Sunday, September 30, 2012


It's always a surprise when I open any item that I have bought on-line. Unless I see and touch and smell an item before I purchase it, it's a game of chance. This time I was lucky!!! The antique Fortuny that I purchased with only photos to go by arrived on Friday and it is gorgeous.

And as usual, it came with a surprise: When I separated the Fortuny from it's old liner and then ripped out the hem of the panel, the seamstress had tripled the fold over for the hem and there were about 14 inches of the Fortuny that had not been exposed to the sun and retained their original color--which happens to be more of a deep forest green than the dark teal shown above. Antique Fortuny is quite pricey; so an additional 14 inches on the bottom and about 10 inches at the top is a gift.  THANK YOU!!
What's more, I do have some wonderful light weight silk faille that will coordinate perfectly with this Fortuny and I have plenty of antique silver fringe for further detailing.  Today I carefully washed the fabric by hand in a mild detergent (boy was it dirty--see photos) and laid it on the grass to dry. All of the staining came out, except for a normal patination which gives the fabric even more character. I have an appointment with Pam for tomorrow to start an order for 2 of these antique Fortuny pillows and also to start on 3 pairs of other vintage Fortuny pieces that I have collected.  We'll order the custom feather and down inserts tomorrow and discuss other details. I'll keep you posted on how the pillows progress.
Jones says "hi"--we were just visiting Cole and the two of them ran off---very bad dogs.
Hope the new week starts out on the right foot and that it is down hill from there.
Mary (and Jones)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The rock crystal beads that I had ordered from China arrived last Friday and I finished the rock crystal sconces yesterday. When I opened the rock crystal beads, I was so disappointed because they were not what I thought I had ordered, but after dwelling on them, I decided that they might work.  And they did. (I decided to be open to receiving what the beads were presenting--and not be so damn controlling for once!)

And here's a close-up:

I had Roberto hang them framing my early 18th c. French Nichols de Largilliere (and studio) painting of a French royal. She is gorgeous and I love her (the photo doesn't do her justice)--the frame is a French Deco mirrored frame. The frame is obviously not of the period (and everyone complains) but it works for her and is a work of art by itself. Madame will probably be going home with me soon. We have a complicated and entwined history and I do miss her. I think that I will hang the large Imari chargers that I purchased a couple of months ago just below the sconces to add a little heft.

Roberto is coming tomorrow and I hope that we can finish the Dutch mirror and get it hung. Also, IT IS THURSDAY!! Auction time.  I can't buy any furniture (famous last words) as I have not a single inch of space--and it is the smalls that are selling well right now. We'll see.....
Costco had the most gorgeous wild salmon yesterday. (You all know the reasons not to buy farm-raised salmon, right? Hormones, antibiotics, raised in very tight spaces, farm-raised salmon contaminating wild salmon, etc., etc., etc.,)
So I'm preparing the salmon filet with pesto, a little lemon juice and covered with a generous overlay of organic baby spinach (sealed in foil)--all baked together (400* oven until just done) until the salmon just begins to flake--yum). This is super healthy and delicious--with the layer of pesto and then the spinach the salmon stays really moist.
Wish me luck tomorrow--I guess I mean--let me be open to what is presented with the day.
Jones says "hi"--with the cooler nights he and the cats have returned to their usual spots on the bed--it can be a little crowded (especially when bad boy Mini decides to attack Maddy).
Be well.
Mary and Jones

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


It only made it to 79* yesterday. And I stayed home just to revel in the coolness and freshness of life. After almost two months of unrelenting heat it looks like we are on our way back to wonderful, glorious Southern California weather. Probably a couple of short hot spells left--but that's OK.
I am so grateful. We take so many things in life for granted and forget that gratitude for each moment and everything that happens in our lives is the groundwork that we are laying for future moments. Everything works for good if we are open to the blessings. It sounds so easy, but the journey can be rough. But an attitude of gratefulness isn't that hard to put on--there is always something in life to be in awe of and grateful for--a child's first words, finishing a race, a heart-felt conversation with old friend or new acquaintance, rain, sun, compassion or joy. Even the gift of running water--when so many in the world do not have access to any form of clean water.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Here are the Thursday finds. I know that they don't look so great right now, but just wait. The campaign chest is perfect just the way it is and when I inspected the stand, it turned out to be original to the chest! It is rather unusual to find an original stand which will disassemble for moving on to the next military post. The little boudoir chairs date to c. 1930's; the cane on one of the chairs is damaged--I'll probably reupholster them (including the backs) in a soft lime green to match the faint green detail paint. I love these chairs--they have an attitude with their sexy little legs and high back. And last up is the cockfighting looks a little sad with its dirty old ribbed green upholstery (still retains its original horse hair structure--which is good) but I have been saving an Edelman leather black leather hide for a chair just like this. So this guy will be off to the upholsterer to be fitted with the leather and patinated nail heads on Monday. (I just wish that this chair were a bit older and had a bit more ATTITUDE, but it is what it is. Can you imagine finding an actual George III cockfighting chair with not another soul knowing what it was???)

Dutch Mirror Update:

We are still working on the restoration of the interior molding. As you can see, it doesn't look like much has been added, but in reality there are several more hours of work given to the interior ebonized molding. It is a process and can't be rushed. I just wish that Roberto weren't so busy, but I'm happy with what I see.
For months I haven't sold any Fortuny pillows--and this week I have sold ten of just never know what will sell and what will be a wall-flower. Thank goodness I just bought a beautiful panel of antique, c. 1920's, Fortuny fabric to replenish my stash. This purchase was a leap of faith as it was very pricey and I was walking on water considering the demise of pillow sales. I can't wait to find the perfect backing silk (I already have the antique silver--actual silver in thread--fringe).
Jones says "hi"--he is so happy to be gorgeous once again and cool! It is still blazing here, although the nights have started to cool down a bit.
I just bought 2 gorgeous pounds of WILD MEXICAN SHIP--the best and most flavorful of North American shrimp and they are big ones, too (and on sale). Will share these  at dinner tonight with my wonderful neighbors who are moving next week-end to a new house (I'm sad as we have been the best of neighbors).
Have a wonderful Sunday.
Mary & Jones

Friday, September 21, 2012

OOPS--Technical Problems with Computer

I'm having trouble with my computer--can't upload photos from my camera, plus some other issues.
I'm taking it to Nathan tomorrow and hopefully he'll get it back to me by Sunday!!

Jones looks marvelous after his bath and haircut.


Thursday, September 20, 2012


I haven't been going to auction lately--it is soooooo hot in the warehouse and I have absolutely no room (it is getting to be a problem....). But since business has picked up a bit and with a little play money in hand, I went to my favorite auction today.
Remember my chair addiction? Well, I promised that I would not, under any circumstances buy any more chairs. Well, the bid came up on an adorable pair of Italian/French Boudoir chairs and the auctioneer couldn't get an opening bid. So I thought that I would help him out and opened the bid at $50 (these chairs usually go for much, much more money; so I thought that I was safe. Not so. I now own an adorable pair of caned-back Louis-legged boudoir chairs that are really nothing like the ones below, but I thought that I would simply plug in the photo.

My chairs have a high caned back and legs and seats similar to these.
Next up:
A camphor wood campaign chest on newer stand. I think the chest dates to the mid to late 19th c. and is in great condition and already fitted to a custom stand. There were two of these camphor wood chests and somehow I missed the larger one (Never loose your focus at auction is rules No. 1!), but I'm happy with my little guy who looks a lot like the one below, but smaller.

But the piece de resistance was a single English Regency chair that was mismarked as a "game" chair.
I took one look at it and said: "mine!!!!!!!" I guess that I was the only one to know that it was a c.1810-1815 "Cockfighting" or "Reading" chair. These chairs are pretty uncommon, especially in Los Angeles. So it became mine. The photo below is of a George III Cockfighting chair in all original condition and at a top New York antiques gallery (M.S. Rau). The one I just bought is similar in form, but the legs are fluted mahogany ending in original casters.

I bought a few more things.......and I have to admit: I bought another chair. I collect 18th and early 19th century children's chairs....and here was the cutest  19th c. French Provencal high chair in walnut (these usually go for about $250)......Once again, the auctioneer couldn't get an opening bid; so I opened the bid for him at $25.  And there was no further bidding.  You see, it is not really my fault---I simply have good chair karma.
I'm taking the high chair home for Mia. She will finally have something that her sisters don't. And thank goodness I'm not going to have arbitrate the coming scene when Lauren realizes that there is only one chair and that it's for Mia.
I did get something else....but I'm saving it for the next post when I have a chance to take photos of my loot.
Jones says "Hi"--he has to stay home on auction day and hates it.
Have a wonderful early start to the week-end. It is still blistering here--Jones is getting "done" tomorrow which will help him stay cool.

Thanks for joining us.
Mary and Jones (Mini is in the bad cat dog house)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It has been a great week. After hitting 107* on Saturday, it was down to about 89* today--almost ready to get out my mink coat.
But more importantly, one of my favorite clients that I hadn't seen in ages popped in. This is one of the facets of the antiques business that I love the most: connecting with long established (and new clients)--catching up with what is going on in their lives, etc. I love the people!!

Today I spent the morning with my youngest grand daughter, Mia (named after me and also looks a little like me). Mia turned two last cute and so chubby and healthy. She gets pretty tired trying to keep up with her older sisters.
And I was able to purchase a length of very early Fortuny fabric. Early Fortuny fabric dating to c.1920 (or earlier) or any Fortuny fabric created during the lifetime of Mariano Fortuny is very desirable. Last year I recognized and acquired a length of early Fortuny which turned out to be a panel on which Mariano had been experimenting with new patterns.  I'll post photos when the example of early Fortuny arrives together with photos of the experimental panel.
Business has picked up a bit with the advent of Autumn and that makes me very happy.
Hoping that everyone is enjoying a great week, also.

Mary and Jones

Friday, September 14, 2012


A couple of week ago I purchased this pair of slightly neglected French forged iron and crystal sconces. I knew that they had good bones, but were sorely in need of help. They had lost some of their beading and the drops on the candle drips had been replaced with funky glass frosted beads. But they did retain their beautiful cut crystal beading that outlines the frame. Here is what the sconces looked like when I brought them in

Lupe picked them up and rewired them this week. I started designing the bead work while they were out.
I keep quite a supply of rock crystal on hand and started visualizing the refurbished sconces with antique and new rock crystal pendants and rock crystal beading. I have enough vintage/antique rock crystal pendants and small beads, but have ordered the large 1" beads which will detail the candle cups (they will arrive next week).
Lupe brought back the rewired sconces Wednesday and I started experimenting. By Thursday afternoon I was ready to start the removal of the existing crystals and mounting the rock crystal pendants. 
This is just the beginning, but already the sconces are looking pretty spiffy.

Notice the gem quality of the antique rock crystal pendants--they are absolutely clear with the inclusions adding interest.
I'll post photos of the completed sconces when the 1" rock crystal beads arrive. (I notice that Lupe will have to make some adjustments to the tie downs on the outside wiring--that's the way it goes: all the little details need to be perfect before an item is ready)
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
(It is still unbelievably hot here --105* today and tomorrow. Jones and I are melting.)
Have a wonderful late summer week-end.
Mary and Jones

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SADNESS--a Call for Respect

I have been silent the past week or so. This silence seems to overtake me every year right around September 11. I try not to focus on my internal emptiness, but maybe I should. I really am not aware of my self-imposed isolation until this period of grief has passed. 
This year, with the killings of the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and 3 other diplomatic officers, my sadness has turned to anger. Not at the Libyan people. But rather at my own people. How insensitive and arrogant can we be?
I was raised in Mexico and spent most of my young adult life in Europe--Northern Spain in the Basque Country. I love the Pais Vasco, I love the people and the way of life. That said, the period of time that we lived there was the epicenter of the Basque Terrorist Movement (ETA). And our project was one of the main targets of ETA. (Subject for a book)
We learned to be very careful and sensitive to the Basque sentiments and to guard our speech. 
Our diplomats are in similar situations throughout the world. It was unconscionable (sp?) for any individual, especially an American, to post a video mocking Allah and the Muslim religion. To put our fellow citizens in such danger during the period surrounding September  11 shows the lack of respect for other humans that is so rampant in the world today.
But to have a Presidential candidate take this tragedy to an entirely new level and politicize it for his personal benefit ---I am speechless.
What happened to our diplomats was an international tragedy and not a moment in time to be politicized. 
As a nation we need to learn the meaning of respect in all of its different manifestations.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012



I woke up this morning to the most beautiful cloud-filled "Eastern Sky". There were more than "fifty shades of gray" with each shade seemingly more beautiful than the next. You know how difficult it is to pick the perfect shade of gray to paint a room? Well, there they all were displayed in perfect form. We do not have beautiful clouds in Southern California and I miss them, but the past month (despite the raging heat) we have been blessed with clouds--some were inspired by 18th c. Venetian paintings, other were backed with that perfect 18th c. French blue. But the gray clouds of today were layers upon layers of glorious gray--some slightly purple, others with a bit of navy or black, and still others with just hints of gray on puffy ivory. Glorious.


Have a wonderful late summer day.


Photo Credit: "Origami Clouds"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This is what my c. 1680-1700 Dutch mirror looked like when I acquired it about ten days ago--rather neglected and abused.

I have been waiting for Roberto to have a free day to start the very exacting task of restoring the mirror without removing too much of the original patina. The first step involved testing the surface of the painted moldings to see which chemicals to use to removed that ugly aqua paint. Roberto had to resort to a "green" stripper to completely remove the paint (there was a bright blue underneath the aqua--lovely).


The next step was to tape out the beautiful 310-330  year old walnut veneer which appears to have maintained its original surface. The exacting task of sanding and then filling the major areas of losses was up next. When dealing with native European wood pieces of this age there is usually a certain amount of wood worm damage. These pieces were frequently subjected to extreme humidity and temperature changes which made the wood even more yummy for the wood worms.

You can see that Roberto has started the preliminary ebonizing (making a wood surface appear to be constructed of ebony, very rare and costly black wood). To complete the ebonizing process Roberto will finish sand the surface, apply another fine coat of paint, finish sand and then apply another fine coat of paint and then finish sand. The final step will be to apply two coats of hard paste wax--buffing in between coats.


Here is a reminder of what the Dutch mirror on looks like

And here is what my mirror looks like--not bad for the first level of restoration.

Did you spot Jones in the photo? He had just returned from daycare...spoiled?
Have a wonderful almost fall day.

Mary and Jones (and Cole)  

Monday, September 3, 2012


I fell in love with this little family a few months ago. I guess that what attracted me to them is that Jones looks just like the Mama when he sings "Benny and the Jets"--but really I bought them from Jean, an antiques dealer that I have known for many years and who is now in her late 80's (and still in the business),  because I knew that she had not been selling much and that a little bit of cash would I brought them home and then into my shop. 
I really don't buy things like this as I do not have the clients base and Jones would not appreciate the fact that Mama looks a bit like him. So this little family has sat on my Jansen eglomise table for about 3 months just waiting for a new owner.
Yesterday the new owner arrived in the form of a 5 year old little girl named Maddox. The minute Maddux saw them she was committed to them. Her Mom asked how much they were--the price (exactly what I paid for Mama and the kits) was a little too steep for Maddox's allowance. 
So between many tears and sobs we arranged for a payment plan with a signed contract in the works. I think that is the perfect way to learn about credit and contracts and saving.
I later learned that Maddox loves to pretend that she is a wolf. No wonder she saw a wolf family where we all (silly us) saw foxes.

Sending wishes for a wonderful day filled with family or friends or even a day off with a great book.

Mary and Jones