Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hunting Vintage Textiles Abroad

Saturday, June 29, 2013
David and I just returned from an amazing two-week trip to Switzerland. Although we were married the end of November, being a teacher meant the honeymoon trip had to wait until summer. 

It was worth the wait.

Although we certainly spent the bulk of the trip seeing the usual Swiss highlights: the Matterhorn, the glaciers, the Alps, the trains; we also found time to doing some vintage treasure hunting!

First, the obligatory shot of the two of us with the Matterhorn in the background.

And now, on to the vintage textiles. 

We came perilously close to a flea market as we toured past the market in Locarno--I even saw a stack of banana boxes filled with treasure, but alas, we could not stop. We also found a vintage clothing store, but it was closed.

But finally, in Locarno, in the southern part of Switzerland, we did find a genuine second-hand shop, filled with junk and treasures. There were some very lovely linens, but the prices were--like everything else in Switzerland--very high.

We had lots of fun digging, and I did buy a pretty linen Kreier tablecloth and another embroidered linen table topper. Kreier is a Swiss company that specializes in table linens, handkerchieves and scarves.

There were textiles to admire, of course. On our tour of Stockalper Castle in Brig, we found a lovely embroidered banner. It was hard to photograph under plexiglass without a glare, but here is a section of it:

We visited a tiny little village all the way up in the Valley Verzasca called Sonogno, where they had a museum and some lovely examples of linens and traditional clothing:

And on a hidden shelf in one of the little shops in 
Sonogno, I found these beautiful, hand embroidered pieces. Through a complex (and sometimes hilarious) exchange with the shopkeeper, during which we spoke German (David's contribution), French (my contribution), a little English, and a little Italian (which only the shopkeeper knew), we discovered that they are designed to be bedskirts for a baby's crib, and they are made from antique linen bedsheets. I think they would be lovely as valances in a nursery window, don't you?

And lastly, we also visited a little museum in Grindelwald, a little village at the foot of the Jungfraujoch (the highest point in Europe, way up in the Alps), and found more gorgeous textiles!

But what I will never forget is the lace curtains that hang in nearly every chalet window across Switzerland.

I had to have some for my own. 

We searched and searched, and finally found a fabric store that sold the lace by the yard. Or by the meter, actually.

And now, every morning when we wake up, we will think of Switzerland as the sun shines through our new lace curtains!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Lure of the Banana Box

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I don't really like bananas. Maybe some banana nut bread, but just a plain banana? I'll pass.

But what I absolutely CANNOT pass is a banana box.

I'm not sure what trend-setting junker or flea market fanatic first decided that using banana boxes was the best way to pack and store her collection of treasures, but she should have patented it. She'd be sitting on a beach somewhere attended by an army of cabana boys with cold drinks.

But I digress.

When you have been to a lot of flea markets, or when you go to a couple regularly, you learn to be purposeful as you walk through the rows. Cheap sunglasses? Stacks of socks and underwear? Keep moving.

But there--THERE is a collection of neatly arrayed banana boxes! And that's where I want to be!

Sometimes vendors can trick you, and they fill their rows of banana boxes with cheap tchotchkes from China, and you beat a hasty retreat. But if you're lucky? Oh, joy!

Boxes of Schtuff. Junque. Auction flotsam and jetsam.

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