Monday, October 10, 2016

A trip to Provence

Last week was spent flea marketing and antiquing in Provence. I paid too much and booked one of those week long trips where they take you around to a different flea markets or antique shops every day. Some days it was with private vendors who opened their door to us so that we could see and buy their wares. Other days it was flea markets and antique shops. On this trip there were 16 of us, all American, all of us with different crafting interests. Several painted, several worked with metal, one woman made fabulous dolls, some were just along for the ride and we had a writer. I was the only sewer that worked with lace bits. 

Here are a couple of pictures of the some of the places we went:

Lots of pretties would you not say? Don’t you want to buy it all? 

How were the prices? Basically all over the map. Some were reasonable some were, quite frankly expensive,  but those that were expensive were for a reason. Most of the time they had the items you don’t normally find elsewhere. The private sales were vetted dealers so they knew what they had so prices were premium.

Mid week, and yes we needed it, there was a day of rest where we all made a couple of craft projects. 

The first project was a trio of bracelets. Two were lockstep but for the third we were asked to make our bracelet our own by adding some of our finds in France. Knowing that we would be doing this, I brought some of my nicer religious metals from home so that I would not feel pressured to buy something, or more correctly pay too much for something I have similar already in my stash. So without further ado, here is my trio of bracelets.
The center metal I bought years ago. When I saw it, it quickly became a “need”. At the thrift shop I bought it here in town it was one of the more expensive metals I have ever bought. As I recall, I paid 15 euros for it. Since buying it I have seen the same metal at least 3 times in antique stores or flea markets. It must have been extremely common in it's day. In Provence I saw similar ones for much higher prices. I am so glad I brought it with me. Here is another picture of the bracelet:
The cross and the heart I found for 1 euro each at one of the flea markets. My favorite is the heart at the end on the right side. It is actually a slightly battered locket. I did not know that when I saw it. It was in a bag with several other strange odds and ends, vintage orphaned earrings and such. I could not open the bag to take a good look at it so I just bought the bag. The price was 2 euros for the bag. Once opened I realized how wonderful the locket was. It appears to be made of tin but I would have paid more than 2 euros for just that locket alone.

The second project was a wall handing or pillow. We were given most to the pieces to make what we want with it. Some women made wall hangings using glue to hold all the bits on the linen background. Mine will be a pillow when I complete it.
I have a bit more sewing to go to get it done. I want to add a couple of buttons as well. The utility glass buttons at the top are not sewn on. I will do that later.

So what did I find and buy besides a cross, and two hearts? 
Well, I bought some embroidered edging and linen bits:
When a linen sheet wore out, the owner normally ripped off the beautiful embroidered part, stored it away and then used the rest for something else. I found several examples of these on my trip that I bought. In the picture the C and M or W were once one sheet. Before WWI the looms were narrower so to make a larger sheet, two lengths of fabric were sewn together. As with most wars, technology improves so after the war looms were increased in size to make up to a queen/king size sheet.  In my case, the sheet piece was whipped stitched together between the letters in such a way that I could pick them apart.

On the tour at the first town we stopped on the first day, after the market, most of the woman went to lunch. I did not as I can't eat that much food in one day and had a small snack with me to hold me until the big dinner we were planning to have. I wanted to see the town so I took off walking. In the main square there was and antique shop so I stepped in. On a chair I saw this sheet.
As I looked at it and the price, the store owner came over to tell me it was being sold so inexpensively (10 euros) due to the condition of the middle of the sheet. The center of the sheet as you can see is threadbare and has ripped. The embroidery however is in beautiful condition and the fiber content appears to be a linen/cotton blend. I told him I had no problem with that. Rips give me permission to cut it up. 

I have my collection of beautiful hardly used linens I bought, collected and now use on my beds from the last time I lived in France. This time I am focusing on everything broken so that I have permission to cut things apart to make something. I am really thinking quilt, but we will see. 

I bought tons of lace bits and a couple of ribbons. I found some pretty, narrow ones that looked like they did not want to be left on the table at the flea market. 
The carved mother of pearl buttons were nice
 Enlarging the photo, notice the pin of the dapper looking gentleman. Now that was something I could not just walk past as well. The pin was broken, oh goody what project do you go in?

I have been thinking I might dye some of my linen sheets and here at the market I found that as well. The purple color coordinates with the thicker weave fabric above it. I am thinking carpet bag, but again we shall see. The purple fabric is linen and I love the art deco JB initials.
The one last purchase I made that I will show you is from the stop with a private vendor in Aix-en-Provence. Her family has manufacture gold and silver lace for generations but it is her dealing in vintage fabric that appealed to me. Her etsy shop is called Exquisite ThreadsFrom her I bought a quantity of linen dated from the 1800s.  She had two large pieces about 3 meters long each. In the picture you see 4 pieces and that is because each pieces was really 2 pieces that had been whip stitched together. I don't know what they were once sewn to but whatever it was included cotton batting. I picked the pieces apart, removed the bits of batting and loose threads and then washed dried and pressed all 4 pieces. I see a shirt or skirt out of this one and definitely some sort of bag.

What do you think I should make using them? These are pieces I would love to use and not have lay around in my stash