Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Adieu France, Jusqu'à ce que nous nous retrouvons l'année prochaine

 It’s a sign, it must be time to go back to the United States…

I made one last stop at a thrift store the way home from the last meeting of the year for the quilt club in Luxembourg. I was sort of sad leaving that I almost did not stop. It was getting dark (ok like that happens at 4:30 pm) and it was foggy (pretty normal this time of year). But it was the last time this year I would be able to go to a really fun thrift shop. So I stopped.

The thrift shop has a small vintage linen section that I dig through when I visit. Sometimes it is a win and other times I end up with nothing. This was one of those times I ended up with a win.
The shop was crowded, it always is, and that is for two reasons:
1. It is only open on select days, 2 days a week
2. In that part of town, there is a need. 

I watched a single mom buy winter boots for her two children. I listened to the haggling going on about already low prices between the sales volunteer and a male customer about another pair of shoes for a child. I saw a lot of people with not much money and here I was indulging in my hobby. I was in the “fun” section and most everyone else was in the “need” section. It is the time of year. I watched 5 pair of winter boots head out the door while I was there. All of them for children. The vintage section has a common wall, a series of shelves really, with the shoes on those shelves and the stool to sit and try on the shoes in the corner between the two sections.

As I had been to this store just a couple of weeks ago, I was not expecting to find much. But, there were two button boxes that were in need of being sifted through. I had the time so I started sifting. Surprised, I had to ask the volunteer for a plastic bag to hold all of my finds.

It makes my heart sing. The beautifully carved mother of pearl is especially nice as is the little heart shaped lock. No key required to unlock it. Religious metals I can always find a use for.

Since I am on a search for utility buttons, of course,they were there:
Let’s explore these buttons for just a moment. 
I have found these buttons in black, white, red, many shades of blue going to grey, pink and a yellow/brown color. I have found them ranging in size from tiny 2 holes to large 4 holes. I have found that the colored ones are not as common as the white ones. In the above picture you can see how infrequent the colored ones really are. there were a lot of pink ones for some reason.
I the boxes there were some fun Celluloid or Bakelite buttons I am not sure and I need to test them to see which they are. I love the leaves.
Then there were metal buttons and more ornate glass buttons as well as  what looked like were once pearl earrings. 
I reject most of the metal buttons I find, but I smiled when I found the “sapeurs pompiers” or firefighters buttons. The other metal buttons are heavier and nicely made. Hopefully I can play with them later.  

This last fall during the trip I made to Provence, one of the dealers visited was very knowledgeable about old buttons. The insignia on the front of the buttons indicated what you were by profession. So if you were a butler at an estate your buttons on your uniform would be different from say, the footman. The seal on the buttons would be of the house/family you worked for.  I found a website that talks about buttons from a historical American viewpoint so you get the idea. Another website makes reproduction buttons. 

Honestly, I will never be an expert on old buttons. I found interesting to see and feel the old buttons while in Provence. If an old button fell in my lap I might buy it, but probably not as they are expensive from a dealer and I want something I can play with and use and not collect.

I know this is becoming a post about buttons, but I did find some not so vintage glass letters beads and I found some wooden letter block beads as well. 
There was a bag of smaller wood beads and a bag with 5 larger beads. In playing with them they spell the name Renie or Reine. Renie by the way is a common last name in the French department 54. I live in department 57 right next door. In a google search I found out that over  5% of people in department 54 have this as a last name. Reine is a popular woman's name for those women of a certain age. It means Queen. I wonder which it spelled?

My other find was a small pile of inexpensive jewelry:
I will leave you with some eye candy. Something I have been working on:
It started as an old machine made collar. I found it in Provence. It had some damage to some sections so I cut some of those parts off and repaired the others. It was then basted my project and out came my beads. 

Any time you see me work with pearls, let it be known they are off of old necklaces. I buy them broken or whole at the thrift stores. As they have been worn, you can see the quality (if it has any) before you buy. I have found the nicest pearl beads that way. I have 3 jars of them now thanks to Berlin and one of the thrift stores here near me. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Ornament 2016

If you have been reading this blog, you know that every year I participate in a Christmas ornament exchange within a yahoo group I am a member of. This year was no different and as usual, I had to plot and plan about what I was going to make.

It isn’t easy. Once I get an idea, I have to scrounge to make sure I have the proper pieces to make whatever it is I am going to do. Sometimes I get the idea from something that happens. Like in 2013 when I made this angel. 
I had bought some lace that turned out to be dry rotted and I wanted to figure out a way to use it. 

Or how about the year I found a Zweigart tablecloth in Germany that just said "cut me up and make me something!".

The last two years it has been about using things normally thrown out to make something. In this case it was the foil covers from yogurt containers:

But this year it is all about the buttons. Those utility ones I found in first Berlin and then here in France. I don’t know what it is about them, I just think they are too fun not to buy and play with. If needed I also had the standby mother-of-pearl buttons as well. For the top tie I needed some hemp.

Also this year was the year of the broken rosaries. In Provence I ran across so many broken rosaries that I had to buy a couple. Once I had them, what was I going to do with them?

Here is one of them. I separated the Our Father metal pieces from the Hail Mary beads.
The other broken rosary that needed to be used on the ornament was made up of just small metal beads no Our Father metals. The rosary had broken apart and the cross was missing. 

I have been collecting wool felt and have wanted to work with it. I found some nice ones at the quilt show in Saint Marie Aux Mines France earlier this year and I really wanted to play. 

I have a Pinterest board called Felt Fun where I collected, am still collecting, wool ornaments for inspiration. There are so many really neat ideas out there. Now how do I make an idea my own?

Finally I had the wool, the embroidery threads, some hemp thread, the buttons and the broken rosaries.

 Oh I almost forgot, it has to have some old lace bits. I had some that were crying to be cut up. 
The idea soon followed.

But there was a petite problem.  I had found some really nice ribbon that said Noel on it. The problem was that it is either lost or misplaced. Either way I can not find it. I have a friend here that owns a Bernina that has two styles of lettering. I ran out and bought some plain ribbon and as luck would have it, one of the two styles fit perfectly.
When I work on a project, I use a glasses case to store everything that I might need for the particular project. Since I had so many comments about the contents of my glasses case, I thought it fun to show it to you what it looked like at the height of working the ornaments:
It looks like a mess, but it is not. Here is another view:
Some buttons and pins, a couple imodiums left from travels in China as well as something for a headache. You never know when you will need them. A thimble comes in handy and the nail clippers are there rather than scissors when I am traveling by plane somewhere.

Well enough talk. Here are the ornaments. You can see where the Noel ribbon went as well as the rosary pieces. The ornament is one layer of wool felt and is two sided.
Here is the other side of the ornaments:

I made as many as I could until I needed to move on to something new. I found them really fun to make.

Here are two of them close up:

The deadline to mail them is 3 December. Mine are going to be late. I sent my group an email about this a couple weeks ago. The reason is I am concerned about them going over the pond after I had this happen to some of the buttons:
Oh not good! I am going to mail them in the US where they will have less handling as they get to each recipient. I never thought these buttons as fragile, but they are porcelain.