And in the middle of teaching a workshop this week, but thought I’d grab these few free minutes that I have to write a post. First off, if you haven’t seen my other videos and posts about my artist’s residency, it was AMAZING! Truly beyond anything I had imagined. Being immersed in art, living with a group of artists for two weeks was just incredible. I had no distractions other than self imposed deadlines, and the occasional load of laundry, but otherwise I was free to explore, create, learn and be inspired by everything and everyone around me. It was magical. And added plus, in a group of 16 artists, there wasn’t a single prima donna! Not a one. Everyone was beyond lovely.
I’ve been home now for just over a week and already it’s all beginning to fade into the background. In many ways it feels as though I was just there, as in yesterday, and in other ways it feels as though it was all a dream and never happened at all or if it did, it was years ago. Time is strange like that. Still I have both Paris and Orquevaux on my weather app, so everyday I look to see what the weather is like over there. It’s a tenuous thread that still attaches me to that magical place and time. One of these days I’ll remove them both, but for now, it’s a bit like listening to an old phone message from my mother. I know she’s gone, but I can’t bare to delete it.
The piece I created while at the residency is pinned precariously to a large foam board and propped up on a desk until I can put together a more permanent solution for it. I started referring to it as The Beast until someone suggested I use the french word for beast, which is La Bête, and they’re right it does sound better, a bit less jarring, a little softer. Still, there’s something about the forcefulness of “The Beast” that I rather like, so I alternate between the two depending on my mood. My friends in Paris suggested I call it Genesis, particularly since I’m doing a series. I’ve bookmarked that idea for now.
Once this workshop that I’m teaching is over, I’ll get back to it, but for now, it waits for me patiently.
While at the artist’s residency I interviewed a few of the other artists and then ran out of time and so was only able to interview six of them. If you’d like to see what some of the other artists were doing while at the residency, you can watch those interviews on my youtube channel. They are all under the Interviews! playlist.
I also had time to create a number of videos on the process or more accurately my process. Here are a couple of those videos:
Yesterday I did more wandering and in doing so got a bit turned around and so approached a woman of a certain age, who, in reply to my question, “Excusez moi, parlez vous anglais?” said, “Très mal!” Which means, “very badly!” I was just thrilled. No, seriously, my heart skipped a beat because I knew this meant that she would put up with my fumbling attempts to speak french AND would probably forgive my butchering of her beautiful language. I was then able to tell her I was lost and was trying to find the metro and did she know where the correct metro line was. Thankfully I was even able to understand her directions. Yay and Yay!
Later I had some trouble with my metro day pass and was able to get help from two lovely gentlemen who informed me (in French) that I mustn’t keep my metro ticket next to my cell phone as it deactivates it, but they issued me a new one, and off I went to visit the Catacombs! This last conversation was spoken in a combination of French and English, which I’m getting quite good at and people seem to understand, and are very kind and patient with me. Oh how I love France!
As I was a bit early for my tour of the Catacombs, I went to an exhibit of female photojournalists and another on the occupation of Paris during World War II.
The exhibit on the occupation of Paris was also powerful.
And then it was time for my tour of the Catacombs!
I was supposed to then go to the Sacre Coeur, but I got onto the wrong train and didn’t realize until it was too late to get there in time, so that will have to be another day.
I spent the evening with friends. And on the way to their home I stopped in one of the many beautiful flower shops in Paris and brought them these.
It must be said that it was a rocky start as my attempts to speak French began with a faux pas.
I arrived in Paris, breezed through customs, got my bag, navigated the taxi line and after the required salutations said, Tu prends les credits carte? Which means “Do you take credit cards? except that I used the informal you, as though we were old chums, which is considered rude, and just a little disrespectful, thus solidifying the stereotype of the “ugly American.” My apologies to my fellow Americans out there.
There was a silent gasp. I swear I heard it. And then, being the elegant man that he undoubtedly was, he politely responded, using the formal you, with something like, Bien sûr, mais si vous avez en espèces, ce serait apprécié. Which means: Of course, but if you have cash, that would be appreciated. Realizing my mistake, I said, Je suis désolé, mon français est terrible, mais je fais de mon mieux. Meaning, I’m sorry, my French is terrible, but I do my best. I’m not sure that softened the blow, but I couldn’t think of what else to say. The remainder of the long cab ride to my hotel was spent in silence.
Needless to say, I paid with Euros.
Still, not to be deterred, I attempted to check in speaking French, but before I could get past the initial, bonjour, j’ai une réservation… he responded in English.
Now it must be noted that I’ve been practicing my French dutifully every single day for the past two years in anticipation of this trip and was really hoping to practice and maybe even have a conversation, albeit a rudimentary one.
However things went off the rails when the nice woman from housekeeping came to ask if I would like her to return with a vacuum cleaner because of some dirt that had fallen while the guy was trying to fix one of the black out blinds that wasn’t descending properly. Now I know the word for housekeeper, femme de ménage, but I have never heard the word for vacuum cleaner.so I finally said, Pardon, je ne sais pas ce ça – Pardon me, I don’t know what this is, Who could blame her when she looked around in confusion. What I meant to say was, I’m sorry I don’t understand what that means, but I was getting tired and couldn’t think clearly. She then apologized and continued in perfect English.
Even when I sat down to have un cafe at a little Parisian restaurant on the Seine, and I successfully ordered in French and even was able to have a two sentence back and forth, feeling flush with my success I was utterly deflated when the waiter began replying in English. Still, I insisted, somewhat comically to continue in my very bad French, while he replied in English and here’s the thing – just about everyone in Paris speaks English much better than I speak French. Seriously small children have a leg up on me. Though it must be noted, I did not attempt to carry on a conversation with any small children, all parents will be relieved to know that.
I did manage to take the metro, I was extremely pleased with myself, and even figured out how to transfer and purchase a ticket using one of the many machines they have. But when I tried to insert the ticket into the machine, all bets were off. A nice young man finally came to my assistance to tell me that, yes, you put the ticket into the slot and it spits it out just beyond. All was well.
There were countless instances when I couldn’t think quickly enough to respond in French to various things, such as when a group of young men passed me as I was walking along the Seine. One young man said, Bonjour! and then followed that up with, Tu es très jolie! You are very pretty. What I wanted to say was, Merci, mais je pourrais être ta mère, Thank you, butI could be your mother, but instead I just kept walking, which was probably just as well. Oh please, I qualify for senior citizen discounts!
Still, tomorrow is another day and who knows what lively conversations I may attempt?
For those of you who’d like to see some video and photos of my first day, you can watch this short YouTube video.
First things first… I know you’re dying to know if I have continued my “workout” routine, which I posted about on Tuesday. Thanks to all who laughed along with me on that. I put the word workout in quotes because is it really a “workout” when it’s just for 10 minutes? I’m going to say YES! And yes, I have. Every single muscle in my body aches. How is that even possible after just 10 minutes? Seriously. What have I been doing for the last two years? Oh, right. NOT exercising. At all. So there’s that.
Next up: France!! I’m starting to get seriously excited, which is saying a lot because I was already excited before, but now I’m in a kind of twilight zone of over the top excitement.
The Chateau where I will be staying for two weeks.
There’s still lots of things to do, figure out what I’m taking, pack, figure out how I’m going to fit in a couple changes of clothes amongst all my stitching stuff, get some Euros. I’ve got packages to mail to people who’ve enrolled in various workshops. By the way, The Improvisational Stitching Workshop only has ONE spot left, so if you’re thinking about enrolling, do, before it’s sold out. And the upcoming Stitch Along has only a couple spots left as well. That’s the one where we use my improvisational stitching techniques with creating buttons of all kinds and adding them. I’m just starting to learn how to make Zwirnknopf and Death’s Head buttons to add to the Dorset Buttons and will be teaching both as well! Who knew buttons could be SO much fun?!
Combining Improvisational Stitching with Button Making!
This is an example of a Zwirnknopf Button.
I haven’t attempted a Death’s Head button, but will be learning how. All of these various things are things I’ll be bringing with me to France to practice and play with. And then there’s the big piece which I’ll be layering and painting on.
Did I mention that I’m going to be visiting the Catacombs in Paris? Now I don’t remember ever hearing about the Catacombs when I was living in London and visiting Paris more frequently, but something popped up about them while I was looking for thread shops that might be still open, and I thought – what? Catacombs? I’m all in! So I promptly booked a tour of them for the second day that I’m there. Death’s Head buttons, catacombs… I’m noticing a theme here.
And then there’s the Aiguille en Fête which will, miraculously, be going on JUST as I’m there. Aiguille en Fete basically translates to Needle Party and there will be all kinds of exhibits, demonstrations of thread, fiber art, etc. I am thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. Beyond thrilled. Pretty much beside myself with excitement. AND where ever and whenever possible I’ll be shooting video, recording and posting back to my Patrons, in my FB group and on my Youtube Channel. I’ll be busy!
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Please browse and look at our patterns available. We also offer Workshops! ~Ariane