Saturday, December 2, 2017

Burgman Building : Design project

Thought I'd share our Drapery cornice design for our library. This was a small kids bedroom that was off our Garland Parlor. Its really more like a "nook room" at 8x12 feet but it has a number of design problems because the window is not centered there is a protruding bumpout on the right from a chimney that services a old wood stove in the past. We are doing a Turkish theme in the room so I've come up with this wooden moroccan drapery cornice that will be anchored by a column on the left and cover the brick bumpout on the right. We will be designing some elaborate Turkish drapes so this will resemble a larger window with the drapes pulled back to one side and we plan on putting stained glass in the window. Now comes the fun part of building it. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Small towns: Real life, it is always personal

It’s been a transition from the urban environment to living in a small town. Small towns are different and they are very personal.  Unlike the big city, you make real friendships and you learn to care about your friends and their day to day experiences

We have embraced small town living and though that made many great friend s and small town relationships that are very enduring and, I hope, long lasting, but real life rears its ugly head from time to time.

About a year ago one of my most creative small town friends, an internationally known photographer introduced me to one of his childhood friends. He came into the shop and because of our creative commonality, we talked at length about out creative processes and how we did our craft. Given the opportunity of time, we likely would have become fast friends. The next day he went back to his home and was killed by a hit and run driver. A brilliant, creative career wiped out far too soon and I was left with helping a dear friend deal with that loss. Something no one is really equipped to do.

Today, some of our very dearest friends, who own a local business we often patronize, lost their god daughter, a young woman whom I had the chance to meet when she came in with our friend to see the  shop a  few months back. Full of life, she was having a great time and I enjoyed talking with her about our antiques and all the “cool stuff’ we had.

Sadly tonight, she took her life, for reasons only known to her, her family now grieves, and we grieve for both her and for our friends who must face an insufferable loss and try to process this loss.
There is a humanity to living in a small town that is sadly lacking in big cities.

Small towns are real world, not a sound bite on TV.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Indiana landmarks Northern Treasure Hunt

The Kizer House
We had a great day on the 22nd at Indiana Landmarks Northern Treasure Hunt.

The grand mantle made for a great backdrop for our display
Our display in the Formal Dining room of the Kizer House in South Bend.
We brought a selection of architectural items

A table full of antique lighting

This Grand old mansion is undergoing major restoration by Indiana Landmarks and is an excellent example of Richardson Romanesque Architecture. We had an excellent day and expect we will be seeing more and more South bend residents making the pilgrimage to our shop.

This mansion is incredible and well worth a visit
The History Museums Hold House is right across the street form here and there were events and yard sales going on throughout the area.

Am interesting tower on this home
The neighborhood we were at had many great restored old homes in it. We definitely plan on returning the next time they have this event.

The neighborhood is filled with great homes like this.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Burgman Building: New project: Our Library/study

I admit I have been putting off starting this project, there were more pressing agenda items but it's time to start the Library/study. So we open the door on our next project.
Right of the Garland Parlor lies a bland white box that will soon be our new Library study

This room was used as the Children's bedroom back in the day. In the Victorian era bedroom were simply to sleep so they tended to be rather utilitarian....and they were small. This room is a scant 8' 6 x 11' 8" and its off the garland parlor so it's use as bedroom right off the parlor is just not good.

It looks like the trim was painted directly over the shellac as its heavily cracked
The room was originally painted tan, followed by a  green, followed by SEVERAL coats of white paint and the trim inside, is painted the most horrid pea green, which must be stripped.

To add further insult to injury, the ceiling has been dry walled AND textured. Hopefully the texture comes off easily and we can re-skim The only major issue is with the exterior wall near the old chimney (now gone and capped) resulted in a wet exterior wall at some point in its history (might have been a leak too, before the new roof) so I have some plastering to do.

So given the layout and small size of this room one might be tempted to take out the wall entirely and make the garland parlor larger. HOWEVER the garland parlor has its original frescoed and stenciled ceiling and frieze (currently under restoration), so that is NOT an option.

The layout as it is awkward with a door to one side like it is and with only one small window it is claustrophobic.

So the plan is  eliminate the current door and replace it with a  wider 5 foot wide door which will have fretwork at the top centered to the room. This accomplishes two things , one it lets the Garland Parlor and the new Library/Study act as one space, and two, we do not damage any original stenciling.

In terms of room flow this will be a great improvement. The new Library will have its East wall turned into a period designed bookcase and the west wall will get a new decorative fireplace that will have a register from the new gas fireplace going in the Persian Parlor which will help distribute heat more evenly.

In terms of interior décor all I can say is it will be "over the top", likely done as a Victorian Moroccan/Turkish themed space with lots of decorative stenciling and ceiling work. more to come.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Rarest of the Rare: A Neo Grec Parlor Set

Classic Neo Grec Design
Sometimes you come across stuff that you know is special and sometimes you do not know how special. Such is the case with our most recent acquisition a Neo Grec Parlor Set.

Great bronze mount sets this apart from most Victorian settees
We found this because we search for sale websites by common terms like Victorian Sofa or Vintage Sofa and we found this categorized for sale as a 1900 era item and not the 1860's/early 1870's item it is. Antique hunting TIP: Do not do specialized searches like "Neo Grec Parlor Set" because the average person has no clue what that is. Look for Victorian settee.

The Chair follows the same design
So the obvious question is " Who made it?"  and one might expect to see this for sale with an "Attribution" of Herter Bros or Pottier & Stymus and frankly that was our first guess but our desire to know brought us in a different direction and a Firm with equal quality built more limited production so here we have a Jacob Ziegler & Co Neo Grec Parlor Suite and only the second one I have been able to find. Rarest of the Rare.

Gilding inlay and Ebonizing shows a masterful designer
In our research we find several interesting things about this little known firm. . Ziegler & Co were established in 1849, and remained in business until 1878. The firm offered "a large stock of plain and artistically rich furniture, all of their own manufacture..." and were also decorators. “J. Ziegler & Co./Manufacturers of Furniture and Decoration/ Rich & Plain Furniture/Curtains & Draperies/Hardwood Doors, Trimmings, Mantels,/Pier and Mantle glasses/Cornices, ETC. Warerooms 32 Bleecker Street, East of Broadway, Factory 311 Mott Street.
Ziegler used the same wheel mounts as Herter and Pottier & Stymus
It is notable that from 1865 to 1870, William Baumgarten was employed by Ziegler "(assisting) in making the designs and in the general management of the business." Baumgarten left the J. Ziegler and Co to become Christian Herter's assistant at, and eventually the head of Herter Brothers. This may well explain the similarity to Herter produced furniture. As you may know Herter Brothers has set auction records as far as Victorian Furniture goes.

The scale of this set can really only be appreciated in person
Jacob Zieger  was born March 8, 1825, in Gieslingen, Württemburg, Germany and died on March 20, 1897 in New York City. He was the brother-in-law of William Steinway. Jacob Ziegler was a successful cabinet maker and suitable match for William's sister Doretta. While active in some Steinway & Sons business dealings at William's request, Jacob Ziegler also continued to run his furniture and interior decorating business and his dealings in real estate.

Steinway and Zieger
He married Doretta Steinway on March 18, 1851, according to a date given in the diary. The marriage produced four children; Anna Louisa, Charles Jacob Theodore, Julia , and Henry Ludwig. Several of the children were involved in the Steinway & Sons business. Charles managed Steinway's business in London until his death in January of 1893. Henry Ludwig, who had begun working in his father's cabinet-making business, caught the attention of Theodore Steinway, who trained him in piano design. Henry became Theodore's successor in the Steinway & Sons piano business, continuing to apply innovations to Steinway instruments until his death in 1930.

The Steinway Mansion: could this piece have been there?
We also know Jacob Ziegler was involved in several projects. In 1862 William Steinway bargained with Ziegler to purchase parlor furniture for William’s new household after his marriage to Regina. (perhaps this set is from that parlor?)  In 1875 Ziegler had an agreement with a New York City developer Van Vankenburgh to build interior woodwork for seven houses “uptown” (near 66th St. and Madison Avenue). Jacob Ziegler maintained his own business, but was also an active participant in some of the Steinway family business affairs.  In 1862, William used Ziegler to help negotiate the purchase of additional property on 14th street, adjoining the property that he had just closed on with a third party.  This would be where Steinway Hall would be built

The only other known sofa. This one is button tufted
So in collector terms we have the rarest of the rare with only one other settee ever surfacing back in 2009 (above). Will more be found? Perhaps, but given the limited production of this company its doubtful many were built and in terms of true rarity this is far rarer than most Herter or Pottier pieces

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We opened up the residence for tour time again

Explaining the stenciling project in hall
We recently hosted the Logansport Landmarks 2nd annual Tour and Preservation picnic on the grounds of the Burgman. We conducted tours of the upstairs rooms and it was an excellent push for us to get more done.

The Persian Parlor: Tour-goers were fascinated by the history of its design.
A great friend of ours Rich Voorhees took some great photos before the tour
The dining room space is an under restoration room
This was a great opportunity to see the phases of the stenciling project in the hall
We had a huge collection of Logansport memorabilia down in the shop
The event was well attended and we were able to do some planning for Preservation in the coming year.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Frugal Victorian: High style look at low cost. Design Series

Lets face it, if you read our blog you like Victorian style and everyone would love a high end Herter Étagère Filled with exquisite Tiffany pieces and high end collectibles, but that is far beyond the average persons budget so I thought we would demonstrate how its possible to take a low cost items, group them and create high end look with low cost.

The Étagère is simple in design and serves as a good base for our example.
In this case we used a simple  ebonized spindle Étagère (for sale in our shop for 125.00 and create a high style spot in your home for around 250.00 or less with accessories.
Layering add depth an dimension.

We took a gray sheet for a backdrop but you could use any fabric you might have laying around. To create visual interest we layered it with a piece of scrap gold paisley material (purchased for 5.00) and thumbtacked to the wall to create a swag. We them added a simple framed print in a gold frame to repeat the gold theme and provide a focal point and to balance the higher part of the Étagère. As you can see using backdrops already makes the piece more elegant. If you live in an apartment and can't paint, this is a great way to create visual interest on wall without damage

3 Items per section is a good limit
Creating groupings are important and care should be used to use no more than three different items in an area. More than that, can look too cluttered. Vary the height of the items also adds visual interest. Here we contrasted off the gold fabric with a dark green Iridescent vase. Old Photos with their own built in stands are a great decorating item (4-10 ea in our shop).

All three items have shades of grey and black in them
Playing different textures off each other is another effective tool. Here we took a silk fan and played it off the silver cups and another photo. The black and silver and the greys of the photo all work together and the gold in the fan ties with the frame above it on the wall and the gold swag.

The tall area of the Étagère needs at least one larger item to visually fill the space. In this case we used a glazed vase with a grey color with some reddish browns tone found in the swag, We used some  smaller items in silver with it to create some 'sparkle. without overpowering the vase 

The lower shelves use less significant items to fill the rest of the Étagère but not overpower the focal items at eye level as you walk by Note the use of the Rec Tassel with the Oriental plate and the depression glass bowl (Depression glass can be found in our shop from 5-10 per piece) the shelf below it uses a simple framed print and a postcard with red to continue a repeat of color from the shelf above. Antique postcards (5-10.00 are a low cost decorating idea ) The lowest shelf used a heavy silver tray and book to help fill the space and weigh the base of it down. We recommend any tall item like this should be wired to the wall with some wire and a small screw eyes to prevent tip over.

So there you have it a creative exotic corner for your home done for less than 250.00.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Grand Hall: 10,000 or so stencils and we will be done!

I try not to count, as it would only drive me crazy (crazier?). Our Aesthetic Movement hall required the creation of  patterned main field, in gold of course. Fortunately, I elected to do a large sheet of about 50 flowers in the stencil, given the overall length of the wall, number of painted flowers required per sq ft, and we are somewhere slightly in the neighborhoods of 10-11 THOUSAND images !

As the first panel came together I have to admit I am pleased with the overall look. The 'bloom' of the pattern as you move by it especially at night is incredible and I can imagine how this might have looked back in the day with the hall lit by FIVE gaslights (we found where each one was located on the ceiling) Our plan is three lights but we are adding some wall sconces in the hall so we have flexibility as to how much light the hall needs at any given time.

With the ebonized trim we know the wainscot would be dark as well as the wainscot was always Painted darker to 'anchor' the room, was wood or sometimes marble. Well, we could not afford marble, so I elected to do a stylized marblization over the black paint and this gives it a depth and reflective quality that elevates the room to a higher level.

Of course its a looonnng hall and lots to do but its some progress. But of course an inlaid hardwood floor will be a necessity WHICH will be another project.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Burgman Restoration: The Great Stencil Project continues !

The wall field section taking shape
The  "Grand Hallway" because of its length and width are about the equivalent of doing 3 normal size rooms in most houses not to mention the 12 ft ceilings. However to accomplish this feat will be quite the challenge and its occupying a lot of my available free time.

Essentially we are following the Aesthetic Movement ethic. This requires a more elaborate approach that typical stenciling . In our case will  have the  marbleized wainscot, a multiple bordered mid-range field panel that consists of multiple bands and inset small paintings with 3 different stencil elements, gold leafing/gilding and a large upper wainscot that will feature more color bands (each stenciled differently) and a large frieze.

At this point we are working a on the first panel as one comes to the top of the stairs and it will feature all the decorative elements of the other panels that go down the hallway although each small  half round painting will be different. So the first section is where we determine all the color interaction and shades to get it just right.

A key focal point are the 'stained glass panels' in opposite corners, this follows a design ethic you often see on English Aesthetic transfer ware china and tiles where corners are anchored by a decorative element. These panels are based on aesthetic stained glass and take elements from the design for the stained glass window that will be at the top of the stair window.

Within the "clay colored border" are two small paintings one at the top and bottom, again slightly offset 1/3 into the wall panel width on opposing sides . These follow the same basic colors as the "Crane mural" on the curved wall we discussed in the last post. they are loosely executed and will eventually be 'aged' to look "period" for the age of the building as will everything else.

The Golden Tan of the main panel is being banded with a stencil executed in a period pattern in a light green color that takes its cue color wise from the colors in the mural and acts a balance color wise between the clay, Pompeii Red and gold. This along with the gilt stripe band create a elegant display.

Next Time? The "clay border" and gets its stencil and the Golden Tan panel gets its stencil design

Monday, January 23, 2017

Working away at the Burgman Building: Stencilling and murals

First post of 2017 and we plan on getting back on track on postings as we know those of you following the  restore want to know what is going on. We also plan on bringing back our Antique of the Week and more Preservation articles. Of course we still are completing end of year stuff  so we are very busy. We had a great holiday and were very pleased with shop sales.

Upstairs we are working on the "big hallway". Over 50 feet long and 4 ft wide with 12 ft tall ceilings it is more that a way to get to the front formal rooms it is an opportunity to showcase Victorian style and design. One of the key things about this hall is a curved wall that transitions from the  top of the stairs area to the long hall leading to the Parlors and formal dining rooms. This curved wall is the perfect location for an piece of art and true to the period and our love of the Aesthetic Movement we have decided a Crane scene with stream is appropriate . This design was common in high end entries such as the now gone Lux mansion in San Francisco which had similar curved wall. Far from done with it but I'm beginning to get a feel for how this will look.

Another design decision is what to do with the woodwork? We know that the wood was originally faux grained but the last owner had taken all the trims off has it stripped, this raised the grain and had to be sanded. More importantly he had not labeled anything and we spent weeks getting the door trims back to the doors that they belonged to. Also the baseboard has not been taken off and was painted . Removal of the curved baseboard (based on our experience) would have been ill advised We decided to do an ebonized wood treatment and a Herter Bros theme gilded stencil, again following the principals of the Aesthetic Movement.

To this end we chose  a design based on some inlays used in a Herter Bros piece we sold several years ago. We have a total of five doorways and one window to do, so its an on-going project.

We have not forgotten the downstairs and we are now working on the upper frieze stencil in the shop space too.

So there is a lot going on and more updates will be coming sooner than later.