Monday, December 28, 2009


Some time ago I had the opportunity to create a chair for an interior design project. The project had a very minimalist focus and the materials had to be as simple as possible. After a couple weeks of research into human dimension and structure I came up with the "jbm.chair" (just basic materials). Since then I have had the chance to use the chair in a couple of other projects that are as far from minimalism as one can get and the chair really seems to lend itself to numerous design styles.

I have recently decided to put my design out into the greater world. My hope is to start selling the "jbm.chair"on an individual basis at some point in the near future and then to possibly sell the design to a manufacturer.

Each jbm.chair is handmade by me. Thus far it has only been made from plywood..and very little else. The only other elements are screws and an adhesive. While it may not look it, the jbm.chair is surprisingly comfortable, a result of the dimension and structural research. I would welcome any thoughts anyone might have on my design.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An ode to June and the dying art form

My grandmother, June Shepherd, was a silhouette artist of some renown. Also a painter, she is one of the individuals who cultivated my love of the aesthetic, which ultimately lead to my becoming an interior designer. Regretfully she passed on some year ago and until now I have been unable to come to terms with her death and I find that I am deeply saddened at the fact that she was unable to see the person I am today, which is very much in thanks to her.

As a tribute to June and the art form she loved so much I have decided to pass on some information on her ancient and dying art form, the “Silhouette”. What follows is an excerpt (slightly reworded) from a handout my grandmother would show people who stopped by her booth at the fairs she cut at.
“Primarily, a silhouette is nothing more than the shadow of any object or individual. People often think of the profile of the head as a silhouette but can be of just about anything. The art of silhouette is so ancient that no one can truly place its origins. Many attribute the origins to prehistoric cave paintings where ancient man may have noticed his shadow cast form the flicker of firelight. Many drawings have been discovered in caves throughout France which depict the shadows (silhouette) of humans, animals, foliage and many other objects.

The earliest name for silhouettes was “Shades”, the term for the art form used in the British Isles in the 17th century. During this time they were mostly painted and the artist filled in the outline of his “Shades” with black oil or India ink. Some artists created a special mixture of beer and lampblack (soot) to produce a deep velvety black medium. Eventually, though no one knows exactly when, the “shades” were mounted on and cut from paper, often in a combination of black on white (the practice still in use today). In this form the craft spread across Europe like wildfire ultimately making its way to the new world. Shade cutting was practiced among all classes; there are many reports of kings and other royalty cutting shades as a hobby.

In 1825 Augustin Amant Constance Fedile Edouart, a French artist, took up cutting shades. Edouart is significant in the history of the art form; he gave it the name “Silhouette”, having taken the name from Frances finance minister, Etienne de Silhouette (whose hobby, incidentally, was shade cutting).

There have been many famous silhouettists. Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King George the Third, was a quite skilled cutter. Besides profiles she cut hunting scenes and children playing with toys and pets. She even used a sharpened needle for her most delicate cuttings. Her silhouettes have been preserved and are on display at the British Museum in London. Two other silhouettists of renown are Master William James Hubard from England and William Henry Brown from Charleston, S.C. In the early colonial days of America, the Pennsylvania Dutch were widely known for their beautiful and exquisite cut paper designs”.
Most silhouette artists can be found at fairs of all kinds (craft, trade, county, etc.), and while their numbers continue to decline they are out there so please keep an eye out. If you get the opportunity I highly recommend sitting for one. There is something so personal, warm and enticing about having an image of yourself or a loved one done in silhouette.

Speaking as an interior designer, silhouettes look great in vintage, traditional and preppy inspired interiors. And with the right frame and subject matter they would fit just about any interior.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Current Obsession.

For some time now I have been infatuated by bow ties so I definitely wanted to post my take on them. And yes, I know, there are probably dozens of "bow tie" post out there but this one is mine. Even if you don’t learn anything new I at least hope you like the way it looks (remember: I am very new to blogging).

Dating back to the 17th century, the bow tie owes its origins to Croatian mercenaries and the way they tied thin scarves around the collar of their shirts to keep them closed. Over time this look was adopted by the French and further refined into what we have today.

Originally bow ties were made of swaths of material of straightforward lengths and various widths. In the mid 1800's tie makers started to shape bowtie to obtain definitive forms. There are two major styles of bow tie today:

Straight or Batwing
As with any other post about bow ties I have added the almost obligatory "how to tie" video.

And as an added bonus, a list of a few very good sites for your future bow tie purchases:

- Alexander Olch
- Pierrepont Hicks
- The Cordial Churchman (independant bow tie maker, handmade)
- Ben Silver Charleston
- J.Press

There are many other places to get your bow ties, just do some research and have some fun.
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