Sunday, October 26, 2014


Two of my heroes died this week. Ben Bradlee and Oscar de la Renta. I came to age when these larger than life men were coming into their prime years of achievement. 
Ben Bradlee--charismatic and daring, publishing what no other had dared.
Oscar de la Renta--equally charismatic and the perfect gentleman who chose to improve the lives of those he touched.
I'm still tearing up as I write this--and I never knew these gentlemen. 
My hope is that new heroes rise up to fill these, now empty, memorable shoes.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014


I am so grateful to this wonderful world of blogging and the gift of the Internet that contains both the power to unite humanity and the power to fraction and isolate us.
Every morning I am greeted by many of my blogging friends. My first go-to blog is Seth Godin. Today's post (as so many others over the years) related to personal choice. Seth suggested making TWO LISTS. One where we document and detail all of the wonderful, serendipitous experiences, decisions, journeys and relationships of our life. The other, where we document all of our negative experiences and interactions. Seth's point being that at every point or even moment of our lives we make the choice of pulling out one of these virtual lists. It is our choice whether we act and make decisions based on all of the good in our lives, or, conversely, choose to come from a negative, rejected, hurting place. Yes, it our choice whether to walk in the light and power of the actual present or to be stuck walking without the blessings of life. 
It is also our choice whether to stay enmeshed in the past or to grow and overcome in order to walk in the light of the's not an easy path, but it is do-able. get off my soap box and on to the more important issues of the day.............

...................MY CHAIR ADDICTION.....................

I think I've mentioned my "problem" relative to acquiring chairs many, many times.......well, I've fallen off the wagon (again).
A few weeks ago I bought these chairs

Then I bought these chairs

Next, I bought these stools/benches (still qualify as chairs)

Last week (Oh! S____!!!) I bought a pair of these (Isn't Jones handsome?)

Of course, I couldn't end the binge with those guys ........
This (potentially) amazing French Regence-style Fauteuil came next... (but just look at the carving?!)

But, in order to buy the Regence Fauteuil, I also had to bid on this early 20th c. Gainsborough-style solid mahogany chair.........

I'm in deep doo-doo now.
But it could be worse. Just this week I had tons of confirmation from different sources that (maybe) I was going to be OK.
Heather (Habitually Chic) posted a few photos of Hamish Bowles apartment

See those Regency Klismos side chairs? Not that different from mine (mine may be a bit more finely detailed with the brass rosettes and shaped crest rail--and of course, mine are rosewood and The Hamish chairs are lowly mahogany).
My Gainsborough Chair

Then...1stdibs posted 3 (not 1 or 2, but THREE) Gainsborough Chairs on the FRIST PAGE. Of course, my chair is early 20th c. and not drop dead to-die-for like the 1stdibs chairs--nevertheless.

1stdibs Gainsborough Chairs

Loi (Tone On Tone Antiques), who carries the most glorious Swedish and French painted furniture in his shop in Washington D.C., featured this chair in a post of early this week

Of course, this chair is perfection! My chair is his little brother--not bad, but it doesn't have the old scraped painted surface or the simplicity of carving of this one.  But it will work.  I'll upholster these guys in a natural silvery linen by Suzanne Kasler.
I love Art Deco furniture--and my little boudoir bergeres fall into that category. To bring out their Deco lines I have painted them black (I use metal paint to paint furniture--it goes on very smoothly with a couple of thin coats)

George--my mounted deer (who looks a bit like Jones) is supervising my work and Maddy refuses to eat anywhere else; so she gets to smell the paint. This pair of Deco Boudoir chairs will be upholstered in a gray silk blend velvet. I know that they are not California style and will probably go back East.
As for the stools......well. The round ottoman is a discontinued MacKenzie Childs piece, love those solid brass bun feet. The little guy I made up for OKL, not quite me. We'll see if it sells.

Because of the Financial Crisis and resultant changes to the decorative arts field I have had to change my business model. I can no longer afford to be a perfectionist--perfection isn't selling that well. I've had to adjust to the benefits of internet sales. I've had to acknowledge that there are so many different tastes that I can offer. Naturally, this involves all different kinds of buying......
After I finished painting the 1st chair black, I read the instructions on the paint can: light coats and DO NOT OVER-BRUSH!  That really got me to delving into myself. How much of life have I been over-brushing in my quest to bring perfection to life (mind you, it's my limited ideal of perfection). So today forward my motto is I DO NOT OVER=BRUSH.
Have a wonderful fall week-end. Please pray for rain for California.
Be well.

Mary & Jones & Cole
  PS  I just studied the Gainsborough chair......looks like the back legs are missing their scroll feet....ooops. This guy will go back to auction, but I'm keeping "Frenchie".
xo Mary