Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last Adventures in Paris

I spent Sunday afternoon, Sept. 12th on the Isle de St. Louis with Sharon, Carlene, and Linda. We walked along the Seine listening to street musicians and stopped to have lunch at an outdoor cafe. I ordered a kir et riesling which is popular in Paris. I don't usually like sweet wines but found this very good. Lunch was onion pie and salad.

After lunch we bought macaroons at a pâtisserie and ice cream at Bertillion. Fabulous desserts. Carlene and Linda had to head back to their apartment to pack but Sharon and I walked around looking at shops and then we went to taste Foie Gras and wine. The day was sunny, warm and just plain perfect.

Monday I gave a presentation of my work at the Paris American Academy to students and faculty. I showed my pieces I had taken with me and presented a slide show. Everyone seemed to be genuinely interested. In fact one of the staff member who helps run the office bought one of my wayward threads scarves which thrilled me to know I have someone in Paris wearing my work with love.

I talked a bit with the director about teaching there and will be sending a proposal. However, my concern is that it may not be a situation of me being able to teach a 2 - 4 week class. It might entail longer periods of time in which I would not be prepared to do.

Tuesday Sharon and I went to the Louvre. The line was pretty long to get in but I was told that in the peak summer months the lines are even longer. Once we were in I felt it was too crowded. Trying to look at the art I was jostled by picture takers and people trying to shuffle through the crowd. It was a bit warm too. We saw a few wings then met up for lunch with some of Sharon's son's friends who were there on a honeymoon. After that we left and went over to the academy studio.

Around 9:30 that evening we got on the Metro to go see the Eiffel Tower and walk under it at night when the lights twinkle up and down the whole structure. We were taking pictures as we approached blocks away but then we came upon a barricade and were told the whole area was evacuated because of a bomb threat and would be closed all night. I never got to see the tower up close.

Wednesday was my last day there. We went over to Notre Dam and that evening was a party at the Academy for the Mexican students because it was the Mexican independence day - 200 years! All the Mexicans brought food, chicken mole, guacamole and quesadillas. We brought Coronas and limes. Here are some photos of the students before the tequila was passed around.

Darling American students!

Peter the Academy's director.

Sharon showing her Mexican Independence colors.

The Mexican students were so sweet and wonderful!

It was a fun party but Sharon and I left around 10:00 because I was leaving the next morning on my 11 hour flight home.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Upcoming workshops

I will finish writing about my Paris trip next time but I wanted to remind you of my upcoming workshops. I am teaching 3 classes at Art & Soul in Portland on Oct. 7 & 8. My ribbon dyeing class is full but the other two have openings. I'd love for you to join me!

In November I'm traveling to St. Louis again to take part in the annual St. Louis Weavers' Guild Sale happening on the 5th & 6th. The following weekend I am giving a workshop at the Margaret Harwell Art Museum in Poplar Bluff, Mo. I hope more people sign up for this! It's my hometown so I'll see old friends and my folks too.

I know some people voiced concern about needing a sewing machine for the art museum class and I wanted to let you know we are rounding some up. If you are interested but have questions please email me!! lasfibers@yahoo.com

I hope more of you can join me at one of these classes and I look forward to seeing those who can.

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit. ~John Updike

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paris Part Two

When we traveled to Monmarte on Saturday, Sharon and I had some of the students with us from the Academy. We took them to the fabric store to help buy silk for their dress design projects. We got off the Metro and when we turned to the corner the street was full of marching people carrying signs. We found out if was about this: Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested in several cities on Saturday against Sarkozy's security crackdown, which has included the highly publicized rounding up and expulsion of illegal Roma migrants.

On Sunday after coffee and (of course) pastries we took of to the Marche du Puces. There are actually 4 flea markets within this and quite overwhelming. We were on a mission though to find certain shops that had been recommended to us and I was not disappointed!

We went to a lovely shop, LES PERLES D'ANTAN run by Flora Barlan. Such wonderful vintage trims, buttons, and beads. Flora's family ran a business that manufactured trims for Chanel so some of these trim pieces I purchased were from old stock after the business closed. Such finds!!

We also visited other little shops along St. Ouen and then headed back to the apartment to ready things for a dinner party we were having that evening. A friend of Sharon's was visiting from St. Louis and her friend from Seattle came along with some local friends and Alicia from Mexico. We bought rotisserie chicken which is very popular in Paris from a street vendor and the guests were all bringing dishes to go with it. Sharon had a reserve bottle of champagne we served first with French cheeses, like triple cream, for appetizers and then on into the night with red wines and ending with dessert wine and rice pudding Alicia had brought.

Monday we worked on nuno felting in the apartment and I made some bracelets cuffs. After I got home I added some embellishments and button closures to finish them.

Tuesday we were at the Academy with students. Wednesday we trekked out in the rain to visit the fashion houses on the Champs-Élysées. We went to Dolce & Gabbana first and while we liked some of the designs, the workmanship was not the quality I thought it should be. Would you pay $750.00 for a blouse that had threads hanging from the hem around the sleeves? (would you pay $750.00 for a blouse period?). We went into Chloe and liked many garments here and the workmanship was much better. I know that many of the garments we buy from department stores are manufactured in China, India, Korea, etc. but I was surprised to find most of these haute couture pieces are too. I did find some of the things from Chloe manufactured in Italy. Curious.

Most of the current fashions being shown were made of heavy, bulky woven, tweedlike fabrics. The 70's again. Sigh. Lots of fringe, bulky spun yarns. We got to Chanel wondering what would be shown and there in the window was the same bulky, fringy, 70's stuff. A skirt with fat, loose spun wool hanging from the waist. I have a suspicion the fringe would be easily caught in doors and snagged on chair corner when you sat in it. We took some pictures of the store windows and then went inside.

We were actually there doing industrial spying and while I hesitate to print this publicly I doubt Chanel is going to hunt me down. I'm not planning to manufacture their designs or compete with them. :) There was a beautiful coat we were admiring and a clerk (do you call them clerks at Chanel?) came and asked Sharon if she'd like to try it on. She was saying "No" as I exclaimed "Yes! try it on!". So the clerk takes this coat off the hanger and says to follow her to a dressing room. Alas there were none available at the time so she said we should wait. There were leather sofas and lounge chairs set around glass top tables where she said we could wait. "Did we want something to drink? Coffee, tea?" We asked for water which she returned with, two chilled glasses of water on a mirrored tray. We felt so elegant. While we waited we watched an Italian woman talk incessantly on the phone while her granddaughter tried on clothes. The young woman had someone helping her alter a dress, pinning the hem up, while the grandmother was waving her hand and and demanding (while she's on the phone) the hem should come down! Some things never change.

When a dressing room opened we were shown in for Sharon to try on the wool coat with a subtle herringbone pattern and leather trim. The zipper worked like butter, so smooth and easy. I got out my little sketch book and began taking notes and sketching the details. Oh my the details, such workmanship! The clerk knocked and we asked for a different size. I hid the sketchbook behind my back as she came in and left. I quickly started sketching again as Sharon was saying"Get this sleeve detail, did you get this pocket design?" Enter the clerk, hide the sketchbook. The coat fit like a dream but for $3500.00 Euro we had to pass. What fun though.

We went on to have a fine lunch of moules and Belgium beers and then home.

Thursday we were at the Academy with students. Friday we went exploring, shopping, looking for fabric finds and vintage notions. We visited Ultramod, Mokuba, and Fil 2000. Saturday we worked in the Academy studio again and that evening we joined some of the American students at a local jazz club.

Sunday we up early and off to the Marche aux Puces again but this time a different part of the flea market looking for the "Button Man" all the while humming "Have you seen the muffin button man, ……" we were being so silly! We found the button man, we bought, we went back home happy with our finds and then we went to the studio.

I just realized how long this post has gotten so I'm going to stop now and finish my Paris trip in part three.

If you made it this far I hope you will leave a comment, you deserve to!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Paris Part One/Fashion

(Peter is the director of the Academy so all tickets were in his name)

I arrived in Paris on Friday morning Sept. 3 after a flight of over more than 10 hours, direct from SFO to Paris. Sharon met me at the airport and we got on the Metro to ride back to where we were staying in the Latin Quarter or 5th arrondissement. It was my first ride on a subway. I know, you're probably sitting there with a shocked look on your face saying "what?" as most people do when I tell them this. No I had never ridden on a subway before. It was very crowded and we were juggling my luggage aboard but Sharon is a veteran subway rider and graciously helped me get the hang of it.

After I unpacked I took a three hour nap and then I was ready to go. I wasn't good at carrying my camera with me always, or taking photos of everything. I didn't keep a detailed journal, I just wanted the experience of being there and not having to document it all. When I went back to jot down my daily list of things I did I couldn't even remember what I did that first Friday I was there. Really, but I know we were on the go.

On Sat. we went to Monmarte and the fabric district.

On Sunday we went to the flea market which I'll write about in my next post.

On Mon. we were up early and off to Pret-a-Porter. The Paris American Academy sent all the students and faculty to this annual event where designers of ready-to-wear show the latest fashions for buyers to submit orders. It was huge! We (I am going to say "we" a lot because Sharon and I were together non stop) met many designers whose work we loved. The main floor had a section for "green" designers but it was called "so ethic" and I found several clothing collections from this section I liked. Cameras were not allowed so no pictures except the fashion show one below that we snuck with Sharon's phone camera.

Here are a few sites you can go look for yourself, but remember the collections I saw was for the 2011 lines that aren't being shown on websites yet.

mara gibbucci

We were drawn into this designers shop and sat and watched his fashion show. We either loved the garments or hated them, his designs were extremely varied. Later in the week we went into the Didier Parakian fashion house when we went shopping on the Champs Elysees.

And I like these boots como no

We went to the concourse next door to view the "Who's Next" designers and see a fashion show. The show had a fabulous set with escalators on each side of the back of the stage and a large and steep staircase in the center. The first show was "Converse" and I really tried to see the theater in it but it was boring, long, and hard to tell what they were really selling. A model walked down the center stairs and sat down at a vanity onstage. A guy wearing a Converse tee shirt and shorts rode the escalator down one side holding a Converse gym bag in front of him and walked over to the model. He took our a hairbrush and began teasing her long hair up and then affixing sunglasses in the teased hair for 20 minutes! Then two guys dressed in the same outfits with their hair already teased and sunglasses sticking up out of the hair rode the escalators on each side down and stood on the side of the stage while for another 15 minutes while the guy finished the hairdo on the model. Now you tell me what it was about?

It was taking a very long time for the next designer's show to start and my back was aching a bit so we left to take the tram back to the Metro and home to the apartment where we were greeted by this view from the apartment window.

It was a long, exhausting day but very inspiring and our minds were whirling with ideas.

(p.s. A Francophile friend of mine wrote to tell me this about my previous post: "One small thing but gramatically important to the French: Bonjour MES amis (that's plural, for all your friends, mon is singular)" and I thank her for that!)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Bonjour mon amis!

It was the time of my life, it really was. I have been home since Thursday but my circadian rhythm is off, night is day and day is night. I'm trying to get back on schedule but it's hard. I want to write so much about my trip but because of my messed up sleep habits I am not on track to write much, or create in my studio which I desperately need to be doing to get ready for Art and Soul in a couple of weeks, or feel anything but tired and a little disoriented.

I did so much while I was in Pairs, maybe not all the "normal" things tourists did but I will try to make a list and perhaps in a future post I can elaborate.

I got to go to Pret a porte and "who's next"

Visited the Louvre but I am allergic to huge crowds and didn't stay very long

Champs Elysées and the fashion houses ( I'll write later about visiting Chanel)

rode many miles on the metro

Ultramod millinery shop


Paris American Academy

Went to see the eiffel tower at night but after getting near the whole area was blockaded and evacuated because of a bomb threat.

Marche du Puces

Isle de St. Louis/Along the Seine

Notre Dame

This song kept playing in my head while I was in Paris.

merci beaucoup for stopping by
Au Revoir for now.