Wednesday, 25 November 2009


We are thankful for our family now, and for family heritage which has made our lives whole

For country and the blessings of freedom which we are duty bound to uphold for those who come after

We are thankful for the capacity to improve our circumstances through education and hard work

We are thankful for access to good food and clean water and power to keep our homes warm or cool

We are thankful for all these daily things which we tend to take for granted yet so many do not have

As Quimper Clubs member we are thankful for Lucy and Katie whose friendship and foresight formed our club

We are thankful for all the presidents and officers who over the years have given many hours of their time and skills, directing, organizing, writing, editing the Journal, collecting dues and filing our tax reports, writing the minutes, running the website, sending out updates, and creating the blog, and all the many duties that running our club requires

We are thankful to so many dedicated and talented people who share their expertise freely

And all the generous members who have organized our meetings and planned the events which we look forward to and enjoy

And to those who have opened their lovely homes and welcomed us to share in their beautiful collections

We are thankful to the many authors who researched and wrote books which help us with our searching

And to the experts who have presented programs at our meetings and have helped educate as well as entertain us

We are thankful for the friendships we have formed through our affection for our faïence and our gatherings of common purpose



Wednesday, 4 November 2009

How It All Began

The first of the summer was spent walking and exploring, and taking photos and sketching and writing in our journals... and EATING. We walked to Montmartre and seems a long way to me now, and sketched in the Jardin des Plantes and along the quais, and we spent hours in the Louvre, and being art students we were enchanted with everything.

We went to the Boulangerie for our bread early in the morning and ran home with it still hot in our hands. We got to know the stores for each different item, beef, pork, HORSE MEAT! (horrors..poor horse!),fresh vegetables, and so on. We found a fine little restaurant just across the Boulevard Saint Marcel called l'Entr'acte, and would order whatever we had not ordered before, and ate it and loved it and would go back home and look it up in our dictionaire. "Umm, tripe sausage, Hmm, brains, Ahhh, sweetbreads (what were they?). Hmm., kidneys." NO Matter, they had been GOOD, and we would order them again. We became friendly with the waitress, Maria, and she would suggest things to try, and told us our chef and owner was a retired French Line chef. Lucky us!

We visited my friends, Nicole and Pierre Chapo, who were artists and designers, and who later had a prestigious furniture business called Meubles Chapo. In these early days as "starving artists", they had a tiny one room flat with Pierre's drafting table and a bed and their baby Nicolas, who had been born in Phoenix where I had met them. We laughed and talked and shared Turkish coffee (I never could get used to sweet coffee!) and it was Nicole who took us on a circuitous route through the Latin Quarter where they lived above that student restaurant, to find this tiny shop with items from Normandy and Brittany as Nicole and Pierre were from Normandy and thought that we should see this.

Well, WHAT was this colorful pottery?
So many patterns, and so many designs!
Some a bit gaudy,
I thought..but so different.

They also had beautiful costumed dolls..I had always loved pretty costumes, and had collected Storybook dolls as a young of course had to have a couple of those too.

My budget was very tight and there was a whole summer ahead, but I bought a lug bowl which for years, I used for my café au lait, and a fabulous pitcher by Kereluc which was the stylized head of a lady in a tall lace coiffe, and a doll from Pont Aven and one from Brignogan, wherever those places where.

And so began my collection of Quimper. There is much more to my summer adventure for some other time, and the tale of how my collection finally got beyond my few pieces will come later,
and needless to say, it HAS grown over the years, but my love for both France and French faïence, especially that of Quimper, has never wavered.

Vive la France!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

My Love Affair with France

How did it all start, this love affair with Quimper faïence? I suppose to begin at the beginning, I have to transport you all back to when I was a young college girl and spent a whole summer living in France. I had saved my money from baby sitting and birthday and Christmas gifts, and every way I could think of for four years to make this trip. At last, off I went with one of my college roommates on a Grayhound bus from Washington University in St. Louis to New York City. We traveled aboard the Liberté, the classic French Line ship renowned for excellent food and beautiful decor by Lurçat and other fine artists, (in First Class anyhow which we sneaked up to see).
It was a wonderful trip, full of fun and other students, both French and American. The food, I must say, even in Tourist class was all that was expected of French chefs. We docked at le Havre, and boarded the boat train to Paris. In those days, the windows slid open, and we hung out devouring the scenery as we headed for Gare St. Lazare in Paris and our promising summer adventure. When we arrived, I was woefully ignorant and did not even have the phone number of my French friend who had found us a room we could rent. It was an interesting experience searching the phone books trying to decipher the system. and somehow I finally found the address, but not her name. I called, and not speaking more than a few words of French.. I just asked for her by name, please. I later found that the phone was located in a student restaurant on the street level of the building, and my friend lived a couple of flights up..but someone went up and told her she had a phone call. Amazing!
My friend then called Mme, Pigny, the lady with whom we were to stay, and a bit later we were in a taxi with MUCH luggage..seems hard to believe that we used to travel that way. The taxi driver had a difficult time with my proud statement of the address. " Une sept sept rue Jeanne d'arc" I pronounced it well, too, as I had worked on THAT. Still, he was mystified. (Oh dear) Finally he said, "Oooh..Cent soixente-dix sept rue Jeanne d'arc" My turn to say "Oooh..." Then he took us along the loveliest route, and proudly showed us the illuminated Opera, and other beautiful buildings, even that soon after the end of the War, lighted and glorious in the early evening dusk, a magical sight.

We drove past a handsome statue of Jeanne d'arc to number 177, and were welcomed in by the concierge and Mme Pigny, who spoke less English than we French, but so friendly and enthusiastic that we had come. Up three stories, yes, you KNOW that is really the elevator, a lovely wrought iron encased relic, was not in use. (Nor was it to be all summer) Somehow we got Jane's trunk, and my hat box, and all our other luggage upstairs, and after some happy hand signal conversations, crashed into bed. In Paris, at last!!
That first morning, I was already enchanted with Paris!
We had a tiny balcony and I stepped out and took photos in both directions down our street. There on my left, was the statue of Joan of Arc, welcoming us all. The air was cool and fresh and smelled like we were out in the country!
I still have a vivid memory of that wonderful freshness.

I turned and took my own photo in the mirror of the armoire that was across the room.

I treasure that moment in time, when I was first in Paris, and already knew that I was in love with France, a country I have since come to know quite well.

To be continued...

(Thanks to Adela M. for the current photos of rue Jeanne d'arc)