What do you mean by Varnishing my Exhibition? 

A couple of months ago a friend, who owns a beautiful property in the centre of Saignon offered me the chance to have a small Exhibition of my jewellery there this summer.

The beautiful entrance to the Maison Des Arts et Lettres in Saignon


Over the last couple of years I have started making jewellery from vintage silver and French ‘brocante’ finds and have started selling my pieces at occasional craft fairs in Devon – effectively allowing me to indulge my love of visiting Brocante Markets by finding new ‘old’ pieces to work with. http://www.dartmoorsilverdesigns.co.uk

Two new bits I found at Carpentras last week


It all started because I wanted to bend a spoon to make myself a new pendant, but I quickly got hooked by working with old silver and started designing other pieces and the hobby grew quite quickly.

The process of transformation- an old French ‘Fruits Confits’ serving spoon


As such when I was offered the chance to have a small exhibition here in Provence this summer, I leapt at the chance – before I had the opportunity to talk myself out of it.

So along with bits of furniture and the long-suffering ‘Pusscat’ the car was filled with my displays and my bag of jewellery for the long drive through France.

One of my display pieces that travelled down through France


To be honest, I had started off thinking that it would be a bit of fun and a chance to do something different and have a new experience this summer.

So the dates were set for a weekend in July and one later in August with the Expo to be held in the beautiful medieval cellars of the house, just beyond the main square in Saignon.

The Fontaine in Saignon is one of my favourites


Then things started to escalate when 2 weeks ago we had lunch with friends and they asked when the ‘Vernissage’ was going to be held and had I invited everyone who needed to be invited.

Now until that moment I had always thought ‘Vernissage’ was varnishing  – but apparently not! It appears that it would be good form to hold a preview event on the evening before the Exhibition opens with drinks and nibbles for invited guests, including the local Mayors etc.

So a vernissage was duly organised, and the Expo was moved from the cellars to a beautiful light and airy room in the main house.

Such a beautiful setting


My initial thoughts that this would be a gentle experience changed and I realised it was becoming more of an event than I had thought – a bit of a step up from setting up at a craft fair in Devon!

So invites were sent out for the Vernissage and we spent a very nice afternoon buying wine from Sylla the local producer in Apt http://www.sylla.fr/

Wine-tasting in Sylla – a very pleasant way to pass an hour


Plumping for fruity & fresh flavours – although the ‘petrol-pump’ approach of filling containers was rather tempting too!

Now this looks fun & certainly smells better than a fuel station!


I opted for a mix of English and French nibbles, spending the morning making mini cheese scones and Parmesan biscuits to be eaten with local olives and tapenade….. 

Mini cheese scones


So (by now a bit of a bundle of nerves) we pottered across to Saignon and set up my displays, popped out the signs and waited to see if anyone turned up.

All set up and ready to go!


I needn’t have worried – within minutes of opening the first guests arrived and the wine was quickly flowing – along with the conversation and all my worries disappeared out of the window.

All in all the ‘Vernissage’ turned out to be a lovely evening chatting with friends and explaining my pieces to them and the 2 hours flew by.

A silver gilt anointing spoon, a silver caddy spoon & a French silver salt spoon bowl


I have to admit to being rather daunted by the prospect, but in the end I really didn’t need to worry and happily my French held up when describing what each piece had been in its former life – although the concept of a toast-rack took a bit of explaining!

So far bits of this toast rack have become a necklace and earrings!


So my little Exhibition has started and so far it has turned out to be the fun experience I had hoped for. The days are rolling by with a few hours cycling in the morning…….

A morning cycle on Miss Daisy to Lacoste

And spending the afternoons in a beautiful space chatting to visitors from across the World and improving my French.

I have a couple more days there this month and will have to spend some time back in the workshop before I’m back again in August 


…….so at least have a perfect excuse to go to Brocante markets to hunt out new bits to work with

The wonderful Sunday Brocante at Carpentras


And at least now I know that Vernissage isn’t just varnishing!