Friday, July 30, 2010

Zinc: Irresistible Blue/Gray

New England Home magazine, Home of Design Duo Lee Bierly & Christopher Drake

Zinc, zinc, zinc, everywhere you look there’s zinc! Don’t you just love zinc? I know I do. I was just outside putting the finishing touches on a couple of boxwood shrubs that I planted up in my new Restoration Hardware planters. Which by the way are on sale now Here! It got me thinking about how wonderful the color is, that soft gray/blue.

Restoration Hardware zinc footed planters

It has become a design stable blending beautifully with today’s neutral interiors.

New England Home magazine, Home of Design Duo Lee Bierly & Christopher Drake
See the zinc table behind that stunning burlap and linen chair, love those pillows!

Gray is a true neutral color because of this, gray can be very restful and works with any palette.

This zinc nightstand comes open, one drawer and the bottom open or closed as pictured above from Restoration Hardware Here

French Zinc and Iron Table from Laurin Copen Antiques Here
Love the zinc on the table legs! The pillows pick up the zinc color beautifully 

Monumental Neoclassical style Zinc Bookcase from Sarlo Here
Look at that fabulous cartouche, I'd love to have this in my home!

A Pair of Large Scaled Zinc Urn Lamps from G. Sergeant Antiques Here
Now these make a statement!

Did you know Europeans even used zinc for their roofs? It’s even being used here in the US for roofs…I did not know this. The zinc will last for 80 - 100years and can withstand harsh weather conditions. Zinc sheets are laid over wood and seamed.

The New Eighteenth Century Style, Zinc oeil-de-boeuf and zinc finial

                     Antique French Zinc Architectural Roof Finials from John J. Nelson Antiques Here

Zinc is the 23rd most abundant element in the earth’s crust. We need zinc in our diets to help boost our immune systems, it also helps to cut a cold short. Best of all zinc’s patina will constantly renew itself as it weathers and ages and will “heal over” scratches and imperfection. So when zinc can be poured and molded to make such wonderful furniture, decorative items and put a roof over our heads, I ask you, what’s not to love about zinc?

The New Eighteenth Century Style, zinc horse head above the door

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Italian and French silk velvets

Since I mentioned in my last post that I was both a collector and antique textile dealer and my passion was Italian silk velvets I’ve received some lovely emails asking me to SHOW YOU…. since you’ve all asked so very nicely how could I resist sharing.

It was the Chinese who first unraveled a cocoon thousands of years ago to make silk. It was the Spanish and Italians who elevated silk velvets into some of the most luxurious works of art. Velvets were among the most highly prized and most expensive luxury fabrics of the Renaissance. (Be sure to click on the picture to bring it up bigger for viewing. )

Italian, circa 1450, Ferronerie velvet with pomegranate design, green being one of the most rare of colors. Ferronerie velvet: curved, linear woven patterns reminiscent of decorative wrought-iron work.

Italian, 1540, brocaded/voided silk velvet featuring an ogival pattern of branches with a central pomegranate motif. The flowers, pomegranates and leaves are further embellished with boucle, a heavy gold metal thread pulled up to form loops. Due to cost by the turn of the 17th century raised metal boucle work had disappeared into history forever.

Circa 1580 Italian symmetrical "candelabra" pattern of alto-e-basso or pile-on-pile of silk cut velvet. Called "candelabra" pattern due to the many branches in the design. Pile-on-pile refers to two layers of threads, one higher than the other. Alto-e-basso is Italian meaning high and low.

Florentine circa 1600 cut voided pile-on-pile velvet with an extremely large flower motif brocaded in real silver metal thread. Because of the large floral design this was more than likely made for wall covering. All those light colored areas is actually the silver thread.

The next four velvets were all woven in Genoa Italy around 1600 all being cut voided velvet. Voided velvet: when areas of the ground are left free of pile. Since projecting pile-required quantities of silk thread, voided velvet was less expensive to manufacture than solid-pile velvet or brocaded velvet.

with silver metal thread ground, brocaded velvet

Two toned green and red pile with tabby ground

Small patterned velvet with strawberries

Velvet design embroidered with gold metal thread

17th century Italian purple voided silk velvet on a gold ground

The firm of Maison Hamot in France and a manufacturer of Krefeld, Germany both in the 19th century perfected the art of copying silk velvet designs. The next two silk velvets are such examples both being of Byzantine designs. The third design is being of a 16th century design.

11th Byzantine design from Maison Hamot

Byzantine design from Krefeld

19th century Italian of a 16th century design, Maison Hamot

19th century stamped velvet produced by impressing a design into the pile with a steel tool.

16th century Spanish silk velvet fabric with applied appliqué design

These velvets are prized today by both collectors and museums because they’re no longer produced due to the fact they’re extremely labor intensive to make and the cost to produce them is astronomical. I bet you didn't realize there were so many different types of velvets produced? Busy little worms huh? I’ll tell you the truth here I keep more then I sell of these lovelies since I can’t help myself. They cost a bloody fortune but if you see anything you like and want just ask but be willing to give up an arm, leg and your first born for it. I hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip through the ages of silk velvets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Veranda: Life in Ruins

Have you seen the August issue of Veranda yet? If not run out and buy it now! Pictured on the front is a French house that was once a ruin. Why couldn’t someone have discovered America sooner than 1492 so we could have a few ruins? I wouldn’t mind living in a stone ruin, who cares about a little rubble when it looks this fabulous? If I can live in an 18th century dwelling with all it’s quirks a little ruin is nothing! 

(All photos courtesy Veranda, photographer: Peter Vitale)

Look at the inside guest patio, those 15th century curved stone arches, that antique tile floor………now I ask you who wouldn’t be happy there?

The house was originally built in the 11th century and added onto each century. The kitchen area dates to the 17th century, love how they simply plastered over the arches. Just think if I could afford that house I wouldn’t have to cook except when I wanted to.
The chairs in the Renaissance hall look to be covered in tapestry that more than likely came from Michel Biehns’ shop since he deals in textiles of all sorts. As an antique textile dealer myself it’s killing me I can’t see those chairs closer. And look at those pillows in the background hiding from me!

I could sleep in this master bedroom all draped in Italian silks. That pillow on the bed is antique Italian silk velvet, why don’t they just shoot me now? One of my passions is Italian silk velvets, I’m a collector as well as deal in velvets and I can’t see that pillow well. I NEED TO SEE THAT PILLOW!

Can you believe this is the dressing room? I wonder if it’s up those stairs pictured in the master bedroom? I love how they’re storing their hats in the French laundry baskets and look at that dreamy mirror, love the juxtaposition between the gilded mirror and straw baskets. Look at the baskets on top of the closets, they give you a sense of the height in the room.

The 17th century staircase is original to the house and was restored, think of the entrance you would make coming down those stairs! Love the huge picture at the top too!

All the silk fabrics just in this small dining room come from Antico Setificio Fiorentino in Florence Italy and can be found Here . Those sconces and chandelier are to die for! And those chairs....come to Mama! They’re in that French Parisian green I love so much!

I love how they used a nice mix of highs and lows of antiques and modern furniture so that nothing overwhelms, tough to achieve. I wish someone would come out with a magazine that shows all the accessories that decorate rooms so we could see more clearly....not to be I guess. I won’t spoil the entire article for you but I couldn’t resist, who wouldn’t want to live in France in all that history?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Acquired Objects: The Whimsical Human Form

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and wondered about their objets d’art? Objet d’art is defined as something decorative, an object of some artistic value. Henry David Thoreau once said “ There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” I wonder if he was envisioning my home, looking at my objets d’art when he said this?

As I was sitting in my studio stitching away I briefly looked up and had to smile at a beloved treasure. I think we’ve all done that, purchased an item simply because they make us smile. Louis is such an object, he’s a 17th century French wig last for making wigs. The top of the woodenhead is covered in layer upon layer of vellum paper for sizing a person’s head. Big head more paper, you get the idea. Balanced upon coverless French book inserts Louis hangs about holding a beautiful antique French crown in regal splendor

Perhaps it’s because of the type of job I have, antique textile dealer that I’m around and see more antiques than my fair share. Mainly because my dealers deal in more than just textiles and are always showing me items that don’t relate to my business in hopes of a sale. Being female this appeals to me greatly. Plus having an artistic side let alone not being able to help myself I end up with what I think are rather amazing things decorating my home.

Meet Henri, he stands about like a sentry on duty presiding over my pillows. He’s an 18th century child’s clothing mannequin straight from France. His body is stuffed with horsehair and wrapped in burlap, I love the stitching up the front of him in French waxed string. Sometimes I dress him up in something old, do we ever grow tired of playing dress up?

Objects add so much life to our rooms and antiques bring history, an artful intrigue. Imagine a room devoid of our decorative objects, a room with just furniture, it doesn’t look finished. Our objects are what keep our eyes moving, what makes it interesting. As I sit here in my studio I notice I have several human form objects, what is it about the human form we try to bring into our rooms? My guess is the human form finishes off a room the same way living people do.

Kay O’Toole has several mannequins, above and below, in the form of a Mexican Santos and garden statue enlivening her hall bringing it to life. Ms. O’Toole’s shop is called “Antiques and Eccentricities for all the weird things she’s drawn to” but are they weird or comforting? Photo courtsey March, 2010 Veranda magazine.

Katie Stassi Here used a mannequin near a French daybed, her philosophy is her interiors are “ defined not designed”. So do our objects define a space as well as decorate?


 Alain and Brigitte Garnier incorporated a French mannequin artfully into their lives in their Belgium home. Photo courtesy of Cote de Texas Here 

Antiques, accessories, objects all tell a story whether about the room they inhabit or the people who purchase them, they bring a room to life. So whether you’re using mannequins, Santos or statues for accessorizing your home incorporating a human form adds a touch of life and intrigue into a room. Or if you’re like me you spend way too much time alone and have made inanimate objects your friends….lol.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1stdibs, a New Record!

No, 1st dibs didn’t make a new record selling anything, at least I don’t think they did? Congratulate me, this is the first time I have ever made it through the entire new listings on 1st Dibs in one day. As anyone knows that’s not an easy feat considering there are typically 18 pages of mouth watering, eye dropping, goodies galore to peruse! Such fabulous stuff and I can't afford a single thing! Then again my birthday is coming up in September and for those of you needing some gift ideas I’ve gone ahead and chosen a few morsels………

offered by Alexander Westerhoff Here

These 17th century Baroque Marble Corbels would look perfect on either side of my fireplace and who doesn’t love angels? But then again I'll need a nicer fireplace surround to go with the corbels so toss this in too please. Then again my ceilings will need to be raised but that's what a wish list is for huh?

offered by M. Naeve Here

Love stone fireplace surrounds and this 18th centry French job fills the bill, in fact maybe I should ask for two of these, the other would look amazing in a bathroom!

offered by Karla Katz Here
Italian gilt Lantern

My entry hall fixture really needs some serious help and I thought this would be the perfect fix!

offered by William Laman Here

I just love this Swedish Baroque table it would go perfectly in the entry way as well, I need to find a mirror to go over it and oh yeah, I need a bigger entry hall!

offered by Lotus Gallery Here

This Empire silk velvet pillow is right up my alley, anyone who knows me knows how much I love anything orange! Throw in some metallic anything and I'm yours!

offered by Watkins Culver Here

I will always accept fabulous 18th century paintings with angels but when they come with an outstanding frame, Perfection!

To round things out I think I should pick a little something for the outdoors but then again these urns are stunning and might look great in my dining room.

offered by Rose Uniacke Here

I was utterly amazed to have noticed I made it thru all the new listings and then I looked at the time and
wasn’t to pleased with myself since I didn’t get a single thing done today. But it was a nice rainy day here in New Hampshire and we haven’t seen rain in two months so I think I’ll count this as my celebration for the rain. What do you wish for on rainy days?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gardening: 20 years of Achievement

I wish I could tell you this post was about my gardens but to be honest I’m just not that industrious. Between family, home and job I don’t have that kind of time let alone these gardens are much too formal for my humble dwelling. These are highlights from Stan and Cheri Frye’s stunning Edwardian garden, a local garden that I was fortunate enough to visit last weekend.

One of the lower ponds at the bottom of the gardens facing up with the main
house barely visible on the right and the guesthouse in the center.
The Frye’s gardens occupy four properties, on 12 acres with 40 garden areas, all on a rocky hillside with an elevation change of 110’. The gardens are linked together by lawn, mulch, pebbles, and granite stone paths. New Hampshire is called the granite state so we have no shortage of this material, ask anyone who has tried to garden here. You’ll see from the pictures that there’s a repetitive use of boxwood, evergreen, yew, holly, hosta and hydrangea to add a sense of unity.
The garden rooms surrounding the main house are kept formal as seen in this
garden with a reflecting pool, statuary, urns and clipped boxwood.

As you wandered down from the first terraced area you come upon a 300-foot allee, a French word meaning a walkway lined with trees or tall shrubs, of pollarded sycamore trees. Pollarding of trees means to cut the branches back to the trunk in the spring to promote dense heads of foliage and to control the trees height. New growth on these trees can be as much as six feet per year. The tree branches are trained to grow to the north and south leaving the pathway open.

The 300-foot Allee with sycamore trees surrounded by
pachysandra, a shade loving ground cover growing to eight inches.

At one end of the Allee you come upon a large urn called “Pope’s Urn”, named after Alexander Pope, who was considered one of the greatest English poets of the 1700’s and is visible from the back deck of the main house. At the other far end is a cottage and Stan’s office. Can you imagine the tough commute he has walking down that allee each morning to his office? Torture!

In the geometric garden, boxwood is clipped into spheres to mimic the round architectural balls. While a lead boy balancing on a sphere gets sprayed in a small pool. Just look at that fabulous collection of antique garden ornaments and use of granite stone.

Here’s a great idea, an arbor made out of nothing more than rebar tied together. Planted on each corner are Japanese maples that have their branches tied to the rebar to create a canopy. A laid stone flooring and voile, you have a stunning area out of the sun for a picnic.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little of the garden tour and you go away with a few ideas of your own. Me, while the temperatures wavier in the three-digit area and dangerously close to my whining point, I think I’ll go sit on the air conditioner and contemplate how the husband has over pollarded our tree and the deer have made a tasty snack out of my hosta!

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