It’s been a long time

Well it’s been quite a long time since I wrote a post. Just thinking about when, it’s strange as I would have been sitting at a table in a different kitchen on the same laptop, back in September 2017 in Marnay in France at the end of my residency, seems so long ago. What motivated me to write was that I am sitting here hand stitching into a contact plant printed cloth as part of a stitching challenge I started a few weeks ago. Also yesterday I started #the100dayproject challenge, with a theme of #100printswithoutapress.

As I write I have my day 2 challenge outside exposing in the sun. I coated a small piece of cloth, from the same dye bath as the cloth I am stitching now, with cyanotype and placed on top some leaves I collected yesterday from my walk, I also have a piece of paper outside undergoing the same process. I decided for my challenge to do a print each day on paper or cloth inspired by my regular works I do with my brother. We usually walk in one of 4 locations that are nearby to our homes, we live about a 10-15 drive apart. I wanted to do simple prints that didn’t use a press, using techniques that would fit in with my low energy but that could be expanded depending on how I feel, how much time I have etc. I thought I could use frottage, gelatine printing, contact plant printing, stamping, cyanotype, solar fast and whatever else I can think of.

Quite often these days I don’t complete challenges or works for exhibition that require deadlines, I spend too much time trying to get my ideas perfected that I don’t end up having enough time to make anything. Always getting stuck in my head, then feeling bad about myself because I don’t get anything done. I would like to also incorporate mapping into the process as well. I am just proud of myself for starting and will take it one day at a time. Now that I have started writing here it would be nice if I could continue that journey as well.

Following on from my style from when i was doing my residency, this will just be an outpouring of my thoughts, including photographs. Basically a personal journal made purely for my own reflection. But I would welcome any comments or insights anyone else might like to add.

Thinking about sitting in the kitchen at La Maison Verte it does sadden me to think of how COVID-19 is going rampant in Italy, Spain and France, all countries I visited and loved in 2017. We are so lucky living in Australia, and especially my island state of Tasmania. Our Governments have done an outstanding job of containing this virus and keeping us safe. With so little community transmission it is hard sometimes to accept the self isolation that has now been imposed on us but it is what is keeping us safe and most importantly supporting our medical systems and hopefully preventing them from collapsing, however in the northwest two hospitals have gone into lockdown.

I have been so focussed on searching the internet and being consumed by news of the virus, its nice to refocus and start creating, slowly but surely.


Day 25 La Maison Verte

It’s been a few days since I posted and haven’t really gotten a lot of work done. Have been here alone since Saturday and should have used the opportunity of having the house, especially kitchen, to myself… but have just felt too tired and unmotivated. Lots of thinking and not a lot of doing. Got up this morning with the intention of getting a lot of work done and had my ideas pretty sorted out.. then received a message to say the other ladies were returning this evening. Bummer! Oh well I will just have to work around that. I need to stay pretty focussed if I am going to get these last few projects finished. Keep telling myself that if I don’t it doesn’t matter as I have a pile of work to display. A bit worried about where some of it will get displayed as I have one paper work that really needs to be pinned to a wall and if we have the exhibition at the garden that will be a bit tricky. Guillaume told me not to worry and that it may be possible to put it up in the greenhouse… not sure how… but we will see.

I got my statement completed for the catalogue so that is something and I have made a few silk scarves… for fun.. they can be hung around to brighten things up. Three of them are quite bright from the onion skins I used… which i haven’t used anywhere else. They are from the garden so I figure that’s ok.

The invite went out tonight.


Day 20 La Maison Verte

Unexpected day trip to Provins


Attempt at trying to capture the light on the yellow flowers in the fields on the way to Nogent to the supermarket this evening.


Prices of alcohol are generally very low in Europe. This wine is organic and very nice, especially the merlot. At around $7 a bottle that’s pretty amazing.


Day 19 La Maison Verte

Mini trip to Paris is coming to an end. On the train ready to head back to Marnay. Have had a wonderful time. This morning over breakfast at the hostel I booked a boat cruise and got tickets for the d’Orsay Museo. Headed out first to the famous English bookshop, Shakespeare and company:




Bought a few books, and sneaked a few photographs

Forgot that I wanted to drop into the Charbonnel art shop, bummer and didn’t feel I had enough time to go back later (ended up I would have done but didn’t want to be stressed with time, erred on the side of caution).

Wandered along the river to the cruise boat destination:



So lucky that I chose to do that today instead of yesterday as it was much warmer and sunny. The guy doing the commentary was informative and I really enjoyed it:


Most of the photos are on my camera, will post later.

Decided after the river cruise I would catch the metro to the Sennelier shop. Totally forgot about lots of shops and museums etc closing for a few hours in the middle of the day. All I could do was take photos from the outside:


Took a few photos of shop windows on the way back to the metro and visited this nice patisserie and bought a quiche and raspberry tart thing, very nice. Would have been nice to have felt I had time to lounge in cafes but pretty much ate while walking today:


After returning back to Saint Michel (that was the name of the metro station) near the river I wandered along to the Museo d’Orsay. Along the way I spotted another Sennelier shop, mmm, so I didn’t have to do that little side trip at all. It was closed as still lunch break time but decided if I had time I would walk back this way after the museum. Turned out that was the least complicated way to get back to the train station anyway:


Enjoyed the museum but nowhere enough time as I expected. I gave myself until 4pm (about two hours), so I wouldn’t stress about getting back to the train station. Not sure what I like the best but here is a sampling:


Then wandered back along to Sennelier and was very conservative and bought a small hard cover journal with 200gsm mixed media paper especially made for the shop. Had to have a souvenir, then wandered back to the metro at Saint Michel to get back to Gare de l’est station.


I also walked past another little art shop I hadn’t heard of. They make their own hand made paints. So I just had to buy a little water colour set. They look amazing.

(Add photo)


Train ride back:



Won’t be long, just 10 days and I will be navigating the NYC metro and walking the streets of Manhattan.

Day 17 La Maison Verte

Another grey, misty and showery day here today. Feeling a bit low and not very motivated. My steamed bundle of papers wasn’t very exciting but different papers could have produced a more exciting result. I just used what I had ready that would fit into the steaming basket. I layered tea bag papers in-between each layer but they didn’t really take on much colour or print. I think the result would have been better if I turned the stack over halfway through but when I attempted to do this I decided that it was too hard to get access to the bundle inside the tall pot I had to use. It was just an experiment and I think I will leave steaming for now. I still have papers I want to bundle but will use the techniques I was using previously with rolling the paper wrapped in a long strip of cotton sheet.


Some of the papers were premordanted with alum in the first week I was here, but from the looks of the prints and colour I would say it was getting pretty weak. I am still waiting for my parcel from artvango to arrive which will contain 500grams of aluminium sulphate. I doubt I will get much of an opportunity to use it. I soaked some paper in what I had left yesterday but I also soaked some fabric in the same water (with not particularly strong results) so thinking it won’t give particularly good results. I was going to bundle them today but maybe I will just do one and see how it goes and just wait to do the rest. I would really like them to work with others I did as a series.

3.45pm: I now have my parcel, so pleased it came today because as expected I had to sign for it so I would have had to get someone to take me to the post office on Thursday (or walk). Getting the alum soaking now. The silk jersey looks interesting and the holes seem to be in a useable location. There is also some laddering but hopefully that will set itself. I am hoping it will work like the wool jersey and that i won’t have to worry about hemming it… but the more i think i about it the more i worry it will be an issue, it is in a tube and hoped to make some scarves with it. Anyway i will attempt to cut it where the holes are and experiment with that piece. If it seems problematic I will just take the rest home to play with. I bought some pongee, which was the thinnest silk of that nature they had and am a bit disappointed with it, seems more like a regular habutai but maybe after washing it will have a better hand. I also bought a half metre of twill to play with as well, it is a bit thinner than i expected but will be good to have some variety with the cotton. It’s all in the washing machine with the soy mordanted fabric i am trying to soften. Feeling a bit cheerier now, partly because the parcel arrived but more because the sun is out. I think that was more of the problem. As the other ladies feel the cold and don’t seem to like the door open I have migrated outside with my laptop and it’s lovely sitting out here in the afternoon sun. A bit breezy and glarely on the screen but very uplifting to my mood. My clothes are drying as well. Hope the washing doesn’t take too long so I can take advantage of the sun and the breeze. I probably should be inside bundling the kraftex that is now dry after the alum soak… mmm actually maybe I should redip it .. actually I won’t as it will be interesting to see how it dyes as it is. I will bundle up one of the paper strips as well late, then re-dip the other strips, will give some variety. The alum I have is a sulphite so no ideal as I believe the potassium one is better for cellulose fibres but I have added in more which is what I have read you need to do. Not being that precise with measurements as I can’t really weight my paper or fabric.

Also have been online trying to preplan the Paris trip. I don’t expect to have wifi much of the time so need to plan a few things to make the best use of the time. I will do a few free walking tours so have saved locations onto my imaps app and taken some screen shots of which metro stops I need to get off at. I will book my ticket for the picasso museum, or maybe leave it til the the morning as you need to select a time. Wish it opened a bit earlier as I would go first thing as its not too far from my accommodation. Actually I might just book the first time slot at 11.30 and make my way there slowly after I check out of the hostel. Excited but nervous about the trip.

Day 16 La Maison Verte

Went to the flea market (brocante) today in Pont sur Seine with Matildhe and Leo (Erica’s husband Morgan’s brother). He works in Paris and comes here to his house on weekends. He is renovating it which it seems that what all people I have met are doing, including Matildhe. Most of the houses here are quite old and seem to have the same aesthetic. It seems that slowly the town is having these beautiful houses restored and lived in.

I bought some tongs to make it easier to handle my bundles and a lovely knife for tearing paper. I have one with me from home but it’s getting blunt and besides this one looks great and will be a lovely souvenir of my time here.



Interesting old carder machine



Here are a few pictures of my bundles from this morning. Going to move now into just paper and work through a series to combine with some I did earlier. Have also made a stack of smaller papers that I have bundled and are steaming at the moment. At the flea market today I found several large stove top steamers and an electric one. If I had have found them when I first arrived I would have bought one but I felt it wasn’t worth it with a lot of the dyeing completed. I am hoping the supplies from artvango will arrive tomorrow and then I will have some silk to play with but have had enough of the cotton, have pretty much explored all the options. I do have two large matching pieces left of the sheet I was using and I may still dye them, will see how I am feeling. After over two weeks of this, it’s getting a bit boring and I am feeling quite tired and weary.


Off to Paris on Tuesday. I have booked a room in a 10 bed female dormitory.. fun!! I should be able to cope for one night. The alternative was 5 times the cost and not as good a location. The hostel is walking distance to the river and I would like to have a wander around after dark without getting the metro, to soak up the ambience of the place. Not sure what I will do yet, will spend some time tomorrow planning and will book my ticket for the Picasso museum. I think I will take a boat cruise to see some of the sights from the water. Hopefully my hips hold out as it is my intention to walk a lot to take it all in.


Day 15 La Maison Verte

Up nice and early, which wasn’t easy as late night waiting for the bundles to cook. Ready and waiting for Guillaume at 8am but he didn’t show up until just before 10am when he had to be at the garden. He had slept through his alarm. Hope that doesn’t happen when I get the train to Paris next week. While waiting I unwrapped the bundles, rinsed them and hung on line. Was nice to see that the cornus gave lovely marks consistently but others that had marked before didn’t. Also discovered that one dip in the soy instead of 2 makes a big difference to colour tone. I had read on a fb group that this was a factor. Good to see the difference.

Guillaume organised for us to go to the supermarket on Monday, as I really needed some groceries including soy milk (for drinking and artwork) I decided to take the special free bus into Nogent and visit the Claudel museum. I planned to go today or tomorrow anyway. Was a nice bus ride through a few small villages and by the time I got to Nogent the rain had stopped. I also noticed that the nearest village, Pont sur Seine had a cafe, boulangerie and patisserie, handy to know. Think it would only be a 30 minute stroll along the river to get there from Marnay.

Really enjoyed the museum and being the special exhibition weekend it was free, bonus. I took my time and had a good wander. Watched an interesting video on lost wax casting. A pity the English audio thingo didn’t have an English version for the video audios. But worthwhile. Here are a few snaps from the museum:

At some stage I will go back and add artist names and titles to the works.

A few shots taken around Nogent:


Some fabric from today:


Soy mordanted linen, one dip, very stiff after several rinses and hand wash in hand wash liquid



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Day 14 La Maison Verte

Have spent most of the day so far doing domestic duties, unbundling, taking photographs, internet duties including updating the blog from yesterday… which is quite time consuming with taking photographs and the process to get them onto my laptop etc. But it’s time to get off my backside and do some work.

Will go over to the garden soon and organise with Guillaume the train times for my trip to Paris which I am planning to do next Tuesday and Wednesday. Also found out that Gabriella and her husband are arriving tomorrow, so that makes things easier with me cooking dinner tonight. I was worried about them arriving in the middle of it all and not having enough food prepared. I get stressed enough as it is with cooking and preparing food for others.

Still waiting for my parcels to arrive. The kraft-tex should have arrived by yesterday. Not sure how long the artvango order will take but don’t expect to see it until early next week…. door knock… large parcel, worried that it’s so light and what has happened to the kraft-tex. Relief… it was the kraft-tex packed in a big box with a lot of bubble wrap. Now I will have to set about using it… to get a straight cut will have to try and cut with a ruler and a knife. Will have to think carefully about what to do with it as I dont want to waste it all in odd sized samples. I was thinking about using some for book covers, but dont think I will end up making any books, I dont really have paper suitable for pages. I dont have any journals suitable for covering either. Since being here I havent really used a journal. Most of my notes have been on the blog or in my notes app on my phone. The journals I brought with me are more your moleskin types, which I havent enjoyed using. I picked up some moleskin lookalikes at the Intaglio printmakers that are much better, they are from Hahnemühle. I also a bought a few small ones from Luke’s art supplies in Melbourne before coming over which are also better. The moleskine ones wont take my nib pen I like to use, so really only suitable for pencil and plain biro ink. I did bring a good quality small square hard backed journal but sent it back to Tasmania with Sandy’s stuff as I didn’t see myself using it and really wanted to have as little gear as possible before coming to France.

Late evening:

Not much more to report from today. I managed to make up 4 bundles after dinner, so at least I feel like I achieved something today. Cooked dinner which went down well, meatless moussaka. Made a trip to the garden before cooking dinner to collect more plants, including some cornus (dogwood). Someone on a Facebook group I belong to was wanting to identify a plant she thought was cornus… so I went over to ask Guillaume about it and luckily they had one tree in the garden. So of course I brought back a few twigs of leaves to bundle up and see how it goes. Always good to have something new in a bundle. I tried to locate the plant that gave me a nice green in the last lot, but couldn’t see anything that looked like it. I saved the leave from the bundle and have them pressing but think it might be hard to identify. I will show Guillaume tomorrow and see if he recognises it. It is pretty nondescript looking. I need to spend more time just sitting in the garden without feeling like I have to collect or hammer anything. Unfortunately the weather hasn’t really been the best for just sitting in gardens.

Tomorrow I get to go on an outing to a farmers market and the supermarket in Nogent, which is a treat when you don’t have nearby shops. Thinking of such I should make a shopping list. This weekend is also a special weekend… not sure exactly why.. and there are free shuttle buses between Marnay and a few places of interest, including a recently opened museum in Nogent dedicated to the work of sculptor Camille Claudel, the local historic church and a few nearby villages. I also think the venues are free for the weekend. I know that the Garden is opening for free.

My housemates are off to Paris tomorrow for 3 days, which is good timing as the other artist and her husband arrive tomorrow. I leave for Paris when the other two return. Will make it more comfortable for all us. So won’t be a full house until Wednesday night.

Day 13 La Maison Verte

Just realised I didn’t post about yesterday’s activities, probably getting a bit confused as yesterday morning I posted for the previous day. The time seems to be going way too fast. My pace of working has definitely slowed since Graciela and Sandrulia arrived. I have also been in a bit of pain with my lower back/hip since Troyes and have been taking anti-inflammatories to keep it at bay, think today it is on the improved. Have also been catching up on a bit of sleep which is a good thing.

The biggest developments from yesterday were my experiments with soy mordanted paper and fabric. I like the changes in colour, with more reds tones and softer shading but with the paper I had problems with the paper delaminating. On one piece that I steamed, one side of the paper completely adhered to a glazed ceramic tile I was using. The paper was a heavy weight proofing paper that had worked fine with the alum. The problem wasn’t so bad a lighter piece of somerset (cotton rag) paper. The somerset was also boiled not steamed and only left three hours opposed to overnight with the steamed piece. Not really having success with the steaming but that’s likely related to my equipment not being ideal. I like the colours on fabric. One piece the prints were more blurred, but thinking that could be related to it and another alum piece being steamed for a few hours before being put into an iron bath. I wasnt happy with the steaming so decided it needed something more. The last piece I did with the soy that was boiled from the beginning didn’t have the same problem. I hope all that makes sense but trying to get this down as quick as I can so I can get on with the days activities.. it’s nearly 2pm and nothing much happening yet… which is not an unusual time frame for me. I have committed to cooking tonight, which is a big thing for me as I get quite anxious cooking for people I don’t know well, not to mention the other challenges with using this kitchen. I also think the other two people are arriving today but I have had conflicting information about that. Guess we will see them when they get here.


This piece was soy mordanted and placed in iron water dye pot (now contaminated from a lot of bundles and alum). It delaminated slightly. There are some nice colours happening but I don’t like the splotchiness that happened. This could have been a result of the combination of the cotton gauze it was wrapped in and the fact the paper is slightly textured.


The following papers were steamed in my tiny steamer in-between a thin glazed ceramic tile. The soy piece was on the bottom and totally stuck to the tile and delaminated leaving a tissue thin paper. The soy is sticking like glue to the papers. This paper was a lot thicker than the somerset but wasn’t cotton. The other pieces were mordanted with alum. I like the way the colours were contaminated by the soy paper, hoping I can exploit this in some way by indirectly using the soy to effect the colours on the alum mordanted papers.



This is the soy piece still adhered to the tile.

Here are the fabric pieces from yesterday:


These are both cotton and soy mordanted. The one on the left was wrapped in an iron blanket. It’s hard to tell from this shot but the fabric is a darker green than fabric batched in a similar way with alum mordant. The one on the left is very different to the alum, with reddish tones and the green being seen. This one however has a faded appearance, I am not sure why. I did rinse them both quite heavily in warm water to try and get rid of the soy residue and smell. After ironing they have gone very very stiff and smooth, they feel like laminated fabric. I need to find a way to get the soy out without ruining the fresh prints.


The long strip on the right is a new addition, nothing much different to report here. I did use a few different plants including one that has given a darker green that I like. Just hope I can find it in the garden again. Alum mordant, contaminated iron water vat.


Detail showing new green leaf, the other side of the leaf printed a darker green.


Linen, soy mordanted. I did steam this for a few hours with the papers but was worried it wouldnt have enough background colour so stuck it with the one on the right into the iron vat for about an hour and then left it in overnight. This has also ironed stiff like the other two soy mordanted pieces, but surprisingly not as stiff, which is interesting as the linen is a much stiffer fabric undyed.


The fabric on the left was batched with the linen that was soy mordanted (on the right). Having been steamed for a few hours could attribute to the bleeding that has occurred. I also think some of the warmer tones in this piece is due to be batched with the soy piece… a similar thing happened with the papers.

Day 12 La Maison Verte

Guillaume kindly took us to the train station to get the train to Troyes. Despite being a rainy day I really enjoyed the day. The town is the capital of the Department/region. In the centre the buildings had a very medieval feel to them. Felt a lot like a few villages I saw in the UK.


Lots of churches. In particular I liked a church dating from the 12th C. (multiple additions and restorations since). Most of the inside of the original church, which had completely painted (murals) walls, was whitewashed in the 1700’s. The info I read didn’t explain why. There was also a beautiful garden at the back of the church, which was lovely even in the rain:


Another highlight of the day was visiting the tool museum. I will post just a few photos of the building and some of the display cabinets, of particular interest was the bookbinding tools:



This was part of a display on the ground floor separate to the main tool museum



I found this photo fascinating, a glimpse of the people, all so different.


This girl particularly caught my eye, her hair, her stance, hands, clothes. My imagination went wild, just realised another reason I may have been attracted to it is she reminds me of one of my daughters friends from when she was in primary school.

Only downside of the day was that my hip went on me just after arriving at the train station ready to head back. Could hardly walk and in a lot of intermittent pain, which became more constant as the evening went on. So far on this trip, despite lots of walking, they have been pretty good. Since arriving in Ireland where I had a car I have walked a lot less so my fitness has reduced slightly. I did a lot of walking yesterday which probably aggravated things. Still not good today, hope it improves soon. Luckily I have some anti-inflammatories I bought in Spain, would need a prescription otherwise. I did fall down the stairs at the house 4 days ago, so that also may have unsettled things. It’s a rainy day again today so won’t be doing a lot of walking.

Nearly forgot to mention that I also had a trip to the art shop. Was very restrained and bought one piece of Arches bfk 280gsm paper, 2 small tubes of block printing ink… what a find that was, so pleased I didn’t order anything from the UK, would have paid $40 for shipping and had ink that I wouldn’t use. I just wanted to have a little experiment so this ink will be great. I also bought a chunky graphite pencil that hopefully won’t bleed. I have about 10 different pieces of graphite or pencil and most of them bleed. However, the graphite on the paper I boiled Tuesday night didn’t bleed off. I also found some lovely single page cards that I will send off as gifts. In total I spent less than $25.


Last night I opened 2 little bundles from the day before. One was just a small sample.. just to have something in the pot really 🙂 .. And the other was the walk I did around the village Tuesday evening. I took my pencil for a walk and collected leaves along the way and sandwiched them as I went. The paper was not mordanted. I like the way the graphite marks interact visually with the marks from the plants. As I was gathering plants I wasn’t as familiar with (as I have become with some of the plants I am choosing from the garden), they didn’t always mark and are more hit and miss. I like this. I was starting to feel that I was controlling the process in order to get more distinct marks on the paper/fabric. That is nice but I want this work to be more about the walking and discovering…. I just can’t find the words to really explain what I mean at the moment… art speak just isn’t working for me right now.


These were boiled as a concertina bundle, unmordanted and wrapped in a little gauze cloth before tying.


I am thinking that I might join all the samples together to make one large long piece. The paper work is also exciting me as well and I want to explore some more. If need be I can get another sheet in Paris next week. Was thinking of creating a line with the paper depicting my walk. I am getting better responses from the paper, especially the pieces I am rolling not folding. All the paper I had with me is either a4 or concertina folded so I could transport it. For this work I can tear up the paper I bought yesterday and keep it flat. Ideas are brewing which is also a good thing.

No bundles made up yesterday. Needed to give the plants a rest.