Sunday, 30 May 2010


L'Offrande de l'Amour ' Le Premier Navigateur
The lovely Toile de Nantes, (1805) on the right, is one of the many designs from the factory there which flourished during the years of T. de Jouy and other mills producing cloths of this genre. It is titled 'Le Premier Navigateur' and is from the collection of Elizabeth Gibbons, a well lnown dealer and collector of fine textiles.
The first example is original Toile de Jouy, 1792 - 1815 a very popular one and reprinted in different colours, purple, red and bistre, many times. The Offering to Love is full of romance and beauty. Many of these designs are reproduced in attractive books, but there are still many not listed and people like Morgaine le Fay , whose instructive, excellent blogs showing rare examples in wonderful detail, are worth studying. The other day I bought and sold quickly an attractive print on linen, showing a cherub riding on a dolphin, enough for a cushion, and was rather mortified to find, on a re-read of my reference book that it was a true Toile and it had skipped through my hands without a proper provenance - my loss and my customer's gain! Or did she think, like me, it was just a pretty old scrap ?

Friday, 21 May 2010


Here is a puzzle for a rainy day, no interruptions and a bright light - plus plenty of patience! The diagram is about as clear as it could be and it reminds me a bit of learning how to re-cane a Regency chair. I did my chair in two days hard work, 15 years ago, but with a poor quality lot of split cane and I sat through it this week, so that has top priority over turks-head knots which I do like and admire on other peoples coats and jackets. How many of my readers have ever made one? If you can't read the instructions I will make a copy on my scanner which will be larger and clearer, SAE please and send me your postal address.

Monday, 17 May 2010


This bedroom corner was styled years ago by a friend, Gabi Tubbs, editor, decorator and author, using some of Jane Sacchi's tickings, Mulberry curtains, Ian Mankin fabrics, and, I think, it achieves a perfect ballance of stripes, checks and pretty faded florals. The colours are warm and restful , the furniture is simple and comfy and all invite peace and relaxation. This shows how careful use of textiles and fabrics can give the mood to any decorative scheme - the scale is quite important, the colours must blend and the texture and weight of the cloth must be suitable for its use. Ticking is ideal for valances, cushions, squabs and bolsters which get hard use, lighter cotton for bedroom curtains can be lined and interlined for extra cosiness and bedcovers should be washable if possible. Gabi was with Country Living for many years and is now free-lance and living in Brighton in a Georgian house, which I long to visit as it will be full of inspiration.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Linen is for Life.

Linen and hemp are the oldest known cloths and are still with us, prized as long-lasting, comfortable and healthy; France used both until the beginning of the last war for most of their household linens. Skilled weavers produced sheets, other bed linen and towels, kitchen and farm cloths as well as material for all kinds of clothes. I have gathered large quantities of all these fine and useful domestic items and there are many excellent uses in the modern house. I have supplied much linen to top decorators for all kinds of furnishing and also huge quantities for costumes in the film industry. The picture shows some hanks of linen thread used for weaving cloth for clothing circa 1870, found in the attics of a seven-generation weaving family farm in Brittany. These hanks were often called 'cheveux d'anges' (angels' hair) and were used to decorate doorways on certain Holy days. From time to time I find these beautiful hanks and they are soon snapped up by weavers and craft workers. See my website for examples of all kinds of linen and hemp articles.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


18C. design chinoiserie fabric

Braquenie were the foremost designers and printers and weavers of fabrics, tapestries and carpets from early 18c. Their printing blocks and copyright were acquired last century by Pierre Frey who have reproduced many of the old patterns and some are still printed with the original hand-blocks.
French beds are one of the glories of decoration! I am thinking of the 18thC designs, with carved and painted detail, elegant pillars and legs, crowned with wonderful draperies, swags and frills with exquisite trimmings in fringes, braids and tassels. This picture gives a glimpse of one decorated with Braquenie silks and shows the immense amount of skilled work that went into its decoration. The red and white Chinoiserie model is really more to my taste as I just love the amusing pattern of a Chinese man swinging on a branch in his quaint costume. In the past I have had all kinds of brackets and bars, coronas and baldaquins to affix the drapes over beds; some for one end of the bed and the others sometimes for sideways fixing like the second example with its deep pelmet. These curtain arrangements were necessary in the old days for total privacy in bed, when there were no corridors in houses and people passed from one room to another. They also kept out the draughts and
protected sleepers from the falling debris from above, when roofs were left unlined and there was no plaster ceiling to keep out the insects, birds and other invaders.