Friday, April 27, 2012

Favorite French Things Friday - French Wire Ware or "Fil -de -Fer"

Have you ever thought about WHY you love “the French look?” I was thinking about this today and wondering what makes my favorite French rooms so interesting and captivating. Why is it that these rooms seem to speak to me and pull me in for a closer look often inspiring me to spend hours looking at each photo? I’ve decided that the answer for me is best described as the “French use of texture.” My favorite French rooms have a multi-dimensional, visual depth that can only be achieved with a layering of textures that appear to have been put together gradually over time.
When I dissect my favorite French rooms I see multiple layers of metal, wood, porcelain, fabric, glass, minerals and plants. My favorite rooms have many of these elements blended together to create a cohesive and beautiful “visual feast” of textures. Too much of any one texture would be flat and monotonous, but mixed together they add interest and depth to a table top or vignette.
One of my favorite textures often associated with French design is metal, specifically antique French Wire Ware or “Fil-de-Fer.” You’ve undoubtedly seen wire ware. No Provencal kitchen or patisserie appears complete without a piece or two of this utilitarian yet beautiful wire ware.
There’s been a recent resurgence in wire ware’s popularity spurred perhaps more today by its beauty than its original purpose of functionality and durability.  These pieces were originally made of a medium to thin gauge wire that was readily available and inexpensive and made to be used repeatedly  in the everyday workings of a French household. “Fil-de-Fer” pieces range from simple kitchen utensils and cooling racks to intricately worked compotes and chandeliers.
This antique French wire ware glass holder or bottle carrier is a wonderful example of the French ability to combine beauty and functionality. (From the collection of antique French items in My Faux French Chateau on-line store!)

One of my personal favorites is a large, vintage French wire ware basket that I use outdoors to hold wood for the fireplace. I love the size of this basket and its small hanging “shelf” that’s perfect for holding kindling wood and matches.

You can find vintage and antique French wire ware in antique stores, many of them on-line. However, pieces are becoming increasingly more difficult to find, and, like everything else that is popular, they are becoming more expensive to purchase.
I found this wonderfully decorative vintage French wire compote with tassels in the on-line store named “Relique” at

Many people associate French wire ware with vintage egg collection baskets like the one below from “Frog Goes To Market” at

Or, most of you have probably seen lots of examples of French wire market baskets. This is a beautiful one available at “Loop the Loop” an on-line store at

A much rarer and less often found (and much less affordable) example of antique French wire ware is this beautiful  19th  century French Wire Demilune plant stand found in the on-line store “Gore Dean” at

To make these popular wire ware pieces more readily available and affordable, Pottery Barn, Two’s Company, Wisteria and other home décor companies are offering wonderful reproduction wire ware products.
I especially like Pottery Barn’s French Wire Hampers. If you have to have dirty laundry hanging around the house it should at least hide out in something pretty!

(This photo and two below are courtesy of Pottery Barn)
In the past, Pottery Barn has also offered wire ware tea lights and chandeliers.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have a wonderful weekend.

Au revoir, Mitty

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mom, Memories and Chocolate French Silk Pies

I can’t think about Chocolate French Silk Pie without thinking of my Mom.

My mother was a baker and a cook.  As a mother of 7 children, and caregiver of our big family of 9, Mom had to work outside of the home. In the early 60’s when most Moms stayed at home and raised their children, my Mom got up before the sun rose each morning to dress and leave for work. I can still remember her as she looked each evening when she came home from work, dressed in her white uniform, nude colored hose, white “nurses” shoes, and carrying the mandatory hair net in her pocketbook. (Yes, she called it a “pocketbook.”)

When Mom came home from work, having baked and cooked all day, she cooked again – enough for 9 people. Creating a meal out of what appeared to us kids to be empty cabinets and refrigerator, Mom created dinner. I still don’t know how she did it. She would cook and my sister Mary and I would do the dishes afterwards. Mom seemed to dirty every pan in the house, cooking in whirlwind speed. Mary and I would sing “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Leader of the Pack,” and other old songs making cleaning the kitchen almost fun. Mary was older so of course she always got to sing the good parts of the songs, I got to sing the chorus. (I think I still hold a grudge about that one!)

Years later, being the youngest child in my family, Mom and I spent a lot of time together after the older kids moved out or away. I can remember Mom coming home from work and telling me how many pies she’d made that day. Full of life, with a loud voice and a laugh that filled the room, she’d tell me everything she’d baked that day. I vividly remember one day in particular Mom proudly telling me that she’d made 10 Chocolate French Silk Pies. She was working at Harold’s Restaurant at the time in Portsmouth, Ohio. When I look back on that day, I remember that I let her words drift through the air without much response. How boring I thought at the time, baking pies. I don’t know if I responded like every teen aged kid would have at that age, but I basically swept past her words and started talking about something “really important” - like what was going on in my life. How could French Silk Pies compare to my latest drama, my important world.

Talking about French Silk Pies was a way for Mom to share her world with me, to share with me the context and content of her life at work. To this day I wish I had listened to her more closely, validated her work, asked questions, got her French Silk Pie recipe, and maybe even had her show me how to make one. I’d let her know that I was proud of her – that making great pies was something to be proud of, not to mention being a provider financially for us.

My Mom passed away two years ago today. I miss her more with each passing day. I often think of all the times she’d cook and bake for me. She’d make my favorite apple dumplings. If it was just the two of us at home for dinner, she’d often make us breakfast for dinner. I loved that – bacon, eggs and toast for dinner. More than anything though, I could see me through her eyes, and she thought I was pretty wonderful. I grew up with that - thinking I was o.k. Mom gave me that.

So why am I telling you this? I guess it’s to share and in a way to tell Mom that I heard her when she spoke.

Listen to those around you when they share with you the details of their day, even when it seems so mundane. Hear them, see them. Validate their words with a response. Let them know that they matter and that what they do is of value.

In Mom’s honor, I'm making a Chocolate French Silk Pie today. MH’s birthday is tomorrow and we’ll have pie instead of a cake. Mom would like that!

Me - "Annie's Little Shadow"               My Mom

Monday, April 23, 2012

Antique Hungarian Wall Fountain Just Added to My Faux French Chateau Store!

It was a beautiful weekend this past Saturday and Sunday here in Fort Worth, Texas! The weather was perfect and I spent as much time as possible outdoors. It was the perfect weekend to pull out an antique piece that I found in an antique store in Georgetown, Maryland.
I just added this piece to My Faux French Chateau Store. It is a charming antique Hungarian Wall Fountain made in Budapest. This early 1920's fountain was originally used as either a wall fountain or basin and was probably hung on the side of a building in an old town square.
These old fountains were cast from a solid iron material, some were painted in various colors, some in white. I love the old chippy patina of this fountain and have hung it on a brick fence so that you can see how lovely it is planted with flowers and greenery.
This fountain has casted on its front the words “Fried Zsigmond” and “Budapest" and would be a wonderful and unusual addition to your own Jardin!

 Au revoir, Mitty

Monday, April 16, 2012

PAIR of Vintage Spanish Sunburst Mirrors

Two weeks ago at the Round Top Antiques Show, I purchased a PAIR of vintage Spanish Sunburst Mirrors. These 15" diameter carved gilt wood mirrors are in an 18th century Spanish style from the early 2nd quarter of the 20th century.  I had to purchase these vintage sunburst mirrors as they are becoming more and more difficult to find and pairs of these are even rarer.

The name given to this type of mirror seems quite obvious – they mimic the sun and rays of sunshine. The center is typically a flat or convex mirror and gilded wooden “rays” radiate from the center. If you look at any current decorating magazine you’re bound to see at least one Sunburst Mirror within its pages – probably more. Sunburst Mirrors have been in and out of “vogue” for years.

The first image depicting a sunburst mirror in room design is seen in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 painting, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. This oil painting on oak depicts the newly married couple in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges. In this painting you can see numerous signs of wealth including the convex mirror in a wooden frame. This mirror is cited as one of van Eyck’s “departures from realism” as the mirror was larger than such mirrors could have actually been made at the time.

The Arnolfini Marriage (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Detail of convex mirror in painting.

Although this painting dates back to 1434, current legend has it that the French King, Louis XIV, known as “Le Roi Soleil” or “Sun King” is responsible for the popularity of this mirror design. In 1653 a teen aged Louis XIV performed in a series of dances in the Ballet de la Nuit. For his final piece in this ballet he appeared as Apollo, god of the sun, wearing a golden corselet and a kilt of golden rays.  After this performance Louis XIV chose the sun as his royal symbol. The actual symbol became the head of Apollo surrounded by rays of light. Apollo was the god of music, poetry, plague, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge and was the heavenly body that gave life to all things. (Louis XIV obviously had a healthy sense of self-worth!)

Some historians caution though that we should not attribute the design of the Sunburst Mirror to Louis XIV. This camp of historians believe that mirrors in this design were actually an unexpected result of the French Revolution. These historians believe that French Revolutionaries stormed monasteries and churches and took away gilded aureoles of celestial rays (halos) that circled above statues of the Holy Family and Saints. These empty halos were subsequently purchased by collectors and antique dealers who then placed mirrors into the empty circular space creating what would become known as the "sunburst mirror!"

Whatever history you choose to believe - whether Louis XIV or the French Revolutionaries created the sunburst mirror - most of us will agree that the sunburst mirror is a beautiful design and is an eye-catching feature in interior design. And, who can be sad with the sun radiating from within a room?

Here are some beautiful rooms made even more beautiful by the use of sunburst mirrors. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Veranda Magazine

Designer: Amy Howard
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Southern Accents

Au revoir, Mitty

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Painted Swedish Secretary from Lone Ranger Antiques

If you saw my post last week about Jeffree Turney and Lone Ranger Antiques, you saw the picture of Jeffree, his sidekick and MH loading something into our car.

I went to Lone Ranger Antiques to see Jeffree's beautifully painted Swedish antiques and to search for small side tables. I left with a new secretary! I've always wanted one of these and have the perfect spot for it in my great room. I had to move a small chest but this larger piece fills the space better and is the perfect scale to offset the large painted French armoire on the other side of the room.

Painted French armoire on opposite side of the great room.

Like most of Lone Rangers Antiques pieces, this secretary was purchased by Jeffree at auction in Sweden, taken back to his workshop and restored.  Jeffree's signature restoration process consists of stripping the existing paint or finish (usually done in Sweden by another shop that strips furniture),  painting with milk paint, sanding out the highest edges with sand paper to create a distressed look, and then finishing the piece with furniture wax and stain.

On my secretary, Jeffree used Oyster White milk paint for all but the inside back of the hutch. The inside paint is a grey shade of latex paint. In the picture below you can see the subtle color differences. In my home the back appears to be a very soft blue color. It is perfect in this room and the color is a great backdrop for my leather books, deer antlers, oyster eggs and white porcelain.

I love all of the drawers and compartments on this secretary. I especially love the scalloped wood detailing on either side of the middle compartment and the graduated sizes of the four drawers on either side of the piece. There is even an open compartment in the bottom middle that is the perfect size for a laptop computer. (I am not sure but there may have originally been a drawer in this area.)

In May, 2010 Jeffree Turney was a guest of the Martha Stewart Show where he demonstrated his furniture milk painting and distressing techniques. You can view Martha and Jeffree painting and waxing an antique Swedish Mora clock at

I've also copied and pasted below Jeffree's milk painting instructions from the Martha Stewart website.

The Martha Stewart Show, May 2010
Give any piece of furniture a beautiful Gustavian finish with this milk painting technique from Jeffree Turney of Lone Ranger Antiques.

Tools and Materials
  • Any wooden item, new or old
  • Paint stripper, if necessary
  • Milk paint
  • Water
  • Large recycled plastic container, such as an empty iced tea or lemonade jug
  • Plastic fork
  • Paintbrush
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 300-grit sandpaper
  • Howard Feed-N-Wax furniture wax
  • Minwax in Dark Walnut
  • Latex or Rubber Gloves
  • Socks
  • Long plastic-bristled scrub brush
Milk Painting How-To1. Strip item to raw wood.
2. Mix 1 cup milk paint to 2 parts water in a large recycled plastic container.
3. Paint trim and base coat in one stroke from end to end, along the grain.
  • Use fork to continually stir paint and keep it evenly mixed.
  • Don't let milk paint drip on itself (don't hold paint container over painted surface).
  • Paint fast because milk paint dries quickly -- especially in dry, warm weather.
4. Use 100-grit sandpaper to distress highest edges (where wear and tear would most likely occur over the years). Use 300-grit sandpaper to smooth flat surfaces.
5. Mix 20 percent "Howard's Feed 'n' Wax" furniture wax to 80 percent "Dark Walnut" Minwax.
6. Wearing latex or rubber gloves covered with socks, apply wax. Use a paint brush for tight spots. Rub off excess wax immediately with a long plastic-bristled scrub brush.
ResourcesGenuine old-fashioned homemade milk paint is available from Howard Feed-N-Wax is available on Amazon. All other tools and materials are available from The Home Depot.

Au revoir, Mitty

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter to all...."Joyeuses Pâques"

May Easter be a truly special day for you and one filled with all that brings you joy and peace.

(Vintage French Easter Postcards Courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

"Joyeuses Pâques"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jeffree Turney and Lone Ranger Antiques at the Old Henry Farm Antique Show!

Sunday MH and I drove to Round Top, Texas for Texas Antiques Week. I had a list of the Shows I wanted to visit and the vendor booths I wanted to see. Knowing that I had only one day and hundreds of antique booths from which to choose, I made a list of "must see" vendors. First on my list was Lone Ranger Antiques at The Old Henry Farm Antique Show.

Antique Swedish clock face signage on Lone Ranger Antiques tent - even the signage was beautiful!

As we turned into the Show we immediately saw a huge white tent with row after row of painted Swedish furniture and beautiful Mora clocks. The outside top of the tent as well as the bordering wood rail fence were decorated with large Swedish National flags. Much to my delight, tall Swedish clocks dotted the front outside area of the tent. These milk-painted white, french bleu and grey clocks seemed to be standing outside teasing you to come into the tent and see more. It worked!

As I entered the tent I immediately spotted Jeffree Turney, founder and owner of Lone Ranger Antiques. I'm always pleased when I find a designer or antique dealer whose aesthetic inspires me- I'm ecstatic when I actually meet that person and find them to be enjoyable as well! Such is the case with Jeffree Turney. I was immediately charmed by Jeffree's somewhat self-deprecating sense of humour and openly welcoming personality. What struck me immediately was that he was approachable. Even though his antiques are highly sought after, blogged about endlessly (I guess that includes this blog post!) and appear in highly respected magazines such as "Veranda," he doesn't take himself too seriously. The Lone Ranger charmed me and made MH and me laugh.

Jeffree Turney "The Lone Ranger" and me in his tent at Texas Antiques Week. (Vanity made me cut off the bottom part of this picture.)

Jeffree visited with MH and me sharing stories about himself, his business and the Swedish antiques that he obviously loves. Jeffree started Lone Ranger Antiques in 1986 and currently spends several months a year in Sweden, attending auctions and searching out unique 18th and 19th century Swedish country antiques. These antique finds are either left in their original finish (if still in good condition) or the finish is stripped and the piece painted. You can check out The Lone Ranger's beautiful selection of Swedish furniture and clocks at  The Lone Ranger lives in Florida and has a work shop there as well, but he has no retail store and sells his beautiful antiques on his on-line web store or at the Spring and Fall antique shows in Round Top, Texas and Brimfield, Massachusetts.

I took pictures of some of the beautiful antiques Jeffree has to offer this year at Round Top. Imagine what a calming yet perhaps unexpected impact one or two of these pieces would add to a room.

Painted Swedish chair, chest and table.

Painted Swedish Secretary.

I drooled over this beautiful, pale bleu Swedish clock (sometimes referred to under the broad name of "Mora" clock. Check out The Lone Ranger's website for more information on the types of tall clocks he offers.) 

For what furniture pieces has The Lone Ranger received the most requests recently? The answer is demi-lune tables, specifically pairs of demi-lunes!  These beautiful yet multi-functional tables can be used individually or a as pair to symmetrically balance a room or even placed together to form a circular table for a home entry hall, etc.
"Um, that's right, Kemosabe", demi-lunes can be used in multiple ways!

Large, painted cabinets with glass fronted hutches.

An amazing selection of Swedish wall clocks!

After romancing several pieces of furniture and an hour of deliberation, I selected one piece from The Lone Ranger's tent. It was a tough choice, there were so many pieces I could picture in MFFC. Here's Jeffree and his sidekick (O.k. I can't help but use the Lone Ranger references!) helping MH load the piece into our car. They did a great job finding a way to get it to fit into the car, getting it out once we got home was much more difficult but well worth it!

Happy with my new found treasure safely stowed in our car and me redecorating my great room in my mind, MH and I headed out to explore more of the hundreds of beautiful antique booths just waiting to be discovered in Round Top. The Lone Ranger Antique tent was a perfect start to a perfect day.

So Jeffree, this new Lone Ranger fan thanks you for your hospitality and generous spirit. Keep doing what you do so well, keep bringing beautifully painted Swedish antiques to "the States" and ride that milk-painted pony for as long as you can!

"Hi-yo, Silver, away!"


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fabulous French Finds at Texas Antique Week!

Texas Antique Week can only be described as "A Francophile's Heaven!"  Knowing I had a busy week ahead of me this week and that Sunday was my only day to check out this highly acclaimed antique show, MH and I headed out to Round Top, Texas at dawn-thirty this past Sunday morning. Coffee in hand and moving pads in tow (just in case) we took off on this 3 1/2 hour drive.

New to the antique selling business, and looking for venues for showing my own treasures, I told myself that I was going to Round Top to conduct "business research" and to see if this was a show that I might want to haul my goods to when it occurs again in the fall. (This antique show is held in the Spring and Fall each year.)

Well I arrived at the first tent at the Old Henry Farm Antique Show (in Round Top) and all professed business acumen sort of flew out the proverbial window. When I saw the bounty of treasure in front of me I became simply giddy. As I gleefully sprinted from treasure to treasure last Sunday, looking at beautiful antique after even more beautiful antique, I kept asking myself "Is this Heaven?"  I have to tell you, I've never seen so many wonderful vintage and antique pieces amassed in one area before. For some shoppers it could have been overwhelming - for me it was like a dessert buffet line in which I had to stealthily choose on which desserts to spend my appetite. I scoped out all of the vendor booths that had the overall look that appeals to me. There were abundant antiques of all types at the show, but I chose to spend my time in booths with the "Frenchy" looking items that I like.

After spending a long time at Old Henry Farm Antique Show, we then drove a short distance on down North Highway 237 to Arbor Antiques Show. Here we found a 12 acre venue featuring tent after tent, booth after booth of American and European antique furniture and linens. French antiques were plentiful and choosing one or two items was difficult - I loved it all!

I'd like everything on this table please.........

And, if money were no object, all of these antique vellum books would come home with me as well.

If you're thinking about heading out to participate in Texas Antique Week this week, keep in mind that there are antique shows in three towns; Carmine, Warrenton and Round Top. Some people travel to the area and spend a whole weekend or even longer to allow themselves time to see everything. Once you decide on which town you are heading to first, you then need to decide what "Show" you are going to visit. I chose to go to Round Top. Once we arrived, I had to decide which of the NINE antique shows  I wanted to check out first. Each Show has multiple booths or tents within their space. For example, I went first to Old Henry Farm Antique Show. Here there were multiple tents on this 22 acre venue!

After leaving the Old Henry Farm Antique Show, we headed out towards Marburger Farm which hosts 350 plus dealers on 43 acres! I was so excited as I've heard and read so much about the awesome antiques at this show. Much to my disappointment, this show was incorrectly advertised as running from March 28th through April 8th. It actually opened to the public yesterday and runs through April 8th. Someone told me that perhaps it opens to "the trade" earlier - I am not certain. Oh well, I'll catch this show in the fall.

The original Round Top antiques show, credited for starting this Texas Antique Week event, is The Big Red Barn and runs April 4th through April 7th.

If I could, I'd head back out to Round Top this weekend. This weekend will be THE WEEKEND for all you Francophiles to look for your own French treasures. There's so much from which to choose. Happy shopping!

Au revoir, Mitty

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fleurs de Printemps (Spring Flowers) in Texas!

 Driving to Round Top, Texas yesterday for "Texas Antique Week," we enjoyed the special treat of field after field of Bluebonnets in full bloom!

MH pulled the car to the side of the road so that I could take pictures. They were so beautiful.

This morning I took pictures of the Encore Azaleas in bloom in the front yard of My Faux French Chateau. They're at their peak bloom and are beautiful this year. I love these azaleas and can't believe they bloom both in the Spring and again in the Fall (hmmmm, hence the name "Encore" I guess.) 


In the back yard, pink Double Knockout Roses are also in full bloom! It seems so odd that both azaleas and roses bloom at the same time here in Texas. I always think of azaleas as "Spring flowers" and roses as "Summer flowers." I'm still getting used to gardening in Texas but I think I'm going to love springtime here!

This morning I'm also working on a couple of posts about Texas Antique Week. This was my first time to experience this amazing antique show and I can't wait to share my pictures and "trésors" with you! There was so much to see and way too little time.

Until tomorrow......

Au revoir, Mitty