Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A little notoriety!

Whilst doing a little 'social networking' and browsing the web, I came across this interesting website all about different people who work from their sheds....guess who I found among the several people featured, yes, yours truly!
Here's a link, go take a look.

The shed is coming into it's own now that winter has truly descended upon us, it was well worth the effort of insulating the walls, roof and floor. Just a couple of sticks burning in the woodburning stove is all you need to make the space toasty warm...in fact, some days when I go upto the mezzanine, I have to resist the temptation to open a window!

Here are a couple of pictures of the frozen waste, it all looks so beautiful with a touch of frost.

 Here's the cat, not wanting to brave the elements and who can blame him?
 and here's the charolet cow from over the road in his winter attire

 Today, the thermometer fixed to the outside wall of the shed has frozen at -1 degrees, although I know it's lots colder than that in reality.

 Couldn't resist taking photos of my new pendants resting in the snow
Finally, here's the new workbench....I think Mr Lemur is planning on joining me in my shed!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Crunchy Underfoot

 Before I moved to this perfect part of the world, winter for me was always something awful to be endured. Something that lasted a terribly long time.  I used to feel so cold as I rushed outside wearing not enough clothing...but not realising that winter needed it's own special clothing.
 Yesterday came the first sprinkling of snow, barely covering the ground, looking like a light dusting oficing sugar. Mother Nature's own makeover,  now even the most mundane of articles appears to be a thing of beauty.

Here's my little girl with her first solo attempt at cake making, this one is a gateau au citron with a sugary crust on top, hopefully the first of many!!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Karen Fields; an artist in the naive style

Whilst browsing through Etsy's vast and varied shelves, Karen Fields's work caught my eye, she's a painter from the US who paints in a very bold and confident manner, the canvasses are alive with attitude and colour.  The result is very striking, I think 'Autumn Garden 'is my fave.
I wanted to feature her work here on my blog and share her fantastic pieces with you.

Karen says:
All of my original style contemporary artwork is created with a unique color palette on gallery wrapped stretched canvas. My colorful, bold flowers, landscapes, and abstract paintings are collected internationally.

My background is in graphic design and fine art. Graduate of Ringling College of Art.

As a little girl I would watch my dad at his drafting table in the semi-finished attic where his little studio was. Later, when he wasn't looking, I would play with his shape templates at the drafting table and create drawings of my own. I have always loved art and am blessed with the talent that I have been given.
Go and visit Karen's shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/karenfieldsgallery and see her striking collection.

Blog: www.karenfieldsgallery.blogspot.com
Portfolio: www.ebsqart.com/Artists/cmd_9445_profile.htm
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kfieldsdesign

Friday, 12 November 2010

Getting out there

 I've reached a point in my jewellery creating 'career' where I need to raise the game. I've been focusing on the making and listing of many pieces in my internet shop, this is what I love to do and it feels like I'm working towards my aim of creating my brand and supporting my family doing work I enjoy. What I've really been doing is a very good job of avoiding doing the one thing I detest....getting up of my butt and selling my work to shops.
 I am not a person who finds it easy to extol my own virtues, I've always admired the people who can stand up and tell the world that their workmanship and creativity are second to none. I smile to myself when I remember people from my past who have sold me the idea that what they do is far superior, each time I believe what I'm told and assume their work must be so much better than mine, each time it turns out that it's their skill at self promotion that excels, not their work.
 I know the theory, I have a great range of work , finished to a high standard, and I know where I would like my work to be selling...so what is standing in the way?

I need a plan.  I need to decide on my strategy and learn my strong points as if I was learning a poem for my school homework
I need to be prepared for rejection. How do I meet it?  Do I redefine my stronger points or turn on my heel in agreement? I know what I would prefer to do....
 ....oh yes, all this will be taking place in French, which I can do but which doesn;t give me the warm fluffy feeling that I would like to have, that would help me to be charming and dynamic, peppy and confident.

I will spend the next few days in a planning frenzy, until my new French business cards arrive, by that time I hope to be prepared enough to breeze into a few shops, offer my card and flyer, and hope someone is impressed enough to call me for a meeting.
 While I've been worrying about making a business out of my hobby, Marcus has been busy with his own pursuits, he has been working long hours in making an oak table for our kitchen. At around 2 metres long, it will quite literally be the centre of the household where we will prepare food, eat, chat and drink enough tea to sink a ship.
This is turning out to be not your ordinary table, and anyone who knows Marcus would be more surprised if it had no fancy features.
This table is being hand scraped instead of sanded, the way that it was done for hundreds of years, which gives a very smooth but not ultra flat finish. Then there is the hand scraped reeding on the side rails, for which Marcus has made his own scraping tool,  the lovingly chiselled chamfers on the legs, and the cherry on the cake is the secret feature, of which I'm sure I would be sworn to secrecy, it has it's own mechanism which had to be thought out carefully before the pieces could be made....I'm sure that you would love to be let into the secret.
 Not today.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


This is the bracelet that I spoke about a few days ago, it has such jewel bright enamel rondelles set into silver.
Square is a bit of a departure for me, I'm usually more of a "softer shape" kinda gal when it comes to things like this. That said, the links are offset and are connected almost by the corners, this I think redresses my aversion to symmetry.
The shape of the links and the connecting links works very well in this piece, and it makes a fluid, easy to wear piece which moves as you do.
....so what am I going to call this baby? I've thought of all the 'square-ish' sort of names I can think of and nothing seems to fit. Maybe I could use a little help here. Finding a name for a piece is not usually so difficult for me, having a quirky kind of mind.
So what do you think it should be called? Because it's box shaped link, I was thinking of Pandora....but that name is too far down the road with that company making charm bracelet type things.

Four seasons in one day...

The mornings here in Northern France have turned misty this last couple of weeks and there is quite the definite nip of Autumn in the air. I love these kind of mornings, I go outside in time to see the fading sunrise glowing pink over the trees, the pale sun trying hard to burst through the mist and then I see the most magical thing, a simple spiders web hanging heavy with the morning dew is transformed into a thing of beauty as it rests there on the fence, it's not fooling even the most short sighted of insects.

What to wear?

I am reasonably sure that each morning will develop into a beautifully sunshiny and hot day, but right now, the Autumnal chill is too much and I cannot resist my snuggly argyle jumper.
By midmorning, it's springtime, the sun is gently wiping away the morning dew and making me feel a little too snuggly in my winter woolly.

Mid-day brings a tremendous heat, summer is not over after all, she's just having a lazy morning.
The children come out of school for lunch, most of them wearing long sleeves and turtle necks, baking in the sudden heat.
The evenings are long, the kind of evenings which were made for barbecues and al fresco dining.
As the light fades and the sky becomes black, the air cools once more and I wonder where I discarded my warm jumper....and jacket.

Tonight will be a full moon in a dark, cloudless sky with millions of stars, the effect is amazing, it's as bright as day until the moon sets again, but the clear sky means that the temperature plummets, making an icy cold night, just how I like it. As I lie in my toasty warm bed, I can still see the stars and as I watch them, my nose becomes colder, I can hardly bear to close my eyes to sleep.

Friday, 10 September 2010

It's been a busy time here in our little corner of Normandie, the building work is coming to a crescendo with the distinct nip in the air to remind us that winter is just around the corner. We intend moving into the main living area before winter is upon us.
To the untrained eye, it still looks like the building site it always was, but with the advent of an upstairs floor, our possessions are no longer scattered far and wide, it only needs a floor, walls and power and we will be good to go!!

Last month saw the completion of a bathroom....welcome to the 21st century family Lemur. From now, my long suffering hubby is spared the task of the twice weekly journeys into the neighbouring town to empty the toilet.

...and what have I been doing all this time? I have been in my studio, enamelling, hammering and creating to bring you this.

...and this

Florentyne is my latest design, at the moment I have the bracelet and pendant, ring and earrings will be arriving soon. What I love about this bracelet is the tapered link, it fits exactly to the contour of your wrist....and of course the colours, I love, love, love the colours that you get with kiln fired enamels, so bright, clear and juicy, they always remind me of the sweeties I used to like as a child.

I'm also working on another shape of linked bracelet, with enameled insets. This one is even brighter than Florentyne...photo's to follow.
Oh, while we're on the subject of sweeties, who want's some lemon rock?

that's the name of one of my latest rings...because the 'rock' is the colour of lemons

My other ring is called 'Waspie' which is a good name for two reasons:
1 It is a ring with a wasp-like waist
2 2010 has been the summer of the wasp, they have been everywhere, in your drinks, food, clothes. Unfortunately we are surrounded on all sides by ripening fruit trees, which is wasp heaven.
I risked life and limb to bring you a photo of the wasps devouring a rotting apple, but the pic is still in the camera, the lead is in the shed and it's 4.30 am....maybe it will wait for morning.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Today, my little family and I were given the honour of being invited to a French family get together. We have seen rather a lot of Chantal and Thierry in recent months and they arranged a soiree in order for their eldest two daughters to meet us.
We have the most amusing Franglais type conversations, where I start a sentence and someone else will finish it, or when things move beyond my command of the language, trying to get the finer points of an idea across using the words you know can be challenging. I love to try. I don't even have to plan out what I'm going to say, I have enough confidence just to go for it, sometimes that approach works just fine, and sometimes you're met with the three second silence when they are trying to put meaning to the 'word soup' you've just delivered.
I find I'm really learning a lot in a short space of time which I'm so grateful for. but, the thing is, what do they get?
I'm not conceited enough to assume that it's as good for them as it is for us, even being the anglophiles that they obviously are.
They are now hooked on good 'ol English tea, the French stuff being virtually unrecognisable to us Brits.
They find the fact that we don't mind (too much) living in a caravan whilst we work on enough of the house to live in bemusing...and I have to admit here that I'm losing sight of why this seemed such a good idea, now that autumn is just around the corner.
All in all, I think we've been really lucky in meeting Chantal and Thierry and becoming good friends with such lovely people. I know that we've found in them, friends that are always ready to step into the breach and get their hands dirty, something that's becoming more and more rare in our modern, insular society. <3

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Country Life

Now that August is upon us and the vegetable garden is laden with promise, I realise that Mother Nature has played a big trick on me.
On looking around at the bountiful treats in neighbouring gardens, I am less impressed with my flowering courgettes which seem to only produce the male flowers, my baby runner beans which will measure three whole inches if I use my husbands 'fishing' ruler.

My dwarf variety peas are a full 8" tall and produce two or three pods per day. The star of the show are the haricot verts who are very forgiving of the hot drought conditions and are giving me lots of beans <3 <3

The chilli plant is being very endearing in that the pods have formed 'couples'...one straight pod and one curled around it's middle,just like ballroom dancers, how sweet is that?

As I'm working in my workshop, I can enjoy the view of my miniature garden set out in front of me, I can almost smell the swaying sunflowers in the garden next door which is a sight to behold. OK, they are around the corner, but I can imagine them. There were a couple of them in a vase in my studio until yesterday, when a child of mine...who will remain nameless, knocked the vase off the top of the desk and emptied a couple of pints of water into the paper slot in the back of the new printer. Still waiting for the thing to dry out before I dare switch it on to suss out the damage.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Vive La difference.

I simply love noticing the little differences between our old life in England and our new one in France, for me, it's never about trying to find each of the products and services that I liked about the UK to create a 'Little England' right here. Nor about trying to hold on to every ex-pat that you meet, I want to try my hand at becoming French.
I'm never going to convince anyone that I was born here, but I want to be able to live my life not worrying about who I may be called upon to speak French at.
Today, I decided to revisit the local La Poste, who always denied that the cheap international tariff that I requested even existed! For a couple of months I'd been going to one a little further afield who just sold me the service and thanked me for my custom, but today I decided that I would try again at my local branch, maybe I was just spoiling for a fight, but they agreed to sell me the tariff today,they must be cursing that 'borrowed' postie from another branch, they can't back down now, can they?
I know I won't!

If you ever find yourself faced with Rampants, this is the perfect antidote, in such a lovely colour can too.
We discovered it quite by accident. We'd moved all our stuff into the caravan for a few weeks during the warmer weather, only to find that someone else had similar ideas.
On opening the food cupboard,I discovered the 'fourmis' or ants to the English speaking world were already sitting down to lunch. In a fit of pique..Panic... Disgust , I quickly threw all our food through the window into a perfectly placed wheelbarrow, all except for the breakables which were carried outside and placed on a table. 'Oh, are you having a picnic?' our French neighbour asked, watching me set down the jam and the bread. You have to laugh! We joked about eating 'A La Carte' as our food was fetched from the wheelbarrow

After weeks of patiently waiting and lots of digging, sawing, hammering and sorting of slates, my new studio is finally finished, everything is moved into place and I made my first set of rings there today.
I love that the workbench has a really nosy window, I don't have to crane my neck to see who's coming and going...and why! When I'm not watching the folks going about their day, I can watch the cows at theirs, but they stare back at me almost as much as I'm staring at them.
It's great to feel that I can get my teeth into some real work and get the collection made that I've been threatening to do for months.
Jewellery is going to be the way we earn our money, or we're gonna die trying anyway.
Incidentally, there's a competition to think of a name for my darling little shed over at http://mrlemur.blogspot.com but you must be quick, it ends tomorrow!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Three months in...

It only seems like yesterday when we arrived in France to start our new life in Normandie, but three and a half months have passed in the blink of an eye.

I imagined that I would be blogging every aspect of my new life, but living it seems to take up so much time!! I have inherited a vegetable plot for a season which is so theraputic to dig, listening to the birds in the trees and the gentle babble of the stream which flows at the end of the garden.
For a serial townie, moving to the countryside is new and exciting, finding exotic wildlife is such a treat. The lizard basking in the warm sun on the doorstep, or the fire salamander hiding in the soil as I was digging the garden.

Following the progress of nature as the seasons unfold and using the goodies found in the hedgerow to make jellies and salads is the best part.
Yesterday I started the first step in making Dandelion Jelly. This sounds so ordinary but looks like pure sunshine in a jar and tastes like golden honey. I picked 400 dandelion heads and separated out the petals to steep in 1.5 litres of water.
This was brought to the boil and then covered and left to cool, preferably overnight.
Then, strain the petals and discard, adding 1.5Kg of preserving sugar and the juice of a lemon.

Boil rapidly for around an hour until the liquid starts to thicken and coat the spoon, taking care not to let it get on your skin.
Fill sterilised jars and leave to cool, then enjoy the taste of summer.