Death (with lace)

... from a mausoleum in Southern France: Happy Halloween!


Tweedy Weather

This weather makes me desire tweed above all else -- and my favorite tweed is Donegal, from northwestern Ireland.  Like most things I love, the most dedicated consumers of Donegal tweeds are in Japan -- thus this extremely well done video by Beams of Tokyo on a particular, very small family of weavers; I highly recommend watching it.



The Two Guys in My Life

... caught in a rare moment of rest. They look a little shell shocked:

Steven and Aesop.


Why Don't You ...

... plant a tree smack dab in front of your door.  I can't tell you why I love this so much, but I do:

I can half tell you why I'm into this -- mainly that it's symmetrical, and thus balanced, but also profoundly weird.

The first image is the Villa Melzi on Lake Como, the second is of a lovely Russell Warren designed house a few blocks from where I live.

And no, not a Diana Vreeland dictate, but I say go for it.


Springer Tortoiseshell (and Acceptable Poufs) at Wright

Ok, fine:  I admit it.  I do like Karl Springer, and luxe interiors of the 1960s -- blame it on my grandmother and all of her Dunbar furniture, silk velvet upholstery sectional sofas in fawn brown and silver bibelots scattered around.  In an abstract sense I understand good taste and know that I'm supposed to live austerely with a lot of Serge Mouille and Charlotte Perriand, but frankly I find all of this recherché 60s crap a lot more comfortable.  I would file Springer, Jansen and Mendoza in the pantheon of designers who favored luscious materials, good proportions and classical references over good taste or at least progressive design work, and I would rather have their works because they remind me of home, even if I would feign recommend their pieces for a client.

I mean, come on -- scoot over that pouf and get me a cocktail.  Time for a tete a tete:

Silk velvet walls?  Ribera St. Francis on the wall?  Onyx obelisks, aluminum trim and crown molding, baseboard and coffee table all in tortoiseshell?  Yes, please.  Throw in the signed 18th century fauteils.  It's all so terrible and expensive and perfect.

Well, lucky for me I could recreate this room, or at least poach some of its contents -- Wright is putting several on the block October 18th.  Though not in this image, these 7 foot obelisks were doubtless somewhere in the same room:

And I HATE most poufs -- but these, in a moss suede, oval in form and contained in a slimming aluminum band are exactly what I'd like in my own living room, used in exactly the same way:

But really the best thing would be the tortoiseshell coffee table.  Thankfully there are very, very few of these floating around -- Wright says "very rare" and honestly, I wonder if there are any others.  The entire thing has a veneer in true tortoiseshell -- almost certainly the baseboard and crown molding are faux.  God knows how many centuries-old tortoises bit the dust to cover this silly table, but isn't it gorgeous?

Feel free to bid on my behalf -- I'll forward my address to any interested parties.

UPDATE:  Obelisks sold at the low end of their estimate at 5,000, the poufs sold for about 7 times the high estimate and achieved 20,000, while the coffee table went for a respectable 27,500.   Sigh.


Musée national Gustave Moreau

The things we love as children don't always hold up over time, but when we fall in love with a place early in life that continues to enchant into adulthood it can be hard to visit with an outsider who has no history and may not understand this decades-long love affair.  For me, one such spot is the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago; for my godsister Kyra, it's the Musée national Gustave Moreau in Paris.  

Last summer Kyra generously (bravely?) shared her place with me, and we spent hours poking through the deliciously overstuffed rooms, barely contained messes of silk damask walls, Palissyware majolica, Greco Roman bronzes and luminous color harmonies.  And that's not even taking into account the paintings, which are diaphanous to the point of insubstantiality -- they're like mist clinging to walls.

Kyra has been here countless times, and no trip to Paris is complete without a visit, to turn the massive pages of double-sided glass frames and look at sketches, or simply sit in the studio with the windows open and listen to the wind through the trees, gently stirring the heavy velvet drapes that cover light sensitive works.

I based the color of trim in my house on the color of woodwork in Moreau's dining room:

Alors!  How I wish I had that Palissy majolica.  And it's lovely how they still stock the house with flowers:

The study:

Go!  You really must.  Or don't -- there was almost no one else there when we visited, and it was great.  

Pretty sure I wasn't supposed to take these photos, but mah.  Look ma, no flash.


Flea Market Diaries, 10.07.12

There's not much (i.e. NOTHING) in life that makes me happier than riffling through dirty piles of junk lying on the grass at dawn -- sometimes nothing turns up, sometimes I'm left with an embarrassment of riches.  This week it was the latter:

Please ignore the messy dining room, with painting tools, plaster repair detritus and the odd ugly stair rail lying about.

Note the semi-absurd gilded mirror, which is luminous with first-surface gilding.  The glass is replaced, but the frame is remarkably intact -- it's in a style and quality I don't usually find in dirty piles of junk on the grass at dawn, but beyond that, this is out of my wheelhouse.  It elicited at least three gasps and a few exclamations as I was carrying it out.  Is it late Federal?  Early Victorian?  The proportions are so bulbous, but the motifs look like those I've seen in frames from the 1820s/1830s -- what do we think, guys?  (I'm asking you, Reggie.) 

Let's move on to the oversize pewter lamps, which I adore -- I love that they function as a pair, but are asymmetrical above the bottom foot.  Solid pewter until you hit the wiring, then they shift to patinated bronze.  The finials are a sight to behold -- spikes at least 6 inches tall, and weighing about 5 pounds each.

And lastly a beautifully battered late 18th, early 19th century serving piece (technically, found a few weeks ago).  I don't think it could be more worn.  The glaze has been rubbed away from nearly the entire surface -- how long does it take to do that?  Two centuries of continuous use?  It's really quite beautiful, though of course it has zero value.

It's laying on a large piece of Japanese indigo dyed linen in a shade of blue so vibrant it's a little hard to look at.  We also found an 18th century Sack-backed Windsor chair with remnants of the original green paint that will live in my office -- it's so comfortable.  Perfect for use while on the computer.

Each of these was about a quarter of the price you'd pay for the same category of object at Ikea.

What about you: find anything interesting at the markets lately?


A Long Absense, Only Vaguely Explained.

It's true, I've been absent the last several months, and for that I must apologize -- it's not for lack of interest or material. I've been squirreling away bits and pieces to show you while I was on my generous break. It would be fair of you to ask what I've been doing -- in quick summary, I've been gardening quite a bit: Also, finding things at the flea market for me: And things to sell in my store -- I've set up a ramshackle studio in the outbuilding where I take photos. Here are some photos of things I'm putting up in the shop: Also, a few trips. All (sort of) domestic -- to Chicago, various summer spots in Wisconsin and Michigan, finally I was able to see my partner's family's summer place on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick (which still seems pretty domestic to me, as it's just above Maine), and we just got back from a magnificent wedding in Hudson, NY (more photos to follow):

(With a fresh crop of elderberries in Wisconsin)
(The dunes at my Godfather's place in Michigan) (Steven's family's place in New Brunswick -- low tide. The light on the cliff to the right is the house) (The wedding in Hudson that I assisted in designing -- magical) All of this to be explained in further detail, along with much anticipated house photos. But really, what have you been up to? Fill me in!
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