Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wall Sconces and Candles

Candlesticks or candle holders have been with us for centuries. Long ago, we used them as a practical way to light our rooms at night. As we progressed and developed oil lamps, gas lamps, and electricity, all of which radiate light in a better and more efficient way, we cannot forget the charm and allure of the dimmer glow of candlelight.

Out of a sense of sentimentality or history, we use candles today to set the right mood for romance, good conversation, and social gatherings. I can’t seem to resist buying candlesticks when I see them, especially when they are of a pleasing design. I especially like those made of china, silver, or glass.

An array of recent purchases is shown above, including sterling silver, Dresden, and Coalport candlesticks, Dresden vases, a Georgian decanter, a Scandinavian crystal decanter, all waiting to be sold and brighten their new homes.

Sconces commonly known as wall sconces are bracket candlesticks attached to a wall. Most are now electrified, but it is still possible to find those that hold candles. Sconces are perfect as architectural elements and can be hung singly as accents helping to create a focal point for one, or an arrangement of framed pictures. Matching wall sconces on either side, can give importance to a mirror, a picture, a fireplace, or a door. Several matching wall sconces hung at regular intervals around a room set a special tone of formality to a principal room. Interior designers can find countless ways of decorating walls using these accessories. The gilt Florentine wall sconce shown immediately above is one of a pair, and is a full twenty-two inches long holding 12-inch candles.

This restrained Colonial style solid brass wall sconce is one of a pair flanking a fireplace wall. It is wired with electricity and gives off a dim light controlled by a dimmer switch.

On the right is a wired solid brass wall sconce in an ornate swirled two-toned pattern. This is also one of a pair, and comes with small white lampshades.

Candlesticks and sconces give a timeless, hospitable atmosphere to a room adding architectural details and sparkle.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Antique and Vintage Patio Furniture

Patio furniture is much more attractive if it is made of natural products such as hardwood, stone, wrought iron or cast iron. These products will eventually weather and blend in more harmoniously with the garden. My very favourite is patio furniture made of wrought iron. Wrought iron does not compete with the garden, but seems to recede into the garden allowing the viewer to enjoy the plants. Wrought iron patio furniture is especially pleasing in traditional colours of black, dark green, white, or dark brown.

The chairs and tea cart pictured are occasional pieces that can be left in a far corner of the garden, or on a patio, ready to be brought into use on their own, or to add to a larger gathering when additional chairs are needed. These pieces can be left on the lawn because the light is allowed through, and will not impede the lawn growth beneath. They are all vintage pieces, still in excellent condition, and will last forever if they are given minimum care. The china on the tea cart is Villeroy and Boch china, Vieux Luxembourg pattern.

Wrought iron patio furniture can be kept outside all year round. It does not need to be covered for the winter. Indeed, it adds to the beauty of a winter garden. In the spring, to keep wrought iron pieces in excellent condition, it should be examined for rust spots. All the maintenance that is required is to brush the rust spots with a metal brush, wipe with a clean cloth, and spot spray with a rust retardant paint making sure to protect the patio with a drop sheet. This springtime maintenance takes very little time.

Wrought iron furniture is a timeless treasure. Antique or vintage pieces can mix well with new pieces.

The chair in this corner is so loved that the owner, one of my best customers, brings it inside for the winter as a pretty accent piece within her house.

It is still possible to find affordable Victorian and Edwardian pieces as well as the understated pieces made in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

The wrought iron railing pictured here was custom-made just two years ago to surround and decorate our raised patio. It allows approaching visitors to see through to the square concrete containers planted with ivy geraniums, annual lobelias, and clematis.

Reference: Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, McArthur & Company, Toronto, Classic Decorative Details (London, Anaya Publishers Ltd. 1994)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Onion Pattern

The Onion pattern is one of the ten most popular china patterns with a proven track record. It was first designed in the eighteenth century at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in Saxony, fashioned after an ancient Chinese design of pomegranates, lemons, and peaches which were mistaken for onions. The Meissen factory is still producing porcelain in this pattern after 270 years. The Meissen cup and saucer pictured was made circa 1900.

Other porcelain factories all over Europe copied the pattern using it, and variations thereof, on their own porcelain. The exquisite Onion pattern on fine porcelain is elegant when used as formal dinnerware. Paradoxically, it also looks quite comfortable at the family table. Plates in the Onion pattern displayed on plate-stands look stunning as blue and white accent pieces in a room. Above is an old reticulated Royal Berlin plate made in the Onion pattern by the Royal Berlin Porcelain Manufactory.

The Onion pattern is so versatile it looks at home in a grand rococo setting, or in restrained colonial surroundings. It is also appreciated in modern decor as a blue accent to complement the yellows and oranges currently in vogue. Pictured is an affordable and practical Meakin J & G, Blue Nordic gravy boat with saucer in the Blue Nordic pattern, a variation of the old Onion pattern. The Onion pattern is timeless and will last forever.

Reference: Tim Forrest, Paul Atterbury/Little, Brown and Company, The Bulfinch Anatomy of Antique China & Silver (London, Bulfinch Press, Marshall Editions 1998)