Back with a bump

Weather-wise, that is. From regular mid 30s to not even 15 degrees. So hard to accept that summer is over! The days we spent in Vieux Lyon were probably peak heat – over 38C. The rather sinister looking bars above were actually our window in an amazing 15th century hotel building – very lucky to stumble across this one.

You may have guessed that the big draw for me was the Textile Museum. For about 500 years Lyon was a world centre for silk production. I have been wanting to visit this museum for almost that long…. and it did not disappoint!

Back now to work, family and a much neglected Etsy shop. Internet for a couple of hours a week is not great for running an online business!

Cyanotypes

 

The original blueprints. One of the fun things I get up to in France. It’s more of a photographic process than actual dyeing. You need some scary-sounding chemicalsĀ (Potassium Ferricyanide and Ammonium Ferric Citrate) which turn out to be harmless if you are sensible (i.e. you don’t start inhaling or eating the stuff). I treat the fabric then add whatever plant material I have collected – oak and bracken seem to work well. I make a sandwich with an old window pane we had lying around (I’m sure some people would get glass specially cut to size) The fun part is, all this has to be done in the dark. My dining room in France has no proper windows, so it is perfect if you have the place to yourself. If there are children around, though, it’s not so great – the dining room is also a sort of corridor with doors each end and a certain amount of yelling might be necessary to prevent disaster. The last stage is simply to get the glass sandwich outside and leave it to develop in the light – this can be very quick – the French sun has real power! The plant material must be firmly kept in place – it acts as a resist. Then everything is washed and dried.

I used to be concerned that the cushions would fade – they don’t! The examples in the picture were my first attempts (hence the photographs) over five years ago. I wondered about adding cyanoprints to my Etsy shop because they are a bit different, but I’ve decided I’d rather be free to keep experimenting and not have to worry about a professional finish!

Meandering back

With a chance to avoid the motorways this time. The route bleue (N7) and the wine territories have a much greater appeal. It does take a lot longer – but we wandered through dozens of timeless hamlets and past some extraordinary buildings tucked away in la France Profonde. (And yes, the sat. nav. can’t always cope and I did get us just a little bit lost…)
An overnight stay in Chateaudun (a town with medieval buildings that we are always keen to revisit, although we sometimes feel we should explore more adventurously) and an early morning visit to the chateau – perfect, we were the only people in the whole place, apart from a young woman energetically hoovering the ancient stone floor of the Sainte Chapelle – what a job!

I think this is the most northerly of the Loire castles (so the first you get to driving down from Paris) and it seems to be less well known to tourists. Definitely worth a trip though. There is an interesting connection to Joan of Arc. The buildings are from the 12th to the 16th century – and too close up for me to get in a single shot!

There are tapestries and furniture:

Architectural details, linenfold andĀ  – always my favourite – FIREPLACES!

But, as usual, what really caught my eye was the play of light, angles and exciting intersections:

This one gave me a shock – no idea I had taken it, but it is my ghostly shadow sneaking its way in!

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Simple pleasures from the Auvergne

Got to start with the blossom: blackthorn, plum, peach, rosemary – and the tiniest glimpse of the stunning pink quince we won’t actually get to see:

 

Wild orchids, violets and cowslips:

 

Plenty of these little fellows scuttling around:

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The best wood burner ever (came from the Far East!):

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Bitter black coffee in my favourite china…

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And finally can’t resist this picture:IMG_3045Because it is so crazy – it’s the reflection of a tree in a muddy puddle. (Yes, there was a LOT of water around). I am working out how to get those colours together…I feel another dyeing session coming on as soon as I get home – maybe silk and alpaca for that one?