Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Woad on Wednesday

(i decided to go sans gloves this year;  so my hands are much bluer in person 
and apparently are now stained for months!)

(Denise's hands, from years of woading and not wearing gloves)

Denise comes to the Chateau, brings her mother vats and everyone goes a little woad crazy.  If you've never heard about woad dying and if you've never dyed with woad, you don't know how addictive it is until you carefully set your first piece of fabric into the vat and watch it float under a yellow-blue-ish liquid.  When you pull it out, it's a green-yellow, sort of acid-wash, and as you unfurl your scarf/tshirt/skirt/hankie and the oxygen in the air takes over, the most beautiful blue begins to emerge.  Next thing you know, you're running back to your room to find your bag, some lace, a tea towel, your shoes, that old dress... anything and everything that will fit into the vat, ready to be dyed.

I think it's Denise's passion that makes it all so magical.  She has an incredibly extensive knowledge about the history of woad, it's unparalleled level of importance as a color in the world, a fantastic sense of humor, and permanently blue hands.

We love woad day at the Chateau.  It seems to transport you to another time when mother vats, men's urine (look that detail up!), and blue fingernails were all the rage.

(more woad this way--)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Horses Hooves is not a Myth

Each time we've come to Europe, we look to find artisans in their field working at their craft daily.  We've met so many craftsmen/women here that are incredibly inspirational, it's always a bit of a surprise to come across another one...

This time, so far, it's Fabrice, who we met in his shop that he owns with his wife.  They make soap.  Such a serious soap maker that when we asked him if he'd like to come to the Chateau and talk about the process, he said he didn't think he could do that because he and his wife would be making large trays of soap and they would just be too busy!
Instead, right there in the shop, he gave us a brief history of soap and we stood captivated while customers bustled around us just out to get their weekly washing supplies.

And something I'd heard for years and never seen proof of was finally presented to moi,
in full color:

Soap, from horses.  It can no longer be denied. 
In a mixture of my terrible, broken French and his mixt Frenglish, I do believe we got to the bottom of this!

Another interesting fact:  86%  oil was the maximum oil addition for a soap. 
They no longer go all out like that.  72% d'huile is all you'll get these days...

Still, a gorgeous bar of washing soap.
This could last you for more loads than you're willing to do!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Travelly Duex

We're all full up here!

The Chateau Getaway has turned out, day two, as one of the best trips I've ever taken.

Everyone arrived on Saturday night, exhausted after a very long trip.  You ride high for awhile on the lack of sleep and the fumes of France (at first, described as petrol, ciggies and croissants...until you arrive at the chateau and then it's nothing but lavender air and fresh baked bread).  10 women came along this first week, and mom, Kaari and I make it 13.  A really great number to be able to get deep into conversation quickly. 

The first night is always a funny first-night-at-camp thing:  You're about to spend an entire week, night and day, with a group of women you've never met.  You'll be doing things you may never have done before and the level of excitement alone you have for being in France is huge.  Then, the feeling you get  when met by a group of strangers who all have your same love of vintage linens, or crafting with beads, or flea marketing for the best deal, is truly heart-warming.  Many of the women on this trip seemed to breath a sigh of relief as they sat down to a gorgeous outdoor meal:  I'm here, it feels like home.

I've personally never done a group trip.  I never really enjoyed camp, either.  And, if I had my druthers, I would go on vacation with only RK and absolutely no itinerary.  This trip is exactly the opposite.

So, besides me loving the hosting part, I'm so very curious why people do come on these trips.  I decided to ask and the answer, over and over, was the same:  I wanted to go to Europe with people that "get it".  There's a serious camaraderie here and it's completely taken me by surprise.  I'm fully inspired even!

I wonder if men look for it in the same way that women seem to?  The need to be creative, to have an outlet that's not about your kids, your partner, or your job, is a need that should be fulfilled.  Our whole lives, as women, we've been told that a partner will make you whole.  And then kids will make you whole.  And if you're still not satisfied and you need to get out in the world, you take a job, because surely, that will make you whole.  When it really comes down to it, it's the creation, the creative, behind these very things that make us feel more complete.  And when we've lost ourselves to our kids, our partners and our jobs, we find we want something that is solely ours.  It's not a creation of someone else's making (by personality, by opinion, by rules), it's a creation of our own.

Having a group of women around you who, while you breath in the fig trees and the lavender bushes and sit overlooking a field of sunflowers, squeal at your purchase of old notions and madly photograph your find of vintage linen sheets and tell you they once felt the same way you did while you find your way through your life story so far...
well, that's a getaway that gets you right to where you're going.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

it is what it is

she's more than a place holder

she's a starlet...

she's a work of art...

 she's a sunbather...

and i miss her like crazy.

Tomorrow begins the posting du chateau get away trip.
If anyone had told me a couple of  years ago that I'd be sitting around a table with a group of strangers and my sister and mother, crying about life and goals and dreams, while everyone is crying almost uncontrollably and then less than two hours later chasing bats out of a woman's room.... well, I wouldn't have believed you.
But I'm here and I'm loving it.

(new pink piece "stella" made by T on an afternoon of sun and wine:  thank you)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shop Shop Shop

Gads, I'm getting excited about flea marketing in France!  It's really a super highlight of the trip.  Sure, I can flea market lots and lots in the states, but it's the weird little things you find in another country that make it so interesting.  And then shopping with my mom and sister make it all the more fun.

These books were some goodies I got one day walking to the studio.  I think I paid a dollar or two for all three of them.  I never know exactly what I'm going to do with any of these things, but a collector is a collector no matter what.  That would be me.

I bought Smoldering Flames for the cover alone.  It wasn't until I got to my studio and started flipping through it that I felt like I'd found a written goldmine, as well.

This one, a winner, as well.  I love old pottery markings and often try to sneak a peek at the bottom of a piece at a garage sale or flea mkt, all the while pretending I have no idea what I'm looking for.  Well, no more pretending for me!
And, I think I see my new tattoo in here...

FactOnly twenty years ago, shorthand classes were seen in nearly every high school in the country. Now, the overwhelming majority of high school students today has never seen nor heard of Gregg Shorthand.  

I'm not sure that an Anniversary Edition makes this book any more interesting.  Shorthand, in general, I find fascinating.  It's such a dying art and It's been around since mid-4th century BC.  It's an entirely different language and seems much more difficult than even Latin (i know, because i tried, i swear i tried!)

Check out the written shorthand word for totally. And the word for socially could even be my new signature:  It's just a 'y' and really, for as social as I am, I probably only have time to write the 'y' from my name 'molly'.  It just makes sense.

Maybe this shorthand thing isn't as tough as I thought!

I like that the book I got has a students' handwriting all over it. 
You'd have to take some serious copious notes in this class.

There you have it:  books.
As Nan Livingstone might say, something exciting is always happening in my young life!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lookout for a License

So, I got this idea the other night for a piece of art work and it means I hope to acquire a new collection:  bike license plates.

  Bike platesI've been thinking about these little things all day and night and  I started to remember how cool those little license plates were, hanging off the back of my banana seat bike.  I thought how crazy it was that we ever got rid of them.

Then I found out how crazy collecting license plates can be.  And I don't use the word 'crazy' lightly.  I use it with the highest respect, collector to collector.  I want to come across a huge box at the flea market one of these days soon and scoop the whole thing up, but tonight, I just went looking for an image of a little bike plate...

I found this:

Wisconsin bicycle license plate run

Oregon State Riders



WINNIPEG, MANITOBA 1974-75-76-77 BICYCLE plates


S, I guess I'm not the only one with a little collection in mind... but I'm keeping my eyes out for 'em...

gads, they might not be so easy to find after all.

(Bike plate photos attributed to flickr accounts.  Scroll over the photo and you'll see the title and flickr author)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Beauty in Strength

San Francisco summers are a bit infamous for being freezing cold.  I don't know why we're still so shocked every summer, as the fog comes rolling over the hills and the wind picks up to hurricane speed, but we are. 

Yesterday, the day started out with high heat and no breeze.  We were thrilled, a big day off with gorgeous weather... until it wasn't so gorgeous and we found ourselves in a winter wonderland, freezing our butts off.

Last year at this time, RK and I were in Mexico and we never even thought about the cold, foggy, spitty-wet days here in the ole SF.  The two of us were sweating along in the botanico, thinking we'd found heaven...

What we'd found was the sprawling, nearly empty botanical gardens that felt like your own private desert.  After paths and paths of dirt leading into hills and valleys, we came upon a green house filled with succulents.  More than any other plant these days, succulents get our hearts racing.  I don't know what it is about their spiky arms and solid leaves, but I find succulents to be these strange, fun, funky, surprising little plants.
Like little pieces of magic, they sprout up and reproduce in the most unlikely of conditions.  Such hearty little creatures, just when you think the thing is dried up and d.o.a., it pops out a blossom.  And I'm not talking about some pretty leaf with some shades of red or yellow, but intricate, webbed blossoms that look like cotton candy but will leave you feeling like a you've been stung by a bee!  These things are wacky!
They're the real thing.  They're life or death.  And while they can live in the cold, foggy climate of San Francisco, these things thrive on heat.  They're at their most beautiful in the struggling, empty plains of the desert.  I like that kind of resilience in my plants.

I know some people find succulents to be unattractive for their very nature of being "difficult" and our photos from this trip don't always do them justice, as we argue for the other side, but click on the photo and see it in a huge, detailed, macro-sort of way and then imagine... dead of summer, in a dry, hot field... nothing is coaxing you to come out, but you struggle and push and you carry your own water inside and boom!, there's some magic.

People and plants can have a lot in common.
If we're lucky.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Whatever you do....

Plan to have a wonderful weekend.

Get outside!

Join the crowds, if you care to.

Or, keep it inside...

I just know if you put your mind to it, you can make a big splash!

And have a blast!

*photos 1-5 from square america, bottom photo mine from nyc