Day 3 at La Maison Verte

So far not a very productive day. Finding it very hard to get motivated. Feeling a bit like it’s just another place with the same techniques and nothing really new and exciting happening. Feeling very self-conscious and embarrassed that I can’t speak French, but that’s just the way it is. With my poor working memory languages are difficult, just remember unfamiliar sounding names is hard enough. From the safety of the house its like it doesn’t matter, but whenever I see someone walking by through the kitchen window a pang of anxiety sets in. Crazy I know but thats what is happening. I have managed to make some walnut ink so that is something positive. Not sure that I will use it though. At one stage I ended up turning it into sludge so had to reconstitute it, although the colour was quite good, but very thick and mucky. Took me quite a while to strain it but I wouldn’t have wanted it any thinner as the colour would have been too light. After adding some alcohol to preserve it got a bit thin and the smell from the alcohol is horrible. The second bottle I added less alcohol and I have half a small glass left that I have left without alcohol at this stage. The only alcohol I could find was an ethanol based one which was 90% alcohol, it smells lethal and makes me nervous even having it in the house. Maybe I should have just used some of the vodka I found but that is only 40%. It was just a little experiment and bit of fun. I also have small glass of leftover sludgy stuff which I might try to print with. I found some glycerine in the studio and I read on the net that you can add that to make it a consistency to print with onto paper, I will give it a try and see what happens. Which reminds me I still need to order in some supplies. Not sure why I keep putting it off. Guess I am worried about having too much stuff to deal with at the end and don’t want to waste too much money with leaving supplies behind and with sending stuff home. I am very keen to bring home the sheets I bought, the fabric, whatever it is, is amazing, I just love it. But those sheets are huge and very heavy. I also bought a few smaller similar items at the most amazing place that Val took us to in a village near her. I paid similar prices for much smaller items, I went with tea towels instead of sheets as I was worried about the cost etc. It has been like with each purchase the prices have gotten better.

I have also kept the walnut matter that I strained off and have put it a pot with other cleanup sludgy matter and covered it will water, along with the white linen looking cushion cover I strained it with and a piece of petticoat I cut from the hem and used to do a final strain of the liquid. I would say there is more dying power left in it so will keep it and use it as I go along.

After I finished cleaning up I went searching for rusty stuff. All I could find was an old frypan with grid holes in it that was with some pots a previous artist left behind (she was experimenting with eco printing onto various textiles). I spotted some rusty bit attached to the top of a ladder but try as I might I could not wrench them off. I submerged the frying pan thing into a bigger pot of water and left it on the stove while I went for a wander. I had messaged Kinga earlier reminding her that I needed rusty bits, she had said she would get some to me) but didn’t get a response. I shouldn’t be bothering her so much, I should have asked her yesterday what her time frame was with getting stuff to me. I decided to collect some leaves as well and take a gps recording of my walk.


Was great to get out of the house and do a wander. I saw a few rusty looking objects on some old farm vehicles but really couldn’t wander onto people’s property without asking and as it was getting late and probably peoples tea time I didn’t want to bother anyone and with my anxiety around conversing with people the timing really wasn’t right. I did try to unscrew something off an old fence but like the ladder it just wasn’t going to budge. I enjoyed gathering a few leaves which made me feel a bit more connected with what I was doing.. . whatever that is… reminding me that I need to my bio and write a project brief … a task that is definitely adding to my anxiety.. nothing unexpected there, I always knew being here would have those types of issues for me… with having to actually make something and have an exhibition. Keep reminding myself that at this stage I have plenty of time and there is no benefit in panicking… yet!! But as we know the mind doesn’t always listen to reason.

While collecting one plant, I will post a photo of it, the damn thing didn’t like having a leave broken off and one of its seed pods spat at me with liquid and seeds. I let out a little yelp as it got me in the face and by surprise. I was waiting for something horrible to happen, but it didn’t, my eye felt a bit funny for a while and I was pretty creeped out by it. If anyone knows what it is please leave a comment.

As I picked the leaf one of the seed pods spurted liquid and seeds into my face. You can see some of the seeds cradled in a leaf at the centre bottom right.

As I was on my way back I saw a familiar face from yesterday, thought it was a guy who works at the garden but think it is Kinga’s boyfriend (they could be one and same person), I asked him if he had any rusty stuff and he said he thought there might be some in his mother’s garden and would get Kinga to follow-up for me. As I walked back I found a big rusty horse show in a well structure near the walnut tree which I know belongs to Kinga’s boyfriends mum Nicole… hence that’s why I thought the guy I was speaking to must be Kinga’s boyfriend. Anyway I took the horseshoe and sent Kinga a message later asking her to let Nicole know I took it and will bring it back at the end of the residency. Don’t want anyone to think I am a horseshoe thief.

Got back to house (with a few more midgie bites) and popped the horseshoe into the pot on the stove. Really need to find a lid for the pot/basin as it had been on high for over an hour and not even looking like boiling, don’t like wasting electricity. I think tomorrow the guy from the garden is going to set up a cooker for me at the garden but am a bit worried that I will go through the gas. The cooker here has three gas burners and one electric which is what I have been using for the walnut ink and now the boiling of rusty stuff. They only have gas bottles and with the stove going all day it will chew through those. The natural dye artist previous did all her dyeing on this stove here and I would be happy to do that but when the other 4 arrive I don’t think it would be appreciated but maybe it would be ok, it obviously wasn’t an issue for the other artist and her fellow artists. I wouldn’t have liked being here with the previous lot, as I have only now got rid of the turps smell out of the house, at first thought it was ingrained but it wasn’t so that was a bonus.


Trying to develop an iron bath to soak some fabric in for an “iron blanket”, need a lot more rusty stuff, hopefully some will appear tomorrow

Better get the photos uploaded (back to my phone app to do that.. a bit of a pain, they load up easy from the app but I can’t seem to add captions and do the editing I need so then its back to the laptop. At least I am getting stuff on the site so that is something. Just need to not spend too much time with it. I already have enough excuses to not make stuff. I should be kinder to myself and go with the flow. It has always been mode of working to be more active at night so I should just go with that. Trying to not worry about what it will be like when the others turn up. Having to fit in with four other people will change a lot about the way i will have to live and work. Not necessarily bad, in fact having others around will hopefully motivate me. The fact they all speak spanish will be another language challenge. I found it a bit uncomfortable at Val’s when she was speaking French with her family a lot of the time. Just felt kind of weird and I had to shut off from it.

Maybe I can add photos near the text that references the pictures, I will try to figure that out, but it just might be quicker to load them all at the end and add the captions. Learning as I go along with the thing. I am sure I will be able to speed things up.

Inserting the photos seems to be working fine, will do that as I go from now on.

When I went out for my walk I went past the recycling area near the Botantical garden. This is where I have to take empty bottles to. I noticed there were two bins and decided to look in to see what was what. The first one was clearly for glass bottles and the second one had papers in it. I couldnt help but notice some old magazines so decided to pull out a few for collage fodder. I was just looking through one of them and it’s a womens magazine from 1958, so interesting, think they will have to come home with me intact.

A few more photos from my walk this evening:


These wretched nettles are everywhere, maybe I should don some gloves and make some nettle soup

3 thoughts on “Day 3 at La Maison Verte

  1. Maybe you don’t need yet more techniques? Maybe it’s how you can combine them, and the imagery you develop from where you are right now? Like the Tanglewood Threads blogger….

    • Definitely don’t need any more techniques. It’s more an issue with my brain not working. I have never been good with putting work together in a final form. It’s the experimenting and play I have fun with. That’s my challenge to move from this. However, the research component can become the work and that’s something I have followed up at art school. I see my work more as a collection/assemblage relating to place. I struggle mentally when I try to alter what is there and make it into something else.

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