Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Pair of Swedish painted cabinets bought in S.of France
 The lower picture on the left,  from the French antiques magazine, ALADIN was very useful to me as it helped to identify a very similar pair I bought in the South of France many years ago at a seaside antiques/brocante fair, shown above in my dining room.   The owner of my pair knew nothing about them and the pastel gray paint and simple diamond design on the doors and lovely faux marbre tops made me think of  beautiful Swedish furniture I had occasionally seen -  Anyway, to discover from this picture that my pair was 18thC  and described as Swedish, was a real bonus and the price I had paid for them was also a steal!  The magazine picture was all about a robbery - I'm not guilty! Two days later  I am quite confused by this amazing coincidence!   Looking through Pinterest new service for the very first time I was looking through all the gorgeous piles of French linen and then suddenly my eye was caught by a picture of yet another cabinet/cupboard/commode so very similar to my two - and yet different in details and different to the one I snipped out of Aladin Magazine;  the drawers, the ribbing on the raised diamonds on the doors, no faux marbre paint and claiming to be Swedish (after all).  Who is right and were these lovely things made by the dozen???  Answers please!!Diamond designs in Spades!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Trifles can be so sweet and successful

One in a thousand!  My winning trifle, a (large)pharmacy pill box for dangerous drugs!
Left to right: M.O.P. buttons, linen 'Dorset' buttons, glass buttons in Bonne Maman jars, pharmaceutical glass reels, blue glass kidney bowl, pre-war fruit punnet, fine ribbons, green/white casein button, and a box of pre-war initial tapes, lavender bag.
   I have amused myself by recalling some of the trifles I used to buy and which, funnily enough, some of my customers still remember fondly.   I always bought the whole lot, whether dozens, hundreds or thousands, because I could then fix my own price and be, oh so exclusive!
   I think the best lots that came my way were from a tiny antique shop near Dartford when visiting daughters nearby for half term at their boarding school.  The shopkeeper had put a few tiny red pill boxes resting on the sashes of his window and explained they were part of a storehouse where a large pharmaceutical company which bought up a lot of smaller businesses,  had put away all the obsolete medical equipment from  pre-war years . .The first batch of mixed sizes red (for dangerous drugs) went in a flash and I went back for the rest two months later and not one had been sold.  There were many thousands, and I also bought a very large quantity of hand blown vessels for syringes, sprayers, and pumps in strange and complicated designs and best of all, hundreds of different coloured glass reels for surgeons' sutures and gut, from pre-war hospital theatres.  By chance I was selling my antiques and folk art in East Anglia near Cambridge and Addenbrook's Hospital, and the young trainees there were fascinated by all this paraphenalia and bought it by the dozen, as did embroiderers, and even  fly fishermen bought the pretty reels to hold special threads for their hobby, making flies. I would sell out of all these trifles in a very short time and have only single samples left!   A German buyer bought 500 of the smallest red pill boxes to make hat boxes for dolls' houses, and jewellers bought them to pack earrings in their window displays putting a little plug of foam inside each.
   Other bulk buys of simple byegones included several thousand card fruit punnets, 1930s design, in red and green for strawberries and currants, all from a junk shop in Worcester,  and bought by cook-book writers and journalists to illustrate their articles on jam making;  in Provence I bought dozens of flat, circular perforated boxes for posting silkworms (from the manangeries where they bred them on trays in a sort of factory building), to the mulberry farms, with lovely labels in pretty colours and print;  also many crates of cardboard boxes full of cupping glasses from the hospital convents where the nuns were allowed to 'cup' and use leeches to 'bleed' inflamations of the skin. (i.e. non-invasive treatment)  The cups made safe and delightful holders for night lights!
    Reels of rayon ribbon (a French speciality) and trims for lingerie, finely scrolled name tapes,  were often available in quantity as nylon had taken over, and all kinds of job lots from textile factories were to be found in the street market at Isle sur la Sorgue in  Provence, and it is still fun and sometimes rewarding to walk along the pavement there on a Saturday.     The oddments that I sold for very few pence and shillings,  brought me into contact with many interested and interesting people, wardrobe ladies from theatre, opera and films, writers and journalists, stylists and photographers and through those brief meetings I had increased my little network of friends and customers in a big way!  Surprising!

Thursday, 19 June 2014


The model I copied in Flemish linen
Flemish natural fine linen lining for French Army sleeping bags
  Birds?  Well, anyway I didn't hear anything but the screech of parrakeets on the Tenerife Island where we spent long winter holidays.   But I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the Costa de Silencio and some good Belgian cuisine in the attractive restaurant below our cool appartment there.  I was with my husband and a favourite companion, Lervia, my robust and compact little sewing machine who often travels with me and I have fun playing with her and odd bits and bobs of fabrics, making the most of left-overs.  She was an amazing bargain at Lidl store, only £29, a few years ago!  (Now over £70).  With just one of the many Flemish fine linen linings for French army sleeping bags which I was selling last year, I decided to make as many useful things as possible - using dressmaker's scissors, strong upholstery thread, a dozen pins, a few ''jeans machine sewing needles and a couple of reels of old linen tape and I came up with the following in fashionable taupe shade, with the odd cream trim;  3 different aprons, chef, housework and gardening; cutlery pouch, travel wallets,  shopping tote, travel cushion, hottie cover, covered  clothes hangers and half a dozen needle cases, and a pair of elbow protectors for my husband's cashmere cardigan!  and I have just a handful of scraps left over.  I rather overworked my little machine expecting it to cope with six layers of fabric but it survived with a few broken needles.  In case you are a make-do and mend sort of person, here is the finished result of my unskilled labours.

Monday, 16 June 2014


My portrait in SAGA, Little Old Lady mode!
   Yes, the sun shone, the stalls looked stunning with a huge variety of well-chosen stock and our friends and customers turned up in continuous walk-about that encompassed the three different sites for stands.  The choice was so good and the prices seemed very fair and I think our customers were well pleased with their purchases and were then able to sit and enjoy the sunny terrace where tea, coffee, Ginny's wonderful meringues dripping with fruity sauce were, as always, the biggest treat.  Personally I had such a good time seeing so many old friends who have supported us for 20 years or more, still collecting and still interested,  and I lost a good many 'old friends' in my stock to them.   People do now go for unusual textiles and the recent spread of Indian, Turkish and Eastern tribal-made costume has given us the chance to appreciate and maybe wear hand-made prints, beaded accessories and to decorate with exotic prints and colours.  To me, it is highly pleasing that our now well-established T4T textile Fairs in the West Country have helped to spread knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, both historic and contemporary.
    Please continue  to send in names and and new  Email addresses for yourself and friends  to  so we can keep the ball rolling AND YOU WILL FIND ALL DETAILS OF FUTURE FAIRS ON THAT WEBSITE.  I am now almost retired but always there for you for help and advice, and my showroom is open by appointment for the last lovely bargains almost any time! at  or phone 01225 866 136

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


THE RAG MARKET, BRADFORD ON  AVON.   5 Days to go and the competition and race starts up - to get the best, the bargains, and perhaps that wonderful moment when you see something so unexpected, and so wanted, that you just have to grab the opportunity!   With twenty five dealers all showing their best, and maybe their worst as well, because this is a 'turn-out' occasion, turning-out surplus has-beens, from the back of their cupboards and stores.  I also hope it will be a good turnout of visitors, mostly long term friends of Talent for Textiles,  announcing they are coming early to join the band-wagon, bringing their largest shopping bags and, I hope, their fullest purses, to have a good time together, and to exchange news and views over Ginny's wonderful snacks and her divine summer meringues!  Enjoy on our terrace!
  TICKINGS AND PICKINGS:    Highlights will be a big choice of specialist continental tickings, piles of fine French linens for beds and table settings,  top designer Italian couture clothes, new elegant tailored Chinese high fashion, Victorian children's costume collection in the Victorian wine vaults of my house, entrance on Church St., also there fine Brocante decorative furnishings for final touches, and in the main Mason's Hall, yards and yards of top designer fabrics, left-overs from high-end decorating jobs.  Entrance is free, 9a.m. to 3p.m.  full details top of this page.
Happy Shopping !  (Above addresses/phone nos. out of date!)
                         See title (top of this page above) for correct details. ~~Thank you.


Thursday, 5 June 2014


  Does the name Ferragamo mean anything to you - or is just an impossible dream? - well, come along to our Fair next week, details all above on the title of this BLOG and you will find a couple of small pairs, plus about a dozen other high fashion Italian pairs, also Dior etc. etc., all hardly worn, high heels.  My daughter Caroline is selling the entire wardrobe of a fashionista Italian lady and it's all for sale in the garage beside Church House, mostly fairly small sizes from 1980s onwards.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


A selection of vintage French textiles
French cafe curtains
Having had a very modest antique and folk art business in East Anglia and having moved to a largish house near Bath which had ample good cellarage, I decided to start up a more decorative side to the business and to stock the French textiles I had seen on my holidays.  The spaces were good, the light excellent, all with garden views, and I had just discovered the French linen sheets which were to become a major part of my business and work!  There was a wonderful Bath built-in dresser from floor to ceiling for all the enamel, folk art and pottery, a space for my housekeeper's vast linen cupboard and I installed wooden slats and racks in the boiler room for all the linen sheets, both to dry, air, and store.  I heard that the now very prestigeous Bath Decorative Fair was to start up and signed on for a stall and also took part in a very small and modest gathering, in a pub room, with two friends, Olga Verschoor, textile expert and top dealer from France and Olivia Dell, a long established textile connoisseur; plus a few invited dealers and friends.  And it was from that small beginning that we started up Talent for Textiles Fairs which are now in their 20th year and Olga also organised some very high quality fairs in Le Mans for all the top French textile and costume dealers!   It all took quite a time as we did not advertise and we did not charge our visitors entrance fees - all the rather modest expenses were paid for by the rent money from the stall holders and we have kept this mode up to the present day in all but one venue, or raised some money for a charity, as at Yarlington.
     I continued with Bath for another 15 years and gave up Shepton Mallet which I found expensive and very mediocre, though I did meet Polly Lyster through it, and continued with the Little Chelsea fair in Chelsea Town Hall for many years, collecting Chelsea ladies who loved the linen and Provencal fabrics I could find in those days. The smart young lady decorators were not very interested in my old shabby stuff - they preferred to sell expensive yards of frilly chintz.   I bought and sold quite a lot of painted peasant marriage chests from Czechoslovakia which looked wonderful wherever they were placed - and made an ideal display stand for all my linen -  the only trouble was heaving them on and off the roof rack of my Volvo estate! Luckily they always sold at the Fair so I did not have to cart them home. When the Little Chelsea changed hands I decided to leave London and outside Fairs and concentrate on our own, which worked out quite well tho' I did miss the international clientele in London - especially on Decorex dates when foreign buyers who had emptied their purses for their clients, decided to treat themselves to a little souvenir at our modest Fair!