Unpacking a Container of Antiques

May 5th, 2011 comments 1

A bit like Christmas in May….

Every box holds a treasure…

Glimpses of a few of the new goodies in the Two Maisons online shop.

Favorite Finds

April 30th, 2011 comments 6

Pottery from the Ardeche…..

And a gorgeous set of 12 lunch and dinner horn handled knives (with serving pieces!)…. in the shop soon.

Window Shopping

July 17th, 2010 comments 6

nord Ouest Antiquités is worth a visit if you’re traveling to Belgium or the north of France. Today I’m antique window shopping via the web. Their website is a treasure trove of inspiration, display ideas and must haves. They offer email updates of their inventory so it’s easy to shop from a distance. Here are just a couple of today’s loves.

Setting the mood…

I’m a sucker for these…

A wonderfully sized 19th century table de boucher

Period Louis Quinze at it’s finest…

And this…. serious swoon.. I would love to see this hanging in my bedroom. Hmmm…..

Favorite Antiques Giveaway

July 15th, 2010 comments 14

If you had to pick your one favorite antique, your most treasured antique find, what would it be?

I took a stroll through my own house asking myself this very question…

Peeking into armoires, staring at 18th century this’s and 19th century that’s….

Let’s say the house was on fire and I could only grab one thing…

No, scratch the hypothetical fire because my favorite might be too big to carry… this is a perfect example of my propensity to create a problem, which I then attempt to solve to my own satisfaction. Could I ever choose just one?

The answer turned out to be no. There were Two pieces chez moi that screamed louder than the rest. I discovered that it wasn’t a case of provenance, nor was it price, that ultimately spoke to me. It was how those pieces made me feel.

To enter Part Deux of the Two Maisons Giveaway, leave a comment about your own Two favorite antiques and a few words about how they make you feel.

Here are mine:

This oil on canvas fragment hangs above the landing of our stairway. It’s 7 feet tall but easy to roll and tuck under the arm in case of that proverbial fire. I bought it from a friend at the antique fair in Villeneuve les Avignon. I remember my gasp when I saw just the smallest corner with the blue color I can’t resist. I could melt into it. Really I could. If I had to pick one word to describe the feeling it evokes, it would be grace. I don’t know why.

This tiny framed 18th century gem grounds me. My view of time is somewhat unconventional and that includes the calendar. My calendar is roundish, a roundish rectangle. The months fall around this shape as on the face of a clock. July is at the top. May and September are on the shoulders. The mere mention of a month and my mind places it spatially before moving on. Not long ago when I started this blog I came across LeAnn’s gorgeous blog Linen and Lavender. She made a reference to her round calendar and I immediately emailed her recognizing a kindred spirit. Somehow this little solar calendar makes me feel like all is right with the world.

Ok, it’s your turn. Keeping with the theme I’ll select a winner in 7 days. Some lucky someone will receive this oh so French market basket, modeled after the traditional straw cabas, hand crafted in France with a patchwork of vintage hemp fabrics. Perfect for all of your summertime toting needs!

La Dentelle du Puy

June 29th, 2010 comments 1

available here

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….)

From The Hands of A Fisherman’s Wife

June 21st, 2010 comments 3

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!

Scenes From The Vide-Grenier

June 14th, 2010 comments 1

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.

Love In a French Parking Lot

June 13th, 2010 comments 0

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…

Sunday in Isle…

June 6th, 2010 comments 0

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…

Birds On The Brain

May 25th, 2010 comments 0

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?

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