Off to the airport to welcome my last group of the summer. The sunflowers are in high bloom and the festivals and flea markets are in high gear so we should have a great week. My mom (who is 87 and traveled here by herself!) has been here all week and we’ve had a fun time. Been to music concerts, markets, a French dinner party of 15!, and a day trip to Andorra. The wildflowers blooming in the Pyrenees were gorgeous.
I’ve been disciplined this summer with my “drawing a day” and have a journal full to use in some fashion when I get back into the studio.
After the workshop I plan to take my mom to the Amphora Museum near Narbonne. The shape of amphoras is something that attracts me in polymer clay work (pendants) and in a series of fabric collages. Here’s a couple.
Last night we attended an open house and jazz concert at the Musee du Bois et Marquetry ( Museum of Wood and Marquetry) in nearby Revel. Revel is five minutes away from our village Durfort and was built around a covered central square in 1342 at the foot of the Montagne Noire ( the Black Mountain).
Revel is laid out in an octagonal grid shape, emanating from the central square and is a perfect example of a bastide town. The square is bordered by medieval houses and arcades and the covered central square itself is supported by ancient oak pillars and beams topped by a belfry.
A Saturday market has been going on underneath and around this beautiful covered square since medieval times. It has been named one of France’s 100 Most Beautiful Markets and certainly lives up to that honor.
Since the 1800’s Revel has also been a center of skilled woodworking, furniture making and marquetry and still continues on today as the capital of artistic furniture. The Musee du Bois celebrates this history. There is a permanent exhibit of the history of Revel’s furniture making with many beautiful examples of the processes involved. The exhibits on marquetry are worth the small price of admission alone . There are also revolving exhibits of painting, ceramics and other mediums that use wood or are inspired by wood. The third floor houses a library of wood samples from all around the world. Classes are also offered to all ages.
We had a lovely evening touring the museum to the sounds of Daniel Lucchese- a wonderful jazz pianist and singer. He then gave a 2- hour concert in the museum. At the end of the music room was a huge hearth. Daniel had his piano and several percussion instruments (made out of wood of course) set up inside the hearth! It wmade a small charming proscenium style stage and the acoustics were great. All this (and a glass of champagne) for the admission price to the Musee. Come visit!
It was a full week of truly being part of a small village in France. My new class of adventurous women artists (and men!) arrived this week. We started off with a unique small village event. Our village, Durfort, has been known for its copperware since the Middle Ages. We have several copper shops and a copper museum. A new book has been recently published- written by local villagers- and we had a party to celebrate that event. I knew there would be wine and nibblies for all the villagers so on our first day here we walked down to the town square in search of the party! We were invited into the museum where one of the copperworkers was introducing the book and a DVD on the arduous process of creating the beautiful hand-hammered copper pots. He knew we were Americans and kindly translated every now and then especially for my group.
The two men in my group studied drawing and painting every morning with our local artist Peter Welsford, while I taught my ladies every morning the joys of polymer clay and mixed media book arts and jewelry. One day we all studied silk painting with artist Ann Mason- also a village resident (and wife of Peter). Last night we had the debut of the silks, drawings and paintings at Ann and Peter’s
Every days’ art- making was followed by a field trip to places for inspiration and treasure hunting and gathering- we found many goodies at a flea market deep in the Montagne Noir (the Black Mountain) and at the Antiques market in nearby Revel. On the way back from Albi we were able to stop in a sunflower field that extended as far as the eye could see.
A full week- a joy to share it with these special, lovely, talented, inspirational, and fun people- Merci to Wendy, David, Marcia, Marie, Pat, Mary Joyce, Neala, Carl, Allyson and Nona! I will miss all the laughter and amazing important trivia you all know about so many things! You made my week a happy one!
This weeks workshop has just flown by. We had perfect weather- our one tiny bit of rain hit studio time so we were all snuggled that morning in the studio creating art. One of the highlights of our week was our meal at the restaurant Le Tournesol (Turn to the Sun , Sunflower).
Gigi has been the chef/owner of this exquisite restaurant in the village of Soreze for 40 years! I was stunned when I found this out. The restaurant’s stone walls are covered by the art work of local artists that Gigi handpicks. Very inspiring and unusual art.
Our night out happened to fall on her birthday. I wrapped up one of my brooches that I hoped she would like and my workshop gals, along with our friends Ann and Peter, practiced a famous French song called Le Tournesol. Our plan was to sing it to her in the restaurant! I have to say that even after just one brief rehearsal, we sounded pretty darn good.
We arrived at Le Tournesol all dressed and looking gorgeous and Gigi greeted us at the door. She loved the brooch and offered us an aperitif – most of us chose “my favorite new drink”, white port- Porto Blanc. Our meal was just wonderful.
Gigi came to the table after our dessert and we sang Bonne Anniversaire and Le Tournesol. She sat down with us and truly seemed to enjoy this small American celebration of her special day. As she left she told us to wait as she had something special. In a few minutes a tray was brought out with a small boule (ball) of rose basil sorbet for each of us- it was divine. A special and fantastique night
Go here to see several pics of the restaurant and Gigi.
“Merci’s for a wonderful week” to Christie, Jeanne, Diane F., Diane S., Amy, Laura, Carol, Lois and Marianne. I miss you all!
Almost every village in our region has a yearly flea market- called a Vide Grenier (translates as Empty the Attic). The residents of the village set up tables in front of their houses and the event is fleshed out with professional antique dealers also. It is a most wonderful place to find true French antique bargains. From what I hear, in comparison to the big Paris flea markets, our flea markets are more reasonably priced with many authentic treasures.
Sunday mornings are devoted to treasure hunting, and since every week there is a different flea market, it is a way to explore the many charming villages in the countryside. About 9AM we take off through the rolling hills of hay, corn and endless sunflowers to hit one, if not two or three vide greniers.
We arrive, scramble for parking and then walk into the village. From there it’s a slow dash (you don’t want to miss anything but want to find the best treasures!) So far I haven’t seen any fights break out between my workshop participants! When we get home we each set up a little “shop” in the salon (living room) and show each other what we found. “I didn’t see those!” “Where did you find that?” “Ohhhhh I am so envious of that!”
Many of our treasures find their way into the art we are making this week.