Recently on 1stdibs, one of my favorite places to drool over vintage jewelry, they were featuring designs by Line Vautrin, whom they described as la poétesse du métal (lah po-ay-tes due maytal). I’d never heard of her before, but I really liked the style of many of her pieces, so I decided to dig a little deeper.
Line Vautrin got her start during the l’Exposition universelle of 1937. She rented a little stand to display her wares – bronze buttons, belt buckles, bag frames, and jewelry of all types. She met with such success that she opened a store just off the Champs Élysées. She explored new techniques and new products, adding enamel and other ornamentation to small boxes for powder or cigarettes.
When Vautrin married, she and her spouse moved into a house in the Marais where they both had workspaces. They regularly organized exhibits to show her work to an enthusiastic public and press. The two liked to create rebuses, pictures that represented words, as on the bracelet above. Each disc has a picture that represents one of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. On an original Vautrin piece you may see a rebus that represents her last name, a calf (veau) and a train.
In the 50s, Vautrin moved from bronze to cellulose acetate that she dubbed ‘Talosel.’ From this new material, she shaped lamp bases, screens, and mirrors, as above. Vautrin opened a school for hobbyists and serious craftspeople alike. After she shut the school in the 80s, she created occasional pieces, but a major retrospective of her work got her out of retirement. She died in 1997, two years prior to a major exhbit of her work at the musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris. Today, an original Vautrin piece will cost from just over $1,000 to over $10,000. That’s a long way from a little stand at the fair.
Read more about Line Vautrin: Rebus