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Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers!

My love of antique roses…especially the 19th century Bourbons Madame Ernest Calvat, Madame Isaac Perrier, Souvenir de Malmaison …which preserve the voluptuous scent and shape of 18th century roses with improved re-bloom characteristics….is hardly content with the few roses a mild Northern California winter offers from time to time. So while I’ve been in a “less is more” mode (with blogging, as well!) and editing out the “de trop” excesses in my life…a few treasures make it over my self imposed restraints…and they invariably evoke my love of gardening!

antique portraitAn 18th century French School oval portrait…roses tucked under her blue ribboned straw hat…the same cabbagy blooms as my floriferous Madame Ernest Calvat….old rosesUp close to Madame Calvat….wish this was scratch and sniff for you…

antique textilesFrench embroidered satin waistcoat panels. More at the MET Costume Institute here.

A close up for all my textile crazy readers….that’s one of Wendy Lewis’s beautiful antique woven linens in the background. As well as the exquisite embroidery, I love the tiny hand stitching at the edges. Though a green thumb at gardening…I’m all thumbs at this gentle art!

antique textiles

I suppose you can see an ongoing theme in my textile collecting?
old roses

Madame Issac Perrier…if you have just enough space and sun for ONE old rose….it must be this one. Simply the most incredible scent. And the color is a lipstick bright cerise. Year’s ago I saw this landscaped in a row with Madame Calvat and Souvenir de Malmaison and tall Italian blue cypresses at Garden Valley Ranch which has a wonderful garden worth touring if you’re ever in Petaluma. antique textiles

Two small 18th century silks…the top a hand stitched scrap from a once grand gown …the bottom a hand loomed brocade that I just sort of imagined into this shape. Antique textiles are so evocative of the world they come from…sketching an image of what that world looked like…what frivolity excited people at the time. That intersect at my fingertips with the 18th century world never fails to amaze me.

antique screen

A recent flea market find…roses and garlands were hand painted over jute and plaster on both sides of this short three panel screen. More on this later. 
antique architectural salvage

I find I have this tendency to crave authenticity…the antithesis to the current propensity for flea market one-of-a-kind finds to be mass marketed ad nauseum. One of my favorite designers is San Francisco designer Stephen Shubel….so, like a groupie…I awaited his One King’s Lane tag sale and bought this ENORMOUSLY heavy vintage cast stone piece. Which leads me to one last thing…..

Paris flea market photo from French Kissed….

If you ever wanted to skip the tag sales and go direct to Paris, my favorite blog buddy Jermaine of French Kissed has organized two Paris shopping tours this May. They are small enough groups to squeeze the best out of Paris…but perhaps large enough to share a shipping pallet home??  She’s letting you hit the Louvre and Notre Dame on your own time, forsaking cultural for pure wicked shopping.  Anyone that knows Jermaine knows that she has fabulous taste and an innate ability to score “the deal”.  About that French phrase “de trop”…too much…excessive. Well, Jermaine is able to see through the flotsam and jetsam to find the pearls. Included on the tour is her lovely daughter Haleigh of Making Magique (formally Bardot in Blue) and their French friend Serge (whose ear I would LOVE to bend on French auction houses). Jermaine splits her time between her design work in Santa Barbara and routine visits to her two beautiful daughters in New York and Paris. I adore her. So if you ever dreamed of visiting Paris with someone else to take care of all the details and give you a curated view…check out all the details here.

French rosesAnd, again,  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Merry Christmas Eve


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Rough LuxeChristmas Eve…and still lots to do.  Family will be coming for dinner tomorrow and setting up a dining area in the living room. Family just seems to have a way of growing and it will be all chairs and silverware on deck. I dragged home these branches several weeks ago while on one of my hike/runs in the hills nearby but had to put them away until the last workman left the door ajar behind him on his way out.

Garden Style

Cleaning in a frenzy…channeling a garden conservatory mood…

garden style

My little terracotta bust presiding over antique French garden pots and reindeer moss and votive lights….

garden styleCouldn’t resist these beautiful radishes at the store this morning….

Carolyn QuartermaineCarolyn Quartermaine silk script…and a happy dye accident. The originally two toned beige seat fabric gave me stripes when introduced to an inky dye….

burlap and roses

Burlap and white roses….and galvanized flower buckets…

Christmas table

I had my sheetrock guys do this table top for me…they’d never constructed furniture before…a lighter weight frame below the top piece to give the illusion of edge heft but make the top portable so this table can be moved outdoors in the Spring. I will be having metal sheeting put on it but couldn’t convince the shop to do the job before Christmas. C’est dommage. Might cover with painter’s drop cloth grabbed on one of my before sunrise jaunts to Home Depot…or as is. Like it’s simplicity!

antique French doors

Santa did come a bit early…from Ambiance Antiques in San Francisco. I had a lovely interlude with Teresa Beltamo in her crammed to the top warehouse space. Her shop is lovely…but I suppose I am a warehouse girl at heart!  I loved peeking into every dusty corner! I posted about these 19th century French Theater doors in Temps Perdu here months ago and just kept thinking about them. You know how that goes! Wishing you all the best of luck making magic happen for all your loved ones! Merry Christmas!

‘Twas the Week before Christmas


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French bath

Hello my fellow holiday revelers. Busy, busy..and the usual chaos over here. I assume you all know Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester? The part where silk thread and time are nearly run out?

antique textilesActual waistcoat from the Victoria & Albert museum that Beatrix Potter copied exactly for her tailor’s vest…”I have been delighted to find I may draw some most beautiful 18th century clothes at the South Kensington Museum. I had been looking at them for a long time in an inconvenient dark corner of the Goldsmith’s Court, but had no idea they could be taken out of the case. The clerk says I could have any article put on a table in one of the offices, which will be most convenient.”
(Letter to Norman Warne, 27th March 1903). More here
18th c waistcoat

Perhaps I’m drawn to embroidered waistcoats because of Beatrix Potter’s tale. Or my ineptitude at embroidery magnifies my awe of such fine stitches.  I intend to attach these 18th century embroidered vest panels to new material and possibly frame them….antique textiles

But time for sewing and other projects is quickly running out as Christmas and a just started bath project (and a dusty home) need my full attention…Bath elementsHere’s a peek at the gathered materials and inspiration. Hopefully all the materials will fall into shape and my Christmas guests (thankfully my forgiving relatives) will not have to hike upstairs to use the facilities. I tend to like the un-perfect and unfinished…hope all will get pulled together and my home will look a fraction as good as the photo below!

French fireplace

Happy holidays all…and good luck with those last minute projects. I’m hoping the mice come through for me!

Top and bottom photos from Art and Decoration June 2011

Photography Laurent Durand et Christophe Rouffio

More Finds…


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flea market finds

Quickly…so much to do…a few finds and links to what some people are doing with their scraps of treasured antique textiles…

This Globe de Mariage was listed under “pincushion” on Ebay. Loved the porcelain flowers…nine little vintage mirrors! Here it is after a partial cleaning…the day’s garden catch standing in for the seat cushion….

Roses in December…my favorite California phenomena…
flea market finds
While cleaning the velvet I found scraps of c. 1912 newspaper on the seat form….
flea marketHere it is with peachy pink velvet cleaned and reattached. My husband is a bit horrified…doesn’t “get it”. I assured him I’d sell it ….some day….

flea marketReally loving peach pinks these days. Here’s a collection of bits accrued over time. The vintage French fabric sachet was a gift from Maison Violette here, a favorite dealer at the Alameda Flea Market.  Tinsel Trading here wasn’t there last Sunday, but another favorite resource for trim and ribbons….

passementarieMy favorite finds are the “free” ones I find in sifting through my closets and garage. This tassel was a deep burgundy until I removed the color and ended with this warm pink. Got to dash…but leaving you with a few links of textile artists that weave magic with scraps of found fabric to create one of a kind treasures…

Textile artist

Ann Wood is fabulous…just love her pieces…made from bits of vintage clothes…

Ruth Ribeaucourt (fabulous name!!) sent me a lovely note: My husband is from a celebrated French silk family, the Faure family (Julien Faure) of St. Etienne and last Christmas they opened their archives for me and gifted me with some incredible echantillons of ribbons from late 19th to mid 20th century, all which had been rescued and hidden away for years by my husbands Grandfather, Georges Faure.

RESERVED FOR AUBREY Antique French Military Ribbon Bracelet in Silver, Cream and Navy

I have been working since March on turning these incredible ribbons into jewellery and just three weeks ago I launched my etsy shop, Rubanesque with my first collection, the Golden Age, a collection of unique, one-off handmade cuffs.

Her beautiful bracelets made out of antique ribbons are at Rubenesque…read more about her story at her blog Le Petit Coquin

RESERVED FOR AUBREY Silver Antique Passementerie Trim Ribbon Bracelet with Moon and Star Motif

The Old Pretenders Recreations of 18th century dolls using authentic pieces of fabric…Morgaine Le Faye is a big fan, and a dealer of antique textiles as well…

antique dolls

Have a wonderful week everyone….off to get a few things done!

Globes de Mariage

Update: for more information about Globes de Marriage Fete et Fleur did a great post here including a link to a class Ulla Milbrath offered in 2009 on making your own here Photo above from the lovely Les Enfants du Marais 

Hidden Treasure


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antique textilesHappy weekend all! On a little prodding from me, Wendy Lewis from The Textile Trunk gave me a glimpse into her personal collection of textiles…the ones she squirrels away in cupboards and wardrobes and trunks…and cannot bear to cut or part with. Love that antique hatbox and the mix of old rouge and a mishmash of blues.

Antique textilesMore ruddy colors , what wanton tassels! It all looks so artfully perfect all tossed together….
antique French linenThe soft blues and deep indigos…

antique French textilesA beautiful antique wallpaper covered box…my latest obsession…and all the wonderfully soft tones and textures of antique linen…

antique French linen

All photos taken by Wendy at her “new” c. 1810 home (built on the foundation of an earlier 18th century home). I’ve been peeking around the edges of her Ebay listing photos for months to note the wide floor boards, the aged whites, the lovely wainscoting…

antique linen

antique textiles

Gratuitous close up…I’m “in love” with this c 1850 chitz…and these birds!!!

antique fabric

antique scraps

Noticed Wendy is selling small collected bits for cutting projects. I love this idea….perfect for those of us that have a hard time cutting into a big piece. The batch above just sold, but there’s another one left and perhaps Wendy will add more. Great idea!

antique French textiles

Lastly, when Wendy send me a photo of her just done bathroom I begged her to let me share a few photos. Amidst all the holiday rush…I just love the sanctuary of this bath. A lovely, simple window treatment (uncut…for those of us who can’t bear getting the scissors out!). Per Wendy: “The bathroom had only the small south facing window and I just knew that a window on the west facing side could be glorious , as it faces the Adirondack mountains.”  A friend unearthed a perfect architectural salvage window from the back of his shop…et violà! Perfection!

Antique Textile collector's home

Can you imagine a morning in this bath!

Serenity! Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!



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Antique textilesThree turkeys later, yams, pumpkin pie, glistening cranberries…I’m day-dreaming golden, rich colors…and love them countered with teals and aqua. Ever entranced with the loops of antique French toile pelmets…love them dancing atop this bed. The Paris apartment of Amalia de Klemm as photographed by Guillame de Laubier in the January 2003 issue of World of Interiors.

antique shoeImagining the holidays served up on platters…here an almost edible, jewel clutched 18th century shoe…

Paper covered 18th century boxes for treasure…

18th c styleA softly textured world of old paint and time worn textiles. I live in a very neutral environment…ivory, creams, soft grays. I suppose that’s why I am so drawn to antique textiles. Each piece is a jewel…a unique composition of beautiful, rich colors, careful details. A pillow, a drape of silk brocade over the armoir door, collected ribbons and treasured finds…perfect to inject into my cautious little world. Some of my favorite textile links to drool over:

The Textile Trunk here (surely everyone knows Wendy Lewis!)

Orelliers here (top of the line gorgeousness from our very own Debra from Acquired Objects)

Katherine Poole here (a UK vendor)

Cora Ginsburg here (I love flipping through her fabulous catalogues compiled since 2002)

All great inspiration for beautiful color combinations…and a bit of a design history lesson…

And if you’re wondering about the three turkeys…we visited both sides of the family on Thanksgiving, and after several years of complaints that we didn’t have leftovers to gnaw on for days later, I baked our own. Both kids were home for the holiday. Lots of driving. And cooking. Exhausting and wonderful. And now I need to come up with a week’s worth of turkey recipes…give me your tips!