The Thursday Three- Hand carved wood panels

So, I went to collect these two square panels yesterday.

I have bought them to put the right proportions back onto the lower part of the main door into the salon.

They are perfect, the motifs echoing those of the decorative corner carvings already in situ on that door. I like the fact they are simple, they are not a “pair”, that you can see the carver’s marks and they are clearly quite old.

When I arrived to collect, I expressed my passion for these old fragments and explained that they were destined for our French house.The seller asked if I would like to see other pieces she had for sale and took me out to her husband’s old workshop in the back garden.

Sadly, her husband can no longer ply his niche trade. He spent his working life building, restoring  and mending long case clocks; working on items brought to him from as far afield as America. My panels came from a pair of vernacular 18thc grandfather clocks.

The workshop was a memory, frozen in time. Long windows to capture the perfect light, the workbenches lined with carefully ordered specialist tools. shelves of mouldings, boxes of parts, stacks of carved panels. One clock sat alone by itself; clearly he had been working on that and had just stopped one day. And that was it.

She asked if there was anything else I would like to take. My decision making process was frozen by the step back in time, the achingly sad temple to a lost talent and the awareness that this stuff was going to eventually disappear, piece by piece on an internet auction site.

That’s how I found my pieces so who am I to judge? I seriously wanted to buy the lot, but the practicalites of where I would put it and what I could do with it, coupled with the thought of Trevor’s face if I did. So Practical Gill Kicked In.

He was sat outside in my small car unaware that I was mentally costing van hire prices!

I breathed in and dismissed it. I can’t rescue everything, though heaven knows I always want to. I paid for my pieces (peanuts) refused the change, met the husband who I can see  is no longer the person who built and toiled in that beautiful workshop, but he understood that his panels were going for a new life in France. He was amazed at this.

carved wood boiserieHis wife pressed the small panel on me as I left. “I could see you loved it” she said, refusing any more money.

This is the sad side of my treasure hunting bug. It always is. But I will always remember the artist and the story.



About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Antique and Vintage finds, Art, design and inspiration blog, Renovation and restoration diary- France and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Thursday Three- Hand carved wood panels

  1. Niki HMcN says:

    You did very well to stay practical. I don’t know if I could.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I don’t always, but as we are trying to down size and declutter our lives, I took a deep breath and walked away.
      Life is what it is, I think the trick is to just get with it. I am a great believer in following my instincts.


  2. poshbirdy says:

    Gorgeous. What a lovely experience and it’s brilliant that you will always think of the people when you look at the panels. Perfect x


  3. Osyth says:

    Poignant story, beautifully told. And the panels are wonderful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • They will be appreciated Chez Nous. That’s important I think.
      Rescuing and rehoming old stuff seems a noble cause to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Osyth says:

        My grandmother (the other one) used to visit the US once a year for about 6 weeks to stay with my Uncle and his family. She always returned with a bag stuffed with treasures because she declared she could give the things the homes they deserved. That and her English Auction and Antiquing habit may have had a teeny influence on me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. zipfslaw1 says:

    I bet his wife will always remember you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nadia says:

    Just think how happy the elderly couple must be that the panels are going to a good home. They are quite beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bizzyella says:

    Ooh, those are beautiful. My contractor started his professional life as a menuisier and that’s the SO’s hobby. Tools, you say? Little panels that could become part of larger projects? All for sale? Is there much still around?


  7. What a lovely story, sad, but also very moving and what a great idea to add these panels to old doors. I’m now looking around my house to see if there is anywhere I can add old panels!


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