February 28, 2009

ACC Review

We went to the American Craft Council show last night and as ever, I am stunned by the incredible talent that is on display. I wasn't sure of the picture-taking protocol, so I only asked the vendors we had conversations with. There were more than 700 vendors and we only had three hours to see them all, so it was really a mad dash through the show. Here are some favourites.

On and off, I read the blog, Historically Inaccurate, in which Richard Saja takes traditional Pierre Deux toiles and adds his own twist. Richard was one of the up-coming artists featured at the show. I had a chance to speak with him for a few minutes and he was charming. I also had the chance to speak to Daniel Gugoni, a furniture-maker out of Litchfield, CT. He made the beautiful writing desk I pictured in my earlier post about the ACC.
He had some stunning pieces on display, including this little table he called "Spiderweb".I love both celedon and oxblood glazes on porcelain, so I was delighted to meet Justin Teilhet, a potter from Ohio. His glazes were just perfect and the shapes he throws are twists on traditional shapes. One of the things we noticed at the show was the proliferation of felted objects, including jackets, hats and scarves. Although there were a significant number, none were alike. I was particularly taken with the Felted Garden, whose designs were more in keeping with my more traditional tastes. I had spotted the designer walking through the show and her interesting scarf caught my eye. Check our her blog here.

All in all, a very interesting time, and I kept to my promise of not shopping!

February 27, 2009

Surf's Up!

I saw these pictures in the Guardian today and was just enchanted with them. Hope they warm up your Friday afternoon! They were taken by Clark Little who grew up on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island Oahu.
He has dedicated his life to producing photographs of the inside of waves.
I bet he gets rolled a lot!

February 26, 2009

American Craft Council

One of the best things about late February is the arrival of the American Craft Council show in Baltimore. More than 700 juried craftsmen and women will be showing their glass, jewelry, furniture and clothing at this show, the largest one in the country.
In years past, I have made a few purchases, including some silver bangle bracelets cast from small twigs. Even though I am not buying anything this year, I can't wait to see what they have! Here are some more samples:

I will try and take some pictures to share.

February 25, 2009

Want or Need?

It's Ash Wednesday today, the beginning of Lent, a period that lasts 40 days leading up to Easter. The date for Easter changes every year according to the moon phase. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.
It's the tradition in my family to give up something for Lent. When we were children, we always gave up candy and my parents gave up their cocktails. Now that I am older (!), I am thinking more carefully about what to give up. Of course, sweets.
But then I was thinking about trying something that will be a lot harder. I am giving up "recreational" shopping. I don't really need anything. I have everything I want... and more. I shop sometimes because I am bored, because I want to check out what's available, or because I feel like I need a fix.
I am setting up some little rules: I have a party on the 7th that needs an outfit that I don't have readily available in my closet! The party is a Moroccan theme and guests are asked to dress in something from the middle east. My date, Mr. Big, is wearing a suit and a fez.
Soooo... there will be somethings that I will need to buy. Food, gas, coffee... Other than basics and essentials, no shopping.

Are you giving anything up for Lent?

February 24, 2009

YSL Auction: $206 Million on Night 1

Global recession? Not at the Christie's auction of the artwork collected by designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge. There are still two more auction evenings remaining. It will be interesting to see what those bring. The highest price ever for a Matisse was paid last night for a still-life of cowslips in a vase, Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose at €39.5 million! The estimate was €12-18 million.
The painting, Instruments de Musique sur un Gu√©ridon, by Pablo Picasso, with an estimate of €25 to 30 million, failed to attract any bids at all.

What strange times these are.

February 23, 2009

Crass Commercialism!

In an effort to de-clutter my house and add a little to my bank account, I have put some of my old Domino magazines up for sale on Ebay.
The four issues I have posted are all from 2006, so if you're interested, make a bid!
I have scanned in the pages that I wanted to save and will be able to print them out when I want to reference them.
It's such a shame... this was a great magazine!
This has been a paid commercial announcement! We now return you to your regular program.

February 22, 2009

It's Oscar Night!

This is the first year that I haven't seen any of the Oscar-nominated Best Picture selections. I would like to see Slumdog Millionaire because I just love that Bollywood-style music. I am going to one of the officially-sanctioned Oscar parties across the country and it's benefitting an AIDS charity where several friends serve on the board.
I am taking a cue from Mrs. Blandings and wearing her classic outfit of crisp white shirt, turquioise jewelry and a ball-skirt. I am adding a gorgeous cashmere shawl I bought in London a few years ago.
Who are your picks to take home the statuette?

February 20, 2009

No. Just NO!

Warning: I am about to be branded as a huge snob. But this is just wrong:

You don't buy a signet ring from J. Crew. It's not even engraved and they don't engrave it for you. They get all giddy about having J. Crew's name inside the ring, but not yours on the outside. Please remind me of the point of a signet ring... It's got your crest or initials on it, right? And, look at how scratched up that ring is!!!

Here's what they have to say about this ring:
It's the little details that make a difference, like the mark on the inside of this ring noting its solid-gold pedigree {that would be solid 10k gold}. The styling is a refined version of the classic signet style—we love it's bold simplicity—but it also looks impressive graced with the wearer's initials (note: J.Crew does not offer engraving).

Here's a picture of the ring I've worn for more than half my life. It's getting so worn that the monogram's nearly gone and the gold is getting very thin in the back.

Ansel Adams

Today is the birthday of photographer Ansel Adams. His striking black and white photographs of the American wilderness and the American West are as compelling today as when they were shot. Some of his best-known works include photographs of Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico and a series of images of Aspens.
Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Yosemite National Park

Aspens, Dawn Autumn, Colorado

Monolith, Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Church, Taos Pueblo

Pool, Acoma Puelbo, New Mexico

I am lucky enough to have spent time in the American Southwest, and these photos really do show the spirit of the land.

February 18, 2009

China, My China {Part II}

There's an interesting article in the Washington Post about brides not asking for formal china for wedding presents. Many think it's either too formal or to fragile. They have china from Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn that they have picked out for themselves and don't feel they need any more. It's also been a big discussion on the Thursday on-line chats that the Terri Sapienza and Jura Koncius host.
I have two sets of china. The first is the bits and pieces of Blue Willow that I randomly collected when I moved back to the States. Since it's just me, I could pick up a piece or two at a time. It's all made by different manufacturers and all looks slightly different.
This summer, I was given a large set of formal china, pieces of which I use to supplement the Blue Willow. It's Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Half Lace and luckily, it works perfectly with the Blue Willow and I can mix and match.
I've decided that life's too short to keep it boxed up and in a cabinet somewhere, and that I am going to use it everyday. If it breaks, I will be sad, but why not use what I've got. After all, that's what it's for.

What about you... Do you use your good stuff? Why or why not?

February 16, 2009

UPDATED*** Madonna to Play Wallis Simpson?

Madonna is a chameleon if nothing else. She has had more looks than a kaleidoscope and has played roles from herself to Eva Peron.
Now, word is that she wants to play Wallis, Duchess of Windsor and the woman for whom Edward abdicated the throne. She identifies with Wallis who never offered an explanation - for anything. What do you think? Who should play the Duke of Windsor?

From the gossip site, Crazy Days and Nights: Madonna Is A Name Dropper - Apparently Madonna doesn't give the world the same kind of consideration she gives Queen Elizabeth before deciding to take on a film role. While all of us but the most ardent Madonna supporters would probably love for her to never act in another movie again, apparently the only person she turns to now is Queen Elizabeth. Madonna really wants to portray Wallis Simpson who was an American who got the King of England to give up his throne to marry her. Well, Madonna has actually asked the Queen for her permission to portray Simpson. Hey, Queen Elizabeth. Two words for you: Shanghai Surprise.

February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

It's been a busy couple of days. I met up with Visual Vamp and her husband on Thursday night for a lovely dinner. They are in Baltimore from New Orleans to teach a series of tango classes around the city. I will also be having breakfast with them on Sunday morning and then taking them to Book Thing. They are staying in a great little area that I have written about a few times.

Today, I spent the morning at the Maryland Historical Society beginning research on a book I've been commissioned to write. MHS is the repository for the papers pertaining to a number of historic properties, including this one, beginning in 1650. They also have a gorgeous collection of Maryland silver, especially Kirk and Stieff. It's just spectacular and I spent lots of time looking at it, and salivating!

One of the other things I found was a copy of a photograph of Tivoli House, where I work, probably from the early 1900's. It looks very different. The back porch is still there, but the side porches are gone. I now know the source of the image and can get a copy for our archives. Whatever you are doing and where-ever you are, I hope you're having a lovely day!

February 13, 2009

Goodness from the Guardian

I am starting a new label category: Goodness from the Guardian. I've been reading the UK newspaper, The Guardian, since it was known as the Manchester Guardian, and get their update every morning in my e-mail. I like the international perspective it gives on world news and the often-differing viewpoints they have on what's happening in our world.
One of my favourite things is their amazing gallery of pictures. I have found some of the most amazing photographs, including the new Royal Mail stamp collection, the fabulous bachelor artist's house in London, the Beyond Limits sculptures at Chatsworth House and the parade of elephant topiaries.

These are light graffiti paintings by Cardiff artist. Michael Bosanko, who paints with light and uses a very slow camera shutter to capture these images.Enjoy!