Signed, Sealed...and Soon to be Delivered!

One of Johan's favorite moments comes right before one of his least favorites. 

It is immensely satisfying when we finally have enough merchandise to complete
a container to be shipped to the U.S. He loves to see all of it spread out outside of our warehouse and begins to imagine how he is going to display it in our garden for our Container Sale video click here and here He smiles as he looks at all the pieces and brings to mind where he bought certain items and even remembers the faces of the people he bought them from. He admires the patina on some items, the craftsmanship on a piece of furniture, the simple and yet noble look of a rustic table, and wonders about those who designed, built, or owned a certain piece. He also wonders who will love and buy a certain item. He imagines their joy as they find the perfect little spot for it.

It's great to hear his voice when he calls me and says, "We have enough now!(yey!) It's time to load up!(ugh!)" And that is one his least favorite things to do: figuring out how to fit everything in the container.  He has to figure out how to best pack everything so that there is no damage therefore procures the right packing materials and in some cases builds crates to protect fragile pieces. We have to use every nook and cranny. It's important to think about how to build up so that there are strong pieces to withstand the weight of whatever goes on top. You also have to consider the size shape and surface of some items to decide how to group them. 

The list goes on and on! It is not only arduous physically, but also nerve racking trying to load up some of the heaviest pieces or getting on a ladder while trying to wedge in a piece that keeps getting stuck on something else. Add to that the stress of the documentation and other tasks of dealing with the transport companies, customs, etc. Packing  and getting the container ready is definitely not something to relish and it always feels so gratifying when the last piece finally goes in and he can shut the doors! It took three days, working 15 hours a day to finish packing this last container which will be in transit tomorrow and arrive at the Port of Oakland on the last day of August. This means we can probably set the date for our Container Sale for the second weekend of September. 

Stay tuned for updates on the actual date by joining our mailing list. You can do this by sending us an email, or can visit our web site  where we post dates of events click here. While you are there, you can preview some of the items that will be arriving. Note: not everything that is coming is posted as we like to maintain the element of surprise and purposely not show some of the items to come. I myself sometimes do not get to see every item prior to the container's arrival and love to discover some wonderful treasure I had not seen before. 

Some of the items Trinidad has not seen, like to keep some surprises

I always feel bad that I can never help in the loading of the container as usually when it happens, I have to be here to do my side of the business and fulfill my day-job duties. Now that I have taken a hiatus from my teaching job, I hope that I can go and help him with the packing of the next container. Johan is such a trooper because not only is he incredibly creative, but he's also always ready to roll up his sleeves and do the most arduous tasks. His hands possess both grace and skill to create, but also incredible strength to grasp, pull, carry, shove, and do everything that it takes to make sure all of our treasures make a safe journey to our place in Corralitos. I know by now you might be thinking, "It looks like Johan does everything! What do you and Martin do?" Well, stay with us, we will be posting later about the container's arrival and the drama that unfolds preparing for it, not to mention the unloading of the container. What takes Johan and his helpers three days to pack, we have to unpack it in three hours! 

A few more things, secure it and close the doors. 
Job is done!



Creations D'Ambiance!

Over the years, I have learned to appreciate more and more the unique gift that Johan has for arranging, combining, displaying, and making our merchandise look more appealing.  He can take an ordinary galvanized bucket and make it into an attractive planter.

Earlier post on our garden house click here

He can take a branch of oak, put it into an old harvester, put a light in there and create a gorgeous, dramatic lighting effect. I remember a customer who once said, " I cannot believe Johan's creativity. He hangs an old skeleton of a metal chair on the wall, put a vintage piece of cloth dangling from it becomes art!" 

  Left picture taken of our booth at Remnants of the Past by Dusty Lu click here 

It's no secret, aside from selecting beautiful items, it's essential that items be displayed in a way that attracts, and helps the customers visualize a piece in their own environment. Whether it's a store or a stand at the flea market, if you are in the business of selling items for beautifying a home, it's crucial that you do your best to combine and display them.
                                                     Picture taken by Dusty Lu click here 

A well created vignette helps people see how an item can combine with others by its color, shape, texture, etc. How you display it can also provide an idea of how to use it: it gives the item a purpose. An old metal spittoon, as vulgar as it may seem, all of s sudden becomes beautiful as a base of an over-sized candle.
A group of shutters can become a headboard or a room divider, or a back drop for a beautiful potted plant. 

When Johan is not around, I try to channel him and do my best in arranging and displaying at our store or at the antique fairs and events we participate in, but I have much to learn. Our customers always know when Johan is in town because they see how beautiful everything is displayed. I have no problem letting people know that he is responsible for much of the success of our business because he has a great eye for selecting items and a true gift for making them look even more attractive via his vignettes.


These are just some of our favorites:
Visit our website click here for some of the treasures we are bringing in our September container, for example the items in the picture above.


Unloading and Preparing the Treasures...

As I mentioned in a previous posting, we were supposed to go to another fair in Montpellier before our return to The U.S. Johan was to drop us off in Paris and drive back to Belgium on his own, but since we decided to skip Montpellier, Martin and I drove back with him. We didn't want Johan to drive back by himself and of course, we wanted to see all the beauties we bought in all their splendor. Sometimes after the buying, you forget you bought a certain item and then when you unload you smile and say, "Oh yeah! I forgot we got that cutie!" You now what I mean!

Well, we arrived late in Belgium so we just went to sleep, but the next morning we were all too eager to drive to our warehouse and begin the unloading. It's that nice feeling of unwrapping presents, spreading them all out and smiling satisfied of all the treasures you encountered. We begin to connect items with the names of our customers. "Sandy will love this one!" Johan may say, or "This is definitely for Bente!" I'll chime in. Even Martin, who has not been doing the business for too long is beginning to notice the tastes of our customers and will identify a piece that matches one of our customer's taste and style

Martin is scanning to pick his favorite piece, this planter is taken by Trinidad

Johan also begins to match one item with another as he schemes his vignettes. It's cool how is is able to match the oddest pieces and they somehow work. We also identify some of our favorite items from each of our trips or the different fairs. Sometimes it's a knock-out beautiful chandelier or sometime it may be a small piece that may seem insignificant, but it's unique and with character. Last year, my favorite was the hand of a mannequin that I bought in Germany. I use it to place my business cards. This year, my favorite is a Spanish planter with a religious relief in copper that says Ave Maria, but I also love a three-tiered Spanish chandelier from a church. Martin choose the wooden industrial table on wheels in the picture at the top, and Johan the concrete everlasting flame pillars. Not everything could fit in our van, the rest is coming with our transporter in the next days.

We spread everything out in front of the warehouse as we unload it and add to our inventory in preparation for the documentation, we price it and we clean it or identify if it needs a touch-up, painting, fixing, etc. "I'm going to leave those as they are." Johan will announce in reference to a couple of mirrors with a nice patina. Some of the D'ore mirrors will be painted to infuse new life into them. Johan's technique for creating grays and adding touches of frost are very sought after. 

We also tried to figure out what items might fit into our luggage so that we cold bring a few things with us. I got a few French navy bags, a few religious figurines, magazines, and a couple of old, small school chalkboards. Martin only had room for some souvenirs and presents for his friends and family. We decided next year we will not be taking many clothes so we can bring more goodies with us!

After we left, Johan got busy cleaning, painting, fixing and displaying items so that he could photograph them and post them on our web site. Some of them are posted already, check it out our website click here. Enjoy the pre-view, and let us know if there is an item you might be interested in by sending us an email to infoatelierdc@gmail.com Include the item number and its description to find out more information and for pricing. i.e. I am interested in the following item: Flower basket: #17/381