August 31, 2010

My Old Castle

As I was sorting through books to take {back} to the Book Thing, I came across one about William Randolph Hearst and found this picture. At one point in the early 1900’s, he owned the castle where I worked for a year. It is in a remote part of Wales, along the coast of the Bristol Channel, in the Vale of Glamorgan.scan0157 You can just barely see the castle at the top of the image, and leading down from there, are several terraces, ending at the barracks, which still stand. In the foreground is the outdoor swimming pool, and where the lawn is on the right, there’s now an indoor pool. st. donats I still miss St. Donat’s.

August 30, 2010

13 Years Ago…

It’s shocking to think that it’s been 13 years since Princess Diana was killed in an accident on the streets of Paris. princess-diana-2She would have turned 49 earlier this summer if she had survived. Princess DianaDiana remains forever young in our minds.Princess-Diana by Snowdon

August 29, 2010

Flowers on Sunday and Cornering the Market + Two More

More flowers from the market this morning. I really enjoyed the bounty of flowers I got last week from my friends, but I am back to the fun sunflowers. This week, it’s the “Teddy Bear” variety, which are all petals and no seeds. 8-28 028 The nicest thing about buying these flowers this morning, aside from supporting a local farmer, was the charming young salesman.8-28 027

I was reading the new issue of Martha Stewart Living and saw that the reason that I am having a hard time acquiring any more of my favourite French Ivory cutlery in the US, is that she’s apparently cornering the market on it!8-28 030 In the description she mentions the French Ivory cutlery that she uses every day.  I notice that she doesn’t have any spoons, unlike me! Actually, there is some of the French Ivory cutlery in my Etsy shop, and more will be up later this week. Maybe Martha will buy some!

My friend Flip, about whom I wrote about here and here, has entered her house into the CBS/The Selby contest. Please take a moment to check out her submission here, and please vote for her house!IMG_5277

Lastly, the article about my yard sale adventure has gone into syndication around the country as part of Tribune Media. I got a link this afternoon from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and had the funniest comment!Inky comments Ouch!

August 28, 2010

Appley Hoare House in France for Rent!

Appley Hoare is one of my favourite shops in London and now I’ve just found that they have a cottage in France for rent. Since their shop, now closed at the Pimlico Road location in London, specializes in 18th and 19th century French antiques, this makes sense. Appley Hoare are dealing from their website and from their base in France now.

appley hoare franceAs you might expect, the house is marvelous. It's in the Gard in south-west France, between Nîmes and Montpellier, so relatively easily reached by plane and train – take the TGV down from Paris.appley hoare france2The house was once owned by the winemaker who supplied Napolean’s troops, although the pool’s probably a bit more recent than that.

appley hoare france3  appley hoare france5appley hoare france4The link I had with information about the house, with more pictures and rental information, was not working, but it’s probably too late to rent it this summer anyway!

August 26, 2010

Chinamania! Blue & White at the Freer Gallery on NPR

SUSAN STAMBERG: You know those little blue and white bowls that Chinese restaurants serve hot and sour soup in? Clanky, cheap little bowls? The stuff at the Freer is nothing like that. It's blue and white, all right. And Chinese. But it's old porcelain, made in the 17th century. In London, in the 1860s, painter James McNeill Whistler started collecting this kind of porcelain. So many other Victorians did, too, that the British craze was called Chinamania. Qing Dynasty incense burner Freer Gallery

Ms. LEE GLAZER (Curator): Chinese porcelain moved from palaces to parlors.

STAMBERG: Curator Lee Glazer says Brits bought the blue-and-white bowls and dishes and plates so feverishly that cartoonists of the day saw Chinamania as a disease.

Ms. GLAZER: Sweeping through the nurseries, striking aesthetic mothers and fathers, rendering them incapable of taking good care of their children because they were more in love with their teapots than their babies.

STAMBERG: A craze for glaze. The porcelain they snapped up was actually not all that precious. It was mass-produced for export.

Ms. GLAZER: These were not the masterpieces of Chinese ceramic arts, but they were manufactured very deliberately as commodities for foreigners. It wasn't the best.

STAMBERG: They kept the best for themselves, huh?

Ms. GLAZER: Of course, they did. Who wouldn't?

STAMBERG: Still, what they exported was a huge hit in the marketplace: foreign, exotic, not seen before. James McNeill Whistler had some 300 pieces in his collection, and a Chinese robe, which he wore for a portrait once, surrounded by sober, black-clad fellow artists. whistler-canister_freer2

Ms. GLAZER: Making himself stand out. He was always good at that.

STAMBERG: You can bet Whistler put his Chinese robe on when he entertained, maybe served Chinese tea in blue-and-white Chinese cups. whistler-canister_freer

Ms. GLAZER: We know he painted in patent leather dancing shoes.

STAMBERG: But, we digress. Back to the exhibition, "Chinamania: Whistler and the Craze for Blue and White." What's historically and sociologically significant - well, this is public radio - is that the blue-and-white export China was being snatched up in Victorian England as a status symbol by people making new money from the 19th century revolutions in industry, transportation, mass communication and the expansion of global trade.

Ms. GLAZER: One of the interesting things about Chinamania is that it is one of the first instances where we see an emerging middle-class with a disposable income, buying things not because they need them, because they desire them.

STAMBERG: So, Chinamania, curator Lee Glazer says, marked the beginning of consumer culture.

Ms. GLAZER: That was a very new idea.

STAMBERG: Something for us to ponder at the mall this weekend.

Meanwhile, in the Freer Gallery gift shop, they're selling new and old blue and white, including the most amazing antique urinal - a squat, rectangular pitcher with a handle and very large spout, which would look great on a side table if you have the spare $400.

I'm Susan Stamberg, NPR News, Washington. © NPR August 26, 2010

Save the Date*


*Now with the actual correct dates!

August 24, 2010

Sleeping Weather

For the past three months, the weather’s been beastly hot, even at night. Sometimes, when I would check my e-mail right before bed, the temperature would still be in the 90s. I have been running the air conditioner continuously for weeks now, which is something I am loathe to do.Bed_LinensTallulahBut now, as I look at the little Weather Bug icon on my computer, it says 68*!  I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to have the doors and windows open, with a breeze blowing through. bedding without throwWhen I moved back to the States, my parents gave/lent me my grandmother’s four-poster bed, but with the narrowness of my house, it wouldn’t fit up the stairs. I made an emergency run to Ikea to get a bed frame, and am living with it until I move. bedding ginghamI love soft, squishy down bedding, including a down mattress and down pillows. There’s nothing better than sinking into clean, cool sheets on a night like this and pulling up a light blanket.and so to bed How do you like to sleep?

August 23, 2010

I’ll Take This… Castle in Scotland

For the price of a London apartment, you could waft into Carraig Thura, a Scottish baronial fantasy on the shores of a loch on Lochawe, Argyll. Lochawe-Argyll-001 Given the size of the place – 17 bedrooms and a similar tally of bathrooms including a self-contained apartment and separate wing – you could bring numbers of your favourite friends and family to dwell with you, which means the extreme remoteness will weigh less heavily.Lochawe-Argyll-007Carraig Thura is a large Edwardian house built in 1904 in the Scots baronial style with crow-stepped gables and corner turrets. It was designed by George Penrose Kennedy Young of Perth. Lochawe-Argyll-005 Young had previously carried out extensive additions to the nearby Lochawe Hotel and to Ardbrecknish House on the southern side of Loch Awe.Lochawe-Argyll-003Carraig Thura was designed to take full advantage of its wonderful setting between the shores of Loch Awe and Ben Cruachan, at the mouth of Glenorchy. It has magnificent views over the loch to Kilchurn Castle, one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, and to the rugged Ben Lui hills beyond. Funnily, I was at right at this place, exactly five years ago this week!Lochawe-Argyll-008Recent renovations have respected the dark paneled walls, beamed ceilings and huge fireplaces. Lochawe-Argyll-002 If you demolished the 1960s’ west wing containing half the bedrooms, it would be of a more manageable size. Lochawe-Argyll-006 Check out the great sink!

£695,000 (or $1,074,351.67)

August 22, 2010

Flowers on Sunday and Lessons in Toile

I had the good fortune of spending Saturday afternoon with two amazing men – Stiles Colwill and Jonathan Garguilo – partners in the incredible store, Halcyon House. Stiles had given me some information regarding the original Baltimore toile pattern, and with their extensive collection of books on textiles and knowledge of fabrics, we were able to work out some more of the details of the Toile de Baltimore.

The gentlemen even gave me a sample of the most amazing toile so that I could approximate the weight and weave of the fabric. Here’s a snippet of it – with the amazing brownish-grey ground and blue and saffron figures.  The repeat on this is very small and the detail is incredible.22-8 004 We had a long discussion about the size of the repeat of the Toile de Baltimore, and they showed me examples ranging from about a 40 inch repeat, to the one above, which is probably less than ten inches. Since we will be printing the toile on a polished cotton, and most likely, it will be used for pillows and other small items, we thought that the repeat should be scaled to that.

From the library lessons, we moved to the garden, and what a garden it was!  I was so busy picking and choosing the flowers I wanted, that I didn’t take any pictures. Suffice to say, it was one of the best private gardens I’ve had the good luck to visit, second only to this one.  Stiles and Jonathan picked buckets and buckets of flowers for me, including dahlias, zinnias and globe amaranth. 22-8 010Jonathan whipped up an arrangement for me which included Rainbow Chard leaves around the edges to set the flowers off to perfection. I took that one out to my mother’s house today. 22-8 006 I also gave a handful of flowers to the two elderly women who live across the street and to my friend, Halas’ mother, Cat. The remainder were arranged rather loosely in a low metal urn I have.

22-8 048 22-8 049

22-8 055

They are just gorgeous and are sitting just inside my front door. When I see them, they will remind me of an afternoon of great fun and even better company. Thanks Stiles & Jonathan!

August 20, 2010

What a Yacht!

One of the things I like best about where I live is that it’s about a mile to the water, and it’s just such a great thing to be that close. As I was running errands today, I drove by the local yacht yard and nearly crashed my car.

Sticking out over the road was the bow of an amazing racing yacht with a huge red dragon on it.  The red dragon is the symbol for Wales, but I thought this one had more of an Asian look to it. RKHYC 006 I pulled into the yard to I could see the rest and was just blown away.RKHYC 001 This is clearly a high-end, go-fast, stripped-down ocean racer. The flat bottom with the twin stabilizing fin keels on the stern and the long centerboard keel with the bulbous bit on the bottom indicate some real engineering and money. The centerboard keel is so long and weighted by the bulb to balance the huge mast and the massive sails.RKHYC 004 The sheer beauty of this yacht was only outshone by the darling Australian crew on it who told me that it was out of Hong Kong… Um, yes, I can read that on the transom, mate.RKHYC 003 That’s what I love about Baltimore. You never know what you’ll see around the next corner!

August 19, 2010

Toile de Baltimore, Redux

After lots of great advice from museum curators, historic house directors, historians, interior designers and my mother, I’ve come up with a final draft of the Toile de Baltimore.

We have found out that the original Toile de Baltimore/Maryland that we found was most likely produced by one of the local department stores in the late 1940’s, probably as part of an anniversary of some type. maryland toile 008 With some advice, we’ve changed it up a bit and added two new buildings in place of two that were on the original piece. We got rid of the Maryland State House (left bottom) and the Francis Scott Key monument (middle left). In their place, we added Homewood House, on the campus of the Johns Hopkins UniversityHomewood 009and the Pagoda in Patterson Park, which looks out Baltimore’s harbour to the Chesapeake Bay. Patterson_Park_Pagoda  Next, I found some Photoshop brushes that mimic clouds and painted the background of the print with those. I divided that layer in half and then flipped it to make a mirror image.  tdb1xtdb2x

I am almost at the final part of this, seeing how it looks as a large repeat and deciding how large or small I want to make the buildings.  Once we finalize that, we will send some files to Spoonflower and see what we get!

August 18, 2010


I am truly in shock that we’re more than half-way through August! Where has the summer gone? With everything moving at the speed of light, I am beginning to look at some dates for events in the fall.

Tracey from Housewerks and I are looking at doing our Pigtown Pop-Up Flea at Housewerks in late September. We had thought about the 18th, but Eddie Ross is going to be in town that weekend, and I gotta spend some time with him!  Pigtown Pop-Up @ HousewerksSo it looks like Saturday, September 25th is the date.  We probably won’t have a rain date for that, because of the Ravens’ football schedule. We’re just too close to the Stadium to schedule anything on a day when they’re playing.

I am in continuous clearing out mode, because when I finally do settle on a new house, I am going to start over with a clean slate. We are inviting some special friends with excellent taste to participate in our Pop-Up, so I hope you’ll consider coming and buying our cool things!

The next thing is the Fall Tour de Baltimore. We had about 30 people total on the spring trips, and so I expect that there will be that many, or more this time. I will be changing up the middle part of the trip, so even if you went last time, come on back, there will be some old favourites and some new sources!  tour de baltimore The dates I am thinking of for this are Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16, or October 22nd and 23rd. Let me know your preference and I will make the decision in the next week or so.

Hope to see you at either the Pop-Up or the Tour – if not before!

August 17, 2010

Get Your Kicks

My friend David Wiesand, about whom I’ve written about many times, is a man of diverse and extraordinary talents. Just when I think he could not be any more talented, he pulls some creative rabbit out of his magic hat.

He’s been making the most gorgeous Baltimore-style painted Klismos chairs for a while now and they are just wonderful. Such a classical line and look!6-8 013 But seriously, only David’s über-creative mind would come up with Baltimore-style painted CONVERSE CHUCKS!findlay kicks3 The detail is stunning. findlay kicks4 findlay kicks2 Really, aren’t these just amazing!!!findlay kicks5 Available to close friends and associates only!