Looking for a gift for the Paris-obsessed people in your life? Pia Jane Bijkerk’s book Paris: Made by Hand explores 50 of Paris’ hidden shops where artisans of all kinds are crafting one-of-a-kind items. You can read more about Pia’s work as a stylist, photographer, and author on her blog. Guest blogger Vanessa Joie (of Pois Rouge) discusses the book and some of Pia’s secret spots…
All Photos: PiaJaneBijkerk.com
Text by Vanessa Joie
I’ll be honest, growing up the words “handmade” or “homemade” made me cringe. I had visions of little old ladies knitting big, bulky, awkward sweaters I would be forced into while my friends wore something cute and “store bought.” I would long for Oreo’s while my mother spent hours in the kitchen baking delicious smelling treats. Fortunately, when I was 19 I took my first trip to Paris and fell in love—not with the big shops, but with the markets and the boutiques and the studios where the real treasures of Paris were hidden.
I’m not sure why it took so many years and a trip halfway around the world to make me appreciate the art of crafting and restoring objects. No longer was I haunted by visions of odd sweaters and hand-me-downs. As I visited studios and markets and listened to artists and craftsmen talk with love in their hearts and passion in their voices, I suddenly understood the art of “handmade.” I saw the objects they had crafted with new eyes. As my love for Paris grew, so did my love for all things “fait main.”
I was delighted when one of my favorite bloggers, stylists and photographers, Pia Jane Bijkerk, put together a gorgeous book, Paris: Made by Hand. Pia’s collection of ateliers and brocantes and boutiques is truly inspiring. I was happy to see some of my personal favorites included in her book and I’ve added a whole list of shops I’m itching to visit.
In the meantime, I will share with you a few of Pia’s treasures that are so beautifully photographed in her book. One of the most enchanting secrets in the “fait main” world is Bagués—the makers of the glorious chandeliers that twinkle in Paris’ posh salons. Bagués has been around for nearly two centuries and their designs will take your breath away. Their showroom is truly a sight to behold with crystals dripping from the ceiling.
The next time I am in Paris, I have every intention of wandering into Le Petit Atelier de Paris. Their ceramics are beautiful and delicate and, as Pia says, “the first thing you might notice about the atelier-boutique… is the calm that exudes from the space the moment you open the front door.” After visiting their online collection I’m completely smitten.
From there I would make my way to Papier Plus. From a very young age I’ve had a fondness for paper products—notebooks, stationary, and albums are items I can never have enough of. I’m dying to stroll through Papier Plus and stock up on their fresh, simple, minimalist papers and notepads and maybe some of their matching pencils. Heaven.
The term “fait main” does not only encompass handcrafted objects, but also includes taking objects and restoring and restyling them, giving them new life. The darling Peps, located in Passage de l’Ancre Royal, proves that even umbrella mending is not a lost art in Paris. Only open a few hours per day during the week, the shop is busy until closing time. And then there is Tombeés du Camion, the shop of a professional chineur and a trinket lover’s heaven. This tiny treasure chest of a shop is full of spools of vintage ribbon, doll bodies and glass jars… and so much more.
Paris: Made by Hand takes you through 50 wonderful shops but there are so many more. Part of the charm of Paris is finding your own little treasures amongst its bustling streets and hidden away places. In a time in which we think of so many things as disposable and there is always something “newer” to be had, “Paris loyally and lovingly upholds its traditions. All things handmade… therefore remain at the heart of Paris.”