Halloween Kitty, and inside a haunted French castle

 

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Halloween is sneaking in closely! It’s time to be thinking of scary pumpkin heads, witches on brooms, bats and other ghouls. Here is something fun and cute that I’ve made. Always a big fan of cat art, here’s my Halloween Kitty, framed in a box frame so that the shadows can be enjoyed.

This Halloween Kitty has been hand drawn and hand cut. Would you like to have this design, and cut it out yourself? Yes you can! This art is available as a template, all you need to do is take a print out, get ready with your scalpel and cut away! You too can put it in a shadow box, or just stick it to cardstock and give it to someone special on the day of Halloween! Here she is before I spray painted her black. Do you like it black or white?

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Look at this gorgeous castle below… It’s deserted for many years… Haunted? I think so!

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This is the second time I am entering a deserted premise by the way! And with all those overgrown weeds, I was very careful not to go stepping accidentally over ‘l’ortie’ ( stinging nettle in French)

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Such deserted castles or old monuments can be found plenty around France. My husband and I, while on a stroll, found this beauty somewhere around L’isle Adam, an elite French neighborhood, 30 kms north east of Paris.

Alas! The secrets of this castle are only enjoyed by squatters now..

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A piano that has seen much better days.

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I can imagine this foyer at one time a resplendant place, welcoming, warm, and people walking to and fro the different rooms.

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This staircase walked up and down by an absent minded homemaker, realizing too late that it’s raining and the windows upstairs need to be shut..

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Pitter-patter, pitter-patter go footsteps silently in the dead of night

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I hope you enjoy looking down staircases as much as I do..

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What is this cage like structure? A medieval torture device? Nooo…. Any guesses? It’s for holding wine bottles.

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Whew! Am I glad it’s a sunny day out! Shakes away some of the cobwebs in my head!

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Whoops, a skeleton car just pulls in!! Nah, just joking! This hilarious car advert is something I had seen at the Shiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

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Have you been totally spooked out by the haunted castle? If you want to read something similar, click here, of a trip into a haunted and deserted hotel I walked into, in Darjeeling, India.

Halloween Kitty up close to let you know how spooky things are going to get! 🙂

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If you like my art and want to support it, buy my art prints or templates at Etsy, or forward it to someone you think might enjoy it!

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Sketches of an Indian Goddess, and Maison de l’Inde

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Here is Goddess Durga, beloved to Bengalis of India. Every October has a week long celebration dedicated to her.

Here are some simple and quick sketches I had made in 2015, depicting her as a young girl. In this sketch above, I have her holding a Shiuli flower, a delicately shaped, small and fragrant flower. The shiuli plant starts to flower around October in India, hence this flower is strongly associated with the celebrations of Goddess Durga.

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Goddess Durga reposing in a lotus flower

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If you see showers of stars across the sky, you will know Goddess Durga is in a playful mood

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Beautiful flowery swing

Today I attended the seventh day of the Durga Puja celebrations in Maison de l’Inde, located within the campus grounds of Cité Université, in Paris. If you walk inside, and walk up the first floor, you enter a big room where the celebrations are held year after year in this very room. I asked some of the senior Bengalis around the room how long has Durga Puja been celebrated in Paris? ‘Since the last 30 years’ I receive the reply.

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I can tell you that the ladies you see seated close to the idols, wearing saris, these ladies work hard year after year to produce equally beautiful, and as authentic Durga Pujas as Bengalis have it back home. They constantly move around making sure everyone is OK and enjoying themselves. One more thing : ANYONE can enter this place for free. There is no charge, or any kind of obligation to pay. I see many curious visitors, French and other nationalities coming in here, and usually enjoying themselves, admiring the colorful saris, and the relaxed atmosphere. In the evenings, there are usually traditional dances, or Bengali songs sung, that lend to a very cultural atmosphere.

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Nom Nom! This is called ‘bhog’. It’s not the name of a recipe. It’s the term used for food that is prepared for lunch time, during the days of Durga Puja, at the place of worship itself. Here at the Maison de l’Inde, yes, ANYONE can just come in and have this plate of heaven. Bhog is always vegetarian food.

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I had the opportunity to watch this Bengali gentleman, an active participant of the Durga Puja, make pulao, in this rice cooker. ( It was a great chance for me to finally learn the recipe myself!)

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Rice, butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and rasins. And of course, finally add water that is double the quantity of rice, and shut the lid and let it cook about 15 minutes.

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Everyone busy eating the plastic containers distributed that had the cut fruits ( pieces of apple, banana, pomegranate, grapes, halwa) to everyone.

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Here is the Shiuli flower again, just making sure you remember that sweet little flower! 🙂 And here is my papercut Butterfly Girl, surrounded by shiulis.

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If you have liked this post, and would like to support my work, buy my art prints and framed papercut art at Etsy, or forward this post to someone you think would like it!

L’Aiguille en fête – An international exhibition of textiles in Paris

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I am happy to be writing this post while the exhibition is still on in Paris, so for those who can make it and are interested in textiles or fiber art, please do visit it, as it is quite worth the experience! The exhibition runs until 9th February, at the Parc des expositions, in Porte de Versailles. I was at this exhibition last evening, I understand this event takes place every year, so I was glad that being my first visit there last evening, I would have an idea of what to expect the next time around. But yes, my first time was more than a pleasant surprise. 

The exhibition is about creativity to do with fabrics, trimmings, the latest models in sewing machines, sculpture textiles, textile designs, and appliances related to fabric crafts. It boasts of about 250 stalls of sellers from many different countries. There are also plenty of ‘ateliers’ or workshops with a variety of craft activities to choose from. 

The exhibition space is huge, of about 1500 meter square. I was so tempted to stop by every stall, every piece of work screamed for attention, and I could see that a lot many hours had been spent on creating so many works of art. Here’s a few pictures to feast your eyes on :

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There was even a knitting championship :

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Amongst the things that attracted me a lot were the kits to make felt toys. I noticed that the Italian stalls were mostly the ones where the felt kits were terribly attractive. The faces of the toys seemed to have almost a soft laidback character. It reminded me a bit of my trip to Florence where I’d seen a lot of Italian artwork on wooden puppets. I thought it was exotic and I got myself a beautiful toy kit of 35 euros, that had along with the fabric several other trimmings like ribbons, wooden hearts, button etc. I can’t wait to get started on this toy soon!

Woman obsessed with décor (and curtains)

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I thought of sharing this delightful carricature of a ‘Woman obsessed with home décor’, by the French illustrator Signé Benoit, whose works appear regularly in the magazine ‘Paris Match’. At first, the paintwork appears messy, but soon you notice the attention to details, and you can relate a lot to what the artist tries to portray.

My post is all to do with curtains, but while thinking about making this post, I was reminded of this carricature I found in the magazine, that I’d cut away in 2012. Some of the luxurious curtain drapes I have been checking out lately in the fabric markets of Paris, and all the wonderful ideas I could play around with them, reminded me of this woman so in bliss to be surrounded with opulent fabrics and other items of décor.

When my husband first proposed the idea that we buy the curtain fabric and I stitch them, I was absolutely in désaccord with him. The last time I touched my sewing machine was 10 months ago and that last time happened to be my first time too! I was presented with that machine by a benevolent family member who thought I could do more useful things with my craftiness. Here’s the end result of me slaving away on the machine just 4 days after we bought the fabric :

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Not too bad if I say so myself! As long as no one peeks on the other side of the curtains! My hands were clammy the entire while I was stitching them. Until they were put up on the rods, I had no idea if we’d wasted money on the drapes. It was of course the first time I was stitching curtains and I used the design from another existing curtain that we’d bought from Ikea a long time ago. Stitching this curtain opened my eyes to the world of curtains, the right fabrics, the different styles etc. Though a lot of mistakes have been made on this curtain (awry hems, no lining, base hem still not complete etc), I am confident I can do better next time around. Here’s a look at the fabric that we’d bought at my favourite store Marché St. Pierre in Montmartre, Paris :

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Here are some lovely curtain ideas I came across in a book :

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A trip to the fabric stores in Montmartre, Paris

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Montmartre is The place to go to in Paris for all fabric crazed people ( like me) to discover rows and rows of fabric shops of all sizes, along with several haberdasheries. The two fabric shops in the photo are ‘Marché St. Pierre – Dreyfuss’ and ‘La Reine’, the two most popular and also the biggest stores to discover in this district. Montmartre is also a very popular tourist district as it is also the location of Basilique de Sacré Coeur, a huge medieval church that sits on top of the mountain and where the views of the city of Paris is absolutely fantastic. One can combine one’s fabric shopping needs with a walk around Montmartre to take in the beautiful sights of the ancient buildings around, the cobbled streets, an ancient vineyard that still exists and is functional, the gothic beauty of the basilique itself, and just to sit on the stairs and spend time admiring the view of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris. Please beware though, that a big menace here unfortunately is the numerous con artists, and petty thieves! Ladies, hold on tight to your bags and purses, cameras and mobiles! Another note, car parking is next to impossible here, so traveling by metro and a lot of walking is the best way to go!

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The first time I walked in through the glass doors of Marché St. Pierre, I felt I was whisked into another planet. It was also the first time I discovered that I loved fabric. To see the various fabrics of so many different qualities and grades and types spun me around a little bit. I loved every moment and every time I went back to the store, I never stopped clicking away at the fabrics that would catch my fancy. The store boasts of a total area space of 2,500 meter square, covered in 6 storeys. Each storey holds fabric certain uses like for home furnishings, clothes, curtains etc. The prices at this store are quite reasonable and one can really spend a lot of time looking at all the various textiles and designs and colours available. Here are a few snaps below to give you a better idea.

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The photo below is of the famous French print called Toile de Jouey, and the photo further below is of ‘torchons’ or ‘dish cloth’…. How cute looking could dish cloths get?!

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While browsing through the store, I find my attention drawn not only by the fabrics but also by the shoppers themselves and the sales people. I noticed that in general the sales folk are polite and nice, but the higher up the floors you go, you notice that the sales people look smarter dressed and far more polite and refined than the ones working on the ground floor. Yes, the choice of fabrics and types are more refined and expensive as you go further up. In fact,t he top most storey is almost devoid of customers, this floor has top of the range furnishings for the house, and a team of specialised salesmen and women who will guide and advise to the kind of fabric you should buy.

The shoppers consist mostly of women, and the men are there mostly to hold their girlfriend’s shopping bags. Sometimes i find elegantly dressed men, and i suspect if they are designers, because they also seem to look like the part. I can almost bet that the women around me are sewing professionals, they have their eagle eyes on the fabrics and spend a lot of time browing through. I feel so sure thay are experts at using the sewing machine, and they know how to knit, and crochet and know every secret of stitching. How I envy them! 🙂 I also like the way they are dressed, because it almost looks like everything they are wearing is handmade, by themselves.

I hope you enjoyed the photographs. I haven’t spoken much of La Reine, as the collection I find in Marché St. Pierre to be more diverse and exhaustive, and better priced. Here are some snaps taken at the ‘mercerie’ or haberdashery that also belongs to Marché St. Pierre – Dreyfuss.

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