Thursday, July 30, 2015

Top Picks: Skinners August Americana

This is my favorite month for antiques. Why you might ask? Because next week is Antiques Week in New Hampshire!!! That means not only will there be the fantabulous annual New Hampshire Antique Dealers Show, but also several of my favorite auction houses are having their big Americana sales.

Skinners August Americana auction takes place August 8th and 9th in Marlborough, Ma. Not local? That's ok- you can view the entire catalog online here, and then bid online on all the yummy beautiful stuff!! And I know sometimes the links don't work, so just go to if that's the case.

          I've spent the last two days pouring through the catalog, brimming with excitement and bubbling over with 'Oooos' and 'Ahhhhhs' at all the lovely lovely things they have up to offer this year.
           So first, here's my top picks for furniture (of course it's all painted!)- such pretty colors! such wonderful surfaces!! Want want want!
I'm starting with my favorite thing- this bold green early 19th century blanket chest. I love everything about it- the color, the turned wood knobs, and the brass escutcheons, all working in perfect harmony. The piece has nice verticality and the simple apron gives it a clean, unfussy look. 

Now, I have a very similar antique drop leaf table to this one, though it's in its original dark surface. I can say I've never seen one of this form with such a vibrant early paint surface, I suspect the paint is original to the piece, or done within about twenty five years of its construction. Very cool. 

Another fantastic early piece of painted furniture, This tall chest has an incredible faded blue that leans heavily towards bottle green, Federal bail brasses dress it up just a hair. 

And how about this adorable decoratively painted corner cupboard. You rarely see them up on turned feet. Its a rural and slightly later interpretation of the more sophisticated form, making it all the more endearing. 

  This lovely yellow cupboard is a fabulous example of how good early furniture is as much art as it is functional storage. This. is. beautiful. That canary yellow! The paneled door! The gentle wear patterns that run under there knob. Spectacular, and would be as perfect in a modern New York loft as a country home in Vermont. 

When I worked at Liverant Antiques we had a glazed top cupboard very similar to this one in the shop. I admired it endlessly. The incised corners and dentil molding across the top are flashy, and I just love the red wash against the minty blue backboard.

And finally in the furniture category is this kicky little splayed leg stand in an old dry blue surface. It has a tremendous lean stance balanced perfectly by the large overhang of the top. It would be so so cute in a long hallway with a lamp on it. 

And my top pick of the smalls is this set of three early 20th century English graduated brass measures. I'm having a brass moment, or perhaps more of a metals moment, as I'm pining for copper as well. These, with their rosy glow, look like they might be bell metal (brass with a higher copper content). They're just so damn handsome. 

I really like this exuberant and exceptionally well executed theorem painting of flowers in a double handed basket. The deft workmanship is so fine that I suspect we could attribute this to a professional artist rather than a school girl learning the craft. 

Because I cannot resist this shade of green, I've picked these four painted band boxes. Sweet, and simple, but beautiful in their honest functionality. We should all be storing our jewelry and small knick knacks in such stunning containers.

Truth be told, what I know about redware couldn't fill a teaspoon but I've always admired it. Must be time to get a good book on the subject, and perhaps have a chat with the dashing Mr. Lew Scranton, the leading expert in the field. I just adore the emerald glow of this mottled glaze. It makes me happy just to look at it. 

And here's a nice little decoratively painted storage box in playful shades of white and smokey blue. The oval brass handle is nice, but the mismatched make-do latch is curious. On of these two is not original, I suspect. 

A very very very early over the door plaque. Wowsers. 

Now overmantels to begin with are rare. I've only seen three in person in my entire antiquing career. To find an overmantel with the mantel still intact?!? Ah-mazing. 

Just two sweetly painted toleware boxes. I have a nice little toleware box that I keep all my work receipts in throughout the year. The original owner scratched his name in the paint. 

The first part of the Skinners sale is all glassware, mostly from the Sandwich glassworks. I scrolled through all of it because I love glass even though I know nothing about it. This pair of deep green candlesticks caught my eye. 

A very nice watercolor on paper harbor scene from the mid 19th century. I especially like the two racing steamboats! 

This mid 19th century portrait of a pouty little girl is enchanting. My mom collects 19th century children's clothes andt she could assemble a nearly identical outfit in original pieces without the bat of an eye. 
A superb late 19th century painted sleigh. I really like these as I figure the guy that was painting these sleighs was also likely painting signs, carriages, and furniture all from the same shop. Just kind of doing a 19th century version of what I do now!

This hooked rug has the most amazing crashing wave subject matter. It feels incredibly modern considering it's over a hundred years old! Would be so pretty hung as art in a coastal home! 

And finally this little carpenter's box, a triumph of woodworking. This is the height of folk art. There was no need for this box to be anything but bottom, sides, lid and tray, but the owner was skilled, and took pride in his work. He took something humble and made it magnificent for no greater purpose than to create something beautiful. I love this. 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Mid Century Modern Meets Rustic Console

There are some people that love mid century modern. Honest opinion? Not me. I find it a little harsh, a little sterile. But when MCM meets rustic, wonderful things happen that make me feel all warm and glowy inside. I spotted this mid century modern desk on the side of the road on my way to deliver another piece. I simply did not have time or the space in the back of my yellow pickup truck to stop and pick it up, but I promised myself I would snag it if it was still there on the return journey, and thank goodness, it was. I adore the original bold brass pulls and capped brass feet. I lightened it up with a nice antiqued white and added a new pine top to give it a little bit bigger overhang and a more earthy vibe.  Finally I gave it just a pop of fun color to honor its mid century origins with custom mixed grapefruit colored drawers.

I think this piece would be absolutely perfect for a flat screen TV! It even has a space in the center to accommodate gaming systems and cable boxes!

A Rustic French Provincial Desk

I bought this desk on Sunday while out doing a bit of hungover antiquing with my friend Jess. I love the block front design, and the fact that it's finished on all four sides. It's from about 1930, and is solid mahogany. I actually know the name of the original owner, and will pass that, and a 14 cent stamp that I found within along to the purchaser. I painted the case in a soft blue that I've named West Haven Blue since I just custom mixed it for another project for one of my favorite clients (Hi Chris!) who lives in an adorable place on the shore in West Haven. I added a new top to the desk since it had an inset leather top, which is basically useless in this day and age. Finally I kept the original pierced Chippendale brass drawer hardware except the top two, which I swapped out for another nearly identical pair, since the old ones had lost their pulls.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Federal Sideboard in Folk Art Gold

I love this sideboard. Love love love love. It has all the bells and whistles, just a spectacular piece all around and, hands down, the finest sideboard I've worked on in all my years of furniture refinishing. It's antique, mahogany, and dates to about 1925. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top, painted  the case in one of my favorite custom colors, folk art gold, and distressed and waxed it. It's so stunning that I'm tempted to keep it for myself for a new project we're doing over the next few months. Sadly, the timing is not quite right and I simply don't have the space to store it, so this one needs a new home!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Maple Hutch in Black and Cream

I actually did two custom hutches this week, one in black and yellow and one in black and cream. It was really fun to do pieces in similar palettes to see how different the architecture of each hutch impacted the overall effect. This hutch is maple, made in Canada, and very nicely put together. The client opted to go with a clean look, black and a soft cream backboard and interior. I sanded stained and sealed the top to match the seats of the client's dining chairs.

I staged it in Autumn toned antiques because they look oh so lovely against the white and black. Is anyone else ready for Fall? This humidity is getting me down.

A Vintage Hutch in Black and Pale Yellow

Here's a lovely vintage hutch that I just refinished for a client. It came down through her husband's family and was the only piece they had from that family line, so I knew it was very special to them. I forgot to take a before photo but you can kind of imagine, it was a faded opaque maple stain all over. The bottom shelf had warped and one of the top drawers had a broken lip. I braced the warped shelf and fixed it quite nicely. I also fixed the broken lip, fully removing the broken part, sanding it flat, cutting and adding a new lip, filling it, and sanding it until smooth before painting. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top to show off the gorgeous wood grain, painted the case black, painted the backboard and interior in a pale yellow, distressed and waxed it, and recolored the hardware.