Archive for March, 2010

Creative down time

Posted in Crafts, La France at 17:58

Frame loom, with cat        Inkle loom in progress
I haven’t been feeling well lately. As often happens when I have time off, especially when ill, for some reason, I’ve been bitten by a creativity bug. In childhood I had a Brio loom with which I made a few weaving projects that are still around today. For a while now, I had wanted to try weaving again, but looms are rather expensive, so I set aside the idea. Nonetheless, the desire to weave kept returning, and as I’ve been resting these past few days, it hit me that I could always make my own simple looms to start out with.

Shown above, on the left is a frame loom I built yesterday. Frame looms are among the oldest type of loom, with their predecessor the back strap loom. Frame and back strap looms are still used to weave tapestries throughout the world. On the right is an inkle loom, still in progress. Inkle looms are used to create woven belts and other narrow bands. I had to make my own weaving tools as well — shown in that linked photo are heddle sticks, sheds, and a makeshift shuttle.

As you can see, there’s not much complexity to these! Here are the supplies I bought to make them:

  • One 2cm x 6cm piece of fir, 2m long (“stud” is tasseau in French)
  • One 2cm x 3.5cm piece of fir, 2m long
  • One 12mm-diameter beech dowel, 1m long, for the inkle loom dowels (“dowel” is tourillon)
  • One 15mm-diameter beech dowel, 1m long, for the heddle sticks
  • One 6mm x 3.5cm piece of simple pine molding with two rounded edges for the sheds, 2.4m long (this is a champlat)
  • 1/4 litre of clear wood varnish to finish the pieces
  • (I already had a hammer, handsaw, nails, and a chisel, so haven’t counted those in the total)

Total price: 38 euros, of which the varnish was 11, so 27 euros for the wood alone.

Just for the fun of it, here’s some weaving vocabulary in French:
to weave (verb): tisser
weaving (noun): tissage
loom: métier à tisser
frame loom: métier à tapisserie (tapisserie means “tapestry”)
inkle loom: métier à ceintures (ceinture means “belt”)
heddle: lisse
shed: foule
shuttle: navette
beater: battoir
warp: chaîne
weft: trame, which gave the French saying “j’ai perdu la trame”, meaning someone’s “lost the thread of thought”.

Walkabout in Nice

Posted in La France, Nice at 17:46

Earth and sky

Today the Fnac, which is a French chain of stores that sell multimedia, books and music, held a “photo marathon” in Nice. I signed up a few weeks ago, thinking it would be nice to get some challenging ideas, plus registration was free. The day started at 9am, and we were given three themes on which to shoot photos, one every two hours. There were three hundred of us in all, and we had to turn in two photos per team (I was a one-person team, most were two-person) after the two hours. The prizes were some Canon cameras; I forget which since I didn’t participate with winning in mind (plus I’ve always preferred Nikon). All participants got a free cinema ticket, which is nice with movies so expensive to see nowadays. The themes were “le reflet dans tous ses états” (“reflection every which way”), “de haut en bas, de bas en haut” (“from top to bottom, from bottom to top,” which I translated to keep puns on “haut”, up, and “bas”, down, also being able to mean items of clothing), and “politiquement incorrect”. I was a little disappointed that they were so generic, since I’d been hoping for topics specific to Nice, but it was fun nonetheless.

The photo above is not one submitted to the contest, but is similar to one that I used for a theme. I took other non-theme-related photos as well, since it was a beautiful day today. At the Villa Arson, which is a museum on a hill in the north of Nice, there were two huge, ancient olive trees; I photographed one of them. Olive trees can live for more than a thousand years, and considering the size of that one’s trunk, it’s likely to be at least a few hundred years old. A bit younger and livelier, a friendly kitty let me photograph her/him after I introduced myself. After leaving the Villa Arson, I noticed two neat homes nearby.