Atelier aux Fils de l’Arz, owned by the Lesteven family, is one of the last places in France where they still know how to weave on a hand-operated loom, the métier a bras.
The small firm’s activity focuses on the creation of fine handwoven fabrics, made with strictly natural raw materials – eco-friendly yarns such as hemp (from Italy), linen, soy fiber and zero-mile wool from the sheep bred on the grazing land opposite the maison.
Bruno, father and husband, is in charge of the hard work. i.e. the weaving. It takes accuracy, concentration, quickness and muscular strength to control a huge six-pedal treadle loom. Wife Gaëlle is a couturière – a designer and a dressmaker. She likes to make things for her kids, friends and relatives, while Bruno’s fabrics are sold through the Internet and in the organic textiles fairs.
So what makes handwoven fabrics so unique? Mainly their strength – they last much longer than industrial fabrics, not to mention the fact that they can be customized even as far as small amounts are concerned.
Whoever wishes to learn more about this charming and traditional job can opt for a one-week internship at the Atelier – there are different levels of teaching, according to the apprentice’s basic skills. In case you’re just curious, just ask for a guided tour and you’ll be able to see old looms and century-old fabric remnants.