dimanche 28 septembre 2008

Reviving the Sleep Angel

I really feel I've neglected my Sleep Angels when I owe so much to them. It was when I came up with the idea for them a little less than a year ago that things first clicked in my head about where I wanted to take my crafts-making.

Of course, since then, I've had so many other clicks, like this click and that click :) I think it was to Emily that I recently admitted that I needed some discipline, as my work has a tendency to go off in so many directions that even I end up getting confused. Through it all, though, my Sleep Angels have been a constant, always managing to bring fresh customers into my shop.

So last week I decided to pay them a little more attention, give them a makeover of sorts by introducing new elements like patches and crochet, and offering them in themed sets of four. The picture above shows the first set I'm making available in my shop. It's the Butterfly-and-Flowers Quartet, and can be found here.

mardi 23 septembre 2008

Who Invented the Parachute?

The thing about moving to some place new is you can reinvent yourself totally.

Back where I grew up, everybody and his cousin (but especially my dear friend Garch) thought I had a horrible voice, fit not even for the shower. A sad, sad thing (sob!), especially since when I was around 16 years old I made a list of 100 things to absolutely do, and no. 67 was "Sing in Public."

I did try once. In a jazz bar with my girl friends the singer wanted audience participation and, always game for such things, I went up on stage and started screeching,"Rolling, rolling, rolling down the river!" My friends were mortified, and up until now Maya giggles embarrased-like when reminded of that night.

And now my friends, I have an announcement to make. Are you ready? On Saturday night, thousands of kilometers away from your long-suffering ears, I am going to sing in public!

I'm going to be breaking French eardrums as part of "Expérimental Babote," part of a series of creative events going on in Montpellier this weekend, and collectively known as Quartier Libre. I'm singing with a group, so that should drown out any false notes, don't worry :)

If you're going to be in the area, do come and you'll learn all about how Sébastien Lenormand invented the parachute in Montpellier in 1783. Part of his experiments involved throwing animals attached to his inventions out of the Babote Tower, thus explaining the drawing above. Aside from the singing, there will also be sculptures and paintings to see. Should be interesting, don't you think? Will post photos after the event on Saturday.

Expérimental Babote has a blog here.

dimanche 21 septembre 2008

Flea Marketing

There's really something about flea markets that gets me all excited.

Maybe it's finding a porcelain head, arms, a torso--and knowing that almost everybody else sees just broken doll parts, but you know you've stumbled upon your own personal treasure trove.

Maybe it's about coming across bits and pieces of lace, and imagining how the young girl whose dress the lace once adorned must have felt so pretty on that night she put on her best clothes and went out with the most charming young man of the village.

Or maybe it's just about spotting a gorgeous set of 12 cotton napkins and a tablecloth, and paying just five euros, because the woman who they belonged to has just kept them in her cupboards for a decade (they're so precious!), and now she's clearing up storage space

Whatever it is, it's something that made me drive an hour all the way to Fontvieille, once there spend hours looking through what others would label "old broken stuff," and in the evening sit down at a café with friends to have a drink and toast a Sunday well-spent.

So caught up was I in looking for flea-market treasures, that all the photos I managed to take were of these embroidery thread, being sold by a lady whose mother used to be a "brodeuse." "Unfortunately, I did not get the embroidering virus," the lady smiled. I did, so I bought lots.

jeudi 18 septembre 2008

More Story Time

Again from an old postcard I found in the vintage market, this one is called A Little Word:

“Dear Friends,
What has become of you ? If I didn’t know you well and didn’t
know of your Grand Work, I would not be easily appeased,
but I forgive you in advance. Still, I would like to hear from you
and your husband. If you really do not have the time, do allow
Marguerite to send me a little word…”

At that, Celine stopped reading the postcard. The Grand
Work was really keeping her very occupied.

Glancing at the words in ordered rows on her work table, she
immediately discarded them. That morning, she had been tooling
around with antidisestablishmentarianism, disproportionableness,
and floccinaucinihilipilification. They wouldn’t do. “A little word,”
her friend had said.

Celine walked to the big hall lined floor to ceiling with green filing
cabinets, and spent a few minutes opening boxes. She discarded
the “a” and the “an” as too bland, the “the” as too unequivocal.
Finally she came to the right one.

A week later her friend received her little word in a beribboned
blue box: “Hi.”

The book can be found here.

vendredi 12 septembre 2008

Story Time

In our village's weekly vintage market, I found a very old souvenir postcard of the Nice carnaval, mailed to an address in Marseille sometime in the early 1900s. From that, I wrote this macabre little tale for my book shop. It's called "Carnaval de Nice":

“A thousand caresses to everyone from Yvonne”

She dropped the card into the letterbox and went on her way,
no inkling that they would be the last words her nearest and
dearest would ever hear from her.

Heading for the boulevard by the sea, the girl in a yellow dress
watched the carnaval’s extraordinary folk: magicians with furry
rabbit ears; musicians playing the sweetest melodies she had
ever heard on instruments nobody could see; puppets who
walked and talked needing no puppeteers; and fire eaters who
with their every breath made the air shimmer gold.

The float containing the one million blood-red Alhambran orchids
paused where she stood. She thought she heard from the flowers
a sound like sharp little teeth gnashing. “Don’t touch,” the ballerina
pirouetting all over the petals warned her, “they get nasty when
they’re hungry.” However the scent was irresistible, and she
reached a hand out to the nearest petal for a caress…

Afterwards, her family and friends looked everywhere for
Yvonne, but all they ever found were torn pieces of a yellow dress
on the boulevard by the sea.

The book can be found here.

jeudi 11 septembre 2008

Ready for Autumn?

This is a sneak peak of the works of a designer who is going to take the online shopping world by storm! How's that for a fearless prediction? :D

The label is cocon, and the woman behind it is the sweet Masami. She weaves beautiful bonnets, scarves, and ponchos; and she also gets behind a sewing machine to make dresses, hats, and bags. All for kids.

She's still looking into opening her Dawanda and Etsy shops, but in the meantime, you can look into her blog here, her online shop here, and her flickr here.

All gorgeous, don't you agree?

mercredi 10 septembre 2008

By the Way...

Back in the days when I was a magazine junkie, I loved reading Real Simple magazine, adoring how clean their photo-styling was and how practical their approach was to home decorating. Now that I can't pick up any magazine without part of my brain playing flashbacks of my dead-and-buried media days while screaming "No! Copy-editing till you're cross-eyed! No! Staying till dawn the next day at the office to layout pages! No! Kowtowing to the all-powerful advertiser! No!!!" so I have no idea how Real Simple has evolved.

Having said all that, it was still such a big--no, enormous is the more appropriate word here--thrill to find my Sleep Angels in the Real Simple website.

Thanks to Holly Becker of decor8, who a while ago also wrote about my handmade books in her popular website.

While we're on the subject of thank-yous and hip design sites, I'd also like to send a virtual southern-French-style three kisses-on-the-cheeks to Irene Hoofs of Bloesem. She wrote about my books and plushies in B:Kids.

I am a happy ducky.

mardi 9 septembre 2008

Shapes of Nature

I've been toying with the idea of introducing more functional items in my shop, but knew I wanted these objects to have a look different from the oftentimes colorful and exuberant spirit of my other creations.

I have notebooks and bits of paper scattered everywhere filled with doodles and drawings, and as I was leafing through them a few days ago, I happened upon these pages that date back to when I was in my beginning-gardener's frenzy a couple of years ago.

It clicked then: lavender sachets, pillow covers, pincushions, table napkins, and teatowels embroidered with forms inspired by my environment. I'm calling the new line Shapes of Nature. It's still in its baby stages, but the Sleep Angels are starting to fly into the shop:

lundi 8 septembre 2008

Latest Purchase

I think it would be safe to say that Dana and I have a mutual admiration thing going on. I love her works, she loves mine; occasionally we write each other messages saying exactly that. Now as a sign that I really truly love her, I got myself one of her paintings!

I fell in love with these stamped chairs the moment I saw them in her shop:
The larger picture:
I'm keeping the hand-stamped ribbon to recycle come Christmas.

Lots of other fun, quirky items for sale at Leililaloo. Be sure to visit.

vendredi 5 septembre 2008

It's Cool Where I Live Because...

Two days out of every year, some time near the end of August, you get to see the locals dressed up as kings, queens, and knights;as travelling musicians,
and even as beggars.

They come out as all kinds of personalities, medieval-style, celebrating Les Fêtes de La Saint Louis. From where I live, Aigues Mortes, Louis IX launched the seventh and eighth Crusades. If you want a history lesson, this is not the place for it, sorry; but if you want to sort of be there with me, I've got plenty of pictures to share from the medieval parade a few weeks ago: