Saturday, 21 July 2012

New Puff purses

Over the time I have been absent from the embroidery blogging world I have been working on making what I call "puff purses".  They are only small, usually fitted with an 9-11 centimetre metal purse frame,           
and occasionally with even smaller frames.

I use my own hand dyed fabrics, laces, braids, ribbons and even the threads can be dyed by me although I have to admit that I mostly buy the threads because I fear if I use my own too often there will be too much conformity.  I have my favourite thread suppliers who do dye their own threads and these seem to complement my own dyed bits and pieces.

I never commence with a plan or design for a purse but rely on finding inspiration from the bits and pieces that go together well and ideas that are floating in my head at the time. In this case I was inspired by a small piece of embroidery I used in something else.

The last few purses have included suffolk puffs that I then embellish as I add them to the base work.  I also use a beads to highlight and glitter the embroidery.  Here is one purse.  Picture 1 shows the embroidery when completed but before it is put on the frame.  Pictures 2 and 3 show each side of the purse after it is completed.

Sorry about the photography I am no expert and have changed both cameras and computers since I last did digital photography and it shows.

Hope you enjoy the work

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Honfleur at the mouth of the River Seine, France

Have you been to Honfleur?  If you have, I hope the following photos will bring back some lovely memories.  If you have not, then perhaps these photos will entice you to go sometime in the future.

It is the sweetest little town with a population of around 10,000 people but has 3 million visitors each year and, I have read, is the third most visited town in France.  It was painted by many of the french impressionists such as Monet, Courbet, Boudin, Corot and Sisley who used to visit to paint its atmosphere and people in the 19th century.

Luckily it escaped the bombing of the second world war and retains many of its original lovely little buildings, some dating from around 300 years ago, made of post and beam (I think) construction.

There are many narrow streets, where you can peer into small court yards and other nooks and crannies, and are lovely to wander around.  In one of the court yards I saw had an old-fashioned style caravan parked in it, although it is a bit difficult to see under all that covering.

There is a lovely park by the river's edge you can walk through and a "promenade" along the side of the river.  When we were there we went for a "promenade sûr mer" (literally a walk on water) but actually a boat ride out through the lock onto the river and under the Pont de Normandie.  This is the boat.

The Pont de Normandie is very interesting bridge to look because it appears so fragile yet is so strong.  I took quite a few photos.  Here are a couple of them.

This one is from quite a distance so you can see its length and height and the lightness of appearance on the landscape.

This one shows its strength and durability.

The real heart of Honfleur is the "old marina" in the centre of town.  We were there in November so there were not huge numbers of boats but I believe in summer it is full as are the cafes and restaurants that line the sides of the marina.  I don't think I would like it so much at that time of the year as I am not enamoured of crowds.

There is also a beautiful wooden church, St Catherine's, with a belfry that is separate to the main church, in the central place of the town.  Unfortunately, the day I visited it was armistice day, ie 11 November, and there was a remembrance church service taking place. I thought it was not appropriate to take photos under these circumstances.

Finally, we had to eat "moules normandie" and I have to say they were the best mussels I have ever eaten - small but so tender and delicious but I didn't take any photos so you will just have to imagine how good they were.

Hope you enjoy the promenade through Honfleur.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

I know I haven't posted any of my embroidery for over two years but that doesn't mean I have been doing nothing.  I have joined a crazy patchwork group which meets once a fortnight and have been working on new ideas.

This piece of piece of embroidery is made with fabrics and threads that I hand dyed with procion dyes and I will make it into a small puff purse.  I will try to do this shortly but I am having a lot of problems with my hands at the moment (it is winter in Australia and the cold makes them much worse).  When I get the purse finished I will post the finished product.

In the meantime I enclose a photo of another purse that is finished.

Hope you enjoy looking at these items

Monday, 14 May 2012

Metal lace in Australia

Writing about metal structure surrounding the Ministry of Culture and Communications in Paris in my last post brought to mind the use of metal lace in buildings in Australia. First examples that came to mind were the terrace houses in inner city Sydney and Melbourne building in the late 19 century. When these houses were built wrought iron lace was very popular and much use was made of it in their decoration. These houses continue to be very popular and fetch good prices in the real estate market.

The following link will tell you all about them.

Then I tried to think of some examples of modern metal lace but the only one of I could think of was the Australian Coat of Arms that sits above the main entrance to Parliament House in Canberra. It is made from stainless steel and made specifically for the building which opened in 1988.  You can see a photo of the Coat of Arms at

It seems ironic, when comparing the metal structure on the a traditional building in Paris with the metal structure on a modern building in Australia, the Australian metal lace has a traditional feel while that of the traditional building in Paris has a modern feel to it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ministry of Culture and Communication Building in Paris

I am going to start my new focus blog, with these photos I recently took of the building which houses the french Ministry of Culture and Communication in Paris. The Ministry's role is to oversee the artistic and cultural heritage of France.

When looking for photos to include in this post I realised I didn't have one that includes the whole building. If you would like to see a picture of the full building go to

The building is located at 182 rue St Honoré very close to the Comèdie Française and the Palais Royale and is a five minute walk from the Louvre. The building has been formed by joining and renovating several buildings, including the Vaudoyer Building, a former warehouse on the rue St Honoré and another on rue Montesquieu.

The architect who undertook the exterior work to integrate the two buildings was Francois Soler. In his short outline describing his goals when doing the design work, Soler said that the new building is intended to be a blend of different values under the one banner, displaying equal enthusiasm for all arts through all historical periods and giving them equal importance.

I assume that the incorporation of several traditional looking buildings within a contemporary looking exterior metal (resille work) structure, is a visual metaphor for the bringing together of the various responsibilities of the Ministry in preserving the heritage of France.

I know Paris does have modern buildings in places like La Defence but in this part of Paris most buildings are very traditional in style. From my point of view I liked the concept of reinvigorating these traditional buildings in city of traditional buildings in a modern and original way. I particularly like the intricate nature of the metal work and the way it glints and shines as the light hits it. I also suspect it appealed to me because it reminds me of lace and also seems to reference the art nouveau period reminding me of Parisian metro entrances.

You can see a picture of paris metro entrances at this link:

I feel that the architect has taken very traditional concepts such as old buildings, metal lace and art nouveau design ideas and created a building with a wonderfully contemporary feel to it.

If anyone has any more information on this building I would love to hear about it.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A new beginning

I haven't written anything for this blog for quite some time - well over two years, although this doesn't mean I have been doing nothing. I have followed many blogs over this time looking at the things that people do that interest me such as embroidery and beading, antiques and art. I also follow a number of blogs that tell stories about Paris my favourite city after home - the city of history, art, food, beauty and much, much more.

Nor have I been slow in making and doing things during my absence from blogland. I have been doing watercolour classes, french language classes, dyeing fabric, embroidery and beading. I have joined a local crazy patchwork group and learnt to use my embroidery skills in a new way.

This break has also given me time to think about the next few years of my creative and cultural life and what I would like to achieve. I have decided to change the focus of this blog to have a broader focus than simply embroidery, beading and paper arts. Of course I will still include these on my blog, but much as I love them, I also want to write about the other great loves in my life, french art, culture and history, language, food and, of course, Paris.

I am no expert on any of these subjects - I have some spoken french, enough to buy something in a shop, although I don't always get my message across. My reading and writing is improving and I enjoy expanding my knowledge of the language. I know I like eating food in Paris but I cannot say I am very knowledgeable about french cooking and how to do it properly. I also like reading books about France, its history, artists, philosphers, writers and culture.

However, doing the writing myself, is an altogether another matter. Many people over the centuries, especially in the last several hundred years, have fallen in love with Paris and, of course it has been written about, painted and photographed without end. I am sure I could say very little that hasn't been already said by those considerably more erudite and talented than myself.

However I would like to try to bring a different perspective to the subject. Being an Australian who lives so far away from europe and french culture in particular I am fascinated by the contrast between a country where tradition, history and culture seem to be part of day to day living and my country where everything is new and traditions are almost a moveable feast.

Of course Australia does have its own history and traditions and we are trying to preserve them, for example some inner city parts of Sydney and Melbourne have been protected against developers. Also we are trying to develop our own cultural traditions. Australia Day is a good example where public events are encouraged to celebrate the beginning of Australia as a modern nation. Yet, in my lifetime I have seen many changes and much that was accepted as a given during my childhood seems to have disappeared. What I like about Paris is how they introduce modern ideas but continue to live with and alongside the old.

I have decided to include my little part of Australia. Canberra is an unique area because it is a very modern city surrounded by national parks and many rural villages and towns. It is also within easy reach of the east coast and its beautiful beaches of which there are dozens and the snowfields of New South Wales. It has a natural beauty that is so completely different from anything I have seen in France or Europe. Although the landscape has been changed a lot since the first white people arrived 200 years ago, nonetheless, the hand of humankind has not changed it in the same way as the french or the english countryside.

So over the next few weeks I am going to begin this blog again. It will be a slow process because I have changed computers from PC to Mac and also changed digital cameras and need to learn how to make my pictures end up where I want them on the blog - so far verything I have tried so far has not worked So bear with me it is going to be a learning experience. Look out for my next post where I talk about the Ministry of Culture and Communication in Paris.