This beaded sequined textile by Yves Telemak was one of
the most delightful projects I have worked on!
Intricate folk art, with thousands of sequins and pearls each with a tiny seed bead!
And the colors! Modern art and folk art… so beautiful!
The back story of how our client came to own this lovely piece made me think about how art heals, and how you should pay attention when your heart wants a piece of art…
but that is her story to tell. Suffice it to say that it came to her when she needed it,
an antidote to the work she was doing just out of school.
Ezilí Dantor or Erzulie Dantó is a senior spirit (loa) in Haitian Vodou.
She is a protector of mothers and women and children.
Her day of worship is Tuesday, and the solitary practice is
performed in front of an altar in blue, green and red.
Common offerings are créme de cacáo, jewels and perfumes.
Once a year (her birthday) there is a festival and a wild pig is roasted.
By the way, she is not the first Elizi Danto I had the pleasure to conserve;
I also cleaned and repaired Ken Ellis’s Embroidered Textile Art.
Of course, Elizi Danto reminds me of the Virgin Mary,
and is more in keeping with the ways I saw Her as I went to Mexican churches
in Southern California, where the Virgin was bright and lively,
not subdued as she is seen in many northern city churches.
The piece, by the famous artist Yves Telemak (see bottom),
was in excellent condition but had small rips, a few missing sequins,
many missing seed beads, and many many loose sequins and pearls.
My first step was to inspect the entire textile to assess problems.
Digital imaging has made this so easy — I inspect it thoroughly during assessment,
while also creating an estimate, and snap pictures as I find issues,
and then I can make sure I don’t forget it if it is not extremely obvious!
I prefer not to wear gloves because they make moving intricate parts difficult.
I frequently wash my hands of oils and I am now very good at not touching
my face or hair, picking up body oils in the process.
I also, unfortunately, cannot wear hand cream!
You can see the artists design marks under the beading.
Thankfully the biggest beads and sequins were all there, but for a few areas;
trying to match these sequins is horrendous.
I don’t have stashes of old sequins, and they do have to match perfectly.
Thankfully oOur client had saved beads when she found them.
Loose beads were carefully resecured.
This is a labor of love, literally.
When you estimate these jobs you never quite catch everything,
but when you begin removing and resecuring the beads, you find others,
and yes, I do it all at no further charge. It has to be done!
Another example of everything in one area.
I had to find matching seed beads;
hat was not too difficult. I had many of them in my stash!
After I finished the reparation I carefully vacuumed
the entire piece thoroughly through a HEPA filter.
Never before — it is too easy to pull a lose bead.
No wet cleaning was necessary.
I do not write a thorough documentation unless it is paid for
but I pick a few areas and image those for our clients, always.
About the artist, Yves Telemak:
“While still in his thirties, a relatively young age for an established artist,
Yves Telemak became a prominent member of the famous “Bel-Air school”
of flag-makers. The son of a respected vodou priest, Yves began his career
by working as an assistant in the atilye (atelier) of the Bel-Air flagmaker
Joseph “Boss To” Fortine. After learning the craft from “Boss To”,
Yves ventured out on his own. Eager to design drapo Vodou that
expressed his personal artistic vision, Yves transformed a room in his family
compound into a small workshop and began making flags.
Like most premiere flagmakers, Yves makes drapo for Vodou societies,
but the vast majority are sold to tourists and art collectors.
The central motifs of his works are inspired by the religious traditions of his family, suggested by friends and acquaintances, or based on popular images
culled from magazines and tourist brochures. Brilliantly expanding
upon the distinctive styles employed by the Bel-air artists with whom he trained,
Yves’ complex geometric patterns and wide polychromatic borders make
his work the most readily identifiable of any contemporary flagmaker.”
From Haitian Vodou Flags by Patrick Arthur Polk,
University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
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