Friday, September 30, 2011

L'assistance de l'antiquité

I arrived in the early morning to the pleating studio after a double strong coffee and a pain aux raison, to find I had been upstaged by a last minute pleating order for Cécile and a bright pink pleated purse for Louis Vuitton. Oh darn. Gérard had to postpone until monday but as a consolation prize (I think he likes me, or my obvious excitement), he showed me the prototype and drawings of a Vuitton bag, of which he had just completed the material. He also showed me a slight imperfection in a piece of my silk brocade, so I am going to attack the fabric district this weekend to a) replace that material and b) see if I can scrounge a few more pieces. I am looking for ....fantastic. I am considering doing some dye work perhaps, but I'm a little nervous about setting the dye and not havng ANY residual on the pleating molds. That would be really awful. I dont even want to risk it.  I don't have the proper washing agent here. Time for a little investigation.

I am thinking bright pink or my usual neon yellow/green in the same tone, both in a heathy opaque brocade and a transparent silk chiffon. I am considering incorporating leather into the final constructions however many of these questions are going to have to be addressed once I am back in the states. Getting the material home safely is the ultimate goal at the moment and I dont want to risk there safe transport by manipulating them while in Paris. Unlllllesss I were to have a show here and then I'd jump right in:). An extension of the residency might also convince me to delve in. I am currently applying, so please cross your fingers for me! I also have a secretive little project involving Dior pleating molds and I am hoping the studio will have time on monday to show me those molds and possibly place a second order. I was able to see one of my pieces in process.

Waiting for Monday, I redirected, and headed to the Louvre to investigate pleating and folds in ancient Greece and Egypt. 



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lognon, Oh my God!

So, SUCCESS! I spent the morning fretting and prepping for my meeting with the pleating studio, and success my faithful followers. SUCCESS! I ordered three pieces of fabric pleated in the molds and materials shown here. I met with Mr Lognon and three other artisans at the atelier and they pulled the molds for me. OH the choices. One of the molds, the one I'm holding up in the photo was used by Chanel. I am on cloud 9.999! I am going early tomorrow morning to watch them pleat my material.

Yesterday was pretty great. I had an initial meeting with the pleating studio and went to a Rosh Hashana service at the primary Orthodox Jewish Synagogue. Quite the experience. I went with a fellow resident, Cindy Shapiro, who is at the Cite to compose a contemporary opera retelling the psyche narrative. She is an ex-Cantor so she clued me in on the service (especially the vocal shifts in regards to high holidays). I am in love with the symbology of the tradition. Although sitting on the side in the womens' section rub the west coast vibe completely the wrong way.  Some pretty interesting stuff. Cindy and I are going to the Psyche ballet at Opera Garnier Saturday night. I went out tonight to listen to some live acoustic emerging artist from the group Dictafone Home. Great lyrics, fantastic guitar-ing. I feel with the progression of my project and with getting out of my studio (especially in the evenings), that I am finally settled and on the move in Paris.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surprise at City Hall

Last weekend, was the annual Paris Heritage event where certain public buildings and historically significant private residences are open for public viewing. Hotel d'Ville was at the top of my list and so I lined up Saturday morning to take a peak at the salons, suites and artwork of Paris' city hall....

About six months ago, Bryan came home from a St. Louis auction with his usual stock pile of goodies, one of which was a small painting about 8 x 12 inches. A Jules Lefebvre. The pieces was signed but no date, title, nothing. The work got little attention in the ebay store or in the showroom, so it sat humbly on the bookshelf in Le Petite Salon Pressler-Laughlin (aka the dining room).

The city hall was more than fantastic. It is a glamourous black-tie, gilt, beacon of French talent and wealth. There are a series of themed rooms decked out with installed paintings on wall and ceiling, weighty sparkling crystal chandeliers, drapery and italian marble. There are grand rooms with the art embellishment dedicated to the rural peasantry joyously surrendering their hard earned crops to the personification of France, a room for the masons, one to the coronation of Kings, one to...ehem... rebellion, one to music and one to literature. In the Salon of Literature, are three Jules Lefebvre paintings. A 20 or so foot square work directly in the center of the ceiling flanked by two smaller works including this little girl posed with stylus and pad. 20 times as big as she was in the apartment in St Louis. What a thrill!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cluny and Shoes

Today was....GREAT. I began and ended my city sojourn at a cafe. I got up a bit late, care of midnight skyping, studied french for about 1/2 hour in my room, and then went for a crepe and coffee at a little restaurant adjacent to Shakespeare and Co. I read some of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as I sipped my coffee. This story is special, especially being able to read it in Paris. I find myself reminded to observe my surroundings with similar childlike clarity and youthful misunderstandings. I went to the Musee Cluny after breakfast for a small exhibit on Medieval textiles. I loved the building and some of the collections, but (I'm really sorry Ron Leax, Professor Thompson, and Wendy Petersen) it is a challenge for me to really reveal in the aesthetic. I completely appreciate the quality, craft, preservation and breadth of the collection, but I was much more engrossed with the Musse des Arts Decoratif and the Hussein Chalayan exhibit from yesterday. Just as a side (which is really more excited anyways), Chalayan is my new hero. His work operates at the intersection of fashion, architecture and design with strong socio-political statements. He work is about metamorphasis, gender roles, multiple utilities for an object of design, and different ethnic safe-guards thats exist as an identity within foreign countries. He is SUPER talented.

After the Musee Cluny, I headed just a few blocks away to the Museum of Medical History. A beautiful glass ceilinged hall with lots of crazy and cool gadgets, antique instruments, and creepy curiosities. I bought a guide book for 300 curious and hidden sites in Paris. I've uploaded a few pictures to my facebook Paris photo album. After the museums, I spent some time wandering in the Saint Germain des Pres area. I came across a great little store filled with (gasp) bakelite bijoux, a couple contemporary art and furniture galleries including a Finn Juhl store (double gasp). I found myself a beautiful french sketchbook and pair of great shoes. The shoes have proven to be both cute and SUPER comfortable. Hurting feet seems to be a constant drag, so the right foot attire is quite the challenge. As I was prancing back to my studio, I came across a really lovely little tearoom right at Pont St Louis, the bridge connecting the I'lle St Louis and the Cite. I went in with Betty Smith, and we had a lovely black tea and fig tarte late afternoon snack. The spot isn't presumptuous or very crowded at all. I love the location and its only about a 5 minute walk from the residency. I may have found my regular spot. The tea-keeper was a very sweet fellow, kinda cute, and I spoke almost completely in french!!! Thank goodness, Lauren. 

Over all, the french were juuuust nicer today...and my french was better (those two things are probably relative.) Those of you who know how bad my french was in  the first place may not think that this is saying a lot, but it sure gave me a thrill. I'm back to my studio to begin sketching and playing with some of my flea market finds. The sun is far from setting although it is past 7pm, filling my room with bright light. 

Monday, September 5, 2011


I have been in Paris now for a few days. The jetlag has subsided, and I am beginning to establish a rhythym to my days. I find getting up around 7 to be a joy. The city is still waking and there is a yawning serenity to the river water and even the quality of the morning light. I have been going for runs along the Seine at this time, crossing for the right bank to the Ille St Louis to the Cite and then back again. The few people out, are either others running like me, wait staff preparing for the day, or (my favorite) an older woman with a proper little pooch, coffee-ing and smoking on St Louis at the same little cafe every morning. After a lite jog, I'm back to the apartment. The view from my room is exquisite, sitting in sharp contrast to the austerity and blandness on the interior (a constant reminder of the work I want to make to liven it up). I can see the bell towers of Notre Dame and a see treetops out my window whose greenery all most fully conceals the river below. 

I spent the majority of my first few days exploring the flea market at Port de Vaunes and Les Puces. I got a few little gems to use in my work, as well as a bakelite cuff. Les Puces was something else. It was the largest allotment of antique and modern furniture and smalls I have ever seen in one place! Not to mention clothes, shoes jewelry and other oddities. The quality and rarity of some of the items with just spectacular. In fact, as we americans may understand "flea market", this weekly event really qualifies... More of a permanent bazaar of sorts. A shoppers (or scavenger's) paradise.  In these first few days of exploration, I have also realized how much french I have forgotten. Its a bit embarrassing to admit. Its coming back ever so slowly... Aside from the markets, I have re-introduced myself to the Latin Quarter and the Marais... the Cupid and Physche at the Louvre, and Notre Dame.

I discovered an old friend, briefly in Paris, and we went out for fondue and gelato last night. What a surprise coincidence to see him and catch up. Only to the few of your reading this blog might I admit the almost oppressive loneliness my first few days. I feel almost guilty mentioning it, but as Mike (a much more seasoned traveler than myself) said, its the reality of it and its okay to feel that way. Just gushing about the good things isn't always the full truth of experiencing.  For the time being, the lonliness has abaited especially since meet with him, and I feel relief in my excitement for September on my own in Paris. It is brief and fleeting and all at once a small forever.

Diverting from my early morning routine, I slept in late this morning. (I blame with love, Bryan, Mom and Dad for two late night skyp-ing conversations.) Today, the weather is great. Sunny but with a cool breeze, not too hot at all. I strolled to Shakespeare and Co. this morning, grabbing a pain au raison (a great buying experience unlike most). I bought A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and cuddled down with the floor to ceiling shelves of books for 1/2 hour or so. I am heading to the fabric stores this afternoon. I will most likely go to de Louvre afterwards, although it is already almost 1. I am looking for material to put shame to the quilting and cotton jersy of the midwest, I respectful poo poo your pathetic inventory. Life is great.