January 31, 2013

New York & Scalamandré

I am headed up to NYC for a few days next week, and although I have some events already on the calendar, I am looking for things to do, people to meet, places to go!

The main reason I am going is that I will be attending the premiere of the ScalamandrĂ©’s new line of tabletop, including china, glassware and cutlery, with Lenox, and the 2013 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. imageAs part of the launch, several decorators are creating windows featuring each of the lines of china.

Bunny Williams has decorated her window with Toile Tales, a fanciful Chinoisierie landscape of enchanting flowers, fretwork, figures, pagodas and parasols. imageHere’s Charlotte Moss’s window, using Bouvier, imagea favorite of Jackie Kennedy adapted from a superb 18th century French design.image

The other patterns are the iconic Zebras that once graced the walls of Gino's restaurant in New York City;image the perennially fresh Love Birds, one of Scalamandré's earliest and most beloved reproduction fabrics;image and Stravagante, a hyper lush, ravishingly drawn Italian Baroque still life design. imageAnd the other window designers are Jamie Drake, Kathryn Ireland and Richard Mishaan.

Dear Connor’s dog-walker is taking care of him and he’ll be so excited about that, he’ll hardly miss me!

January 29, 2013

More Ravens…

As the anticipation of the SuperBowl starts to mount, I am seeing more and more clever ways that people around Baltimore are celebrating out fabulous season thus far. raven

What I really love is that people who might not ordinarily be huge Ravens’ fans are coming out in support of the team. Baltimore gets a bad rap sometimes, and many people only know it because of the bad things, i.e. The Wire.

I drove by the local seminary this evening to see it washed in purple. (Sorry, I was driving, and couldn’t get a picture, but as you can see, it’s a pretty impressive building.)image

Denver Mayor Hancock finally paid off his bet with Mayor Stephanie Rawlins-Blake this week with his squirrel dance.

Seriously, Mayor Hancock, could this have been any shorter?

The “mother church” of Episcopalianism in America has gotten into the act, as well.

Pretty hilarious stuff.

Because the two teams are coached by brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, this game is even more intense than most, and every little thing is being scrutinized.imageIt’s a tradition for the team to wear suits when they travel.

One thing we have here in Baltimore is team spirit.image

I promise that there won’t only be Ravens all week long. I will post about some upcoming events. Just be patient, we’re excited around here!

We’re Turning PURPLE!

All around Baltimore, things are turning PURPLE!  As I was walking downtown today, I noticed so many people who were sporting just a bit of purple, in a scarf, in a shirt or in gloves. Buildings, including our historic state capitol building, are beginning to be washed in purple light.image

The city sent the Ravens off to New Orleans in style on Monday, and despite the freezing rain, several thousand people showed up at the Inner Harbour to cheer them. At one point, everyone joined hands to send the power to the Ravens from the crowd,imagewhich really must have been an amazing experience.imageFriends who were there said that it was such fun to see the Ravens taking pictures of the crowd, who were, of course, taking pictures of the Ravens. image

When the rally was over, the team headed to the airport and down to New Orleans. image

This is the beginning of a very exciting week in Baltimore, and regardless of the outcome, we’re thrilled to be in the Super HarBowl!

January 28, 2013

Don’t Read This

Several times over the past few weeks, I’ve received e-mails from readers unhappy about what I’ve said in this blog. One person was rather furious that I had negative things to say about the painting of Kate Middleton. I was in good company there, as most major art critics around the world were scathing in their comments on the painting.The second person berated me for my comment about old lady dealers at auctions. She was quite ugly in her e-mail and was personally insulting to me. She didn’t even have the good grace to leave her remarks in an anonymous comment, but sent them in an e-mail, complete with her information. It’s rather shocking that someone would insult me to my face like that, and over a seemingly innocuous comment. Of course, as most reasonable people understand, I am not forcing you to read Pigtown*Design. I am quite pleased that you do read it, and I love that you leave comments and send me nice e-mails. But no one requires you to read what I say. And as most reasonable people also understand, what I write here is my own opinion. Most-times it’s positive, it’s informative, it’s a little bit educational. Sometimes, it’s critical. All of the time, it’s real and most of all, it’s what I think.

If you don’t like what I write, please don’t feel obligated to read it. But don’t send me ugly e-mails demanding that I unsubscribe you immediately. If you look at the bottom of the almost daily e-mails, there’s a place that you can unsubscribe yourself. I can’t do everything for you.

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I attended a wonderful art preview on Friday evening, and it was just the perfect antidote for a snowy evening – the chance to see fabulous photographs of a really special garden. This five-acre garden was created from nothing. Just an old ridge line with loads of rocks, no special features and nothing to recommend it. The owners have worked on the gardens since the mid-1980’s and have created a special place for themselves, and others.

One of the fun things about this party was the live event painter, Patricia Bennett. As the party swirled around her, she painted the event to be saved for posterity. What a terrific idea!

Another highlight of the party was meeting a man who is interwoven with my childhood memories!The one, the only and the original Gomez Addams, also known as John Astin, shown here with my friend Nancy Hill, Director of Cylburn, where the party was held. The Addams Family was my favourite TV show and I loved the wicked sense of humour and sophistication of it all. Mr. Astin is a native Baltimorean and is currently teaching acting at Johns Hopkins University.

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The Auction on Saturday was somewhat successful, although I didn’t get the Governor Winthrop Secretary desk that I wanted. It was in a lot with two huge clunky Victorian pieces that I did not want, and so when the bidding went above my limit, I dropped out. I did get a big box lot of fabrics including some gorgeous ikats and silks, as well as another box lot. Coopers (7)David, however, scored like a bandit, getting the amazing sofa that he had his heart set on.

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I came back from the auction to see a big box on my porch and when I opened it, I found the most gorgeous flowers from a friend in California!morganLush pink tulips and blue Siberian iris flowers are just the thing I needed on a bitter cold winter’s day! Thanks, Morgan!!!

I know I’ve said this dozens of times, but I am so lucky to have such great friends.

January 25, 2013

Auction Fever

One of the fun things I like to do is attend auctions. Coopers (32)Most of the time, I go to  small local auction houses, where you see the same characters at each one. You know the guy who’s going to make snide comments about each piece as it comes up, which old lady dealer is going to out bid you on every single piece of silver, and which dapper furniture-maker is going to leave “insultingly low” bids, and walk away with the most interesting pieces. Coopers (7)Alex Cooper, where I’ve had some luck before, is presenting an auction this weekend of varied and interesting pieces, so I want to the auction preview with the aforementioned furniture maker. Coopers (20)I managed to remember to print out a copy of the catalogue before I went, to I could check off some of the lots I was most likely to bid on. Coopers (17)Auctions are a great way to educate your eye, as the item is right in front of you, you can touch it, examine it and check it out, and the piece’s description and estimated value is laid out for you in print.Coopers (33)At Cooper’s, they have an auction on Saturday morning with the less expensive items that they gather into the most random lots. If you remember my brass noodle cooker a month or so ago, it was in a lot with two mid-century-modern lucite and chrome lamps. I saw a lot at this auction with a cedar blanket chest, and a contemporary coffee table, two seemingly opposing schools of style.Coopers (14)Here are some of the lots and pieces that caught my eye, although they are not necessarily the one’s I’ve got my eye on!

Lot 934:  Napoleon III ormolu-mounted partial ebonized and inlaid mahogany marble top console desserte.
Third quarter-19th century; marble top over single drawer, pierced ormolu mounts, marble shelf with reticulated gallery, urn inlaid center back panel flanked by conch shell inlaid panels, on turned feet with ormolu caps, 35 in. H., 57 in. W., 18 1/2 in. D.
Estimate $800-1,200

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Lot 981:  Rococo style carved gesso giltwood sunburst clock
19th century; clock with gilt-brass and blue enameled Roman numerals, dial signed "Louis Devienne a Paris," 48 in. Diam.
Estimate $800-1,200

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Lot 878A  Victorian toleware tea canister, mounted as a lamp
cylindrical form canister with gilt bands at top and base, with the number 16 in center, 20 in. H.
Estimate $ 250-400
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Lot 134  Cast metal chair.  Estimate: $100-200 (along with three other garden pieces)Coopers (16)

These are cigarette package covers with the President’s seal on them. They slip around a pack of ciggies, so that the brand name wouldn’t show up in photographs. The even have the Surgeon General’s warning on them! (Can’t find the lot number!)

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Lot 505 The Writings in Prose and Verse of Rudyard Kipling
(New York: Scribners, 1898 - 1928)  32 vols., cloth
Estimate $ 200-300
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There are some incredible prices at auctions these days. Brown furniture, such as cherry, mahogany and walnut, is going for a steal. I have my eye on a mahogany secretary bookcase, which, along with two Victorian dressers, one with a marble top, are estimated to bring $200-400. Silver and fine china and porcelain is also inexpensive because people can’t be bothered don’t want to care for it any more. Coopers (10)

Wander down to your local auction house, look around, get a feel for how the bidding works, and the pace of things, and then bid on what you love. I guarantee you will find some shockingly great deals! Also, there’s no better way to be green than to buy antiques!

January 24, 2013

Visitors from the North

We have some friends visiting from the North and we are delighted to see them. It looks like they brought snow along with them.

Since Connor only really loves two of his stuffies, Ellie decided she’d love them more.

I think that she loved them to death.

It’s really incredible how much stuffing is in these little stuffed animals.

But we loved seeing our friends.Regardless of who died for the cause.

Thanks Wendy and Ellie! We’re so glad you came to visit us!

January 22, 2013

Snow in Paris & London

Snow is becoming increasingly common in Paris and London, and these two cities are more beautiful than ever under a blanket of white.

Greenwich Park, Londonimage

Metro Sign, Parisimage

Snowfamily, Box Hill, Surreyimage

Canal Saint-Martin, Parisimage

Baxter, the Airedaleimage

Frozen Sculpture, Parisimage

Clifton in Bristol (One of my favourite neighbourhoods)image

Pont d’Alexander III, Parisimage

Wollaton Park, Nottingham (Where my father was born)image

I’ve been in London a few times when it’s snowed, imageand I have to tell you, it’s magical!