Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Bench and Server in Blue

July is on her way out the door, and I'm sorry to say, but good riddance. It was an absolutely exceptional month for me in terms of sales, and the dry weather that lasted through most of the month meant I could spread out on the driveway and paint away. But is was hot, humid, and sticky and that made every task unpleasant. It is in fact humid and sticky even now at just past 8am as I'm typing this. Luckily, August usually cools down a bit and If this August follows the same pattern as most of the Augusts I've known in my 14 years in Connecticut, it will be less humid, and quite lovely most days, though there will still be some damn hot days scattered about. 
          At the moment it's trying to decide if it should rain or not, or rather, it's trying to decide if it's ready to start raining, as judging by the radar it's going to rain all day. My workshop is cleared out, though, and I have projects to work on in there all day. 
          Here's the last group of projects I managed to squeeze in before the rainy weekend began, a vintage cherry server and a pine bench custom for a client. The client requested a nautical scene with a lighthouse to be painted across the base of the bench, and as lighthouses are my favorite thing to paint ever, I was more than delighted to tackle the order. The server is painted in the same blue as the bench, and I refinished the top is a slightly more honey tone color than the original stain. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Skinner's Americana Auction: Top Picks

Americana August. It's better than Christmas or getting a hole in one on the 18th hole and winning a free sundae. I've only ever played mini golf, but I'm assu. Really there are two magical times in the antiques world each year; there's Antiques Week in NYC in January, and there's New Hampshire Antiques Week in August. It's no coincidence they're six months apart, the powers that be must know that our self control can't stand more than six months between the two, and our bank accounts can't stand any less than six months to recover! And for Americana August, (which is what I've decided the August events should be called, since that New Hampshire business becomes quite a mouth full), there are two events that I really and truly look forward to all year- The NHADA Show, and the Skinner's Americana Auction.
        Skinner's catalog actually came out online yesterday but I forgot my laptop at my friend's house yesterday, and then promised myself this morning that I could sit quietly and drink wine and peruse the catalog tonight if I worked super hard in the hot sun all day. So I was a good girl, and worked and sweated my ass off, and now here I am, a wee bit tipsy and knee deep in antiques nirvana. I don't want you to miss out of the fun, though, so I'll be blogging as I read the catalog, and picking out my very very favorite pieces to share with you. Don't be surprised if this get's sillier the more you read, I'm just a half a glass of wine in right now, but this post is going to take me several hours to write, so buckle up for drunken irreverence by the end.

Lot 3: And early 18th century pine box in an early dry blue paint surface with elaborate geometric incised decoration. I mean, there really aren't words enough for how dear and precious this gem of early American folk art is. I truly love how over the top the incised decoration is, the maker got a bit carried away, which is ever so wonderful.

Lot 14- A flame stitched embroidered pocketbook marked 'Jeremiah Pearson x 1766'.
You see flame stitch "pocket books"(wallets) fairly frequently at good antique shows, but this is a terrifically fine example. The colors are so bold, and the condition is excellent. The fact that we have a name of the original owner, and that genealogical evidence indicates he was a 26 year old man living in Newburyport when this was made for him, probably by his wife, all the better. 
Lot 60: A red painted fire bucket dated 1806.
I just bought my very first fire bucket this past spring. I should probably have two, or ten. Ugh, they're so pretty and weird and wonderful. One of those things that is now wholly and entirely obsolete. One of those things that only needed to be utilitarian but because of the wonder of American spirit was always spectacularly decorated. Basically the best kind of thing ever. I might need this.

Lot 105: Engraved 18th century brass dog collar which reads,
My dogs are fancy. I know that's braggy but it's the only luxury I have through family connection. They're brothers, pure bred border collies who's father is something like #2 in the country in sheep dog trials at the moment. Their pedigrees, which we have stuffed in a drawer, are far more impressive and extensive than my own. Luckily, they're both humble lads, and never put on airs, but now I'm thinking they need engraved brass collars. 

Lot 225- A 19th century fireboard
To start it's green. I'm such a sucker for early green paint, especially a rich kelly shade like this. The dainty scrolled feet have an empire feel to them. It looks like an elongated shutter, which is magnificent, and I've never seen anything quite like it. My current fire screen has dolphins on it, maybe it's time for an upgrade. 
Lot 276 - A set of eight fanback Windsors by James Chapman Tuttle of Salem, Massachusetts c.1795.
Great design never dies. My god, these look so modern I could easily believe they came out of the 2016 Ethan Allen catalog. But no, they're 225 years old, which is absolutely mind boggling. Can you imagine being so damn good at your job you could make something so sturdy and sexy it would last and stay relevant for more than two centuries. Fist bump, Mr. Tuttle, you were one skilled dude. 
Lot 114: A pair of early 19th century hanging lights.
Oh jesus, someone come hold me hand while I have the vapors. Best fetch the smelling salts or a martini while you're at it. I LOVE THESE. I have wanted a hanging light like this for ages, but in aqua? and a pair?!?!
And I can hear you thinking "Hmmmm, they look like glass saggy boobs" but that's even better!
Ok, I'm buying these too, don't you dare outbid me, I'll hunt you down and shank you.

Lot 185- Early 19th century green glazed redware jar.
Everything about this piece is a study in sophisticated simplicity. The deep emerald color makes my toes curl with joy, that  softly ovoid body with sharply contracting shoulder, and the almost matte sheen. yummy.

Lot 301- Satan's food chopper.
Sorry, I told you things were gonna get silly by the end.

Lot 336- Early 19th century hide covered trunk
Yet another amazingly modern looking two hundred year old antique. I LOVE this. That mottled coloring is to die for, It even has a key?! I could die.

Lot 515- Early 19th century paint decorated pine chest.
Obviously the best and most fabulous thing I've ever seen in my favorite colors.
Here is a short list of things I WOULD do for the privilege of owning this treasure
1. Cut off my hands
2. Cut off your hands
3. Forgo hand the unnecessary limb removal and bribe the auctioneer
4. When that fails, rappel into the showroom the night before the auction, steal the box, and secret off to an island paradise to live alone to sip martinis with said box, my only real one true love.

So this is apparently going to be a two part auction coverage post because I'm tipsy and want to go upstairs and watch Stranger Things on netflix.
I'll do the second half of the catalog tomorrow morning!! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Vintage Oak Farm Table and Teak Chairs

This is an ode to mixing and matching, because sometimes pieces don't start life together, but they are meant to be together. I found this vintage solid oak farm table at the goodwill early last week. It was $15. Yes, $15 for a solid oak farm table!! I could hardly believe my luck. I snatched it up quick as lightning. I found the set of four teak chairs at the East Hampton town wide tagsale more than a month ago, and was waiting for just the right table to pair them with. And as soon as I found the oak table, I knew they needed to be united.
         Both the table and chairs are vintage c.1965 and have a sleek mid century sophistication. The table is oak and the chairs are solid teak and marked on the underside "made in Denmark", which is pretty awesome if I don't say so myself. I refinished the chair seats and painted the frames in a pale custom green named 'Canterbury Celadon", the deeper teal is also custom mixed named "Horizon".

A Vintage Blanket Chest and Radio

This was a fun little project I just finished up for a client. Both the radio and the blanket chest date to right around WWII. The chest was actually originally covered in rice paper and trimmed with bamboo, with a serious South Pacific vibe. It had been used hard for the last sixty years though, and had lost its feet, was worn, chipped, cracked, and water stained. I refinished the pine top in a medium tone, and painted the case in cream. I added new ball feet to raise the height up and give it a more finished appearance. I sanded the radio case, replaced the screen in the center portion, re-applied a loose piece of molding, repaired a crack in the screen frame and swapped out the "dials". The radio lost its entire workings long long ago, but the client is going to put her iPod docking station inside it so it will "play" music once again.

A Vintage Hutch in Cream and Green

This was a piece I refinished custom for a client last week. It's a nice solid pine hutch from about 1985 or so. It's well built but was pretty homely and dated. The client had a great vision for it though, and I went about recreating this ho-hum hutch into a farmhouse modern showpiece.
          First I prepped the case for paint. I removed all the hardware and the glass in the top doors, which I very very carefully set carried into my workshop and stored. I sanded, stained, and sealed the top, eliminating some pet damage in the process. I sanding the case to ensure proper paint adhesion and then custom mixed and antique cream color for the exterior and purchased the green for the interior, mixing both into chalk paints. I painted the all but the backboard in the cream, it took four coats and the dentil moulding was desperately tedious. I painted the backboard in the cheerful green. I then distressed the case and sealed it with my own homemade dark wax, reapplied the hardware, and very very carefully for the glass back in the doors.

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!