From Idea to Reality
This Louis Vuitton case mounted as a table is another of Hank's chic finds. Below is a zebra box on an elegant brass stand that was available last year through Chapman Radcliff.
Angele Parlange found a set of plaster cameos at a Sag Harbour tag sale and decided to have them set into a custom-made dyed-green concrete slab that she set atop another custom-made piece, an iron base. The end result was a stain proof cocktail table. Perfect for socializing -- the cameos make great conversation pieces -- but not the best spot for stacks of books.
Parlange photo © William Waldron, Harper Collins, New York, 2006.
So how to begin a similar project on your own if an iron worker or carpenter is needed? Years ago I read a great story in Southern Accents that explained the benefits of getting to know an antique dealer. A reputable dealer who is truly passionate about what he sells is usually happy to answer questions, even from those who are not making a purchase. He knows that today's novice might be back in five years to buy a pricey secretary.
Dealers are also an ideal resource when you want advice on where to have something framed, how to turn a vase into a lamp, or where to have a table base made for a vintage box (my latest possible project).
It is best though, I think, to ask dealers who sell most of their pieces "as is." Some vintage furniture shops specialize in sprucing up or reinventing their wares. These dealers pour their creativity, time and energy into furniture makeovers. That's the appeal of their shop. So it can put them on the spot to ask about their sources.
Markets where multiple dealers have stalls, or obviously stores where a sign is posted that reads, "lamp-making" or "repairs," are good places to make inquiries. Someone often knows another skilled someone who does just what you are looking for. And in terms of custom table bases, upholsterers sometimes make wood frames as well. BTW: Parlange offers more tips about custom projects in her book, Creole Thrift. (The image of her living room is from A Passion for Antiques.)