Friday, November 18, 2011

Vivi does a stage

As you know, I've been wanting to learn about bookbinding (reliure in French) for ages now, and I managed to meet a professional bookbinder who offers classes in Paris with whom I was supposed to do a stage, or workshop, with in October. So imagine my total shock when I got in touch with her in September and she had apparently forgotten about me and given away my place. It wasn't the end of the world, as I could always wait until the next one in February, but I was bitterly disappointed.

Then suddenly, several weeks later, she called and told me that a place had opened back up due to illness and would I be interested? Boy howdy! So, in the end, I did do my week long workshop in Paris and spent what was possibly one of the best weeks since I've moved here.

All materials were provided by the bookbinder, but I had to come with books. But not any old books, they had to be from a certain date (around the 1950's and 1960's), as recent books aren't constructed in the same way, and they couldn't be too damaged. The goal would be to take the books completely apart, perform any repairs needed, and rebound them with a hard cloth cover. I was told to bring four or five books. I found these at a used book shop around the corner from my work. They are from a series called "Que sais-je ?" (What do I know?) that actually still exists.



We were supposed to choose two books to repair and rebound; we ended up doing all four of them. I cannot believe we managed to finish, but it was by the skin of our teeth and I didn't get to bring them home with me as they needed to go in the press a final time. Since the bookbinder actually lives half an hour away from me (but only gives classes in Paris, totally frustrating!!!) I was able to pick them up the next week.

I didn't take a lot of photos while I worked - I simply didn't have time!! - but I did think to get this one:


All four books were sewn on the same ribbon, there are three here complete.

And here are the finished products:





This week was very emotional for me. It's not very often that you get to take your first real steps to realizing your dream. I've wanted to study bookbinding for years and never had the courage to pursue it, and when I finally did, I found that it isn't going to be as easy as simply going to bookbinding school. I basically did this week long stage to see if I was really interested and if I was capable of doing this, and I found that I certainly am. I still can't believe that I spent hours on end scraping glue off paper and didn't even see the time pass. I nearly cried when it was time to leave because I knew it would be a long time before I would get to work in a real workshop with real professionals again. It is breaking my heart that I'm getting shut down everywhere I turn to move forward with this, simply due to the fact that there aren't professionals anywhere near me, but I'm going to keep trying.

Also, I was as sick as a dog that entire week, the one thing I dreaded and I couldn't avoid it. I wasn't able to get out and see as many people that I wanted to while I was in Paris but there is always a next time, right?

In the meantime, there is a retired bookbinder that works sporadically at my work repairing books from our library. When we get back from our vacation in the States I'll be hitting him up to see if I can help him once a week. At least it will keep my hands busy while I'm trying to find a permanent solution.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What we did on our Summer vacation

Wow, it's been so long that I had to go back through the photos to remember what we did! On the one hand, we had a terrific time with family and discovered an area that was new to both of us. On the other hand, bunking up with a fussy, easily distracted two year old was really hard. Next year we're going to rent a gîte, and that's that!

First we made the pilgrimage to Pas-de-Calais, the region that my belle famille comes from, the region of France that I would move to in an instant if ever given the opportunity (and I don't hesitate to tell Stéphane that every time we go!). I don't know why I'm so drawn to it. I just find it beautiful, it's close to the sea (ok the English Channel if you're being pedantic) with gorgeous beaches, you can't throw a stone without hitting a historical site (which, I imagine, would be frowned upon, but I digress) and I find the people are just really lovely. Seriously can't say enough nice things about that area.

So Stéphane's uncle showed off his latest refurbished cars:

'52 Hotchkiss
A Hotchkiss!!! Amazing!!!

'34 Citroën
The original Citroën C4!

And we got to take a spin in them as well. Great fun!

You might remember that Stéphane went on a huge genealogy rampage a couple of years ago and traced his family back to the time of Louis XIV (which is a pretty good accomplishment since most records from before the Revolution were destroyed). While we were in the area, we visited the village where his oldest ancestors came from.

His family left definitively 150 years ago, so no traces left in the cemetery (this is a very common practice in France; as long as tombs and gravestones are well taken care of, they are left alone, but when they fall to disrepair and no one claims them to take care of them, they are repurposed). This would have been his family's church, it certainly dates back to their time.

The family church

The family church

We did a spot of fishing...

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Fry saw the ocean for the first time and didn't want to leave...

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Then we drove down to visit Caen. Our main interest was actually visiting Bayeux and the famous tapestry, but we were really happy to visit Caen for the first time (Stéphane didn't know it at all either). We didn't spend a whole lot of time in Caen but we really enjoyed visiting the chateau, which is where William the Conqueror lived before he, well, conquered.

Il était toujours grimpeur !

Long way down

Château de Caen

We ended up visiting Bayeux on July 14 (aka Bastille Day) so a lot of places were closed, but not the tapestry, thank goodness!! No pictures unfortunately but amazing. Really loved how they displayed the tapestry and it's super well presented with a free audio guide. There's also a huge museum about the history of the tapestry and William and why he went to England and all that jazz. Two thumbs up!

There are also quite a lot of shops and workshops dedicated to Bayeux lace, but they were closed for the holiday, so I hope we'll get to go back someday and see that! We really enjoyed the town, had no idea it was so big and so lovely!

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum and its Viking Ship (yeah, I don't know)

Finally, we drove home, stopping by the chateau of Chambord to take a little break (like you do):


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh hey, what's up blog?

Many, many thanks to those of you that haven't yet deleted this site from your bookmarks (or your reader, your email, or however the heck you end up here). How are you? We're ok. Fry started school, we've basically been sick ever since, I finally did my bookbinding stage, and we're getting ready to go to the US, where I'll celebrate Thanksgiving in my native land for the first time since 2003. I've actually written a couple of posts that will show up this week. Thanks for sticking around and here's hoping there will be more posts, especially after our trip home, to share with you soon!

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