Friday, 2 August 2013

Thankfully the sun came out for the final Brocante of the year, creating a wonderful balmy atmosphere enhanced by Sylvan Biscoe's saxophone drifting through the stalls and later Saravian and her mellow jazz.  Caroline Penny's fabulous vintage tent provided a perfect backdrop with her pieces of furniture and vintage cases adding interest and colour.
 

The park and café filled up quite quickly, providing a steady stream of dealers and the general public alike.  I met quite a few dealers, a couple who had come from Kent, as well as a family from Florida who had seen the Brocante banner on their way into Bath.  There was plenty of interest from the eight stalls selling an eclectic mix of vintage and antiques, stunning vintage and antique textiles, household items and vintage clothes, as well as the delicious and very apt French sweets made by the wonderful Claire from Empire Edibles.


Lesley Hall from Bath Boules very kindly came and gave instruction in playing boules to anyone who wished for it, which my daughter, neighbour and I greatly enjoyed.  Lesley might even come and take space next year, following her trips to France.



 


Claire Peacey from Empire Edibles provided her fabulous sweet treats with a hint of adventure; I particularly enjoyed the absinthe fondants and pims and cucumber fudge.  She had also very considerately bought a glass urn full of rose and cucumber flavoured water, which was extremely refreshing in the heat. 


Alice Roberton from BBC Homes & Antiques, who had her stall selling subscriptions amongst other vintage items, was fascinated by these metal folding beach chairs that a lady (who was going to breathe some new life and canvas into them!) bought from me.



Sue from Buttercups and Daisies had a esoteric mixture of fabulous vintage clothes and exotic household objects.  I love my beautiful art deco swan jug I bought from her.  The lady who most of the items came from must have had a fascinating and creative life, each items with stories behind them.

 
 
Sally Lodge came with her stunning lamps, vintage prints and other stylish interior objects, as well as her father's incredible cards of brightly coloured crustaceans.

 
 
Just as the day was about to end a suffragette appeared on her bicycle and wondered through the Brocante with her friend dressed in early 1900s attire (wonderful vintage bicycle and hat!).  They had come to give a sample of their play "Oxygen" about and celebrating the 1913 pilgrimage from Lands End to Hyde Park gathering 46,000 signatures for a petitionto end child poverty, white slave traffic and sweated labour.  Incredible given there was no internet then! 
 

 

 
 
 
 
An inspiring and empowering way to end the day and the Brocantes for this year.  My thanks to Tony, Russ, all at the café, and to my family and friends for their support.
 



Monday, 24 June 2013

June's Brocante - 15th June 2013

Janet Burnett's fabulous reclaimed lamps made from terracotta finials and stylish bluebird tins, as well as a stunning mustard yellow jumper edged with a grey knitted boarder from the unusual collection of upcycled childrens' vintage clothes from re-be really stuck out for me at this Brocante.  Friendly dealers and customers created a happy Brocante and brightened up the surroundings.  As did the always quirky selection of French flea market finds and upcycled suitcases made by Steve Weekes at Texworks. 








This select group of dealers including my kind neighbour who sold her delightfully painted mirror and selection of stylish kitchenalia from France and Scandinavia, created a very relaxed and convivial atmosphere for the customers, some regular and others new, who came throughout the day.  A couple from Manchester who were in Bath for the weekend came and enjoyed reminiscing, recognising many items from her childhood on my stall!  I love nostalgia!




Adie came to play boules as the heavens opened, but managed to inspire my husband and daughter with a few games.

What really struck me at this Brocante, is how important the chance meetings and opportunities that present themselves at such events are for people selling  Even though sales might not be as expected, the people we meet and talk to are extremely important for gaining feedback and developing links and therefore future sales.

I sold a fabulous Silverwing retro kitchen shelf unit manufactured in Warwick in the factories that made parts for the iconic spitfire fighter plane to a couple who have a whole kitchen of such units.  I was very grateful for the history he told me of the silverwing shelves.  These classic designs from English Rose Kitchens were made thoughout the 1950s from top quality materials after World War II.  Source Kitchens of Bath are now restoring these kitchens to their former glory.  A double instance of resourcefulness and recycling!  I was so grateful for this history.



Come and browse for more intriguing finds and new stallholders such as Empire Edibles who create fabulous sweets with a hint of adventure, absinthe fondants and gin creams!, think French sweet shop meets Victoriana,  Suzanne Lawler from Buttercups and Daisies, BBC Homes and Antiques as well as regular dealers on 13th July, Alice Park Café, Lower Swainswick, Bath from 10am until 4pm, the day before Bastille Day!  There will be boules and other entertainments as an early suitable celebration.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Jazz and Boules at the Brocante - 11th May 2013

Another fabulous day at the Brocante in Alice Park on Saturday despite the blustery weather. We set up in beautiful sunshine and Saravian who came to sing her wonderful jazz certainly brought out the sun later.  People came to browse the fabulous array of decorative antiques, wonderful prints of vintage bathers, vintage jewellery and stunning lampshades, whilst sampling the delights of the café. Adrian Chivers and Chris Garratt had brought along their boules friends and played for a while, creating a wonderfully relaxed vibe. They were kind enough to let me have a go and I'm now hooked! 







 
Eirlys very kindly came to lend her quirky bunting and looked quite the picture of French chic putting it up in the morning sun.  Sarah Corbett brought a little bit of vintage beach as she moved in with her wonderful beach hut, a print of beach antics at Trouville nestling behind.  As she and Eirlys reminisced about the beach there thoughts of Jacques Tati's "Mr Hulot" came to mind.  Wouldn't it be great to be able to have an open air showing in the park me thinks.  Sarah's prints of bathers and beach scenes were wonderfully evocative, and I adored her vintage bathing doll with its swimming cap, very similar to her fabulous leather one!

As ever I met interesting customers and had lovely chats with people and was thrilled to sell my glass paintings of two twinkling belles made from sweet wrappers during the war, to one of the boules players who collects them.  Very serendipitous.

A couple of weeks later I had a wonderful morning for Mrs Baer's retiring fair at her house and the Church Hall in Church Road, Bradford on Avon.  I entered through the cellars and weaved my way through rooms of stunning and varied textiles, edgings, antique dresses, baskets of napkins, pretty linen pillow cases.  Through Mrs Baer's room lined with shelves of French linen and hemp sheets, some monogrammed in beautiful fonts, grain sacks and pretty French café curtains and others hanging.  Into Sue another cellar with Sue Stokes's stunning stall, with more treasures, vintage girdles, unusual textiles with the prettiest prints.  I bought an original French floral pinny, perfect for wearing at my job in the café at the Pound Arts Centre. 





I loved these very unusual fair ground decorations with their fibrant colours.


It is always a joy to see Jen Jones and her incredible selection of Welsh quilts and blankets.  I would definitely recommend a visit to her fascinating and beautifully set out Museum of Welsh quilts and shop, in Lampeter.


 


One of Joanna Heptinstall's stunning and quirky lampshades greeted us on the street outside the entrance! and there were more inside.  I love the shape and fabrics with their delicious frills.  Above the cellars was Mrs Baer's beautiful terrace edged with red rock roses.  I sat with a friend in the sun drinking coffee and looking at each others' treasures that we'd bought and admired things that the couple of ladies at the next door table had bought!  The church hall was as ever full of stunning textiles and antique clothes, and it was great to catch up with Liz van Hassault in her incredible patchwork coat.

It was an inspiring day tinged with sadness that this would be the last time that such a gathering will be happening again there under Mrs Baer's helm.  I admire her creativity, integrity and dedication to the textiles she has amassed and their history.  I salute her!

 
I love this little family of 1950s dolls which will definitely be coming to the next Brocante on 15th June, 2013 in Alice Park from 10am until 4pm.  There are some spaces left so if you are interested in taking space please contact Katherine Gilmore via this blog or at gilmorekatherine@hotmail.com or on 07951 889056

Thursday, 2 May 2013

"Roll out those Hazy, Crazy, Lazy Days of Summer!"

Is the start of Summer finally here?!  I cycled back from work today in glorious sunshine, with the sounds of the birds around me, seeing a riot of colour in the hedgerows, all against a clear blue sky, .... heaven.  I was thinking of the fast approaching Brocante and the shape that it is taking this year.  We have our regulars Steve and Ivan Weekes with their eclectic and exciting array of Brocante, Chris Garratt from "Old Hat" with his quirky retro items, as well as vintage clothes and fabulous badges from various societies (they make me want to join some of them).  Caroline Penny will be bringing her beautiful vintage marquee and array of Brocante inside it, come and rummage inside its calming canvas.

Joining us for the first time this year is my lovely and talented friend Alice Dent with her fabulous jewellery made from vintage beads.  I've spent many a happy day buying with her at Kempton Antiques fair.  I shall be selling too and have some new and unusual wares, in the shape of a vintage horse from a playground of bygone years, some very nostalgic Cunard Line memorabilia from the 1950s and a Mettoy metal dolls house and quirky plastic furniture.






There seems to be a theme developing for this year's Brocantes, it being the Sea.  Think of a journey from New York to Southampton on RMS Queen Mary with the Cunard Line on 31st May 1954. 
 
All sorts of romantic images are conjured up by stylish baggage labels with the instructions "Jewelry Cases, Coats, Furst, Cameras, Small Bags should be retained in the possession of passengers." 
Entertainment would involve a quick session in the gymnasium (open for Exercise from 7 to 7pm), a showing of "The Runaway Bus" with Frankie Howard and Margaret Rutherford after lunch, relaxing in A Deck lounge to the dulcit tones of Charles Saxby at the Hammond Organ to mention a few.  American and British news broadcasts would punctuate the afternoon, before preparing and dressing in beautiful 1950s dresses for cocktails in the Mermaid Bar, Prom. Deck.  An incredible 8 course dinner offering all the latest culinary excitements of the age would be the next entertainment:  Mixed Hors d'Oeuvre, Pigeon en Cocotte, La Valliere, Saumon poche, Sauce Mousseline, Poire Belle-Helene washed down with Red and White Bordeaux.  To end the evening there would be dancing in the Rose Room to the Queen Mary Dance Orchestra.  What an incredible day, would be happy to experience that today!  My parents are off on a cruise starting from Seville and sailing round Spain and Portugal - will have to compare notes!

I wonder whether Betty Brixham would have experienced such a crossing!  She is the star of the show produced by the fabulous Sarah Corbett who I met with her beautiful stripey changing tent at Frome Artisan market and the Bath in Fashion V&A fair in April.

The Swimmer
Set in the golden age of bathing, cross channel swimming champion Betty Brixham lifts the canvas of her bathing hut to reveal the swimmer as hero, eccentric and romantic.
Aided by goose fat, buoyancy aids, and commemorative bunting, all produced from the depths of the mobile modesty hut, Betty tells her tall tale of the cross channel swim and other swimming exploits.

“With grace and vigor I stepped from my bathing hut on to the promenade. Dressed in my finest bathing suit and matching cap, I climbed the steps of the Admiralty Pier. The sun was not shining, the sea was not calm. Taking a deep breath, I fixed my eye upon the prospect of France …”

Inspired by early cross channel swimming exploits and mythologies of the sea.
Whether our lives progress swimmingly or the tide turns on our fortunes, this story provides a metaphorical undercurrent to our heroin and her epic ambition to swim to France. Meet Betty, an athlete of the imagination, and her gloriously absurd tribute to the golden age of bathing.


'The Swimmer' is in development as a solo story telling: this is a scratch performance.




Here is a taster of what is involved from Sarah:-

The Swimmer
Set in the golden age of bathing, cross channel swimming champion Betty Brixham lifts the canvas of her bathing hut to reveal the swimmer as hero, eccentric and romantic.
Aided by goose fat, buoyancy aids, and commemorative bunting, all produced from the depths of the mobile modesty hut, Betty tells her tall tale of the cross channel swim and other swimming exploits.


“With grace and vigor I stepped from my bathing hut on to the promenade. Dressed in my finest bathing suit and matching cap, I climbed the steps of the Admiralty Pier. The sun was not shining, the sea was not calm. Taking a deep breath, I fixed my eye upon the prospect of France …”


Inspired by early cross channel swimming exploits and mythologies of the sea.
Whether our lives progress swimmingly or the tide turns on our fortunes, this story provides a metaphorical undercurrent to our heroin and her epic ambition to swim to France. Meet Betty, an athlete of the imagination, and her gloriously absurd tribute to the golden age of bathing.




'The Swimmer' is in development as a solo story telling: this is a scratch performance.
 
 
Sarah will be selling her imaginative prints of swimmers and other items.  I love her handmade shoes too (decorative items and not to be worn!)
 



 On a different note, I loved this lady and her hat at the Bath in Fashion V&A fair on 21st April!  Who was she watching?!



Also I love this knitted bunch of flowers I found in Frome last month.  What an incredible amount of work must have been put in to it.  I have a long way to go with my knitting, but perhaps I'll have a go once I've finished my husband's vintage jumper!

 
 
So come along to the first Brocante on 11th May, bring your friends and come and find a treasure to go home with!
 

 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Spring is in the Air

I love that spring is in the air: the daffodils appearing, my youngest daughter busily digging her garden, as well as ours bless her!  The thought of seaside foraging trips, picnics on balmy summer days, baskets filled with vintage melamine, sandwiches and cake, and of course nights spent under the stars in our beautiful bell tent, seem not so far away now.

I was hugely inspired by the Vintage Bazaar at Devizes Corn Exchange on Saturday 2nd March.  Well done Liz and Claire!  As ever they had brought together a wonderful and eclectic mix of sellers. Everywhere I looked there were beautiful bundles of vintage fabric, vintage aprons and hats, quirky French knitting boxes, retro cupboards in bright, cheerful colours.  I was tempted by many things and came home with some pretty embroidery threads for my new sewing project, a stunning French vintage Easter card, two fabulous glass pictures of bo-peep women, as well as some vintage cards.  Having sat by my cosy fire in a rare relaxing moment and tucked into a copy of "Pretty Nostalgic" magazine, it made me aware of how beautiful items can be recycled and used in different ways so that they can be seen and appreciated.  I was reading about a couple who decorated their home using secondhand and found items and reinvented them in an incredibly imaginative way.  For example using vintage suitcases as wall cupboards and finding retro kitchen units on the street.  Not to mention the quirky flying glasses hanging from a peg.

I loved Delightfully Vintage and all her treasures.  I could fill my house with her quirky vintage items, and make cakes from 1950s baking books, with new ideas for decoration.  Not to mention vintage materials with fabulous patterns to make cushions etc.  I hope Lynsey will be joining us for the Brocantes.


This pretty French wire mirror reminds me of a French wedding mirror I found in an antique shop in Lily Road, London, and so evocative of Brocantes in pretty French villages.



My favourite item was this stunning circa C19 velvet corset with exquisite lace edging, from the Rue Faubourg St Honore in Paris. 


I found the prettiest Easter card from Sarah Dinsmore who was selling vintage and antique textiles and haberdashery.  I'm always so heartened by the sheer amount of detail and unusual colours used in vintage cards, and the amount of care that must have been put into them.  Definitely gives me food for thought to create my own and to try and inspire my children to.  I also bought some pretty embroidery threads to make some more embroidered cushions.  My good friend Issy inspired me to make embroidered pictures on material, by tracing a picture onto material and embroidering the outline.  I was quite pleased by one I made for my father of a fashionable couple in Paris, which I was as a mosaic in the Carnovali Museum in Paris.



Just to mention that this year's Brocantes in Alice Park, Bath will be on the 11th May, 15th June and 13th July 2013.  If there are any Brocantes dealers who would like to come and join this ever evolving and French style vintage and antique market surrounding the fabulous Alice Park Cafe, please contact me for more details.