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So last week I welcomed me first large group of buyers into our home.

It was slightly chaotic. Up until now I have only had one shop, Rubanesque to exhibit at open studio days and never to more than 6 guests at a time.

So with two shops, Rubanesque and Exquisite Threads, and a combined inventory of more than 500 items to keep track of, it was a whirlwind.

P1210962SMLJust before the open studio event, I happened upon a beautiful, battered, wooden suitcase, once owned by a Madame Devaux of 10 Place de la Madeleine, Paris dates 1875.

Inside a jumble of laces, slim lace & tulle bands, thicker coarser linen needlepoint, some hints of black tulle peaked out from beneath the miles of muddled thread.

I asked the dealer if I could just take a peek through at what was inside the case. It was late in the day, and the vendor was in the process of taking down his stand.

He barked a price for the lot, I didn’t blink before reaching for my porte monnaie.

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It was a risk, I didn’t quite know what I was getting. At the least a lot of jumbled up old lace fragments.

….but, there was always the chance, the promise of something special buried beneath it all.

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I drove like a maniac to get home and once settled on to the sofa, my beautiful antique wooden suitcase before me, I dove in.

I carefully threaded each piece of individual lace around my finger, putting aside those that I could use a jewellery making project I’ve been planning and those that I might consider selling to the right person.

Underneath the fragments lay wonderful treasures, a 1920s silk fringing for a lampshade, an incredible hand embroidered floral applique (see photo above), pretty hand embroidered “Faust” handkerchiefs, an old tin full of pins, a set of delicate wedding handkerchiefs, some tiny Point de Venise appliques, and a fabulous black silk & lace cuff (just the one).

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Here are some of my antique button rings on display in books. You can catch a glimpse at the incredible marbled 1800s postcard books that I sourced from Corey Amaro

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I hang some of my favourite jet applique beaded pieces on the mannequin, aswell as two new necklaces and a beautiful silk & tulle shawl collar (that I had found in Madame Devauxs suitcase)

You can find some of Madame Devauxs treasures now up in the Exquisite Threads store – I’m already suffering pangs of sellers remorse!

 

 

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I love the adventures I inadvertently embark on after opening up a dusty old box full of antique silk samples.

The original salesman tag mark the ‘patron’ or pattern number and the company C & W Lyon, it’s a company I’m not familiar with…and so the adventure begins.

I searched everyone online for a reference, I scoured my silk reference books for a glimpse of the initials C & W…but to no avail.

Then the wonderful people at the Musee de Tissus et Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Lyon responded to my emails begging for advice. After a week of searching they found a reference to Crépaux & Wydemans (fabricants de tulles).

 A little more digging and I came across this image of their offices in the early 1900s.

This is where these beauties were created over a hundred years ago.

Their threads have got their hold of me!

I have put a few of the samples up for sale on Exquisite Threads so if you have any special bridal projects coming up or if you are simply a textile lover like myself then you should really look at these!

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This guy

by Ruth on October 1, 2014

in The Joys of Living in France

…made me smile

He is normally the village terror,

peeing into unsuspecting handbags,

gnawing on childrens bike tires,

digging up beloved flower pots perched on village house steps

After all his mistress has been known to spit on her sworn enemies that pass her on the Rue Basse,

and yet today,

bearing the cone of shame,

he is quiet as a mouse, dare I suggest, reflective.

karma

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Only one thing is motivation enough to make me set my alarm for 6.30am and to not hit the snooze button despite being woken up three times overnight…. a fabric fiends flea market…

Three cups of coffee to kickstart the brain
Focussed straight ahead, trying not to feel queasy as I drove around the precarious bends,
down deep into the belly of the gorge that seperates Bonnieux and Lourmarin
trying not to crash as I stared, mouth open at the scenery
the morning sun beaming through the clouds and illuminating the road ahead.
it called, silk, linen, lace and thread
come find me!

The lady with the chic bob nearly ruined me, I gravitated to her stand first and literally everything I pulled out I immediately committed my heart to it, I had to take it home.

It was serious, I started to feel queasy, my pace quickened, it got awfully warm …

I put my rucksack down to have both hands free.

I knew that even when she told me her price, I would not be able to refuse.
Such a strange feeling, knowing I should dig into those deep boxes to see what I could find – even though I knew it would ruin me.


vintage clothes, hats, knitting patterns, something for every textile lover, I kept repeating, only get what you need!

oh la la – pink and blue lace in a nice little pile
calling “love me, love me”

I held my resolve and only bought what I knew I would use and items for my regular buyers ….how foolish now I am asking kicking that I didn’t buy this bag


a delicious box full of antique button cards

I loved the bow detail on these vintage shoes, alas too small

Can’t you just smell that lovely ‘old button tin’ smell? I actually sat down on the floor at this point and went through each box until I was intimately acquainted with each and every oddity

thank god my textile infatuation has not extended to linens (yet!) otherwise I would have seriously been in trouble… antique bed sheets for 5 euro…. I resisted I did! fool!

Okay so I was there for the antique textiles, the hunt for treasures, the promise of an adventure.

What I came away with, aside from a bag full of marvels,  was the wonderful new friendship of several French women who have succumbed to the same illness as myself. They had me beaming listening to their stories of their grandmothers greniers, learning to sew, how they began to collect and deal textiles, their favourite item to find when they go truffling.

Another thing my new found friends shared was an adoration for Ireland, one had honeymooned there, another pair were saving up to go on their next holiday.

Here was the Irish girl, far from home, insanely in love with their land, their climate and their fine heritage and they all wanted to visit my homeland. It made me smile!

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A soundtrack to take pictures to

by Ruth September 29, 2014
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Peak into an 1892 antique ribbon ledger

by Ruth September 23, 2014
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Another glimpse into our family silk archive room. One shelf contains rows and rows of these beautiful thick, hard backed folders. The numbers (seen here) 23 – 29 denote the order from youngest to oldest. The four digit number e.G. 4049 4177 refers to the reference of each ribbon contained within. So to know what […]

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Little packages off to see the world

by Ruth September 19, 2014
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  I had so much fun pulling together a bunch of antique silks for a NY magazine editor, can’t wait to see what they do with them! Another package wings its way to a client in San Francisco, she is a collector of my work so I made a special package for her pulling together […]

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Inspiring me – Emily Felderman

by Ruth September 17, 2014
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Just discovered textile artist, Emily Feldermans antique scissor series. Sumptious embroidery and antique scissors, what is there not to love and desire? I find myself drawn again and again to artists who connect with antique objects, who are enchanted by the whispering echos of past lives, and importantly aspire to making them ‘live’ again, She […]

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Learnings from a pop up shop

by Ruth September 16, 2014
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I mentioned on my facebook page that I would do a blog post on my learnings after running my second pop up shop this summer…so here goes. This time round, I had a little under 5 weeks notice that the space was available. This was so much more notice than I had last year so […]

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Dark, seductive ribbon sample books

by Ruth September 15, 2014
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Let me take you on a dark journey into the bellows of our family archive room. This particular visit, I spent most of my time on the floor, in the semi dark (conditions to preserve the archives), taking photographs of the archive book spines. My pulse starts racing every time I enter, inhaling the smell […]

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