Sunday, September 26, 2021

DOLLS and PUPPETS: a melange of travels and collecting


Dolls and Puppets

We gathered all our funny faces: some perched on tables, some in bookshelves, the total being a result of travels and impulse buying: the people of many cultures. All seemed fit companions to our principal obsession: the folk, and the folk art, of Quimper!
Plus, they showcase the fabrics and costumes of the country, another of our passions!

Santons of Provence


Santons of Provence. These from a Brittany estate, bought at auction. They are true depictions of the Provencal folk,and the French love to use them as part of their Christmas. 

Puppets from Udaipur


From our India journeys, puppets from Udaipur. Found in a tiny shop, we rescued the head from the old puppet-maker himself, before he gaudied it up with paint and tinsel. And placated him by buying the finished one we found in a corner.

Nuthead dolls

 Nut head Dolls are an American folk art form that has rather died out. These two couples were bought from a famous doll collection that was auctioned off some years ago.

Tuareg doll

    "Hassan" is my affectionate name for this souvenir of Africa, found at a flea market in Brittany (the French are avid travellers to all parts of Africa). He represents one of the Tuareg, the "blue men" of  a Berber tribe, who wear this color to offset the UV rays of their intense sun. I named him for the only time I visited there : Marrakesh, where the real Hassan was a handsome young guide.

Caribbean golliwog doll


The Caribbean is full of  myths and creatures (like golliwogs) whose roots are African. This is a carnival figure that I love for his colorful gaudy clothing and direct connection to his African ancestry.

American doll



American family trio. Found in an antiques shop in Venice, Florida, a charming family trio, dressed in crisp blue-and-white (even the little teddy bear is nicely clothed), I found the composition of this group irresistible.

Fantasy Picture. Somehow, this seems to fit in with this grouping; it has a most intriguing history. It was painted by a young Jewish child who was one of a group gotten out of central Europe just before WW II started. An art teacher saved a number of the works they did in grade school: this is the very last of a whole group I acquired some years ago in Denver, where that teacher had just sold them to a good friend of mine. A remarkable journey for a remarkable souvenir!

    And thus does folk art endure: traditions and memories!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Virtual Visits #4: Some Very Special Books

Come browse at our coffee table! 

* * * * * * * * * * *


Quimper collector, world traveller, she used her time and talents brilliantly and left this gorgeous record for us all to enjoy. We first met her many years ago in upstate New York and were delighted to renew that connection in Florida, where she established the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts as part of Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Missouri antiques dealer dealer with a discerning eye for country furniture and accessories and a passionate love of old paint. His booth at the Antiques Show in St. Louis, where we first met, was a joy for this folk art devotee to behold!

* * * * * * * * * * *

 Mme Orsenne is a dentist in Paris who has had a life-long love affair with the Eiffel tower. Since she is the sister of my beloved hôtelier, Victor, I knew her slightly and, purely by chance, was at the hotel the day the book was published. I had the pleasure of dining there with her and so was able to ask about the book. For years she had been sending some of her Eiffel Tower pictures as Christmas cards to her patients; one day a patient, M. Massin, who was a publisher, said to her, "Catherine, I think we should do a book"...and so she did!

* * * * * * * * * * *


 Corky Davidow's career as an artist and collector extraordinaire has led her to many fascinating byways: Bakelite and, happily for us, Quimper as well! We encountered her at an antiques show in Washington, years ago.

* * * * * * * * * * *
We'd like to end this visit with a word in defense of "coffee table books". Wikipedia notes that the term is often used pejoratively, as being lightweight froth: lots of pictures, not much substance. Every one of these books represents enormous amounts of time, research and expertise...and we are thrilled all over again with reviewing their contents and our memories of the authors.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Virtual Visits #3: Pin's and "Make-Do's"

Do you remember the Pin's collecting mania of some years ago? All sorts of people were sporting their collections on lapels, sleeves, jackets, hats. Of course, there were Quimper pin's like miniature plates, and of course! we bought a load of them for our collectors here. One ardent collector wanted a pair to be made into earrings, and she very kindly made a pair for us, too.

We found a handful of them in a desk drawer when we moved here, and have put them to good use in the office as thumbtacks for old Quimper affiches.

And two of them had already been (literally!) pressed into service as trompe l'oeil drawer pulls for an odd little hanging shelf that merits its own description.

American folk art dealers have developed some delightful euphemisms; this uses several of them. We who love old painted finishes become obsessed with "original" paint, no matter how worn. "Second-generation paint"  subtly means: original it ain't. "Make-do" means an object, like a simple wooden crate that has had a handle added, to become a nice little home-made carrier or basket... or some other inventive re-use of whatever is at hand.

This little shelf is a "make-do" plus: in addition to the new paint job and the pin's handles, there is a lovely glass flower attached underneath whose delicate stem end was broken off years ago...but it was much too pretty to throw away... now it has a safe permanent spot.

Anything that can showcase Quimper is definitely worth a make-do!

The ultimate Make-Do!

Stay well, stay safe, savor your own surroundings.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Virtual Visits #2: The Rabbi's Desk

We have always loved having collectors come to visit: a lovely way to share tastes and ideas.
Here is another aspect of our new home:

This is an American piece, 7' long, and 7' high: we know these dimensions because we've renovated more than one house in the 50 years we've owned it and measured the desk more than once to make sure it would fit.

We found it outside of Perkiomenville, a small country town west of Philadelphia, that had had a weekly auction/flea market site since forever (don't know if that has been true in recent years or not!). It was sitting outside a small house, whose owner did a weekly yard sale to catch all the traffic going by. Having made a deal to buy it, we asked where it came from: the seller told us it came from a house in west Philadelphia that had been left to her mother by the rabbi, a neighbor, whom she had nursed in his declining it became a sort of instant heirloom in our family, and has always been referred to as "The Rabbi's Desk".

Over the years, it has been in kitchens, dining  rooms, and, as now, living rooms. And always a focal point for our  own most important Quimper. The compositions change with each move!

 That's "Rooster Row" on the top now, left to right:
 American wooden folk art, early unsigned Quimper large pot, two contemporary metal birds.

And tucked under: a very large market basket, bought even before the desk, from an
antiques shop in Phoenixville (can still hear the dealer saying, "Old Mr.........carried this into Philadelphia to the Reading Terminal Market every Saturday to shop"). Plus a dear little hooked rug that has my favorite basket-of-flowers motif done in perfect Quimper colors (made in Nashville!).


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Virtual Visits #1: Down Memory Lane!

We used to announce new website additions with announcements like this, 
about 4 times a year...remember?

They represent a lot of time and creative effort, not to mention a whole lot of wonderful Quimper!

 So when we moved, we decided to "wallpaper" the guest bathroom with them ...

 ... we are so pleased with this album effect that we wanted to share it with you. 

Browse at home for the fun of it; stay well!
Joan Datesman

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Birthday Celebration (90!)

A Birthday Celebration (90!)
My children, Judy, Geoffrey, Roger, started last November asking me what I wanted for my upcoming birthday in June. "Nothing except to have the three of you with me", I replied. Then I slept on it, and, next morning, said, "No, I've changed my mind. I think I'd like to go to France one more time." They all agreed, and we promptly put plans in gear.
Not Brittany, oddly enough (I've seen lots of Brittany these past 40 or more years) but to a little town in the Loire valley, in the heart of the château country, Contres. The Manoir de Contres was beautifully refurbished about ten years ago by Maria and Victor Orsenne, who were my hôteliers in Paris for many years...since they moved away, Paris no longer feels the same to me. I've stayed with them twice at the new place and have always thought "What a great place for a party, a family occasion".
And so it came to pass: invitations extended to closest European friends, everyone accepted, delicious menu planned...and all arrangements in place. Geoffrey is a genius at travel arrangements (and smooth travel) so that was left in his hands. Judy works with many fine craftspersons from her "Brin de Magie" pop-up shops in Quimper. She and I came up with the perfect party souvenir/ place markers for the dinner table.
We have always saved all the "breakies", as I call broken pottery, and she has all of mine, all of hers, and a great boxful from Alain LeBerre, a longtime dealer from Douarnenez, a close friend, and one of the invited guests. We decided on small pots, decorated with a mozaïque of these shards, with a loving inscription inside each one.
The work was started  immediately, but it wasn't until May that I saw pictures of the finished work, a two-part process using the talents of two different créatrices : Eleanor of Imagine Design for the inscriptions on the porcelain, and Marie-Laure of the Atelier de Saint-Guénolé for the mozaics. The finished results were so exciting I simply couldn't wait for THE DAY.
However, travel time did indeed arrive and Geof, Roger and I met at Dulles.
After a non-eventful trip to Paris, we picked up a car and drove to Contres, about a 3-hour drive.Maria and Victor were waiting to greet us, as were Daniela and Henrik from Germany who had come several days before. We spent much time in the courtyard, getting acquainted and catching up.
"The Frenchies" arrived on Sunday, Alain in the late afternoon with a huge bouquet, and Florence and Didier minutes before dinner was to be served! 

Here is the dinner menu, a copy at each place, folded under the little pots, to which we had added colorful pencils for a "flower" effect.

Dinner was superb! Victor is a fine chef with a very light touch, so each course was delicious and none of it overwhelming. The rosé wine throughout was a Loire Valley specialty and perfect with everything, and of course, a glass of fine champagne brut for dessert.
The convivial moment continued after dinner, with coffee and brandy in the salon.

 Everyone brought gifts that were charming and appropriate and special. The next day, we took a picture of them and me outside the little pavilion (which is separated from the main building) where Judy and I stayed.
Then my three were off to Chenonceaux, to sight-see, while I rested. When they returned, we had family time in the little salon: Scrabble and conversation. Next day we bade a fond farewell and headed for Tours for several days.
The others headed back to their respective homes, and Geof and I went to Villandry, one of the most famous châteaux/gardens in the world. I had not been for almost 40 years and was thrilled to see it as memorable and ethereal as I remembered.

So I got my birthday wish, the four of us were together!

With memories tangible and ephemeral to last a long, long time.

A perfect ending to a perfect week!

May you all have birthdays as joyous!