Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday morning classics.

The great composers

I have always loved classical music, even when I was younger and everyone made fun of me for it (now that I think of it, a number of people I know now make fun of me for sad for them). At any rate, classical music should be a part of any well rounded life.

Classical is just about the only music I listen to while working on designs for my clients. The structure of it helps put things into better perspective, it actually helps one organize and concentrate on details better too (there are studies that show the reasons for this...but I won't bore you with that). One of my Sunday morning rituals is to listen to classical music while going over things for the coming week and getting caught up on my reading. Shame that there is never enough time or music to get caught up on the reading.

As I wanted to share a little of my passion and ritual with everyone please allow me to introduce "Sunday morning classics". This will be an ongoing series that will show up at least a couple times a month on...well, you know...Sundays. My first selection is Bach's - Suite No.1 for Cello - Part 1, played by the great Pablo Casals. It is my hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Pollock.

Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) 1950

Jackson Pollock (28 jan. 1912 - 11 aug. 1956) was a major force in the abstract expressionism movement, he was also a dark and moody, alcoholic maverick. He was undeniably an innovative artistic genius. Pollock was actually a relatively unsuccessful artist until  his "drip period" which only lasted from 1947 to 1950. 

After moving to Springs, NY he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and he developed what was later called his "drip" technique. Therefore, Pollock turned to synthetic resin-based paints called alkyd enamels, which, at that time, was a novel medium. Pollock described this use of household paints, instead of artist’s paints, as "a natural growth out of a need." He used hardened brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes as paint applicators. Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term action painting. With this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art, the paint now literally flowing from his chosen tool onto the canvas. By defying the convention of painting on an upright surface, he added a new dimension, literally, by being able to view and apply paint to his canvases from all directions.

He was thrust into popularity and into the international spotlight following an 8 aug., 1949 four-page spread in Life magazine that asked, "Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" And then, for some reason, at the peak of his fame, Pollock abruptly abandoned the drip style.

Sadly, in 1956, after a long struggle with alcoholism and an ever deepening of the pressures of fame and his audience’s expectation, Pollock drank himself into a rage and crashed his Oldsmobile less than a mile from his Springs, NY home killing himself and one of his passengers.

I would encourage everyone to look into Jackson Pollock beyond what I have written as he was a most interesting individual. There have been numerous books written about him along with many documentaries and movies. Most famously are the 2000 biographical Pollock starring Ed Harris as Pollock, a wonderful movie that shows the life of the man quite well (this movie is a personal favorite of mine). Another recommendation I would like to make is a great little documentary Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? from 2006 which follows the tale of a retired female trucker who came into possession of an alleged Pollock painting bought for $5 and tries to sell it for the millions she believes its worth. I won't give away anymore, just watch it, you'll love me on this.

Please enjoy a few of my favorite Pollock pieces:

Convergence, 1952

Number 1a, 1948

Number 5, 1948
(sold for $140,000,000 in 2006. The highest price ever paid for a painting)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brand spotlight: MATTEO.

I love Matteo, they are a luxury, hand-crafted line of home products. The company relishes in the simple details. The vintage character and the natural cottons and linens used in their bedding make it so, well, luxurious. All of their products are sewn in Los Angeles in a large workshop from fabrics that are woven in Italy. The idea behind Matteo is straight ahead: to "create simple sheets from the most luxurious textiles in the world."

Their linens are exclusively distributed by the finest specialty stores and interior designers. The full range of the Matteo collection can be found at their flagship store within ABC Carpet & Home in New York and their showroom in Los Angeles, along with a number of stores around the country.

So if you are looking for new bedding, and have some money to burn, this small Los Angeles company will serve you quite well. The sheets come in heavy 100% cotton and linen, always garment washed, with a couple really, really saturated colors (and white of course). There are many add-ons, such as bed skirts, duvets, shams, quilts, and really beautiful blankets and throws. Since their founding they have also added to their products baby bedding, table linens, bath towels and even apparel. The easiest way to order is through their site, everything arrives in individual cotton bags. The one caveat is don't be surprised if your order takes awhile to arrive..mine usually do but it is well worth the wait.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pantone's color of MMXI.

Pantone's color for 2011 is Honeysuckle. Courageous. Confident. Vital. A brave new color, for a brave new world. Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you and carry you through the year. It’s a color for every day – with nothing “everyday” about it.

A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life. Honeysuckle is supposed to help fight stress, elevate mood and positively stimulate people to solve everyday problems.

Honeysuckle is both bold and elegant. I have always considered the color to be quite sophisticated and complex. The intensity of it lures and attracts the viewers attention, it is warm and enticing yet equally vivid and energetic. I will say that while honeysuckle can be incorporated in many interior design schemes, as a more complex color one must definitely be mindful of its use. Take a little time and be sure you are mixing it with colors that beautifully complement it. While whites are an obvious choice to go with honeysuckle I would suggest using a duller or creamier shade to bring out the depth of the honeysuckle. The image below is a beautiful representation of this. The image also shows the honeysuckle can be stunning when paired with rich wood tones

I absolutely love this space

Of course crisp whites can be a great accompanying color. Green can also be a good companion to honeysuckle, but one must truly be mindful of this combination as the wrong green (to dark, to blue or to pastel) can easily be a mistake that sends one back to the paint department immediately.


A wonderful color for what will hopefully be a wonderful year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zen and the Art of Metal Polishing.

I find the act of polishing metal quite relaxing, almost meditative. To be honest, I did not always. For the longest time I found it just as tedious as most. The change came when I really took a look at the actual act and the process of it. Once you find a routine that works for you polishing metal can become quite enjoyable. As someone who picks up a good deal of decorative metal pieces from auctions, flea markets and off the web I tend to spend a fair amount of time lost in the meditation.

Cleaning / Polishing Silver:
  1. Line a shallow pan or pot (depending on the size of the piece your cleaning) with aluminum foil, fill the pan/pot with enough water to cover the piece by about an inch, mix in 1 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
  2. Soak the silver in the solution for about 10 minutes (for heavily tarnished pieces let sit for up to an hour). The baking soda will "polish" the silver, removing stains, dirt and grease.
  3. Rinse the silver thoroughly under warm, running water. Air dry the silver on a clean towel.
  4. Buff the silver with a soft, clean cloth. Simply take each piece individually and use the cloth to polish off any water spots. The silver should shine like new.
You should only clean your silver a few times a year (or up to once every couple months for often used pieces like silverware) as cleaning to often will permanently dull the silver over time. For corrosion caused by salt or food (such as eggs, onions and peas, which react to silver) follow the steps above but instead of baking soda use a mixture of 2 cups hot  vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt.

Store your  freshly cleaned silverware and silver table settings on a sheet of aluminum foil to keep them from tarnishing between uses.

Cleaning / Polishing Brass:
  1. Wash in hot, soapy water to remove grime and oils. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar for heavy tarnish.
  2. Rinse thoroughly under warm, running water. Dry with clean cloth.
  3. Moisten a soft cloth with boiled linseed oil and rub on the brass surface until all the dirt and grease have been removed.
  4. Make a cleaning agent with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of vinegar, add flour until you have a medium thick paste. Rub agent onto brass and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Rinse with warm water and buff dry with soft, clean cloth. Moisten cloth with lemon oil to add a bit of sheen to your brass.
A bi-weekly wiping with a soft cloth moistened with liquid ammonia will keep brass shiny.

Tips & Tricks:
  1. If you don't have the time for the methods listed above a good metal polish can be your best friend. My absolute favorite is MAAS Metal Polish (I rarely use anything else). It does an amazing job and works on just about every metal imaginable (along with a few other materials). You can find MAAS at most hardware stores. Best of all it comes in a great french lavender scent.
  2. In a pinch, toothpaste can be your best friend. Best for small jobs, a dab of toothpaste can be rubbed into the tarnished area of most metals. Rinse off with warm water and buff with clean cloth. Go for the cheapest kind you can find, cheap brands are often grittier thus a better abrasive for cleaning.
  3. I keep a selection of toothbrushes on hand for cleaning pieces with detail work, engravings or areas with deep grooves. Use a hard bristle for heavily tarnished areas, medium bristle for general cleaning and soft bristle for anything with painted areas.
  4. Make sure to do your polishing on a surface that you can set pieces on to dry and that won't be damaged by cleaning agents or polishes. I use a Shamwow (I know, don't say it) as it is a great absorbent and can also be used as a polishing cloth.
  5. If you have good silverware that has a display case instead of storing with aluminum foil  you can use a piece of chalk. The chalk doesn't work quite as well as the foil but it can be hidden in the case.
  6. Finally, if you have heirloom or antique pieces please check with an expert first before cleaning. The more detailed cleaning methods mentioned above are quite gentle but I would rather you check first before possibly damaging something that may be irreplaceable.

    Happy Polishing Everyone.       

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