Thursday, November 28, 2013


It is about 6:30 on a glorious Thanksgiving Day morning and I'm about to resume baking and chopping and reveling in  thoughts of the approaching time with family---grateful that my youngest has come home from his current quest, and happy that Mia, Lauren and Kaia will be with us this year.
My prayers go out to those of my close family who cannot come. My heart is also reaching out to all of those who do not have a family to nurture or to be surrounded by. This year, I've chosen to nestle with my loved ones--next year I intend to stretch my wings to nurture others. If there are any individuals that you know of that need a family to shelter in--just a simple phone call will revolutionize the day for them. I learned many years ago when I drove Meals-on-Wheels on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, a single rose (or any flower) in a humble vase or a simple card turns even the saddest and hardest  of hearts.
Please pray for my little family as we integrate Mia's illness into our lives. Special prayers for James and Grace to grow in strength and faith and hope.
Thank you & blessings,


Here are a few photos of our semi-antique Kittinger Furniture federalist-style George Washington desk. Notice that it differs from the photo pulled from the internet in that this particular example features a closed front and a deep mahogany surface. (That is me (I) reflected in the window...). There are a total of thirty-two brass pulls detailing the desk, only 8 of which are functional. Isn't he gorgeous!!

Yesterday we (Roberto, Debrett, Andrew and I) were busy reorganizing and look what happened to a little space that needed to hide the back of a rather homely showcase........

These are the chests of drawers that Flavio lacquered==love the heavy scolloped brass pulls. I finally made the new pins for the hinges on the lacquer screen (coat hanger wire was just the right diameter) and we purchased those amazing brass pagoda lamps last week. The lamps did not look like that when I spied them--Andrew (my son) spent the better part of two days polishing them. These are American lamps that date to the late 70's/early 80's; note the exceptional cast brass dolphin finials.

*****Brass polishing 101!! I have collected antique brass candlesticks since my years in Spain and over the years have made my share of mistakes polishing metal. When polishing any antique or vintage piece of brass it is very important to use the right polish; apply sparingly; use #0000 steel wool lightly if very tarnished; and finish polish with a soft  cotton cloth. I only recommend three kinds of polish: Simichrone (very expensive and very good), Wenol (expensive and very good) and Maas (expensive and very good). These cream polishes leave the original surface intact and give a beautiful soft shine. ******NEVER DIP ANY METALS.******

And finally, here is the Italian grape cluster hiding on my bookcase and some of the carved rock crystal and jade grape clusters that I found last week.

I priced these early 20th c. guys at about $80/ each--mention Jones & Cole (blog) and they are $60/each--sweet Christmas gifts.

Grateful hearts fill our world with light and joy. 

Mary & Jones (and Cole)

Monday, November 25, 2013


Life has been a little unsettled lately and probably just bit off-center. Things are beginning to even out to a new normal; so I'm back.
So many lessons to digest and understand more deeply that life is not linear and that as I spiral towards more growth it does get richer. My youngest son is back from teaching English in Thailand for the past year and a half. It is good to have him home. I was "Morning Mom" for a few days while Mia and Grace were at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Tennessee. Mia's journey to health continues to be one of climbing mountains, prayers are still needed. St. Jude is beyond anything I could ever imagine--a truly healing place filled with generous, loving caregivers. Thank you for all that you do for you little patients and their families.

But.....we have also been busy BUYING and selling.
I was sad to see the Japanese lacquer panel find a new home as I really love this piece and would have been happy to keep it.

And the Chinese Ching Scholar's Hat chairs sold to a charming couple that had just moved to LA from San Francisco.

The Fortuny Farnese Freize pillows sold on 1stdibs.

The early 19th c. French girondoles went to one of my favorite designers.

Of course, the eternal quest for more treasures is always calling. Richard found a fantastic Kittinger desk at an auction house that is holding it's last auction tomorrow. After 3 generations, it is closing it's doors after the gavel falls on the final lot of tomorrow's auction. It is sad to see an LA institution fade.
I've pulled a photo of a Kittinger desk similar to ours from the internet.
This desk is called "The George Washington Desk". Kittinger made exact copies of the desk that the Continental Congress gave to George Washington in honor of his being elected as our first president. I have had this desk in the past; so I recognized it when Richard sent me photos from the auction. The desk we acquired is an early example in deep rich solid and veneer mahogany with an oak carcass that I think dates to the late 1940's or 50's. The desk was in overall excellent condition, with one huge exception: some one had spilled a high alcohol content drink right on the front center of the desk, leaving a really noticeable spot where the finish had dissolved. I thought we were in deep doo-doo as I did not know any competent French polishers who would be able to restore the surface without stripping the entire top (never advisable) --but the universe does supply what I need when I ask. My friend Bill, owner of Villa Melrose, referred me to Flavio. Flavio arrived a couple of weeks ago and perfectly restored the surface.  (Note: this is an EXTREMELY heavy piece of furniture and simply getting it to a restorer's shop would have been a huge adventure--and then bringing it back????)

****As a quick bit of information. French Polish is the type of polish used in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is always made from shellac flakes (derived from insects, I think) dissolved in alcohol and turpentine (I think) by the individual furniture makers. It is then hand applied with a special pad in quick "swipes" with layer upon layer applied until a rich, deep surface is obtained. The practice of the craft of French polishing is the mark of a true furniture expert. These specialists are few and far between and are treasured and nurtured by those that need their services.****

So what I thought would be a disaster turned into a blessing with my forming a new relationship with Flavio. Flavio has also restored and French polished my early 19th c. Regency Breakfast table and lacquered (he even has a lacquer spray booth!!!) a pair of black and ivory chests of drawers. Don't worry, Roberto is still my main squeeze and love and is coming tomorrow--the only thing that Roberto can't do is French polish (although he does a pretty good job faking it).
I'll take photos of the "George" Desk and the lacquer chests tomorrow and post them.

Now, can anyone answer this question:
What's up with vintage Italian carved alabaster and marble fruit?? This large grape cluster is listed on 1stdibs for an astronomical sum.........

I bought one a bit smaller--haven't picked it up yet and, much to my surprise, found a medium-sized vintage 60's red alabaster grape cluster hiding on my bookcase--I'll post some photos. These fruit pieces date to the mid-20th century and just a few years ago sold for about $90 to $100 and then you couldn't even give them away..........

*******See, life is simply NOT LINEAR!!

Jones says "hi"--he has had his teeth cleaned and also a trip to the Salon. Yes, he's very handsome.

Wishing everyone a glorious Thanksgiving Day. We'll be celebrating at my daughter's home and I get to do my absolute most favorite thing in the entire world--cook (without having to clean up).

Be well,
Mary & Jones (& Cole)