jeudi 30 avril 2009

In My Dry Garden

Caitlin pointed out that in that little "About Me" box on the left, I say that I mean for this blog to be a virtual notebook of things that inspire me, and that she would want to know what these sources of inspiration were.

Irises were one of the first things I planted. I saw them struggling in a forgotten corner of
the property, almost suffocated by wild grass, dug them up and replanted them.
Mindful of
the trauma they might have suffered at the hands of the couch grass,

I try my best to keep their plot weed-free.

One immediate thing that comes to mind, especially since it is spring and the flowers have begun blooming, is my dry garden.

I can spend hours working there, weeding the iris plot, fixing up the santolinas' water holes, trimming the Frankenia laevis that's been creeping up over the stepping stones. And yet, up until a few years ago, as I had lived in apartments most of my adult life, I knew absolutely nothing about gardening. My family would always say that I was the only girl they knew who could kill a potted cactus.

This pink cistus is also one of my garden pioneers.
I love the crepe-y look of the petals.

Then my husband and I moved to a space where there was nothing but land. No manicured lawns here, though, rather pesky couch grass, thorny wild raspberries, and, since we live near marshes, almost-impossible-to-get-rid-of reeds.

I suppose it was just my nature to want to make things better. Of course, the first year was an absolute disaster. I went to the garden shop, picked up just whatever I thought was pretty, and plonked those into holes, not realizing that there were things to consider such as soil pH levels, the harshness of the winds, even the amount of saltiness in the air! As you can guess, most of my plants from that season died.

My carboprotus. I planted them before I knew that they can become wildly invasive.
Now I pay very close attention to how I discard the
leaves after a trimming

I remember having a conversation once with Tony Leano, a Filipino artist with a green thumb, and him telling me that a big part of gardening is observing. You watch the plants, and you learn from them. Well that I did, but since I am more nerd than Zen Yoda master, I also did buy countless books on what plants succeed in dry conditions.

Cistus florentinus. This plant was chosen when I knew a little bit more,
and picked because it tolerates alkalinity well and can grow in partial shade.

Now that my first dry garden is going on two years old (and most of the plants still alive -- thank goodness!), I've begun a second one. So, Caitlin, on page one of my virtual inspiration notebook: two rectangles of earth.

One more of my pioneering iris, up close.

mardi 28 avril 2009

Spring is Here...

And I've got my favorite spring shoes out.

Of course now that the weeds are pushing out like crazy in the new dry garden I'm trying to put together, I often have to ditch the wedges to go around in my muddied and dilapidated tennis shoes, pulling out couch grass and all manner of pesky plants. Don't you just love the seasons...

dimanche 26 avril 2009

New Zine! New Zine!

Remember this post ? My gifts from the charming old man from Brussels have been transformed into Pocket Fairytales for Children. They have the same stories found in my Vol. 1 zine, except now the design is made specifically with children and the childlike in mind.

The four copies of this zine I made contain lots and lots of original vintage drawings, made by the friends of one Jacqueline Delbert, who from 1960 to 1964 kept a "poésie" notebook, where she asked her friends to draw for her and write for her poems. This, I've been told, is a Belgian schoolgirl tradition still practiced today.

Weekend update: One gone, three to go! Get your copy of this zine while you can.

samedi 25 avril 2009

Serial Killer Meets Vampire

Okay, so promising a new fairytale every Tuesday seems to be a bad idea. Sorry, folks, but sometimes there's just no way to get the writing neurons working. So let's revise the promise and say: one new tale every two weeks, and in between maybe a zine or two. Everybody agrees? Great, you're all such sweethearts! I love blog democracy ;D

So, after almost a month of nothing new, there's a new addition to my Imagined History Series. And this time things get really gory.

I'm not going to say anything more, save for that this tale is my bawdiest ever, and was inspired by a doll-sized vintage pewter candelabra. Read, and tell me what you think.

Blood Light
by Apol Lejano-Massebieau

Thirty candles he lit that night,
one for each of his ex-wives.

Six of them—the most beautiful—
had their heads now floating in glass.
From a clever system of hooks and
chains hung the eight pairs of legs that
used to boogie and tango the best
dancers of the lot.

To one particularly bosomy bride belonged
the honor of having her breasts cut off and
displayed on a marble pedestal.

Of the rest, he kept bits of pieces of his
favorite parts: an ankle here, an ear there.
The young one from the South, whom he
adored but considered far too loud, he kept
her lips as souvenir, but sewn with silken
thread shut.

With light from the thirty candles, he worshipped
at his subterranean church, but before he could
sanctify the shrine with his nightly rude benediction
—slash! His neck had been slit open, and he lay
bleeding on the ground.

From her hiding place had come out his brand-
new wife, still in her wedding dress, but instead
of a bouquet, something sharp and glinting
in her hand.

The young girl from the South may have talked
too much, but she had kept secret the presence
of an older sister who too early had had to leave
home after a series of bizarre events had led to
her developing a taste for man blood.

Going down on her hands and knees to crouch
over the man’s carotid artery, bride no. 31 sucked.
“How fitting,” was the man’s last thought, “as
it is our honeymoon night.”

The book is for sale in my Etsy shop here.

jeudi 23 avril 2009

Good Morning, Sore Throat

For the second day running!

And how are you this fine Thursday?

mercredi 15 avril 2009

Show and Tell

These days, if you go to my shop, you'll see that I've been listing pillows that are inspired by vintage prints of birds and insects, like this one with a heron with a strangely amused look on its face:

So it was wonderful serendipity that a few weeks ago, I discovered Kim's shop, slinkymalinkicat (now say that five times -- fast!), that makes me feel like I'm in my favorite place, a really well-done brocantes. I permitted myself this small indulgence, and can't wait to get it in my mailbox!I might frame it; or I might just slip it into my inspiration folder, filled with plastic sleeves where I tuck drawings, postcards, photos, and other objects that make me go dreaming.

dimanche 12 avril 2009

Flea Marketing and Housekeeping Tips, Please!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! We don't, so it's just regular goings-on for us.

It's been raining all weekend over here in southwest France, which meant that I've been stuck indoors for two days. Not a bad thing, since if I can get away with it, I'd stay home all the time. (Sometimes I wonder what the heck ever happened to the twentysomething version of me, the one my friends and family doubted ever slept, as I was out either working or partying all the time -- but that's for another blog post.)

So what do I do when I'm home with lots of free time on my hands? Why, I sew of course. This is a sneak peek of my weekend project, a line of new pillows I'm working on for the shop.

I did want to go to the Saturday flea market in Lunel, but I doubted if even the hardiest vendors (they line up to get a place as early as three a.m.!) was going to be there, so I scratched the idea.

I love that market. I drove over there two Saturdays ago. If you read this blog, you'd know that I have a thing for lace, but seeing the inspiring ways crocheted doilies are being used over at Etsy these days, like here and here, I snapped a few up. And yep, I used one of them for the pillow above.

Along with the doilies, I also got this woven blanket that reminded me of Christmas, sort of, what with the red-and-white colors and the snowflake pattern. The woman selling it said it belonged to her mother-in-law, but she couldn't tell me much more than that. My cat Luna had a sniff, but couldn't tell me more either. Anyone has an idea where it comes from originally?

Still on questions and acquisitions from that trip: I was looking at this piece of cloth that was charming and old, but was unfortunately marked with brown moisture spots. The woman (the same one selling the blanket), seeing my interest, just gave it to me and wished me luck with the stain removal. I pre-soaked it, then put it in the machine at high temperature, but the stains are still there. I'm sure there's no way I can remove them now, but I see these kinds of stains a lot when I'm digging through fabric at flea markets. I find it such a shame when I see an otherwise nice piece of cloth rendered useless this way. Can somebody help me out and tell me how these stains can possibly be removed?

P.S. Je me demande si je dois traduire mon blog en français. Si vous êtes francophone, puis-je vous demander votre avis?

jeudi 9 avril 2009

Shop Live!

Just an announcement, short and sweet: Tonight, at 7 p.m., my shop will be participating at Etsy's Shop Live, hosted by Marichelle of Heart Handmade. Find the details over at one of the most fun, dynamic crafts blog I know of.

My Inspiration Apples will be for sale at the event at a very special price during Marichelle's 30-minute sale. And, to make things more exciting, I'll be offering FREE SHIPPING on all my items beginning 7 p.m. tonight (French time) or 1 p.m. EST, and lasting all night long. Here's your chance to save a few bucks on something that might make you feel good. See you tonight!

lundi 6 avril 2009

Zine Seen

My first zine is a raging success! Almost sold out after just two weeks!

Okay, okay, so I only made five copies, which makes for a grand total of four sold... but hey, that's still eighty-percent gone, isn't it?

Fed by this admittedly very moderate success , my zine-making continues. My next attempt at it is with one of my most favorite pocket fairytales, the love story "Rosenda."

I started this zine with the image of old flowers pressed between the pages of a book in my head. So I took some petals from my own wedding bouquet, attached those on to a blank page, and underneath printed out, "evidence of a broken heart no. 1."

There are four more sad pieces of evidence tucked in the zine. Find them here.

jeudi 2 avril 2009

The Talking Swan

Well, sort of.

Given how crazy I've been with the vintage stamps, it was only a matter of time before I got around to stamping my swan.

Next stop: my forehead.

Oh, and still on my current obsessions. The lace-and-romance look has found its ways into my plush flowers. This is a custom order for a sweet lady. We're not quite done yet, but I'm proud of these flowers already, so I thought I'd post them here.

Lace up close: