Friday, June 25, 2010

Forbidden City

China....dragons.....elaborate tilework...this must be the Forbidden City!

In the middle of Beijing, China is the Imperial Palace...... the outer and inner courts are surrounded with high decorative walls created for protection as well as beauty.

The nine dragon wall is part of the inner court where the emperor resided. Began by the Ming dynasty,this is a screen to the Palace of Tranquil Longevity.

A copy of this is in Chicago's Chinatown.

The intricate, glazed tiles are works of art in themselves.

The Forbidden City used tile for roof ornamentation and pathways.

The three dimensional bas-relief tiles are incredibly detailed.

Wall panels of bas relief tiles are placed at intervals between the 900 plus buildings.

Yellow is the color of the emperor and was used on almost every roof.  Green symbolized wood and growth.

The color of blue for the roof tiles  is that perfect watery blue-green......

Even the end caps of the tiles have the symbol of the dragon!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bufe and Babin

Everyone has a favorite local shop that is cutting edge for decorating and design......

The minute you walk in the door of Bufe & Babin in Tyler, Texas, you know you are in for a treat!

Kathy Babin and DeeDee Bufe are the two savvy women behind this eclectic shop. They specialize in upholstery fabrics, trim and decorative items with a European influence.

They have an eye for great architectural pieces to frame all that fantastic fabric!

If you like  handblocked  scenic wallpaper  such as Zuber, this is a great look! I love the monochromatic backgrounds with that one pop of color!

Don't get frustrated....their items can be shipped if you see something you like...

You can contact them by phone, website or facebook page. Their staff is well trained and has a passion for doing it right.

There is much to be learned from their vignettes.....layers of texture, vintage and contemporary pieces and attention given to every detail.

One speciality is their custom bedding and drapery.

I have personally been stalking this pagoda light fixture!

With a keen eye they blend a smart mix of vintage items from their trips to Europe mixed with newer sources.

Remember when I posted about vellum books? This is a company reproducing the look with some fabulous covers. That mosaic stone lamp is amazing...

If you like Duquette, Draper, Buatta  or something in between...Bufe & Babin can inspire your home!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Scagliola and Pietre Dure...

Walter Cipriani photo
Scagliola is a technique that imitates semi precious inlay of marbles and minerals through the use of pigmented plasters.

Walter Cipriani photo

This process is best known through the Medici family in Florence, Italy in the 17th century.

Walter Cipriani photo

Contemporary Italian artist Walter Cipriani is keeping the process alive! Here, he shows the act of creating the colors and designs for a scagliola piece.

Walter Cipriani photo

A base form is made in the shape desired and then a design is drawn on the surface and the carving of the inlay is begun.
Walter Cipriani photo

Colored plasters are placed in the carved designs and then polished many times to achieve the look of marble.
Walter Cipriani photo
Finished designs were usually very elaborate using scrolls , foliage and ornamentation .

Florence, Italy

Last year, I visited the Pietre Dure museum in Florence, Italy to study it's decorative technique.

Pietre dure is what scagliola imitates. Pietre dure uses real minerals and stones to produce elaborate designs and ornamentation.

Firenze is still synonymous with the production of both scagliola and pietre dure.

These paintings are produced entirely from inlay work of precious stones.

The illusion is amazing....shading and depth are achieved strictly through the use of minerals.

There are four main rooms of pietre dure designs on table tops, wall panels and other objects in the museum.

This is one of the first areas as you enter the museum.

One way to tell the difference in scagliola and pietre dure is by touch...the inlaid stone of pietre dure will be cold to the touch and scagliola will be warm since it originates from plasters.

You can purchase scagliola pieces from artists in Florence... although these labor intensive pieces are not cheap, they are investments in a centuries old art technique that was good enough for the Medicis!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Shell Game......

Objects from the oceans have been elevated into art for centuries.....

Palazzo Boromeo- Isola Bella

Ornate shelled rooms became popular in  Europe as early as the 1600's....

Blott Kerr-Wilson
Shelled rooms evolved from the love of exterior grottos.....these interior rooms were more formal with symmetrical designs...unlike the stalagtite inspired grotto art. This bathroom was inspired by Sailor's valentines...small , detailed shell designs-sometimes boxes, made by sailors at sea for their loved ones.

Artist Blott Kerr-Wilson has dedicated her life to restoring and creating these fantastic designs. Blott won the World of Interiors design award in 1993 and has seriously devoted her life to the creation and accurate restoration of shelled rooms.

Helen Dillon asked Wilson to make the shells "flower" from the walls for this bathroom....

Many shell rooms include bone, precious minerals and corals along with the shells to create elaborate designs.

This exuberant example includes clam shells and arrises adorned with bone and shells.

another example of work by Blott Kerr-Wilson is this grotto style bathroom done in conjunction with a mural artist..

I love the fantasy of the ocean combined with the arched stone walls..

Cilwendeg Shell house- Pembrokeshire

Cilwendeg is another  folly that has been restored to its fullest beauty.


The dome was reconstructed using clues from shells buried in the area and sketches made based on similar shell rooms.

So, enjoy the ocean and its gifts.....whether simple or whimsical!

This post is dedicated to Lynne and Erling and their new life wanted a post on shell rooms....and I even managed to work in the word arris!!
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