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  • Debra Palmen

It's always the ones you least suspect


It’s been an incredibly busy time in the pop-up shop, so I’ve neglected my Newsletter duties. Sorry about that.

Last Saturday was our best day so far – phenomenally good – which meant poor Doug had to go home and clean a whole lot more of the antique French copper that I’ve been selling by the barrow-load. He’s always happy when I sell it, somewhat less than happy when he has to clean a new batch.

As you know, I bought 1.5 tonnes of stock on our last buying trip. It didn’t seem like that much when I was buying it, but now we’re unpacking, unpacking, unpacking and yep it seems every bit of 1.5 tonnes. I've included here a few photos of 'Random Around The Shop' shots.

So we’ve extended the lease on the pop-up shop until the end of February. As I told my landlady, I’ll still be unpacking at the end of January so we need a bit longer to get it all out.But we’ve made terrific inroads.

Now I have to tackle the boxes of lovely antique French linen, a bit more enamelware, yet more copper, vintage grain sacks, some really nice galvanized tubs, giant wooden chopping boards, most of the ecclesiastical metalware, and then we’re done. I think.

Meanwhile, because activity in the shop ranges from frenzied to quiet on any given day, I’ve taken some time to work on my next book, Little Beasties & How To Collect Them. Now I’m working on the Dragonflies chapter, and have discovered what stone-cold killers they are. Who knew?

I've been in for a surprise with a variety of the Little Beasties I've been writing about. Dragons will roast and eat you (unless they're kind Eastern Dragons), Unicorns will totally do you in, Mermaids will drown you and then eat you, even Fairies will kidnap you and make you dance all night until you fall down dead.

What happened to all the charming whimsy I was expecting? Disney has a lot to answer for, making us expect all soft and cute and cuddly when it's actually tough going out there in Fantasyland. And that's before we even consider how many ways a 'real' animal - a cat or a dog, for example - can take you apart, or how quickly a bee can bring you to your knees. I think Chickens are the only Little Beastie I've written a chapter on so far that won't go your throat.

As for Dragonflies, they might look all fragile and shimmery and iridescent, but they're apex predators, with a kill rate of 95%. Great white sharks have a success rate of 50%. Lions only 40%. There’s even some hideous stuff on the internet – don’t look it up, I promise you don’t want to see it – of the biggest dragonfly currently in existence killing and eating hummingbirds. That’s one big killer insect.

But at least giant killer dragonflies weren’t invented by mad scientists, although killer bees were. Okay maybe they weren’t “mad” scientists, but they certainly were idiot scientists. Not only did they invent killer bees, they then “accidentally” released hundreds of thousands of them. The insect chapters of Little Beasties certainly have the makings of B-Grade sci-fi scripts in them.

Fortunately, there are many lovely vintage collectables associated with dragonflies. So even if after reading the Dragonflies chapter you find they’re not exactly what you thought they were, you can still admire their beauty and extraordinary engineering. And you can still find plenty of totally desirable vintage pieces that showcase them.

It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions, to get this book finished and published this year. I’m also working on a children’s series that features a young French woman in the 1930s, who has adventures around the world with her little cat Calypso. I’m currently searching for a good (and affordable!) illustrator for the children’s books, and I’ve provided full details of what I’m after on our Facebook page (French & Vintage).

If you know a good illustrator who can follow a detailed brief and draw in the style of Cheri Herouard, Georges Leonnec and Maurice Milliere (all terrific French artists from 1930s Paris), then I’d be grateful if you’d let them know that I’d love to hear from them.

More soon.


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