Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: Where I want to be

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: Where I want to be
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

It's warm...27C, finnally!
But, you know how we humans are...we are never completely content, we always want something more. And yes, now that the warmth I've been asking for came...I wish I were somewhere where there is water, ocean.
I grew up by the Argentinean Atlantic coast and our summers meant inequivocably...ocean. My parents have a beach house there where a few adults and a whole lot of children could fit... so sibblings, friends, relatives... we would all spend time in a mass of kids, sand, sunscreen and ice creams. We were so happy with so little.
I love warm weather as long as I have a place where to soak my feet. In the middle of the city, no thanks. Swimming pools and man made lakes don't do it for me either... the water has to be fresh and smell natural not like chlorine! I guess I'm spoiled with all the nature I had around me as I was growing up.
So, that's my Flickr faves for the week.... where I want to be.... by the sea.

All the credit to all the fantastic photographers who took the pics. Do click on the picture to see it larger and to find the link to their owners.

If you want to join the fun, visit Mitsy's blog .

Monday, 29 June 2009

Ceramics Market in Maaseik, Belgium

Ceramics Market in Maaseik, Belgium
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Yesterday we woke up early, like every day... 3yr old son doesn't understand "it's sunday, what are you doing up at 6am!" ...anyway, we went to the Ceramics Market in Maaseik, which is the first belgian city accross the border from where I live. The good thing about going that early is that we found parking space and it was somewhat easy to walk and look. By the time we left at 11.30 it was packed full with people and looking at things was not an easy task.
I really liked seeing the variety of styles and methods peope in the area (Belgium, Netherlands and Germany) use. Big stuff, small stuff. Statues and also kitchenware. Raku, engobes, oxides, salt and sugar glazings; fire pit ovens, electrical ovens and so much more.
A very nice market, worth the visit if you are in the area.
The city of Maaseik ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maaseik) is a very nice one too. Very old. You can see in the architecture that this was a very rich city once. Of course it is also the birthplace of Hubert and Jan van Eyck (15thcentury) considered -especially the second- one of the best painters of the time. It is said that Jan van Eyck invented -or improved- the use of oil paints.

Anyway, a nice way to spend a sunday morning, topped with a yummy belgian beer before heading home.

Yes, beer in the morning... almost noon... it's Belgium, it is mandatory to drink beer there! :)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Merry Go round

Jump on our merry go round and join a group of artists/crafts-women as they link hands around the world and tell you a little about their lives and art.

We are group of 10 women from all over the world
. We choose a question and all of us have to answer it in our blogs. It will be very interesting to read what each of us has to say, taking in account how much our lives and crafts differ.


This month's question is:
What is your favorite publication(s)? Is there a book, books, magazine, or website that has become the bible of your art/craft?

Well, apart from a one day workshop almost 2 yrs ago and the workshop I recently took with Karoliin Arvilomi, I am self taught. I've bought numerous amounts of books. Some helpful, some...just gather dust in my bookshelf.
I rarely check books these days. I make things that come to my head basically, but if I had to name one that I've found pretty interesting (although it isn't for amateurs, you have to have a basic understanding of felting) that'd be "Felt to stitch". It just gave me some cool ideas and insight into embellishing. I haven't done much with it, mind you. But I'm planning to.
Another book which is particularly interesting for me since I am starting to dye my own wool and I want to do it as eco-friendly as possible, is ¨The Craft of natural Dyeing" by Jenny Dean. Techniques are very well explained, the names of each "ingredient" needed, the chemistry, the fibers,etc. Jenny, who doesn't hold back, also has a blog
(Jenny Dean's Wild Colour) where she publishes her latest experiments and very kindly answers questions. She is also a client, so I like her even more :)
There is also the great, complete website of India Flint with lots of ideas and interestin info on textile dyeing.She is the writer of the book "Eco Color" (which I haven't got yet, so I can't say much...).

As for blogs that inspire and whose authors I very much admire:
Monika's Red to White
Pam's Pam de Groot Fibre and Textile Art
Inger's Daily Felt

All three have very different, distinctive styles, not afraid to try new stuff, which in my book that rates very high. All colorful, interesting creations.

There is an international Felting Forum which has a lot of info for needle felting, wet felting, dyeing, and all around fiber preparation. I don't participate as actively as I'd like, but...ya know... one can not be everywhere.

There are always new sites and blogs. I have a huuuuge list of sites bookmarked. But these here are the ones that I most often check. Maybe they help inspire you too!

Please do visit the blogs of the other women in this group:

Lily at http://lilypangart.blogspot.com Nikki at http://beadedzen.blogspot.com/
Ruth at http://insidetheartisan.blogspot.com

Thursday, 25 June 2009

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD- our garden:

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD- our garden:
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

I've been working like mad... thankfully. Although I see the nice sunny days outside and I get a bit depressed because I am inside. Sometimes one wonders...is it all worth it? well, yeah... of course. I just want an excuse to stop working and enjoy the summer!
This here is a mosaic of some of the produce we've been harvesting from our little vegetable garden. Lots of eating to be done!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: time

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: time
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Time time time... never enough! Too many ideas in my head, so little time to work on them.
That's my main worry today... how can days go by so quickly!!!! ?

If you want to join Flickr Favorites, hop to Mitsy's blog.

Do please click on the pic for a larger view and for the list of talented photographers from whom I've borrowed these pics. All the credit to them, I didn't take the pics!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

hand spun and knitted

hand spun and knitted
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

I bought some new zealand lamb merino wool in natural colors a while back with the intention to spin it. Veeery soft! Right, first I had to learn how to spin wool. As you might remeber, I got a wheel for my birthday (I still have to take a pic of that one!) Well, since then I've been working on the spinning part and it is a bit more tricky than what I thought, but still a lot of fun. I am learning to make it as even as possible however, I really like those irregular yarns with thick chuncky bits and thin ones... I just like the texture.
I've been working on some stuff which combines different methods to work with wool: felting, knitting, crochet and weaving. I now have to put everything together........ scaaaary hahahaa

Anyway, spinning wool gives a brak everynow and then from the felting soapy hands. One can also watch a movie in the meantime... which is what I'm off to do.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: bikes fietsen bicicletas

Flickr Faverites Tuesday: bikes fietsen bicicletas
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

"I've got a bike
You can ride it if you like
It's got a basket
A bell that rings
And things to make it look good
I'd give it to you if I could ...."

Pink Floyd

Yes, i've got a new bike. The other one was too old and heavy and my bike is the one with the kid chair. So... you know, old bike + 3yrd old kid... it was heavy.
We like taking bike rides and stop in farms and buy fresh produce. For instance the asparagus with which we ate the bread in the post bellow, we bought in a farm as we were biking around on the wekend...
You can't live in The Netherlands and not have a bike. There are bike lanes almost everywhere so it is pretty safe, not to mention that as you take your course to learn to drive, future drivers are carefully instructed to look through every single mirror in the car (in an especific order and amount of times) to avoid crashing on a biker!
I admire dutch women whom you see biking with two kids, one in front and one on the back, and grocery bags hanging from the sides... wearing high heels... under the rain! Amazing. To me that is a balance act proper of a circus!

So, here a few bike pics I like from Flickr.
If you want to join Flickr Favorites, hop to Mitsy's blog.

Do please click on the pic for a larger view and for the list of talented photographers from whom I've borrowed these pics. All the credit to them, I didn't take the pics!

Monday, 15 June 2009

freshly baked bread

Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Run out of bread this weekend. How could that happen, you ask... dunno. Life? :)
But we needed bread so I looked around in my culinary books, internet...to finnally end up calling my grandma (it was 8am down in Argentina) who said : "nena, muy fácil!" girl, very easy (as if she was telling me how to scratch my belly...eeeeasy!):

500gr of flour (I just used a common one I had home...)
salt, sugar and pepper.... a pinch of each (or "a gusto..." to your own taste)
3 soup spoons of olive oil
3 dl of lukewarm water
10gr of dry yeast

On a clean surface you put the flour, make a hole in the centre and add the dry ingredients (salt, pepper, yeast). If you want to add seeds, nuts and things like that, add them now too.
Mix it all up, make the hole in the centre again and start adding the liquids, slowly as you mix with your clean hands. You are supposed to make a ball with it. Not too dry not too sticky. If it is too sticky, add more flour. If it is too dry...add more liquids.
Put it on a bowl covered with a kitchen cloth and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in a warm place (sunny window sill, next to an oven...). It has to double it's size.
Then you cut that into 4 medium size breads or smaller ones or you just leave it as a big one. Put it in a medium oven (180C) for 15-20 minutes or until it has a nice color on top.

Take it out and even though you will burn your hands, slice it up, put on some cheese or home made garlic mayo, or strawberry jam... or just like that... EAT!

We ate it for lunch, sitting outside, with a nice dish we like to call : "put every veggie we have in the fridge in the wok and add salt and pepper, olive oil.. saute and then eat". Ahhhh the good life! Fantastic!

Asparagus, champignon, tomatoes, onion, spring onion, courgette, paprika, oregano, red pepper...

Happy monday!

Friday, 12 June 2009

it looked like autumn

it looked like autumn
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Well, it did! For a whole week it rained and it was cold and a bit misserable really. I know the garden needed some water so it wasn't all bad... but I went into autumn mode: baking, wearing long sleeves, grabbing a blancky and watching movies and... using wool of warm colors and macking bowls.
The Lily pods are from our own garden. We have two enormous lily plants (wild ones...well, we didn't plant them!) and I ussually keep the seeds either for decoration or for other poeple whom might want some yellow lilies at home!
Three of these pics show bowls made with camel fleece. I got a bag a while back and now gave it a try. It's quite expensive but really nice. There are other types of wools which have this same sort of caramel/camel color -and are a bit cheaper- that are good for more structural pieces too.

So, sun is out and a friend is picking me up to go spend the afternoon in Maastricht, probably my favorite city in The Netherlands. Off I go! Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Doing my blog round yesterday I came accross the link for the movie HOME at Julia's blog. I had been sent the link before but I hadn't had time to watch it. But now, with some time, a cup of tea and Mr Husband, we sat and watch it.
Home was directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, a french photographer author of the book "La Terre vue du ciel": " Earth from Above" (I think that was the english translation).

The first time I came to europe, I landed in Paris and the day after, whilst walking through the gardens of the Palace of Luxemburg, we bumped into these huge aereal pictures of the world. Fantastic pictures, beautifully taken and enlarged. There was a little video being shown and the photographer was somewhere around there and we talked for a few minutes in my very rudimentary french. Back home I bought the book and I was fascinated by it so I bought a couple of different versions and formats which became presents to friends.
This movie has not only beautiful images and fantastic music, but also a deep message that we all should learn, discuss, pass on and most importantly...act on it. The natural balance of the planet has been shattered by us, the homo sapiens, and there isn't too much time left to do something about it. It isn't a catastrophic, complot-like message... it's just a fact which can be checked by any of us.
Like the movie says, it isn't time to be a pessimist but to react... now.
The movie can be watched for free in its entirety online here until 14th June (different languages to chose on the top right corner). It is very much worth your time. For you and for your children.

Monday, 8 June 2009

New version of an old image

You must be thinking that I am a bit obsessed with this simple "las casitas de Macondo" wall art. The truth is that I want to cover a couple of different mediums with it. It is indeed a simple image but I find it warm, welcoming and humble. It was the product of an afternoon of leisure in the garden and... I just like it.

The one that started it all was this, the paper version:

Then, the first hand felted simplified version came in:

The Etsy Easter Bunny gift exchange happened and I made especially for Ioulia another version of the wall hanging because these little houses where inspired in Macondo, the fantasy place where the book "A hundread years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, happens. And we both mentioned that book as one of our favorites.

A few days ago, trying to put some order to my closet with fabrics and wool and fibres of all sorts, I found a bag with a bunch of fabrics off cuts and wool. So this happened, "Las casitas, felt and fabric version":

I'm already working on two different clay versions of it too... question is... what else?

EDIT: sorry for the small pics. Bloglines is having one of those days I think and won't let me put anything bigger. Here a bigger pic.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

workshop with Karoliin en Rod

Well, it's taken me a bit (lots of things have happened this past week!) but here it is. I apologise for the quality of mostly the later pics because I dropped my pretty camera after the first day and it is kaput...dead. Yes, how could I drop a digital reflex...I know. Until next week when I buy a new one, I have no great pics of the finished thing...sorry!)

Karoliin Arvilommi is a textile artist, a weaver initially, who has been a felter for more than 20 years. As you can imagine, she has gathered a few tips in that time. Rod Welch, her partner, took up felting when they met. They both have different methods of felting and treating their designs -matching their own personalities, naturally- but both are 1-very creative, 2-very experienced, 3- very nice and most importantly, incredibly generous. Although this workshop was on hand felted tapestries and carpets; they did not mind at all talking about how they treat their finn wool, what dyes they use and why, different techniques they use for working with wool and felt in particular, machines Rod has developed, the state of the wool world these days, etc. That was for me the most important part of the workshop... the amount of tips one picks up here and there whilst talking to other felters.
The other 10 women whom joined the workshop were also a delight to have around. Many talented, creative felters whom have been working for a long time in this subject and of course that means that each person had a different way and tempo for doing things. But the results were equally stunning.
A special word goes to Annemie Koenen, who organized this workshop at her Atelier Wolwerkplaats MoerderAarde (dutch for "wool working place, Mother Earth") which is basically her home. Her warmth, laughter, advice and the general organization of the weekend was fantastic. The catering was delicious and abundant and boy... her atelier is like a candy store for wool lovers. Wool, silk, fabrics, linen... fibers hanging everywhere drying after being hand dyed or spun; a large library for inspiration and an equally large book selection for sale. Needless to say we all left with a few books and bags of fibers under our arms.

Now the workshop itself.

Karoliin and Rod working out how to deal the precious finnwool.

We started by talking about our ideas and designs for the weekend. What was feasible, what colors, etc. A word on finn wool: there are only a few thousand pure finn sheep left in Finland and their wool is...nothing like what I've worked with before. I've tried merino of different microns, camel hair, mongolian wool, Gotland, australian, new zealand, shetland, argentinean, bergschaap, etc... this wool was so soft and yet sturdy! Fantastic.
We first received a demonstration from Karoliin: how many layers (many!), working with prefelts or with lightly hand felted pieces of wool, edges...important for a neat finish, lightly spinning yarn with your hands for details, etc. The idea was that first we would make a small test to get a feel of the wool and practice what we had just received in form of theory. My "small" test wasn't that small..oops.... but I did realize that making this test, although not always necessary, is very useful... you can finish working your own design out before moving on to a much larger piece.

Karoliin en Annemie.

Armed with almost 2kl of finn wool I set up to lay layer upon layer of wool. It is -as always with felting- of crucial importance how well you lay your wool, how evenly and in which directions. I had decided that more than making a master piece, I wanted to be able to learn the technique and finish the piece. So "keeping it simple" was my motto. I then choose to -insted of working with prefelts- make the design by felting dry wool. Note that there is no use of needles or anything like that. This is all done by hand.

The first day went by working on this little test. I had to go home at 6pm (motherhood!) but many stayed at the studio working until late at night.

Next day I started on my big piece. It took some time and work to lay the background (imagine something like 1.5kl of wool...huge volume that is) . My rectangular piece ended up being 1m x50cm... that is after 2 full days of felting... initially it was not only much larger but also thick!I measured my layed wool before wetting, and it was 20cm high!
Hands rubbing until arms ached... and then some more. I think I spent all of saturday and half of sunday just working on my piece by rubbing it with my hands, nothing more. Rolling was at the very very end and it was intensive too. I came home feeling as if I had been at the gym the whole weekend! You need strong arms for this!

Rinsing was done by throwing liters upon liters of water onto the work and rolling it out with a rolling pin. I ussually do that myself because it also helps flattening your piece and in fact, you keep felting that way. But at this point in the weekend I was so tired I didn't want to roll anything else! Lucky for me, and for most of us, Rod was standing there all fresh and strong ready to take over and do it for us. Thanks for that.
So here the finished piece (sorry for the dark pic!).

I take from this weekend a whole lot of knowledge, but also warm memories of laughs, stories, faces of people with whom I learnt a lot. Not only from the fantastic Karo and Rod whom honoured us coming down here from Finland (which they don't ussually do); but also from the rest of the felters I met this weekend. Their opinnion, advice and help was invaluable.
I am most definetely signing up for another workshop at wolwerkplaats Moeder Aarde. (click on that link for some reviews of this workshop from other felters - in dutch- or a little bio from Rod and Karoliina in english).

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: Veggies

Flickr Favorites Tuesday: Veggies
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

I'm settling back into my rutine and I will tell you all about the workshops tomorrow. But this will buy me one more day! It's Flickr Favorites Tuesday!
It's been sunny and warm here with the ocassional strong summer rains which are not bad at all because otherwise I would have to spend a lot of time watering our garden (especially the veggie garden).
we eat a lot of veggies and fruits. I go to a farm every week and buy fresh stuff, especially what we don't grow here at home.
Warm weather makes me even more hungry for veggies... a good tomate sliced in half with a bit of pepper and salt eaten with your hands... a juicy apple, red berries.... huge salads. So, for this Flickr favorites, a mosaic of my own photos ( a bit narcisistic today, allow me...) with fruits.

If you want to join Flickr Favorites, hop to Mitsy's blog