Sunday, May 27, 2012


I think that Jones is a little bored with my photography (it has been a long day: daycare with his best poodle friend, working with me and greeting everyone, getting love from his people friends, treats from David...what a life!) but he is a dog (a great dog, but still color-blind) and dog's usually don't go nuts over design details. Although Jones really likes Juan, he really doesn't appreciate the fact that Juan Vazquez, my lacquer and refinish expert, has worked a small miracle with these late 1950's Michael Taylor for Baker Far East Collection tables.

The photos above shows the tables in the condition that I purchased them...the brown stain/finish--although considered to be the "bees knees" in the late 50's is really very dull/boring by today's aesthetic--the finish is also a little sun damaged--bleached and dried out. 

I usually run from changing the look/color/finish of great pieces of furniture, but these tables were crying out for some love and attention--face lift (oh! so Hollywood). Michael Taylor also included black lacquer tables in his Far East Collection for Baker Furniture; so I don't feel as if I have really betrayed The Master with my updating the tables with black lacquer, leaving the tops to show their beautiful satinwood* graining. Notice the beautiful inlay work to the tops of the tables--the satin wood slices radiate out from a small center radius.

I am so grateful to have Juan in my life--quality craftsmen are essential elements in both the design and antiques fields. I knew a lot regarding the restoration of period antique furniture, but over the past 5 years I have learned volumes from Juan regarding lacquer work, colors, application processes, etc. And Juan has expanded his knowledge and expertise into the period antiques arena: he does a nasty French polish.

Thanks for joining me on the crazy journey.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day week-end.

Mary and Jones (and Cole),

*Satinwood is one of the most valuable woods and has been used as inlay on the "best" pieces of furniture from the early/mid 18th c.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I acquired this gorgeous Late Edo Japanese lacquer storage box at auction last week. It was a "sleeper" as it doesn't look very desirable at the moment. Although the majority of the piece is in reasonably presentable condition; there are areas of lacquer at the feet supports that have (hopefully only) surface damage. Although purchasing items in this condition is always risky (you just never know how the restoration will evolve)--this piece has wonderful lines and the lacquer is beautifully executed. The brass chasing is also finely detailed and in good condition. The horse hoof legs are capped with the chased brass which is also in good shape. The inside of the box is in fine condition--and when I opened the box there was a surprise inside--a set of 8 gold and black lacquer plates (dating to the mid 20th c.) these would be stunning hung against a saturated color wall.

Wish me luck. Roberto is coming next week to work his magic on this piece--I'm praying that the lacquer polishes up as beautifully as the lacquer hibachi.

Jones says hi--he's getting his hair cut next week. Oh, the life of a poodle: playmates at daycare, Mom cooks for him, the dog park and best friends at work. I think I know who I want to return as....

I hope that everyone has a wonderful Labor Day Weekend--it is a time to be grateful for everything we have been given. It's also Kaia's 4th  Birthday--so we are having a family Birthday Party on Sunday.


Kaia is "Miss Flirty" and being the "middle child" has her path cut out for her especially with these two before and behind.

Be well.
Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Monday, May 21, 2012

SNEAK PEAK--Giovani Battista Piranesi

Last Thursday's auction was very fruitful, what I am most excited about is that I was able to acquire pieces that fit into the categories of objects that I love to sell.


I have bought and sold Giovani Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)* engravings for the past 10 years, when they appear and are at my price point. I haven't been able to acquire any for the past couple of years, but Thursday was my day. I had previewed the auction and checked out the Piranesi engravings to make sure that they were 18th century editions (and not issued after his death or in the 19th century). They appeared to be 18th c. editions and in fairly good condition--meaning that there was only minor discoloration and no obvious foxing (the brown staining/marks that appear on old paper due to moisture or exposure to chemicals). (The marks on these photos are merely the effects of photographing through the glass.) The frames were very pedestrian and I knew that I would need to have them reframed by my great custom framer who is also a print seller.

One of the engravings is of the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the other, also a water structure, is inscribed with the details of the engraving in a cartouche at the lower left. The last image is an enlargement of that cartouche. The engraving of the Trevi Fountain also carries an inscription, but it is located just below the image and is difficult to photograph.

Once these Piranesis are appropriately framed, I'll post an update.

*Giovani Battista Piranesi (not be be confused with his son, also a reknown engraver) was born in1720 in the Republic of Venice. He studied architecture under his uncle, Matteo Lucchesi which set the ground work for Piranesi's later engravings of Rome. In 1740, he moved to Rome, residing at the Palazzo Venezia and where he studied etching and engraving. He continued his education with the pupils of the French Academy in Rome where he participated in the production of several series of "vedute" or views of Rome. He frequented the studio of Tiepolo while in Venice during the years 1743 to 47. He returned to Rome in 1748 where he was to become "The Master Engraver of the 18th Century Rome."  Please Google G.B. Piranesi for a more detailed biography.


This is an adorable little painting of cows by the listed English artist John Boultbee that dates to the late 18th/early19th c. I love to place animals pieces in interior spaces as they add character and a sense of place. For the past 4 years, with economy in question, I have been selling very few pieces of signed and listed art. The very high market was still good, but that middle decorative market all but dried up--now I see a return to an interest in great little paintings which add soul to a space, but are not investment level. This painting, although not signed on the front, carried its history on the back stretcher/frame and was deaccessioned from a Los Angeles area museum/library. I love these cows--notice that there are two more cows in the background.

I was at my auction today to pick up another painting and previewed the Thursday sale---there is some interesting stuff......we'll see what evolves. But right now I have to get Jones to the Dog Park or we will have a very difficult evening.

I hope that you all have an wonderful week--filled with adventure.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Today, a young couple came in with the intention of purchasing my bergere (above) and a pair of satinwood beidermeier (sp?) fauteuils from my neighbor, Roy. Roy had taken today off; so I was helping them with their decision whether to purchase Roy's wonderful chairs that they loved. The husband had very closely inspected the chairs (I had not as they were not my chairs) and questioned me regarding the restorations to the chairs--on close inspection, I realized that the chairs had had some serious wood worm damage and that the restorations were not well executed. I also noted what appeared to be active worm infestation (this is not a good thing for chairs with delicate klismos legs).
I knew that I would have to probably loose my sale by speaking the truth regarding Roy's chairs, but I advised them not to buy the chairs. (It killed me because, I really wanted to help Roy and I do not like to speak ill of anyone's merchandise). Sure enough, I had deflated their buying sails and they left without purchasing any items. I'm sure that they will be back in a few days when the disappointment wears off. I would have loved to sell my chair (and possibly a pair of commodes that they were interested in)--but my conscience is happy.

What I find truly ironic is that on Thursday, I had blogged about the almost  identical situation that had happened to me in Spain and when I was the approximate age of this couple. I am beginning to see that we do attract what we focus on.....and this was all good.

Thanx for joining me on this crazy journey.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This is Mia, my date for next Sunday (and my date for Mother's Day) who will come with her two older sisters, Lauren (5) and Kaia (almost 4). Mia is 1 1/2, can draw; loves to "read" and knows how to use an Iphone (I don't how)--she can even manage to locate her favorite movie apps (The Lion King--I think) and push the correct button to start the movie. I'm loving her little round body right now, as I know that within a few months she will be slimming down into little girl-hood. Right now I just want to eat her up.

Here are the older sisters--we need to start planning Kaia's birthday. It is wonderful to see these beautifully little girls grow into perfect humans--also it is the most wonderful of blessings to see my son mature into a fantastic Dad. Yes, James and Grace are super busy--when Mia was born, they had three little girls under the age of 4....
Now that the stress of so many babies is easing up, the joy of watching each child evolve at her own rate and in her own direction can be experienced. Lauren is very athletic and a non-stop go-go girl-she is having her first dance recital next month--we are all going (except for Jones); Kaia is much more petit and a girly-girl and flirty and affectionate. We'll just have to see about Mia--so far she is much bigger than her sisters; a slow walker, but a fast talker. Sometimes she looks like Lauren; sometimes she looks like me; sometimes she looks like Kaia. But that little one already has her own definite personality, preferences and goals--there is no way her sisters will ever boss her around.

(Jones is really good with the babies for a couple of hours--and then he needs a break---Cole is super patient with the girls; sometimes too patient which results in injuries from over-affectionate little girls).

I hope everyone has a wonderful week-end planned with family, loved ones or friends--or even just a great book or movie.

Be well,
Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

There Is Another Chaise Longue--God Help Me!!!

A few posts ago I confessed to my addiction to chairs. I have another confession: I'm also addicted to DAYBEDS and CHAISES LONGUES.........I know, I know--but this is the DEALER DILLEMMA: you have to buy when the item is available, not when you need it....... At the moment, I have a gorgeous period French mahogany & gilt bronze Empire bed (some would call daybed, but it's a bed), two (2) true daybeds and a chaise longue. But hear me out, there is the most gorgeous Louis XVI style carved and gilt daybed coming to the block today.....and I am lusting. My passion for antique beds goes back to my childhood when I was given my great grandfather's childhood bed (which had been brought with him from Ireland) that had also been my father's childhood bed (and went on to be first my oldest son's bed and finally my daughter's bed-and then the poor thing let out a big sigh and fell apart) and then the daybed/bed passion came into true bloom when I lived in Spain (Bilbao and Madrid) and started studying and buying antique furnishings. One of my very first purchases was a Spanish walnut "lit d'alcove" or "lit bateau" that dated to the Louis Phillippe period (c.1835-40)--which could be called a daybed here in the US.

I learned so many important antiques-dealer lessons with that Louis Phillippe bed---even old wood warps; French/Spanish walnut is a wood worm's/termite's chief delight. Most things are fixable. Or they are not. It is best not to buy when very pregnant. ETA (Spanish Basque Separatist Movement) was not waiting for my bed to be fixed before kidnapping someone on our project (that is a book for another day). Sometimes it is infinitely better to replace a piece/part than to try to restore a badly damaged one.......These were just some of the many lessons derived from that one piece of furniture--restoring this bed was a long journey and I am so grateful for those lessons. I will never sell an antique in the condition that bed was in without detailing all of the faults. In the antiques business "buyer beware" is an awful motto--hopefully, all dealers restore, rewire, polish, debug, etc. (and disclose all work done to a piece) before allowing the item to be sold.
I'll finish this later tonight after the auction.........

(Thursday, p.m.) 
God did answer my prayers.......when I got to my auction, I checked the chaise longue out from top to bottom. I really didn't like it as much today as yesterday and I realized that I would have to reupholster the piece which would cut deeply into my profit margin.
I did buy some amazing pieces today--I'll take photos Saturday. Just a hint: a pair of original c. 1770 Piranesi engraving in very good condition--these will be going to my framer. A small, 18th c. English landscape with cows by a very well-listed artist. And a few other goodies.

Thanks for joining me on this never-ending joyful hunt--which seems as if God were dropping presents in my lap.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I need to confess: I have the habit --which I am working to overcome --of discounting that "little voice in my head", that nudge from God that pushes me to purchase, design or even to avoid certain situations and pay attention to others. I have the habit of not paying attention to The Tao's (Holy Spirit's) gentle inspiration/pushes---I'm not sure quite why. Perhaps it's a lack of faith, feeling a bit unworthy of receiving blessings, not trusting myself. But I'm definitely in process and am paying more attention to inspiration.

Anyway, taking into consideration "my confession", I fell in love with this lacquered Hibachi more than three months ago when another dealer brought it in. Every time I have gone upstairs, I have passed and admired the Hibachi--saying to myself: "I really want it; don't think I can make a profit if I buy it; where will I display it; don't have the client base, etc..... Well, on Thursday, I decided that I would do a little research on lacquered 19th c. Japanese Hibachi. Yikes!!!!! Yes, I can make a profit! Yes, I know how to display it........ In other words, I finally paid attention to that voice in my head nudging me to go deeper. Friday morning I made an offer and WHAT DO YOU KNOW, it was accepted.......Yes, there is definitely a profit margin. But most importantly I opened The Gift that was being offered to me. (I wonder just exactly how many gifts I have been given and refused to open or discounted my worthiness?) Yes, it took me three months to get the message, but I finally grew and stretched enough to listen.

Just a few detail photos of the Hibachi and information. This Hibachi dates to the early/mid Meiji Period (1868-1912) and is very large at 23" x 23". The original copper basin for holding the charcoal is present and the wood bases is beautifully detailed in dark brown/almost black lacquer with a gilt detailing  of scrolling vines and ferns. The corners are embellished with beautifully hand chased brass work and the side corners are braced with the chased brass. The lacquer is in very good overall condition considering the piece's age and the intended purpose.


Now a few details about Japanese Hibachi that I have just discovered. I have loved and purchased Japanese and Chinese lacquer work for many years; so I am marginally familiar with this form of art. The Hibachi or "fire bowl" is a traditional Japanese heating method which consists of a round or box-shaped vessel made from or lined with fire resistant material. It is believed that the use of the Hibachi dates back to the Heian Period (798-1185 AD). Hibachi were originally intended for the use of the aristocratic and Samurai classes; over time its use was extended to the lower classes. There were many different forms of Hibachi, with the more elaborate--lacquer and gilt work, as well as the more artistic forms being reserved for the aristocratic and Samurai classes.

Because of its very large size and great condition I envision this Hibachi being used as a focal point on a large round center table or console and filled with blooming phalaenopsis orchids and ferns. I believe that this form would integrate well with both a modern minimalist aesthetic or a traditional, antiques filled room.

Roberto is going to spiff up the Hibachi and I will add a couple of updated photos in a follow up post.

I hope that everyone is enjoying a fantastic Mother's Day--here in Southern California, the weather is gorgeous: 75* with sun and no humidity. Thanks for coming with me on the hunt.  Sending blessings.......

Mary and Jones (and Cole)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I just picked these pillows up from Pam. As usual, she did a fantastic job--this time I chose "French" corners with my usual tiny, tiny welt and Belgium linen backing.  My mother bought this fabric in Indonesia in the 1970's and I have been saving it for just the right project. As you can see from the detailed figural motifs, this batik is not in the same league as the "Hippy" batiks and tie dyes of the 60's and 70's. Finely detailed little beings are scattered throughout with what appears to be eagle wing symbols.


Batik involves the process of wax resist dyeing which dates back at least to 4th century Egypt. I just love "Google" and "Wikipedia"!! This is the essence of Wikipedia's review of  Indonesian Batik--The most acclaimed batiks come from the island of Java and specifically the Yogyakarta and Surakarta regions whose artists frequently incorporate representations of the Javanese conceptualization of the universe. The traditional colors are indigo, dark brown and white which are natural pigments and represent the major Hindu Gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. ("Wiki" does give much more detailed information on Indonesian batiks, but I have limited the information here to cover only the batik used for these pillows.)

As you can see from the detail photos, this batik probably comes from Yogyakarta as it uses the traditional indigo and white color way and is replete with symbols that undoubtedly derive from a specific universal world view. I think that what has me most in awe is the level of detail and the fineness of execution. The workmanship is no doubt that of a master artist and dyer. I made the detail photos extra large in order to highlight the exceptional artistry of the execution.

Thanks for sharing my excitement over this beautiful textile.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I don't have any photos today.........I'm under the weather (will be back in action tomorrow) with a bug.
I subscribe to various little newsletters and this morning I received this in my inbox from "Biz Tips"

          "By recognizing and accepting the things you cannot do well,
           you will cause the universe to present things to you that you
           can do well".

I don't know about anyone else, but I have spent years trying to master things that I really abhor (bookkeeping, spelling, house cleaning, mail, etc.) and I have obsessed about my presumed failures. I'm now finally understanding (first step in mastering) the principle of focusing on the good, the present and adding up my strengths instead of my weaknesses (still a work in progress).

Self-acceptance doesn't mean being stuck and not growing--it simply means no more negative self-judgment and perfectionism. Every single particle in life is constantly evolving--.if I stay stuck in negative self (and other) judgment, I will simply miss all of the great stuff of life.

The "flow" is a purely positive movement outward--there is no struggle with flow--the energy is smooth, free flowing and effortless. The minute I introduce a negative thought into that effortless flow, it gets stuck and I am definitely "out of it" in more ways than I can describe. 

At heart I'm still that little Irish girl who was raised in a convent school where we curtsied to the nuns as they walked by; went to Mass with our heads covered,prayed before every class, etc.  But most of all WE KNEW WHAT SIN WAS and what happened when we sinned--don't ask.... We made the Sign of the Cross on our foreheads saying "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit"---we were taught about The Father and The Son, but never about THe Holy Spirit.  After spending the last five years reading The Tao--it's only 81 verses---I now know what the Holy Spirit is: The Holy Spirit is The Tao of life. The flow of life every where in this amazing world. It is the Spirit that gives life, and joy, creation, renewal, determination and all of the positives in life (Gifts of the Spirit). And now I know that when I step outside of this spirit, I am outside of the flow of life. And what is sin? (Baltimore Catechism paraphrase) Sin is when we are separate from God (out of the flow of life). 

And the biggest sin of all is our intentional (or not) negative self criticism and the criticism of others---this is when we take ourselves out of flow, and wallow in our self-righteousness.  

The best solution for getting back in the flow: over-flowing love and gratitude for everything that we have been given and the manner in which these gifts are given. An open receptive attitude towards life and all of its blessings (even when the blessings seem to be curses) will place us dead-center in the heart of God. 

The Holy Spirit/Tao doesn't value (human) perfection--all is perfectly created and awaiting our awakening.

Now I'm going to spend a few minutes  reading The Tao; settling my dust; in gratitude; in love.  Sounds easy doesn't it?--well, sometimes it's a kick in the butt.
Be well,
Mary and Jones (who is always in flow)