Friday, July 27, 2012

Puppets, flowers and buntings..

Julie introduced us to her puppets with a funny little story that was to be continued throughout the workshop. We got started on our papier mache puppet heads and put them out to dry in the sun.

While they were drying we got to work on our fabric buntings, small and large...

and our flower brooches.

A group of our finished brooches. 
All different and so wonderful. Some even got to make more than one.

Denise Litchfield of Grrl + Dog blog, and one of my favorite artists, made this lovely one and pinned it next to her "Julie" purchase.

Here is my attempt. I can't wait to make more of these and try out different colors and fabrics.

Here are some of the finished buntings. 

One our second day we all took a trip to the village for the Farmer's Market. Lots of booths set up in the middle of the town selling every thing from fruits and vegetables to clothing and all manner of supplies.
We wandered around and found a fabric store and place selling vintage embroidered linens. We had time for lunch in one of the local cafes and them off we headed to the most amazing Brocante in the area. Brocante means something like Bric a Brac, not quite a thrift store but close.

This is Ali Baba's! So much to explore. Everyone headed straight up to the vintage clothing section.
Beautiful embroidered linens of all types were plucked up by our companions-some to be used in our buntings or for outfits for our puppets.

Rooms full of things to explore! So fun to see the goodies from another country. 
And only so much room in our we had to be very selective.

The grounds around the brocante were full of flowers and fun little out buildings. Loved all the hollyhocks!

When we returned to the Barn we set up little displays of our purchases so everyone could see what we had collected. Above is Julie's table of buttons, yarns and tea cups.

Anna found many wonderful things, some for her shop in England.

We passed many beautiful fields of sunflowers on our trips to the village, they stretched as far as the eye could see.

After our shopping spree we got back to work on our projects.

One of the most amazing things for me was to be reunited with two of my childhood friends from
 So. California! Our mothers were best friends and we spent lots of time playing at each others homes. When my mother passed away and my father remarried a bit too quickly many of the family friends drifted away and we lost contact. So I hadn't seen Mary Alice (above) or her sister, Barbara (below) since I was about 17 years old. All of a sudden, here we are in France, at the same workshop! 
Almost too much to believe.
We had fun filling in on all the things we'd done over the years. It turned out that Barbara is even working in Santa Barbara right now designing a house for clients so I hope to get to see her when she comes down from her home in Napa Valley.
You just never know what wonderful things can happen when you travel and step out of your comfort zone. I am still marveling at the whole experience of being in this incredible place with all the wonderful women we shared time and creativity with and the hosts who fed and cared for us with such attention to our every need.

 Still a bit more to come....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Les Soeurs Anglaises

After our two and a half hour train ride we are met at the station by two wild Englishmen who will take us to our home for the next week. We have time for a quick "Hello" to our new companions and off we go. We pass by centuries old castles, fields of sunflowers, wheat, and corn...small forests and quaint villages with stone cottages, wild flowers along the way.

We arrive! This is the main house where we will have our meals, meet our new friends, listen to music and dance!

Sometimes we dine outside by the pool and garden. Two cats keep us company and might let us pet them.

This is the walk up to the "Barn" where we will stay and have our workshop.
It feels like heaven already!

This is the Barn,  reconstructed with old timbers and beautiful limestone. A huge space for creating, a communal kitchen, bedrooms for visitors and several bathrooms-some private and some to share.
We loved staying here with views of the countryside, it was quiet and peaceful-except when we were busy making stuff!

Here is 'our' pool, just below the barn. Mary Alice and I managed to go for a dip the last day. 
It was cool and refreshing.

The wheat field we passed by on the walk back up to the barn.

Our sweet room. Linens, duvets, and fluffy pillows with a little pouch awaited us.

Wonderful art to discover in every room.

These exquisite pieces were in our room.

More fiber art to study and admire.

Here is the large workspace in the Barn before we all got to work. Wonderful wooden tables, big enough for four people to stitch and sew.

Fresh flowers in our room and every day in the dining room. We were spoiled!

Before our workshop started we had time to look at all the wonderful things Julie brought for us to purchase and enjoy. These are bracelets made of "suffolk puffs" or what we call yoyo's. They have a little bit of stuffing and are sewn onto a strip of fabric. Syd came home with one!

Brooches made of the puffs.

Julie's watches! I just love these!

More of Julie's fun brooches.

Each little figure had stitching. This is "tender" standing next to a very cute mushroom. I need to make some of these!

Julie's papier mache puppets. We all had the chance to make one or more of these and come up with a short story for them.

Our first meet and greet with Julie by the pool. Artists came from Australia, England, and the U.S.-some had been here before for various workshops and couldn't wait to return. I can see why!

The smiling Julie! What a treat to spend time with such a delightful, creative and enchanting spirit.
More to come!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A visit to Montmartre with Will

One of the fun things about blogging and the internet is meeting up with wonderful artists whose work you admire. Just before leaving on our trip I received an email from Will, an incredible quilt maker and blogger- called "not so zen-quilts in Paris". 
She said give me a call when you are in Paris. We did and Will graciously gave us a tour of Montmartre where she lives. This is where the fabric stores are located as well as lots of fun little shops that we had never heard of. We all found some fabric to take home, had a delicious lunch at her favorite spot and were treated to a special showing of her amazing quilts while sipping tea she prepared for us.

This was one of our very favorite shops. Handmade little things and great fabric....we all found things to bring home. 

Another fun place that Will directed us to with all sorts of cool stuff from vintage dolls, buttons, eyeballs and jewelry. Called " Tombees Du Camion" - a bit like our Art from Scrap, but better!

Will shared many of her handmade quilts with us.  Many have appeared in a magazine called Quilt Mania, all beautifully hand quilted!

Susan and Colleen admiring her lovely work.

Fun fabric choices, many vintage fabrics she has collected become a part of her quilts.

Had to show you this amazing piece of beadwork. Will found this at a thrift store.

Heading on our way to the metro live music was playing in the town square as we passed by. A lovely way to spend our last day in Paris before we took the bullet train on down to our workshop at
 Les Soeurs Anglaises.