Monday, January 19, 2009

in a trough

Last summer, my brother experimented with making some concrete planters using old shoeboxes as moulds. One of them dried too fast in the heat and cracked, so he gave it to me. I decided to add my own finish, and used a variety of little pieces of tile to cover it. They were originally expensive, designer tiles, ex-display stock, which someone gave me. I'd cut them into pieces one dingy afternoon in the Spring (2008) when I din't know what else to do, or without knowing why I was chopping them up - they just looked better in small pieces! I took it out into the street to grout it and, as usual, got plenty of passers-by stopping to chat and admire. Great way to get to know your local community.

the winter garden

The garden was originally a sloping yard when I came here in 2006. It was a sizzling summer, and the sun reflected off the crazy paving, making the yard a furnace. James being James, persuaded me to let him dig it all up and create a garden. I finally gave in, and through his massive effort, a 3-tiered garden has evolved. It's still work in progress, but last winter (2008)the birds flocked in to eat the fatty sead balls hanging everywhere, and in the summer, the sunflowers were Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high, and the Cosmos flowered on into late October. In November 2008, I started to lay a concrete path directly outside the back door. I put down one section and mosaiced it, then another, and now four more concrete sections await the mosaic finish....roll on better weather! As usual, most of the material is tip-haul, salvage, or car-boot finds. The 'frilly' concrete border was done afterwards, using corrugated plastic and wine bottles and other bits of glass and pebbles.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

somewhere in between

This is a 'picture' I did over a couple of afternoons. It must still have been summer, because I was outside in the garden in the sunshine wearing shorts. Most of the bits are broken plates. There are a few little ceramic things I found at more car boots over the summer. I especially like the little watch, which shows 10.10, as that is usually around my coffee time! And the little moon near the sea shells at the bottom was a good find too!

back on the street

The autumn saw me covering the scruffy old windowsills in broken plates and tiles. The only ones I bought were the grey ones for the edges. The first sill incorporates some numbers. These were taken from a Spanish sundial tile I bought when I was a student in Alicante. When I smashed it up, I had no idea what I was going to do with the numbers, I just wanted the sun part. In a flash of inspiration, I decided to use the numbers 56490, the post code of this village. The second afternoon I was working on it, someone who lives nearby stopped her car outside and gave me a load more old plates. They are on the second windowsill, which I started a couple of days later. I incorporated the letters eap, my initials, and also the initials of the person this street is named after. So, it is a signature and a reference to the street. I also put in the number 8 - the house number. On the front of the sill, I added the Breton Triskel, the Celtic design which appears on all things Breton. I'd bought it from a lad at yet another car boot sale for 20c, not knowing at the time what I was going to do with it. I realised I was addicted to mosaics when I found myself working into the end of the afternoon, in drizzle, in a wind tunnel, wearing fingerless gloves and layers of T shirts and jackets. It was only autumn starting!

in the corner

The old doorway which linked to next door had been uncovered in April when I stripped off the wallpaper and found it boarded up. In typical French style, the electric meter was stuck on the wall right next to the window and in the same corner. Tricky problem, but together with my brother we came up with a plan to panel it all over and build a cupboard to hide the meters. On probably the hottest day of the summer, my brother built a frame in the corner, and panelled it over. A few days later, I decided to decorate the floor of what will become a bookcase corner. I'd already been messing around with an old plate I'd found at the tip, along with some vintage French tiles I'd bought off ebay for peanuts. I had a plate which a friend had given me - it was broken by one of her famous pizzas! I'd cut the border up to use because it matched the colours of the ol Breton plate from the tip. Only took a couple of hours to stick down the pieces and grout. A few weeks later, I built cupboards around the electric meters, now all that needs to be done is to fit the shelves ready for when my books get here.

sun and moon

In late June 2008, I was ready to replace the temporary base for the woodburner with something more solid and raised. With the help of a friend, I mixed wheelbarrowsfull of concrete for the new base. Surprising how much is needed, and without a cement mixer it's hard work! I'd decided to pebble the base, and tile the wall behind with some tiles which had been left in the outbuildings to the house of some friends. The previous owners had left them there. For the middle of the base, I had an ex-manhole cover from the tip; it's round with a wave pattern on. In the middle of working on this project, a good friend and neighbour from here died in rather tragic circumstances - he was only 39. My woodburner base and back looked just like a tombstone, and I found it hard to continue with it. After a week of forcing myself to crack on, it was finished, but even with the woodburner back in situ, it still looked like a cemetary monument. A few days later, I hit on the idea of extending it, so that it was no longer so angular. I had the idea of using a Mexican sun tile someone once gave me, and building it up from there. I had a load of dark blue, and some red tiles in the cellar, which I'd found along with others, in an old barn the summer before. All I needed was something yellow, and a few days later I went to a car boot sale and came away with some 1960s yellow bathroom tiles, and a couple of mirror tiles, and that same afternoon, I spent in the sunshine in the garden cutting the yellow and red tiles into little rectangles, and the mirrors into random flame shapes. The next day the sun section was finished. That evening I decided that the following day I'd put a moon on the other side, using some grey tiles from the same barn stash. I was sorry I didn't have a face for the moon, which would match the one on the sun, so I used a bit of mirror. a few days later at another car boot sale, I found a little ceramic moon face, and as soon as I got home, I drilled out the mirror and replaced it with the little moon. It no longer looks like a tombstone!
30/04/09: Look at later postings to see the lovely woodburner which now replaces the trusty old temporary one