Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Furnishing Your Home by Recycling

Interest in shopping vintage shops, flea markets, auctions, consignment shops, thrift shops and yard sales is possibly more popular now than ever. Whether it is in the effort to save money, acquire more interesting furnishings than can be found in new furniture stores or to help our planet by "recycling", there's a real craze for this kind of exploration into home furnishing. If you haven't tried it, you may find it an enlightening adventure. I've made some very interesting discoveries and acquired some cherished pieces since I began by stumbling on a "yard sale" in my San Francisco Pacific Heights neighborhood in 1980. The photos below show some of my "finds" along the way. Above: The iron bed was purchased from Johnson & Johnson Antiques in Seattle, the dresser, mirror and wicker chest were found at Salt Lake City's Second Hand Chic, the chandelier came from Salt Lake City's consignment shop Emilie-Jayne (I repainted it black). The bedside lamp was an early Seattle yard sale purchase and the table it sits on (not visible in the photo) came from Second Hand Hubie's in Seattle (a long-time consignment "institution" in Phinney Ridge, now closed since the owner passed away).

Above: The black arm chair was purchased at Home Again (used and loved home items) in Salt Lake City. I recovered the chair cushion with a Designers Guild fabric sample. Chandelier is from Emilie-Jayne.Above: Close-up view of Chandelier from bedroom above was my first purchase from Emilie-Jayne upon moving back to Salt Lake from Seattle and buying my circa 1912 house.

Above: The Eastlake-style dresser came from 9th Avenue Chic (loved used home items) in the Avenues neighborhood in Salt Lake. The side chair peaking out from the closet was found at Second Hand Chic and I recovered the seat cushion to suit my scheme.
Above: I purchased two of these sturdy workhorse chairs for my studio/office space from Home Again.
Above: Crystal chandelier is a local craigslist find. I could write an entire separate post on craigslist shopping. Browsing craigslist is not for everyone, as the task of looking through written ads and often poor photos is not nearly as fun and gratifying as walking through a beautifully arranged furniture consignment store or yard sale. However, I purchased the chandelier above for $10. One arm was broken and I drove the chandelier directly to my lamp shop to have it repaired. The cost of repair was around $40 (inclusive of the new arm and labor). The lamp repair person told me that three of the tiny crystals on the chandelier are worth $10! I haven't counted all the little crystals to estimate the value based on Gabriel's method, but I've seen prices on similar chandeliers and I'll just say that even with a repair expense, this was a very good investment. :o)

Above: I purchased this diminutive lamp at the silent auction to benefit greyhound adoption at the Greyhound Gathering in Kanab, Utah. The donor's description of the condition on the piece said "a bit tumbled", and that referred mainly to the rumpled appearance of the shade. I loved the piece and knew that the shade could be recovered. On closer examination, I came to realize it was a pretty nice piece and I wanted it. I decided not to bother with going back and forth on bidding and figured perhaps I'd be the only person willing to pay $50 for the lamp, and wrote in my bid. $50 toward the cause of placing greyhounds in loving homes really didn't seem much. My strategy worked, as far as winning the piece with my bid. When I returned home to Salt Lake, I took the lamp to my trusty lamp shop for a shade repair. As the shop owner removed the finial, he exclaimed, "Oh, oh, oh." I thought perhaps the shade was hopeless. He then said, "This is a Chapman lamp. If you were to purchase it new, you would pay at least $850!" He recovered the shade for around $40. I had mixed feelings, I did very well with my purchase, but the greyhounds could have benefited so much more if someone had known more about the lamp!

Note: When purchasing second-hand lighting, you may feel better about its operation and safety if you take it to a lamp shop for testing. In my experience, most times the wiring is in good working condition. When it needs repair, the cost is generally not prohibitive, especially when it will be a piece that you love! I recommend two shops who can help evaluate, and if necessary repair your light fixtures in Salt Lake City: The Lamp Company and Felt Lighting. I usually do my own lamp wiring repairs; they are pretty simple.
Above: This ensemble of two rattan chairs and side table started it all. After graduating from art school and moving into "the city" (San Francisco) in 1980, I purchased this set at a yard sale in Pacific Heights. I have recovered the chair cushions three times since then. The $300 purchase price stretched my budget at the time, however, the set has increased in value seven fold since then, as this furniture is of interest to collectors. The chairs, which have the original seat cushion springs are still among the most comfortable on which I've sat. The last time I had the cushions recovered, the upholsterer suggested replacing the inner cushions with foam to have a more square edge look to them. I refused the suggestion, as the original spring seat cushions are still very strong after seventy years and foam cushions break down and disintegrate after not too long a time!

I've found more than shown in the photos and enjoyed the search. Furniture and accessory consignment shops are also a great place to let go of some of your own things, as your needs and taste change. If you loved it, chances are someone else will, too. Give it another life, whether you purchase second hand or consign your former furnishings. Happy shopping---happy budgeting---happy home---healthy planet Earth.

This post is linked to A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words blog feature 2nd Time Around Tuesday. You can find readers' other second-time-around treasures by clicking on the link above or on the button here...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Art: Skill versus Art

Developing skills in drawing the figure and learning all the bones and muscles of the human body; representing volume with the relationships of light, shade and shadow, using perspective as a tool for representing realistic spacial arrangements, understanding color theory, and mastering various art media and much more, filled four years of my undergraduate studio art study. I've recently been viewing artist documentaries through my NetFlix. Two of the documented artists: One still living and in her late 90's is Louise Bourgeous (Update:  sadly Louise Bourgeous passed away in May 2010); and one deceased---Paul Klee. Both artists have been prolific. Paul Klee produced more than 9000 works during his life. Both artists were trained in the academic tradition, similar to what I describe in my own studies above. However, the forms that their work produces and the art for which they are known, is most often not representational nor realistic. What makes art different from skilled use of materials and the representation of reality? I see beautifully executed works by people who are obviously skilled in their craft, however, when looking at them, I don't often see the art. In the case of Bourgeous, emotion and ideas are her driving forces. In Klee's work, he sets up problems for himself using simple shapes and/or relationships of color with the placement of each subsequent mark or color playing off the one put down before. From each film, I note the two artists' own words on creating what is their art:

Louise Bourgeous (Pictured above for her retrospective exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2008)

Louise Bourgeous from The Spider the Mistress and the Tangerine:

"It has nothing to do with the craft. It has nothing to do with the skill. It has nothing to do with the how-to-manage materials. Materials are only materials, nothing more. The materials are not the subject of the artist. The subject of the artist is emotions...and ideas, both."

Paul Klee (Pictured above in his studio)

Paul Klee, from the film The Silence of the Angel:

"To succeed in what you undertake it is essential never to work with a preconceived final image in mind. On the contrary, one must devote oneself entirely to the task in hand. Will and discipline are everything."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Room Available February 1st, 2010...

This Spacious loft bedroom will be available February 1st, as our longest term housemate is getting married. :o) for her, :o( for us. The full description can be seen here. If you know someone who will be a good fit, let me know.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Latest in the series of Historic Architecture Boxes

This week I completed several of the boxes pictured below. Charley Hafen Jewelers/Gallery was kind enough to take several for sale in his shop. I'm very happy about this as his jewelry is top quality and his beautiful custom non-traditional designs will not be found elsewhere. The arc-lid Arch of Septimius Severus box was purchased by my Salt Lake City friend, Chris to hold a Christmas gift to her sister of their mother's pearls.
Above: SOLD

Above: SOLD

Above: SOLD

Above: SOLD

Above: Horses and Riders on the north frieze of the Parthenon - Athens

Above: box with drawer and the Arch of Septimius Severus - Rome

Above: Partial Sgraffito facade - Florence
Above: Corinthian Column capital segments - ancient Greece

Above: Arc lid box with the Arch of Septimius Severus - Rome SOLD
Earlier made boxes below...

Above: SOLD


Monday, December 14, 2009

One down, five to go!

Here's the first of six dining chairs painted "robin's egg blue", the inspiration egg is shown in the foreground. (If that egg ever hatches, more creatures than earthworms would have reason to fear!)

Friday, December 11, 2009


I'd be surprised if you ask anyone how they are this time of year and they don't respond, "Busy!" I've decided to respond, "Great, how are you?", to get past that automatic "busy" reflex.

A new greyhound guest arrived this morning for three overnights. Last year we had two greyhounds staying over during the holidays while their parents were out of town. I'm currently working on a Christmas card package for Frolic Farm Herb Company/Ginkgo Gallery and Gift located a 2030 S. 900 E in Sugarhouse. Frolic Farm not only provides potted and dried herbs, baked goods, herbal recipes and herbal gifts, but also is a gallery for local artisans and a unique gift boutique. Stop in and look at the gorgeous Ashford spinning wheel available with several bunches of roving for a very good price!

Yesterday I was pleased to have started a consignment furniture project I've been planning---painting six nice Windsor dining chairs robin's egg blue. Right after seeing the inspirational photo below this summer, I stumbled upon and acquired a set of ten of these chairs in an original yellowed light natural stain. These are NOT the typical (cheap) big box store imitation Windsor chairs. I took a Tiffany & Company gift box and a huge plastic (robin's) egg into the Home Depot to use as color guides. I spent some time with a really nice man at the Home Depot paint counter, who helped get the paint tint just right. The first photo shows the first coat of paint on the first chair, before I had the color adjustment made at Home Depot (too baby blue-ish!). The second photograph shows the inspiration photo for painting my chairs robin's egg blue---ooooh la la!

A newsflash from the non-trivial world of color:
THE color for the year 2010 .

I'm also showing a room in the house and interviewing prospective new roomies. This room was just vacated by our physical therapist intern who completed his three-month SLC rotation and is returning home to the midwest. If you know of a good fit-send them my way. See the entire ad posted on craigslist here.

At midnight last night, I finished 130 personal Christmas letters!



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