Friday, November 28, 2008

Custom Embroidered Louis XVI Chair in Rose Tarlow-Melrose House Linen

Practically a year ago, I purchased this chair from my friend and antiquarian Nathan Turner, whose charming shop is part of a compound of resources which includes Claremont Furnishing Fabrics, Hollywood at Home by Peter Dunham and Lucas Studio. This is all located next to Lief at Almont Drive and Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, just around the corner from the Pacific Design Center.

I spent the better part of the year trying to find the perfect fabric to work with the lovely green-gray painted finish. The finish wasn’t original but it was a beautiful old finish with good shading in a historic color. My upholsterer, Roger Chopinet, tells me that the chair is a early-mid 1800’s reproduction of a Louis XVI chair.

During that time, I purchased some “Scala Damask” linen from Rose Tarlow – Melrose House in Wheat and proceeded to do a mad outline combination of cording and chain stitch. Originally conceived as pillow fronts, I did my usual thing and draped both pieces on the chair and I decided it was an inspired mix. So off it went to the upholstery workroom after trim from Samuel & Sons and antique bronze nailheads were selected and here it is.

Clicking on the photo will take you to an enlargement that will give you a good look at the cording and the chain-stitch. The pattern is generally speaking very subtle, but my outlines bring an entirely new dimension to this lovely textile.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Custom Beaded Silk And Linen Pillow With Tassel Trim

One of my all time favorite fabrics is the “St. Simon Lampas” from Old World Weavers. Years ago, I worked as a salesman for Mimi London in the Pacific Design Center. At that time, I sold the lampas for a line we represented, Andre Bon. Since then, the fabric has been incorporated into the collection of Stark/Old World Weavers.

This beautiful fabric originates from France: my guess is that it is woven in the Lyon area. The fabric has a fiber content of silk and linen and is woven on the same loom that has produced this fabric for well over 200 years. The width is traditionally narrow based on that loom’s weaving capability. Other fabrics woven by the silk weavers of Lyon are those supplied by Prelle.

Available in just three colors; besides the one above, it is also woven in a beautiful taupe-blue and a rich raspberry-red. These descriptions are not adequate to describe their color quality. Locally, I’ve noticed this fabric in a few public installations. The blue colorway is installed in the beautiful dining room of the Chateau Marmont above banquette seating. If you scroll through the pictures on the Chateau's website, you will come to one of the banquette area and will recognize the lampas on the wall above. The red colorway has been used as upholstery on two beautiful chairs in the collection of the Getty and viewable in the Decorative Arts wing as well as the link if you click on Getty.

The pillow above is hand beaded using old beads found on the shelves of my workroom. They add to the inherent opulence of this beautiful woven textile as does the silk trim, which I purchased at Décor de Paris in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Embroidered Silk Velvet Fortuny Inspired Pillows

Mariano Fortuny was greatly inspired by historic textiles. Looking through the fabric boards at the Fortuny showroom in the D&D Building is in many ways a history lesson. Some of my favorite patterns are Renaissance style and one merely has to run a little bit across town to see original versions from the Renaissance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was about this time last year that I made that trip; New York always leaves me with so many exciting images.

The pillows above are two that I just completed and shipped for Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy of New Orleans. These pillows are 14” x 26” and are on rich silk velvet. The color is a muted deep gray-violet and the embroidery utilizes a cord outline of gray-blue threads then shading is added in a rayon chain-stitch that is a little darker than the silk velvet. On top of that – icing on the cake – is an extra chain stitch of antique bronze metallic.

The effect is ultimately soft, elegant and rich. With these pillows I think I pay appropriate homage to the master, Mariano Fortuny and to his inspiration as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frank Lloyd Wright "Hollyhock House" Custom Chandelier Project

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of recreating embroidered pillows for the beautifully reproduced living room furniture for Frank Lloyd Wright's famed residence in Hollywood called “Hollyhock House.” Using an original pillow front as the basis for the reproduction, a classic metallic soutache was used to achieve the correct effect. Fabric just like the original was woven and the well documented result of our collaborative work is seen in many books on the subject, including the Rizzoli book “Frank Lloyd Wright Hollyhock House and Olive Hill” by Kathryn Smith. It contains beautiful pictures including those of the living room furniture.

Jeffrey Herr, the curator of this landmark residence, came to me a while ago with the project of recreating the dining room chandelier. Based on an old photograph, the best we are able to accomplish is an impression of the original. Utilizing my computerized embroidery machine, I have created a pattern that consists of fine pattern stitches that resemble traditional cross stitch, which I have outlined. Most machine embroidery requires the use of fabric stabilizers, or backing, to keep the fabric from being damaged by the aggressive work of the needle. In this case, as the fabric is a linen sheer, I did not want any residue of backing to be visible so once again I turned to that marvelous water soluble backing. After several rinses, the backing is gone and I have this lovely, flowing sheer pictured above, which makes me very happy.

The chandelier will be put together by the hands of others now. Samuel and Sons has created custom tassels that will add weight to the fabric and complete the effect. I am so happy to be a part of this project and delighted to have added to the illusion of the past of this lovely home.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Custom Embroidered Table Linens

This is one of my favorite place settings. The dishes are made in Florence, Italy and the pattern is "Fiesole" by Richard Ginori. The simple elegance of this service is that quiet charm that would make a toasted cheese sandwich seem special. The Venetian stemware I bought at auction years ago at Bonhams and Butterfields and the table linens are from Sferra, also from Italy and embroidered by Villa Savoia. The technique is hand-guided machine using a variety of threads with a little bronze metallic thrown in for sparkle. Bon Appetito!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Custom Pillow: Suzani inspired with embroidered accents

The fabrics of Michael S. Smith's Jasper Collection are beautiful. Each fabric has a quiet opulence that enriches an interior or a piece of furniture. The pattern above is a large scale woven wool textile. The inspiration is undoubtedly an antique Suzani textile which have been rightly popular for some time now. The color palette has been toned down from the original pieces still being produced in Uzbekistan today.

My good friend and Interior Designer Brenda Fox Wilson brought this project through my door; she used the fabric to upholster a chair in a client's bedroom and wanted me to make a pillow with the untouched fabric as an accent pillow for the bed. By clicking on the above photo you will see an enlargement of the pillow, giving a close up of the cording and the chain-stitches, all hand guided using the Cornelly machine. There is a small rope trim used that was purchased from Janet Yonaty. Brenda and her client like the down pillow inserts to be very loose - a quality that I prefer as well. My seamstress Nancy removed a good 3-4 handfuls of fill to give us the right look and feel. The pillow is 18" high x 26" wide.

I'll be sending out a post card featuring the embroidery in the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kaveri Singh - Interior Artist

A photograph of two Acanthus pillows I recently made for The Wiseman Group are shown a few posts below. As I mentioned in the post, the design was created by my good friend Kaveri Singh. I have known Kaveri and her husband TJ for many years as a result of a design project we shared in the late 1990's. Kaveri did the decorative painting and glazing throughout the house, I worked on the interiors. We became acquainted by mixing paint together – matching this fabric or that wall covering. Among the many notable projects we did together in the house included a dining room with a beautifully articulated hand painted ceiling and wall panels. Here is a photograph of one of her more recent works of art - she hand painted the walls of this large entry with a Chinoiserie style treatment featuring bamboo, flowers and birds.

TFS - a book review

I am in production of a complicated design. For each 14 inches, the design requires 93,550 stitches.
While I watch over this design I am taking the opportunity to read one of my newer books, TFS Toni Facella Sensi Architect. It is mostly a book of interiors done by this master tracing work from the 1970’s to 2000. I just recently discovered this book while looking through the shelves at the Potterton Books at the Pacific Design Center; however it was published in 2002.

There are first three amazing residences of the designer – one in Rome, another in his native Umbria at Orvieto and a third in Hammamet, Tunisia.

The text of the book is written by Cesare Cunnacia – and it is colorful and nostalgic. He has some great lines from a variety of sources such as Oscar Wilde – “there is no art without style, there is no style without harmony, and that harmony was of the individual” – I like that. And the interiors are richly detailed. The fabrics are quintessential fine European textiles used appropriately for their location; Palm Beach, Milan, Munich, Caracas, and London to name a few. International in scope and flavor, there is much to inspire in these details.

There is plenty of textile embellishment in this book – often times it takes the shape of appliqué. There is a beautiful piece of furniture – a sofa that is in a wonderful colorful lampas fabric. He has cut some of the floral elements from the lampas and appliquéd them on a beautiful blue velvet. It is a light touch as he employs the appliqué sparingly and the result is absolutely charming and perfect. Needless to say, I love the book!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Custom Velvet Acanthus Pillows

The custom pillows above shipped yesterday to The Wiseman Group in San Francisco. These pillows are on beautiful a Marvic velvet and are embellished with hand-guided cording and chain stitch using an Acanthus pattern designed by my good friend Kaveri Singh. This is an adaptation of the pattern used on silk satin shown on a previous post - used to make curtains for Holden & Dupuy of New Orleans.

The pillows measure 16” in height and 23” in width and were made to coordinate with a color palette of the room and were trimmed with a small matching cord from Samuel & Sons trim.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Custom Beaded Rose Cumming Pillows

Last week I finished these two pillows for Randy Patton Design Studio. They are currently on their way to a new home on Fisher Island off the Miami coast. The linen velvet from Rose Cumming is a very soft pink with a lovely french style gaufrage pattern. The fabric was first outlined with embroidery in areas to provide a shape I filled with pink irredescent beads. Large pink freshwater pearls were added as well as smaller pearls and faceted pink quartz. The trim is hand tied silk from Scalamandre. The embellished surface is richly decorative.