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AbbyGail Dousset's Profile

About

I live 'a cheval' between Northern France and Upstate New York; your purchase will ship from one of these two places.

I'm out of space here; please check out my more recent posts on:
http://abbyenfrance.wordpress.com/
On my iPod I have a small collection of 'having my baby' songs. Most of them are pretty schlocky. Having My Baby is the obvious case in point. Another bad one is Eric Clapton's. He was never my favorite lyricist. He actually had several of these songs, but he stopped singing most of them when his toddler fell out of a hi-rise in Manhattan. Billy Joel, whose songs haunt my migraines, once said that happiness is not a good motivator for writing good songs, but probably a lot of other people have also said that, because it seems true. Some exceptions to this I-was happy-so-I-wrote-this-bad-having-my-baby-song rule…

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  • Female
  • Born on April 1
  • Joined September 28, 2008

Favorite materials

oil paint, paint, canvas, silver, gold, metal, leather, chains, wood, hemp

About

I live 'a cheval' between Northern France and Upstate New York; your purchase will ship from one of these two places.

I'm out of space here; please check out my more recent posts on:
http://abbyenfrance.wordpress.com/
On my iPod I have a small collection of 'having my baby' songs. Most of them are pretty schlocky. Having My Baby is the obvious case in point. Another bad one is Eric Clapton's. He was never my favorite lyricist. He actually had several of these songs, but he stopped singing most of them when his toddler fell out of a hi-rise in Manhattan. Billy Joel, whose songs haunt my migraines, once said that happiness is not a good motivator for writing good songs, but probably a lot of other people have also said that, because it seems true. Some exceptions to this I-was happy-so-I-wrote-this-bad-having-my-baby-song rule exist: M.C. Solaar's Baby Love is a masterpiece of any genre; Francis Cabrel's Petite Sirene is sickly sweet, but I can't resist it, and anyway the words are poetic and not so macho as, say, Van Morrison's You're My Woman. I can't listen to Van Morrison anymore, anyway, because I have just heard his songs too many times. But the other day, I was not-hearing the Van Morrison song on the old iPod, when I still flinched at the dumb faux-rasta phrase, 'in Kingston Town tonight,' and it suddenly dawned on me, after the gazillionth time of hearing You're My Woman, that I know of a place actually called Kingston Town. Kingston, New York, is a city, and right next to it is a town which is also called Kingston, except that to avoid confusion you have to call it 'the Town of Kingston,' otherwise people would think you were talking about the other, bigger, Kingston. And I looked it up on Wiki, and sure enough Van Morrison was living in the Woodstock/Kingston area in the 1960s when his only child was born. (He married someone in order to get a green card and they ended up having a baby together; I also married for a green card--and the marriage has worked out.)
Something about this sudden insight's coming after so many years of not noticing really got to me. I don't know why. Maybe it's because that part of the Hudson Valley, which has become very dear to me, has been such an inspiration to artists and others for so many years. Maybe it's just because the song finally got through to me. Whatever it was, it felt transcendent, and that is something that art and new life certainly have in common....

Charles et Charlus.
I moved here to Lille, in Northern France, at the very end of the last century. My son is a Tourangeau, which means he was born in Tours, in the Loire Valley. When we moved, his favorite audiobook happened to be Peter Pan, and, in French, 'Neverland' translates to 'Amazing Lille' (l'île merveilleuse,) so you can probably guess he was pretty excited about the move. The first thing we did when we got here was enroll him in nursery school. Being obsessively sick about bags all my life, the first thing I noticed at the school was that all the moms had the same bag https://www.etsy.com/listing/120055035/sale-soft-green-leather-charles-et?ga_search_query=backpack, or else a model of what was obviously the same brand http://www.etsy.com/shop/AbbyinFrance/search?search_query=charlus&order=date_desc&view_type=gallery&ref=shop_search. I was shy, and so I didn't ask anyone about her bag. The brand stamp on the bag was really hard to make out, especially if you didn't want to look like a hovering, lurking, pickpocket. I didn't have internet. It took me forever to trace the brand to a single small boutique in the old part of Lille. Then I couldn't go in, because it is one of those old-school stores where you are not allowed to enter unless you are buying something. (If you ever go to France, and get a dirty look while browsing in a store, this dumb rule is the reason for it.) Well, reader, I saved up, and I bought the backpack, in a slightly reddish brown nubuck https://www.etsy.com/listing/123605376/rich-cocoa-brown-nubuck-leather-charles?ga_search_query=charlus. And I remember while I was on vacation in the U.S., someone in a Coach store AND SOMEONE ELSE IN AN ELEVATOR tried to buy it off of me. These bags are timeless. Like the original Coach bags, they are meant, style-wise, and quality-wise, to last forever. My son now reads the Economist, which does not come with a cassette that beeps when it's time to turn to the next page, but moms in Lille still wear the same bag, or else this one https://www.etsy.com/listing/120964006/ashy-black-brown-leather-charles-et?ga_search_query=charlus. And I can resell them because a used Charles & Charlus purse can be bought for less, but still has that amazing value and quality you cannot get anywhere else. And, weirdly, even your most perfect favorite bag is one you will stop wearing eventually, and maybe resell. I was inspired to write this infomercial, the first time I have ever written about an actual product I sell in my shop, by surfing vintage French bags. It is my opinion that if a bag wasn't nice when it was new 25 years ago, it's not going to be nice now. Second-rate styling on a bag that was a copy of a more expensive bag doesn't age well. The great thing about Vintage should be that it weeds out the less good stuff. So, Buyer: please beware.





One day my husband bursts into my office and says, I'm going to Israel--you don't have to come! and goes out again. Later on, he asks me if I'm coming and I say, Well, no. Not if you're gonna ask me like that. And he says, I was doing you a favor to ask you like that because I knew you didn't want to come.
Anyway to be brief, he went and i didn't. I had never wanted to go to Israel: too hot, and nothing good to buy. He comes back, and he's, well, I haven't seen him like that since he fell in love with me. He's in love. I'm going back, and I'm taking you with me, he says.
Actually if you have seen the Simpsons you know that some people get really emotional when they go to Israel for the first time. My husband had gotten stuck in traffic in front of the Knesset and burst out in tears. Not my thing.
But the next Christmas (my husband is not even Jewish) I don't have a present for him so I write on a card, I will go with you to Israel. Christmas morning, he reads the card and says, It's not signed! It's invalid! You don't mean it! He wouldn't let himself be re-assured until I showed him the resort wear I had bought for the trip already.
So we go, and by then I have a pretty good idea I'm going to have a good time. I had made a travel journal of all the places I wanted to go to, and it was JUST stores and restaurants. The most intriguing was Dori Csengeri, a little boutique at the north of Dizengoff street. When we got there, the window was as beautiful as on the internet, and inside it was, well, dense. I spent a really long time there. My husband got bored and went out and sat on a bench. Behind him I could see the police station across the street with cats pacing the roof. It's all there, like a snapshot in my mind. The store girl on the phone. The half-price basket. After, we went for a fresh-squeezed orange juice.
It turns out, a lot of places in Tel Aviv are incredibly bright and colorful: the fruit stands; the graffiti art; the Jaffa market; Ben Yehudah; Dori Csengeri; Chagall at the museum. You can see it on google images, I did, and it's what got me excited about going there. Now I have it all stored away in my mind's eye. And when I wear my Dori Csengeri it takes me back, it's my perfect souvenir. Search 'soutache' on Etsy to see what it's like....





I love Project Runway, what's not to love?, everybody loves that show. My favorite episode, each season, is the one where ONE DESIGNER gets a fatty, makes her a dreadful dress, gets voted off for it, and, basically, it's a giant hate-fest. Because, obviously, fat people shouldn't wear clothes, is the the point. Go online, to any department store, click on 'Plus,' and you will see the same 1960s wallpaper-inspired polyester dresses that were there fifty years ago. But why? Why not just make the normal clothes in big sizes?

I was thinking about this while shopping on Etsy. I had googled 'sarouel,' and ended up at an Etsy shop from Thailand. As in so many Etsy stores, the photographs were beautiful and the models looked like real models. Except that i VERY gradually realized that some of the women were fat and some of them were old, and, I suppose, some were short as well....There is an eyeglass shop on Etsy where the you can see the arms of the model holding up the camera in front of her to take her own picture, and she is no beauty either. But the pictures are so great you could easily imagine them in a gallery.

My customers are always asking to see how things look ON, but i have a heck of a time getting models to show up. They have to come at a certain time, when the light is good, and most of them are too busy with their own jobs and lives. I'm waiting for one now....But taking pictures IS SO fun, Etsy tells you that to take pictures you just have to fool around and have fun with it, and that's true. I see the best photographs on Etsy, but also on Instagram and everywhere on the internet, because it turns out, now that almost everyone can afford the technology, that you don't have to be an artist to be a photographer. In fact, you see so much creative success on Etsy that you start to see real stores and catalogs co-opting the Etsy look. To me, this means that it's easier to be creative if you're on your own.

Last week on Project Runway a dress was so bad that it even made the model look fat. As if it were a law of nature or something that the bad always slides towards the fat, and vice versa. But on Etsy people are taking gorgeous photographs, using regular people, to sell their goods...and succeeding. Which means to me that we are all suffering from some kind of stupid group-think whose only purpose is to perpetuate itself. Flower print plus-size dresses don't need to exist; models don't need to be a size 0. But we need to believe that these are laws of nature, that they keep the world turning on its axis--when in fact if we ever bothered to ignore them they would just go away. THE END. Disclaimer: I do not mean to suggest that the photos in MY shop are great, only that I have fun taking them....





Here is another story: Last Fall, we went to the Rederie d'Amiens, which is a huge semi-annual town-wide sale, very beloved by Parisians, who stay up all night in order to arrive at Amiens around 3 in the morning...because they say all the good stuff is long gone by dawn...because of all the Parisians who come to the sale.
I was coming from the other direction, from the North, and, as always, it was raining. It was a Sunday, we were running very late, and, trying to look on the bright side, we told ourselves we would get there around lunchtime when the place would be, for an hour or so, a little quieter. Well, I have to tell you, phantom reader, that things did not go too bad. We got a good parking spot, got a lot of stuff, and made a bunch a trips to the car and back. But of course it rained, and I felt so sorry for all the sad antiques getting ruined. They actually looked even more beautiful and romantic in the wet, but that just made me sadder. Then we got separated, not quite accidentally, it's good to spend some time apart once in a while, and the plan was to meet up again at the last place we were together, which is also sort of romantic. And the stand at that spot which I kept coming back to, where the meeting spot was, had this gorgeous painting. The first two or three times I came by, it wasn't there, because of the rain, and then, suddenly, it was, and I was knocked off of my feet, so of course after going around a couple more times and feeling like a jealous wife because others had also noticed it, I bought it. And I cannot remember any of the other things I bought that day. Now it is mid-winter, I have sold the painting, and I am still really sad about it. But I researched the buyer, she is a painter, and that makes me feel better. Her avatar is one of her portraits. I love art, and about once a week I am amazed ANEW about how much of it there is on the internet, and about how it can all be yours with just a 'command-shift-4' of your Mac. Sometimes it intimidates me that so many people out there are so creative, but mostly I like it. I like the way the people I follow on Tumblr curate the art, always with old illustrations mixed in. I love NYPL Caturdays. And today there appeared, on my Tumblr dashboard, a familiar painting, the avatar of my Etsy buyer, plucked off Tumblr by someone who just happened to like it, and sent to me because I follow Art.






I love libraries. Growing up, I loved the Pine Hills Library, and also Harmanus Bleecker. The Pine Hills Library was in a dark old creaky house, which held out a lot of promise for the books you were going to find in there. Harmanus Bleecker was a lot grander; it was a big old manor house, and had a really great name, which I would sometimes say over and over for no reason just because I loved it. RIP Pine Hills and Harmanus Bleecker Libraries.

In this new age, I cannot get over what libraries have become. Internet is free, e-books are free, meeting rooms are free. There are no late fees. Talking is allowed. And, best of all, lots of libraries have sale rooms. I started going to the sale rooms mostly to buy books for their covers. I love the lurid graphics of mid-20th century book jackets. And then I got into reading the books. They were mediocre. (In contemporary culture, I think, a lot of stuff is, and it's up to future generations to whittle it down to real art or music or literature--which is timeless.)

In these books there was often a commonality, such as a plot where the family goes out of New York City for the summer, and the husband stays behind to work...and then what he does with his freedom. Sometimes on his adventures he would come upon what's called in French a 'Bal Populaire,' a dance, outside, open to everyone, where kids would be doing the latest crazy dances. And in my mind's eye I see these scenes in the style of Alice Neel and the WPA painters of the time. People were so progressive in the thirties, with their communism and free love and their jive dancing and World of Tomorrow.

And so it's kind of like being on drugs, reading these old books from another era. It's jarring. When you read Jane Austen, you soon get over the talk of carriages and so forth because the books are so enduring. But this is the opposite, because you are glimpsing a world which is fleeting and ephemeral because the book is not so well-written, and its truths are neither timeless nor universal. But they do open the door to another world, and when Amazon.com gets time machines, I will definitely visit the 1930s first. I just hope everything's still all black-and-white, like in the movies....

Once I got a book at a Goodwill. It was a collection of short stories, and at the back it had an extensive bibliography, like they used to, as well as an afterward that was like a whole nother bibliography. But a lot of the books mentioned there were already out of print by, say, 1950, when my book was printed. Anyway, I looked one up on eBay, it was called 'Master of the Day of Judgment,' and they had it! In Australia! So I ordered it, it was about ten dollars, and, I remember, I ordered it on December 31, 2010. I got the book soon after, and i happened to notice the printing date: January, 2011!! That's how I found out about book-printing machines. I think they are amazing, you can really print anything these days, whether it's a single book or whatever!






Another cool new futuristic thing I just found out about is something called Coursera, it's an online free university! I start classes next month! I'm so excited! [Follow-up: I took a design course on Coursera, loved it--and got a 94!!]






About me, I love color and texture. I love faces. I like things when they're a little sad. And old. I love French things, and the quality of French things. I like purses, and boxes, too. I like personalizing my own stuff, and I am a serious painter, besides. I love everything in my shop because I would buy it myself, and have bought it myself.

Whenever I fall in love with a painting, the first thing I think is always, 'Is that a photograph?' No matter how abstract it is, I always think that, because I always
see something the artist put there that is so real I think it must be Kodak.

I am a follower of Lynda Barry. I believe that art is therapy, and if you avoid art, you end up going nuts. For myself, I get inspired by materials. Oil paint is definitely by favorite scent. I also get inspired by my surroundings: neat and clean, minimal and orderly; also old, worn, vintage, imperfect. Most important, French. France is the land of savoir faire, after all. And we all know the best-made things come from The Past. But thanks to technology for putting us in touch with all this stuff!

My dream is to be trilingual. I hate languages, in fact, but I love the access they give you. Even at the beginning stages of learning, there is such a sense of possibility...and variation. I also love accents. So many people have them, too! My favorite skunk is of course Pepe LePew!






Here is a story from my past: I used to live in the Loire Valley (now I live in Northern France,) and one of the features of that place was the Gypsies. Not all Gypsies roam, and ours didn't. You would often get stuck behind a horse-drawn Gypsy caravan (with the bells and the ribbons--you'd be pinching yourself) on a quiet misty country road, but the caravan would soon turn off, because it was local. One time, it was around Christmastime, we had driven over to the Sunday market in Tours to get baskets to make gift baskets out of, but we had gotten up too late, or couldn't find a place to park or something--anyway, we missed the market. We were driving slowly away (there was the traffic of everyone trying to leave at once, because the market was over with) and we saw these GYPSIES, with their BASKETS, walking down the street, and we bought a whole bunch of baskets without even having to pull the car over, it was great, we just opened the windows and they threw them in the back seat. I never forgot it. It was one of my top five shopping experiences ever. And it got me interested in, basically, how, with the old ways of making things, and in the olden days, nothing was too quotidian for good design, aesthetic beauty, or careful construction...in fact, logically, the more utilitarian something is--the more it should be nice, because you are always using it. (And that's why all my pens in my pen cups match!) But anyway I'll shut up now, I just wanted to say that the aesthetic of my shop is the joy that comes from feasting the eyes...

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