Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lakeside Loungin'

We are headed to the sunny lakeside of the Tennessee River for the Fourth of July. Yes, we'll have a party, but will we have all the proper accoutrements? Not yet, because I don't own these...
I recently took this photo of the vintage hammered aluminum for a story on al fresco dining. I thought that these gorgeous pieces that arrived in homes from the 1930s to the 1950s would be fabulous for outdoor dining, due to their light weight and durability. Sometimes called "poor man's silver," hammered aluminum was not merely designed to appeal to the thrifty; it was fashioned to attract the affluent, as well, with its well-made handles, beautiful floral patterns, or dimpled surfaces. 
 I'm also kind of into these Japanese, fish-festooned of teacups for after dinner coffee. And the surreal, shell-encrusted cake pedestal is so Mad-Hatter-Hits-Key-West, no? 
Friday, June 24, 2011

Cherub Mermen, Who Thought of That?

In order to own a Tybee Island beach house, I must rob a Brink's truck or write a best-selling whodunit, and I cannot gauge which is less likely, the odds for either being infinitesimal. Still, that does not stop my pulse from quickening at beach-themed objects of d├ęcor. 
Can't you just hear the strains of "Moon River" playing in the background for this fabulous Victorian cachepot? I can. Because I'm envisioning it at a beachside wedding party, filled with fluffy pink peonies, and set it at the bride and groom's table. Delish.
I love that the figural handles can't decide if they are mermen or cherubs, so they're just both. Why not when torn between one mythical creature or another? I want to be a pegasus mermaid myself, or, you know, a Medusa Neptune. I also love that they have wings made of shells, and that the shells have pearls in them. I'm so glad some sweaty Victorian blacksmith dreamt up the  merman cherub.  
This cachepot also has a separate liner that goes in it so that it can be made into a lamp. So, after the wedding, put it by the bed for reading "Joy of Cooking" late at night, naturally. 
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Technicolor Mary and the Shirley Temple Jesus

I have been obsessed with this Our Lady of the Rosary piece for about a year now. It is being sold at GasLamp Antiques in Nashville, a client of mine, by Linda Dorland, who has incredibly eclectic tastes. 
It is a confection of yummy iconographic goodness, from the vivid Technicolor palette to the convex shape of the glass. And the shell frame is the kicker. I don't know the provenance of this item, but I think a good guess would be Venice. It just seems so Venetian to me. Well, it's $165, which I think is a fair price, but since I don't have a palazzo near Piazza San Marco, I have to pass. For now ... 
And can we just talk for a moment about Mary? She's not sad, tragic, or pious. No, none of that business for this Mary. She's a real glamour puss, this gal. Check out her pearl earrings, the pearl rosary (with a sapphire drop, natch), the pearly stars floating around her head. This Mary looks like something out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I think after she gets done with being adored on the throne, she's heading over to Cole Porter's to kick back a few sidecars and dance the Charleston (along with Baby Jesus, who looks like Shirley Temple). Seriously. Bust out the good crystal, Cole, Mary's swinging by. Yes, that's this Mary.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beach Bathing, Flapper Style

While recently researching Venetian mermaid motifs created during the Renaissance, I came across this history about the first bathing suit to hit the silver screen. Go figure.
These lovely "mermaids" are frolicking at Three Arch Bay in Southern California for the 1912 film "The Water Nymph" by Mack Sennett, a famous slapstick director of the day. Sennett's paramour, Mabel Normand, was the first actress to put on a bathing suit for film. She was one of Sennett's famous "Bathing Beauties." (Normand was also the first actress to throw a cream pie in someone's face, that of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle). Thanks to Steve Turnbull at for this enchanting photo.
Here, Marvel Rea and Peggie Cloud flank Chester Conklin for a 1919 production by Sennett, wearing, naturally, their oh-so-glamorous bathing suits. Thanks to for posting this photo. 
And here is another Bathing Beauty, named Myrtle Lind. Photo from from
Lind again (from She is my favorite "Bathing Beauty." In his book, "King of Comedy," Sennett says of the Bathing Beauties' swim attire, "I went ahead and put the girls on film in the most abbreviated suits possible ... When the studio received hundreds of letters of protest from the women's clubs, I knew I had done the right thing."
Monday, June 20, 2011

Playing With One's Food

Being Southern, I tend to favor slathered-on buttercream over architectural fondant any day. Our culture tends to be high on taste, low on precision. That said, I stand amazed by Japan's cultural food phenomenon called Kyaraben, the art of elaborately arranging food to look like people, animals, and popular characters. Originally, Kyaraben was used to encourage children to develop healthy eating habits; moms put the artful arrangements in a child's bento box for lunch. 
This photo of Kyaraben is from Christopher D. Salyers' book Face Food.
Another bento box from Face Food. Piglet certainly is a far way off from Hundred Acre Wood. 
As one could imagine, Hello Kitty is a frequent theme. It can take up to two hours to make one of these arrangements. Japanese parents must wake up early in the morning to get these ready for the bento boxes.
A bento box from Kotobuki, billed as the perfect size for bringing lunch to school or work. It's 4.4" by 4.2" by 3.1". No wonder the Japanese are so trim. 
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Do Bother To Knock

Back in 2007 I was working on creative for some pricey brownstones in Nashville, trying to come up with ways to "brand" them. I became enamored with the notion of putting a different Victorian-reproduction door knocker on each one's door. Coincidentally, around that time, an article came out in Vanity Fair about Serge Gainsbourg's home in Paris, and what was on his front door? A ball-in-hand door knocker, just like those so popular during the Victorian era. 
This is an example of such a door knocker, from the Figural Cast Iron Collectors Club. 
While working on the project, naturally I had to have this brass fox for inspiration (from He's now on my front door, and will look more dapper once it is painted Wedgwood blue. (Dorothy Draper always said one must have a welcoming door color). 
I found this glamorous Neptune knocker from Parisian blog Just Another American in Paris. I am feeling it stateside for a "cottage" in Palm Beach or Newport. 
This fabulous door knocker of Athena is on a country house in Ireland, where the blog Sallys Gardens is written. I love this high-gloss blue door color. (Lassco in England sells reproductions of the Athena type door knocker). 
I just adore this antique door knocker found from the Figural Cast Iron Collectors Club. She is a Hubley Bathing Beauty from the 1920s, designed by English cartoonist Anne Fish. I could see her on a colorful Tybee Island cottage that has been renovated by interior designer and preservationist Jane Coslick.