Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A French Provincial Set in Green

These are such great pieces of furniture, which says a lot since French Provincial, mid-20th century furniture comes in many levels of greatness (or not so greatness). Some of them are made of something like styrofoam, held together with cheese whiz, and finished with photos of what real wood might look like if you took several shots of tequila and crossed your eyes. I'm not lying, for whatever reason bad mid century French Prov is really really bad, horrifying bad.

        BUT, this is the good stuff, made by the Bernhardt Furniture Company, who just celebrated their 125th anniversary two years ago. You should take a peek at their "history" page on their website, John Mathias Bernhardt was a pretty epic dude. And possibly due to his epic-ness, his furniture is exceptionally awesome as well, and gets the Heir and Space stamp of approval for quality of form, construction, and material. These two pieces, finished custom for a client, were a pleasure to refinish, not least because said client chose the prettiest pale green and airy white for the color scheme, and decided to keep the stunnnnnning original patina'd brass hardware. I adore how the set turned out!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Curly Maple Dressing Table

I had such a fun time at the Elephant's Trunk flea market this morning. I went down to the market at the crack of dawn with two dear friends who are great antiques collectors, and we all found treasures. I found three awesome early photographs (An ambrotype, a tintype, and a daguerreotype)
and a magnificent early 20th century tin storage container, and finally this sweet vintage maple desk. It's c.1925-1940 and at first blush I thought it was mahogany veneer, as so many of these early 20th century Federal Revival pieces are. But nope, it was my lucky day, it's maple, with the most beyond beautiful curly maple top on earth. The figuring is knock-you-socks-off groovy.
            For whatever reason I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to paint it in a deep emerald green, and I think the shade plays up the top, which is the real star of the show, perfectly.
           I replaced the backboard as it was totally shot, and had the chance to be a bit thrifty and cheeky in the process. I had another vintage piece that's beyond hope that I've been cannibalizing bit by bit. Today I stole its backboard, which just happens to say "maple" on the back. I cut it to size and even reused the old nails, you'd never know it wasn't the original backboard! I fixed the runner on one drawer and a guide on another, tightened the case in one corner, then painted, distressed, and waxed. The turned knobs are original. I hauled this sucker all the way across the massive field of Elephant's Trunk while they were filming 'Flea Market Flip'. I hope I made it into the background to show those guys what a real flea market flipper looks like (sweaty but victorious), and what they're capable of in just one day's worth of work!

It originally said "Hemp Seed" but then "Raw Umber" was scrawled across later. I love the decoration and the faux brass tacks on it. I'm going to put it on my art desk but I haven't decided what I should keep inside it yet. 

This c.1865 tintype caught my eye because of the amazing twig contraction folk art bench the gentleman is posing behind!

A c.1856 ambrotype identified on the reverse as Elizabeth Alcott. She's enchanting, smiling, and dressed to the nines!!

And a daguerreotype of a c.1830 folk art portrait. Early photographs of portraiture are very very rare, I've never seen one in the wild, and the only reason I could afford this is because the image is pretty shot at this point. Still neat though!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Maple Hutch In (Almost) Black

I'm itching for Autumn, or maybe that's just my miserable sunburn that's itching. Either way I'm wicked itchy, and super done with this heat and humidity. I had always before been a big fan of hazy hot and humid days, but that was before my job required me to work outside lifting heavy things and doing messy work all day. I'd take a snow day over a heatwave anytime.
        But enough whining! How about this gooooooooorgeous vintage solid rock maple two piece stepback cupboard!! Do you love it? I love it! It's Heywood Wakefield, which is very oh-lalala in the furniture world, and has the quality and design to back up the hype. I bought it at the town wide tagsale about a month ago and finally got around to finishing it. I've been absolutely swamped with custom work WHICH IS AWESOME, but it does make it hard to sneak in 'spec' pieces to keep things fresh.
          The hutch was in basically perfect condition, just dated and lame. I wanted to give it a modern farmhouse update so I refinished the solid maple top and lower shelf to show off the grain. The lower shelf is especially neat-o as it has both birdseye maple and tiger maple figuring on it! I painted the case in a custom mixed color named 'Before Dawn'. It's almost black, but not quite, but almost, so so close. I distressed and waxed the case, painted the backboard in an antique cream for a nice contrast, and swapped the boring hardware out for fun salvaged 19th century pulls.

An Antique Dresser with Cherry Blossoms

Sorry I've been dropping the ball hard on posting to the blog in July so far. I actually have a backlog of about five items to share with you, but haven't had the time to sit down, concentrate, and type out the accompanying posts. So here's the first of many!
         I got this dresser early this week and couldn't wait to get started on it. It's an early 20th century oak and oak veneer bow front chest and mirror. Its surfaces were all a hot mess, but its structure wasn't too too bad.
         First I had to address the top, which I hoped to keep unpainted as it has very flashy grained veneer. It had been water stained by something long ago so after sanding the top I applied wood bleach and let it sit in the sun for a half an hour. Wood bleach works like magic, and the dark water marks disappeared right before my eyes, suuuuuuper satisfying. The other problem with the top wasn't as easy a fix. At some point some jerkface took something sharp to the top and made three or four long vertical gouges across the top, going through the veneer entirely, there was no hope of sanding them out. But the rest of the top was perfect and I just couldn't stand to paint over it, just for those few unfixable gouges. To hide them I did a bit of decorative painting on the top, cherry blossoms, which I think suit the dresser very nicely.
        I've been getting a lot of questions about how I do my decorative painting on furniture tops, and to answer the most frequently asked question, no, I don't use a stencil; I just free hand sketch the branches and flowers on the sanded but unstained wood, then paint them by hand with acrylic craft paint, then I stain and seal the top as I normally would.
        I had to do a bit of work on the drawers to get them sliding nicely once more, but otherwise, the case itself didn't require much work, just some patching here and there before paint. Since the top has so much character between the graining and the cherry branch, I kept the rest of the piece very very understated with an antique white, distressed, and the original stamped brass hardware.

Monday, July 11, 2016

An Empire Dresser in Yellow

I'm supposed to be on vacation, or at least taking the week off, staycationing, as it were. But I can't really help myself, and I hate the idea of leaving you all high and dry without any pretty furniture to look at for an entire week. So here I am, taking 1/3 of a vacation. I worked this morning, and snuck in a bit more this evening, and of course the blogging I'm doing right now.

        I got this antique scroll front dresser off craigslist last week from a lovely couple who lived in the next town over who are moving to Florida. I'm a HUGE sucker for empire furniture, and I'll pay higher prices and jump through way way more restoration hoops for an empire piece than any other. The massive curvy squatness of them is wonderfully alluring. This is a second period empire piece, and is actually dated August 17th, 1910. I currently have an empire server that I'll be refinishing soon that has an identical foot, and is dated 1914, and has a label from the Ebert Furniture Company. The design elements, construction and date of the two pieces are similar enough that I feel quite confident attributing this sweet antique dresser to the Ebert Furniture Company as well.

          Though I've worked on something like two dozen empire dressers over the years, this is the very first I've handled that has a mirror as well, and it's truly glorious, and massive. I also love the early, possibly original glass knobs on all the drawers.