Friday, 31 December 2010


   I do not think  'SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT'' will ever apply to my old friend, Bryony Thomasson, about whom I wrote a little post A legendary dealer some long time ago.  So it was a great pleasure to hear from her daughter Mary today who seemed to have read it (by chance? - I do not know) and she said that the stuffed figure of Jean, the faithful follower and companion  maraicheur,  was actually sitting beside her while she (Mary) emailed me!  It was so good to have this link with the golden times of the Brocante world and I hope this tells Mary what a generous and helpful person Bryony was to those whom she wished to encourage.  She certainly told me lots of wonderful stories about her finds in remote areas and was very conversant with local customs and was on intimate terms with some of the old farmers who were clearing out their barns.  She also had many connections with the convents which were at that time being disbanded and their enormous stores of linen, laundries, workroom remnants weaving works were being scattered to anyone who would buy them.  She knew the names and use of the many strange garments the nuns wore and she had connections with the charity Emmaus who disposed of surplus belongings for their charitable homes housing some of the aged and disadvantaged S.D.Ps  (Sans domicile permanent) . She was very helpful in passing on good clients interested in buying rustic items and when she heard that I had been dealing in sacks and string, rope and twine, as well as hemp and linen, the knot was well tied and we kept in touch over several years;  I spoke to her when she was terminally ill and she said the best thing that had happened was that an American friend/client had bought her entire collection and was going to kept it intact and displayed in an old barn in Connecticut and that made her very happy.  R.I.P. Bryony.  Click on brochure to see more!    It's a very good example of display and full of info.

Sunday, 26 December 2010



Flowers made with modern ticking fabrics from Ian Mankiin, London
Click to see the detail..

This is to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.  I seem to have collected quite a few new readers in the States - welcome to you all - I do appreciate your interest and please do send me any thoughts and queries that you may wish to share.   I am a great admirer of Kaari Meng of French General, Hollywood, Calif. USA. and her most interesting Blog The Warp and the Weft.  You can reach her for lots of inspiration at  Don't miss it - she brings parties to France which have been a great success and huge fun for all!    Another good one with lots of info. about every kind of textile is      Best wishes to you all,   Elizabeth.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


    The first time I saw a design of little monkeys swinging through jungle trees was down the Kings Road in London. It was on a pair of early 19c.chintz bed covers in a very smart antique shop called Browns. I was shocked to hear they were more than £30 but you have to know that this was in 1950 when I was newly married and trying to furnish a little mews house on a wage of £5. 50 a week! Somehow they stuck in my brain and next time I saw another pair of lovely green chintz counterpanes with ivy leaves in a trellis pattern and a rich border with red berries for £10, I bought them to console myself! In fact I got them from Robin Eden in Pickwick, Corsham, on my way for a Cornish holiday. I was to meet his son Matthew, another antique dealer, nearly 30 years later, when I moved to Freshford and I was able to tell him that his father (much missed by many) had started my love of old textiles.
     I have always loved the 'singeries' but they are quite rare - porcelain, silver, carvings and textiles were decorated with monkey figures in the 17th .18th C. and give a playful, exotic Eastern image to European designs. The picture shows a good example and comes from the collection of Julia Basset who lives in France and is a well known textile dealer.   I saw her at the Textile Society's Fair in Kensington in Septembrt.  She has lovely and rare things and often takes her textiles to Newark Antiques Fair..

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


            I love this gentle Indienne design from France, late 19th C. The flowers and buds are in soft misty colours so the bolder brown branches make an effective trellis, running in diagonal lines across a background of tiny dots and other greeny- gray flowers that hardly show. This diagonal line is very important in designs and particularly effective when used on wallpapers and curtains.
         A long time ago when I learnt a bit about flower arrangements (I had two flower shops for several years) I was shown how to create a diagonal line across large arrangements, taking one colour  from top left to bottom right using four or five stems of the same flowers and pulling them forward or recessing them alternately and repeating with another colour from top right to bottom left. It not only gives a life to the design but gives a rhythm and line to the whole.which is very satisfying to the beholder. This has a sort of connection with the S, or serpentine line, which artist and classic draughtsman, William Hogarth, decreed was the' line of beauty' in the 18th Century following the High Rococo movement in furniture and art designs.
      If you look at the beautiful calicos of 19C. they often have interesting backgrounds of dots, wormlike squiggles (vermiculate) tiny geometric diaper patterns which add to the depth and charm of the overall design - something that modern copyists often leave out and neglect.  The dots (picotage) were made with a board that had pins driven into it and then the board was hammered on to the cloth with the dye on it - this was because it was almost impossible to get the fine pattern on an engraved metal 'bat'. A lot of Colefax &Fowler designs do have this feature - I think John Fowler was very exact in his reproductions of beautiful old fabrics that he found in the country houses he helped to re-furnish and restore.  There were coral, seaweed, mosaic and other popular patterns all used for the background of larger designs;. in fact  inspiration was often from nature - leaves, ferns, feathers,  all used in repetitive forms.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Do you find Camel a bit tame?

As I look at the fashion pages of the magazines, I seem to be invaded by a caravan of camels - warm and cosy for a top layer, soft and bland for the cashmere underneath with a swirly chiffon skirt below in caramel, shoes, bag and curls to blend and so I then turn the page hoping to find a brilliant accessory that will lift the whole ensemble and raise my spirits - I find an echo of all this now in decorating a room - at the moment I am sorting out a small maisonette and trying to make a plan to suit my purse as well as attract a good tenant. I now see that I have myself been in a camel mood (except that in underwear it is called ecru), and while it hasn't given me the hump I feel I must pep it up, or I and my house will look like the Sahara sand desert. I have recently had two easy chairs and small settee upholstered in lovely porridgey hemp in stripes that are caramel to butterscotch (all sackcloth from the Ukraine) and these sit on a mushroom fitted carpet. I have decided that the dining chairs shall have a fairly graphic orange and green print and the curtains will be of the same material (a neat Laura Ashley remnant). I shall pick out the red in a couple of cushions and the lampshades.  I will add one upholstered side chair in orange and red silky stripes and hope the room looks cosy and inviting, with a spark of colour here and there.   A pine tramp-work framed mirror goes on the wall and a series of red and black pictures showing painted panels in an Italian 18C. style will complete the job.  Upstairs will be in my favorite pale turquoise with a bit of French painted furniture in pastel shades., pale blue bedding and bluish flower print curtains and light canewood bedside tables and matching chair..  Hopefully I will find a calm tenant to take up residence and my safari-inspired interior will work.