Monday, 29 April 2013

... the tea lab...

It seems a shame to leave our beautiful studio-space empty when there is so much local talent and an obvious wish to share and enjoy arts and crafts.  We very occasionally have a space on our five-day workshops for non-residents, but we want to keep the ambience buzzing with good creative vibes for neighbours and friends meanwhile.

With this in mind Les Soeurs have opened their door as a weekly pop-in venue for a cup of tea and, from time to time, an afternoon workshop of the creative variety.  Our first session was a couple of weeks ago and last Friday, our lovely Emma Whigam (the very same Emma who does the fab mono-print icons for our website etc.) led a super-duper Lino Print afternoon.  Below are some photographs of the event and you can see how much everyone enjoyed themselves and the beautiful work they produced after only a few hours and with no previous experience - was it Emma's brilliant teaching methods, or just raw talent?.

Back to our Hare competition, and here are a few more recent submissions.  There's still time to send us a picture of your favourite Hare (competition closes this Friday) and, who know, you might be joining us for a 5-day workshop as our guest next year!

Mixed media hare by Lizz Harding

Thursday, 25 April 2013

.... haring along...

The clock is ticking, Spring has sprung and there really is only one week left until Billie Jean Spille choses the most creative representation of Les Soeurs Anglaises' Hare from all the wonderful submissions.  The winner will get a free place on one of our workshops next year (not including transport and where we have space) so get stitching, knitting, drawing, whatever it takes, to win this fab prize.  

Here are a few prancing hares to give you a glimpse of the competition.  Remember, it's not skill so much as imagination that we're looking for (though fine execution doesn't hurt).

Mary Stanley

Nateish Willman

Janet Middleton

Holly Kjerulff

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

... hop to it......

Only a little time left to send us your favourite hare!  At the end of this month our local talent, Billie Jean Spille, will be choosing what she considers the most interesting and creative facsimile of lepus capensis from amongst the many wonderful and inspiring entered for our spring competition.

Let these inspire you before it's too late.  Remember, the first and only prize is a free place on one of workshops next year (where we have places available and excluding transport costs).

sleeping hare by Mister FINCH

from Tutseetoys on FlickR

Remember there's still time to send us a photograph of your contribution.

And here is a work-in-progress that one of our followers is currently creating on a piece of our vintage hand-made linen.  If you're interested in purchasing some of this fabulous fabric we still have a few meters left.

A beautiful piece by the talented Martine Eckert

Monday, 8 April 2013

.... making a mint......

Despite the unseasonably cold weather we're experiencing (yes, even down here in sunny south west France!), we have been working on our herbs for the new herb garden.  We always enjoy offering to participants our tea with fresh mint from the garden and have been taking cuttings from the new growth for several weeks now .  We have a very full and busy season this year, but hopefully we won't run out....

So easy to propagate, we are now onto third generation of cuttings this season, which we have rooted in a cool spot in the hall of the Maison de Maitre. If you want to give it a go buy a small pot of mint from the supermarket, then just take several 10cm new shoots from the new growth, remove all the lower leaves and leave together to root in a jar of cool water (refresh the water every few days).
When you have a nice clusters of healthy looking roots, plant up each shoot individually or three to a small pot, leave for a few weeks until the weather is little warmer (yes, it will be warmer one day), and then plant out where you have lots of space to cover.  As mint can be a bit of a thug if uncontrolled, we personally like to pot the rooted cuttings up into a much larger pot which we then place in the earth up to the rim; this curtails its unruly behavior somewhat giving other herbs room to breath.

Apart from the mint-steeped tea, it is, of course, quite delicious in salads and eastern cooking.  Chop it or leave the leaves whole depending on your taste.

Pea, asparagus and fresh mint tarts

The up side of mint's profligacy is that we don't mind in the least if our friendly hares take a bite or two for hors d'eouvres.  There's always plenty more and in fact the "pruning" may very well encourage the rate of growth.

Bonne chance!

Monday, 1 April 2013

... haring along....

We hear the weather up north isn't too wonderful at the moment.  We must confess it's still a little coolish down here for this time of year, and we're hesitating before bringing out the less than hardy potted plants such as the orange trees and pelargoniums, but the sun is at least visible and there's definitely a sense that the worst of the winter is now over, especially as we now have that extra hour of daylight in the evening.  Time for that massive spring-clean in preparation for our first workshop next month.
We've been working hard in the garden, too. 

 A talented garden designer friend, Julie Squire, drew up a wonderful plan for our new herb-garden to compliment the existing potager,  and we've been digging and planting and generally reorganising the whole space so that we can grow far more organic vegetables this year to feed the various workshops.  It's been massively hard work, and we were incredibly lucky to catch a local artisan, Matt Meers, between projects to erect three living willow arches for the scheme.

No, it's not a small arch.... Matt is about 6'2"  and a bit of a hunk.

After honing his willow skills in the UK and gaining a well-deserved reputation for superb workmanship (including several prizes at the Chelsea Flower Show), Matt  moved to this part of France a decade ago where he now produces all his own willow for crafting.  He and his wife, Wendy, also offer luxury eco yurt accommodation during the warmer months so if you're interested in something a little more exciting than a camper van this could be just up your street.

Deliberately alternating diagonals give a cross-effect when looking through the arches.  In a year's time, the green wood will be sprouting lime green leaves.

Kyoko Imazu, Bob the hare

Did you know that there are four collective nouns for hares:  flick, drove, husk and down?