Thursday, August 28, 2008

Venus Envy

Is it just me.....

Or does this pair of Belgian Art Deco sconces, found on Ebay...

remind you a lot of this?

The little lady shown above is the celebrated and ancient Venus of Willendorf, who was named after the Austrian town where she was found. SimilarPaleolithic female figurines have been found in many parts of the world, and archeologists and anthropologists are certain that the ladies mean something, but no on can quite agree on what. The ladies are generally referred to as goddess figures or fertility symbols. More HERE.

And even more amusing, the town of Willendorf, Austria, where the first woman was found, celebrated the centennial anniversary of the discovery of the goddess figure with Venus Day at the beginning of August; the celebration includes pancakes and 'Venus jam', and chocolate in the shape of the Venus. Genius! Just in case you have regrets for missing the Austrian revel last month, there is also a chocolatier in upstate NY who offers Venus of Willendorf chocolate, available HERE.

And for what it's worth, I think that the art glass sconces are supposed to be a stylized vase holding a bouquet of flowers. That's just a guess....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Design Love: Degue Art Glass

(image via Decorum)

My intense interest (read obsession) in Art Deco lighting continues, and the second designer I've 'discovered' in recent weeks, besides Loys Lucha, is the French designer David Gueron.

Gueron formed his own art glass production company, Verrierie d'Art Degue in 1926; Degue being a shortened version of his name (much like a JLo or LiLo nickname today!). Initially the company concentrated on functional tableware. However, he quickly moved the company into the luxury art glass market intended for well to do French and American clients, and began producing thickly molded and acid etched glass chandeliers and vases. More information HERE . Degue was not without controversy; according to the summary at Style and Design,

"The factory produced glass which one might generously describe as an homage to
Schneider. [Another well-known art glass manufacturer of the time.] Gueron employed ex-Schneider workers and soon over stepped the mark resulting in litigation between Gueron and Schneider. Styles include highly decorative brightly coloured Art Deco designs; all well executed which bear a striking resemblance to Schneider."

Copycat or not, Degue glass is credited with being well crafted, and beautifully designed. Degue produced several different styles of chandelier lighting, all with his signature thick glass, and various hand-worked metals. The style that I like best, though, is the simpler pressed glass (pate de verre) suspended bowls, or vasque, fixtures. The bowl is usually seen suspended by three silk cords or a trio of gorgeous nickel or chrome rods with a metal ceiling canopy. The lights are usually illuminated by a single bulb suspended just above the glass bowl.

While stunning and not exactly quiet, these simpler bowl lights seem more adaptable to variety of today's interiors than the grander armed-chandeliers. I'm still a novice at this, but pricing seems to vary wildly. For an entry level collector/fancier, you can find shades (with no wired fixtures) on Ebay, and basically build your own light. And some Ebay items are shown with non-original hanging apparatus - usually 3 chains and a new canopy. For the serious collector who wants everything to be original, expect to have significantly deeper pockets. Interestingly, the actor Michael Caine is a collector of Degue glass, according to this article.

Take a peek at some of these recent listings on Ebay to see for yourself.

A quick stroll through Google will reveal lots of antique dealers who have Degue chandeliers and vasques, including 1st Dibs, Modernism, DecoDame, Art Deco Collection, and others listed at right in the links section. But by far the treasure trove of Degue lighting can be found at Decorum, in San Francisco, and Jack, the proprietor, is very amenable to questions via email. (And please do visit his website to read his interesting and amusing description of just what it's like to go to the big antique shows in France!) The following two are a tiny sampling of the gems at Decorum, as is the first image at the top of the post. Please note the gorgeous metal rods and decorated ceiling canopy, as compared to the more piecemeal assemblage of fixtures in the Ebay images above:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Geetz, and things on fire

Sorry for all the shouting, but this is very very good news.
She's one of the funniest bloggers ever, and after silently going through some tough times, she's back and better than ever.

And writing about geese.
Make that geetz.
Nevermind, just take a look HERE.

*But be forewarned, it's so funny that it will make your mascara run!
Not necessarily safe for work.

And then, take a peek through the archives and look at the Burning Baby Viking Funeral.

Miss Doxie lives here in Atlanta, somewhere, and it seems like, just possibly, a bad idea for her and Smithy to ever meet.

Because, well, the obvious, she's adorable, and because Smithy is a bit of a pyro.
Well, usually in a contained sort of way. But he's such a pyro, that last weekend he headed out to Burning Man for the second year in a row.

If you've never heard of Burning Man before, it's a festival held out on the (desert) playa in Nevada. Basically an entire temporary city is built from scratch in one of the harshest environments in the US, for the purpose of the festival, and afterwards every single thing, down to every last cigarette butt, is removed from the playa. And in the course of the festival, a hell of a lot of festiveness occurs, and a lot of things are set on fire.

This year, Smithy is going as a crew member for his artist buddy, Charlie, and the sculpture The Fleeble Flobbler.
See more about Charlie's work HERE.

Me, on the other hand?
Nope, no Burning Man for me.
(I think it's silly.)
Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, but now I'm a far-too-cranky 40+ to deal with it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Design Love: Loys Lucha

Apologies to my blog friends, I didn't mean to let you linger with the story of Miss Ophelia's plight for so long. How about seeing something pretty instead?!

During some of my recent strolls through Ebay, I've stumbled upon two names that are new to me: Loys Lucha and Degue. Both are names of French designers, or design firms more correctly, during the Art Deco period of the 1920's who created glass ceiling lights, or plafonniers. One thing led to another, until I came up with a collection of photos of beautiful ceiling lights. I'll separate this into two posts, one about each designer.

Loys Lucha specialized in colorful enameled glass, most often with stylized, vibrant flower patterns. The shallow glass bowl-shaped shades were typically suspended by a trio of either silk cords or metal chains from a central ceiling canopy, and had a single bulb suspended above the glass shade. The photos shown here primarily show the gorgeous patterns on the shades.

I haven't been able to find much information on the designer on the internet, so if someone is more knowlegable, please enlighten me. Here are some gorgeous examples:


And Modernism Gallery in Coral Gables, FL has had some stunning examples:

While the prices listed for several, ok, all of these lights are beyond the reach of many of us mere mortals, I have seen a handful of lights in this style on Ebay.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Christmas in August - sorta

Well, it involves mistletoe at least, but not in the usual way.

While I was doing other chores in the back yard last night, Miss Ophelia found a few hefty twigs of storm blown mistletoe, of all things, and decided that it looked like a fun chew toy. I eventually glanced over to see what she was doing, shrieked, and promptly took her treasure away.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this isn't the kind of plant a pet ought to be nibbling. A quick trip to the internet revealed that mistletoe is indeed considered toxic to pets. The berries are the worst part of the plant, but pretty much the whole thing can cause a variety of horrible traumas, or death, if consumed in enough quantity. HERE is some info. And more HERE.

Interestingly, there is also some data HERE from tests done to study the anti-cancer properties European Mistletoe.

Fortunately, Ophelia is a 110 lb. Great Dane, so the after the folks at Poison Control and the county Emergency Vet got over the fact that some fool was calling with a mistletoe question in freakin' August, they all agreed that her actual risk probably wasn't too terrible given her body weight. The toxic affects are horrible, though, so They also agreed that there was no point in taking chances, and that a purge was needed ASAP. Bring on the hydrogen peroxide!

Lucky for me, my friend and neighbor, Louis, was game to help wrangle a very squirmy, very big dog while I dumped the appropriate, vet-recommended amount of hydrogen peroxide down her gullet. The peroxide did the trick, spectacularly. Fortunately, all traces of mistletoe were expelled, and Oph seems to be in fine shape.

In case you're wondering where in the hell the mistletoe came from....Our neighbor has a very large oak tree that has lots of this parasitic plant growing in the canopy. I think that the combo of drought, followed by some very windy summer storms knocked the plant right out of the tree - and into my yard.

So, how was your Sunday night?!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Memory Game

Sometimes when you zoom in on a particular time period in design, like oh, say, Art Deco and Art Moderne lighting, and really focus on it, you start seeing connections, or echoes of similar styles. I had one of those fun 'ah ha' moments last night while trolling through my local Craigslist furniture section.

I ran across this listing with these cool white sconces:

I knew that I had just seen those sconces, or something very similar, very recently, so I did a little surfing.

As it turns out, I had spotted them first on the Deco Dame website (all images are copyrighted and cannot be copied from that site). The circa 1955 sconces are attributed to Morris Lapidus, architect of the Eden Roc hotel in Miami. On the Deco Dame site, you can clearly see the hotel's initials in the crest on each sconce. The Craigslist photos don't show enough detail to be certain.

Artnet also had a record of a recent sale of a Lapidus floor lamp and sconces, shown here:

They've got to be the same design, right?!

Here's the fun part:
Craigslist sconces listed at $100.
(Granted one sconce arm looks cracked/broken.)
Deco Dame sconces listed at $4,200 for the pair.

And I believe that there is a relative of Morris Lapidus living here in Atlanta, although that's not necessarily the person selling the sconces. Just an interesting connection.

This is exactly why I love Craigslist: in amongst the dreck, there are treasures to be found!

*By about 1:30 pm today the Craigslist ad has been deleted. I'm guessing someone scored a cool deal on a pair of sconces.

**Later re-listed!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We Can Do It!

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything around the house seems to malfunction at once?!

Well, last week was one of those weeks for me. Fortunately, none of the items in question - leaky sink and toilet, continuously on outdoor light - required a big fix. They're the kind of things that drive you crazy instead, and more often than not, it required perserverance instead of skill to fix. In the case of the sink repair, it 'just' required trips to three hardware stores to find the correct replacement stem for the handle - for a Delta faucet that's only two years old.

Then we had a motion sensor outdoor light that was suddenly constantly on. Since the light operates by a photocell, not a wall switch, Smithy and I were kinda clueless about how to fix it. A phone call from a cranky neighbor gave me the push I needed to figure it out. (She wasn't crazy about the light shining into her bedroom window for two nights in a row.) Did you know that power surges from thunderstorms can trip a motion sensor light? And that the first thing to do is turn off the circuit breaker for the light? Well, now I know, and the light is fixed. The running toilet is still a work in progress, but I'm on the right track.

In the process of searching the web for how to info, I stumbled into the Be Jane website. There's some frivolous stuff there; at some point several months ago I believe they offered pink tool belts for sale. (Just because I'm a woman, it doesn't mean I intend to 'accessorize' with a freaking pink tool belt! If anything, I'm a city dame so black would be just fine, thanks.) But beyond the girlie slant, there's some really really helpful 'how to' sections with good clear pictures. And they describe the steps clearly without being condescending or overly technical. It's definitely worth a look.

So the other night I was telling (boasting to) my friends, Louis and Kathy, about fixing some items around the house. I know it wasn't rocket science by any means, but I was proud of the fact that I did it myself. Both of them are very skilled house renovators, among other talents, so they understood the pride. Louis, joked that I was turning into Rosie the Riveter. I happen to adore Rosie, as shown at the top of the post.

However, did you know that that's not the real Rosie?! According to Wikipedia, that image has mistakenly become known as Rosie the Riveter, but this image by Norman Rockwell is the real Rosie.
For more interesting info on the Rosie the Riveter campaign during the war effort, read HERE, and for real life women working during the war effort, and source of the fantastic black and white photos, see HERE.

What's not to love about Rosie?!
A real, healthy looking, tough cookie of a woman, and she's actually eating for heaven's sakes. So in the span of a few days, I've learned how to fix a sink, a toilet, and a light, and I've acquired a new female icon. Not bad!