Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pink Saturday - Quimper faience


Pink Saturday - Beverly, at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you.

This Saturday, this pink tea set makes me remember.

When I was a young woman, like many young people living in the Midwest, I took my brand new bachelor's degree in Theatre and headed to New York City to work in Show Business. I found an apartment in Greenwich Village. Living there was unlike anything I had previously encountered in my Illinois small town or Ohio cul-de-sac suburb.

I rode the subway to work, ate at sidewalk cafes. I bought fresh-baked bread from an Italian baker down the block, and vegetables from produce stands. My upstairs neighbor was a young woman my age, but she couldn't have been more different than me. She was from a wealthy, Upper East Side family with an apartment in town and a house on the Island. She had gone to boarding school in France before studying art. I worked as an office clerk, but Jennifer had no job; she spent her mornings painting big oil paintings and watercolors in the sunny front bedroom of her apartment, and her afternoons and evenings entertaining friends. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, and wore pearl stud earrings.

Her crowd of friends was eclectic. A cousin from Locust Valley. Her best friend from Dalton and her banker date. A grizzled stoner from Art School. A French bicycle racer. A friend from boarding school just returned from an ashram in India. And me, the girl from Ohio who lived downstairs.

Jennifer would invite me upstairs in the mornings for coffee, which she served in beautiful cups - they were big wide cups, made of thick yet light white pottery, decorated with handpainted folk-like figures in blue and yellow and red. I didn't know what they were, but the marks on the bottom said "Quimper" and Jennifer said she had bought them in France.

Young people move around a lot, especially if they work in the theatre. I changed roommates, went on tour, gradually lost touch with Jennifer and her friends. But whenever I looked in antique shops and thrift stores, I kept my eye out for pottery like her coffee cups.

One day I found this teapot, and right away I knew it was Quimper, like Jennifer's. Quimperware is a type of pottery called faience. Faience was probably invented in Mesopotamia or Iraq in the 9th century. A glaze of tin oxide is applied to buff or terracotta pottery - it gives a pure white ground perfect for painting on. This style of pottery was brought to Andalusia by the Moors, and from there it was shipped to Italy. In Italy, the pottery was called "majolica" and it was exported to northern Europe, including the Netherlands, where locals in the city of Delft started copying it, and to Brittany, in France, where the Faienceries of the town of Quimper were founded in 1690.



Quimperware is known for its naive style, often featuring little figures in traditional Breton clothes, and decorated with simple floral and decorative patterns painted on by brush.

My teapot and its creamer and pitcher are in a pattern called Pink Camaïeu, created by the HB Henriot factory. The Henriot factory closed in 1968, but other craftspeople bought the rights to the molds and patterns and continued to produce the pottery.



The one thing I learned when I researched Quimper pottery, is that you can't trust the marks to tell you the age or even the maker of the pottery. True collectors rely on the quality of the craftsmanship, the thickness of the glaze, the brushwork of the decorations to determine the age and value of the piece.

And maybe that's how we should judge things we encounter, as young people making our way in life. I can't tell whether my tea-set is old or new, handcrafted or tourist junk, antique or a modern new commodity.

But it certainly is pretty, and pink, and brings back memories. An apartment full of light, the smell of oil paints, the taste of French roast coffee. The tingle of champagne, filtered sunlight through alianthus leaves. A Venetian mirror, leaned against the wall, sends particles of that light reflecting on the high ceilings. Bryan Ferry's "These Foolish Things," on the stereo. French bicyclists climb up and down the fire escapes, to steal bottles of wine or jump into my roommate's bed. All of us going out, late at night, to listen to Mabel Godwin sing standards at Arthur's piano bar on Grove Street.

When I met Jennifer and her friends, I thought she lived a rich and unique life an ordinary girl like me could never experience. When I look at my Quimper teapot, it reminds me that my life has been pretty interesting, after all.

43 comments:

Kate said...

Reading your blog at 5:00 AM today...fabulous post. I learned something I did not know (actually many things) about teapots and also recognize the truth in what you say at the end that your life was pretty interesting too even though you may not have recognized it at the time. How true for us all and a good reminder.

Great post. Enjoy your blog immensely.

Smilingsal said...

When we look at the lives of celebrities, I think that I'd rather be ordinary, thankyewverymuch. Happy Pink Saturday.

Cori G. said...

Hi G.,
What a whimsical look at the past and wonderful memories to cherish. I think it sounds like you've had a very interesting life and could probably tell some great stories.

Have a fun pink weekend!

Nihal said...

Glennis,
While it was bringing back your good memories, it also helped me to remember my memories in the Netherlands, where I was learning pottery techniques in a work-shop in the small pretty lovely town of Delft. Let me say that was the course made me interested in ceramics and painting. May be you will ask what I did after course, but I'm poor of time, and can not find time to develop my skills, hope one day.

I think teapots are great savers because everyone -man or woman, old or young- has got at least one memory saved in it:)

Very nice post - as if you designed it for tea-lovers like myself:)

Have a Happy Pink Saturday~~

bj said...

I do believe this ranks right at the tip top of GREATEST POSTINGS!
I enjoyed every single word of it and thank you so much for writing it. I think we all may have a Jennifer in our lives at one time or another...mine was named COE....
I have loved Quimper for quite sometime but have not one single piece. Your tea set is out of this world....just love it.
I am, as a matter of fact, on my way to a tea today. My little 7 yr old g-girl is having a PRINCESS TEA PARTY and...I am so thrilled that she invited ME...*smiling here...
xo bj

Susan said...

Very nice post! Happy Pink Saturday!

Vintage To Chic said...

wonderful story, wouldn't it be something if she found you through your blog,
Hugs,
Judy

She'sSewPretty said...

What a wonderful post! I love to hear the stories that go with people's treasures.
Have a wonderful pink Saturday!

Virginia said...

Wonderful post!!!

Have a Blessed and happy weekend,
Virginia :)

ellen b said...

What a wonderful post g! The pottery is absolutely fabulous!! How great that you accomplished your quest. You have lived an interesting life for sure :0)

Shayla said...

That was an such a satisfying piece of writing! I loved every word.

Claudie said...

Oh G... I just read your fly on the wall post also. How cool is that? When hubby and I were in N.Y. in Nov. we sat in front of Tim McGraw & Faith and their 3 children. We were watching Mary Poppins. Then we were in the M&M's store in Times Square and right beside us was Tom Cruise (man is he short) and his wife and child.
The only other was a long time ago in Long Island at a restaurant. Billy Joel and then wife Christy Brinkley were at the next table. So that's it sorry for rambling on.
Happy PS
Claudie
P.S. Loved your story and the info on the Tea Pot.

Dixie's Whimsey said...

G - thanks so much for stopping by blog... glad you enjoyed my sanitized tapeworms... who'd-a-thought...

anyway, it prompted me to visit your blog, and I completely enjoyed every word of your post. I have a very good friend, who moved to NY to follow his dream of performing on broadway... he was my Jennifer - and I'm still Tony's galpal from Texas who comes to visit and enjoy "the life" of a NY theatre rat...

thanks for sharing your memories, and for evoking my own...

have a blissful pink saturday... Dixie

Shelia said...

Afternoon, G! Happy Pink Saturday and the tea pot is gorgeous. I didn't know there was that kind of pattern in Quimperware. It's really beautiful!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Riet said...

What a lovely story. The teaset is beautiful

Jillian said...

Excellent excellent post on Quimper and your adventure in NY. I'm showing it to my Mother, she loves Quimper.

Thanks for stopping by my PS post today, too!

Jillian

Dawn said...

Wonderful post. When I saw the first post I knew your pot was something other than junk, very pretty. Happy PS!

Sue at Stampndaly said...

Happy Pink Saturday

My Crafty Little Page said...

What wonderful memories. Really a "memoir" (does it have an e?) since it sounds so fascinating and bohemian! Yes, it sounds exciting and that is a fabulous teapot. I'm going to keep my eye out for that pottery from now on. Thanks for the great post. :)Nancy

KATHERINELLEN said...

g,
Beautiful teapots...I learn alots what you said. Your posts is fabulous...Beautiful story...You should write a book about your life. ...You are a great writer.i ENJOY YOUR pINK sATURDAY POST...hAVE A hAPPY pINK dAY..kATHERINLLEN

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

Happy Pink Saturday, what a beautiful post.. I love the teapot and the lesson. This is something to remember..hugs ~lynne~

LvPoohBr2 said...

What a neat memory! I love the teapot and the story behind it!! Happy Pink Saturday!

The Muse said...

I wasn't able to do Pink Sat this week but I wanted to support all those who did :)

See you next week I hope!

we all are someone special..we all have a story to tell! :)

Llyn said...

I am so in love with that tea set!! Beautiful! Happy PS!

Life with Kaishon said...

Boy am I glad I came over here today! What a truly lovely post! I love your tea set and I love your story! I wonder whatever happened to your friend. Do you have a facebook account? Maybe you could find her : ). God bless!

dana said...

I swear, girl, you have led and you are now leading such an interesting life!! I loved the special tea pot you just shared and the great story that goes with it--what memories of living in The Big Apple!!

I so enjoyed your earlier post on the the Hollywood Awards event you helped set up---we just got back from seeing Gran Torino. OMG--that Clint was amazing.

Happy Pink Sat! Dana

jeanne said...

Dear g, your story was a wonderful read. I was riveted by your story. Interesting information about Quimper ware and it's history. All connected with your life and friends in N.Y.C. You have a lovely talent for writing. Thank you for sharing a part of your life. I do love Quimper ware too. Yours is so pretty in pink.

Hugs...Jeanne

CC said...

Such a wonderful post.I love your teapot and your story. Both are quite wonderful and I know they are sweet memories for you..:).
Happy PS..I hope it was a lovely day.

SUEB0B said...

That's a good story!

My pottery addiction is Stangl, especially the patterns designed by the wonderful Kay Hackett. Go check it out on eBay. I use Stangl pottery every single day and wish so much it were still being made.

Mo..."Mo's Cottage" said...

What a sweet story ...I hope someday you will find out what ever happened to Jennifer...I love you teapot...
Hugs,
Mo :-)

Donna @ Party Wishes said...

What a wonderful story! I'm so glad that you found one in pink!

Have a fabulous Pink weekend!

Donna

PS-Have you gone to the flower mart yet?

Marina Capano said...

Hi! just beautiful! Happy pink saturday!

Marina

LADY JANES' EMPORIUM said...

Love your post,thanks for all the knowledge you shared plus your personal thoughts! Loved reading it and will be back for some more of your great pics, and have lived in Illinois all my life...so your trail of tale was like an "Adventure" to me! Happy Weekend!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

a totally cute cute teapot!

gabrieladelworth.com said...

Happy Belated Pink Saturday!


Love the teapot!


~ Gabriela ~

Joy said...

I always enjoy being introduced to something new and it seems to happen quite often on a Pink Saturday post. :o)

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Saturday morning came,
I was off on a date,
That's why for Pink Saturday
I am so so late.

Hugs, Lynn....loved your post...always do!

Becky said...

That was a great post. I feel like I know you after that. I think your life sounds very interesting for a Midwestern gal.
Happy PS
Becky

Beverly said...

Glennis, you made me feel as if I was right there with you and Jennifer. I love the richness of memories.

And, I love Quimperware. I've always wanted to purchase a piece, but have been reluctant because I didn't know how to spot a "good" piece. Now, I know that I should just let my heart tell me. Your pattern is fantastic. Thank you for the history. I'll let you know when I take the plunge.

KatCollects said...

I love your tea set, and what a great memory to go with it! Happy belated pink Saturday.
Kathy

Anonymous said...

They still make Quimper in all kinds of things other than pottery.
The OLD quimper is kind of a milky white (not bright white, like the new stuff)--and it worth much more. Much more beautiful in my opinion.

Alexuma said...

I am a stranger, but I stumbled upon your post through a Google image search as I am researching selling 4 teacups and saucers of the same pink Quimper series (as well as one big bowl with handles)- these are rare and lovely in these pink colors! Your teapot set it truly lovely.
I just wanted to say that was a lovely post.
:)
Serra

Anonymous said...

I just saw plates that match your tea pot. I too loved my time in France. Thank you for your beautiful post.