Saturday, October 18, 2014


About a 18 months before our economy and the decorative arts/ antiques business came tumbling down I started to design mainly happened by accident. I saw a pair of chinoiserie sconces on 1stdibs and said to myself: "I can do this!!!"

So I did (I had an artist paint the figures--I wish I could paint). But in order to get the pagoda roof proportions just right, I needed a sample. So I spent a fortune on a pair of chinese lanterns--and then I had to figure out how to get my money out of them (ie, the goal in this business is (supposedly) to make money).  So I completely redid the lanterns, painted them, patinated them, etc. and BEADED them.....

And this is how the lanterns turned out. Much to my astonishment, the lanterns were featured on the 1st page of 1stdibs. This was a huge boost to my creative instincts.
And I have designed many lighting elements since. This pair of lamps was purchased by Madeline Stuart.
I love these guys (note: Japanese carved and lacquered foo dogs should always have loose balls in their mouths and flaming pearls and have finely detailed carving of coats and other features--otherwise they are probably Chinese copies)

But, I digress. I have not designed any lighting pieces in about 2 years because no one has been buying custom lighting--and what I design isn't usually what everyone is looking for.

But I promised myself that I would once again start creating what I love. I bought the 30" tall pagodas about 2 months ago. They arrived damaged; sent them back. Got replacement; again damaged.  But I decided to simply fix the problems.... And then I got my designing cap on. I haven't quite finished painting the pagodas--they need another coat of black and sanding to bring down the shine and then my friend, David (a top of the line restorer of period furniture) is going to help me put the chinoiserie details on the pagodas, after which I will wax and buff them to give depth to the finish--- but here is a first look at the beading that is going on the roof curls

Those are large faceted chunks (about 1"-1.5") of rock cyrstal and 2" chunks of turquoise and a large coral bead to simulate a Chinese hat.
In the last photo I was checking whether the pendants should be shorter--but I'm going to go with the long exaggerated form--more dramatic. The pagodas don't look very finished right now, but when all of the turquoise, rock crystal, coral and onyx beads are in place--plus the chinoiserie details and applied patination, I think they just might look OK--we'll see. At least I'm getting my brain in gear.

Auction Finds--yep, another week with gifts. 

This little c. 1760-70 French Louis XV commode was looking very forlorn up in "not so good" section. So I set my sights on it and aimed for a ridiculously low bid. When it came to the block, I almost had it for what I had aimed for......but at the last moment before the gavel fell, some one started bidding against me and I dropped out when my bid got to more than double what I had originally aimed to bid. This little orphan went to some one named "Michael"...  So I went home knowing that there "is always more". About 2 hours after I got home, I received a call from the auctioneer saying that the winning bidder had rejected the commode and Sean asked if I wanted it at $50 above (Sean didn't know my intended price) what my intention had been. Usually when this happens the offer goes to the under bidder at the bid where he/she had dropped out. Of course I said: "Yes, put it on my bill and thank you very much." Roberto will spend about a day putting this girl back to where she should be. She does have one major fault: I believe that her top was replaced in the 19th c. plus there is noticeable shrinkage to her sides which Roberto will fill. But she does have bells and whistles--she has perfectly formed "snail" front feet, original bronze hardware and cartouche carved sides. No she will never be a fine piece of French furniture, but this is just the type of piece that I love. Tons of character and attitude. Think night stand, breakfast room server or any where a 40-42 inch commode is needed--really great in a bathroom, too.

Jones is waiting patiently for me to go to bed.
Be well--don't forget to set those intentions!

Mary & Jones & Cole


  1. Dear Mary,
    The Chinese lanterns are so stunning and I know they will sell quickly! Love the Louis XV Commode as well! I have wanted a pair of cream colored Foo Dogs for the longest time....just in case you find them!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Hi Karena, I want some old foo dogs, too. But with the Chinese buyers out in full force at all times, it is really hard to find them at a reasonable price point. Hope that you are enjoying a beautiful fall day--it is going to be gorgeous here. xoxo

  2. You are very talented, Mary! And so knowledgeable. I love your eye, friend. Cheers

    1. Hi Dear Friend, Your feed back means the world to me!!
      Auction Day is tomorrow and I do have a bit of cash (a very small bit).
      xoxo Mary