November 8, 2007

Scrounging Stolen Plates is an Old Art Form

is created from broken dishware and mug, salvaged stainless steel spoon,
venetian glass tile and discarded shards of mirror.

Pique Assiette just sounds so very...well, French!! And it is a term taken from the French to describe a category of mosaic art work creat
ed using tiles, tesserae, and shards from broken dishware, china, vases and pottery.

Like so many French words (even those indicating common root vegetables and the fungi that grow on them), Pique Assiette sounded, to my non-francophonic ears anyway — so… tres elegant, tres chic, tres magnifique! I first heard the term at a gallery opening when it was uttered, ecstatically, by the gallery owner rhapsodizing about about what she considered a particularly spectacular piece of work.

When I actually got a good look at the work of art in question, a large, round mirror surrounded by a huge, thick, bordering frame composed of a myriad of glowing bits of pottery, glass, tile and multi-colored dish ware, I could not help but utter several enthusiastic stanzas of "ooh la la". It was a fitting accolade to that artwork in particular, and to Pique Assiette in general.

The colors were vivid, the design bold, yet intricate and flowing free form around the center mirror so that it seemed to flow right off the edge of the frame and fill the gallery. The overall impression was astounding. The piece glowed like antique oriental carpets. It contained all the intricacies of an East Indian weaving. It boasted the same thick texture and cobbled appearance of an ancient stone wall. And, the piece was s-o-l-i-d, suggesting that it, too, could last several centuries, as did the famous mosaics of Rome, Greece and Turkey.

AFFAIRE D'COUER is made from broken plates, dishware, salvaged buttons and discarded stainless steel flatware.

I hung around, admiring the piece for half an hour, all the while locating deep within the design, a series of dish patterns familiar to me from my childhood. There were bits of Corelle Ware by Corning, bits of Homer Laughlin, bits of transfer ware and blue willow china, bits of fiesta ware, bits of stone ware and even bits of the same Spode china pattern my grandmother used for fancy table nights! I was intrigued. I was enamored. I was smitten. I began to scrounge plates!

As delighted as I was with my newly acquired love of "fancy" French Pique Assiette, I was amused (as are those who know me well) to learn that, loosely translated from the French, the term Pique Assiette actually means "stolen plate" or "scrounge"! C'est la vie... So Pique Assiette may not translate as fancy or elegant, but the term does fit me particularly well. I am passionate about recycling. I delight in discovering discards and turning them into art. I live to dig in the dump, scavenge among the salvage yards, traipse through the thrift stores and garner goodies at garage sales — all in search of those elusive treasures that, with a little appreciation, still have life and beauty to offer.

Pique Assiette is considered a true "folk" art in that has been available to the "common people" for hundreds of years and examples of Pique Assiette, both ancient and modern, can be found in museums, antique stores and people's homes around the world. As long as there has been pottery, broken dishes have been readily available. As long as there have been people, they have created, decorated and adorned themselves, their possessions and the world around them.

Pique Assiette
, the mosaic art of the people, is definitely ooh la la!