June 29th, 2010 comments
Who doesn’t succumb to the charm of antique French Lace?
According to the oficial website for La Dentelle du Puy, the origin of lace making in France is unknown. However, legend has it that in 1407 a young girl highly skilled in embroidery was commissioned by the Bishop to create a cloak for a statue of the Black Madonna. She aspired to create a thing of beauty and eventually had the idea to attach strands of thread to pins. She then laced the threads together to create a delicate, transparent fabric that we now know as la dentelle. If you read French there’s a fascinating article outlining lace’s lengthy timeline here…. you’ll find politics, religion, commerce…who would have thought that lace had such a colorful history!
The area in the upper Loire around Puy le Velay became a center for the lace making trade early on. The tools required were, and still are, simple; a pattern, pins, bobbins, thread and what’s called the carreau. The carreau is the frame that sits in the lap of the lacemaker Most were hancrafted by the women dentellières themselves, each women adding her personality to her carreau through it’s decoration. Last weekend’s brocante yielded this treasure…
This particular carreau is special because it belonged to a child. The vintage paper covering is ever so charming. I have visions of a sweet young girl, head bowed, intent on learning a craft that her mother and grandmother and maybe even great grandmother had known. How old was she and what was her favorite pattern? I wish I knew.
And this collector’s piece is a sampler volume created during a young lace makers training. Eventually this book would be used to show prospective clients examples from which they could choose a pattern. This piece dates to the 1800’s and comes from the village of Crest, which is Provence.
One of the things that draws me to antiques, large and small, is the craft involved. So many of yesterdays treasures were wrought by hand and represent the time, talent and love of an individual. These cherished objects are the legacy of those skilled hands.
(Psssst, they’re both in the online shop….)
June 21st, 2010 comments
This weekends brocante unearthed several treasures and today’s post shows one of my favorites. Shell art is a fascinating form of l’art populaire – folk art, and many cultures produced beautiful examples.
However the pieces I see in the French markets are seldom as intricate as this and tend to have a stronger Victorian feel. The dealer explained that this one came from Brittany and that pieces such as this were often crafted by the fishermen’s wives. The imagery reminds me of the the motifs we see on small wedding chests from the same part of France.
It’s lost some of it’s decoration along the way, but it’s “crunchy” look is part of it’s appeal. The background is a tapestry of teeny-tiny shells, the size of a pin head, reminiscent of a Native American sand painting. Glass beads form the red and green areas.
The flower petals were created with miniature clam shaped shells mounted on their edge. I can’t imagine the time and patience involved. I re-glued a couple of the loose shells and as I was positioning them I managed to glue the shell AND the tube of super glue to my finger!
June 14th, 2010 comments
a bucolic setting in the heart of the Luberon.
While just around the corner and down the road, a weekend ritual unfolds…
On tarps, on blankets, in the dust…
Piled on tables, in boxes, or the back of a van…
Heads bowed, eyes scanning, searching…
In this jumble of stuff we set our filters and hope to find treasure…
But sometimes all we find are “manpris”…
And as fashion trends go, I’m not a big fan.
June 13th, 2010 comments
it’s an image that so many of us have admired. And for me it inspired a genealogical search for a bed: a treasure hunt for an 18th century twin sister, just as in the photo… or perhaps her 18th century cousin… definitely not a 19th or 20th century distant relative.
She’s been elusive, and it seems to have taken ages… but she was there, a taxi strike and a long walk in the rain away. Standing upright and proud in a parking lot, waiting… (I think)… for me. Headboard, footboard and rails and the perfect gris patina of time.
I’ll re-upholster her soft spots in vintage chanvre or linen… then she’ll be itching to be set free, to find a permanent home with some lucky someone, somewhere. I hope, whoever it is, will have lovely linens and a ciel de lit waiting!
…the source of the 1st photo is unknown, I tore it out many moons ago and unfortunately can’t remember from where…
June 6th, 2010 comments
it’s high time you were properly introduced to my friend Catherine. As you leave l’Isle sur la Sorgue -direction Le Thor- Catherine Auffret Antiquités is on the left hand side of the road. Through the gates and behind the house sits her shop. It’s one of my favorite places to be, so much so that I’ve threatened to move in.
When she converted the old garage to a shop she used reclaimed arched windows from an orangerie, 6 of them. The antique windows frames are perfectly proportioned and the natural grace they lend to the space provides a magical backdrop for her beautiful selection of antiques. Catherine has a successful decorating business as well and in the rear of the shop she stocks samples from all of the best fabric lines.
Last year her projects ranged from private residences to a new Relais & Chateaux hotel just across the valley called La Coquillade. I’ve watched her business grow and I’m so proud of her! Best of all she’s a great friend and she loves an adventure. Trouble seems to find us wherever our love of antiques and design takes us… don’t ask me about the time our car was towed in Marrakech and we found ourselves attempting to charm the officials at Commissariat de Police through a barred window in the wee hours of the morning…
I hope you’ll visit her if you’re in town because chez Catherine tout est beau. For those of you wanting a virtual tour, here are a few of my favorite things…
May 25th, 2010 comments
birds are all around as it’s been another week of gardening bliss. Yesterday was a holiday in France and a nearby vide-grenier sale unearthed these vintage treasures. Of German origin, these scrolls were once used in schools to teach bird species. They’re double sided, printed on a heavy beautifully aged paper with a small black half round wood moulding bordering the top and bottom. Each side shows 8 different vignettes. The individual images are lovely. I can see the 4 scrolls lining a stairwell or hung vertically one above the other on a tall wall. The hardest part would be deciding which side of the scroll to display! Where would you hang them?
May 19th, 2010 comments
Last weekend’s favorite vintage find… for those of us who crave glamour AND clean lines. I’d like to see this one in a kitchen.
May 11th, 2010 comments
I received an email asking if I had any antique saint’s crowns in my inventory. Unfortunately not at the moment, but I’ve worn had quite a few over the years. I said that I would post a few photos from my archives to give her an idea of what she might find. A single crown placed on a stack of books, displayed in a bookcase, or nested in an arrangement of found objects adds that bit of sparkle we love. A very clever friend of mine built a niche into a wall and stacked a jumble of these beauties. I keep mine in the kitchen.
May 8th, 2010 comments
i can’t get enough of these vintage cement tiles I find at the local salvage yard… poussière compris (dust included). I want to silkscreen the patterns on fabric, use the images in a collage, paint a frieze, embroider a border on a linen skirt, knit the patterns, make a tile top table… not to mention re-tile several rooms in my house….. What would they become in your hands?
May 4th, 2010 comments