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Friday, July 17, 2009

The project continues...

We have now gotten into the real work of the project. Yesterday we learned how to cut the large glass tiles and pieces of marble into smaller pieces. For the glass, you score the piece into a 9 square grid just like a tic tac toe game, then turn it over and tap gently with a mallet that is part of the same tool. If you get it right, the tile just splits into 9 small squares and gives you a very satisfying feeling. If not, it really doesn't matter for our purposes because we will be using lots of irregular pieces. The marble you just hit gently and in theory it splits into smaller pieces.

While half of us were smashing, the rest were sketching out the design on a full size piece of paper three meters long by one meter wide. Because I was on the cooking team the day before, I hadn'T had much input on the final design. We had taken the ideas of everyone in the group and incorporated them into the final design. It was a little too flowery for me, and I felt it kind of negated the vibrancy of city life. Mirjam, my cooking partner, didn't like the yin-yang symbol; in her mind it represents good and evil, rather than the balance it represented to the others. So we changed the symbol to a see-saw with a couple of kids, added a climbing wall to represent striving, made the buildings a bit more dominant, and the foliage a little less so.

Today we painted the entire mural, with lots of discussion about balancing colors and beginning to look for the right kinds of pieces of glass and stone. Next week we will lay a layer of plastic over it; and then a layer of netting. On top of that will lay the actual mosaic pieces. Our "atelier" is an apartment within the development. Giselle, the professional mosaicist with whom we are working, conducts workshops with community residents there. It is filled with glass and plastic jars, each with a different kind of piece. There are other boxes with larger shards of glass in many colors. Those came from what I understand is a factory owned by an Italian person or family, out in the country about an hour from Paris. Sveral people from our group went there earlier this week and brought large quantities of broken glass back. It had been sitting in huge piles in a field. This morning I was washing glqss in the bathtub to get the twigs and leaves out:

On the way to the atelier this morning, Laurent, one of the group leaders, stopped to pick up some pieces of broken blue glass on the sidewalk. Never one to turn down an opportunity to collect good trash, I joined him. He thought it would make good stars in the night sky of our mural. I think the others in the group thought we were crazy. Giselle, though, thought it was a great idea!

On our original walk to our apt the first day with our luggage, I was delighted to find a poster with a rotating wheel to indicate which spices to use with which foods; it is now hanging in our kitchen. (Loring: I will try to resist bringing it home but can't make any promises; it's in French and weighs nearly nothing and won't take up any room in my suitcase!)
Laurent, though, puts me to shame as a trash collecter; before the group had even arrived he had found a huge whiteboard, perfect for group planning. I have since found a chair in good condition, someone else found a shelf which we are using for our dishes in the kitchen. But yesterday Paul, one of the other group leaders, came up with the coup de grace; if that's the right expression. He and Nathalie came home with a bar in the shape of a barrel, with a transparent plastic midsection for storage of glasses. It's really quite impressive. They apparently hauled it quite a ways. This afternoon, inspired by his find, he was making smoothies for everyone: tonight he plans to make rum with coconut, rum with pineapple, rum with, apparently, anything your heart desires. What a good group leader!

Well, I'm starting to get the hang of the French keyboard, just different enough from the English to drive one nuts. I'm also beginning to think and talk to myself in French, a good sign(the thinking part, maybe not the talking to myself part) It's somewhat frustrating, I have so much more to relate than time to relate it:

A la prochain...


Unknown said...

coup de grace :The expression coup de grâce (pronounced /ˌkuːdə ˈɡrɑːs/; French: [kudəɡʁas], "blow of mercy") means a death blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature. The phrase can refer to killing civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies and with or without the consent of the sufferer. It is often used figuratively to describe the last of a series of events which brings about the end of some entity; for example: "The business had been failing for years; the coup de grâce was the sudden jump in oil prices."

or rather

pièce de ré·sis·tance
1 : the chief dish of a meal
2 : an outstanding item or event : showpiece

Joanna said...

I meant to say that!

Unknown said...

I understood the part with coup de grâce. In fact, Loring has a good definition of the expression. However, in spoken french, it also can be interpreted, for example in your text, as the "cherry on the cake" (in french, la cerise sur le gâteau, le top du top)
We couldn't do nothing more, what they brought was too nice, impressive, surprising... And to link with Loring's definition, this was the coup de grâce in our game to reuse the trash, who else could compete ??
Really nice bar... and tasty cocktails :D