1. Nearly everyday, my husband and I would pass by the Opéra Garnier, a 1,979-seat opera house built from 1861 to 1875. We never saw the inside of the building until our visit to the Musee d’Orsay. At the end of the nave sits a massive and highly detailed model of the building and its interior. No detail was left unnoticed. Quite amazing.
2. At the tail end of my London trip, I spent two days in the studio with Tracey Rowledge to learn her technique for gold tooling. I was in awe of this piece that hung on the wall in the back of the studio. What appears as ordinary scribbles on a background of red, it is actually painstakingly carbon-tooled shapes on leather to mimic a scribbled handwritten note. The heavy and light flow of the ink was represented with the right balance of carbon on the tool.
3. I idolize Shelia Hicks and her work. Growing up in my home state of Nebraska, Shelia eventually made her way to Paris, fell in love and set up her studio. Her work was recently exhibited in three parts and we were in Paris for the second installment. At five seemingly random spots throughout Paris, we gazed upon her work through shop windows. The pieces ranged from hanging skeins to puffs of yarn acting as bookmarks to massive flat balls of wrapped yarn.
4. We visited a surprising number of churches during our trip, but my favorite was definitely Sainte Chapelle. Construction began around 1238 and the chapel was consecrated in 1248. During our visit the interior was flooded with colored light as the sun beamed through 15 stained-glass windows reaching around 49 feet high. A total of 1,113 Biblical scenes are depicted amongst the stained glass. It holds the world’s most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass.
5. During a stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, nestled between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde, we came upon modern sculptures amongst the perfectly manicured gardens and classical statues. I particularly loved this piece of cubes built from rusty mattress springs.
6. Invader is the pseudonym behind the global art project: Space Invaders, which places pixelated creations on buildings and structures at a running total of 67 cities. My husband and I enjoyed the hunt as we walked around Paris, which has 1,258 pieces out of the grand total 3,397 pieces worldwide. My favorite find was Han Solo and Chewbacca.
7. While in London, I stopped by the Leighton House Museum, which is the former home of Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. The Arab Hall was stunning, with its recently restored gilded dome, detailed mosaics and beautiful Islamic tiles featuring arabic script.
8. Before our trip to the Catacombs, my husband and I strolled through Montparnasse Cemetery. There were many stunning and unique grave markers, but I became overly fascinated with the weathered plastic floral pieces left behind; they had transformed into these gloomy, muted objects.
9. At the beginning of my trip to London, I took a private workshop with Mark Cockram. Here he is, so proud of his piece Dicated, Untitled No. 1. Brilliant, Mark, just brilliant.
10. I love the Victoria and Albert Museum and I make a point to visit anytime I’m in London. This time around I was delighted by an extraordinary exhibit on English embroideries from the 12th – 15th century. I was astonished at their condition, so many of the pieces were in near perfect condition. If you happen to be in London before February 5th, check out Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery.