Sunday, 17 January 2021

A New Year, 2021


The New Year of 2021 is well upon us and the world has not calmed. This is the year of the Vaccine and we cannot have it fast enough. Such tragedy there has been and sadly yet to come. So many families are without a loved one or are dealing with virus illness presently or its terrible aftereffects. New variants develop and are seemingly more infectious than earlier ones, as this virus searches for new victims.  All of us are suffering from confinements and restrictions and worry about family and friends as well as ourselves. We mask and wash carefully. We search for new and better mask types.  We try to keep our social distance, which can be challenging in a crowded grocery. Disinfect the door handles, the taps, the fridge the groceries we bring in. Thoroughly wash the fruits the vegetables and then wash your own hands multiple times a day. Do we wash a banana before we peel it becomes a question of early morning breakfast! It is to the point I must cream up my hands with lotion and put-on cotton gloves every night to heal the cracks. John thinks I go to extremes, but so far, we have been safe. Now we just must stay safe until we obtain the vaccine. We are on the doctors list and hope for early February. We listen to your stories of restrictions and lifting of restrictions and then tighter restrictions when lifting them results in more cases. No country is immune to these political fluctuations in decision making.  We have family touched by this awful illness and we worry about their welfare.  Hospitals are overrun and government warnings range from nonexistent to severe. Compliance issues are everywhere but, in some places, severely so. Conspiracy theories swirl not only about the USA election but the “hoax” of virus despite those who linger near death, yet still deny it. Hospital workers are stunned to find so many of their patients believing still, as they go into intubation, that they do not have COVID-19. The world is a strange place and those of us populating it can behave in very odd ways. One would think the message and the reason for the message would resound with every one of us. This is a killing type of virus for so many. No one knows just how it may affect them personally. Public health measures have been clear. Why can we not act accordingly to save ourselves and fellow earthlings?

But such good things have happened also. Zoom calls, WhatsApp calls and Messenger have kept us face to face and connected. We have Christmas baked via Zoom with a very enthusiastic cookie baker, made desserts, celebrated apero, birthdays, done business, worked, attended presentations and meetings, given solace & encouragement, shared photos and experiences as well as keeping up with email. We have talked more and listened and possibly heard more and driven less and not eaten out, so we have cooked and baked more. We have pined for company, read more, learned a new skill. Well at least I tried to crochet. We have pursued hobbies, contended with children home all day trying to learn online. We have become technicians and gained expertise helping them. Many of you have become home schooling teachers and coaches while juggling jobs and homecare. The list is long and complex, and I have barely scratched the surface. In a nutshell we have changed. Only time will tell whether for better or worse.

So, with my rant finished for the day I bring you some photos of a little drive we took to see the Alsace village of Kaysersberg. No, we broke no curfew or confinement restrictions. We were well back before 6pm, which is the initial hour of nightly curfew, ending at 6am the next morning. After many gloomy weather days and mounting illness pressure of our little Oscar we decided we had to take a drive and clear our heads. The day broke into sunshine, gloriously brilliant with the bluest of skies. We ate a fresh baguette sandwich in a vineyard dotted with workers pruning the vines. Although the sun was bright the day was cold, and we noted the vineyard workers were warmly dressed and prepared for the job in the steep rows of vines.

Kaysersberg is a former French commune located in the Haut-Rhin department, in the Grand Est region. This small town is in the historical and cultural region of Alsace and became, on January 1, 2016, a delegated municipality of the new municipality of Kaysersberg Vignoble. This was good news for the wine industry.  It is one of the most charming towns in Alsace with its cobbled streets and richly decorated half-timbered houses.

Although it was Monday and shops were closed due both to the day of the week and the virus restrictions, it was lovely to wander in the pretty streets and peek into closed shop windows. All was strangely quiet, with only a few people hurrying home and some town cats sunning themselves on the stone walls. We felt so liberated to walk and lunch with no one close by. A wonderful day!

 Kaysersberg is south of Strasbourg and just west of the Rhin, close to Colmar. The Vosges rise to the west and the vineyards climb as high as viticulturists can grow their grapes on the hillsides. The higher elevations are heavily forested and wonderful little roads wind through the wine villages in the valleys and rise to mountain villages at altitude.

Vineyards in Winter

You and Me

What's for Lunch

Vines Awaiting a Prune

Schlossberg Castle Remains

Romanesque Church

Interesting Coat of Arms with unreadable inscription

Examples of Timbered Houses

Glass Blowers Window

Some Pretty Globes

Village Creche in Every Town. Only Forest Greenery

What does it Signify?

Une Chouette; Very popular in France

Every House and shop is Decorated for Christmas

Cutouts and Cones

Fanciful Hotel Sign

House with Boughs & Garland

Cuckoo Clocks and Embroidery for Sale

Remains of Schlossberg Castle Atop the Hill

Streets Curved and Narrow

Handmade Paper Cutouts

Closed Bar
Large Orange Town Cat  Enjoying the Sun


A Wonderful Potter Sign

Products Made in Kaysersberg

Stork nest on top of the Tower. You can barely see the Stork in Residence


Magical Piper

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Lalique & St Louis


The history of the paperweight is as obscure as the history of glass making itself. What we do know is that glassmaking can be traced to the 14th and 15th centuries BC.  The paperweight, on the other hand, probably originated in Venice but gained popularity during the Austrian Industrial Fair held in Vienna in 1845. The Venetian glass maker Pietro Bigaglia is credited with using what is called a millefiori design and, as his work was displayed at the Vienna Fair the beauty of these glass objects was coveted by those who saw them. A Frenchman who was attending the grand Fair and who was associated with the Nationale des Arts et Metier and a glass expert was so impressed he brought some to Paris where they were introduced to the great and well-established glass factories of France, Clichy, St. Louis, Baccarat. Lalique, Daum and Pantin would follow in the manufacture of these sought after and collectible objects. Millefiori literally means a thousand flowers as the most beautiful paperweights were made from multicoloured glass rods cut and shaped into intricate designs and surrounded by a clear glass globe. The French manufacturers became proficient and highly expert in creating these objects and today the early manufacturing period from 1845 to 1860 is known as the Classical Period. Anything after that is classed as the Renaissance period. To find a Classical period paperweight is to experience the joy of a true collector. They are rare. Extremely so.  Collette was a collector and I have seen photographs of her surrounded by a stunning collection. The Decorative Arts Museum in Paris has a display that I photographed 2 years ago. They are confined to a secure display case under glass and certainly are the most beautiful array I have ever seen. During our Sojourn in NYC, I used to drop into a little shop that was solely devoted to the collector of these expensive objet d’art. The gentleman who owned or at least ran the place came to recognize me and we would talk about the various pieces he had located. Naturally, these were mostly of the classical period so far too expensive for me.


But I digress. We took a trip to the Lalique museum in the Alsace where most of the great glass makers of France originated. On the way there I noticed a small sign for St Louis. Not realizing at this point most of the major glass manufacturers had roots in the Alsace or nearby area, I thought we should visit St. Louis as well. So, there are photos of both the Lalique museum and the working St Louis factory.

 Lalique was amazing. RenĂ© Lalique had an eye for detail and particularly the detail of the natural world like no other. He produced glassware and stunning jewelry. He also dreamt up sumptuous showcases for the greatest purveyors of perfume in the fabulous bottles he produced for the products. The bottle has since become the of conveyor of values and symbols. Through the choice of shape, colour and graphics it transports the user to an imaginary world. The overall designs aimed to give coherence and resonance to names, bottles and perfumes by the great makers such as Guerlain, Molinard, Worth, Jean de Pays, Roger & Gallet and many others.  Of the bottles on display, so many were recognizable, from the dressing tables of multitudes of women who have enjoyed the romance of scent in a beautiful bottle. Mass -production was the future of glass making, a point that Lalique thoroughly understood. Over and above the shapes of the bottles Rene̒ Lalique paid particular attention to the stopper. Instead of simply being a necessity it took pride of place, the heart of the motif. He was a man with an amazing eye for detail and these perfume bottle creations enabled him to honour woman and the flora that so inspired him.

A tireless observer, profoundly curious about the tiniest detail, he did not attempt to copy, imitate or stylize. He created by transforming. His thorough knowledge of ancient art, his unequalled understanding of nature and his teeming imagination enabled him to develop his own style.


Of course, this trip took place in October, well before confinement. We have been consumed with caring for Oscar who became terribly ill suddenly. It now appears, after 6 weeks of being a truly sick cat, that his symptoms have evaporated, to a significant degree. Our veterinary is not giving us all clear yet and we are just cautiously optimistic. We wait and see and always hope for the best for our little travel buddy and dear companion.



From the St Louis Museum attached to the working Factory

Array of New Paperweights at St. Louis

Example of Millefiori  Method

St Louis Created this Style of Layered and Woven glass

Pure Colour

Carved and Coloured Glass a St. Louis Specialty to this Day

Attractive, Collectible Green

Massive Vase to Large to Carry Home!

Giant Glass Chandelier in Lobby of St Louis

Trip Crew: Helen, Chris, Liz, Dave, John

Example of the master work of RenĂ© Jules Lalique, born on April 6, 1860  in Champagne on the Marne, and died on May 1, 1945, A French master glassmaker and  jeweler. 

Every Example of his Work Exemplifies his Attention to Nature's Details

Carved and Molded Examples

The Glassworks Trail. Once Part of Germany 

Thistles in Glass

Perfume Bottles Brought Fame and Fortune and Appreciation

Bottle Designed for Coty

An Aunt had the Turquoise  Bottle. Where is it Now?  

Array of  Bottles

Elegant is the Word

Seed Pods

Watch Design

Superb Art Deco Design

Winter Scene in Glass

Dogs Running in Glass

Dragonfly Pin

On the Christmas Wish List!

Delicate Dragonflies

Are These Bees Real?

Cuff Bracelet

Brooch of Gold, Diamonds & Exquisite Design

Fine Example of Millefiori & Ribbon Design

Millefiori at Its Best!

Lily of the Valley Imbedded in Glass