Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Art and Literature

Art embraces, art graces, art speaks volumes of our personal emotional beliefs. Imagine a tomorrow without it and we would all fade into an unexpressed colorless reality. Now imagine our everyday without music, literature and poetry published through print or on the Internet ... Even the art expressed through hipster poetry slams. What would reward our curiosity for fulfillment and entertain our soul if literature was no longer and the expressed beauty of art wasn't prolific anymore.

"The scream" Edward Munch, painting location Oslo Norway
Now imagine a recent nightmare filled dream for me, one without the things that matter most to me. Can you? Imagine my unexplained preoccupation with my constantly writing poetry. It often wakes me from a sound sleep and demands that it be expressed, sparing no excuses, needing no sleep, nor food. A driving force in me I honestly can not explain, it flows and I continue to go with it. 

"The Scream" lithograph version 1895
Now think about the appreciation and wonderment of artisans beauty from the past and in the perceived future. Well I woke in an absolute cold sweat and an emotional flatness of an existence that showed me what would be if self expression was ever oppressed. This nightmare of all art and literature vanishing was the inspiration for this post which will feature some new additions of art and adding more rustic charm in our row-home.

"Personality is everything in art and poetry"
~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"Art and Literature are two things I think my life would be drastically deprived of trying to exist without - an absolute nightmarish reality"

Recently John and I purchased through an on line auction a vintage oil painting by the 20th century artist CH Wilton. French post Impressionism, an original oil, paper and fabric collage painted in the 60's. Titled French beggar in the Street.

It is rare when one of CH Wilton's original collage oils from his French Beggar series goes up for sale. This oil painting spoke to me to be included in our tiny but beloved wine related corner in our Dining Room. Imagine our jubilation when we won it! Expecting to pay the auction estimate of upwards of 400 dollars and we surprisingly won the bid for 200.00. Seriously!

The closeups show the Plaid fabric patch and the signature

A decision was made by us to pop it out of its frame and to float it displayed on a shelf/ledge that would hang over our antique French riddling rack from the Champagne region in France.  I hold a strong heartfelt bond and belief in filling our home with family, friends and laughter. Wine always factors in with meals, often prepared in anticipation of a shared evening with guests. I've been adding many more rustic touches to our row-home, they just seem to belong and embrace me at this point of my life. 

Our rustic refined wine corner of our Dining room. 

We decided to go with a salvaged rustic wood shelf/ledge in Black Walnut. I custom ordered a pronounced raw edge salvaged wood from Pennsylvania. Hand crafted in a one of a kind special piece from a very friendly/easy to work with craftsman on etsy named Reclaim to Fame. All sources will be found under the last photo of this post. I was charged 80.00 and 20 dollars shipping and this magnificent beauty is what we now enjoy adding rustic natural beauty in our Dining Room. 

Top view is the salvaged Black Walnut.

A blogger friend in Hamburg Germany, Méa, blogs about her amazing transformations in her 100 year old home and about the Cartapesta art she creates. Méa's Vintage has over the past year become a blogger friend who creates from her heart and shares her beliefs and dreams.

This is a second purchase of her Cartapesta art pieces for me. The first piece was a Believe banner - perhaps one of the most magical words in our language, or so I believe!

The photos are of her gift wrap, truly art in itself. From the pretty Jeanne D'Arc wrapping paper to her hand made orchid flowers crafted in her magical hands in raw silk to her hand torn and frayed white ribbon and this cool rustic hemp that I haven't been able to find in America. So what was inside.... 

Well inside was a specular winged heart I ordered from Méa.  With a rhinestone dotting the letter i on the word étoile (star) it winks and blinks as you past by. This has a special meaning to me. It reminds me of a star I purchased in memory of my son.

I took copper wire (which will eventually develop a soft patina) and artfully twisted and hung it from our gallery wire display in our Living room which display's both John's and my Black and White photography. Below are our ledges with antique artifacts, centuries old Buddhas, Monks and carved wooden art. We live in an 1,800 square foot row home surrounded with art in a very approachable casual way. Méa's flying heart lovingly hangs between the photographs.

The photo on the left and right is of our French 1972 Citroën Pallas DS. My personal decorating style? Who knows ... Perhaps just a total admiration and appreciation of our small worlds amazing artisans. I live in the historic city of Philadelphia and try to embrace the natural colors of bricks and stone that I feel add warmth and comfort in our home. 

On Top the wired glass front cabinet in our kitchen sits two antique vintage olive oil jars, I asked Rosemary from Villabarnes if she could create a couple of her gorgeous full of patina, cut from salvaged vintage metal tags. One for in our kitchen to read Olive Oil in Italian since the olive oil jar is from Italy. Gorgeous patina and adds charm.

Olio d' Olivia, it measures 2x4. John took picture hanger wire and twisted knots through the holes to hang it. 

In our Living room sitting on top our African Paduak exotic wood shelves on the exposed brick wall is one of our vintage olive jars (this is a vintage one from the 80's, far from antique). I added faux olive branches from Decor Steals. A tag custom made by Rosemary with the words Ramo d'olivio (olive branch) is displayed. Thank you Rosemary for adding rustic charm and beauty inside our home. I am fortunate to own many of Rosemary's creative pieces.

Rosemary hand cuts these from salvaged metal and hand polishes the edges to be smooth. 

Upstairs in our sitting/reading room we've hung a Pen and Ink drawing of Venice over the mantel. A late Summer change in the rooms art.

On the mantel is our other Material Culture find from our hunt I wrote about last post. A long necked handmade pottery vessel. 

A close up - reminds me of a balloon! 

I had John downsize the two Black and White photographs of our son Chris that had hung over the mantel.  It was time ... Sunday August 23 was his Birthday and the 2nd Birthday without him. The photos still hang in our sitting/reading room. I like their new smaller version in the frames placement so much better.

As an avid reader I'm always looking for a reading escape to provide a imaginary adventure. Besides all my collected over the years decorating and design books that I peruse are books that fill my imagination with intrigue and spine tingling suspense. "Lightening" is a new read for me of an older Dean Koontz book. It made and stayed on The New York Times best sellers list years ago. All I can say is WOW. I just finished the book, WOW! WOW! WOW! I guess you can tell I enjoyed it.

"She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells."
~Dean Koontz, from the book "Lightning"~

This is John's latest book he is absorbed in....

Remember when I talked about the "R" word (retirement) for John? Well it's moving in that direction and we have always talked about going to the Grand Prix in Monaco. Looks like we are going to celebrate John's retirement with a race. Seems kind of symbolic of life to me. The years speed by ever so quickly and you hope and pray you win in the end.

As I always do I will leave you with my poetry. See you in a few weeks, enjoy and linger in the last weeks of Summer. For soon it will fade into shorter days and crisper evenings filled with lasting precious memories. Philadelphia is still daily hitting the 90's in temps so we truly are enjoying an Indian Summer.

The allure of fashion, art and beautification in furnishing our homes leaves one constantly aware of style and guess what - you are not alone.
Styles change and simply evolve while you heighten your appreciation of your own personal flair and to designers this is a fact well known.

Enhancing ones personal dwelling for comfort and satisfaction of being "au courant" seems to be an ongoing, never ending activity.
I know personally for many years it's inspired my decisions in striving for personal artful expression and is my own proclivity. 

Recently I've gone through a period of clarity in understanding exactly what I long for in embellishing our home for soulful reward.
I reflect back to changes and renovations we have done, perhaps simply because we had overtime become bored.

Now after many years I fully understand that dwelling at home is about relaxing and soothing our concerns while finding a heartfelt peaceful embrace.
Living in a space that reflects not only your spirit of adventure, but also your souls discovery during a journey of living that comforts with blessed grace.
© Vera
Reclaimtofame1 on etsy

Friday, August 7, 2015

Make time to take some time...

I'm back from my 30 days and 30 nights (well a few days early) break from blogging.  Returning with a renovation progress report and sharing a metaphorical thought provoking realization. It will all come together in my poetry I will leave you with at the end. I've really missed blogging and I will admit to leaving a comment (only one) on a friends post while I was on break. Okay, I slipped, I missed you all. Back in early July, feeling frazzled and exhausted I realized I needed to make time to take some time for me. Simple idea, not always easy to do.

Our 100+ year old barn beams have been installed. John and Paul did an incredible job with the installation. From removing the old Red Oak field seamed (ugly) beams to installing the antique barn beams it took 11 hours last Sunday. We could not be more jubilant with their appearance. Late that evening John beyond exhausted fell asleep while trying to watch TV while I sat in the Dining room just staring at the beams smiling like a Cheshire Cat.

Extra care was taken while planning the installation of our beams,
weighing in at 486 pounds, equal to sumo wrestlers it seems...
Industrial bolts, help secure them from tumbling down on my head.
Wrestling one as it plummets, I'd surely see stars and wake up dead!

Our beams came from Ohio, they were bug sprayed and put into a kiln for 72 hours. When they arrived John and I wire brushed them and applied Liming wax (Bri-Wax) to them. Afterwards we waxed them with a clear matte coat of Bri-Wax. We purchased 7x7 beams and had them cut to 5x7. But with their antique hand hewn rough cutting they measure anywhere from 7 to 8 inches in width. 

The bronze elevator piece is an antique from 30th Street railroad station in Philadelphia. Back in the early 90's John and I were working on resin castings to add to our product line when we owned our greeting card company. We went to 30th Street Station and engaged in a conversation with a supervisor who said he may just have something for us. We all went into a supply room that was housing antique pieces saved but not used since the station renovation. While our eyes danced with delight we asked can we purchase it? We were told "No but you can have it and enjoy it." Enjoy and treasure it - we do. Kindness shown through gifting oftentimes overwhelms you.

My style is all about combining the old with the new, it's what makes our home soulful and hopefully greets you with a warm hug. The elevator plaque is hung over our blackboard painted bi-fold door (that takes you down to the basement). To the right is our Stainless Steel glass front Sub Zero refrigerator, for me it really is a blending of old with new, rustic with refined, industrial combined with textural interest. It's how we live and what we adore.

In one of the old joining support beams cut outs (part of the original legacy) I couldn't resist tucking a mouse inside. Very subtle, very me. I am one who lives with antiques in a very approachable, livable way. Speaking of antiques...

While on break lots happened. Much renovation work, social fun filled events, my cutie Grand Dane turned 13, my brother Kevin spent a weekend, we attended a cousins reunion and we had a grumpy guy rear end us on our way to a funeral. Who admitted to adjusting his sunroof and being distracted. Seriously... admitted to it! We were not hurt.

We also oneday stopped into our very favorite Philadelphia store that sells unique Global antiques, artifacts and vintage things. Well on the day John and I took time out for a visit they were in the middle of a power failure, no electricity, no air conditioning,  computer down and very hot on a day that reached 95 degrees. The amazing store is called Material Culture and hands down my favorite Philadelphia spot for over 20 years to visit with cash in hand. Will source them at the end.

With flashlight in hand, on our scavenger hunt we found two incredible treasures, you learn quickly if you see something there you love never ever let it go, for someone else will appreciate it and it will be GONE! Anyhow we came home with 2 purchases. The piece I am sharing today (next post you will see the other) is an amazing Pre-Columbian pot bellied vessel. The 3 pieces sit on top of our Dining room Armoire. The 2 pieces in the back are antiques from a Material Culture shopping adventure over a decade ago. They are antique Chinese wine jars and when John and I returned home with our finds we felt the pre-Colombian played nicely with the other antique jars.

We live in a old Philadelphia row-home of verticality on 3 floors. But metaphorically it seems I've lived my entire existence with ups and downs. Struggles and victories, loss and gain. Realizing life's a journey and a climb. Symbolically perhaps the reason for me hand painting numbers on the basement steps risers. Or perhaps just because they look cool. I'm glad I did. Although I honestly feel the positions I had to contort myself in to achieve the effect has left me thinking the circus and a contortionist career is not one for me! 

Our basement that was once old and creepy has now become old and cool. The task of laundry has become a "Vera in Wonderland" acceptable/fun chore.

Oh sure we still have things left on our "punch list" to do - but all in all we're nearly done. Then we will tackle the interior basement and add a bathroom. It never ends does it?

We are French car lovers, enthusiasts and owners. Our speedometer clock from England of a Citroën 2CV has arrived and hangs over our dryer. 

Our landing is at number 6 and the steps turn, we are climbing to 12 and entering the kitchen again.

I distressed and faux painted a shelf to house a small collection of "Alice in Wonderland" style tea cups and pots. To match the faux finish of the steps the shelf has 2 inch wide stripes in a 4 part faux finish. 8 x 30 wide it greets you on the way downstairs to the laundry room.

The left outer and right outer tea cups are vintage, purchased from eBay and etsy. The wire tea pot was a handmade Birthday gift from a friend in 1980, the middle "Drink me and on the saucer eat me" is hand made from an etsy seller. The tea cup and tea pot for one is a licensed "Alice in Wonderland" product I purchased off eBay in England.

Just a close up

I just can not resist adding little mice throughout our house! Let's call him the "Dormouse".

But my very favorite tea cup is from George Cinq Paris. Real Gold stamped, beautiful cream tea cup. Borrowed from them...not stolen...a souvenir ...

The George V hotel in Paris you may remember from the movie "French Kiss", one of my favorite movies.

Every family has one, the family historian. The loyal royal keeper of the past and skillful recorder of its legacy. That position, in its precise recording of my Dad's family hierarchy of our family tree goes to cousin Barbara. For I, ever the artist, I'm always willing to lose myself in a dreamlike creative existence. I've gone through the decades correcting my own flawed imprinted past. Be it in protection of my heart or simply a need to feel one's own self importance during difficult times and events. For perhaps we all secretly desire to rewrite a portion of our own Childhood memories. Many pleasant, some not, they are recorded and stored in a vault with-in our cerebral memory that may not be revisited until many, many decades have past. Then only in a recognition of a remembrance of childhood memories that weave into adulthood that cast a presence into our future. Oftentimes emotionally life affirming.

My cousin Barbara hosts an annual cousins reunion at her Long Beach Island, New Jersey shore weekend home. Last year was the first reunion post hurricane Sandy. Sandy's fury flooded the first floor, bucketing the beautiful hardwood floors and leaving mold and devastation behind. Patiently Barbara waited for rebuilding to begin. Finally after much insurance red tape and planning the Whale and Mermaid themed beach home it is now a delightful weekend retreat.

My brother flew up to spend the July 18th weekend with us. On the 19th John, Kevin and I enjoyed a day of laughter sharing conversation while eating way too much food and as usual the wine and beer flowed. Chatting with our first cousins we exchanged stories of our family tree. That evening when John and I went to bed we decided to send our DNA to Ancestory.com and learn more about ourselves. This was not a recent idea for us, it is one we have talked over for awhile. As many of you know all I have left in my immediate family is my brother. I have a deep longing to know more. I question and seek clarity about my ancestors. I desire a greater understanding to share with my Grands. Seeking answers I'm turning to DNA screening. I was raised believing I am 100% Polish ... We will see. When we receive our DNA results John and I will freely share them with you ... Seriously.


deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.

Below is my poetry I leave you with. the cost of the DNA test is $99.00 each

You flash back to a moment in time, one of shared emotions that helped get you through a memory clouded day.
It's then when you realize that awareness has sharpened your intuition and heightened your curiosity all along the way.

Recalling memories and stories told of past places and events, quite frankly from over a hundred years ago -
You try to assemble your own legacy in your family tree through relatives who claim these events occurred and they seemingly know.

Nowadays with the ease and accuracy in entire genome DNA testing available you read up on different sources before you decide.
Why not discover your genetic ethnicity and the region of Europe where ancestors are from, with 700,000 locations there's nothing to hide.

Having longed for a much clearer sense of belonging for so many years it all begins with salvia not a swab of our cheeks...
Sending our DNA and anxiously awaiting our ancestors history and discovering unknown relatives - we will be patient for the next 4-6 weeks.

© Vera

Blogging you develop many personal friendships along the way. One sweet friend is Carol from the blog Art and Sand in California. In a vintage camera image stamped canvas pouch with these words on the back "Capture every moment" 3 beautiful heart shaped stones arrived while I was on my blogging break. On a day when I could use a delightful surprise Carols gift sweetly touched my heart. The middle White one is from her vacation with hubby Steve to Hawaii and is Coral. Thank you Carol.

See you in two weeks,

Source for our beams:
Source for my favorite Philadelphia store: