May 29, 2010

The start of summer

The last weekend in May is La fête des mères (Mother's Day) in France. To celebrate the spring to summer days, I am posting photos of a few of the food offerings at a French market day - succulent vegetables, oven-fresh bread, local Mediterranean oysters and roasted free range chickens.

May 22, 2010

Grapes and wine from the vine

Cultivation of the grape vine and the production of grapes into wine has a history that stretches back almost 6000 years. When the Romans invaded Gaul (present day France) and founded the city of Narbonne in 118 B.C., wine making was already well-established. Every region of France has hundreds of acres of vineyards except for northern Normandy (Normandy specializes in apple orchards and Calvados.)
Due to the importance of the grape in French agriculture and commerce, it's not surprising that it was used as a motif in printed textiles.  The first swatch pictured below is a very early (ca. 1820) Alsace print with a grape motif and an unusual color scheme.

The next four examples are all mid- to late- 19th century. Note the similarity between the motif of the red and white toile and the red and gray print.

And the real thing in mid-summer, when the tender, young grapes are green and still growing.

May 15, 2010

A la brocante, au déballage

While looking through my photos from France, I decided to post a few pictures from a few of the large shows I attended while there. These were taken at the end of March 2010, so the weather was still chilly. The variety of items offered for sale is astonishing and the shows draw dealers from across Europe and around the world.
Trendy and current collectibles are mixed with the the rare and expensive, all set out  in make-shift displays next to the dealer's vehicle.
Kitchen cutting boards were the latest rage in collectibles and almost every dealer had one or two. The first photo below shows a large group of cutting boards, all at a very high price.

A nearby stand specialized in old sporting goods - bowling pins, boules sets and more.

Textiles, of course, were on display as were musical instruments, antique furniture and gardening tools. The last photo shows two men hauling off their purchases.

May 8, 2010

In the bud ...

Roses were the favorite flower used in French antique textile floral motifs from the earliest days and the pretty rosebud was likewise a very popular motif. Here are a group of 19th century fabrics that use the rosebud as the primary design theme. The variation is seemingly endless!

May 1, 2010

Very clever antique faux prints

By the second half of the 19th century, when French printing techniques were more precise and faster, following trends or creating trends became part of the marketing philosophy of many textile manufacturers. One design technique that was popular was to create a printed fabric that resembled hand-stitchery. Hand-stitching was still the rule in most homes, so it's odd to think the embroiderers and women who worked needlepoint would buy faux prints, but they undoubtedly did. All fabrics on the post are from the 19th century.
The first picture below shows a faux crewel work on a white background.
The next three pictures show a technique that was called "chiné à la branche" which was a kind of ikat weave. The yarn was dyed in the pattern before being woven. Once it was woven, it formed the motif, but created a blurry effect.  The first picture below shows the real thing - a woven silk "chiné à la branche."  The next two are printed cottons, designed to imitate the technique.
The next sample uses a geometric rug pattern and then creates a print that looks like embroidery and cording.
The last two shown here create the illusion of needlepoint floral motifs on a flat background.