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What IS this?
If you guessed a funky looking boomerang from the outbacks of  Australia, you’d be wrong.  Or, if you guessed that  it’s a cool piece of African jewelry, you’d be wrong again.
However, it does fit around my neck nicely though!
What this is my dear readers is a work of art that has been rediscovered and brought back to life.
This particular piece happens to be a tieback for draperies, but it is so much more and it was only until I did further research that I discovered just what I had in my hot little fingertips. 

Sogni Straw Marquetry tieback at one with nature

 Meet Lison de CAUNES.
She is the master craftswoman behind this objet d’art.  Lison is one of the best when it comes to straw marquetry and has earned that right by being honored as one of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France.  It is the highest honor to be achieved by craftspeople from the government of France.

Lison de CAUNES. Photo courtesy of Les Grandes Ateliers de France

 When I was in Paris last year, I was given the opportunity to visit her atelier, but because my schedule was so up in the air and I was with a group of designers, I never got a chance to meet Lison and see where she worked or even to see some of her creations firsthand. 
I could shoot myself in the foot for that one!  As of last night in doing my research for this post, I just realized what an opportunity I had missed!
But, this gives me one more reason to return.
Straw marquetry had its beginnings in 17th century France.  The prisoners of war during Napoleon’s day were most noticed for their contribution.  It seems they had a lot of time on their hands and since this is a time consuming work,  they were able to devote the time and patience needed to make these objets d’art.  Some of these objets are still around and in need of repairing.
That’s where Lison comes in.  She’s been doing this for more than twenty years and as a child, was exposed to the art by her grandfather.  He happened to be none other than André Groult, a famed decorator from the 1920’s.  He designed furniture and these chairs below are one of his designs. 

Andre Groult chairs


 I love these chairs!  I know exactly where I would put them too!
 Lison has a website and you are able to choose between French or English.  I highly encourage you to visit because I don’t have any pictures of her work except what she shows on her site and trust me, it is worth taking the time to go to France via the internet.  There is a video of her atelier and she gives you a tour so even though you may not speak French, click on it anyway just to see the works of art in her shop.
You will not believe what she is capable of and then you understand exactly why she won the award! 
She starts with rye straw.  This is what it looks like in its natural state.  It is organically grown and hand harvested.  Rye straw has a silica glaze making it naturally waterproof.  Waxing is all it needs as far as maintenance. 

There is an excellent video of an interview of her found herePLEASE go to this video and watch it because it is totally amazing and is the reason behind this post.  My curiosity was peaked so much that I HAD to know more about the tieback I had in my possession!


rye straw. Photo courtesy of R. V. Miller Ltd.

 These  next 4 photos are examples of straw marquetry incorporated into different items.  They do not represent her work but that of other people.
I would love to have this side table in my bedroom as a makeup table. 

straw marquetry side table. Photo courtesy of yannjallu.net

 Here is an example of a box made in the days of Napoleon.  Note the details inside and outside the box.  The video of Lison shows some of the boxes she restored and made with incredible attention to detail.

Napoleonic box. Photo courtesy of vallejogallery.com

 Lison does entire walls and when I saw this photo, though not her work, I immediately wondered where I could do a wall like this in my house!

straw marquetry wall. Photo courtesy of alifeofstyle.com

Look at the detail on this tieback:  I love the little round dots of straw at the top and bottom ends.  I love the way the pattern is opposite each other diagonally and adding to the visual interest is the way she inserted the straight piece of straw to delineate the sections.  They start small at the inside edge and flare out toward the bottom of the tieback.
Truly an objet d’art, n’est-ce pas?

closeup of detail of Sogni Straw Marquetry

And of course, my favorite photo of the Sogni taken by Transcend the Lens, is this gorgeous Wesco silk fabric with a corded banded leading edge draped through the tieback the way it is intended to be used.  The play of the textured silk along with the texture of the straw marquetry is stunning and complements each other nicely, not to mention the highlights of the setting sun in this shot.

Wesco silk fabric with Sogni Straw Marquetry


 I am so glad that I took the time to really investigate and to now fully appreciate what I have in my hands.  This tieback from Rémy Lemoine has been in my possession and one of the stars of my display at The Marketplace Design Center in Philadelphia.  I just recently updated the display and took it out to be used again for an upcoming outdoor themed showing.  If you would like more information about this tieback and other creations of his, feel free to contact me.  I’d be more than happy to educate you about these works of art.
In the meantime, go through your attic or the next time you are in an antique store, look for straw marquetry items and admire the detail.  If you haven’t watched the video yet, scroll upwards and do so now.  Your appreciation will deepen for this lost art that has been found again, thanks to the efforts of people like Lison.