Bibelots and Improbable Baubles

Our founder George Headley is known as a jewelry designer and his passion later in life was for designing bibelots.  Pronounced “bib-a-loh,” bibelot is an antiquated French word meaning a highly decorative and ornamental object that is not necessarily functional.  Headley created many beautiful designs, each with its own fun story and history and many of which remain on display in our Jewel Room today.

“Birdcage” is one of George Headley’s bibelots on display at the Headley-Whitney Museum.

In the spirit of Headley’s passion, each year, we challenge sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in Fayette County, Kentucky to create a faux bibelot.  Armed with lots of glitter, sparkles, glue, and tons of imagination, middle schoolers conceptualize and realize their own bibelot designs and then tell the story behind why they created their miniature masterpieces for our annual Improbable Baubles competition and exhibition.  Students compete not only for a chance to have their bibelots displayed in our Museum but also for cash prizes!

Improbable Baubles is an annual competition and is sponsored in partnership with LexArts.  Now in its fifth year, we have over 300 participating students from five schools across Fayette County.  Beginning in August, we visited schools to discuss the competition and to help students begin their projects.  Over the next two months, we anxiously waited to see what the students dreamed up.  Beginning last week, we finally got to see final bibelots when we visited each school for judging and to collect the top pieces to display at the Museum, and with all of the exceptional work that has been done this year, selection has been no easy task!  Over the next week and half, we will put the pieces and the students’ statements and sketches of their designs on display in our Museum in preparation for the grand opening on Friday, November 16 when the prize winners are announced.

In the spirit of the competition, we haven’t posted any of this year’s bibelot designs, but we can safely say that we are most impressed with what we’ve seen!  Check back after the November 16 opening to see this year’s amazing Faux Bibelots!

Improbable Baubles: Faux Bibelots from Fayette County Middle Schoolers will open on Friday, November 16.  Opening reception is FREE with a suggested $5 donation.  Light refreshments will be provided by Sav’s Chill.  The exhibit will be on display through December 23, 2012.  LexArts has provided funding support for Improbable Baubles through its Fund for the Arts.

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About Headley Whitney Museum

We are a decorative arts museum located in the heart of the Bluegrass. Opened in 1968 by George Headley III, a noted jewelry designer from the mid-twentieth century. Our permanent collection includes the Marylou Whitney Estate dollhouses, Library, Jewel Room and galleries for temporary exhibitions.
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