Sunday, April 29, 2012

FROM THIS TO THAT.....and more

As you can see, Roberto had a few free hours (he never has free hours) on Friday (Miracle No. 1). But before he arrived, I went into a minor panic because Dennis (super mover) had not delivered my items from the Auction house....what would Roberto do without the shipment?? After a quick call to Dennis, who promised to bring the items before 3pm (Roberto had to leave by 4); Roberto and I set about destroying and rearranging the shop...I usually give Roberto the basic structure of what needs to be done and he figures out the rest without my having to micro-manage. The above photos show the first stages of getting ready for the new items--hard to believe that anything else could possibly fit into this space!! (No, I'm not sharing Roberto or giving out his number.)

Here's Roberto measuring and leveling the gilt console for installation. (Isn't he cute--and a life saver.)

Here is the console just installed and with a couple of decorative items. Those are the figural lamps that I bought at auction. They are huge and I should have suspected that they were "Marbro" at the Auction... When they are arrived in the shop yesterday, look at what I found on the sockets.........

Yep, there is that "Marbro" sticker. (Miracle No. 2/Serendipitous Gift) One way of dating objects is by whether the state abbreviation used on the label is a two-letter or the older multi-letter abbreviation. The two-letter form came into use in 1963. Although the sticker uses the older multi-letter "Calif." abbreviation which would indicate that the lamps were created prior to 1963, I suspect that this use of the multi-letter "Calif." was a hold-over. I'm guessing that these lamps date to the late 1960's, but I can't be certain.

Roberto (I helped a little-mainly directlng traffic) really shifted gears and after Dennis left and the console was up (about 3:25) he started on the the chaos shown above and just look at what we/Roberto accomplished by 3:55 (that is only 1/2 an hour of hustle (Miracle No.3).


This is what the final arrangement of the console looks like (Sergei took the chinese guys) --not bad--I like the alabaster duck detail.

Miracle No. 4--Sergei arrived with the "Marbro" Alabaster lamps (boy, had I been worried!) which are now perfectly patinated. And he took the new Chinese figural lamps for minor restoration--after more or less 50 years, there were a couple of tiny chips to the flowers. Sergei PROMISED that he would bring these lamps back next week....we'll see.

Now I have to choose the right lamp shades for the alabaster lamps.


Neither of these shades is quite right. The white shade needs to be taller. I like the black shade, but it is a bit too tall and the yellow reflexion of the gold foil gives it an "old world"/English library air; whereas the white shade puts it squarely in the mid-20th c. I think that I'm going to go for the taller white shades which will allow the lamps to be appropriate for various settings and will be much less formal.

Now, a quick update for the leather chaise longue that (like the Chinese figural lamps) was a sleeper at the auction (a term that here means no one paid attention to the lot). The chaise had been beautifully upholstered and  maintained by its original owner and it shows the care which it was given. Pretty Chic.


I still have a way to go before everything finds its right place in the puzzle of putting the shop back together--but it is almost done.

Hope that ya'll (yes, I did live in the South for a few years) are having a wonderful Spring Sunday--it is gorgeous here: about 80 and clear. Jones looks gorgeous after his bath and haircut (I even got my hair cut) and we'll be off to work in a few minutes.

Thanks for joining us on this adventure.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Hunt....and an Update

I always preview the auctions that I intend to buy from the day before the actual auction. This 24-hour breather gives me time to ponder and research any item that I'm not quite sure of and to make bidding easier. Some times I end up buying those items that I scoped the day before; but other times, I end up buying completely different lots.  I really loved everything on this table.........but those enormous greyhounds (what I really loved) have been seen a million times--not a good idea. And then there was this fantastic pair of huge Baker Queen Anne-style wing chairs: I have nowhere to put them, and although huge, they remind me a little bit too much of my grandmother. There was a super pair of vintage leather tub chairs with great patina; how much was it going to cost to repair the slit to the leather? (Besides, I'm not allowed to buy any more chairs)

But I AM ALLOWED TO BUY MORE LAMPS---I spied these lovelies yesterday. They were marked as blanc de chine, which is a white fine porcelain and usually Chinese in origin. But these guys are glazed terra cotta and most probably Italian from the 1970's or 80's.  I was prepared to pay a lot of money for them as they are very big, in excellent condition and highly decorative--they just need shades (which are pricey and I insist on American-made).
But I paid a very fair price and they came home.

I wanted that little Criss Craft model boat--but forgot to bid because I was busy talking with my friends.  Rule No. 1 at Auctions: pay attention to the block (auctioneer) at all times (there are no friends at auctions).

I know that this chaise longue doesn't look like much, but it is pretty fantastic. And I didn't see it until today. As you can see, things get pretty messy at auctions and you really have to keep your eyes open. This chaise longue (yes, this is the real way that it is spelled--long chair in french)  probably dates to the 1920's, perhaps late 19th c. But the really interesting and cool thing about it is that someone upholstered it in very top quality platinum leather and tufted the back in a Napoleon III style (the chaise could be Napoleon III). Although the loose cushion was not button detailed, I am going to use the kidney pillow and have covered buttons made to further detail the cushion. Roberto is going to paint those squat "louis legs" in a high gloss black and this baby will really pop. Surprisingly (furniture gets abused at auctions), the leather is in excellent condition.  But I think I cheated: I AM NOT ALLOWED TO BUY CHAIRS--can we categorize this puppy as a sofa? Please.

Take a look at the French wood slat and iron folding chairs to the left of the chaise: these 6 chairs (2 with arms) sold for about $1400. That is a huge amount of money when you consider that they all need some restoration and the dealer will aim to make a profit. But the amount does tell you what is HOT, and today it was those French folding chairs. (I wonder what they would cost at the Marche aux Puces?)


I really wanted this c. 1970-80's lucite, chrome and smoked glass tea cart. It is gorgeous and I was willing to go to the mat for it. But a friend, a top Los Angeles dealer in modern, bid it to $1500 plus 15% lot fee----that was way beyond my highest hopes. 

And I even got MORE STUFF and I have NO ROOM--my mover was yelling at me because he didn't have any floor space left to place stuff. But Dennis is a dream and I will beg and plead for Roberto to give me a couple of hours tomorrow and everything will work out fine.

     ******U P D A T E******

I sold these amazing Marbro lamps on Sunday--I think that I am still in shock as I really loved these lamps and I had planned to have a more extended relationship with them. But cash flow is fantastic.  And I am really glad I did because I told Dennis to place the gilt Belle Epoque marble top carved Italian gilt console upside down on this coffee table.......
More about the console in next post after I find a place to put it. It is pretty great, although not my usual style.
NEXT UPDATE. Sergei did not answered his phone for three weeks and I had started to get very nervous about my Alabaster Marbro Lamps. Fortunately, Roberto had his new number  (who knew that Sergei has two numbers?). It is now 5 months into the Alabaster Lamps journey---see what I mean, dealers really do earn their money.  Sergei promised to bring the lamps back on Saturday......... (and I had wanted to get my hair cut)..........I am not leaving the shop until Sergei shows up.

 (All I want is for Sergei to patina the lamp on the right to match the one on the left--is that asking too much???)

I hope that everyone has had a great week--the rain in So. California has been wonderful--it even held off until the evening when I didn't have to be on the freeways--God is definitely good.

Thanks for joining me on the hunt. More details are coming.

Mary and Jones (he's getting his hair cut on Saturday--handsome boy that he is) (and Cole).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Fortuny Pillow--c. 1970's Ashanti pattern

New Fortuny Pillows in 1960's "Ashanti" Pattern

It is another gloriously gorgeous day in Southern Californi. It seems like we are headed into the "June Gloom" weather pattern of Late Spring. The pattern where we have a morning fog/cloud cover that tricks me into believing that there won't be any sun all day. But in just a little while, the fog will have dissipated and the sun will have broken though in all its splendor. ( I do wish that I were a sun person--but I'm not).

Earlier this week I picked up another batch of Fortuny pillows from Pam. This time the pillows were created using vintage Fortuny fabric in the "Ashanti" pattern which is derived from ethnic African textile. This particular piece has a warm rust-toned background with the traditional stamped Fortuny gold overlay. "Ashanti" is a very complex pattern with few repeats. See how each of these pillows reveals a different design. As usual, Pam's workmanship is exceptional--I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

Here are some of the detail photos of the pillows--love them.

When I picked up these beauties, I took Pam some vintage c. 1970 Indonesian batik fabric. It is a very detailed pattern featuring earth, sea and air creatures and ethnic symbols in a very deep cobalt on off-white background.

Thanks for joining me on this creative journey....Be well.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Auction Time: I Scored-- (I Think?)


Last Wednesday I previewed my usual Thursday auction and there really wasn't much to buy--but I did spy a set of 6 early 20th c. Steamer Deck Chairs. Now I know virtually nothing about Deck Chairs, except for the fact that I have always thought that they were pretty cool (I will never take a sea voyage as I can't stand to be controlled for a long stretch of time) and that Deck Chairs would be the closest I would ever come to a trans-oceanic voyage. And there they were sitting pretty, all lined up in two rows.

I think that these chairs date to the first half of the 20th c. They are solid mahogany with brass fittings and pegged construction. Although these chairs are simple in form, the quality of materials and construction details make them an excellent buy. And I have six from the same ship. Roberto is coming next week to clean and hard paste wax them so that they will really struct their stuff. There guys are super comfortable; a cushion can be added for extra height and comfort.

I think these chairs would be great paired with an antique French walnut or American farm table. They would also work well with mid-century design and would add a minimalist detail to a more elaborate setting. I love to mix high and low, but always make sure that the quality of each piece is on the same level as the other decorative elements in a room.

Thanks for joining me on the hunt--you just never know what is going to turn up.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Here are a few more detail shots of the Deck Chairs. (I still can't get the photos positioned where I want them--unhappy face)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rainy and Chilly in So. California

It has been rainy here for the last couple of days (no complaints) and it's a little on the chilly side(60*). The weather focused my attention on my Thanksgiving floral arrangement--yes, I know--that was almost 5 months ago. But in November I gave myself 4 orchids to place in an antique Imari bowl AND THEY ARE STILL BLOOMING.  They were healthy plants when I bought them and were very inexpensive. When I got them home, I noticed that one spear/spike (right word???) had bent in half and and I fretted that the buds would die and wondered whether I should exchange it (but it was a big schlep back to the store and I am basically a non-confrontational person). The rest of the plants were gorgeous and bloomed profusely. One day (sometime after Thanksgiving), I looked over at Mr. broken spear/spike (I should have given him a better name) and a few inches down from the break was a new spike with one just-emerging bud. Little did I know that THREE of the plants would send out new bloom spikes.

My step-father was a world renown orchid grower who was one of the first to explore the Amazon to collect orchids and bring the newly discovered varieties back to the US--he even climbed the forest canopy to get to specimens. In the past I had always followed his instructions regarding orchids and had never been very successful in getting the plants to re-bloom. I would fertilize with just the right fertilizer, water only in the mornings and on schedule, place the plants in morning sun, etc., etc., etc. But with these guys, I basically ignore them; water when I think about it; they sit in a southern facing window over the kitchen sink; no fertilizer and not much potting material either. But I have remembered to thank them for their beautiful blooms and to apologize for not watering them more frequently.

Maybe they like all of the action at the sink? Maybe they like Mini Beast? Maybe sometimes in life it is best to relinquish control; so that those under our care can grow and stretch without being pulled and pushed....Maybe it is a question of faith that all beings are created with a certain intentionality and that this intentionality provides what is needed.  Still working on this concept as it applies to me--but it's coming.

(I would try to reorganize the photos, but I'm afraid of the software glitch coming into play. Can you see the dried out original spike together with fully blooming new spike? I have no idea why these photos came out with the black  background??? And they are not bad for someone as technologically challenged as I am. Those scars on Mini Beast are from when he was a big fighting tom cat--now he just likes to stick close to me and torment Maddy.)

Have a wonderful week-end.
Mary, Jones (and Cole)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Marbro Alabaster Lamps-- Serendipity II

I love serendipitous gifts and occurrences as that is when I am awe struck by the interconnectedness (that's a long word) of life and the presence of God. These lamps are a perfect example.....In December I bought the lamp on the left from a dealer friend who had had a very serious accident and had hospital bills to cover; so I paid him more than he had asked for the lamp. (I know, we're are supposed to haggle--but I hate that. Why can't we simply set a fair price and our clients simply pay the price and the tax without a fuss????)

In January I started kicking myself for buying the lamp (it's not a pair, how will I ever make any money with just one lamp, I paid toooo much, etc.), but I decided to go ahead and rewire the lamp (I rewire all of my lighting or have a professional check the wiring to make sure that everything is up to standard safety norms) and price it to sell quickly. So I called Lupe--great electrician--who just happened to be coming by that afternoon; when Lupe arrived and I showed him the lamp, he became very quiet. And when he spoke, he said: "I have a lamp just like that at my shop". Of course, I immediately (after I stopped jumping up and down) wanted to know if it was for sale and who owned it. SERENDIPITY was definitely at work (even through my negativity). The lamp was for sale!!! Unfortunately, the owner had asked Lupe to strip off the original painted surface which Lupe had already done (unhappy face).......

But I bought the lamp and Lupe was able to match the tarnished gold paint (he also replaced the sockets and rewired both lamps). Now the quest began to get Sergei (professional artist who does super restoration work--WHEN HE FEELS LIKE IT) to match the patina on both lamps.........Sergei came and picked up the lamp; brought it back without the patina; he picked up both lamps  two weeks later to redo the work............and it is now three weeks since I last saw Sergei and I am still waiting for the return of the lamps. THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY A JOURNEY!!! I bought shades for the lamps last week (large black parchment shades are very pricey) and Sergei should be bringing back the lamps in a couple of days. We will see...

Here are detail photos of the alabaster lamps and they are gorgeous. The carving, impressive size and the antique Roman form make these very desirable and although they were bought separately, they are a matched pair with both lamps retaining their original Marbro stickers. These lamps would be great in a traditional antiques-filled interior or even integrated into a mid-century modern design. The alabaster urns were carved in Italy in the 1960's and the lamps were fabricated in the Los Angeles studio of the Markoff Brothers  (Marbro).

First Marbro Alabaster Lamp

The devil is in the details and only Sergei knows how to do the patina!! The lamps will be gorgeous when I finally get them back home and this will have been a journey that has lasted for more than 4 months. So please, when when you spy that perfect decorative object that you have been searching for months (maybe years) to locate, don't work the dealer too hard. Making sure that all of the details are perfect is definitely worth the price that the dealer is asking. Besides, if a lay person were to do the restoration, rewiring, lamp shades buying, etc. it would cost many times more in time spent researching restorers, getting a restorer to do it right, and the extra charges for retail as opposed to wholesale pricing.

I'll post photos of the completed pair of lamps (hopefully by Friday--please, Lord). Even though it has been a struggle to get these lamps ready, I smile every time I think of them and am reminded of their gift to me. And I am so grateful to live in a world where we are connected to each other in an amazingly invisible, but tangible way.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey. Jones says "hi"--he loves both Lupe and Sergei.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)