The Traditional Blue Tablecloth
This is a souvenir you definitely shouldn’t resist! It’s gaining in popularity and color choice and the design comes in all forms (not just as a pretty covering for your coffee or dinner table), including scarves, coasters and lampshades.
The modern versions can be seen in craft exhibitions worldwide, but the oldest original samples date back to the late 17th century- cotton tablecloths painted in various hues of blue and used as dowry and for ritual and celebratory purposes by all social classes. In the eighteenth century, artisans began creating printed textiles using woodblocks with decorative engravings- ornamental motifs symbolic of the Georgian culture, such as plants, animals, knives, forks, Eastern elements, garlands, and patterns.
Popularity for the Blue Tablecloth reached another peak in the 20th century when Georgian factories turned it into an aesthetic symbol of the country. But in the 1990s those factories were forced to close as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and production of the Blue Tablecloth all but stopped.
In 2010, despite the fact that the country was still in no position to re-open its factories, the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts launched a research laboratory named Lurji Supra (Blue Tablecloth) to study the now century-old technique. Founders Tinatin Kldiashvili and Ketevan Kavtaradze, design professors at the Academy, focused on restoring the original, long-forgotten textile technology and now, together with other artists, regularly display their works at exhibitions across the globe, as well as in their Tbilisi studio La Maison Bleue.
You’ll see a lot of Blue Tablecloth options as you pass by souvenir shops in Tbilisi, but you surely can’t do better than getting one straight from the crafts persons who re-invented it. Head along to La Maison Bleue in Vake district to see the cozy textile art studio and exhibition space. There you can buy or order hand-painted silk wall-hangings, silk scarves, cushion-covers, lampshades, screens and other small souvenirs.
La Maison Bleue also offers private lessons for children and adults.
WHERE: 94, Barnovi Str. Tbilisi
TEL 235 99 41, 223 21 16
Open: Daily from 12:00-18:00
Katie Ruth Davies