Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In my neighbourhood: Aix-en-Provence

You guys all know I live outside the big smoke that is Aix-en-Provence.

Place d'Albertas

We really don't get out here as much as we should - it's a beautiful town with many nooks and crannies that we have yet to discover.


Design Mom is having a Love the Place You Live link up monthly to encourage folks to go out and explore where they live (rather than having to travel to some far or exotic destination). We have the added bonus of our local area being very exotic to us!


The reason we don't get to Aix as often as we should is two-fold; for one, that pesky Luberon Valley keeps luring us away. The second reason is less exciting: laziness. Sometimes just the idea of loading everyone into the car with all their accoutrements leaves me exhausted.


But more often than not we fight through and we get out of the house. We're never sorry we have.


There are a few things we've found, travelling with young (and many) children, that set us up for success. Firstly, you have to get out of the house early.


The roads are clear around 9am on the weekends and when you arrive you usually find plenty of good parking and uncrowded streets. The kids are full of beans and in a good mood and it just makes for a great start to a day's adventure.

Institute d'Etudes Politiques

Second, come prepared. Make sure the nappy (diaper) change bag is restocked. I always bring small zip-lock bags of cheerio cereal, chopped apple or raisins for snacking/distractions.

Cathédrale de Sainte Sauveur

For meal times I have a small notebook with removable pages and 4 markers from IKEA (the have felt tips on one end and stamps on the other) - they keep everyone occupied until the meals arrive.

Doors of la mairie (town hall)

Sometimes I will have one small toy in my bag (I have a HUGE handbag) for each of them, a matchbox car, one of those puzzles where you slide the tiles to make a picture, those sort of things. Whatever it is, I make sure it is only ever used when we are out. Not using it at home keeps the toy new and exciting for them and more likely to keep their attention.

La Fontaine de l'Hôtel de Ville has been Groucho-ed. 

These pictures were taken around 8-9am Sunday morning. Everything was nice and quiet, especially as I didn't have the kids with me.


The markets were still setting up...


...and not much other than the bakeries were open.


I don't feel so silly taking photos of window displays when the stores are closed. Love the colours and pattern on this L'Occitane packaging.


And these tins - I want to collect them for storing all my craft supplies.


I came across some chandeliers too. I do so love them. Here's one in L'Eglise du Saint-Esprit:


It was lovely to go walkabout close to home and appreciate what's right on our doorstep. 

Place des Trois Ormeaux 

Definitely worth the effort!

Are you getting out and about in your local area? Why not include your own link over at Design Mom?

P.S. Another way to push yourself to get out is to buy the Lonely Planet (or equivalent) guide to your state or region. All those insider tips can be just as useful to locals as to tourists, and it's a constant reminder on your bookshelf to get out and about. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Girls' Night Out

Well, it's official. 38 year olds don't party very hard.


But on the bright side I didn't wake up with gorilla-armpit mouth this morning.


A big thank you to Aidan, Sara Louise and the lovely Delana for a wonderful Saturday night out (and a sleep-over!) in Aix-en-Provence. My cheeks are still hurting from laughing so much.


More photos of Aix tomorrow. Have a great start to your week. A bientôt!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dreamy Dentelle at Tendances Créatives, Marseille

Two and a half weeks ago there was a half foot of snow in our yard. Today it's 21℃ (70℉).

I'm as confused as my daffodils but I like where we're heading...dare I say the word 'Spring'?


Here are a few more photos from the Tendances Créatives Craft Fair I visited last weekend.


One of the exposants was Marie-Thérèse Bonniol, who makes all manner of woven artworks, including lace.


She uses any kind of material you can imagine from your standard sewing machine thread to hemp, silk, wire, cotton, plastic coated wire (like you'd find out the back of your stereo) and even the cord used to light fireworks.


Here we have glass as well as copper wire accents:


I loved this one, made from cotton (I have a thing for green lately):


A letter on glass this time:


I didn't have the heart to tell Marie-Thérèse that this teapot probably wouldn't work:


Marie-Thérèse also experiments with salt water. She suspends lace for two days in super-saturated salty water (found in salt farm ponds) and they emerge covered in diamond-like crystals like this:


As well as all this innovative work, Marie-Thérèse also makes beautiful lace in the more traditional style:


It was amazing to watch her work the bobbins - she's so fast! She claims it's relatively straight-forward, just follow the pattern, but wow it looked complicated to me.


We spoke briefly about the future of the craft - were people still learning these skills? She said she felt that commercially there was less handmade lace being produced but as far as being pursued as a hobby the craft was still quite popular. Phew, because this stuff is gorgeous.


You can find Marie-Thérèse's website here.

It's Friday again and I'm looking forward to catching up with some bloggy friends tomorrow in Aix.

I'm also under the pump, trying to get something finished in time for the Tangerine Tango Quilt Challenge - (more info on that here at Ali's blog, a.squared.w), but it's touch and go!


Wish me luck. And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marseille Craft Fair, 2012

The weekend just past I took my life into my hands and drove to Marseille for the Tendances Créatives: Salon du Loisirs Créatifs et Déco Maison.


Marseille is gorgeous but a lot of people there drive like they're on crack.


But it was well worth the adventure as I got to see lots of cool arty and crafty stuff.

The vendors were pretty much the same as last year. I got myself some nice spices and loose teas:


I also picked up some jewellery making supplies as well as ogling the already made pieces:


Emöke, the very clever textile artist was there again this year.

Stalker photo from behind a display. 

She had lots of new work on display, including some of that of her students. It's hard not to be impressed by her bold use of colour.


I thought this installation was very clever - she's woven these pieces in 3D using recycled cardboard and plastic for support.


This year they had a large number of pieces on display from two associations: Librarts and Maestria Manuelles.

Here's the part where I have to admit to poor journalism skills - my recording of the artists' names left a lot to be desired.

If anyone recognises their work, please email me and I will add your details or delete the photo as you wish! Si vous reconnaissez votre oeuvre ici, SVP envoyez-moi un email et je mettrai à jour la photo avec votre nom ou je la supprimerai, comme vous voulez!

On to the art, which I found facinating. Even if a piece's subject matter or colours didn't appeal to me, the techniques used were really interesting. I had my nose to the display wall pretty much the whole time.

I really loved the close up on this piece:

Two layers of fabric (and other items), one layer cut away to reveal underneath:

The windows proved a popular theme. This piece was a collaborative effort:

Un Jour Orange de Les Mercredis du Librarts 
(Cobie, Suzanne, Françoise, Monique, Simone, Sylvie, Myriam, Chantal)

Not only were the main panels interesting:

This one then had windows inside the window. Look at the work involved, the attention to detail. 'Tis amazing.

Here are some more interesting techniques and delightful details. Mixed media galore.

Adore this - the embroidery echoing the lace. 

Love the use of fabric and metal thread to form the foliage:

Carnet de Voyage Imaginaire "Voyage au Coeur des Minéraux" de Chantal Foulon

The fabric has been dyed and treated to resemble rock salts:

Carnet de Voyage Imaginaire "Mon Jardin" de Cobie Bevers

Another one from Chantal Foulon at Librearts, titled Fusion, Fluide, Frisson.

Plenty of inspiration there for embroidery, patchwork and any sort of art you can imagine.

I have some more photos to show but I think I'd better save them for another day; this post is so photo-heavy my monitor's about to flip over.

Hope you're having a great week so far and that inspiration is abounding!

P.S. Today is my birthday.

38. Sniff.


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