Soup can vase for an 18th century craft cabinet: A story of France

burlaptincanMy old craft cabinet sits in my dining room and is often littered with various projects in the works. It’s very large and roomy and stores most of my craft supplies. I’ll show you my sewing cabinet another time. Maybe sometime I will show you a photo of the inside and you will see what a messy person I am! I have been working on some DIY Thanksgiving projects and made a vase out of a Campbell soup can. It looks so pretty on my cleaned up old cabinet! And this cabinet is very old . Over two hundred years old she is! A sturdy old workhorse of a cabinet who has been in service for many generations.18thcenturyarmoireI bought this cabinet in a small town in France called L’isle Sur La Sorgue about ten years ago. I was alone with my one year old on a trip there after the sale of our small village house nearby to organize some things I would be shipping back to Los Angeles. We had the house during  my twenties when our three older children were little and spent many lazy, sun drenched summers there, swimming in the Mediterranean, drinking Pastis in cafes, and watching our children play on the cobblestone lane outside the village house.

I stopped in a little town near Avignon after leaving Pezenas for the last time after picking up the last of my things. I checked into an old but beautiful chateau turned hotel. I was feeling sad and wistful because I hadn’t wanted to sell our house, and I knew a wonderful time in my life was coming to an end. We had had another child, and the cost of living in France had gone up so much since France had become a part of the EU. But I was trying to be positive about things. I had so much to be grateful really, and looking at my baby in her little sunhat at the table across from me made me realize that.

In a nearby village called L’isle Sur La Sorgue there was an annual antique fair every August. People came from all over Europe to buy there. It’s held outside near a beautiful river with an old mill on it.  It’s a sight to behold. Hundreds of vendors casually selling things so old out in the open air, especially for we Americans who consider anything over 50 years old to be “antique”.  I spent about three days there with Lily, meeting various dealers and including myself in their long lunches, trying to converse in my French about things like why they thought Bush was a complete moron. I would nod my head politely and realize just how ignorant an American I was about most world issues.  I love how the French actually talk about serious things like politics with complete strangers and they expect you to know what they’re talking about.

18thcenturyarmoirehingeThe hinges are so beautiful. Gigi was trying to swing on the door of it the other day. I was like, noooooo! I have no idea how I would get that fixed.

Just the two of us on that trip, Lily and I. I enjoyed this quiet trip alone with my baby who wasn’t even walking yet. I found this piece in an old warehouse near the fair when I was pushing her in her stroller. The dealer gave me an incredible deal because he didn’t like the finish or something like that, and then told me it was most likely from the late 1700’s and was a typical Provencal cabinet and not very rare at all!  It was the simple type of furniture favored by average people of the time. I love it. Although it was very inexpensive when I bought it, shipping all of my furniture back was costly. I was bringing back three huge cupboards,  two iron beds, small tables, three chandeliers, chairs, and several paintings which I still have in my house.

This is a forever piece and maybe someday my kids will want it, but unless there is a disaster, God help us, I’m keeping it.. Most of my furniture is like that. We don’t change it very often so it’s hard to stay up with the “trends ” .soupcanvaseVase before and after.

mycraftcupboardIf you have old furniture you must NEVER use Pledge or any of those commercial wood cleaners on it. They have silicones which will eat away at the finish that has taken hundreds of years to develop. Dust it only, and apply a coat of beeswax to it every tear or two. That’s it.

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  1. says

    The cabinet is beautiful and I loved hearing the story behind it. This is exactly the kind of furniture I gravitate too. I’d love a peek inside!;)

  2. says

    I always wonder about old furniture…who owned it? What was in it? To me it’s the best part of owning an antique.

  3. Jayne says

    I love the cabinet. I see why the vendor sold it. It looks like someone tried to refinish it and used something to lighten the color. What a GREAT Find for you.