Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Designing Women: Yellow and Green

[Detail from the 2006 Cora Ginsburg catalog. 18th-century British Crewelwork Bed Curtains made by Elizabeth Newman.]

This month there's been a theme running through a lot of my blog posts: basically a focus on creative women from different centuries and far-flung parts of the globe who made (or currently make) things for the home.  (Two examples include The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal and the women behind Newcomb Pottery.) Keeping that in mind, I thought I'd end April with this detailed view of embroiderer Elizabeth Newman's bed curtains dated 1709.

The crewelwork was seen in Cora Ginsburg's 2006 catalog and Newman is said to have incorporated her own distinctive design choices into the very fashionable Eastern-inspired Tree of Life motif.

While the iconic birds and flowers are definitely there, she also composed hillocks of wide, "fresh and exuberant" yellow and green bands. Newman worked-in three dimensional grapes and added unorthodox horses in different colors -- blue on one bed curtain; white on another.  Finding the inscription still intact on the image at top makes it easier to connect one individual, and her hours of intricate work, with a type of textile we're now accustomed to studying in art history books or seeing reproduced at the fabric center.

Fast forward three hundred years and yellow with green still feels clean and bright.  I asked Angela Clinton, founder of Parlor Textiles, for a sample of Indian Deco Floral, in yellow, that really shows off that terrific border.  Can you picture it used for curtains? That's what I'm doing right now.

[Click to enlarge.]

Here's a globe-trekker inspiration board pairing Indian Deco Floral with Pratt and Lambert's Fennel; Peter Beard books courtesy Christine Bell and Taschen; an architect's table via Emperic; North African circa 1910 lap desk from Jefferson West; and a vintage Turkish copper bowl, for floating camellias cut from the bush just outside the French doors, via The Loaded Trunk.

Read about Beard and the 2010 Elephant Parade, here.

Miniature replicas of other participating artists' sculptures are available here.

As always, I receive no compensation for the posts about Parlor Textitles or the other items; I'm simply a fan. 

Afterthought: 5.3.10.
Shown above, Bennison's Crewelwork, the fabric Julia Reed carried around "like a talisman for almost fifteen years." More on that here. And don't forget her lecture tonight at SCAD Atlanta!


Block It Off

Those of us who are happier with paint-splattered fingers rather than a fresh manicure tend to be kindred spirits so I thought you might enjoy a peek at the wrapping paper Elizabeth James makes for herself. With degrees in Art History and Interior Design, Elizabeth is the creative force behind Pacific & Rose hand-blocked textiles.

And I know you've seen various types of rubber stamps applied to paper many times before, but I really like how Elizabeth uses large-scale blocks to achieve a look that resembles fabric. She also experiments on newsprint, as well as butcher paper, for a multi-layered effect.

For Mother's Day, if you have a mom who appreciates art or the unexpected, why not put a new spin on the standard newspaper-as-gift-wrap concept? Or if her taste is more classic, create something unapologetically pretty using pristine craft paper as a base.

A range of Indian woodblocks are available through Pacific & Rose's online shop (along with curtains and those terrific kitchen linens seen in past posts).

Related posts to get the creative juices flowing: The Zucchi Collection and Setting the Mood.

A word of advice: Elizabeth says it is necessary to use a blockprinting ink. She describes it as very tacky and sticky but notes that a regular paint will seep into the crevices of the block. She squeezes a little ink onto a flat surface (piece of tile), then rolls a rubber brayer in the ink to cover the brayer, and then rolls the brayer onto the block. When she places the ink-covered block down on the paper, she gives it a good thwack with a rubber mallet, to better transfer the ink. The blockprinting ink may be purchased at art supply stores, or a site for textile artists, Dharma Trading.


On the Borderline Again

[Detail view via Calico Museum of Textiles.]

India's Calico Museum of Textiles offers a really wide array of greeting cards designed using photographic reproductions of antique embroideries, hand-blocked prints, court textiles, quilts and other pieces in their collection.

Total disclaimer: I've not yet tried to order any online for myself and it appears that the minimum order is 50 cards. Still, the images are so stunning.

It would be nice to compile an inspiration scrapbook with them. At the moment I'm obsessed with prints with borders but you can see the whole picture here.

[Click to enlarge.]

The other night I did download the new iPhone app, POST, and I've been taking it for a test drive. Created by Gadabout, it offers a quick way to pretty-up short email messages with a host of globe-trotter-chic graphic designs. Learn more here.

To see what Mrs. Blandings has in store for Dining by Design 2010, click here.


Parlor Preview

This is the week. Stop by North Carolina-based Parlor Textiles' site during the next few days now to see the launch of a new collection of eco-friendly fabrics inspired by traditional Eastern design motifs and vintage textiles. Shown above, Indian Deco Floral in red, and below, Calantha Trellis in mocha.

[Click to enlarge and better see the pattern.]

[Calantha Trellis in yellow.]

[Winter Floral in marine.]

You may remember these different colorways, below, from a previous post. The handprinted fabric is 55% hemp and 45% certified organic cotton.

More images can be seen here.

Strong Roots

[A Large South Indian Printed Cotton Palampore, Second Half of the 18th century, via Christie's.]

Maybe I'm typically the odd person in the waiting room who brought Hali as an alternative to Us Weekly, but for textile geeks like me, it's really fun to peruse the former's international auction news and read all about some stellar suzani or Chinese lion-dog (aka 'fo-dog') rug that grabbed the attention of collectors. In the spring 2010 issue, the magazine reports on an "impressively monumental" Coromandel Coast palampore (a bed cover or wall hanging) from Christie's October 2009 Ismail Merchant Collection sale.

I'm guessing this small image doesn't quite do it justice.  What struck me was Hali's description:

"...huge blowsy flowers, some almost too heavy for their illogically delicate branches -- one is deeply bowed under the weight of a gigantic rose..." The roots are "octopus-like," the border is characterized by an undulating main stem, and the disproportionately large flowers are said to be associated with the 'Dutch taste' (Hali sites  Rosemary Crill, Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West, p. 50). While the palampore is damaged, the fact that it was owned by filmaker Ismail Merchant, of the duo Merchant/Ivory, and before him by Count Trolle Bonde, added luster.

 [Anna Sui Fashion in Motion, the V &A.]

If you happened to be reading this blog back in '06, you might remember this image from Anna Sui's spring 2000 collection inspired in part by the V&A’s collections of 18th-century Indian palampores, Chinese export silks, and Liberty of London paisleys.

[India, Bed or Wall Hanging with Design of Flowering Tree (Palampore), late 17th-early 18th century, Needlework, Silk thread embroidery on cotton. LACMA.]

For a little more inspiration, check out LACMA's online exhibition, Luxury Textiles East and West: India.

[DwellStudio's take on a timless bird and branch motif. Detail view.]

And one last reminder and reference to bed covers: Christiane Lemieux, founder and creative director of textile company DwellStudio, is scheduled to speak in Atlanta on Wednesday, April 28 at 3:30 p.m. at SCAD-Atlanta’s Welcome Center, 1600 Peachtree Street.

Her talk is part of SCAD Style week 2010. Click here for all the latest on events happening simultaneously at both SCAD Savannah and Atlanta campuses, now through May 6.


This Just In

Pretty without the sticker shock. New to High Street Market are pillows handmade from vintage textiles and classic designer prints.  The example shown above happens to be a vintage English linen, and the prices -- typically in the $48 to $85 range -- are refreshingly reasonable for something nicely made in very limited quantities.  

Most of the pillows I come across in shops these days are big enough to do double duty as a child's raft in the pool but High Street's fit comfortably in a chair, or on a loveseat or sofa, and still leave room for sitting. Not too big. Not too puny. Just right.

If you love these prints, check out Rosemary Crill's Cotton Road podcast during which she talks about India's cotton trade with the west in the 17th and 18th centuries and how printed cotton known as "chintz" changed life in the British Commonwealth. Also of interest is her book, Indian Florals.

In case you were wondering, I don't receive a dime (or free products) for talking about these pillows. I have, though, shopped High Street Market myself and wholeheartedly recommend the Etsy shop.


Vicky's New Site

Fine artist, graphic designer, vintage furniture and accessories dealer, interior decorator -- Victoria Molinelli is a woman with many talents (and I didn't even mention her great sense of humor). But for too long now she's been a woman without a website that truly does justice to her work. At long last, though, her fine art and commercial projects can be seen here. Surf on over to find samples of her refined interiors paintings as well as her abstract pieces.

Related past post: Artists' Palettes: Vicky Molinelli.


Setting the Mood

[Credits follow. Click images to enlarge.]

So here's the fantasy. A safe, sunny pot with such low humidity that Moroccan-style screens can be used in lieu of glass windows and hair remains frizz-free, even without a blowout.  In keeping with Paloma Picasso's memory of childhood, there are no requirements except breathing, eating, sleeping and drawing (or painting, or decoupaging, or stitching -- you get the idea). One or two rooms open to a garden offer plenty of space.

Like every other design junkie, I can't stop thinking about the Moroccan influences in the take-your-breath-away bedroom that set decorator Amy Wells pulled together for Charley (Julianne Moore's character) in A Single Man. (Read a terrific piece about the Oscar-snubbed design here.)

[Still from A Single Man by Eduard Grau / Weinstein Co. via the L.A. Times.]

But I'm after something a little earthier and dressed-down. Befitting Charley, this room is supremely chic with nods to Hollywood Regency. What I want to take away is the idea of the 'bay window' comprised of carved screens flanked by curtains in a terrific Mid-Eastern or Southeast Asian-influenced print.

I love the roughness of Christophe Edwards' late-19th-century pine Moroccan screen and the thought of Lisa Fine's Baroda I linen used for curtains.

Pictures of Matisse and Picasso living and working in the South of France in the 1940s also inspire, and the bird connection is explained here.

This antique Anglo-Indian teak campaign daybed from T.C. Donobedian looks so cool. It even folds, so it could move outside pretty easily. I'm wondering, though, if Ballard's ever-popular daybed custom upholstered in Fine's Kashgar 2 might be better for actually sleeping.

For bolsters and other pillows I'd use Carolina Irving's Andaluz, because it resembles the North African textiles collected by Matisse, and Peter Dunham's Udaipur, also in indigo.

Don't want to get too theme-y with Moroccan elements but I have to add the bronzed metal lantern from Pieces.

Oh and rustic ceramics from Nathan Turner. He's got an 18th-century Spanish work table too. Would be nice for small art projects or dining (below).

For a really tiny space, Downtown has a compact 1930s drafting table.

The second inspiration board is meant to have the same laid-back feeling but the colors are ramped up. Still sun-faded; just a tad cheerier. There's a 1930s Moroccan rug from Keivan Woven Arts and Carolina Irving's Patmos Stripe in parsley is a possibility for curtains.

The other swatches are different coloways of the fabrics already mentioned. To ground the colors with a masculine piece, I mixed in a big vintage metal lamp from Lum Lighting.

More earthiness, and another Picasso nod, comes from Paloma Picasso's hand-hammered necklace.

 The red-crackle-finish Moorish mirror is from Hollywood at Home.

A guitar should have been included in one of the collages.

In the first inspiration board, the detail of the flat-weave Syrian rug was cropped from Hali; in the second collage, the painting is Francoise Gilot's 1959 La Plage via Christie's; and I think everone already knows about the famous Robert Capa photograph.

Now, if this is all too loose for you and you're craving excellent photography of serene, classic rooms, with tips from respected professionals, check out editor Julie Cole Miller's Southern Accents retrospective, The Best Southern Rooms, on newsstands this month. You'll notice favorite interiors from designers including Thomas Jayne,  Suzanne Rheinstein, Amelia Handegan and Phoebe Howard. Julie pulled top picks from the magazine's last five years, covering entry halls, porches, and rooms for rest and rejuvenation, as well as all the standard spaces like living rooms and libraries.

Here's my favorite part of the forward:

...a curious mind, an elegant eye, and a warm disposition go a long way toward bringing graciousness into our homes. (But don't underestimate the power of silver, crystal, and a few blossoms from the garden -- they work wonders too!)

F.Y.I.  Keivan Woven Arts has a big sale coming up in Atlanta.

For more on all of the books used as sources for this post, click on the artists' names below (the labels) and keep scrolling down to see a variety of past posts. Nick Harvill is another great resource for vintage art books.  The photo in the center of the collage above is from David Douglas Duncan's Goodbye Picasso.  

Oops. Hit publish before adding this update: I'm told  North Carolina-based Parlor Textiles' new e-commerce site will launch next week, April 28 or 29. Stay tuned...