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Septfonds Festival du Chapeau

Septfonds 2009

On the first day with the new guests arriving from all over the world, we went to the international hat festival in Septfonds. Not the largest event I have seen but amazing none-the-less.

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The entire town was decorated for the event. Here and there I saw the posters and these charming cement hats springing up from the ground!  I am not sure if they are there permanently or not. Septfonds is the hat capitol of France and has been for many years.  This is where Willy's hat making factory is that we visited last week.

The first place we visited was a display of vintage french hats!  It was really hard not to touch these, as I wanted to examine how they were made.  So instead, I photographed them all. Here are a few of my favorites.

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You can see more at Vintage French Hats

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In the next exhibit there were lots of hats entered into a competition. As you can see the hats were very whimsical and made out of just about anything!

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Then it was outside to the festival itself!  There were many booths with skilled artisans demonstrating their craft, from lace-making and hat forming to hat stand carving.

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Lace Making

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Hat forming (by machine)

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Hat stand carving

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And of course there were hats for sale! All kinds and all price ranges. Some of the favorites:

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Lucy's darling mom with a "to die for" hat!

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And these fabulous creations made with vintage straw braid from Italy:

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A great time was had by all at the hat festival. Getting us inspired for our week of hat making with Dillon.

Note, I am back-dating these posts to the actual day that they occured. I wrote this one on July 24, 2009.

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Day 6 - Montpezat

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The town of Montpezat basked in the sunlight. Everything was light, just the way I like things. Including the shade of the stone buildings and the perfectly painted shutters and trims in many different colors. 

Right away we found a small restaurant and sat down for a cafe o'lait. Normally a tea drinker, I temporarily succumbed to aroma of the freshly brewed espresso that Cathy was drinking and joined her.

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But not for long as we were already keeping out tour guide waiting. The walk took much longer than planned. How does one calculate how long it would take for 16 American women to walk uphill for 6 kilometers?

No worries, he turned out to be a very funny guy, kind of like a British Rodney Dangerfield. He declared that he "got no respect", but of course we all were gracious in giving him just that.

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We wound around in the oldest part of the city, pausing to take a look at one of the very few gates still around from mid-evil times where security from the enemy was dealt with in this way.

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But what I remember most about this town, like many other French towns, were the painted doors and shutters with potted flowers in just the right places.

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Way up high, one pair of bright pink shutters

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 The plaque on this building mentioned Marie-Antoinette, but I am sure it was not referring to "the" Marie-Antoinette. I just found this interesting.

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For my Santa Barbara friend.


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We made our way to this very old church from the Byzantine period.

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The light was much darker inside, the flash of my camera brightened things up. But look at those amazing groin vaults holding up the ceiling.

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The alter surrounded by amazing original tapestries.

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During WWII this town went under siege of Hitler's rule. This is a monument to those who died there. Our guide told us of some pretty horrific events that took place there and in surrounding towns during that hideous time in recent history. The scars are still felt.

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We passed through these amazing gates to have our picnic lunch that Joanna had prepared for all of us!  It was soooo nice to be cared for and looked after for a change.

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We ended the visit to Montpezat with a demonstration by an extremely skilled tapestry weaver who has devoted her entire life to weaving. Now retired she still weaves for relaxation.

One more day, what shall we do?

Shopping anyone?

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Day 6 - Walk to Montpezat

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It was time for us to take a walk.  What better place than the south of France? From the chateau to Montpezat was a mere 6 kilometers, about 3.5 miles. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the temperature mild and the sunflowers many.

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We walked up and down, past farms and unassuming typical French homes. There were many a chicken, dog and cow all curious as to why 16 of us were taking their pictures.

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The sunflowers seemed to be watching us too.

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There was one field where we couldn't resist joining the sunflowers for a photo op.

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We persevered on, enjoying every step and sight along the way. As we got closer to the town, the road became steeper and steeper. And by this time as the sun was high in the sky, we were getting hot and somewhat winded. Thankfully Lizzie anticipated this and picked up most of us by car in shifts.

Montpazet was like a secret ancient village, basking in the sun, unchanged by modern times.

To be continued...........

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Day 5 - Woad Day

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I am not sure why this was going to be one of the best days of my trip. Never being that interested in dying things, even though shades of blue are my favorite colors. But take 20 of my closest new friends, a vat filled with an ancient dye recipe, some long poles, a green grassy area surrounded by trees, clothes-lines,  lots of vintage white fabrics, ribbons and "hats" to dye and voila, a truly magical day!

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It all started with Denise, the Woad Woman Superior, with such an in depth first hand knowledge of the ancient dying process, with blue hands to prove it.

Everything she wore was dyed in woad, a plant thought of in many parts of the world as a weed. Woad dye predates indigo, is the source of the term "blue-blood" as it originated in France thousands of years ago. Through a very specific and time consuming process the color becomes a permanent dye that only the aristocracy or very wealthy could afford.

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After listening to a fascinating lecture on the history and process. (See my video.) We gathered up all the things we brought or purchased at the flea market and headed to the clearing, forever now known as the woad clearing.

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  Denise had the dye bath all ready for us as we carefully and with a certain amount of skill, inserted our items into the cauldron, oh I mean vat.

We then made up jobs such as poler, runner and dipper. The items were removed from the bath from underneath the most recently added, then gently squeezed out. Right away the items were a greenish yellow, then they turned green then finally a most lovely shade of blue, right before our eyes! Hence the "Magic" of the day.

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Chateau of Woad.

In ancient times, after all the dying was done, the shutters would then receive a coating of woad as well.

Now for a good walk.

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Day 4 - Cordes sur Ceil

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This day was a trip to Cordes sur Ceil, about an hour away and a thousand years ago in time.

So sad, but most of my photos came out almost black. I will share some here that I managed to save but you can check out Kaari's, and Cathy Mogull's blog for much better information and amazing photos.

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We walked in a steep incline for quite a distance gradually arriving at the top of the hill that the city was built on.  In the winter the city looks as if it is floating in the clouds.

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We met Rowena Maybourn, a British textile artist living in Cordes, who makes block prints in an ancient mid-evil technique, using old Irish linens from Hospitals dating back to WWII as a base.

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She demonstrated the technique by having each of us make a print to take home with us.

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The views were fantastic, as Molly demonstrates.

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Thank you Cathy for the three photo's that helped me tell the story here.

Little did I know that tomorrow would be one of the best of the trip, if not the.

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Day 2 - Market to Market

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First thing in the morning we set off for the gourmet market in St Antonin. A quaint medieval village 20 minutes south of the Chateau. I know you have heard this before but this was literally a feast for the eyes! The sweetest strawberries, melons and figs. Fresh crusty breads, savory cheeses, meats and spices from around the world, set out in a fashion that is distinctly French.
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In the afternoon we set out for the flea markets in Toulouse. Just big enough to cover in a few hours, all of us were able to purchase a few things to stimulate the south of Frances' economy. IMG_4479 

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I was lucky enough to have spotted a fabric hanging shade just moments before the chateu keeper, Lizzie did.

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After a picnic lunch we headed back to the chateau to take turns sharing our finds with each other. In only one day we really feel that we have all made 15 new friends. The chatter of excitement did not diminish the lovely dinner of fresh fish, rice and adorable artichoke bowls filled with new peas.

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Day 1 - Travel

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After much anticipation it was finally time to pack and get to the airport. Inside the large suitcase is a Very large army duffel bag for the return flight. Room for the items I won't be able to pass up in France.

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Um excuse me, I need to take a picture of the flight board.  Okay, first stop Amsterdam. But not before the refreshing (ummm, yeah) glass of wine.

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My home for the next 8 hours:

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Hello Amsterdam!
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Goodbye Amsterdam! Are those tulip fields? It's July, what is growing in Amsterdam now? As far as the eye can see, green fields and greenhouses.

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My new home, it looks a lot like my last home.

Only 2 hours this time.

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Hello Toulouse. 

Is it.... is that Kaari?  Yes... it.... is.  

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And now for the last leg of my travels, an hour bus ride to the Chateau Dumas.

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But not before we admire Cathy's bag. Tres chic n'est-ce pas?

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Hello Chateau Dumas!  My home for the next 2 weeks.

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zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Note, I am back-dating these posts to the actual day that they occured. I wrote this one on July 6, 2009.

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Chateau Dumas, Here I Come!

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I can hardly believe it.

This will be my home for two weeks, starting Saturday.

Yes I know it is the fourth of July. And the fourth of July here in Stillwater is so much fun with the charming parades, nee-high corn, barbecues and the ritual of leaving a blanket at noon on the hill at Pioneer Park, to reserve our spot, for one of the best views of the fireworks over the Saint Croix River.

Sometimes we are faced with hard choices. But this year, I am choosing the South West of France over Stillwater, MN, for the 4th.

During the first week I will be one of 16 guests on a "Chateau Getaway" trip with Kaari Meng of "French General". Someone whom I have admired from afar for years. She is the author a few gorgeous books and stationery sets that we carry at Rose Mille.  I believe she just launched her own designs in fabrics. But most important she has organized this trip to Chateau Dumas for a week and I am the extremely fortunate one who's name was called on the waiting list to go with her!

The French Inspired home

The second week is an-add on that I was privy to before the general public.  Lizzie from Chateau Dumas, extended an invitation to the guests coming with Kaari to stay on the following week for a Master-class in Millinery!  Ahem, what?  Yes, I said millinery. I believe I am the only one staying on from that group.

Actually the milliner to the royal family of England will be teaching a week long class at the chateau. Since I will already be there, flying in on the frequent flyer miles that I earned by staying home while my husband travels, (isn't that their original intention?). It was quite economical for me to stay on for another week! 

I have to stop to catch my breath here. Just writing about this is just too exciting. Combine that with my fear of flying anxiety, I may just pass out.  Because this trip just keeps on getting better and better on so many levels!  (The little devil on my shoulder just keeps saying in my ear, as long "as you survive the flight scardy cat"... I'll teach him!)

Stay tuned!

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A Surprise Package

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A package arrived today by post. In a most lovely wrapped box covered with scrap art.  It is from my long lost dear friend in California, Connie Stuart, Oops I mean Connie Govea Stuart as she is known nowadays.  I guess I did the same thing.  This package was so beautifully wrapped both in paper then in clear tape or contact paper that I could not open it without cutting some of the pretty images.  So I only opened one end along the folds.

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I tried to pull out the box but it was snug, so I had to (Yikes) rip the paper. And to my delight there was pink newspaper on the inside! And a wonderful wooden cigar box. I am feeling so special about now. I soooo appreciate all the care that has gone into this package thus far.

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Of course the top of the box was sealed with a very charming mister apologizing for being late, sort-of, but assuring me that it will be worth it. Hmmmm... I've heard that before.

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So carefully as to not tear the dear sir, I managed to open the box. And there-in started the layer upon layer of over the top, creativity. A stitched up funny page formed into an open envelope, with my name hand written on a tag attached with a flower!  And some tea! Does this girl know me or what?

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And, as I picked up the "envelope" it was attached to a long string with a paper doll, complete with a paper skirt proudly wearing a paper banner that says "California". 

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Underneath that were some of her Somerset Life business cards, and some of her hand dyed ribbon attached to a tin type.

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Underneath this was a popcorn bag with my name again, and inside a gorgeous paper tag doll holding a cupcake!

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Then it got crazy, there were many more of these tags and some samples from another artist and then finally a wooden framed shadow box....

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Oh dear, her head has come off!  That's what all the rattling was all about.  How utterly sad, but not to worry, I am good at fixing things, and I have some really good glue. Nothing to put a damper on this exquisite surprise!

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THANK YOU Connie!  I wanted to share the moment with you. I can't wait to see future packages for the shop. This following picture just about sums it up.

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Happy Monday!

(I promise my next post will be about France, this was a SURPRISE already!)

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Summer Soiree and Classroom

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It's that time again. Our annual Summer Soiree and sale! Thursday, June 25 from Noon 'till Nine.  We only do this 2 times a year so it is not to be missed if you are near by!  It is the only time to receive 20% off of everything in the shop, including sale and clearance/outlet items as well! 

Many of you have shopped in our "outlet" during the past 6 months or so, so you know where it is, but now we are changing it into a gorgeous new class room!   Starting this fall we will be holding our popular workshops again. What kind of classes you ask? In addition to bringing in some of my very talented friends from all over the country, I will be teaching a series of millinery classes, my lampshade class, (see previous post) and my wool rose pin class. But, I am thinking about teaching beginning crochet, macrame and pillow making classes. I am pretty sure Peggy Snell would love to teach her very popular mitten class, and Robin Rick will teach her informative "Basics of Fung Shui" class!  And, I have a very funny, tall dark and handsome gentleman in tow, eager to teach some gals, and guys too if he has to, a class on how to rewire a lamp. The "original" Charlie Rose in fact, I have a habit of calling him "Dad". The same guy who took his four daughters on a whirlwind trip to France a few years ago. France will never be the same. 

Speaking of France, check out my next post!

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Millinery Details in Lampshades

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Sometimes it can be challenging to find an application for the hat-making materials I have been collecting for years. Lets face it we are more concerned with the dress than what goes on the head these days. There once was a time when a woman would have 10 hats for every dress, back when the little black dress was discovered. That simple silhouette was just the thing to show off any new hat. While we are still fascinated with the idea of hats, how sad is it that few of us are daring enough to actually wear one on a regular basis.

So why not use the details in vintage millinery in our everyday lives, albeit not on our heads?  The delicate flowers, silk netting and ribbons are too fragile to put just anywhere without getting damaged. I have worn perfect dangling cherries dripping from a millinery flower, only to notice at the end of the day that just their stems survived on my pin. Pillows are a consideration, but only for looks. It is exhausting to constantly keep sitters at bay trying to protect the embellishments on the cushions. So hmmmmm, I thought why not lampshades?  They are not meant to be brushed up against or sat on, lampshades exists to filter light and to be gazed at. How perfect!  


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This is one of a pair that I made by first covering the plain shade with green silk. Then trimming with green straw braid, green silk netting and the same shiny millinery berries just like the lovely green berries that were destroyed on my pin.


Just last week we hung the large suspended petticoat shade, adorned with millinery flowers in the window in front of a paper curtain.

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The shades have been so much fun that some classes were even taught in the shop about embellishing lampshades.

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(Shhhhhhh....  Don't tell anyone but we are building a brand new classroom studio, opening this fall! Yipeeee!)

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Sometimes I get commissioned to create custom shades. This pair was brought to me to create something straight out of a "Mid-Summer Nights Dream". So while watching Michelle Pfeiffer and Kevin Kline, these happened.

I even use vintage millinery flowers on shades in my own home. Usually as an accent on pulled back drapes but they can be found simply attached around the perimeter of this large linen shade.

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By adding millinery trimmings to lampshades, we can still enjoy the "idea" of hats while embellishing our homes, and keeping the trims safe from harm.  Maybe someday we will have the confidence to wear them on our heads again. Hats, that is, not lampshades, that's a subject for another post...

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Millinery

How fabulous is it that millinery is becoming more prominent, again!  Every generation has their own style and it seems that the hat trend is emerging once again. This time it's a modern retro twist on hats and other things that adorn ones head.

The re-emergence of millinery is particularly serendipitous to me since all around me, at home and at my shop, there are elements of it. I use millinery flowers to decorate curtains, lampshades, gifts and sweaters.  Millinery braid is literally flowing out of my studio always looking for a new and interesting application, in addition to edging lampshades, and headbands. 

And now, more than ever it's all about feathers!  A few months ago, I noticed a darling girl in the shop who was wearing one in her hair. I thought about the large stock of vintage millinery feather pads I've been hording, and decided to share. And also the amazing collection of ostrich feathers, hand shaped and dyed feather embellishments, marabou, pheasant, and large vintage plumes!

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I quickly made up some headbands, and put out the pads and embellishments for sale.  They are selling so fast I may not get a chance to put them on-line.

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This is just the beginning of course, I may soon be sold out of the feather collection that I have been carrying around with me, across the country. Originally from milliner Pearl Hemenway of Menlo Park, California, which is very near San Francisco. She was a prominent milliner in the 1940's-1960's. I purchased her entire lot in 1996, just before launching Rose Mille in San Jose.  Next up will be millinery flowers, silk French and Russian netting, straw and horsehair hat braid.

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