Monday, 20 May 2013


   After the journeys, unpacking, displaying and standing straight all day, hoping to please the visitors, it was very rewarding to see the happy faces, bulging shopping bags and relaxed attitude of our visitors last Sunday when we held our Rag Market in Bradford on Avon.  I, myself, had wanted to create a slightly different atmosphere and had invited lots of amateurs and collectors to be the sellers with masses of bargains and lots of unusual 'lines'  They came up in trumps and were, I think, delighted to find how pleased their customers - and how knowledgeable - were, with their piles of goods.  Tea on the terrace became quite a party and many early friendships were re-kindled  and cemented. We broke up early and got the hall cleared in record time, so I and my helpers had a good day too!
We had  visitors who came specially from the States, two lots of serious big buyers interested in film costumes and historical reproductions of garments, decorators looking for specific things to complete ongoing jobs and they found lots, so they told me!   Well done everybody to put on such a splendid show.
Lots of nice 'comments' and messages from people have cheered me and our Talent for Textile teams to continue in the futureand we hope to see you on  Sat. Sept. 17th in the Mason's Church Street, BoA.I shall continue my Blog while I jog my memory about France and its many delights, and am starting a new smaller business here at home in the Wine Vaults, as usual, now I can no longer travel with Derek to France as he is too frail and blind to enjoy long car journeys.  How I shall  miss it all!  but I have had the best!

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Put on your buying boots, have an early breakfast and be amongst the first to see what we have laid out for you on Sunday, next, 9 a,m, at the Mason's Hall, Church Street, Bradford on Avon.  Free entry as usual.  This is the final effort of me, Elizabeth Baer, to gather together people from all over the country to come and see a really fantastic collection of never-seen-before textiles and decorations shown and ready to be sold by a richly varied group of my old friends and colleagues of the past 30 years.  There will be a great mix of new and old, cheap and more expensive and you can be sure there will be some interesting stories about the sources of these desirable pieces.  There will be light refreshment available at the kitchen door of the hall and a special deal for a light lunch in a special room reserved for our customers. Last year's visitors really enjoyed the delicious and so reasonable snacks by the FAT FOWL, ten minutes walk away - Ask for the menu from Arlene our friendly hostess.
     Textiles will be on sale in the old wine vaults (special entrance at street level) look for the bill boards
we look forward to seeing you and hope you have a lovely day out with us, Talent for Textiles!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


This was the small image in World of Interiors magazine that brought me many customers and my nickname, Mrs. Ticking. When I first started buying in France, stuff and linen was incredibly cheap. Unfortunately it is no longer so and you have to work hard to find the treasure, and pay up for it.
   After the last war, many farms and large bourgeois houses passed to the next generation and they no longer wished to use and store the traditional household linens. Cotton and nylon and polycotton sheets were cheap and much less work, blankets were affordable, so the old feather beds, which were often dusty and dirty, were discarded. These  were often collected by the newly-arrived and poor Morocans and Algerians who came to work in the fields and vineyards, and who were happy to take them to the local recycle depots where they could exchange them for decorative china and household goods. The feathers could be sold according to the quality and amount of down, but the covers, the coutils, were of little value and went to the rag factories. Elsewhere I tell of my amazing find of a store of several thousand tickings which had failed to go to the factory. Many were from Germany with a fantastic variety of shaded stripes. These wonderful and bright and brilliant mixes of colours were almost unknown elsewhere - the combinations were, I presume,  inspired by the weavers and their supplies of coloured cottons and were not the work of high powered designers!  I have counted as many as 17 different shades in the stripes,  and I have kept an archive of all the different colourways;  I have about 130 different versions.  They all go together so they are very easy to combine in a room and always seem to give much pleasure, as well as being washable and extremely hard-wearing.  When I first had them and the little image above was printed, I had a rush of all the top fabric designers in U.S. and London, all wanting to buy samples for getting the copyright before anyone else and many were copied for re-sale at quite high prices.  I was quite surprised at the interest shown by many very top designers and decorators and sometimes I used to see my tickings in the foreign glossy magazines. So from humble French beds in cottages and farms, the tickings then graced the smartest appartments and mansions in California, N.Y. and Florida  and no doubt the decorators were able to make a good profit with these original and unrepeatable designs. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013


  For many this is "off with old and on with the new" time, but this year I am finding that a lot of people are looking through their belongings and instead of throwing them out, are looking at them with an eye to recycling the pretty flowery prints that Liberties inspired in the 20s;  they are now so fashionable that they are being re-introduced as borders on clothes, patchwork on cushions and  frills and panels on lampshades.  You will find quite a lot of this sort of style at our forthcoming fair here in Bradford on Avon this very next Sunday, May 19th at the Masonic Hall, Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN  You can also discover three recently retired fabric designers and printers who were active in the post-war years and you have the chance to purchase some of their unsold samples.  Other textiles will include lots of worthwhile bedding for people setting up first homes and also for letting and B. &; B. enterprises.  Other delights will be original and rare decorative clothing and accessories found on working trips abroad and a mass of  attractive working  kit for features, advertising and journalism for which
Colefax and Fowler Plumbago Bouquet  design
the need has gone after retirement - and in common with most people of my age, it is high time to down-size and sort it out.  Make the most of this rather special fair and load up - bring your window measurements if you need curtains - there are lots of lovely ones including many well known designer names and Colefax of course!
  If you are a 'linen basket case' we have two specialist dealers with a wide range of household linens, and also a splendid collection of embroidered tablecloths, sheets and pillowcases, all unused from the 20s/30s bought in Madiera and the Mediterranean islands.  Come buy with me!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Dorset Buttons!  This is an old craft and comes somewhere between the original thorns and brooches used to pin the cloaks of ancient tribes in this country, the mutton-bone knobs and toggles, and the present day utility models and fancy fashion fastenings in a hundred different materials.  Dorset buttons, made with linen thread and metal rings, go back three centuries, were made by hand in hundreds of thousands, were sent all over Europe, and have been researched by several authors. Above is an excerpt from one of the booklets in print, which relates the good news that even the most difficult to copy, the hightop, was finally solved and patterns are now available for craft workers. Factfile is available from Marion Howitt, Swanston, Russell Avenue, Dorset, BH19 2EB with instructions for making Dorset Buttons. I had some made for a traditional Dorset smock and they were very lovely, worked in the colours of the smocking. Picture in blog Cupboard Love.  I shall have a couple of unused white small buttons for sale at the forthcoming Rag Market, Sunday, May 19 the at Bradford on Avon  Contact
I have recently been in touch with a keen needlewoman in Australia and was able to send her a few suitable fine brass rings for making the Dorset buttons  which I had saved  - actually for making drawstring purses, but they came in handy for the button making instead!-I must find out how she is getting on! 

Thursday, 2 May 2013


My little tray with its title Home Decorations printed round the edge,  does not show anything very beautiful but there some useful ideas in the objects shown, all of which I have used in various homes.

   I try not to clutter my tables and shelves with junk and useless objects, but collect things that look nice and I can use:
Enamel jugs  - once available by the hundred in France - should not be too rusty or have any leaky
    holes.    You should never put food into enamel with rusty patches - there is a real risk of food poisoning.
   Use them for long stemmed flowers, green branches and for filling vases in the house.
Baskets with flat square bottoms are very good for storing vegetables.  I use old roasting tins to line the
   bottoms and catch the soil. With flat baskets, line the bottom with a polythene bag and place your herbs or
   several little pots inside and you can water safely without marking the furniture.
The crown, I might use placed over a potted ivy or tradescantia and let the climbing shoots entwine,    
   somewhere on a wall in the garden and let it get nicely rustic and rusty!
The pots and vases are all useful in a kitchen, holding the wooden spoons near the cooker, jams and
   pickles, long celery stalks,
A little metal pub table is ideal for your terrace and patio and will not blow over in bad weather.
The marble/stone finial balls need to go on entrance pillars, but are now so expensive they are just beyond.
  I see on Ebay they are several hundred pounds each.
Lamps and shades are so very important in lighting your rooms - and much kinder than spots and angled
   lighting.  Pairs are a good idea and there are very good choices now in all the 'home' furnishing stores.
Finally, the tub chair will welcome you when you are exhausted with everything! If you can find an old
   Lloyd  Loom one in reasonable condition, paint it and make a good zipped pad cushion in canvas or
   ticking  or one of  my hemp grain sacks,  sit out in the sun and enjoy life and if you forget to bring it in, it 
   will survive a few showers!