Multicultural mix: A Central Asian baby hat adorns the head of one of a pair of paper mache maracas-as-sculpture. Standing sentinel on either side are a pair of shigras bags, made from Agave fiber, from Ecuador. I bought the one of the right in the Matterplay shop on State Street in the 70s or early 1980s. The other bag is much older as indicated by the much finer weave and was found in an antique shop.
Up-ended against the wall is an East Indian container that is supposedly a snake charmer's basket. Somehow, I doubt that story but I love the old textile that covers the inside and outside of the form.
Say "Buffalo, New York" and the first thing that comes to mind is usually not Frank Lloyd Wright. Buffalo's reputation for record-breaking snowstorms has overshadowed its record of a different sort: the city boasts more Wright houses than any other place in the country, outside of Chicago.
Wright's architectural legacy in Buffalo virtually all stems from his 30-year friendship with Darwin D. Martin, a local businessman. It was Martin who got Wright his first large-scale commercial commission, the Larkin Building, and then gave him free rein in the design of his own house shown here. Though we toured all the buildings on site last spring, no photos of the interiors are allowed.
Martin was born at the end of the Civil War, just before Wright. Both men spent time on the prairies of the Midwest as youngsters and both had troubled childhoods that left them trying to create the ideal home they never had. For Wright, family and home was embodied in Taliesin; a place well-known to those of us who live in Wisconsin. The design and creation of the Martin home in Buffalo offered Wright everything the architect ever wanted: a large lot, an unlimited budget and complete freedom of design.
Wright responded by giving Martin a stunning composition, what he called his "opus." Wright designed a complex of six buildings totaling almost 30,000 square feet and including a pergola, conservatory, carriage house and a house for Martin's sister. Wright called the Martin property's arrangement of buildings to each other and the landscape "well nigh a perfect composition." After visiting last summer I'd have to agree.
Construction on the entire complex of buildings took from 1903 to 1907. Wright estimated the cost of the Martin house — built in 1904-05 — at $35,000, but in true Wrightian fashion it eventually totaled $175,000. The tab for the restoration of the Martin house and the reconstruction of the demolished pergola, conservatory and carriage house that is currently under way in Buffalo is $35 million. Total restoration of the property plus construction of the visitor center is estimated at $50 million with all but $10 million raised at this point. Having grown up in Buffalo during the years the Martin House and complex fell into serious disrepair, it was a thrill to see it being restored to its full glory.
The pictures above and below show the plaza between the Martin house and the almost all-glass visitor center.
One of the most stunning aspects of the Martin house is this long covered pergola leading to Mrs. Martin's conservatory with its huge reproduction sculpture of Winged Victory amidst the greenery.
What is so wonderful about Wright's work is that no detail is too small to be ignored whether it's the house number or a spot for chores.
The large building on the left (below) is the carriage house with the chauffeur's apartment above. Double click on the picture below and you will see that the poles that held the wash lines in this beautiful laundry yard match the detailing elsewhere on the house. It reminded me of some of the things that Arne Maynard does in his garden designs which he talks about in his new book.
Wright designed 394 original pieces of art glass, including 15 window motifs for the Darwin Martin House. The Chazen Museum of Art in Madison owns one of the "Tree of Life" windows from the Martin House. The Martin House itself only has one original "Tree of Life" window, though they know the whereabouts of most of them. The glass panels perpendicular to the stained glass windows let light into the lower level.
You can find more information on the Martin house and tours here.
Since it's almost Valentine's Day, roses seem like the perfect flower for this week's post. Though I only have one rose in my garden, I have the remains of many roses from many romantic bouquets: Dried and turned into potpourri. If I grew old roses or David Austin roses, I might be more of a fan of roses as cut flowers. But since I don't, I have to admit that my favorite roses are dried like this necklace of rosebuds and pearls.
I've never actually worn it even when it was new and pink. Instead I put it at the feet of a little gilded figure of the Buddha in our Thai Spirit House. If you look carefully you can see the hand-painted scenes on the back walls. On the top are two ceramic figures that we refer to as our studio gods. The pig is a leftover from the Year of the Pig. The figures on the lower shelf are stoneware Christmas ornaments that are so delicate they live here.
This rose pomander may have lost most of its color but it still has a strong rose fragrance. Not the world's most practical item but certainly a very pretty one. The item in the background is an ink stone used for grinding an ink stick to make black ink for Japanese calligraphy. It's 5.5 x 10 inches.
I've had this raku vase since the 1970s when I bought it from Fanny Garver Gallery right after I finished graduate school. I was working as a waitress so I always had a little cash on hand when something special came along. The vase is composed of three separate parts: the scrolled base, the body and the lid and is 9 inches tall. I've been putting dried rose petals in here for years.
This quirky image is taken looking into the interior of the vase, which is resting on its side on the base. You can see the mix of lavender and rose potpourri topped with dried rose petals that I've had in this container for years.
Years ago my husband flipped the vase over to look at its decorative curved bottom (below) with the artist's name stamped into it (John Natale). Unfortunately Mark forgot to keep a hand on the lid which fell off and broke. He glued it together for me and was most apologetic. I was able to be fairly understanding about it since his mom did the exact thing to a pot that he made when he was in college.
To see what gardeners who are able to go out into their gardens for material to put into a vase are doing today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.
I have three little pots of primroses and two of daisies that I bought at the grocery store on the couple of warmer days we've had recently. They got plopped into containers and scattered around the house. But somehow they don't fit this meme in my mind.
Even though I won't be going out into the garden for weeks, I still feel that my Monday "vase" should have a bit more thought and pizzazz than just a pot of purchased plants. So . . .
When the last of my Poinsettia displays finally faded and died, I realized that I've really enjoyed having this big plate on the table in the living room. I also liked the look of the scattered rocks that had hidden the underpinnings of the Poinsettia. So I decided to see if I could use the plate and the pebbles as the base for one more arrangement. Voila!
My two big pomegranates came to the rescue again, along with a little red onion pulled from the veggie bin. When I grabbed my heaviest winter coat from the back of the closet I discovered the final touch for this arrangement: a beaded red leaf brooch that my sister gave me for Christmas one year. It was pinned to the coat collar and forgotten since the last time it was cold enough to wear that particular coat. Nothing cut from the garden, but all of it culled from corners of cupboards and closets to create something to share with you.
To see what other gardeners have put in a vase today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this Monday meme.
Last week on my way to the grocery store, I noticed the city tree-trimming crews had worked on all the crabapple trees in the median on Whitney Way not far from my house. I decided I'd take a chance that everything would still be there when I drove back from the store. It was, but I wasn't going to take another chance and go home to get clippers and change my clothes. So I pulled over, took off my coat, and hauled a branch loaded with berries to my car. Then I struggled to get it in the back seat. Took up all the room and the end of the branch hung out the open car window.
Of course, the minute I looked at all the branches on the ground, I realized the ones that were loaded with bright red berries were not crab apples at all. They were Hawthorns, most likely Washington Hawthon (Crataegus phaenopyrum), a tree we had growing in our garden until it got wiped out in a snowstorm a couple of winters ago. Check out those thorns! Real killers. Mark helped me cut it into manageable sized branches and then I decided how I'd use them. (Note I am working outdoors in mid-December in Wisconsin!)
I cut the the branches into shorter lengths and trimmed out some of the deadwood and some of the thorns. The presence of thorns meant this bouquet had to be where no one was going to accidentally bump into it. So, first I added a halo of berries to the big Mark Skudlarek platter hanging by the front door. No vase needed!
The platter is just to the right of our bright red front door so the berries were just what I needed to add another touch of holiday color to match what was on the other side of the front entrance. Last year this pine cone garland was draped over the windows in our bedroom, held in place with long ochre-colored satin ribbons.
I bought a couple of stems of red-twigged dogwood at the grocery store and clipped some pruning from evergreens in our garden. I put them in the front hall in a red enamel Haws watering can. Then I added as many branches of Hawthorn berries as I could manage to squeeze in.
A big glass jar of pine cones gathered in our garden repeats the theme from the bench outside.
Love how the red picks up the color from Leslie Nelson's needlepoint/quilt. And I love the fact that I was unexpectedly able to pull this all together thanks to city work crews and warm and snowless December weather. To see what other gardeners have put in a vase this Monday, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this weekly meme.
I recently added two fiber purses, containers or what-you-will to my ongoing collection. This basket caught my eye as I walked past the door to the UW Arboretum's shop on my way to a class I was taking there this fall. I have a couple of these baskets in solid colors that I use to hold winter necessities. A navy blue basket holds hats while a teal basket contains scarves and gloves. I have a third one that is straw colored with black leather handles that I use as a summer purse. One friend uses hers as a market basket and another uses one to hold textile projects. This basket is so graphic in both form and pattern, that so far I am just displaying it as pure sculpture. The Arboretum's shop had a number of different and equally attractive baskets.
A detail of the handle construction.
World Bazaar on Madison's west side always has interesting items from around the world. Currently they have great Indian print curtains and wonderful Kantha carryalls. The bags are nice and roomy as you can see from the two funky photos of me holding one of these bags.
Both sides are composed of different fabric scraps. There is a snap closure at the top and a zippered compartment inside. Alas, can't find my receipts for either purchase at the moment, but I think they both were in the $30-$40 range.
I found this sweet little spotted vase at a new art gallery, Dillon, on Willy St. on Madison's east side. We wandered in on Gallery Night and I was instantly smitten. Not that I need another vase. But how could I resist one that looks perfect without any flowers in it to distract from its precise shape and pattern. Just the vase for after a snowstorm when the garden has mostly gone underground until Spring. The gallery is operated by local artist Pat Dillion and the vase is the work of Jennifer Darner Wolfe
When we got home from Gallery Night, I just plunked the vase in an empty spot on the living room mantle. When I stepped back I realized how well it fit into our new arrangement of mostly blue artwork . . .
especially how the dots on the vase echoed the motifs in Tom Sargent's beautiful painting.
A note to all you gardeners, paint the handles of your tools a bright color or tie ribbons on them so you can see them when you set them down and get distracted. While working in the garden a couple of years ago I lost the pair of Japanese Ikebana clippers sitting behind the vase. I discovered them this fall as I was planting bulbs and hit something metallic buried in the dirt. I replaced them with a new pair of clippers which have hot pink plastic ribbon tied through the black leather fastener!
Students of senior standing, and advanced students applying to spend their senior year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, will present their strongest works in this exhibit, according to the gallery's press release. Garments, woven, dyed and printed yardage, embellished textiles, and other three dimensional work, along with digital and printed portfolios will be on display. This exhibition showcases the "breadth and strength of creative exploration" in the Textile and Fashion Design program and offers students a chance to install their work in a professional gallery setting.
Two special protects will also be showcased this year:
Sergenian’s Floor Coverings of Madison has sponsored a rug design competition where winning designs will be hand woven in Nepal by Tibetan refugee women. Students have designed “contemporary” or “transitional” (a cross between contemporary and traditional) 8’x10’ carpets to be woven of wool and/or silk.
YMA Fashion Scholarship is a nationally competitive prize established to encourage gifted and enterprising young people to further industry by pursuing careers in design, merchandising, retailing and business. In the past 4 years Design Studies students have had record success winning a total of 17 YMA scholarships, with awards totaling $100,000.
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Interior Architecture Showcase Reception
Friday, December 11, 5-7 p.m.
On view starting December 9, Interior Architecture Portfolio Showcase features the work of IA students who have completed the majority of their studio courses. They will present design portfolios that show work from their academic careers, including designs for residential and commercial spaces, such as offices and restaurants. IA portfolios feature computer-generated virtual representations as well as traditional illustrations, artwork, and graphics. Many of these students will use these same portfolios as they interview for their first professional design positions. An additional highlight will be multimedia clips and sensory elements that immerse viewers in each student’s restaurant design and concept.
The Ruth Davis Design Gallery is located in the School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison, 1300 Linden Drive.