Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hunting for Vintage French Patio Furniture

 This is a story about a certain kind of old French patio furniture.  
That I was obsessing over, ever since it came on my radar after
 my obsession with Grey Gardens.  
I saw a chair in the dining room at Grey Gardens 
during the Edie years, and it just fascinated me.
 I thought I saw some at Martha's house too, on a porch, 
and even in her bathroom as a vanity chair.
(Martha Stewart's bathroom dressing table and chair)
It's also a story of how things come full circle sometimes, 
and you learn to embrace what you had and lost, when it comes back to you. 
 Francois Carre Sunburst chairs, also known as Pinwheel chairs.
These iconic chairs have graced patios and sunrooms of the rich and famous, and the just plain rich, ever since they were created by French designer Francois Carre, who patented the design in 1866.
They were made in both France and the United States until the 1940s.
 They have a spring mechanism on the seat and backs. This seems to be the source of failure 
and why so many are in disrepair today and need restoration. 
A garden antique friend of mine, Laurie of Fine and Elegant Antiques, spotted these chairs (above)
on a buying trip, then sent me this pic and then told me where to find them....
but she also mentioned that they had been repaired, and the
repair job wasn't very good.  However the price was good,
 for these sought after Sunbursts at $395/pair.

If you do some hunting online at the various websites after googling Francois Carre Patio Furniture,
or Sunburst Chairs, you will see eye popping prices!! And that is just not how I roll. I want to find them, and I want the price to be soooo good, it makes me giddy.  
I love the hunt, and I love a steal. 
And I know I'm not alone on that one.
 At the Martha Stewart Prop auction in Beverly Massachusetts, I spotted this set of original Francois Carre chairs in a heavy state of rust.  They belonged to the auction house owner who is holding onto them.  Seems like a lot of antique dealers hold onto them, as another dealer messaged me saying she had a complete set (also in bad shape) and if I wanted to purchase, she might be ready to let them go.
 At the beginning of the month, I spotted this pair of freshly painted Carre chairs at Brimfield and they had price tags of $550 each.  Three hours later they were gone, so someone was likely thrilled to find a pair, even at that price.
 I spotted this pair with replaced bottoms selling for $160 a pair in Rhode Island.
However I wanted a whole Sunburst chair, not a half....but the more I saw, the more
I realized they weren't chairs that stood up over time, and if I got some, they would 
likely be more garden ornaments than garden seating.
So as I considered other options that were popping up,
it seems the universe had another idea for me.
 Three summers ago, I found a wire furniture set on Craigslist that had two chairs, a settee and a pair of end tables.  They were fanciful looking, and I learned they were called Peacock Wire Patio Furniture.  The had been painted blue and were peeling, so I sprayed the settee and the end tables,
and they looked very lacy and pretty.
The pair of rusted blue chairs never got sprayed. 
We had just started creating our courtyard 
and had so many other metal chairs, that I decided to sell the Peacock chairs.
The pretty Peacock settee and end tables stayed behind to live with me.
They joined other storybook pieces, like my Marie Antoinette linen press that sat in the yard
under a tarp until she could be hoisted through the second floor window with hub's skid steer.
Fast forward three years, and now I have a complete set of Peacock Wire patio furniture.
Hubs found a table and chairs at a job site he was doing some excavation at, and noticed that
the owners didn't seem to want theirs.  It was lined up holding sticks and lawn debris.
So he inquired if they would like to sell them as his wife would love them.
And they said YES.  

One very happy wife I was, after having seen so many rusted out Sunburst chairs, 
I was more than ready for a plan B. Or Plan P:  Peacock!
Now I am debating about painting them....should they stay white?
(Martha's garage full of furniture and how she paints them: click here)
 Martha Stewart Aqua (above)?
 Its in the Peacock color family....
(By the way, Martha repainted them in a camel color that I wasn't too thrilled about.
I loved her signature aqua blue color that used to be on her trim and fencing.)
But back to the Peacock set paint color...
 Classic black...a French garden green?
Or stay shabby garden chic in rusty white?
I'd love your thoughts!

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Shocking Secret to Climbing roses, Shabby French and Martha

Spring has truly arrived and Piper is enjoying it as much as I have been.  This will be the third year for my climbing rose on the old arbor.  Its the New Dawn climber and it should be doing much better than it is.....so I did some research and discovered a shocking well kept secret that may explain why my climber is not acting like a climber.  
 Its barely a third of the way up the arbor.  So what I learned was that number one, 
plant your climber practically underneath the structure you want it to climb.  
I had mine about two feet away from the arbor.  
 I had tied the branches to the arbor with garden twine almost straight up to get it going up towards the top of the arbor.  Big mistake!  Understand that there are two types of branches, the main cane and then the lateral canes.  The main cane(s) are the big branches that come from the root area and then the lateral canes are the branches that grow off the main canes and they are the only branches that the flowers grow on.  The secret is to train the main canes in a horizontal fashion with a slight angle upwards, because that is what makes the lateral canes sprout and grow and then produce flowers.
 This image from Rachel Ashwell's new book, My Floral Affair, shows an espaliered David Austin Ballerina climbing rose growing on the side of an enchanted cottage.  Look at the angle of the thick main canes.  They are more trained to an angle instead of straight up. And then you can see the multitudes of lateral canes with the blooms on them, and the lateral canes grow straight up in a vertical fashion creating a bushy full climbing rose!! 
Armed with this knowledge I went out and retrained and persuaded my main canes to go at a criss cross fashion and tied them to the arbor.  Since the bush is further away than it should be ideally, you have to allow for the canes to go vertically until you can train them horizontally.  After I trained it, I fed it with Rose Tone food and then planted another David Austin shrub rose, Queen of Sweden, next to the arbor.  That area will hopefully be filled with roses this summer.  Many people commented on my Instagram post about this secret of climbing roses, saying that they too had never heard of this, and it explained why they only had roses growing at the very top of their climbers.  See, if I had just trained the canes to get up to the top, it would only be then that the main cane would lay flat and then lateral canes would sprout and then bear flowers.  Mystery solved!
 Another one of the glories of spring is when the first flowers arrive from the lilac trees.  Lucky enough to have both purple and white, I cut a big bunch of white lilacs for mothers day and I displayed them inside of this colossal silver punch bowl I scored at the Brimfield Antique Fair.  
 Brimfield is the oldest antique fair in the country and there are thousands of vendors who set up their wares in tents along Main Street in the tiny town of Brimfield.  My favorite dealer lives in Texas and I think she has the best stuff at very good prices.  The best stuff, if you like French, Italian, Shabby Chic, Cottage, Garden etc.... Her name is Donna Corr and her booth and business is Corrabelle Rose.
I spotted my punch bowl, all tarnished, sitting on a display table in her tent.  It came with 8 punch glasses in silver plate as well.  The other treasure I took home is that huge and heavy gilded iron candelabra, which I thought would be perfect for leaving outdoors in my summer courtyard.
 Donna has lots of yummy things like tole sconces and lamps and 
wastebaskets (oh yeah I got one of those too).  And Florentine trays and tables and
 boxes (oh and um yes I got some of those as well).  She will be back in July when Brimfield
 has its summer session, so you can bet I will return as well for some
 power shopping at her delicious booth.
 There really are some spectacular vendors, and you will see the 
MOST amazing things....things from palaces and castles and chateaus!  
 This huge planter was likely the base of a pier mirror (one of those floor to ceiling type mirrors).  
I bought a few things from this vendor as well. Pamela, from Plymouth, Massachusetts, was near Donna's booth in the New England Motel lot.  
 And the entrance to a most enchanting booth, The Two Cherubs, 
featured sky high skinny shutters in turquoise that the dealer, Jenny Lunney, 
lugged home from a shopping trip to France. 
 She is also on Instagram as @jennylunney and you can see my moniker at 
the top of this photo @amymaisondecor if you want to follow us.
 Bring a folding shopping cart like this one that I use. 
 I cannot recommend it enough!  I start off with a bunch of bubble wrap
 and then a stack of kitchen hand towels for wrapping items.  
An old Vera Bradley tote bag with lots of pockets is where I stash some wet wipes, 
sunscreen, water bottles, and snacks. 
 There is my big candelabra, all tucked in safe and sound!! 
 Another shot from Corrabelle Rose.
 Parked outside of the Two Cherubs...
 If you love old things, you will certainly find something to bring home that will inspire you to redecorate or freshen up your living space, be it inside or out.
I just adored polishing up the punch bowl and adding flowers to it.
Its going to hold my mail on a daily basis so I can enjoy seeing it all the time.
 The other fun thing I did this month was to attend the Martha Stewart Prop Sale, 
with my friend Matthew Mead.  I picked up this old french bakers rack
 that you see holding my copper collection.
 It was great fun to go and see all the stuff Martha was selling from the days of her 
tv show and things she used in books.  I recognized several of the items as did Matthew. 
Watch us walk through the auction house on our YouTube video here. 
One of the marvelous things she had up for auction was a collection of opaline glasses in various forms in colors pink and yellow.  See them on the lower shelf...the upper shelf had big goblets in pink bristol glass, and hobnail goblets in white.
 As you can see, I prevailed at auction and brought home this enchanting and rare set of french glassware. 
 Some vintage lighting was scooped up for the cottage, 
at least the one on the right.  I can imagine it in the kitchen...
 Look at the Martha stickers!  So fun!!
The bottom of each glass had a label indicating what it was and catalogued
in the Martha Prop Collection with her stamp on it as well.
 Martha's sale also had a ton of outdoor furniture that was an addition from various estates, added to sell the same day her things were auctioned off.  I came home with this cast iron coffee table base to use in the courtyard and I imagined I could add wooden planks to the top, instead of glass.
 There were so many old sets of outdoor furniture! It was really a blast looking through it all.
And on that note I will leave you and prepare another blog post on the vintage patio furniture I did just find, and the outcome of a set I had lusted after since my visit to Grey Gardens.
But before I go, how about this candelabra?

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