Monday, October 22, 2012

Field Trip to French General & Discovering My Inner Bowerbird

On Saturday, a friend and I visited French General in Los Angeles to attend a book signing by Sibella Court. This was a night of many firsts and I'm excited to share my adventure with you!

This is the welcoming front door of French General. This charming and wonderful shop is owned by Kaari Meng, and she is one of the sweetest persons you will ever meet. She is a woman of many talents and they include workshop instructor, jewelry designer for Anthropologie, and author of several books.

Hello Friends!

Once you enter the store, you enter a world full of magique.
 I felt like my bonne fée (fairy godmother) had made my every wish come true! Come along with me and I'll take you on a tour of this juicy (Molly, Kaari's sister, made an impression on me!) and delicious shop.

I found a beautiful embroidered heart pillow for one of Pam Garrison's classes. 

And a beautiful wedding cake topper with two cute birds adorning it

Everywhere you look there are vintage treasures, one of a kind notions, and more inspiration than I thought possible!

Kaari's line of fabric that she designed for Moda

A collection of Santos

Kaari's dad was our friendly bartender for the evening. We got to try Lillet and it was delicious!

I could spend days perusing this wall. Each jar is full of beads, findings, trinkets and baubles for creating one of a kind jewelry and treasures. 

These adorable animals were handmade by Evelyn Neily. She creates magic with her needle felting skills and will be returning to French General on December 15 to teach a class in this wonderful art form.

 Here I am with Kaari Meng and my friend, Jeanine Stowe Weiss. I've taken one of Kaari's classes at the first "Creative Connection" event hosted by Jo Packham in 2010, and it was so nice to see Kaari again. She is such an artful woman and I admire her grace, attention to detail and her desire to help women create beautiful things.  On the right is Jeanine and this event was the first time that Jeanine and I ever met each other! We've been friends on Facebook for some time, at least 6 months or more, but our paths hadn't crossed yet. She's been a wonderful cheerleader for me on those days that just weren't going my way. On a whim I asked her if she would go to this event with me and I was so happy when she said yes! Sometimes we're lucky enough to come across wonderful people whose paths are similar to our own and I'm so thankful that Jeanine and I have become friends. 

Sibella Court is a lovely, accomplished and very creative soul from Australia and she has the most charming Australian accent. She is a stylist, creative director, author and collector of beautiful things. Sibella talked about her inspiration for writing her book, Bowerbird: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Collect. While she was talking, I had a profound moment where I realized I'm not a hoarder, I'm a lovely Bowerbird. I simply need to arrange my collections better to reveal their beauty and unique charms. 

After talking about her collections and her travels, Sibella signed our books for us. Here she is with Evelyn Neily.

Sibella's book is truly beautiful. The cover is gorgeous, but the binding is to die for. The pages are stitched into the book in traditional signatures. As a student of the book arts, I am impressed and bedazzled by the attention to detail in every aspect of this delightful and magnificent book. The images inside are inspiring and intoxicating. I can't wait to start arranging my collections to better show off their beauty!

Sibella told us about the unique habits of the male bower bird. As a lover of nature, I'm fascinated by these crazy birds!  From PBS: "Instead of using just showy plumes or a romantic melody to attract a mate, the pigeon-sized bower bird constructs an elaborate structure — a bower — on the forest floor from twigs, leaves, and moss. It then decorates the bower with colorful baubles, from feathers and pebbles to berries and shells. Each builds its own shape of bower and prefers a different decorating scheme. A few, for instance, surround their bowers with carefully planted lawns of moss. Others have been known to steal shiny coins, spoons, bits of aluminum foil — even a glass eye — in an effort to create the perfect romantic mood. Some, like the iridescent blue Satin bower bird, the star of Bower Bird Blues, even “paint” the walls of their structures with chewed berries or charcoal. For the male Satin, which builds a U-shaped bower from parallel walls of twigs, the favored color is blue. To decorate its “avenue,” as scientists call it, he collects blue feathers, berries, shells, and flowers. While some of these decorations are found in the forest, others are stolen from the bowers of other males; young males, in particular, are prone to this petty thievery. However obtained, the precious knickknacks are then scattered around the bower. The male then waits, passing time by constantly fine-tuning his structure and rearranging the decorations." 

Check out Sibella Court's book, "Bowerbird: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Collect" to learn more about decorating your home with your treasures and collections. And, you have to go to French General! Whether you go there for a class or to peruse Kaari's beautiful treasures, you will leave inspired to create a masterpiece!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Christine,OMGosh you've been to the French General, you actually know the owners !! Even this far away in Singapore I get photos of the store and drool over the items there. We have so little vintage from earlier days, most have been lost and the ones we have are usually imported from neighboring countries like Malaysia. As wonderful as progress is, it's sad to lose so much of our heritage.

    Happy 2013, may the year ahead bring much joy and success.