Archives for posts with tag: Canada

finished felt

This autumn, we are offering a chance for you to learn (or re-learn!) about the process of making felt fabric from loose wool roving. In this one-afternoon class (about 2 hours) each student will learn the process of felt-making, and produce their own colourful, soft merino wool scarf.

Afternoon classes are being offered Sunday October 27, Sunday November 10, or Sunday November 17 from 3-5pm each day.

Felt is an amazing material. Real felt is made from wool or other animal fibres. It is compressed, agitated, boiled, and manipulated until it becomes a single piece of fabric. Felt was developed in every culture where herding animals were kept, and used not only for clothing but for housing and industrial purposes too.

Class instructor Natasha Henderson is a visual artist, painter, crafter of wool scarves and other wool objects. She loves making things by hand and teaching others how to do so, too. Join in the fun in a supportive environment. Class is mostly offered in English, however, Natasha has a rudimentary knowledge of French, and Francophone students have enjoyed her classes.

Workshop is located in Fleurbain at 460 St Catherine West, Suite #917, H3B 1A7, Montreal. Registration by email or in person. Email for more info: Fleurbain(at)gmail(dot)com

Cost (materials included) is $50 per class.

The Window- photograph, Natasha Henderson

The Window- photograph, Natasha Henderson

Upcoming fun this autumn… We are very excited to announce that we will be part of the official programming for Culture Days / Journées de la culture, September 27-29, 2013.

Photography, painting, and mixed media artists are collaborating to reflect upon the unique 9th storey, Fleurbain view of downtown Montreal. The work in this group exhibition reflects the experience of looking out… as we look out, we look in.

List of artists to be announced mid-September… Stay tuned!
Hours for the exhibition during Culture Days:

Friday Sept 27 12-5pm
Saturday Sept 28 10-5pm, and a vernissage/celebration 6-9pm
Sunday Sept 29 12-6pm

While visiting during daytime hours, as a part of Culture Days, we are offering a chance for you to make your own piece of artwork that is inspired by our view.

The following Saturday (October 5) we will be hosting a poetry reading in collaboration with this exhibition. Stay tuned for that, too!

Fleurbain is located at 460 St Catherine West, unit 917.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

***JOIN our Facebook Event for the vernissage!***

Parc Lafontaine. an oasis in one of the hearts of Montreal

I sat at this scene the other day, painting. It happened to be on a crest, and I felt the loveliest breeze lifting off the water. There were some rogue, illegal bathers splashing away down below, but no-one seemed to mind. Their laughter and belly flops filled the air with the sound of children, even though they were well into their forties.

In the comments I’m going to try to write some Haiku about this. I am serious. Please join in the fun if you will…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

painting in progress...

Parc Lafontaine is a gem of a park in the heart of Montreal. It is one of those places that means much to many people.

just before dusk...

There is a rich history to the park itself, but you can opt to ignore everything and just bask in this oasis. 

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

every once in a long, long while, we feel like indulging in the local specialities

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

needing even more Alone Time to think a bit

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

This might only appeal to some of our readers, and mostly those in Canada only. Apologies. Other cartoons are on their way…

what type of politician would put such limits on the press?

This Chicken’s party slogan?

“Be Afraid”.

We are in the midst of political election campaigns in Canada. In between the multitudes of issues on the plate, one thing that really struck me as different from the “Good Old Days”, is that the press is being so very controlled by the current Prime Minister. I saw a news clip about his practice of allowing the journalists only four questions each per day, and only on different subjects. So… no follow-up questions? Only first-point questions?

Doesn’t come across as Mr Open-And-Honest, now, does he?

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Walking from point A to point B... it is amazing that these leaves stuck to the trees over winter! Spring is growing, growing, and will be here soon.

photo by Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Our photo theme for April is The Contrasts of Urban Nature. If you are a fan on our Facebook page, you can upload a photo to our wall. Or, if you prefer, email us at with your photo that reflects this theme, your name, and a short description of the pic.

 Mary Blaze is a Vancouver area artist, whose works traverse from painting, to mixed media, to performance. You can see more of her works at

Artist In Her Studio With Ceramic Vase 18" x 12" copyright Mary Blaze 2010

 What to Do with an Old Water-Stained Piece of Building Paper?

             Creation begins coincident with my husband’s attempt to discard an old, water-stained roll of building paper.  In a spontaneous act, I retrieve it, lop off an eleven foot length onto my studio floor, and go to work.

            My stack of newspapers, used to protect studio surfaces from over-brushings and roll-outs, is at hand.  Therein are my first images for collage.  As I place them randomly on the substrate with acrylic medium, I begin to see window frame forms, across the horizontal length.

Artist In Her Studio With Candle and Candlestick 18"x12" copyright Mary Blaze 2010

            Onto the suggested squares and rectangles, I collage scanned and printed drawings from my sketch books, along with some recently completed drawings and prints.  From this point on, the work is directing me, as different from me imposing conscious determinations onto it.

Artist In Her Studio With Ink Bottle 18"x12" copyright Mary Blaze 2010

            I am in my studio, driven to using things at hand.  I look around me and my ink bottle comes into focus, so, with Aquarelle water soluble crayons, I draw it.  A friend had left a luscious looking, red skinned pear, and I draw it, too.  This work is becoming a very personal statement, but now a shift takes place.  As I add my Dad’s lantern and my Mom’s lamp into the spaces at each end of the paper, these two, coupled with my own central candle and candlestick, bring the work into the realm of heritage, and here it is: the cross-over of my two abiding passions, art and genealogy, having come unbidden into visual coexistence.

Artist In Her Studio With Wild Flower Bouquet and Lantern 18"x18.5" copyright Mary Blaze 2010

            I wonder if, during the elapsed year of this work, the undemanding nature of the remnant from our house building project, gives me the freedom to work at a sub-conscious level, to create “Artist in Her Studio with . . . ,” but whatever, it is something to do with an old piece of building paper.  

Artist In Her Studio With Teacup and Lamp 18"x18.5" copyright Mary Blaze 2010

 If you would like to be next month’s featured artist, check out this link! Thank you, Mary, for sharing your art and artistic process with us.

the sap is flowing

It can be hit and miss as city folk head to the country in search of traddy cabane à sucre.  I have heard horror stories of people finding themselves in a factory style set up, feeling like they are just another maple-covered cog in the wheel of over-commercialized traditions.  I don’t personally know of any family sized sugar shacks, I have only went to restaurants pretending to be sugar shacks in the city.  Yesterday though, Natasha, my beau and I went all the way to just outside of Quebec City to participate in une vraie cabane à sucre.  I got lucky earlier this month and won tickets to this sugar shack through my favorite weekend radio program, “All in a Weekend.”  Yay, time to rent a car, time for a road trip!

A typical collection of signs that can be found on Quebec highways. This one features a notice that there is a giant tin can disposal in the area. Great!

Once we got through the congestion of city traffic and quickly found ourselves past Trois Rivières, we took the Chemin du Roy.  There are many things to look at along this more leisurely path to Quebec City; fascinating historical homes, curious and strange road signs, dozens of proudly positioned towering churches and the fleuve St. Laurent.  We  lucked out and even found an organic cheese shop, Fromagerie F. X. Pichet at Ste-Anne-De-La-Perade.

youth making good use of the open space

sites along the way of the Chemin du Roy

cabane à sucre!

L’Érablière le Chemin du Roy is just a few minutes south of Quebec City, in St-Augustin-de-Desmaures.  The first thing you notice when you step out of the car is the sound of grand swaying maple trees that surround the site.  I take a deep breath, mmmm, this is just what the doctor ordered!  As we made our way to the building, there are dozens of children sliding on tubes on a small hill of snow in the maple grove.  There are these oddly erect sleds called trottinettes des neige also near the hill.

trottinettes des neiges

Right away, a fellow preparing the snow for the tire sur la neige (maple taffy) greets us with a hearty, “Bonjour!”  We enter the building and another very friendly hostess greets us, too.  I explain who we are and that we have a reservation for 5:30pm and she politely offers that I can speak in English too.  Ah, this darn accent!

Natasha waxed nostalgic over having only ever seen maple sap being harvested on Sesame Street as a child.

She shows us a prime table. We quickly order a pitcher of beer, and then we take turns touring the site.  I noticed people putting a little maple syrup in their beer, so we try it too.  Why not?  Let the maple dosing begin!

fleurbain testing out maple syrupized beer

If I were to describe this cabane à sucre I would say that it is a warm, friendly and festive nod to tradition.  It is well priced and you get a lot for what you pay, which is approximately $25 per person. A wide range of local beers are sold on tap and in bottles, and the host has an accessibly-priced selection of simple wines.  Live music fills the room to accompany the excellent food. Guests are generally organized as large families and are seated at long tables of eight.  We were seated beside a friendly and polite couple with a small daughter.  This couple did not speak a stitch of English, but we were able to get along fine in French.  Well, honestly, our conversation had the usual English-meets-French stammering to it, but we got along great with our neighbours. Nothing brings people together like sharing a table of hearty, home-cooked food.

so many dishes, all so good

The first course is a delicious soupe aux pois avec de pain de ménage et beurre.  Everything is served family style, including the soup in lovely ceramic pots. Our gracious neighbour settles all of us in with the first course of soup.  Right away I relaxed a great deal more.  A good soup means this will be a great meal.  Shortly after the first course, the accordion player starts playing a jig and all the kids break through their shyness and come up to dance a bit. The more observant personalities soaked it all in, carefully watching the magic of the musician.

wonderful food, nourished and warmed the heart

This is one of the sweetest things to see.  As Natasha said, the kids were all really well behaved, perhaps even more so than the children we are accustomed to. What made the difference? The outdoor slide, the soup, the friendly atmosphere, the music? Interesting!

everyone enjoyed the music

Next up is the main course.  It is huge and again, to die for!  The most surprising element for me was the extremely soft custard of eggs called omelette au four (baked omelette).  It is almost like the texture of silken tofu, but the taste is heavenly.  Also curious and fun is the oreilles de crisse, or as Natasha calls them, ‘Jesus’ ears.’

it is up for debate on what these are called... but call them delicious

And, guess what, I found out that I like oreilles des crisse! They are crunchy, salty and addictive.  Another undeniable hit is the pâté à la viande (meat pie).  It was so perfect and tasty.  This is an all you can eat affair, but I kept it to 1 1/2 pieces. The hosts kept coming around with more food, but our first serving was so generous that our table didn’t ask for more. Everything else was great; the including jambon à l’érable, fèves au lard, salade de chou, marinades maison, boiled potatoes and more homemade bread and MORE sirop d’érable.  I thought the meal would be overwhelmingly rich, but at this cabane I feel that it was just right and it was not over done.  It helps that the food was prepared in a homestyle fashion.  It also helps to listen to my own body, I don’t mean that I allow this to be oppressive.   I feel like I should enjoy myself, but I don’t go too crazy.

It takes effort! Nathan is trying to play better than the guy outside of Ogilvy's.

There was plenty of jigging, and everyone took a turn at playing the spoons.  The room became quite loud with the air of celebration.  Everyone was having a good time.  There were people from the country and people who looked to be from the city.  It was a good mix, which made for a real family event. Near the end of the evening, crêpes with maple syrup were served with a round of coffee and tea. And don’t forget the jugs of milk that were being distributed to the tables!  Many people enjoyed a nice glass of milk to finish off the meal. But there was one more elegant phase to this gourmand’s affair.

tire sur la neige

Sticks for the tire sur la neige were handed out.  We rested a bit and then headed outside for the tire!  This was my very first tire sur la neige.  It was amazing!  I felt like a kid again!  🙂

Unfortunately, we had to skip the balade en traîneau à chevaux because it was around 8:oo pm on a Sunday night and we had to make our return to Montreal.  On the way home we tried our best to have an in-car dance party with energy-filled tunes. The vibe of this cabane was irrepressible! I am sure that this aided our digestion and helped us stay awake for the journey to the city.

heading back after a fantastic day

As a final note, I woke up feeling refreshed and energized. The curative wonders of the maple trees worked their effect.

What a great day away!  Thanks All in a Weekend and thanks to L’Érablière le Chemin du Roy!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal.

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