Monday, 1 June 2015

Bobo (the new bohemian bourgeois look)

 Barge toleware decoration was often called 'castles and roses' as these were a feature.
   I am not quite sure where this label will lead me - but in antiques I certainly got to know a little about Bohemian if you mean gypsy and bargee folk's folk art and I like it very much.   The barge people were known as bummarees and were strong, independent people who lived on their craft, working very hard in all weathers and carrying goods all over the country.  They had horses to plod and pull the barges along the tow paths, the adults worked the locks and pulled and pushed the heavy wooden lock gates with levers and strained on ropes and chains to move the barge.  The children seemed to play happily in a changing landscape and I am not sure how they ever went to school unless it was for a week or two here and there.  The bargee utensils was very colourful and I collected a few examples - metal buckets, large water jugs, coal buckets  and pouring jugs were all decorated with huge flowers painted with full brushes in simple shapes, mostly pink, red and green, with highlights in white, and they must have made the collection of clean drinking water a more cheerful affair  and of course they were kept on show on the deck of the boat for others to admire.- The women wore bonnets, usually black, with much gathering to keep their heads warm and there was often a long deep frill covering the back of the neck to keep the cutting wind off them when they were steering through the canals.  These are quite rare as the weather rotted most into rags.
  Gypsies and tinkers always fascinated me and I loved gypsy music from Hungary with its wild czardas and the violins singing.  They used to go round the lanes in South Wales in little carts pulled by small sturdy horses and they had straw in the cart, with Welsh 'Gaudy' china (often called Cottage Swansea whence it came) on board.  This was delightful jolly china  decorated sponge-ware, with big blue roses and pinkish rhododendron type flowers,  big blobs, often with highlights of silver lustre,  in a circle on cups and plates and other useful tableware.   The women and children sat on the cart sides and were a dirty and cheerful lot - my mother bought enough to decorate a cottage Welsh Dresser for our "Cardi" holiday cottage and 20 years later, at the beginning of the war, sold it all to collectors who were very keen on it, quite rare and expensive now!  Other examples are shown on Ebay of course.   And tinkers!  I have fond  memories of the delightful old knife grinder who came round once a year to my house in Freshford, near Bath, with a grindstone on a sort of bicycle frame..  He wore a flat cap at a jaunty angle and there was always a flower decorating it;  I gave him a bun and hot tea and he told me a little about his travels (from Ireland)- those sort of travellers have almost gone now, they have been chased away by traffic and suspicious police, but they were quite often very amusing with a quick turn of phrase and simple charm. and my knives and scissors have never been as sharp since he disappeared.
The gypsies used to come round with baskets of dolly pegs and they were wonderful for hanging washed blankets - plastic are not nearly sturdy enough, and people used to buy them from me to make little dolly figures.  They also made lovely little square hanging baskets from short thick twigs interlaced, and put primroses also 'taken' from the local woods in a bed of moss inside -  and I used to buy some to re-sell to my customers at my flower shop!  Naughty!
Welsh Gaudy pottery


  1. I love your posts! they are colorful and informative. Thank you for keeping history alive.

  2. How I do love reading your posts, although it's been a while since I've had time to leave a proper thank you.

    This particular post is a treasure. Your recollections are wonderfully told. I would love to have had those experiences first hand. xo