Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wouldn't you know it!

As part of my obsessive-compulsive behaviour I was cruising antique fabric websites the other day, just idly looking for likely fabrics for Gertrude's chair slipcover. I cam across a number of sellers of french antique fabrics, including, where I found on their archive page 1 this piece of fabric:

Now if you look closely at Gertrude's chair, you will see that the fabric must have been something very close to this, rather than the fabric I have chosen. Furthermore, I found a site that said French furnishings became much less avant-garde after WWI. (Will findthe reference again and link here)

 I also found lots of sites that sell French antique textiles, although there does seem to be a gap in the market for textiles between the truly antique and the post WWII retro fabric market --perhaps because most of the period was sunk in Depression and war so people used up what they had? Who knows? Undoubtedly someon out there does.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

At last!!!!

Ever since I began this project I have been searching for an appropriate upholstery fabric for Gertrude's chair as seen in this picture:

It's clearly some kind of chintz but it's not possible to see clearly what the pattern is. I've searched the net for French upholstery fabrics from the 1920s and quilt shops all over the place looking for something appropriate.The first fabric (0n the left below)  was from the V&A, but was Victorian and, in retrospect, too pallid for Gert and Alice's taste.  Below (right to left) are five fat quarters I have bought and rejected. The one on the right I found in a Eureka moment in a quilt shop in Cambridge (NZ not UK). It's obviously not the same fabric but it captures the spirit I want. It is on the cusp between Art Nouveau and Art Deco (the photo was taken in 1925). It's rich and shiny and thus will go with their Italian Renaissance furniture.

i gave up on the idea of making a slipcover --my one effort at that was a disaster (see below). So I put my little Bespaq chair in the microwave for about 20 seconds (thanks to the blogger whose name I can't remember who put that it her blog). I then pulled all the fabric off and used it for patterns for the new cover. This is as far as I got:
So far I think it looks fabulous. I'm still working out in my head how to get the drapey feel of a slipcover. I'll post again once Its finished.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Things I forgot

Looking over the blog, I realized that a whole lot had happened between my blog from Paris ( which is a tale in itself) and now, as I try to resurrect this blog.

After Paris I went to San Francisco and saw two Gertrude (and Alice) exhibitions --The Steins Collect at SFMOMA and another at TheJewish Museum. Even more dazzling than seeing all those Picassos and Matisses was the fact that much of the furniture in the salon at 27 rue de Fleurus was also on exhibition, including the big chest on ches bottom picturet, two huge sideboards AND the desk (both behind Gertrude ), which is indeed very similar to the mini one I bought. Not, alas the Picasso designed, Alice petit pointed chairs, nor Gertrude's writing table However, I was able to take relative measurements of the chests. Also bought the exhibition catalogue which has lots of pix, some of which I'll scan and upload next post.

I am still trying to sort out how to use the new blogger. I don't seem to be able to have the nice pictures from the blogs I follow. On the other hand I have lost my nice modernist layout. Oh well,enough for today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back again, from Paris

Finally getting back to this after a hiatus over six months. Too complicated to explai. However, I am in Paris in a miniature room, or rather two rooms, of my own. I am living in a tiny apartment in the Batignolles area of Paris. It's a great neighborhood, not touristy with all the things great Parisian neighborhoods have, three boulangeries, a boucherie, lots of good little restaurants and cafes, close to the Metro and bus lines.

Have been here for two months, writing, working and loving living in Paris. Over the next few days I will be planning a Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas walkabout, getting what photos I can of their homes and haunts. Found one copy of the book 'walks in Gertrude Stein's paris' which I will try to get today or tomorrow

I haven't done any mini-ing here, but planning the Stein day, has got me going again. I have found two ofmy missing pie es of furniture, or close facsimiles- a tea table and a large armoire. Until I develop the skills to build my own fine furniture I think they will do. Will post pictures when the real things arrive.
Lunch yesterday in the Galleries Lafayette, coffees in the arum dries Garden, dinner ( escargots, followed by duck confit, followed by creme brûlée and coffee at Chez Marcel around the corner. Busy days

Friday, December 31, 2010

A room of ones own

This is the first post for my new project: recreating in miniature the writing rooms or studios of modernist women. My plan at the moment is to create Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas' living room at 27 rue de Fleurus. From the photos it is clear that Stein wrote there and Toklas clearly worked there as well. I've also begun to get together bits and pieces for Virginia Woolf's 'garden shed'. Vita Sackville West's tower room at Sissinghurst and then Vanessa Bell' room at Charleston are also on my list.

I've searched the web and found five photographs of the living room at 27 rue de Fleurus. I have found most of the furniture on the web. I spent the weekend making a slip cover for a Bespaq armchair (rather shoddily made I must say) from fabric I picked up at the V&A quilts exhibition in June. It took me two days to complete but am quite proud of it. It will suit Gertrude to a T. The furniture so far consists of two Hansson Victorian armchairs for Alice, a tavern table and sideboard by JBM and a gramophone table and aforementioned armchair by Bespaq. Yesterday I found a good approximation of the fireplace on ebay. It's a Jim Coates one so have ordered it. I'm waiting for a Bespaq Wexburgh Saxe chair which is the closest thing I have found to Gertrude's writing chair. Once the fireplace comes I'll be able to build the room around its proportions.

The original inspiration for the project came from the paintings--wondering whether they had ever been itemized or inventoried. The project combines my longstanding interest in modernist women writers and artists and a new found obsession with miniature furniture. It gives me a chance to combine these with some research into the paintings and lives of these women. Just trying to find the furniture has been interesting. So many different chairs. Not surprising on reflection since they had all those writers and artists around 

That's all for now. Still figuring out how to do this.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First attempt at upholstering in 1:12

10 August 2010

Got distracted this weekend by the arrival of two volumes of Reac chairs which I had ordered with the intention of selling all but two. However, I fell in love with the wrong ones --the le Corbusier couches and the butterfly chairs --so spent the weekend arranging a room totally unrelated to Gert and Alice.

I did attempt to make the footstool to go with the slip-covered armchair, but it turned out looking like a mob-cap. Lesson: pleat, don't gather, tiny bits of cloth. Back to the drawing board on that one.

The Bespaq Court chair arrived Monday. It is exquisite, delicately carved and upholstered in red velvet. It is intended for Gertrude's writing chair which was, however, upholstered in leather. So I will have to decide whether to re-upholster it or not. I would have to get much better at this business of manipulating tiny bits of fabric before I would risk it. I'm going to try to make a visual catalog of the chairs in the various photographs, partly simply to document them and partly to have a record/checklist against which to compare the existent miniature chairs out there in the world to find matches. Haven't quite figured out how to make the catalog but it all adds to the challenge. Watch this space!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a room of two's own; a room of two zone

Long time between posts partly because I've been trying to figure out a way to upload gadgets from the ipad. Haven't cracked it so am on the pc. One of the few drawbacks of the ipad. That and the lack of Flash.

The visual catalog worked well, and showed me how poor my visual memory for detail is. Am going to have to replace some of the furniture with more accurate replicas. Will try and post an excerpt, although several attempts so far haven't worked.

Lots of progress, however. Last weekend went and bought the materials for the salon. $61.00NZ bought enough mdf board for an 18 x 18 x 13 inch roombox, plus sealant and paint. There's enough left over for most of another room box as well. Painted the walls Resene's Dim Night' -- a lovely grey-blue, with a wainscoting of Paeroa with a little Dim Night mixed in. Matches the slipcover blue perfectly. Very pleased.

Yesterday, Doug and I made the floor. We etched lines 2cm apart from the back wall to the front with the edge of a fine chisel. Then we rubbed red and green shoe polish, unevenly, onto the mdf. Next we made cross-cuts on individual boards randomly at 4 cm. Doug then put in nail marks using a small hammer and the tip of a sharp screw.Final step was to rub the whole floor over with brown shoe polish and polish to perfection. It looks fantastic: glows like old wood and doesn't have that nasty polyurethane shine.

In the meantime I went to the library and got out four books on Gertrude and Alice which identify about 20 of the paintings on the walls, as well as giving references to places where more complete lists are published. They also contain some other pictures of the room which I will scan and add. I had a real Wizard of Oz moment when I found a Youtube clip showing two of the paintings ( . I suddenly realised how colourful that room was. I have gotten used to thinking abut it largely in black and white.

Decided on the title for this part of the project when I realised how their rooms, life,  everything really,  was their project. Alice clearly worked in the studio/salon alongside Gertrude, as well as organising the whole conduct of their life (not well expressed but  am thinking about that).

Raw floor
Finished floor