Saturday, 21 November 2009


...Collection, That Cerelle

I don't know what it is, but one collection seems to lead into another. Sometimes one sees something quite different from your avowed collection but it just calls to you, perhaps because it would look so nice with what you do collect.

I think of the frames we saw at Twila and Ted's house which showcased special pieces of their Quimper faience. Now there is a collection to continue.

Perhaps the item has a similar theme or motif, and one just cannot resist adding it to display together. Another collection I have, small by necessity, is terre verniseé. I have only a few pieces, but they are large ones and that has to keep me limited. These grand pots with the fabulous runs of glaze just give me goose bumps, and they are so very French, so I had to have a few.

Then there is the possibility that you are a Francophile, and like to include other items which add to the ambiance of France in your home. I felt this influence in the homes we visited in Dallas recently. Each had its own distinct personality, but each one felt French in many ways, and I would feel at home in any one of them.

This is not to say that I am French, or even can testify to what constitutes French decor, but I know what I like, and much of it includes French furniture and fabrics, and French faience of course. LOTS of French faïence.

I have several accidental collections. One which I have found has the advantage of being small and easily stored is hand fans.

A friend who lives in the Medieval town of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the region of the Tarn, showed me her collection of fans, and told me about the different styles and shapes and the dates they were made.. She told me about the materials used, and how to care for them.

These beautiful fans and their history intrigued me, and then when I returned to Arizona, I discovered that a couple of my friends here collected them too. So it was easy enough to join the club, and now I belong not only to the Quimper Club International, but FANA (Fan Association of North America) and our local division, the Southwest Connection.

I have also accumulated what can only be called a collection of Santons. This collection just sort of grew and before I knew it there was a huge extended family of little French folks in nineteenth century dress living in my display cabinets. I prefer ones made by particular santon makers, and the earlier ones by Simone Jouglas are my favorites. The two Arlesiennes in the story of the Camargue are by her and they are rather dear to me, as I saw them as my mother and me, (though she looked much better than that even at almost 102).

Soon many of them will make their annual pilgrimage to gather around the crêche under the Christmas tree representing all the vocations of the townsfolk as they pay homage to the Baby Jesus.

Santons, if well made, fit the criteria of my collections. Beauty or character, history, fine hand craftsmanship, and something of French culture.

I have thought about why I collect fans,
and it seems not so different.
I like them for their beauty, their place in time, their craftsmanship,
the hand painting or hand carved mother-of-pearl or ivory,
the handmade lace.

Why do I love faience? I love it for the beauty, the history, the fascinating stories they tell,and especially for the hand painting...about which I am very particular. So, I suppose, the reasons are really much the same.

There are many reasons to collect, but primary for me is the admiration of hand craftsmanship and individual artistry. In this era of mass production, and some of it pretty poor, it is a joy to see an item where the finest efforts have resulted in such beauty.

I feel ownership is a privilege, but also a stewardship. It is my pleasure to enjoy them in my lifetime, but also my responsibility to protect these one of a kind items for future generations. I look at them and wonder, who was the person who painted this? What was life like for them? I so much wish we knew the names of these artists. Some, we can know, but so many are just unknown.
I see that much of what I collect from French furniture to the collections listed bring to mind the 19th or even the 18th centuries.. Life was not better then, and in many ways was much harder..but I sometimes think that I may have been there...or at least, that is what my friends declare.

"You must have been French in a former life" they say. Oh, of course not, but still....

Some interesting web sites you might like to visit for more info on fans and santons:


  1. Cerelle, I was so pleased to find your wonderful post on this dreary, rainy Sunday! You have such great collections, I also like and collect the Santons, but am fascinated with your terre verniseé, must add at least one to my kitchen. Your fan collection is beautiful as well. You've chosen such beautiful faience. All of it is a true pleasure to behold! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Learning new things, (AND new words!) from your blog.
    These are some SERIOUS collections!
    I have some fans that I brought home from China, but alas they fall short in the shadow of your collection!

  3. Hi Cerelle,
    What lovely collections you have. And so prettily displayed, they look terrific. I love that you collect things because they "speak to you" in a way. That's the reason to have things in your home, I think. Those large terre vernisee' pots are gorgeous. I can understand that it would be difficult to walk away from one of them!
    Thanks for stopping by, hope you'll come back often. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
    Heidi - Heart and Home

  4. Cerelle, what fun it was to see some of your fans displayed with selected pieces of faience that mimic the design or feel of that individual fan. You did a terrific job! This was a fun and interesting post. Did you know there is a small fan museum in Healdsburg, CA? It's just a small one room space, but filled with interesting fans. Fans are definitely an interesting area in which to collect. Thank you for sharing more of your collection. ~ Sarah