Wake Me Up When Everything's Not All White

What's all this I hear about wallpaper making a comeback?  As far as I'm concerned, it never went away.

For one thing, it’s the perfect solution for enlivening a blah wall.  In this case, a narrow space off my kitchen was prime for something interesting.  I thought almost any wallpaper would do, anything to give it some life, but this Tree paper from Cole & Son works especially well because the line of trees leads your eye around the corner to more trees down a hallway.

Carnie dog, from prior blog post, keeping it real in the foreground.

Carnie dog, from prior blog post, keeping it real in the foreground.

Before:  Nothing much to see here.

Before:  Nothing much to see here.

Carnival Figurines

Until the 1950's, before plush toys, carnival prizes were often garish, colorful plaster of Paris figurines. They're fragile and easily broken, so not many vintage ones survive in good condition.  Those that do are mostly found on eBay, which is where I discovered "carnieware" while trolling for dog figurines.  (Yes it's true, I collect inanimate dogs, see early blog post below.)  I've since noticed fans of these toys among artists, designers, photographers and general appreciators of the unconventional.  Below are some fun examples collected by the celebrated photo-journalist Mary Ellen Mark, plus those belonging to one of my most very favorite designers, Todd Nickey, partner in Nickey + Kehoe.  (www.nickeykehoe.com)

 

Mary Ellen Mark's dog and cowboy.  

Mary Ellen Mark's dog and cowboy.  

Cherry-cheeked friends.

Cherry-cheeked friends.

Thank you, Todd Nickey, for sending this picture. If I'm not mistaken, during our chat you said they look as if painted by drag queens, which is really a perfect description.    

Thank you, Todd Nickey, for sending this picture. If I'm not mistaken, during our chat you said they look as if painted by drag queens, which is really a perfect description.    

T Bone and friends.  A lovely aside:  I told an Italian friend about this blog post.  He said, “ah, you’re taking me back.” He remembered as a child in Trieste after World War 2, the American soldiers stationed there coming back from the Luna Park, having won these toys and giving them to the local children.  They didn’t know what else to do with them. He remembered the hand-painted colors melted in the rain.

T Bone and friends.

A lovely aside:  I told an Italian friend about this blog post.  He said, “ah, you’re taking me back.” He remembered as a child in Trieste after World War 2, the American soldiers stationed there coming back from the Luna Park, having won these toys and giving them to the local children.  They didn’t know what else to do with them. He remembered the hand-painted colors melted in the rain.

Coming Up Pink

As one who loves the color pink, it's more often association with what is tacky (flamingo yard ornaments, Elvis's Cadillac) rather than the sublime can be a bit disheartening.  So it was pretty great to see the art cast against petal pink walls to stunning effect at two of my favorite exhibitions this past winter.

Richard Haines "Larger Than Life" at Daniel Cooney Gallery

Richard Haines "Larger Than Life" at Daniel Cooney Gallery

Cecily Brown Rehearsal at The Drawing Center.  The color is Benjamin Moore Easter Bonnet. I know because I asked.

Cecily Brown Rehearsal at The Drawing Center.  The color is Benjamin Moore Easter Bonnet. I know because I asked.

The Drawing Center, Cecily Brown.

The Drawing Center, Cecily Brown.

Detail Cecily Brown 

Detail Cecily Brown 

An Ode to Toile

You've come a long way baby.  Brigitte Zieger uses toile's traditional framework to challenge feminine stereotypes.

Toile, with its repeating patterns of idyllic landscapes and figures, is often considered to be conventional and bourgeois.  But toile wallpaper is in the homes of some of our foremost tastemakers and modern interpretations of It's classic design can be found in unexpected places ....

At Nickey Kehoe, the best store in L.A., with toile dining chair.

At Nickey Kehoe, the best store in L.A., with toile dining chair.

Flavor Paper's custom Williamsburg toile at The Wythe Hotel.

Flavor Paper's custom Williamsburg toile at The Wythe Hotel.

Brooklyn toile in Beastie Boys Mike Diamond's home.

Brooklyn toile in Beastie Boys Mike Diamond's home.

Detail Mike Diamond's Brooklyn toile.

Detail Mike Diamond's Brooklyn toile.

Inez van Lamsweerde's pup Leo at home.

Inez van Lamsweerde's pup Leo at home.

Artist Richard Saja collaboration with Keds for Opening Ceremony.

Artist Richard Saja collaboration with Keds for Opening Ceremony.

 

I spied over the holidays.......

The busyness of holiday life meant little time for studio visits and interviews but I do want to share some of the lovely things I saw and, ahem, maybe bought.  I bet you like them too!

A lively pop up sale at the studio space shared by woodworkers Ariel Alasko and Amelie Mancini featured their beautiful work plus that of ceramicist Josephine Heilpern and jeweler Nick Lundeen.  Just look at these hand carved wooden spoons, ceramics, jewelry, printed linens.   I wanted everything!   www.arielealasko.com, www.ameliemancini.com, www.nicklundeen.com, www.recreationcentershop.com

Napkins from Amelie Mancini, Spoons carved by Ariel Alasko and Ceramics by Josephine Heilpern.    Photograph by Ariel Alasko

Napkins from Amelie Mancini, Spoons carved by Ariel Alasko and Ceramics by Josephine Heilpern.

Photograph by Ariel Alasko

             Photograph by Nick Lundeen

             Photograph by Nick Lundeen

                 Jewelry by Nick Lundeen, Tumblers and Pitcher by Josephine Heilpern  

                 Jewelry by Nick Lundeen, Tumblers and Pitcher by Josephine Heilpern  

                 Tortoise Cuffs by Nick Lundeen.     Photograph Nick Lundeen     

                 Tortoise Cuffs by Nick Lundeen.     Photograph Nick Lundeen

 

                                 Printed Fabric Pouches and Napkins by Amelie Mancini 

                                Printed Fabric Pouches and Napkins by Amelie Mancini 

                   This is Mazie.  She was there too!  Photograph by Ariel Alasko

                  This is Mazie.  She was there too!  Photograph by Ariel Alasko

These are the people in my neighborhood....

One in a series featuring local artisans from Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy whose work I love and want to share.

Have you SEEN these quilts?!  This is the work of Haptic Lab.  Haptic means a sense of touch and hand-made is the creed of Emily Fischer, the studio's founder.  Emily started by making kites on her living room floor after being laid off from her architecture job in 2009.  "It's the best thing that's ever happened to me.  Now I get to make things."   She also now works from a spacious studio in Bed-Stuy with her own crew of artisans.  When I visited recently they were in full holiday elf mode to meet demand for her hand-stitched, elaborately patterned quilts and fantastical sailing ship kites.  What enamors me about Haptic Lab is the combination of high craft with visceral, dreamy design.  www.hapticlab.com

Inspiration board.

Inspiration board.

Constellation Quilt.

Constellation Quilt.

Emily Fischer holding a kite in progress.

Emily Fischer holding a kite in progress.

Flame Sailing Ship Kite

Flame Sailing Ship Kite

Coastal Quilt.

Coastal Quilt.

Quilts awaiting shipment to their lucky owners.

Quilts awaiting shipment to their lucky owners.

Moi!

Moi!

Flowers at The Primary Essentials with Fox Fodder Farm

The Primary Essentials (www.theprimartyessentials.com) is one of my favorite shops in Brooklyn.   There is treasure everywhere, Helen Levi pottery, textured linens in deep indigo blue and ceramic barrettes of all things!  So I was pretty happy to spend a cheery, rainy Saturday morning there recently drinking delicious coffee and arranging flowers with Taylor from Fox Fodder Farm. www.foxfodderfarm.com

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