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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ocher, Okrah, Ochre

Today began by sitting on my favorite terrace reading, writing, and looking at my favorite view.
After a stop to the bureau de poste attempting to get what I needed, we had the opportunity to sit with a woman who runs a childrenswear line called Heskia. Her company hand smocks the clothing and pays a lot of attention to detail and quality. She encouraged us to do the same in our work, and was excited that such young women had an interest in something that has become so obsolete in the world we live in today. She told us to love what we do, that enjoyment is more important than money, to go out and do something different, and if we work hard luck will find us. It is just a matter of time for things to cycle around and for quality and handmade to once again be desired, rather than cheap and mass produced. I look forward to that.

Always busy, we got the opportunity to visit Factory Mathieu, a factory that makes ochre. They took us through the process and then we got to take part in a natural dyeing workshop. The area around the factory and the town of Roussillon has land made of ochre. Everything turns orange, including the cats and dogs.
We were told that before starting the work in the factory, dirt must be collected and put through machines and processed for a year. The land is made of 80% sand and 20% ocher, meaning a lot of dirt has to be collected in order to get a good amount of ocher. It is washed many times until the two separate, and then it is dried into ocher bricks, then made into powders which they sell to artists.
The whole factory was filled with great colors, most colored by ocher. Even the workers jackets are the colors of the dirt.Beautiful jars were set up by the window in the room we did our natural dyes in. Rainbows shown through, it was really beautiful. We made dye pots of indigo, various barks, and flowers and were able to dye silk samples.
After our visit we went into the town of Roussillon to get some ice cream, of course, and take a look at the lovely colors of the ocher mountains and quaint streets.
The rest of the day has been spent back in Lacoste. As always, loving what I see.


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