Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Paillasses and Peluches

Bric a bracs are a recurring theme for me because apart from the visual spectacle of a sea of  peluches (soft toys) or a crate of keys, they always have lots of old baskets in them.

Most of them are horrible commercial varnished things, made to sell cheaply, often imported from China or bought as  souvenirs in some far flung place.  Sometimes though, there are also old local baskets coiled from straw and bramble ( paillasses or paillassous)  that were made to store dried plums (these are known here as bourgnes) or to raise bread dough and no doubt many other uses  unimaginable to us now.

Unwillingly, as I am not too keen on clutter,  my studio has become  the rescue centre for these lovely old baskets as I find them too difficult to ignore in their often derelict state. This year however, I have blocked my ears when visiting bric a bracs  so that I cannot hear their plaintive cries, enough is enough! But I swear they know I am there. During the weekend of the Assumption  there were bric a bracs on Saturday as well as the  Sunday and I knew, somehow, I wasn't going to get away with coming  home alone. Having walked for at least an hour round the Sunday market in the streets of a local village and within metres of the car for a quick getaway,  I was feeling smug that not a centime had escaped my purse when I saw her. Sitting proudly above the sea of plastic junk on the wobbly wallpaper table, with her lid fitting as snugly as a sailors cap,  she was scanning  the hoardes as they pushed past  and before I had a chance to hide, she had spotted me and was calling out.

How could I resist? She was lovely, no holes, no worm, beautifully made, all that remained was to pay up. The owner had gone into her house to cook lunch and so was dragged out, wiping her hands on a tea towel, by someone manning the stall for her.  Apparently it had been made locally and had been in her family for four generations. We calculated that she must be over 100 years old but she really doesn't look it - the basket, of course, not the owner! She said she would have liked to have kept it for her children and grandchildren but they hadn't shown any interest in it. I won't tell you what I paid for her because it's not polite to talk about ladies this way, but it wasn't much,  lovely old baskets have little or no value for most people here now.

 Back in my studio she has found a warm, dry home and some friends. I will have to start finding good homes for them soon.....