August 31, 2009

Quoth the Raven {Evergreen}

This year, Baltimore is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death with a range of both fun and scholarly events.

On Friday, September 4th, the historic Evergreen House will be showing two Poe-themed movies on their gorgeous lawn. Bring your chair and a blanket. The grounds open at 5:30 and the films start at 7:30. There will be movie-type food for sale. Click here for tickets. Visitors may tour the first floor rooms of the house and see some illustrated Poe books in Evergreen’s famous library.Evergreen 030

The first is a 1950’s cartoon version of the Tell Tale Heart.  It’s not really a cartoon, as it’s not animated, but it is a story narrated with pictures and drawings to illustrate it. TellTale19 It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953. It was originally shown in 3-D. Tell Tale Heart was also the first film to be given an X-rating by the British Film Board.  If you are curious as to why, and you can’t get to Evergreen on Friday, you can watch the seven-minute short here.

The second film is The Raven, (1963) starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson who said that the raven pooped on him. This 85-minute film has nothing really to do with the famous poem of the same name, although Poe is credited with being one of the writers. RavenPoster

This event is part of Nevermore 2009, a year long celebration of the life (and death) of Edgar Allen Poe.


August 30, 2009

Books on Sunday: Magazines

I stopped in at the Book Thing this morning, and managed to pick up a couple of magazines, and some books. It was more crowded than usual and I didn’t feel like bothering with all of those people.

In the design section, I found a couple of House & Garden magazines. scan0127 They’re always fun to look through and I love reading Dominique Browning’s opening essay. {Click the link for some of Ms. Browning’s more recent writings.) scan0128 The three issues I picked are all from the summers, so as we prepare to enter September, they will be one last gasp.scan0129

I also picked up a copy of the Royal Oak Magazine. Royal Oak Foundation is the American branch of the National Trust in the UK. Since tax laws are very different in the UK (and having been a fundraiser both there and here in the States, believe me, I know this well!), Americans can’t make tax-deductible contributions to overseas charities, so many establish American branches. scan0130 The Royal Oak magazine has an article about Croome Court, one of their new acquisitions.

One of the books I found looks like it will be fascinating. It’s called In a Gilded Cage, From Heiress to Duchess, by Marian Fowler. Between 1870 and 1910, more than 100 American women married British nobles. Money for a title. This book is the story of six of these women, including Consuelo Vanderbilt. scan128

Finally, I found another one of Dee Hardie’s books, View from Thornhill. If anyone wants it, please let me know. I know that she’s still got loads of fans.

I forgot my bag of books to return, so next week will be large load.

August 28, 2009

We Will Never Forget

Please remember that there is still much to do in New Orleans, four years after Katrina struck. If you can, make a contribution to a charity in New Orleans or along the Gulf Coast. People are still suffering.SG_be a new orleanianSticker courtesy of a Southern Gent.

August 27, 2009

Another Paris Map

When I was reading through Joni's comprehensive post on Restoration Hardware's move to Belgian design, I spotted another of the huge Paris Maps I wrote about a few weeks ago here.

While the one I talked about was the classic Etienne Turgot version, Restoration Hardware's version is from Letts, Son & Co. and is from the late 1800's, just before the Eiffel Tour was built. The Turgot version is circa 1739. And RH's version at more than $1800, including shipping, is much more expensive than the versions I featured here. However, RH's version comes framed.

** For a download of the Turgot Plan de Paris, click on the Paris map in the right-hand column **

August 26, 2009

RIP Dominick Dunne

I've been a fan of Dominick Dunne for ages, and just recently re-read his book "The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper" which was the 60's American version of Everybody Was So Young. He died today after a long illness.dunne-01I've always loved his investigative pieces in Vanity Fair, especially his observations of some of the notable trials of our day. He was smart, funny and very interesting. dunne-14

Mr. Dunne will be missed by the thousands of fans of his writings.

I'll Take This...Castle

Funnily, this morning I'd sent a friend a link to a property I saw for sale near her home in Campbeltown, Scotland. Then when I was buzzing through the New York Times on-line, I found another Scottish property for sale, this one a wee bit more expensive (like several millions more).
The property is called Ackergill Castle and it's only been owned by three families over the past 500 years! It has 17 bedrooms and a stellar view over the Wick Bay. The place does need a bit of an updating, and it's currently used as a 'business center'. It's only three miles from the town of Wick, which is miles from anywhere else! But there's a whisky distillery in the town!
Regardless, I'll take it!

August 25, 2009

Hermès @ Liberty

I got an e-mail this morning from Liberty in London, and they've entered into a partnership with Hermès. Scarves are one of Hermès' signature items and Liberty's Tana Lawn cotton prints are one of theirs, so they've combined to make Hermès Pour Liberty.

What do you think?

August 24, 2009

Books on Sunday: Bonanza

It was really books on Saturday, as I am consumed with babysitting my friend Kit’s two cats, my friend Cat’s cat and dog and taking my usual good care of Connor.

But I did manage to stop by the Book Thing and pick up some goodies. First up: Not really a book per se, but Knitting to Go, a little box of cards with lots of small knitting projects that don’t take a lot of time. I actually knit, so this will be a good excuse to whip up some presents for the upcoming holidays.books8 001I was very surprised to find Losing Mum & Pup by Christopher Buckley, the very recent memoir of his famous parents, Pat and William F. Buckley. After all of the great reviews, I am looking forward to reading this book.books8 005From the sublime to the ridiculous, Rupert Everett’s autobiography, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, ought to be a couple of laughs.  As the Guardian says “bad behaviour makes good copy” as I am sure!books8 006I found a small book of Toulouse Lautrec’s artworks, along with descriptions of the history of each piece. Since I studied art history, this will be like another art history class for me.books8 007 For more social pursuits, I picked up the Crane’s Blue Book of Stationery, which has suggestions for all sorts of social letters. I am pretty sure they don’t address how to respond to an e-vite. The foreword is by Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus fame. books8 004Last but not least are two books that I will use as resources. One is hundreds of decorative designs and ornaments, which I will use in my digital artwork. Books like this are always good to scan and use over and over again. books8 002The other is Grand Illusions, about painting effects. Now before you throw up, I know faux effects are sooo over, but I thought I might pick up some tips and techniques with this book. It will probably go back to Book Thing next week, but I can spare 10 minutes to glance through it.books8 003As usual, a couple of good books and some marginal. But since they’re all free, who cares?

August 23, 2009

Tiny Temples in My Town

The other night, we were driving to dinner, and we went past a copy of an old Greek-style temple. I remembered that there are a few of these tiny temples around Baltimore, and when I had a little bit of free time, I drove around to take some pictures. Unfortunately, most of these temples are abandoned, and one I remembered, an old spring house, had vanished.

This one’s got all of the elements of a Doric temple… columns, capitals, architrave, frieze, and tympanum. Simple, elegant and very graceful.temples 002This is spring house, moved to the grounds of the Baltimore Museum of Art. Its Ionic columns are a little more decorative than the Doric ones, and the dentil work around the tympanum really sets off the simple shape.temples 008The third tiny temple used to be a bank branch. It’s on one of the worst corners of the city. temples 016 The columns, while in the basic Doric order, have been embellished with carvings around them. temples 019 The tympanum is also much more decorative than the other two temples, but with classic elements including the dentil work and acanthus leaves. Here’s a detail.temples 018

The final temple is the original building for the University of Maryland’s 200+ year old School of Medicine. It’s modeled after the Pantheon in Rome temples 022 and is the oldest medical school building still in use in the States. Very simple and at nearly 200 years old, still fresh.temples 021I find it so fascinating that more than two millennia after some of these buildings were first designed and erected, we’re still looking to their lines, proportions and decorative elements for inspiration.

Do you have any tiny temples in your town?

August 22, 2009

Whole Hog!

My friend, David Wiesand, is a master party-giver, as evidenced by the reaction to the Arabian Nights party he hosted in March. In October, David’s having another soiree, and you’re invited. Party 002We have an organization in Baltimore called Creative Alliance, and each year, they host a series of dinner parties at private houses which are open to anyone (who purchases a ticket). It’s a great way to meet a curator whose specialty you’ve been following, or to see an incredible harbour-front penthouse that’s been written up in the local magazines. Click here for a list of the locations and hosts. Party 026David told me he is hosting one of the parties, and it’s called Whole Hog Havana! WOW! That combines a few of my favourite things: a cochon de lait (pig roasting), mojitos, and David’s incredible studio, McLain Wiesand, and living spaces!Party 030If you’re in Baltimore on October 17th, and would like to see David’s space up-close-and-personal, click here to purchase a ticket!  McLain Weisand 003 See you there!

August 21, 2009

Miles Redd on NYSD

New York Social Diary has a great interview with Miles Redd today in their NYSD House section. NYSD Redd4 There are loads and loads of pictures of his New York apartment. NYSD Redd1 Lots of eye candy for the weekend.NYSD Redd2

If you don’t read NYSD on Fridays, you should!  And you can even subscribe and get it delivered every day. It’s tons of fun.NYSD Redd3

August 20, 2009

Renovating an Industry

There's an excellent article in the New York Times today about how interior designers and decorators are coping with the recession. This article ties in with an interesting post on Vicente Wolf's blog about how honest designers/decorators should be in discussing how they're doing in these trying economic times. Judging by the comments on Vicente's post, a lot of people are hurting. ASID says that 65% of their members are taking smaller jobs than they would have a year or two ago.
It's everywhere though. I am a professional fundraiser by trade and asking people to make donations is very difficult these days. Foundations' endowments are down significantly, corporations can't be seen splashing out on big special events, and individuals are keeping a closer eye on their discretionary income.
So, hire a designer/decorator to do a little job, or make a contribution to your favourite charity. We're all in this together!

August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Coco Chanel*

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same..."
Coco Chanel, 19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971
*and Happy Birthday to my sister, Bird!

August 18, 2009

Beach Houses: UK v. US

One thing I love about the UK beaches, as compared to the ones on the Maryland and Delaware coasts, is the vast expanse of them. In Wales, where I lived, the tidal range was about 10 meters – the entire Cardiff Harbour used to completely drain twice a day. beach7 Many of the beaches are rocky and it’s often chilly in the summers… at least compared to what we’re used to along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. beach8 Because no place in the UK is more than 100 miles from the sea, they seem to have a different outlook on their coasts than we do. beach2Scattered across the beaches in the UK are tiny little beach huts, many not measuring more than 100 to 200 square feet. They’re brightly coloured and reflect the owners’ tastes and interests. It looks like the house on the left may be Australians!beach3 Families keep these little places for generations and spend weekends and holidays there. beach1Along the Atlantic coast in Maryland and Delaware, almost every square inch of ocean-front property is filled with over-designed houses, each trying to out do the next one.

Oriel windows? Got’em. beach4 Turrets? Got those, too. beach6I call this “point and click” architecture, where there are so many disparate elements in one house that it loses all identity as a whole.  The purple house looks like exaggerated Victorian, but not in a good way. There’s just too much going on with the blue one, round columns, square columns, railings, etc. Your eye doesn’t know where to land. This looks like someone’s take on a classic shingle cottage, but it ends looking disjointed. Is it two houses? beach5 Me? I’d take one of the little beach huts and be happy!