Monday, May 27, 2013

The co-founder of black is at it again

My mailman is pissed.
Restoration hardware, and all of its ludicrous iterations, sent me this bundle.

I'll give that RH has some rather tempting offerings but the prices and questionable quality really turn me off. 
I love Gary Friedman for his preposterous claims that make me laugh 'til I cry but, Dude! Wipe that smirk off your face! Its creepy.

Gary thinking real hard about the wheel

Let's talk about their latest discovery in the world of quantum physics.
Yes, tableware. 
The catalog gives us a synopsis of the creative vision and genius of Albert Einstein as a prelude to the introduction of their tableware collection.
"That is the philosophy we embraced to imagine our new tableware collection. Beginning with a quest to develop the perfect plate, one that would inspire us to replace our existing ones, we reconsidered every aspect - the material, the shape, the size the weight and the glaze - developing prototype after prototype until we explored every possibility and exhausted every option."

Guess what they came up with? Round. Wow, Gary my plates are just circles how the hell did you come up with this?

" The result is our rendition of the perfect plates (we developed three shapes, round rimmed, square and coupe), made of authentic porcelain. "

Groundbreaking round plates

If you are concerned about the word "coupe" its just round with no lip.

The other bits of ridiculousness include "Objects of curiousity"
Its a catalog of fake antiques  
concocted by "the Reimaginists" AKA big fakers who pose with silly expressions like this...

I'd love to work there inventing the old but I have not perfected my self-important pompous duck face. I tried but I couldn't stop laughing.
You really must read the original RH snark at WTF, Restoration Hardware?

Friday, May 24, 2013

My restoration project for an old friend

Last year I arranged a meetup with two of my high school pals in Old Town Alexandria. One of whom was my boyfriend for most of high school and some of college.

I was that girl who only hung out with guys in HS
Steve said he had his mother's 1940s ad poster that he wanted me to mount to a canvas and "antique". The little girl is his mother.
I told him  that I would not be a party to ruining this fragile piece of art and that he needed to take it to a restorer. Somehow I ended up coming home with the badly damaged poster and a project to do something with it. Luckily, I really like his mommy and she was super nice to me as a snotty teenager.
I procrastinated, did some research, procrastinated, bought a few supplies, and dreaded the whole process.

Did I mention that it was badly damaged? It had been folded several times and rolled tightly in a cardboard tube. The only thing more damaging would have been a lit match.
I started with a 48 x 60 canvas, distilled water in a sprayer and deacidifying spray.

Restorers repair tears in paper using special Japanese paper to strengthen the tears. I decided that it was so far beyond my skills that I would simply make sure I did not damage it further and ensure that everything I did could be undone.
I dampened the paper with the deacidifying spray and distilled water to relax the fibers.

In some spots the fibers were stretched and it was impossible for me to have it lay perfectly flat. I was using archival wheat paste to glue it to the canvas.

I covered the wet, glued spots with felt and weighted them with books.

I needed a spare hand but the project only took a few hours.

There are a few "bubbles" in the paper but I could not get them flat without further damage.
Next I deliver it and implore them to get a sheet of acrylic to protect it. You hear that Steve...acrylic!?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Where did my week go?

I think I might be overwhelmed. This month is the crazy, busiest in recent memory. I did finish this commission yesterday and I must say it was a fun one to paint.
The idea started out quite differently and neither me or the client were liking the painting I made a suggestion and she very sweetly let me run with it.
I used liquin impasto gel for the first time and was very pleased with the results.

This product added body without diluting the colors and it actually shortened the dry time.
I can't wait to see this one in its home.
The entry hall in this home is fantastic. I am talking about Quadrille China seas on two matching Chinoiserie stools, grasscloth and other gorgeousness.

 I had other posts planned that I still hope get up but for now laundry calls.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday sillies

Last night, the soundtrack for a mini date made us laugh out loud. How had I never heard this song that says "Ikea: just some oak and some pine and a handful of Norsemen
Ikea: selling furniture for college kids and divorced men" ?

so funny.
Have a great weekend and stay away from  allen wrenches.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

fun things lately...

My Spoonflower fabric arrived in record time. It is so gratifying to be able to keep a painting I made and sell it too. This was done using the image of the painting in a mirror repeat creating a kaleidoscope effect.
Pillows coming soon.

"Wet words" 24 x 30 oil on canvas by Kerry Steele
I have been working on a large commission but there are times with any painting that I need to put it aside for drying or to refocus. I often use those times to paint other things. "Wet words" is one of those.
 I started this a few days ago using a new glazing medium to spread the yellow on the canvas. It seemed to nearly paint itself and I loved the effect. While it made one layer go on nicely it made it nearly impossible to put on another color without it all blending together. I was a little frustrated. Yesterday, I picked up some Liquin impasto. It is a gel that you mix with the oil color to allow fairly quick drying texture to your painting and it stretches the paint. I was able to do some knife painting over the glaze with it and parts of the glaze had dried enough for brush work. The two products are new to my work and have counterparts for acrylic painting that I have used but they behave so very differently.

In other news, I am no longer married to a butcher. *gasp*
Its still the same old guy but he changed stores and departments and is now bringing home all manner of unusual produce.
Last night we had fiddleheads. They are baby ferns and I had eaten them pickled before but never fresh.
I sauteed them with olive oil, butter, salt, and garlic for about 5 minutes. I took them off the heat and tossed in a about a tablespoon of minced fresh thyme and basil. We topped them with a bit of parmesan.

Totally yummy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A little family room fantasy

I saw this little settee from Hickory chair on Craigslist and the wheels started turning.

I was thinking it could replace this vintage Naugahide chair in my family room.

My thought was that this little French canape could be funked up with the right fabric, non?

This Robert Allen Annex was a thought.

Duralee's Flynn seems like a better choice.

But then I always want to use one of my own fabrics.

I have yet to find an upholsterer that does sofas for less than $1000 but I hear they exist.
If any of you DC or Richmond folks know of one please tell.
That being said, this is not a financial priority.
What I really want to do is this...

If I did my rather conventional family would have me committed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend fun

I never thought I would say this, but thank god its Monday!? I hope your weekend was every bit as lovely as mine and all of the mommies had a great day.
Our party was smashing success.

 I can safely say that it was the best party we ever had.

Thai chicken

The key was having the kids bouncing happily away in a bounce house and keeping the adults well lubricated and fed. We had crabcakes, salmon and lobster phyllo cups, lamb chops,and these amazing Thai chicken hors d'oeuvres that were a new thing for us.

Mini cupcakes meant that there were no half eaten slices of cake all over the place.
My croquembouche was a bit lopsided.

Last time I made one was for a New year's eve party and it was great. The caramelized sugar did not like the humidity.

The whole thing was exhausting and I ended up wearing bunny ears.
Sunday was a great day to share with my little girl. We saved the present opening until her actual birthday.
THEN, I got to open my mother's day gift!

My husband and I were in an antique shop months ago and I mentioned loving those canisters. The man went back secretly and hid these in anticipation of Mother's day. He gets a gold star.
I also got a handmade card from my 18 year old son that read:
Happy Mother's day
Guess what?.....

Chicken butt.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Your sympathies please

This Saturday we are having a birthday shindig with about 20 or 30 guests. There is nothing like the threat of guests to make me decide that nothing is up to par and it must be changed immediately.

We have been living with no house number, save the one on the mailbox, for 2 1/2 years. That has been remedied along with many other shortcomings.
Conveniently, in addition to our festivities, is the Senior prom so yesterday I ran myself ragged tying up loose ends for that. In the evening I had two school events to attend and when the doorknob on our front door broke I wearily browsed Lowes' website. I finally said, "Whatever just get one like the one we have." and left.

Really? This is the front door!
I did not even look until this morning. sigh...
That poor man has no idea what he is in for.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New fabric love

I have been meaning to design and order more fabric (for yet another pillow) from Spoonflower.
I was just going to modify one of my previous designs but I was too lazy to climb the steps and grab my color map. Pathetic, I know.
Anyhoo, I often upload a painting of mine only to see that it really does not work but today it did.

 I used this painting that recently sold and used a mirror repeat to create this fabric.

I totally dig it and ordered a yard for that pillow I mentioned. It will give me a chance to try out a new workroom.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

5 Best pillows on the cheap

What is wrong with me? I covet pillows incessantly! You too?
Here are a few lovelies that wont break the bank.

This bolster is 17 smackers at World Market. Not terribly exciting but a good foundation other than square.

Chinoiserie and pink!!!? This pillow cover can, at $28, cover some unfortunate choice from 2008.
Well , only if that choice was in pillow form.
I am nuts for this "Mudhut" pillow from Target. It is not overtly trendy and for $25 its an easy pick.

Urban Outfitters simply had me at pillows
there were a few that rang my bell.

As I was browsing, I surely said, "Shut--UP!" several times.
This one above is probably on the grad gift list for my son because it is called the "Magical Thinking Marbled Pillow" and he most likely will be doing some magical thinking that I don't want to know about in college.

This is Urban Outfitter's other magical thinking pillow
It looks less magical to me.

Are you obsessed with pillows or am I alone in this?

Monday, May 6, 2013

3 favorites

Last week I was browsing my Pinterest boards and noticed a few pins that had been pinned multiple times. Oddly, I also noticed several "what was I thinking" pins too.
I digress.
 I wanted to chose a collection of favorite rooms and identify the commonality.
Today I'll show you my favorite dining rooms in no particular order.

Bunny Williams

Meg Braff

Miles Redd
These rooms are so different but there are common elements that I find appealing.
The Meg Braff room seems, at first glance, to be completely different than the other two. It is light and bright with modern lighting and art.
I think I take comfort in traditional elements in a room. The Bunny Williams room fills that need in classic, East coast style but it is no where near the sassy Palm Beach chic.
The Miles Redd room does not resemble the others either. It is an explosion of pattern, from the DeGournay wall covering to the tablecloth and chairs.
The traditional elements, Braff's Louis chairs and Redd's wallpaper are the number one similarity in these rooms that works for me. Also eye-catching color plays a big part in rooms that speak to me.
Meg Braff's room is mainly devoid of color save the chair fabric and artwork so those items become obvious. The mural in Bunny Williams' room plays off what surely must be a custom carpet. The Miles Redd dining room has a great deal of green that is tempered with black, beige and a small dose of red but it is the variation that I love.

I think that finding favorite images and identifying the common elements that are pleasing to you is the most useful way to pin down your style and proceed in choosing the decor for your house. Back in the day I gave clients a stack of magazines as "homework" to accomplish the same thing.
Thank goodness for Pinterest!
How do you use Pinterest?

Friday, May 3, 2013

New work and something different on paper

I have been having a blast with these triptychs on paper
I had the need for a larger piece of painting paper recently so I bought a pack of 10 Arches Aquarelle paper. Its lovely stuff that is not just for watercolor.

 I have been painting with oils on it too. I start by taping off my sections to be painted.
In order to paint with oils on anything, the surface has to be primed with Gesso.

From there I use thinned oil paint which makes for quicker drying.

I did a vertical and horizontal triptych as well as a conventional rectangle.
These will be matted also.

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying painting with oils but I have to dig very, very deep to be patient. They take so long to dry and making revisions to anything sometimes requires waiting several days. I am very impatient. Call me Veruca Salt because I don't care how, I want now when it comes to many things and painting is at the top of the list.

"Remembered blossoms" oil on canvas by Kerry Steele 24 x 30
 It took some digging this week not to rush this painting that I finished yesterday afternoon. Oils can take me a week or more to complete which is slow for me. I think its worth it.

I have gotten over my paranoia and taken my Instagram off of private. You may follow me and see lots of paintings in progress and the occasional plate of food. I am making a croquembouche next week and fail or triumph, it'll be there.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Genius or awful?


I think it belongs on the pages of RH for squirrels. If Gary Friedman had conceived it I am sure that he would have an annoying deep thought about the meaning of the wood. Don't get me started...

2 points for weirdness. Feel free to disagree.