Senior Women Web
Image: Women Dancing
Image: Woman with Suitcase
Image: Women with Bicycle
Image: Women Riveters
Image: Women Archers
Image: Woman Standing

Culture & Arts button
Relationships & Going Places button
Home & Shopping button
Money & Computing button
Health, Fitness & Style button
News & Issues button

Help  |  Site Map

Home and Shopping
Image: Women

More about Home & Shopping

Why We Build: Staying in Our Place, a blog about building a new house with aging-in-place and green considerations

The Ancient Craft of Felting On Display at Cooper-Hewitt

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, a part of the Smithsonian, is presenting an exhibit, Fashioning Felt, displaying the modern approaches to felting. Five categories of felt applications are highlighted:

For instance, a carpet is traced from its earliest stages to the finished product. And the design blog lays out the process in regard to a palace yurt. Ronel Jordan, Danielle Gori-Montanelli and Stephanie Metz were three artists that we found at designersblockblogspot. Consult Ravelry for felting projects as well as other needle crafts. European felt artists have a site of their own; Magpie Designs Felting Studio has classes and the well-known Etsy site has a team blog shop of needle felters.

Angelika Werth represents a level of felt couture seldom seen.

How Warm Do You Like It?

The Pew Research Center released a survey indicating climate and city preferences by those polled:

"When it comes to places to live, Americans like it hot.
"By nearly two-to-one, the public says it prefers a hotter place to live over one with a colder climate. No surprise, then, that San Diego, Tampa and Orlando rank at the top of places to live for those who favor a balmy climate.

"But for hearty folks who like their weather on the chilly side, Denver, Seattle and Portland top the list of favorite metropolitan areas to call home, according to a survey conducted from Oct. 3-19, 2008 among a nationally-representative sample of 2,260 adults by the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project.

"The survey also finds that when it comes to preferences among cities, climate isn't always a deal-maker — or a deal-breaker. Many Americans who prefer a warmer place in general say they'd like to live in a chilly metro area, while many of those who like it cold give the nod to warmer places. For example, snowy Denver finishes high on the list of favorite cities among those who prefer to live in a place with a hotter climate. And sun-washed San Diego ranks similarly high among those who say they would like a colder climate."

Read the rest of the results of the survey at the Pew site.


Ferida Wolff, With Hammocks in Mind: It is winter, now, and the maple branches are bare of leaves. I have been yearning for a step-back-in-time hammock, a return to a place of beginning and exploration, where one hammock could embrace a whole family and that family’s dreams

At Home with Bonnard

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit entitled The Late Interiors: Bonnard: "The first exhibition to focus entirely on the radiant late interiors and still lifes of Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), the 80 paintings, drawings, and watercolors on display date from the artist’s later years, when he centered his painting activity in his pink stucco house overlooking the Mediterranean in the village of Le Cannet. Working in a converted upstairs bedroom, Bonnard transformed the rooms and objects that surrounded him into iridescent subjects, remarkable in color, light, and vision. Compelling metaphors for a range of sensations, the late paintings convey a disquieting effect. It is these luminous late interiors that define Bonnard’s modernism and prompt a reappraisal of his reputation in the history of 20th-century art."

The images carry with them the homiest of titles (The Table, Before Dinner, In the Bathroom and The Dessert), but they are incandescent.

Incidentally, we found the Pierre Bonnard Paint Collection, apparently developed by a US relation of the painter: The artist was second cousin to the late Robert Saums, who founded the business with his wife Wanda in 1957.

An essay by Jörg Zutter, Observing Nature, comments on the various homes that Bonnard was connected to and the paintings he created there:

"Bonnard spent holidays in his parents’ house, Le Clos, at Le Grand-Lemps in the Dauphiné. Many of his interiors and landscapes are infused with the light and lushness of this rural region between Lyons and Grenoble. He was much attached to the house and his stays there were always artistically productive."

" A number of Bonnard’s interiors can be seen as daring answers to his friend Matisse’s conception of space. In 1910 Bonnard began to develop a group of interiors depicting contemplative figures in a room. Whereas the interiors of the Nabi years are small in scale and private in ambience, these later works are more public, less intimate. They have a stagelike effect, with Bonnard presenting his characters proudly to the viewer. Marthe becomes almost an actress, whether seen in the shadow of a playful little white cat, Woman with Cat 1912, or in a more active, emancipated role where, elegantly dressed, as in The Red Blouse 1925, she dominates the scene. No longer implanted in a private, restricted environment, Bonnard’s figures are exposed to reality. No children appear, the scenes are open and less intimate, gaslight is replaced by dazzling electric light. People are less subordinated to space and more involved in a balanced dialogue with the object world."

"A number of Bonnard’s interiors can be seen as daring answers to his friend Matisse’s conception of space. In 1910 Bonnard began to develop a group of interiors depicting contemplative figures in a room. Whereas the interiors of the Nabi years are small in scale and private in ambience, these later works are more public, less intimate. They have a stagelike effect, with Bonnard presenting his characters proudly to the viewer."

"By 1931 Le Bosquet was Bonnard’s favourite place to work and in 1939 it became the couple’s permanent home. The house and its surroundings provided an ideal environment for the artist, who continued to paint studies of Marthe, often standing in the bathroom or lying in the tub. He also painted still lifes, self-portraits, interiors, and views onto the countryside from different windows and doors."


Sharon Kapnick, Languedoc: This big wine-producing region in southern France offers many big bargains — Languedoc has become known for good-value, popular international varietals, as well as wines using indigenous grapes that offer distinctive new flavors and personality

Rose Mula, What Will They Think of Next? They’ve invented a car that parallel parks itself, but when will they give us one that will drive itself so I can concentrate on my cell phone calls, answer my laptop email, and eat my sandwich… without worrying that a cop is going to pull me over

Roberta McReynolds, Just the Icing on the Cake, Part Two: I felt the premature thrill of success; a moment later the sculpted flower slid off my fingers on its little wax paper toboggan, smashing upside down on the floor. I don’t recall what I uttered, but it wasn’t anything they taught in Home Ec. Part One of Just the Icing on the Cake

Diane Girard, Keep Those Paws Off My Pajamas: There are pajamas I will not wear. I no longer buy the ones with critters on them. I have tried — but the animals disturbed me. I do not want to wear pink frilly nightwear either because then I feel silly, as if I’m stuck in a time warp at a pajama party

Joan Cannon, Lost: An Incredible Emporium — Wanamaker's in New York City had beauty, utility and art for art's sake in a commercial venue. It had an enormous staff, whose livelihoods depended on it for many years. The inventory was huge and so diverse it amazes me to think that they didn't close the store until the nineteen fifties

Lunder at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian's Lunder Conservation Center has, at its site, a series of videos that illustrate the work they do in conservancy. The Center features floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow the public to view all aspects of conservation work — work that is traditionally done behind the scenes at other museums and conservation centers.

The Frames Studio's goals are "replicating missing decorative elements, and cleaning, gilding, and toning frame surfaces. Conservators in this studio are also responsible for constructing new frames when current frames are considered to be historically inaccurate or can no longer be used."

The Paintings Studio is engaged in "cleaning, [when] conservators carefully remove layers of accumulated grime; darkened varnish; and old, discolored retouching from the surface of paintings. To restore areas of lost paint, conservators fill the areas of loss with gesso, and inpaint them to match surrounding areas of original paint."

In the Paintings Lab (including examples of before and after views) "conservators carefully work to mend tears, secure flaking paint, relax buckling canvas, rejoin cracks, and remove unstable materials."

In the Paper Lab "typical conservation treatments and preventive measures include surface cleaning, removing harmful attachments such as pressure-sensitive tape and poor-quality matting materials, reducing discoloration and staining, flattening paper distortions, and housing artworks in chemically-stable, acid-free materials." Again, there are before and after views that discuss particular treatments.

Finally, the Objects Lab conservators "Conservators working here are trained and equipped to handle different types of stone, wood, metal, bone, shell, ceramic, leather, rubber, and synthetic materials. Treatments vary depending on the size, shape, and composition of the object, from the tiniest miniature locket to multi-ton sculptures."

Color and Gender

We thought you might be interested in these brief abstracts of studies outlining the differences of the sexes in color discrimination. We're sorry that we can't furnish the links to the actual studies.

Blue versus periwinkle: color identification and gender, Greene and Gynther MD, Auburn University, Alabama 36849, USA.
This study examined the color identification and vocabulary skills of 101 female and 52 male college students. Femininity scores, color-related hobbies, and academic aptitude scores were also examined for their influence on color identification. The women identified significantly more elaborate colors than did the men. Color identification was significantly correlated with vocabulary but not with scores on femininity. Academic aptitude scores and having a color-related hobby also predicted color identification under some conditions.

Role of color in perception of attractiveness, Radeloff DJ, Department of Applied Human Ecology, Bowling Green State University, Ohio 43403.
In this color study females reported a favorite color significantly more often than males. Males preferred bright colors significantly more than females, with a converse finding for preference for soft colors. The 276 subjects, when asked to evaluate the attractiveness of stimulus models in photographs, gave as the reason color significantly more often than style of clothing or facial expressions. Subjects significantly concurred with expert choices of recommended and nonrecommended colors in five of the six sets of photographs. This study lends credence that wearing recommended colors makes a difference in judgments of what looks best by subjects over the age of 12.

Color Preferences of High and Low Sensation Seekers, Tova Rosenbloom, Bar-IIan University
Because color preference is one of the basic elements of artistic expression, it is hypothesized in this study that sensation seekers, especially high boredom avoiders and high experience seekers, would prefer to create more complex images in terms of using more than 1 color in the experimental session. The 2nd hypothesis was that high sensation seekers would prefer red (as "hot" colors are known to be arousing, stimulating, exciting and attractive, and at the same time irritating) to other colors in comparison with low sensation seekers. Each participant (30 males and 30 females) was asked to paint a human figure (the choice of colors was volitional). As hypothesized, the motivation to seek sensation ... was positively correlated with color preference.

The meanings of colour: preferences among hues, Crozier W.R., Source: Pigment & Resin
Colour preferences have both scientific significance and relevance to manufacturers. Despite claims that these preferences are unsystematic and that saturation and brightness exert more influence on judgments than hue, a substantial body of research suggests that the rank order of preference for hues — blue, red, green, violet, orange, yellow — emerges with some degree of consistency and, in particular, blue is regularly preferred to other hues. Five explanations of this trend are considered: preferences are simply conventional; blue is more neutral and less susceptible to extremes of judgment than other hues; preference for blue is a by-product of more general principles;

Another Dozen Distinctive Destinations

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has released their dozen distinctive destinations for 2009, "that offer an authentic visitor experience by combining dynamic downtowns, cultural diversity, attractive architecture, cultural landscapes and a strong commitment to historic preservation and revitalization."

"The destinations selected in 2009 range from a quintessential New England waterfront town drenched in a history three centuries deep, to a historic mining boomtown that embodies the spirit of the Old West like no other, to a premier resort community often called the American Riviera, and a small bustling town that serves as the perfect gateway to the unexpected treasures of the southern Black Hills in South Dakota."

» Santa Barbara, California
» Athens, Georgia
» Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan
» Virginia City, Nevada
» Santa Fe, New Mexico
» Buffalo, New York
» Lititz, Pennsylvania
» Bristol, Rhode Island
» Hot Springs, South Dakota
» Franklin, Tennessee
» Fort Worth, Texas
» Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

You might be interested in their magazine article in Preservation, too: A Hollywood Ending in New Orleans; Paramount Spiffs up a House for Brad Pitt's Movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"



Roberta McReynolds takes us on another of her adventures, Just Icing on the Cake, Part One: I allowed the cake to cool and readied myself for the process of turning my cake into two even layers. It seemed that the cake didn’t understand its role. The pieces falling off the sides of the cake as I attempted to side the wire through reminded me of icebergs calving off glaciers

Julia Sneden, Fa La La La Frantic: Oh dear. I have once again blown last year’s resolve to approach the holidays in a calm, well-organized fashion. At my age, it should be getting easier to figure out how to navigate the season with equanimity, but somehow things always spiral out of control

Rose Mula Reprised, Don't Mess With Mother Nature: She can morph into a sneaky, evil, conniving witch in an instant. Get sucked into the goody-goody myth perpetuated by her public relations staff and let your guard down for just a moment, and she’ll turn on you mercilessly

Julia Sneden, What's So Black About Friday? The author's mild synesthesia colors her understanding about connecting a color to a day of the week. But what does it have to do with holiday shopping?

Rose Mula, The Holiday Hustle Hassle: It seems we keep playing, “Can you top this?” You know how it is. If you think Richard is going to squander fifty bucks on you, you feel you must spend at least sixty dollars for something he probably will never wear/eat/display or splash on his face or body

Joan L. Cannon, Be Our Guest? We came contentedly back to our rumpled domicile replete with cat hair and odd bits of broken leaves off our dog's feet, where our coffee table is hidden under magazines and half-finished newspaper articles, the couch cushions not plumped and the curtains not even drawn

Roberta McReynolds, Catalog Season Begins: I can’t think of anyone who might enjoy a battery operated, motorized, plastic ice cream cone ... nor has a situation come up when I found myself yearning for a pocket laser light show, complete with a wrist strap and fold-out stand

Sustainable Cities

"The SustainLane 2008 US City Rankings of the 50 most-populous cities is the nation’s most complete report card on urban sustainability. The rankings explain how people's quality of life and city economic and management preparedness are likely to fare in the face of an uncertain future." (SustainLane features directories of green products and businesses.)

"These indicators gauge, for instance, which cities’ public transit, renewable energy, local food, and development approaches are most likely to either limit or intensify the negative economic and environmental impacts of fossil fuel dependence.

"Besides city energy crisis preparedness and natural disaster risk, SustainLane's rankings cover quality-of-life indicators such as local food availability, tap water quality, air quality, walkability, park space and roadway congestion.

"The prosperity of cities and metro areas is critical because for the first time in history they represent the majority of the world's population. Unlike nations or even states, cities are sited in specific climates with distinct economic qualities and geographic features. Wind turbines, tidal energy and locally-produced biofuels capitalize on geographic differences. Local food system development and green building approaches are also the result of regional geographies and climates; food systems and architecture can be further enriched by local cultural and historic preferences and knowledge."

Read the Overview and Rankings at SustainLane.

Gender & Power

Pew Research has released a Social and Demographic Trend survey on four areas of domestic life:

Who decides what you do together on the weekend? Who manages the household finances? Who makes the decisions on big purchases for the home? And who most often decides what to watch on television?

"The survey finds that in 43% of all couples it's the woman who makes decisions in more areas than the man. By contrast, men make more of the decisions in only about a quarter (26%) of all couples. And about three-in-ten couples (31%) split decision-making responsibilities equally."

"The survey finds that when it comes to decision-making and consensus-building at home, age matters. Men and women 65 or older are twice as likely as those under the age of 30 to say they and their partner share equally in making family decisions. But while age makes a difference, income doesn't — at least not so much. In dual-income couples, it is the woman who has more say, regardless of whether she earns more or less than her partner."

Read the rest of the survey release to find the specifics of the four areas.


We found a Metropolitan Home article on a Design Outreach Initiative project by Prof. Michael Hughes of the School of Architecture and Planning at University of Colorado at Denver that began conceptually in 2005.

"TrailerWrap is a collaborative, design + build project that addresses issues of sustainable and affordable design in the context of the ubiquitous American trailer park. At the scale of an individual building the project explores the potential for augmenting this affordable housing typology with outdoor living space, improved, energy efficient construction and high volume, light-filled interiors. At the urban scale the project reexamines the mobile home park as a model for equitable, high-density alternatives to suburban sprawl. In pushing the envelope of adaptable reuse, the TrailerWrap project seeks to create exciting, small scale, high density, and affordable architecture with a social and environmental

"TrailerWrap is part of Prof. [Michael] Hughes’ ongoing Design Outreach Initiative. This work is focused on small, unremarkable, and often forgotten places adjacent to the lives of underserved people. Located in the boundary between architecture and landscape the projects seek to create experiential delight out of small-scale design opportunities. Through the adaptive re-use and recycling of leftover urban spaces the resulting projects augment and enhance existing building infrastructures with new, primarily outdoor, spaces That provide pragmatic functions, promote play, and exhibit a social and environmental conscience.

"Typology of Despair
Often overlooked or looked down upon, the mobile home constitutes an important but under- appreciated housing typology that serves wide range of citizens. Since the mid-1900’s mobile homes and manufactured housing have been mass produced in an attempt to provide a solution to low cost housing; however, in doing so, several important factors that make a house a home have been overlooked. Unimaginative aesthetic and spatial design combined with inefficient energy strategies and poor construction techniques define the major shortcomings common in the industry. Such conditions make these homes difficult to maintain leading to extreme conditions of disrepair and often abandonment. In response to common misconceptions related to trailers and the clichéd stereotypes associated with the people that occupy them, TrailerWrap strives to provide simple and affordable solutions to improve both the spatial quality and energy efficiency typically found in conventional manufactured housing. A tangible outcome is a completed housing unit, meeting local building codes and standards, which will be made available to a low-income household."

Go to the TrailerWrap site for drawings, renderings, photographs and models.

Cooper-Hewitt's Multiple Choices

Updates to our other listing is the new exhibit, House Proud: Nineteenth-century Watercolor Interiors from the Thaw Collection, which was said to celebrate the 'cult of domesticity'

Wall Stories: Children's Wallpaper and Books will be on display, too, such as a page from Popeye with the Hag of the Seven Seas, published in 1935.

Multiple Choice, From Sample to Product, is a current exhibit at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt museum in Manhattan.

From the Origin of the Sample Book text:

"The medieval model book was one of the earliest examples of a portable instrument used for recording and disseminating samples of design ideas. Before the widespread use of paper and the introduction of the printing press in the West in the fifteenth century, artistic communication was achieved through drawings on vellum, an expensive material laboriously manufactured from fine animal skins. In the late medieval period, model books with vellum pages were used as portable portfolios by itinerant artists or in design workshops to preserve artists’ works. Designers’ model books showed the range and quality of their work to potential clients and served as a repository of stock motifs that could be utilized in a variety of decorative contexts, including manuscript illumination, sculpture, architectural ornament, and textile design."

"Textile pattern books were a direct development from artists’ model books, whose use waned as printing and other reproduction methods emerged. The first pattern books containing textile design motifs were published in Germany in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, and, by the end of the century, similar books were widely disseminated in Italy, England, and France. The books documented patterns used for weaving, embroidery, and lace, predominantly for the border ornamentation of table covers, towels, and clothing. In large part, pattern books were intended for the skilled amateur, to guide the 'virtuous work' undertaken by a fashionable woman belonging to the nobility or the newly emerging merchant classes."

One of the pattern books shown is titled (in translation): Example of Works: that teach women the technique and merit of work: Giovanni Andrea Vavassore, a sixteenth-century Venetian artist and designer, produced several important pattern books with designs for embroidery, lace and lacis (knotted net). In this book, Vavassore placed designs within a grid format, simplifying the translation to drawnwork, embroidery, or woven designs.

Another is the Designs for Chocolate Cups plate 1 from 1st Cahiers D'Ornemens et Fleurs: Jean Baptiste Fay produced drawn and printed designs for the decorative arts, including jewelry, ironwork, furniture, ceramics and wall treatments. His work circulated throughout Europe, inspiring other designers and manufacturers. In this print, Fay recorded his ideas for the hand decoration of cups, including monograms.

The blog that accompanies the exhibit raises some interesting points about the means to show samples in the decorating field:

At the end of the introduction to the Multiple Choice exhibition, the curator reflects that, “as contemporary design industries move to open-sourcing and electronic formats for the marketing of their products, physical samples may soon become obsolete.” From a future academic and archival view point, this is a sad possibility, as material sampling formats contain vast amounts of technical, cultural and artistic information. Samples are already rare enough in museum collections, as they were often thrown out by their original owners like other ephemera.

Folly Cove Designers

We're always behind in our reading but the May issue of Vogue brought to our attention Virginia Lee Burton and the Folly Cove Designers. The Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, MA does afford a history of this group of fabric designers and offer for sale a copy of the film, Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place. Loyal readers of are aware that we've tried to search out women in fabric design over the years and, surely, this is one of those imaginative individuals:

"In the catalogue for the first show, curator Deborah Goodwin wrote about the group and its beginning:

“The leader of the Designers was Virginia Demetrios (1909- 1968). An accomplished artist and a dynamic teacher, Virginia Demetrios was well known outside Folly Cove as the author and illustrator of several superb children’s books published under her maiden name, Virginia Lee Burton…

“The classes began at the request of one of her neighbors, Aino Yjrola Clarke. In exchange for some lessons in design, Mrs. Clarke offered violin lessons for the Demetrios’ two sons. So in the best tradition of a Yankee swap, the lessons began. In the months that followed, Aino Clarke enthusiastically recruited a party of neighbors who met each Thursday evening in the Demetrios studio.

“The students concentrated on producing decorations to use in their homes – fabrics for clothing, table linen, and upholstery. Meanwhile, Virginia Demetrios concentrated on developing a comprehensive system for teaching design to people who hadn’t any artistic training. She decided to break down a design into its simplest constituents. Once those were understood, mastery of complex concepts would follow more readily. Size, shape and tonality were isolated for consideration in homework exercises; the Thursday classes convened to compare their completed exercises and to work together with their instructor…”

Fortunately, the products of this group's efforts and creative imagination is available at their site, Folly Cove Designers, which introduces the revival of these designs.

There's also a 1958 Life Magazine article written about the group at the site.

We also discovered Sarah Elizabeth Holloran, a former member of the group, who continues blockprinting at her own shop, Sarah Elizabeth. Mats, runners and hangings are some of their products. There's even an 'Open' and 'Welcome' sign produced by the group in their block design.


Roberta McReynolds, If The Cup Fits, Wear It: Shopping for bras is on my ‘Ten Most Dreadful Activities I Will Avoid as Long as Possible’ list. Every two or three years the issue of new bras creeps up to the top of ‘Things I Can’t Ignore Anymore’ list and I literally have to do the math


At 90 degrees in pouring rain, it holds its shape

Lightly, away from my body.


It lifts in the breeze, as light as silk,

But not nearly as hot and clingy;

Bumpy, puckery, crisp


Beloved of children and old ladies,

Ignored by the chic and sleek:


Bathrobes, big shirts, light jackets,

Tailored in a suit


Ruffled across the backside of a 5-year-old’s bikini,

Frilly in an apron,

Pleated edging for a pillow sham,

Curtains billowing above my niece’s crib


Somber in my husband’s dark green shirt,

Riotous in gaudy plaids of Bermuda shorts


Dainty in a tiny gingham print,

Handsome in wide stripes:


It grows softer with every wash

Never shrinks,

And lasts forever.

(From an anonymous contributor)

Thomas Hope

London's Victoria&Albert Museum is presenting an exhibit focusing on Thomas Hope, a wealth Dutchman who moved with his family, to London:

"Thomas Hope was a man with a vision. He was determined to reform contemporary taste by returning architecture and the arts, including interior design and furniture, to what he conceived as the spirit of classical purity.

"A Dutchman, born in Amsterdam in 1769, Hope inherited from his family a tradition of collecting as well as vast wealth from the family bank. He was a collector on a grand scale and also an innovative designer of great genius who helped define what we understand as the Regency style.

"The colourful interiors of Thomas Hope's two houses — Duchess Street in London and Deepdene in Surrey — played a unique role in the history of collecting, interior design and display. Both were open to select visitors, but his furniture reached an even wider public through his book, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. Published in 1807, this book introduced the term 'interior decoration' into the English language.

"The interiors created by Hope at his London house in Duchess Street, off Portland Place, were the fullest expression of his mission to transform modern British taste.

"He opened the house in 1802, with a grand party attended by the Prince of Wales. To the surprise of his contemporaries, he then issued admission tickets in 1804 to members of the Royal Academy. Subsequently there were numerous other visitors to the house, including leaders of society, artists, scholars and designers.

"Hope's startling juxtaposition of styles included Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Indian elements, as well as his own version of the French Empire style. Classical sculpture and vases were displayed alongside modern paintings and sculpture. Most striking of all was the inventive and exotic furniture that Hope designed specifically for the house.

"The exhibition recreates the atmosphere of three of the principle interiors from Hope's Duchess Street house — the Aurora Room, Egyptian Room and Third Vase Room."

View the New York Public Library's digital images from Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration.

Finally, design a room using Hope's examples and principles from his famed book.

Antiques Roadshow Site Revamp

As part of their 12th broadcast season on PBS,  Antiques Roadshow has redesigned their website including improved navigation, a searchable archive of appraisal videos from past seasons,  a video feature called “Your Stories,” and a teachers' guide.

The archive currently offers streaming video, stills, transcripts, and more about appraisals featured in seasons 9 through 12, presented in an easy-to-use format.  Appraisals from earlier seasons will be added over the next eighteen months.

The site also introduces Your Stories, which "recreates the excitement and anticipation of arriving at a Roadshow event, sharing family legends and antiquing sagas with other guests waiting on line."

For our crowd, a look at the mementos of Eleanor Roosevelt collected by her maid, Mabel W. Webster, during her time in the White House might prove an interesting sidelight. As the collection is limited in scope, the Eleanor Roosevelt Project link provides more information on the late First Lady.


Rose Mula, A Moving Experience: My movers were as inept as I, stacking boxes haphazardly everywhere. Though my new condo has two bathrooms, the paths to both were blocked with cartons. Crying was not an option. I had no idea where my tissues were packed

Thorne Rooms

The Art Institute of Chicago contains a collection of 68 exquisite miniature rooms:

"The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications."

They miniature rooms range from a Shaker Living Room (circa 1800) to a English Dining Room of the Georgian Period (1770-90), to a Japanese Traditional Interior (1937) and finally, an English Roman Catholic Church in the Gothic Style, 1275-1300.

A listing from the Phoenix Art Museum highlights those additional rooms that Mrs. Thorne produced and mentions those held at the Knoxville, Indianapolis Children's and the Kaye Miniature (now closed) museums:

"These rooms were conceived, designed and in large part created by Narcissa Niblack Thorne. An Indiana native, Thorne began to collect miniature furniture and household accessories during her travels to England and the Far East shortly after the turn of the 20th century.

"Beginning in 1930, Thorne devised the ingenious scheme of having these interiors made to hold her growing collection of miniature objects. Many of the rooms are exact replicas of existing houses in the United States and Europe. The remaining rooms faithfully depict the architecture and interior design of their periods and countries. Made at a scale of 1:12 (one inch in the room equals one foot in real life), some of the rooms even contain period-style rugs Mrs. Thorne had woven specifically for each space.

"Mrs. Thorne and the craftsmen she worked with completed nearly 100 rooms. Her hope was that perfectly proportioned rooms in miniature could substitute for costly and space-consuming full-scale period rooms that museums across the country were beginning to acquire. Phoenix Art Museum owns 20 Thorne Miniature Rooms and the rest are in the Art Institute of Chicago (68), the Knoxville Museum of Art (9), The Indianapolis Childrens Museum (1), and the Kaye Miniature Museum in Los Angeles (1)."


Roberta McReynolds, Pieces of Eight: The sound of ceramic shattering on the linoleum echoed throughout the kitchen. Empty cardboard in one hand and a cup (now one of seven) in the other, I stood in the center of a ring of fractured pottery that had been a useful item just a moment earlier. I wonder if astronomers will find the rings of Saturn are actually debris from aliens lacking dexterity?

Whither the Grapes of Worth?

From the Carnegie Council's online magazine, Policy Innovations:

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in Norway this week, providing a permafrost home for the genetic diversity of the world's food plants. According to the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the vault can store 4.5 million different seed samples, duplicating seed collections from genebanks around the world.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are currently not allowed in the vault without special approval. Though the underground facility is fortified against global warming, French Chardonnay is not, and a non-GMO version could become a thing of the past if temperature trends continue.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is in unequivocal agreement that human-induced global warming will melt glaciers, elevate sea level, and disrupt existing weather patterns in the long run. Meanwhile, fluctuations are helping some wine producers. And with genetic engineers tinkering away, seasoned oenophiles and dedicated box wine consumers alike may one day praise Florida white.

Read the rest of the article, Whither the Grapes of Worth, at the Carnegie magazine site.

Porcelains and tin at the Frick

The Frick Collection in New York City has concluded an exhibit of designs for the Sèvres porcelain factory by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. Apparently, none of the designs were actually produced by the factory but it is said that one of the four feathers and flowers design was submitted to Madame du Barry for her approval.

The Frick porcelain collection also contains both Oriental porcelains that date from the "Ming and Ch'ing dynasties and embrace a range of types including blue and white, famille verte, famille noire, and famille rose." In addition the collection houses French pieces that "include remarkable examples of Vincennes and Sèvres soft-past porcelains of the eighteenth century, as well as a rare sixteenth century ewer of Saint-Porchaire earthenware."

Once you browse through this extensive collection, visit the shop and the tin blue and white plate selection, a wonderful way to own an adaptation of an 18th-century Chinese porcelain dish with plum-blossom decoration.

There's also a tin plate that is a reproduction of a Sèvres dessert service that Henry Clay Frick purchased in 1918.


Margaret Cullison's My Mother's Cookbook, Old-Fashioned Recipes: Rice and Lima Bean Casseroles, Buddy’s Baked Beans, Aunt Rickie’s New Year’s Cakes — Despite the variety of esoteric flavors that might cross our palates in trendy restaurants or the tasty but calorie-laden fast food we consume, nothing quite beats the simple flavors of these slow-cooked, time-tested meals

Restaurant Reservations

Executive Summary
Restaurant customers view reservations as a form of contract, according to a survey of 1,230 frequent diners. The self-selected respondents to the survey had little patience for restaurants that fail to have tables ready, but they also thought that customers who could not honor their reservations should keep their end of the deal, by contacting the restaurant with their change of plans. Along that line, survey respondents often found it difficult to contact a restaurant when they needed to change a reservation. An examination of specific reservations-related policies found that, with regard to late-arriving diners, a policy of holding a table for no longer than a stated period, typically 15 minutes, is viewed as fair and acceptable. Also seen as relatively fair is asking guests to guarantee their reservation with a credit card. The respondents dislike the idea of premium pricing, question the fairness of policies that set a maximum duration at table or a minimum party size, and take a negative view of restaurants that penalize guests when one or more members of a party do not appear. Guests who linger at a table present a special challenge. Respondents do not want to be rushed or be asked to leave when they stay long at a table, but at the same time they realized that lingering guests cause delays for parties that follow them. One way to circumvent this issue might be for the restaurant operator to discuss time expectations when accepting the reservation.

This survey was conducted by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Go to the site for the complete summary.

Why and How We Shop

Design and Desire is a website created by AmericanRadioWorks:

"New research is lending insight into why we want stuff that we don't need. It also explains why some people are what are called tightwads, while other people are spendthrifts. This site is about buying and selling. About why we buy, how designers and marketers influence what we buy, and how individuals are using market ideas, tricks, and tools to market themselves."

How much does it hurt?

"The researchers found that not everyone feels the same amount of pain when they reach for the wallet. And, of course, people get varying amounts of pleasure from shopping. We're all hardwired a little differently."

"On one end of the scale you find people who feel quite a bit of pain when they buy things. The researchers call them tightwads. On the other end of the scale you find people who don't feel much pain at the cash register. These people tend to enjoy shopping and buying. And they have a fancy name, too. The researchers labeled these shoppers spendthrifts."

"Scott Rick and his fellow researchers developed a spendthrift-tightwad survey. It puts people on a continuum. Thousands of people have filled out the survey online. Surprisingly, perhaps, tightwads outnumber spendthrifts. But most people, about 60 percent, were in the middle, feeling fairly content with what they spend. That means 40 percent of the respondents were tightwads or spendthrifts, people who feel like they spend less, or spend more, than they ought to — people who are unhappy with their own spending habits."

Read the rest of the Tightwads and Spendthrifts article at the APR site. Buying the Tribe examines the role of the store designer in creating a mood for the buyer.

Catalog Crazy

We've been spending more time than we'd like to admit calling and canceling the incredible number of catalogs appearing in our mail box recently. Pages listing companies we've been successful in reaching in order to unsubscribe were scattered around our kitchen. One company requested our telephone number in order to complete the request. When we declined to do so, they hung up on us.

Now a new service, Catalog Choice (, allows you to create an account and then type in the name of the catalog from which you elect to be unsubscribed.

Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.

In some cases, they won't have the particular catalog named but it's possible to send a suggestion they include that company. After finishing naming specific catalogs, confirm the choices by clicking on a link included in an email Catalog Choice sends.

Trees saved.

The Furniture Society and Currently Showing

The Society publishes an ongoing column, Currently Showing, about the exhibits and shows spotlighting artists and furniture makers. Some of the recent postings by Margaret Polcawich follow:

Shy Boy, She Devil and Isis: The Art of Conceptual Craft
Selections from the Wornick Collection
Foster Gallery
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
September 11, 2007 - January 6, 2008

Encompassing works of art in a variety of media, this exhibition features nearly 120 highlights from the distinguished collection of Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick of California. Beginning in 1985, the Wornicks assembled a major collection of contemporary decorative arts, primarily by American artists but also including European, Australian, and Asian artists. The collection features sculptural pieces primarily created after 1980 and represents a coming of age of the studio craft movement in America and across the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Silas Kopf: Marquetry Furniture  
Gallery Henoch  
New York, NY  
November 15 - December 8, 2007

The latest collection of cabinets, tables, and clocks by the well known marquetry master, Silas Kopf, will exhibited at Gallery Henoch.  With a background including a degree in architecture, and a study of traditional marquetry technique at the Ecole Boulle in Paris, Kopf’s work is in museums and private collections around the world. Read the rest of this entry »

NEW/NOW: 10 Makers for the New Millennium Pathways and Processes
The Fuller Craft Museum
Brockton, MA
September 29, 2007 through January 6, 2008

Guest curators Meredyth Hyatt Moses and Kathryn Corbin present work by ten emerging studio furniture artists from across the country. NEW / NOW features new works of furniture, highlighting the artists’ creative processes and resulting work. Included is work by Joshua Enck, Tyler Inman, Christine Enos and other artists making a name for themselves in the craft world. Read the rest of this entry »



We first visited the National Trust property, Naumkeag, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts about fifteen years ago. It was a summer country house and garden for the Choate family beginning in the 1870s that should not be missed on a New England tour. An article written about the correspondence between the second daughter, Mabel, who inherited the property in 1929 with the landscape architect, Fletcher Steele, who expanded the design of its grounds follows, in part:

A Touch of Nonsense

Miss Choate and Her ‘Horticultural
Mentor’ Cultivate Wit & Whimsey at Naumkeag

by Susan Edwards

Between 1926 and 1958, Mabel Choate and Fletcher Steele corresponded weekly, often daily, about their work in the gardens at Naumkeag, the country house in the Berkshires where her family had summered since the 1870s. Mabel Choate was a preservationist, a horticulturalist, an avid collector of antiquities, and a worldwide traveler. Steele — considered by many to be America’s first modern landscape architect — was her horticultural mentor, and his commission at Naumkeag was the longest of his career. Their letters, journals and reminiscences offer a portrait of an enduring friendship between an artist and patron who shared a passion for plants, an appetite for fun, and a playful approach to garden-making.

Together they produced a series of landscapes — from the Afternoon Garden to the Blue Steps — which are icons of American garden design.

Mabel Choate and Fletcher Steele met at a gathering of the Lenox Garden Club in 1926. Steele had just published Design in the Little Garden as well as articles in House Beautiful and Country Life in America. Choate had recently returned from a trip to California with the Garden Club of America. She was keen to have an outdoor ‘room’ like those she had seen there and engaged Steele to create it. He recalls the story:

The first call was for a garden in which to be comfortable. An old wall gave protection from the public road, but there was no place near the house to find privacy on a garden chair, out of view of the constant visitors. Besides the slope fell away so quickly from the library door that no chair could rest on four legs.

… I realized, on walking through a colonnade, that I felt well enclosed, yet could see between the columns. So we used some oak piles which had been for seventy-five years under the waters of Boston Harbor.
… Their shape must be good, yet a touch of nonsense would do no harm. Why not put Venetian gondola posts, rising out of the sea, up on the top of a hill? Why not follow the color of the trappings seen in medieval manuscripts, which are both strong and gay?

The vibrantly colored Gondola poles were just the beginning, and framed a fanciful setting from which to take in the Berkshire hills.

Click here to read "A Touch of Nonsense: Miss Choate and Her 'Horticultural Mentor' Cultivate Wit & Whimsy at Naumkeag" from the Spring 2007 issue of SpecialPlaces magazine.

Subprime Market Mortgages Examined

The Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge presents a professor's dissection of the recent subprime mortgage market "crumble".

"To construct a house, builders need a firm foundation. For a financial empire, Wall Street wizards need only greed, gullibility, and optimism.

"The subprime empire began with a tangible structure: a house. For the buyer, that house was a home. It represented upward mobility, a hedge against inflation, a stake in the community. As home prices rose, millions of renters, particularly those with less-than-stellar credit, yearned to seize the American dream. But traditional banks shunned "credit-impaired" borrowers.

"These borrowers were ripe for a deal that was too good to be true.

"Enter the subprime lenders — willing to take the risk on riskier borrowers, for a price. Thus far the tale testifies to America's entrepreneurial spirit. New mortgage banks specializing in subprime loans sprang up. Their panoply of products (teaser rates, no down payment, variable rate, interest-only, negative amortization) turned millions of renters into homeowners. Subprime lending soared from near 0 in the early 1990s to 20.1 percent of all originations in 2006.

"The subprime lenders hawked their mortgages with glitzy ads, Internet quickie deals, and microprint caveats. More crucially, the lenders relied on mortgage brokers to find the loans. The brokers made money when borrowers signed on the bottom line — regardless of the long-term prospects of owners' solvency. If the borrower defaulted, the broker bore no responsibility. The default was somebody else's problem."

Read the rest of Nicolas P. Retsinas' article, Building Sandcastles: The Subprime Adventure, at the Working Knowledge site.


Although this new effort by Vogue magazine, ShopVogueTV,com will not, in all likelihood, be directed towards the older woman, the magazine now is approaching the higher decades of life with less trepidation and on a yearly issue basis.

A quick makeover show, 60 Seconds to Chic, is a feature. Behind the Lens focuses on style icons, and Trend Watch does just that.

Another section invites viewers to share photographs of themselves or of locations and at the Art and Culture section are mini photographic essays for the most part, not related to fashion.

Yes, it's possible to shop by brand, trend, department or price at the site.

Seniorenfachmarkt Deliga

NPR's Marketplace features this story:

Kyle James: In a non-descript building about an hour south of Berlin, an audience seated at tables enjoys the last bites of cake, while models backstage adjust their skirts and tie their scarves. The fashion show is about to begin.

Frau Schütz walks out on the runway in a linen jacket and skirt. She's no Kate Moss — she's well on the other side of 50. And her figure? Proudly Rubenesque. Her bright skirt is a polyester-blend and the shoes, while fairly stylish, are still on the sensible side.

Frau Schütz: Danke schön.

That's fine with this crowd, who arrive by coach bus. They're in their early 60s to mid-80s, and they've come to have a look at a store of their own — a big-box shop called the Deliga Senior Store, that caters to their retail needs over 8,000 square feet of floor space.

Christa Putzke heads up the sales team:

Christa Putzke (interpreter): But seniors also want chic and stylish things, but they can't fit into these super mini, extra extra small things they find in other stores. The whole market needs to adjust to the realities we're seeing in Germany.

Germany's future has a definite silver tinge to it with longer life spans and a low birth rate. Right now, about 1 in 5 Germans is over the age of 60. By 2050, that will be 1 in 3. With age come physical changes, which the senior store takes into consideration.

Read the rest of the text of Marketplace's story on the German store.


Doris Duke's Shangri La residence in Honolulu Hawaii houses the late heiress' Islamic art collection. If you wondered what you might do with a weekend, here are 3,500 objects that might take up that time easily.

Enamels at Shangri La: There are over 70 examples of decorative enamels in the collection, including figurines, boxes, weapons, cups and bowls. Most hail from south Asia, notably Jaipur, although enamels from Turkey and Iran are also represented. In addition, there are over 50 examples of enameled Indian jewelry. Doris Duke began collecting enameled objects and jewelry while in India on her honeymoon, and continued to collect both types while on travels and at auction well into the 1980s.

A virtual tour of the residence is available at the site as well as the individual objects. And if you longed for suzanis on your couch or at the window but couldn't afford them, Doris' accumulation might quench that desire.

If that's not enough, there's a timeline relating to the property and another page on the purchase of the property and renovations.


Sharon Kapnick, Beyond Beer: The Best Wines to Accompany Chinese Food: Food and wine should complement, rather than overpower, each other. As wine importer Rudi Wiest likes to say, "Whatever’s on the plate is already dead. You don’t have to kill it again.” You don’t want a wine that will overwhelm a dish; you want one that will stand up to it

Yale Decorative Arts Collection

Having just visited the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, we found that the Yale University Decorative Arts holdings also form a fascinating collection.

Here is Yale's Alexander Roux (American, born France, 1813–1886) Sideboard, 1855–65 description:

"Replete with carved images of fish, game, and fruit and other verdure [definition: The lush greenness of flourishing vegetation], as well as with Renaissance revival ornament, this sideboard probably owes its inspiration to the prize-winning sideboard designed by Hugues Protat, made by the Parisian firm of A. G. Fourdinois and exhibited in 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London. In the 1853 New York Crystal Palace Exhibition, several sideboards were indebted to the French example for their decoration; this example is like one that Roux showed."

Erik Magnussen's compote dish inspired this description:

The 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris introduced modern styles known today as Art Deco. Among the designers working in this mode was Erik Magnussen, born and trained in Denmark. When the Gorham Manufacturing Company brought Magnussen to America in 1925, he already had an international reputation. Gorham charged the Dane with developing a line of modern silver tablewares for the firm. The American public did not embrace the new style, thus the designs were not commercially successful, and Magnussen left Gorham in 1929. The vessel bears Magnussen's monogram, suggesting that it was one of his more experimental designs. This compote represents Magnussen's more lavish work in the stylized Art Deco manner; the ornate stem incorporates ivory and ebony, while the bowl is in the form of a flaring, lobed trumpet flower.

But it is Gilbert Rohde's (American, 1884-1944)1934 Vanity and ottoman that epitomizes the American design ethic:

Herman Miller, Inc. (founded 1923),
Manufactured in Zeeland, Michigan
White holly, red English elm, yellow poplar, cream colored paint, mirror glass, chrome-plated tubular steel, rose-colored wool and possibly cotton, and bakelite, 64 x 51 1/4 x 13 1/8 in.

Hollywood film actresses made vanities a glamorous 1930s furniture form. This example was introduced at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair in the House of Tomorrow and unites the late 1920s Bauhaus experiments in tubular steel with the panache of high-style French furniture.

New Link

Instructables. Categories of making things "you never knew you wanted": Art : Craft : Food : Home : Life : Not Liable : Ride : Tech

Here's an example of the kind of thing you can find on this site:

The Three Card Monte —An Origami Wallet

a) The Three Card Monte is a wallet made of letter paper. When made from paper with a card design printed on it, it has the trompe l'oeil effect of being three playing cards in a spread, the ones commonly used in a street hustle called three card monte.

b) When open, the wallet gives easy access to three credit or identification cards and a finite amount of cash.

c) When closed, the model fits nicely into the breast pocket of your shirt.

About Instructables:

Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others. The seeds of Instructables germinated at the MIT Media Lab as the future founders of Squid Labs built places to share their projects and help others. Read more about the history... including quoting from an essay:

"We have been thinking and working in this space indirectly for more than 5 years, following the developments in Open Source Software, blogs, wikis, and version control systems. The largest influence motivating us on this project is the 1945 Atlantic Monthly essay of Vannevar Bush "As we may think" which has been widely accredited as a huge influence on the internet."

"To create a new Instructable, comment on someone else's Instructable, or do lots of other cool things, you need to create a free account. We also have a new guided tour."

There's also a competition for a laser cutter you might consider entering.


Roberta McReynolds, The Third Resolution: If we must have a date for resolutions, the first day of spring is clearly a better choice. It’s part of a natural cycle for women to emerge from winter energized and ready to move mountains. Okay, if not mountains, then at least tackling the junk drawer and linen closet

Just Who Was Clara Driscoll?

The New York Historical Society is holding an exhibit entitled A New Light on Tiffany.

The Society introduces its Clara Driscoll exhibit:

"The inspiration for this exhibition was the recent discovery of Clara Driscoll's letters," said N-YHS Museum Director Linda Ferber. "Louis C. Tiffany's leaded-glass windows, lamps, and other luxury objects have long been hailed as icons of American design. The correspondence reveals that many of these celebrated works, long presumed to be designed exclusively by Tiffany in his role as artistic director, were actually conceived by Clara Driscoll and executed by her staff of young women."

Clara Driscoll's letters, discovered last year at the Queens Historical Society and Kent State University Library, have been a goldmine of exciting new information. A first-hand account of the inner workings of Tiffany Studios, they reveal previously unknown details about the design and production of Tiffany lamps and other luxury objects."

"A New Light on Tiffany celebrates the contributions of the Ohio-born designer Clara Driscoll (1861-1944), head of Tiffany Studios' Women's Glass Cutting Department. Driscoll's correspondence reveals that she was responsible for many of the firm's most iconic lampshades, including the Wisteria, Dragonfly, and Peony, as well as numerous other objects made with glass, bronze, and mosaic. In addition to designing, Driscoll managed a large department of young women, known as the "Tiffany Girls," who specialized in selecting and cutting glass for windows, shades, and mosaics. The exhibition will present the renowned works of Tiffany Studios in an entirely new context, focusing on the women who labored behind the scenes to create the masterpieces now inextricably linked to the Tiffany name."

The Dragon Fly Lamp designed by Driscoll is highlighted by the Dayton Art Institute:

"The beautiful dragonfly lamp shows Driscoll's adherence to Tiffany's Art Nouveau aesthetic of simplified forms, harmonious colors, and the beauties of commonplace nature. The dragonflies that flank the bottom of the shade are offset by cabochon glass pieces. The female employees who worked on the leading selected the shade's individual glass pieces. Thus, as a result of their liberty to choose, the same lamp might be made in more than one color scheme."

An interesting article on Louis Tiffany's relationships with those who influenced him is S. Bing and L.C. Tiffany: Entrepreneurs of Style by Martin Eidelberg.

Shopping at the NYPL

The New York Public Library Shop has some of the most original gifts now around.

A listing of some of the offerings:

Ceramic phrenology heads decorated with butterflies and friendly insects.

An In The Beginning Bracelet from the Second Rabbinic Bible, printed in Venice in 1525.

The Great Works line has been derived exclusively from the British Library’s manuscript collection with a range of porcelain tableware. Each product in the range carries excerpts from unique handwritten manuscripts.

From La Boheme, Mimi's aria on a bracelet:

ì, Mi chiamano Mimì,
ma il mio nome è Lucia.
La storia mia è breve:
a tela o a seta
ricamo in casa e fuori...
Son tranquilla e lieta
ed è mio svago
far gigli e rose.
Mi piaccion quelle cose
che han sì dolce malìa,
che parlano d'amor, di primavere,
di sogni e di chimere,
quelle cose che han nome poesia...

Freudian Thoughts Watch: Six different words (Mom, Dad, Sex, Envy, Id, Eros) rotate and are only visible inside Freud's thought bubble.

The Jac Zagoory collection includes Atlas pen holder and a bull and bear stapler remover and stapler.

If you're in the mood to recreate the NYPL reading room, there are lamps for that, too.

And, of course, a Shakespeare Memory Game to test your recall.

Made to Scale: Staircase Masterpieces

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum hosted an exhibit of more than two dozen staircase models from the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection. It is considered "the largest known collection of these works outside of France. The models, the majority of them from 19th-century France, represented exercises in technical virtuosity, demanding knowledge of cantilevering, balance, forms of rotation, styles of balusters and other architectural details. In their combination of design, structural, architectural and cabinetry skills, the staircase models and accompanying drawings demonstrate the relationship between formal training, modeling, technical mastery and flights of creative fancy."

"The majority of the staircase models are from 19th-century France and were produced in the meritocratic system for craftsmen known as 'Compagnonnage.' The staircase models represent exercises in technical virtuosity used by apprentices to demonstrate their knowledge of cantilevering, balance, forms of rotation, styles of balusters and other architectural details. In their combination of design and structural, architectural and cabinetry skills, the staircase models and accompanying drawings demonstrate the relationship between formal training, modeling and technical mastery."

"Highlights include a few examples of models made by apprentice carpenters, such as a stairway turning at right angles. The exhibition also will include classic models made by experienced master carpenters, such as the elaborate double revolution stairway, a spiral stairway with two revolutions and a domed model with a double staircase."

The George Glazer Gallery features architect's model staircases recently made:

"Miniature staircases were produced by architects and furniture makers as fanciful projects (perhaps as students), primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries.  They were also made for staircase manufacturers as models in designing or patenting proposed structures, as well as salesman’s samples.  They took the form of spiral staircases or straight ones, sometimes with other decoration such as railings, pulpits or fancy structures.  Some were simply constructed and utilitarian, others had fine detailed carving or other embellishments.  Generally they were made from oak, walnut, mahogany, or wrought iron." 

"The collecting of staircase models was popularized in the late 20th century by the publisher Carter Burden and the late fashion designer Bill Blass."

The Renaissance Home at the V&A

"When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold, I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexations, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass into their world."

From a letter written by Niccolò Machiavelli in 1513

London's Victoria&Albert Museum has on display an exhibit entitled At Home in Renaissance Italy:

At Home in Renaissance Italy reveals for the first time the Renaissance interior’s central role in the flourishing of Italian art and culture. The exhibition provides an innovative three-dimensional view of the Italian Renaissance home, presented as object-filled spaces that bring the period to life. The exhibition showcases masterpieces by Donatello, Carpaccio, Botticelli, Titian and Veronese, and exquisite treasures from the Medici and other private collections, alongside unexpected everyday objects like a babywalker and a pair of velvet shoes.

Part of the exhibit online allowsl for a virtual tour, in this case the cucina:

The kitchen (cucina) belonged to the network of service spaces — from pantries to wine cellars — that kept the house supplied with food and drink.

Kitchens were rarely located on the same floor as the sala, because of the smells, noise and constant circulation of people. Instead, they were usually in the attics, to minimise the risk of chimney fires, or on the ground floor. Many servants rarely left the kitchens, and the woman of the house paid frequent visits to supervise their work.

Even in large kitchens, the equipment was quite basic. The most important item was the mortar (ancestor of the modern blender), used for grinding and mixing all sorts of ingredients. But there were also pastry cutters to make pies, terracotta pots for slow braising and spits for roasting meat. Few of these survive, and most come from archaeological excavations.

Here's another quote used in the online description of the kitchen from a conduct book for new brides (Pietro Belmonte, Istitutione della sposa, 1587):

"You should not behave as I have seen some women do, who make such a din, and banging and moving about of tables and chairs, and so much noise of plates and knives, that the guest expects a sumptuous meal, and at the end realises that the mountain has brought forth a mouse."

Another page of the kitchen section features recipes from the period such as those adapted from Bartolomeo Platina's On right pleasure and good health (1475): Sicilian Macaroni, Mustard in Morsels and Potage with Turnips. The introduction to this page includes the following description of cooking life in this way:

While cookery books had been available for centuries in manuscript form, printed books of recipes, often containing woodcut illustrations, were a new development in this period. They made advice on cookery available to a wider audience than ever before. During the Renaissance it was common for meals to have four courses, which could consist of one entrée, two meat courses and one course of fruit or cheese. Meat was expensive and eaten regularly only by the wealthy. Short pasta, which would be boiled, became increasingly popular during the sixteenth century and soon dominated the Italian diet. Here we have translated recipes from two popular Renaissance cookery books, the humanist's Bartolomeo Platina's On right pleasure and good health (1475) and the food advisor of the Ferrarese court Cristoforo Messisbugo's Banquets (1549).

Enjoy this generous exhibit with it's many details and eclectic descriptions, uncovered as many of the house's rooms are, in mystery and surprise. Activities online include Design your own Renaissance Room, the Biribissi Bingo Game and the Mystery Object Quiz.

More Museum Shopping Sites

London's Royal Academy of Arts' shop hosts an imaginative variety of items. I immediately went to the socks ... although only one pair displayed but those by Terry Frost were colorful and vibrant ... but then again, I love socks. And I liked the ceramics decorated with Edward Bawden's illustration of the Lion and the Gnat, one of Aesop's famous fables. There's a marvelous chenille throw which includes patterns found in Mary Fedden's paintings.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (whose stolen paintings, Vermeer, The Concert; Rembrandt, A Lady and Gentleman in Black; Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee; Rembrandt, Self-Portrait; Govaert Flinck, Landscape with Obelisk; Manet, Chez Tortoni remain among the FBI's top ten art crimes) has a shop that carries reproductions of tiles that Mrs. Gardner favored. Three of these sayings are: “Win as though you were used to it and lose as if you liked it,” in two in French "The secret of two is the secret of God, the secret of three is the secret of all," and "Think much, talk little, write nothing.”

An intricate pewter snuff box and initial seals are among the more unusual items.

The Brooklyn Museum has included children's gifts such as the Hieroglyphics Kit, an Ancient Mexican Stamp Kit and a
Sticky Mosaics Kit. The plates category features a Judaica Serving Dish, a Camellia Lacquer Tray and William Morris Serving Pieces.

Meet Madame Morere

Read expat Jane Shortall's latest dispatch from France, Meet Madame Morere:

On the first floor of our house in the medieval village of St Lizier, a tiny village in the Ariege which is in a remote and little known part of France, the two rooms facing on to the street had floor to ceiling windows, heavy wooden shutters and small wrought iron balconies. Apart from the views of the Pyrenees, announcing that the Spanish border was not far away, to me the little house was like a small Paris apartment. From the street it looked modest, as lots of French houses do. Indeed one of our earliest visitors, a very rich Irish person from a now very rich Ireland put it bluntly "it looks poor".

Shopping at the Bodleian Library

It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas cards and other seasonal greetings and gifts. The Bodleian is the main research library of the University of Oxford, England.

The Bodleian is an impressive collection of buildings and libraries:

The buildings within the central site include Duke Humfrey's Library above the Divinity School, the Old Schools Quadrangle with its Great Gate and Tower, the Radcliffe Camera, Britain’s first circular library, and the Clarendon Building.

In addition, the Bodleian consists of nine other libraries, in separate locations in Oxford: the Bodleian Japanese Library, the Bodleian Law Library, the Hooke Library, the Indian Institute Library, the Oriental Institute Library, the Philosophy Library,  the Radcliffe Science Library, the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House and the Vere Harmsworth Library.

But to our cards and gifts. Currently there are cards which were originally illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien and sent to his son John, at Christmas 1920. Another is an illustration by Walter Crane in Flowers from Shakespeare's Garden, 1906 for As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7. Yet another is the frontispiece to Rough and his Rambles, a Volume of pictures and Stories for Little Folks, Ernest Nister from as early as 1894. Elizabeth Blackwell's Mistletoe is from the Herbarium Blackwellianum, 1754. The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore has a front cover illustration by Arthur Rackham as a card.

There are a couple of decorative items for tree decorating such as a velvet Tudor Rose from the Library's collection of bindings. A 'Silence Please' theme takes form in a tea-for-one pot and an egg cup set, among other uses. The Oxford aerial nineteenth century map is imprinted on a mug as well as four of Edward Lear's quirky birds, the Runcible Bird, the Stripy Bird, the Lilac Bird and the Spotty Bird, from his Query Leary Nonsense, 1911, printed on English bone china.

Shop at the Museum

Boise Art Museum's store features hand-made glass, ceramics, jewelry and giftware created by designers and artists. Currently, there are silk baby shoes on view an Idaho a la Carte cookbook, Tozai's ruby red dots and spots vases and other objects by that artist. For an inexpensive and welcome gift, we've purchased a number of the Roos glass urchin vases. Stylish Chinese takeout boxes in stainless steel keep food hot. There is no shopping cart on the site but ordering can be accomplished by calling 208-345-8330 or e-mailing or

Developments Lauded by the Sierra Club

From the Sierra Club:

This report, A Guide to America’s Best New Development Projects, highlights America's best new development projects, based on their ability to offer transportation choices, revitalize neighborhoods, and preserve local values. It also spotlights some of the movers and shakers — developers, architects, local officials, activists — responsible for making these innovative projects a reality.

Curbing Sprawl, Building Healthy Communities
Much of the development in the United States today is sprawling, low density, car-dependent “bigbox” or “strip-mall” construction, which produces more and more traffic and harms our land, air, and water. The Sierra Club believes there is a better way to build, and in doing so, to produce healthy neighborhoods, and livable communities.

While the Sierra Club opposes poorly planned, sprawling development, built on natural areas and farmland, we support quality investment in areas that already have a history of development to enhance communities and the environment. By reinvesting in existing neighborhoods and creating more walkable, transit accessible places to live and work, a select subset of the nation’s development leaders are raising the bar for neighborhood design.

By embracing conservation, green building techniques,
and affordable housing, and by building on the assets we already have, these developments offer a path to a more sustainable future.

“Good Development” Criteria
We had several criteria for selecting America’s best
new development projects. Top candidates had to:
• Offer a range of transportation choices, including
walking, biking, and public transportation;
• Redevelop existing areas, rather than developing
natural areas, working farmland, or wetlands;
• Locate homes, retail shops, and offices close to
each other;
• Preserve existing community assets, by re-using
older buildings and protecting rivers, woodlands,
and farms;
• Minimize stormwater pollution and handle runoff
in an environmentally responsible manner; and,
• Be the product of meaningful input by local citizens
and reflect a broad set of local values.

We also considered the use of “green building”
design and housing affordability in compiling our
list of the best new development.

Building Large and Small
We arrived at a diverse list of successful projects, from cities large and small, to suburbs, to small towns in each corner of the nation. They involve economically challenged areas like Fruitvale in Oakland and Highland Park in Milwaukee, as well as well-off areas like Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.

We included massive projects like Atlantic Station in Atlanta, which encompasses 138 acres and includes 12 million square feet of retail, office, residential and hotel, and by contrast, smaller scale projects like 66 residential homes and an industrial building in Hopkins, Minnesota.

A Guide to America’s Best New Development Projects
This report highlights America's best new development projects, based on their ability to offer transportation choices, revitalize neighborhoods, and preserve local values. It also spotlights some of the movers and shakers — developers, architects, local officials, activists — responsible for making these innovative projects a reality.

Read the rest of the report at the Sierra Club site.

Affordable Housing

The National Building Museum is hosting an exhibit of Affordable Housing searchable by project owner, project name, location and by architect.

The exhibit is introduced with this perspective:

Some of the country's most gifted architects are focusing their visions and energy on designing attractive, efficient homes for low-income families. The selected projects in the National Building Museum's new exhibition Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset showcase these visions and this energy. They demonstrate that low-cost housing does not have to mean low-quality housing, and explore the far-reaching benefits of good design for residents and their broader communities. More than a dozen current projects from across the US are featured in the exhibition, which also places the projects within the broader context of affordable housing history.

In order to be eligible, the projects had to be completed before September 2002 and address the following issues:

  • Logical and productive use of the ground underlying the development

  • Clear accommodation of activities in the continuum from public to private

  • Use of buildings to separate noisy from quiet, circulation form rest, public from private

  • Capitalization in design on the unique qualities of each place in the project

  • Provision of amenity, flexibility, and personalization for the dwelling

  • At least 20% of the units must be available to families making less than 50% of the median income for the area in which the project is located, assuming that they spend no more than 30% of their income for housing


Celebrating the Teapot

Atlanta hosted the Teapot Festival with three galleries displaying the work of artists producing contemporary teapots:

Mud Fire Gallery titled their exhibition and sale Teapots-A-Go-Go, their third bi-annual gallery exhibit of this homey and prized household object.

The Signature Shop and Gallery's 100 Teapots was a participant in the concurrent show with an extensive array of imaginative and colorful examples.

The Seen Gallery is the third venue showing teapots and their exhibit is Tea Time. Sadly, we can't show you their items but they are showcasing thirty artists.

Teapots, A Lot of History in a Little Pot by Elizabeth J. Bailey cites the quote from Henry James, writing in A Portrait of a Lady: There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Design Museum & Phyllis Pearsall

We found the UK site, Design Museum, a while ago and thoroughly enjoyed their biographies of designers and images of what they create. But it was only recently that we discovered the story of Phyllis Pearsall which we include a portion of from the Museum's site:

Working eighteen hours a day to walk 3,000 miles of London’s streets, the artist Phyllis Pearsall (1906-1996) not only conceived, designed and produced the A-Z street atlas of London, but founded her own company to publish it. The A-Z remains one of the most ingenious examples of early 20th century information design.

Realising that she did not know the location of the party to which she was invited in the London district of Belgravia one evening in 1935, Phyllis Pearsall armed herself with the most recently published London street map she could find. It was the 1919 Ordnance Survey map and, hard though she tried, Pearsall could not find the address of the party.

Pearsall decided to devise a more efficient means of helping other people to navigate the labyrinthine London streets. Working from her bedsit on Horseferry Road near Victoria Station, she set off early each morning to walk – and catalogue – the streets of the city. As London was so big, rather than produce a cumbersome map, which would be very hard to read as each street, bridge or building would be so small in scale, Pearsall decided to divide it into different sections, each of which would be coded in an index.

Working for up to eighteen hours a day, she walked a total of 3,000 miles while mapping London’s 23,000 streets. When she failed to persuade any of the established book publishers to accept her atlas, Pearsall published it herself by founding the Geographers’ Map Company. The A-Z Atlas and Guide to London and Suburbs was published in 1936 and has remained the principal guide to the city ever since. A tribute to Phyllis Pearsall’s vision and determination, the A-Z is an exemplar of modern information design. Yet Pearsall never saw herself as a designer, but as an artist and travel writer who happened to have invented a successful design concept by chance.

Born Phyllis Gross in Dulwich, south east London in 1906, she was the daughter of Alexander Gross (originally Grosz), a Hungarian-born map maker and his Irish-Italian artist wife, Isabella Crowley. Phyllis was educated at Roedean, an expensive girl’s boarding school, but taken away at the age of 14 when her father’s business folded and he was declared bankrupt. He fled to the US leaving Phyllis with her mother whose lover, Alfred Orr, the royal portrait painter, refused to allow her to live with them. She fled to France. At one point she was so hard up that she slept on the street, but then scraped a living by teaching English, writing for an ex-pat newspaper in Paris and painting portraits. She also attended philosophy classes at the Sorbonne.

In 1926 she returned to London where she met and later married the artist Richard Pearsall, a friend of her brother Anthony. The newly married couple travelled around Europe together for several years but separated in 1935 and she moved back to London. Pearsall began work on the A-Z helped only by the draughtsman James Duncan, who had once worked for her father. She rose at 5am each day to walk the streets in order to compile the atlas and index. “I had to get my information by walking,” she later recalled. “I would go down one street, find three more and have no idea where I was.”

Read the rest of Phyllis Pearsall's biography at the Design Museum's British designers site. Their shop is also worth a viewing and, perhaps, ordering from.

Arch Forum's Puzzler

A)  "A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous."

Quote by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or LeCorbusier?

B)  "Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind; large ones weaken it." Quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Leonardo da Vinci?

Take Architectural Forum's architectural puzzler quiz on a weekly basis.


Some places just feel like home. As soon as you walk through the door, you want to stay. You want to curl up by the fireplace, throw a party in the loft space, lounge on the old porch, or follow that staircase to wherever it goes. These special homes come in all sizes, shapes, and styles, from twee country cottages and grand prewar apartments to rambling suburban ranch houses and small beach condos. What they have in common is a tonic effect on your behavior: how you think, feel, and act. One indication that you're in such a home is that you feel both interested and relaxed ...

The reasons why we feel at home in certain homes, whether a farmhouse or a penthouse, and delight in certain features in them, such as the fireplaces Maybeck mandated, have less to do with aesthetic fashion than with evolutionary, personal, and cultural needs of which many of us are mostly unaware. Some elements of a just-right home are strictly individual, but even there, we're apt to focus on secondary matters — the love or avoidance of beige or modern design — rather than on more essential ways to personalize our dwellings. Other deep feelings about our habitat are particular to our species; still other inclinations and aversions, to our society. A homelike home fulfills these profound individual, human, and cultural needs, becoming a place that shelters and fascinates — a womb with a view.

"Home improvement" summons thoughts of renovating the master suite or installing a restaurant-style kitchen, but evolutionary psychology and architectural history suggest some more basic criteria for creating just-right houses and apartments. To the architect Grant Hildebrand, such dwellings exemplify what he calls "innately appealing architecture." Many homes built before World War II, when most development was on a small scale and craftsmanship was less expensive, have this likable quality. However, over half of America's houses and apartments have been built since the 1970s. The huge modern housing industry's low-overhead, mass-production orientation, combined with much of modernist architecture's emphasis on public buildings rather than private dwellings and on aesthetics and novelty over behavior, means that truly contemporary homelike homes are in short supply.

Excerpt from When We See It, We Know What We Like, Chapter One of House Thinking; A Room-by-Room Look at How We Live

Futuristic Design

We've mentioned England's Helen Hamlyn Design Centre in the past and an update of their research designs is warranted. Here's a sampling of the products of the 2005 Design for Our Future Selves competition.

Concrete canvas is the winner of the Helen Hamlyn Award for creativity:

Concrete Canvas is a hardened emergency shelter that weighs only 230kg. It can be deployed by one unskilled person in under 40 minutes and is ready for use in 12 hours. It can be delivered sterile enabling previously impossible surgical procedures to be performed in situ. It enables hardened, weatherproof buildings to be erected from the first day of a crisis such as a natural disaster. The build time and minimal resources needed to construct it ensures an exceptionally rapid response time.

User Friendly Vehicle:

The goal is to create a vehicle that is more usable within urban centres by an ageing population as well as being accessible and appealing to everyone.

Key features

  • The vehicle maintains familiarity while not being too distinctly retro

  • The interface combines voice and visual feedback to create a more accessible and enjoyable experience in the car

  • Visually compartmentalized technical components make using and maintaining the car more honest and understandable and appropriate for older users.

A focus group of older users helped to define what attributes of interacting with cars from the past remain distinctive today and what features in today's cars are appreciated by older users.

Lucy Whiting is winner of the Help the Aged Award for independent living, an easy to pour teapot: The teapot rocks over a shaped base to make it easier for people with weakness in their arms, wrists and fingers to pour a pot of tea. The project aims to create a teapot that is easier to use for people who have dexterity problems to use.

It was inspired by looking at a family member with repetitive strain injury struggling with the weight of their current teapot. The rocking teapot is part of a range of teapots that reassess the function and relationship we have with everyday objects.

Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods; The Tiny House

Part of the Mississippi Renewal Forum is a publication, A Pattern Book for Gulf Coast Neighborhoods, that reveals details land techniques for building and renovating Gulf Coast houses. The downloading of the book will take some time because of its length.

While these homes may not be in a style appropriate for the entire country, they represent the architecture of an area long admired for its form and graceful lines.

Also at the Mississippi site an image of "the Tiny House, a 308 square-foot tribute to coastal Mississippi style designed by Marianne Cusato during the October Mississippi Renewal Forum in Biloxi."

Cusato's "purpose was to prove that affordable emergency housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina didn't have to be a trailer that ends up in a landfill in 18 months. She downsized a perfectly scaled Mississippi-style coastal cottage, complete with an inviting porch. She created clever built-in storage under porch benches and beneath bunk beds. And she gave the sparse interior space a roomy feel with oversized windows."

" This particular model is one of a set of Katrina Cottages created by the local and international designers at the Mississippi Renewal Forum. They are collected as plans, soon to be available at a discounted rate to South Mississippians in a series of plan books published by the New Urban Guild."

HRH's Business on the Side

Prince Charles has a website. Not the one connected with a royal palace nor an architecture-bashing speech* nor his social, governmental or charitable schedules, but one devoted to premium organic food brands, Duchy Originals.

The website retells the Prince's search for The Perfect Biscuit: One of the ideas was to create a quality food and drink brand based on sustainable production principles.

Using oats and wheat harvested at Home Farm and then stone-ground at the local Shipton Mill, the help of one of the finest bakers in the UK was enlisted, Walkers Shortbread Ltd. The family run bakery, based in Aberlour in the Scottish Highlands, began testing different recipes based on the Home Farm ingredients.

It took 18 months and hundreds of different attempts before the final recipe was perfected. The result was a traditional oat biscuit with a thin, crisp texture and a unique flavour balance. An ideal accompaniment to both cheese or sweet spreads. Made with 100% pure and natural ingredients.

In 1992 the Duchy Originals (Duchy in Duchy Originals was taken from the Duchy of Cornwall estates held in trust by Prince Charles, the 24th Duke of Cornwall) brand was born with the launch of its first product the traditional oaten biscuit.

Products include fish patés, Glace Cakes, Rich Fruit Thumb Cakes, Cheese Nibble Selection Box, Chocolate Tuffles. However, those products are not distributed in the US.

There is, though, a section termed Sausage Silly with a recipe for a sausage tart by Amy Willcock:

20.5cm loose bottomed tart tin lined with savoury short crust pastry (bought if you can’t be bothered or have the time)

6 Duchy Selections Old Fashioned Pork Sausages
60g fresh bread crumbs
2 large whole eggs
2 tbsp double cream
1 heaped tsp dry mustard powder
Salt and pepper
Onion marmalade
2 red onions thinly sliced
1 heaped tbsp Duchy Originals Coarse Cut Clementine Marmalade

Sunflower oil
Salt and pepper

Heat up a little of the sunflower oil – about 1 tbsp - and the marmalade in a frying pan then toss in the onion and cook very gently over a medium heat until the onions are deliciously caramelized and thick. Season with salt and pepper. This will take about 10-15 minutes. If you have an Aga cook it on the floor of the Roasting Oven.

While the onions are cooking down, blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes in a pre heated oven 190c. Remove and cool a little.

Cook the sausages for 10 minutes or until they start to brown in a frying pan on the hob, under a grill or 1st set of runners in the Aga.

All of this can be done the day before, you can even make the whole tart the day before!

When you are ready to assemble your tart, spread the onion marmalade on the bottom of the pastry. Mix the breadcrumbs, cream, mustard powder and eggs together and season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the onion marmalade in the tart and then split your sausages horizontally and arrange them on top. Cook the tart in a pre- heated oven, 180c for 20-25 minutes or until cooked and golden. Eat hot or cold with more mustard.

*We do note, however, that the Prince liberally sprinkles his speeches with culinary references, such as this curious combination during a 2001 address titled Tall Buildings:

I can only assume that, like a bottle of HP sauce, I am to be used as a means of adding a bit of piquance to the menu.... However, I can also imagine that my presence is about as welcome as a police raid on a brothel!

Design Book Review

Thea Gray's Design Book Review: Bungalow Kitchens — Pine for the kitchen you had as a kid? Jane Powell and Linda Svendsen can help you restore or recreate one

Wallpaper Hangings

What we so bravely apply to our walls for a decoration, a lift, a transforming change is an application full of history.

One firm that takes that history quite seriously is Adelphi Paper Hangings, owned and operated by wallpaper scholars Chris Ohrstrom and Steve Larson in The Plains, Virginia. Their historically accurate papers are directed to an audience that is primarily for the museum trade and period decorator. They have licensed patterns from archives in the US, England and France including The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (now known as Historic New England), Old Sturbridge Village and the New York State Historical Association among many others.

An extensive background of historic wallpaper types is provided at the site. Here are some excerpts:

Plain Papers

Plain Papers come into fairly common use by the middle of the 18th century. We know of numerous examples from the 1760's and 70's in the Colonies and England. Papers from that date have been found in Prussian and Verditer Blues, Green Verditer, Varnish Green and Yellow Ochre. Plain papers' popularity remained constant until the second decade of the 19th century. We know from both documentary as well secondary evidence that by 1795 Plain paper was used in a variety of rooms and offered in a variety of colours. Ebenezer Clough, a Boston paperstainer advertised in 1795 that he had: Plain blues, Greens, Buffs, Red, Yellow, Stone, Pinks, Purple,-Purls and any other plain coloured ground. We have discovered many examples from this period including Verditer Green, Scheele's Green, Ochre, Grey and Prussian Blue.

1820 - 1840
There is a tremendous popularity of French borders. Scenic papers made by DuFour and Zuber begin to be very popular. Borders become large, complex and rich. Flocked borders return. Larger patterns and bright rich colours reign. Complex neoclassical and architectural borders from France are the rage. Imitation silk foliates with lobular leaves and horizontal striations are quite popular in the late 1830's. American papers begin to rival French in quality.

Continuous paper and roller prints appear. Block printing is still widespread and considered higher quality. The Greek revival shifts into wallpaper. In the 1840-50's, Gothic patterns are very popular driven by influential British stylists such as A.W. Pugin. Colour becomes muted into grisailles, and schemes executed in ranges of earth tones highlighted with newly discovered ultramarine blue. Ultramarine Blue is wildly fashionable and ubiquitous. Colour schemes are influenced by Downing. Around 1850 we start to see more roccoco revival with lots of strap work. Desfosse and Karth are driving taste in France and we see walls decorated with separate elements to echo French boiserie. By 1860 small motif roller prints are dominant. The golden age of block printing has ended. The art will be revived by neo ludite designers such as William Morris, and aesthetes like Eastlake and Dresser but will never again be widespread due to its high cost structure.

The border catalogue includes such designs as Sawtooth & Guilloche, Egyptian and Swan friezes, Orbes Directoire and the Floret Border


"Although the word Byrdcliffe derived from the middle names of the colony's founding couple, its mission and visual identity resulted from a larger shared vision of what the artistic community should look like. The Whiteheads' English mentor, John Ruskin, considered the medieval hand-built village peopled by farmers and craftsmen as the perfect environment to bring out the best in human nature. He also praised alpine landscapes as nature's cathedrals inspiring reverence and lofty aspirations. At Byrdcliffe, Ruskin's ideals were realized in the form of thirty simple wooden cottages, studios, and workshops, plus a school and a dairy barn that Ralph Whitehead and several associates erected in 1902-3 on Mount Guardian, overlooking the hamlet of Woodstock."

"In keeping with the antiurban, simple-life yearnings of Ruskin and his Arts and Crafts movement followers, rusticity was key to the built environment at Byrdcliffe. Although painted clapboard farmhouses were characteristic of the Catskills, Byrdcliffe's builders preferred more 'natural' stained plank siding associated with chalets in the Alps and other mountainous regions. Just at the time the colony was established, chalet-bungalows of unpainted redwood were becoming the homes of choice for hillside-dwelling artists and intellectuals in California. Indeed, Byrdcliffe's unpretentious wood-sheathed structures with broad overhanging roofs are closely related to California rustic architecture."

Explore the artists and the architecture, the artists, the founders and the legacy of this little known craft collective through an online exhibition organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell.

Zulma Steele, designer; Edmund Rolfe, jeweler; Lovell Birge Harrison, painter; Jessie Tarbox Beals, photographer and Edith Penman, Elizabeth Hardenbergh, Jane and Ralph Whitehead, ceramicists, are just a few of these talented turn-of-the-century artists whose work is seen at the website.


Follow Us:

SeniorWomenWeb, an Uncommon site for Uncommon Women ™ ( 1999-2024