Monday, February 14, 2011

On Collecting

I wonder if collecting is genetic? I am pretty sure it can be learned. Since I am a collector and love flea markets, especially those really scary ones on out-of-the-way highways, I had to encourage my kids to collect so they wouldn't moan and groan when forced to accompany me to flea markets on our annual summer vacation. Some years, it was Maine, on the road between Bath and Wiscasset and other years it was that long flat highway heading into Seaside, Florida. They were troopers. Ultimately, only one child caught the bug.

The child collector began with acorns and graduated to toy weapons. He got as far as a small BB gun and moved on. Whew! That was close.

The young collector never let me throw anything away. Is another name for collecting, hoarding? Maybe. It runs in the family. His grandmother is a hoarder. For years we blamed the Depression. Eighty-six-years old and she collects junk mail. In a plastic bag it goes, and like a drug addict hiding weed, it gets stashed anywhere and everywhere. Behind the bed, the TV-every surface in the house is covered. Even in the bathroom. It is amazing where you will find these bags.

Now, the collecting gene has passed to another generation. The young collector's son, now 8 years old, has been bitten. Just like the young collector he began with toy guns.

Last Thanksgiving we had a guest from London with us. He, like most 20-somethings from London, think all Americans have guns and are gun crazy. Even though we told him our house was a no-gun zone, I doubt he believed us. We had guns everywhere. Tiny, less than an inch toy guns on a shelf in a bedroom, squirt guns of all sizes on end tables, in baskets of towels in the bathrooms, on the stair landing, and on floor-everywhere. It was so embarrassing.  

Although he seems top be growing out of the gun phase and acorns aren't his thing, he is definitely a collector.
Well, you will see.

"Granny, I need a real big basket," he said. "Why?" I asked.
"I have some things to put in it." "What kind of things?"
"Lots of things."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A 1938 French Wallpaper Book and The Kings Speech

Colin Firth as King George VI. From The King's Speech

I recently saw The King's Speech and was fascinated with the wallpaper. In fact, some have called the wall in Lionel Logue's office a character all by itself. I agree. But, my favorite was the wallcoverings in the rest of his home and elsewhere. They reminded me of something I had seen before.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in The King's Speech

Last year I purchased a French wallpaper sample book from a dealer of French decorative arts. I couldn't resist it-imagine my delight when I realized the front cover was dated 1938. The cover was a little worn, otherwise everything was intact. 
The art director for the movie could have used the patterns in the book as inspiration for the set design.
Take a look.

You can barely see the gold stamped "1938."

Following are some of the hundreds of patterns in this very heavy book.

Complex pattern


My favorite.

Reminds me of an art quilt.

This one looks like a linoleum pattern.

Another one perfect as a floor covering.

I think these flowers are particularily fabulous!

Soft and exquisite.


I call this one "I think my grandmother had this on her bedroom walls."

What a color combination. Elegant and cool!

On the wall this will read as a solid red.

Another iconic pattern

I am still trying to figure out if that is a helicopter at the top right.

Looks familiar-iconic French children's illustration.

Hare, dead or alive

Marie Antoinette?
It cannot be French without a toile.

Love the wallpaper inset into the picture frame molding.
Very Elsie De Wolfe.

The Chase. There is always a chasse!

The Price List

The End

If you are interested in purchasing this book, check out

Photography by Valerie Hutnan