Artisan Pursuits

Trending in 2016 is the hunt for Artisan goods. The draw? The aesthetic, the craftsmanship, and the story.
Over the years I’ve frequented many an antique store, architectural salvage shop, galleries, and out of the way “what’s it not” shops in search of the cool. The hunt is motivation, to an extent. I must confess, I do not enjoy sifting tediously through shelves and cases of stuff. However, perseverance rewards when one’s eye just happen to fall on some unique treasure partially hidden amidst a jungle of antiquated clutter. So, maybe just five more minutes!

Sourcing :

As our 20th anniversary was approaching, my husband casually inquired where I might like to go if it could be anywhere in the world. Without hesitation, the word “Paris” came out. After about thirty seconds of dreaming, I put the discussion out of my mind and got on with my day. A week or two later he brought up the discussion again. As we were talking, he casually produced two round trip tickets to the City of Lights and said, “I hope you’re free during these dates!”

It was an incredible trip! Taking in everything possible, we toured the city, cruised the Seine, and visited the Eiffel Tower. In the evenings after dinner, we would stroll down the narrow streets, admiring the city’s incredible architecture. A glance up often revealed a glimpse of an apartment ceiling with beautifully crafted ceiling medallions and the rich period detail infused into the interiors of the historic Parisian flats.
Toward the end of our trip, we took the Metro to the outskirts of the city in hopes of finding the Paris flea markets. Armed with a small English-French pocket dictionary, we set out. Exiting the metro at the second to last stop on the line we found a small grocery and stopped in to ask directions. We quickly discovered that no one in this section of the city (or at least it seemed) spoke English. We quickly located the word “market” in the dictionary and managed to convey it with enough clarity that the shop keeper pointed us in the right direction.

From there, we followed a sea of people heading in the direction of the market (we hoped!). It was a huge series of connected buildings with several stories. The ground level was filled with ornate and expensive antiquities and furnishings. The further up one ventured, the lower the prices became. The top level opened to a vast panorama of more modest furnishings, salvaged ironwork, stacks of books, baskets, and trinkets both utilitarian and peculiar. Now on a more budget-friendly level, I was determined to find something to take home!

Not too far into the hunt, a glow from across the room caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, I could see that it was a small pendant of some kind. The iron body of the fixture was perforated with holes approximately one inch in diameter. Bubbles of glass spilled out of the holes creating a polka-dot effect. An informative discussion with the proprietor (who spoke a bit of English) revealed that the light fixture was actually a prototype invented in Paris in in 1905. This was the find! I had no idea just how I would incorporate it into my world but knew I would be taking it back across the pond.
Therein lies the first bit of advice when sourcing Artisan goods. Purchase something you absolutely and will always love. It must speak to you in a voice loud enough to overcome any objection of what to do or where to put. The question is never, “Do I really need it?” It is about the energy of the piece and the pleasure it brings. It’s about resonance and identification.

Incorporating :

Incorporating these special finds can be a little perplexing, but finding just the right place brings satisfaction equal to that of finding the piece in the first place.

Start by identifying the right room for your piece. Consider the interior architecture of the space. Does it compliment the form and character of your find?
Evaluate the strength of the piece. Can it stand alone or would it be better grouped with other objects or in a collection?
Consider function. Could your piece be used for additional storage, ambiance, illumination in a space, or some other creative use?
Juxtapose! Placing your piece in a space that is several periods apart from its era will highlight the piece and heighten interest. For example, place a mid century modern chair in a Victorian parlor. The juxtaposition of styles will highlight each and will generate great conversation.
Survey the overall effect. Stand back and look at the space. Is there a sense of intentional composition? A combination of elements, though seemingly disparate, will strike a chord. At times, dissonance is needed for accent and effect. Conversely, a smooth “sound” can inspire relaxation.

A trip to Paris is certainly one way to source unique and one-of-a-kind artisan goods. However, there are amazing destinations a little closer to home very worth visiting. Search for local antique stores, thrift shops, vintage markets, and art shows for the perfect artisan addition to your home d├ęcor.

By Jan McCollum | Womens Lifestyle 


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Lifestyle Magazine: Artisan Pursuits
Artisan Pursuits
Lifestyle Magazine
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