Friday, December 08, 2006

Shopping expedition for Biot glass

Perhaps it's an attack of Blogger's Block, but there's to be no attempt today at writing a thoughtful , analytical or reflective essay. In any case, the gals are usually so much better at that sort of thing than we fellas (Colin Randall's Salut! excepted). Hopefully the block will pass.

In the meantime, I shall today content myself with attaching what is ,in essence, a series of captions to each of 7 pictures. Word of warning: it's anyone's guess where the captions will end up, thanks to the perverseness of Blogger's software.
The first picture is Biot village, just a few miles from Antibes where we live. In days gone by it was famous for its earthenware pottery. Nowadays, it's better known for its superb decorative glassware.

There are many so-called villages perchés in this part of the world, a defensive measure in bygone days against Mediterranean raiders who made a living from pillaging coastal settlements.
Each has its own character. What makes Biot unusual is that it is situated not on a conical hill, but on an elongated spur of rock. In other words a ridge or bluff. Once you've made the steep climb, you then have the odd experience of finding yourself on a long and fairly straight "high street" (second picture) with no sensation of being elevated, except for the occasional glimpse of sea and distant hills through narrow alleyways. Who can blame the locals for
wanting to create a homely closed-in feeling?

On the left of the village high street picture, you can see a building with the sign "Verrerie d'Art". That was the objective of our Christmas shopping expedition, because beautiful objects are created there, and sold in the adjoining shop.
The third picture is the kiln, in the basement, as seen from the street. That's where we found Mme. Guyot, busy parcelling up glassware for dispatch, no doubt as Christmas presents for some lucky folk.

The fourth picture is the shop itself. Even from the street, you can see it's an Aladdin's cave of light and colour.

It's a shop that we have visited and patronized on 4 or 5 previous occasions, for buying presents, showing visitors (Hello Janet and Judith, if you're reading this), and for building up our own modest collection.

I should say that as much as we like delicate fragile-looking glassware, eg Venetian, some bad experiences in the past (children, removals etc) mean we now confine ourselves to items that are a compromise between attractiveness and robustness, as you will see in a moment.

Here's what you see as you step inside(fifth
picture) . By the way, all these pictures should
enlarge if you click on them.

As you can see, one of the specialities of Pascal Guyot's shop are what I call "toadstool" table lamps. They are made from coloured glass (not pottery) but can only be fully appreciated when illuminated. Each lamp has two bulbs, one in the base and one in the "cap". The effect can be stunning, bringing a patch of cheerfulness to the dullest corner of a room. If you look on the lowest shelf of the next (sixth) picture, you can see a blue-green " toadstool "lamp. Two years ago we bought one in orange and green, Cezanne's colours, complementary to each other, and liked it so much, that we went back and had two
custom-made matching wall lights done in the
same style. Not cheap, but then we don't have
a wide-screen TV !

If I try to add more pictures, there's a risk they will not enlarge. So here's a link to just over a minute of movie footage, taken with the miniature digital camera (and thus not of camcorder quality) and then uploaded to the excellent YouTube. Isn't it amazing how all this
online publication is now free of charge !

And here, finally, are our purchases, past and present, on the dining table at home. There's our toadstool lamp, mentioned earlier.
And a delightful dish, a real splash of Provençal
colour, with a flowing wavy edge. How on earth
do they get that orange rim, one
wonders ?

Do you know what the tadpole-shaped objects are ? There's a set of six. Each is called a porte-couteau. They are somewhere to rest one's knife, between courses, without soiling the table cloth, given the French tendency (at least in restaurants) to use one set of cutlery. They would be a decorative feature, and talking point, on any table, but also serve a practical purpose in our household. We recently bought a set of deeply-scooped dinner plates, great for accomodating a generous serving of sauce. But there's one drawback. If one rests one's knife, it tends to slide down, handle an' all, into the sauce. Retrieving it can be a messy business. Well, we're now a six portes-couteaux household.

And finally, there also are some Yuletide prezzies for friends and relatives, all beautifully wrapped by Mme. Guyot. Let's hope we can get them back to England in one piece !


Louise said...

Well, I enjoyed your post enormously, Colin - even if it was 'girlie' - it was my level! And interesting to discover things, albeit on the internet, that we didn't know about France...I had heard of Biot but knew nothing about it. Loved their Christmas trees in the street - we have the same but with real snow!

I thought the porte couteau were very pretty although we don't use them - the cutlery goes onto the table - that's why I don't use table clothes any more!

ColinB said...

Glad you liked the post, Louise. But the "girlie" comment has left me puzzled. Is there not a touch of gender stereotyping there? Since when has ornamental glass been a strictly female preserve ? Or Christmas shopping expeditions ?

Louise said...

Didn't mean to be rude - it just seemed from your first para that you thought you were sinking into 'dear diary' mode when you should be writing amazingly complicated blogs that leave mortals such as myself high and dry!

ColinB said...

A word of clarification: in our present society, writing in the first person ("Dear Diary") is seen as an essentially female thing. Blokes are supposed to write in the second or third person, if they wish to avoid attracting a girlie tag.

Yet women can write in the second or third person without being labelled as butch.

So there's an essential inequality and injustice there.

I say "present" society. It wasn't always so. Shakespeare's actors could deliver their soulful soliquys in the first person without their masculinity being called into question.

Maybe that's why they wore codpieces - a visual reminder that for all their soulful renditions, they were not lacking in a certain department.

richard of orléans said...

Colin, I think it was amazingly complementary. In reality you sound like an old woman.
(yeah I know that's politically incorrect,and will upset Louise and Sarah, so let's try again.)
Like an old, burqua wearing, man.

Incidentally we have a lot of security minded, war on terrorism, blog owners who subject us to their stupid jumbled up letter game (three times minimum). I'm spoiling your fun, but you may have noted that blogs without that belt and braces approach get practically no spam, which is quickly deleted anyway. Of course Bush and Blair have rendered excess fashionable in that department. And your nothing if not suiveurs à la mouton.

ColinB said...

And you, Richard, are like a flea-ridden old vulture, riding the thermals of the blogosphere, always in search of free meal. You dine, then you leave your signature behind you.

richard of orléans said...

Well the pickings are maggoty.
Anyway vultures are misunderstood. They do a lot of good eliminating the undesirable.

ColinB said...

If that's your mission in life, dear vulture, then go wage war on someone else's blog.

That was your, er, vulture-song, on this one.

richard of orléans said...
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richard of orléans said...
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