Tuesday, 22 April 2014


   Ah!  la belle Brocante!        The French tinsmiths of the early 19c. were busy making their wares and these were sold all over Europe;  but first they had to be decorated with enamel to make them safe and hygienic - that was the main idea!   Wooden utensils were considered dirty and unhygienic and china's cracks and chips not much better and so the 'modern' fashion was for a good coating of enamel, white or coloured, and much was decorated with art deco style patterns which suited its practical use very well.   It was not only manufactured in France, although hugely popular there, it was made in very large quantities in the Netherlands, Austria and other European countries following on the fashion.  Much prized are the long sets of canisters with lids which had labels in bold letters engraved on them - sugar, coffee, flour, etc., and these were for putting on the mantlepiece of the kitchen to show the visitors that the kitchen was well supplied with essential ingredients.    Poverty was not acceptable.
   The patterns were usually stripes or checks, but there are many other more interesting versions of chequerboard,  floral, spotted, etc. and all are highly collectible by English and American housewives!   Some of the other kitchen wares are also very attractive and in great variety,  sets of four or five saucepans,  racks for kitchen tools, for kitchen cloths (torchons), for laundry chemicals (soap, sand, soda, etc.), big bowls for mixing, draining, soup tureens, jugs of all sizes (many very decorative) spittoons, soap dishes, clysteres (douches),  fountains for hand-washing in the outside loos, candlesticks, match boxes (allumettes) and dozens of others!  Nowadays they are only hygienic if the enamel is perfect, otherwise beware of using them for cooking, especially anything acidic!
   There will be a good private collection of enamel goods for sale at our Fair here in Bradford on Avon, on Sunday June 15 -  but I can assure you it will not last long as there are some very striking pi           
Part of a good private collection of vintage enamelware for sale at the Rag Fair on June 15th

Friday, 18 April 2014


A lavender sachet with my initials.

Interwoven ribbons cover a bag of lavender

A scented cover for clothes and travel

Tidying up my clothes drawers today, I came across these three objects that have been there since first given to me - and I thought they might inspire someone to make something similar - to sell or to give.
The pink cloth , flanelette, with scallops all round, simple zig-zagged edges, is labelled with a ribbon that says idole, a scent which impregnated the cloth for many years. It was a wedding present to me 65 years ago from a friend in Paris and it was to cover and scent silk underwear in the top drawer! It was also similar to other pretty cloths used to discreetly cover underwear when undressing for bed in those modesty moments of pre-war ladies' life! Also used to cover the contents of travelling suitcases very neatly, in the days when there were ladies' maids to unpack visitors' clothes and hang them up to remove any creases.
The big sachet is full of lavender and was made by my granddaughter with two shades of satin ribbon interwoven with narrow lace border - still keeping the moths at bay, and the third tiny cushion is also full of lavender and my entwined initials (antique French) in the finest stitching give me great pleasure - a gift from an old friend, Polly Lyster, who made up the sachet for me.  Lavender is supposed to deal with the clothes moth but I do not think it very effective and put my faith in the latest pheremone sticky cards which were brilliant last year when there was a big invasion.  It's time to get ready now for the next one!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


This was a delightful pictorial fabric showing this little family all dressed up.  I only had it for a few hours at a fair and it was sold to a delighted costume collector - wish I'd kept it longer but at least I kept a record!  If it is a contemporary design I would take it to be about 1830.
The colouring looks very like block printing by hand - I would be very interested to know if anyone has seen this print before, I find the little flower sprig background very sweet and wonder which French factory produced it.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Stripe me pink!

sold to a Californian dec. shop!
What a bundle of joy!

I have always loved stripes, both for wearing, and decorating my rooms,  and my portrait here shows me in a red/white stripey shirt in fine cotton poplin, with a pie-crust collar, that I bought on a visit to Rowlands of Bath 50 years ago and which I  wore regularly for 30 years.    Do you remember, Princess Diana had one like that?   So it was not surprising that when I discovered tickings in France at a feather factory in Tours, I was totally smitten with the brilliant combinations of stripes, especially those that were imported covering feather beds from Germany, where the palette was bold and beautiful.  I have recounted elsewhere how I discovered them in huge dirty piles tied in twenties in their original grubby, smelly, state, stacked high in the loft of an old factory warehouse and how I brought them home by the hundred, and after heavy and thorough cleansing, then sold them to eager buyers from all over the world, after a mention of the huge variety of colourways by W.o.I. Mag.  and a picture of a  little trug of samples in their Antennae column.  I have kept an archive of 145 different patterns, as there is no literature or record of the patterns that I have ever been able to source  and - I think they were considered too lowly, too domestic and possibly too varied to be worthy of proper documentation.  I always felt that each factory must have concocted its own mix of different stripes according to the coloured cotton thread available and just got on with production while it lasted and no celebrity, decorator or stylist was involved in the choice of pattern.
  A friend, Jenny Garrett Smith, has a super stock of some of these tickings and will be offering them at the Rag Market here in Bradford on Avon on Sunday, June 15th, 2014, 9am - 43 pm. so this could be a last chance!


    Have you ever thought it might be fun, and interesting too, to write an occasional or regular BLOG.  Well, there is a good opportunity to learn about how to start out and capture your audience.  I have long been a fan of the Gentle Author who writes a brilliant daily (yes, really, has never missed one)Blog about the Spitalfields area of London and the old days in the Cockney world nearby.  Everyday there are  batches of pro. snapshots of streets, institutions and people and I have found them fascinating, as does my husband who used to work in the City.     The Gentle Author, who is extremely fluent and erudite will show you how to go about your own Blog and you can contact him by Email.  He is holding classes ( on two days in May) in London and I know they will be extremely popular.  Blogs are free c/o Google.
On the road! Fairground figures.
      . Email spitalfieldslife@gmail.com.   Have a look at his past Blogs and if you love London, you will be amazed at the varied histories and characters of the different streets, the churches, the monuments, the pubs, which will speak to you of their chequered fortunes and connect up with their historic past.  Immigration, poverty, skills, cafes, little shops are all dealt with and the studies of the faces and clothes of the families living there are a rich tapestry.    PERSONALLY I HAVE FOUND WRITING A VERY INFORMAL BLOG ABOUT MY FRENCH TEXTILE BUSINESS AND SOME OF THE ADVENTURES ON THE WAY, HAS BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES OF THE MANY GOOD TIMES WE HAVE SHARED IN OUR LONG MARRIED LIFE TOGETHER, JUST ON 66 YEARS NOW!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


 Skip this post if you have already made a note of my Textile fair ((ELIZABETH BAER'S RAG MARKET) BUT WE HAVE HAD QUITE A FEW NEW PEOPLE JOINING  BLOGS AND WEBSITES SINCE MY LAST POST ABOUT THE FAIR AND I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE WHO MIGHT WANT TO COME IS AWARE OF THE DATE, TIME AND PLACE. 9.00 to 3pm. at the Mason's Hall, 29 Church Street, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1LN on Sunday June 15th, 2014
I AM NOW COMPLETELY FULL UP WITH NO STANDS VACANT, 24 IN ALL,  SO I WILL NOW PRINT THE FLYERS FOR YOU TO RECEIVE BY eMAIL LATER IN THE YEAR.  IF YOU WANT SEVERAL FOR FRIENDS, JUST EMAIL ME AND I WILL POST SOME.  ALL THOSE TAKING PART WILL HAVE SPARE COPIES TOO.  WE CAN NO LONGER USE THE POST OR ADVERTISE IN THE GLOSSY MAGAZINES - THE EXPENSE IS JUST TOO GREAT, and we find our friends are the best contact medium!  I will probably bore you with further notes about the Fair, but want to give details of the sellers so that you can make a first call at their stalls and find your special bits!  This could be my final Fair here at No 29, but I did say that last year and I am still going, and turning out the last remains of my once rather huge stock!

    We have a splendid group of sellers all lined up - several new  private collectors who are downsizing in their special groups - photographers, stylists, journalists and others with newly inherited stuff.  All the original 6 regular traders from  the 1990s T4T Fairs are coming, as always, so you will find many familiar faces, though their goods will no doubt be new and special.  Our last Rag Market was a most successful and happy event and a repeat seems in order!  Do come, free entry and Ginny's lovely refreshments as usual!
Our sunny terrace makes a good  spot for a convivial meeting place, when you want to stop and drop, and Natasha, in the wine vaults below, is running a depot to guard heavy parcels for you! (Small black iron gate on Church Street)
Sue Stokes of  Lacock shop, will show her brilliant collection of genuine French Brocante and work wear in the Vaults at 29 Church Street, Bradford on Avon on Sunday, June 15th, 2014.


     For new readers of my Blog, I am taking this space to introduce some of the many textile traders who have attended our Fairs, some more than forty times.   Thanks to their support,  the informal fair group, Talents for Textiles,  has flourished, growing into fairs that attract several hundred visitors and providing a very necessary outlet for all the skilled and dedicated traders who almost all work from home and find it quite difficult to contact new buyers.   Advertising is very costly and the big trade fairs are too expensive; also it is extremely difficult to display large items of household linen, curtains and other decorations on a small stand, with the extra problems of poor lighting and  lots of dust!   The fact that all the original dealers of the first few fairs are still with us and have hardly ever missed one fair just shows how hard-working and dedicated they are.  They have connected with many good  clients and business is done in a very friendly atmosphere.  Below are some of the original stallholders still with us.
                                                  Liz, Rosie,Caroline,Polly, Linda, Loveday
Members of the Talents for Textiles team 1990s

                                    To contact us for all news of our Fairs, Email  talentfortextiles.com