Thursday, January 27, 2011

Something To Crow About: My latest on DESIGNinTELL

If you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the antique shows in New York during the "antique season" then you need to read my latest article at DESIGNinTELL, the blog at

VandM (Vintage and Modern) is the antiques marketplace where I keep my shop. There are around 150 dealers that sell just about everything. It isn't a flea market-like site-there are some pricey goods there. These dealers are a sophisticated bunch.

DesignINTELL, the blog, covers everthing from art exhibitions to top ten lists of the latest trends in fashion and design. I am one of six writers. I write about objects and events. I recently posted about The American Antiques Show, the top folk art venue in the country and my favorite show.

On the other hand the Winter Antique Show is considered the nation's top high-end antique show, but you have to be a gazillionaire or be buying for a museum to purchase anything. However, it is great fun to see what is selling and to study pieces in person, but I would rather hang with the folk art crowd.

Folk Art is fun! And surprising. Who would expect to find exquisite gold and silver jewelry-and it isn't costume-at a folk art show. These dealers always bring the unexpected to this show. And , of course because it is in New York there are usually celebrities. Some attend the preview-Martha and Bunny almost always, but others shop at off hours like early morning when it has just opened or between 4 and 6 when everyone else is just getting home from work and thinking about dinner. The show stays open until 8 each night. Here are some highlights of objects I loved that were not included in the post I wrote for DESIGNinTELL.

A glass bead necklace in various shades of red. Made in Venice in the 1910s. Offered by Leah Gordon.

The lovely Ben, showing Roy Roger's mexican-made cowboy wrist-watch at Stella Rubin

A gate or piece of fence found in Virginia at the booth of Stella Rubin.

A group of homemade stuffed animal toys from Jeff and Holly Noordsy
More adorable homemade toy animals at Stella Rubin

A rose gold, diamond and ruby wide bangle from Stella Rubin
It is not a cuff, which has an opening. A bangle has no opening.
A bowl of balls at Jeff and Holly Noordsy

Antique bottles at Jeff and Holly Noordsy
Holly Noordsy
TAAS 2011


Beautiful appliqued table cover at Jeff and Holly Noordsy

Fabulous! An art deco desk at Cherry Gallery. Price? VERY EXPENSIVE!

The back is made of pieces of old shipping crates.

The adorable Scott Sanderson, designer, signing his new book Picture Perfect. Next to him is Marcy Carsey, signing her book Unfinished. These are two of the nicest people. Extraordinary talent and extremely down-to-earth.

An iron shell unbrella stand at Leatherwood. The coolest umbrella stand ever! Look at the tiny turtle feet.

Turtle Feet

This is the only cigar advertising quilt that I have ever liked. The composition is nice and would look great in a modern interior. At Roberto Freitas.

At Roberto Freitas

At Jeff Bridgeman
These would look awesome on a mantle.

All photographs by the author

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Doing the Big Flea

January is the big month for the Big Flea, a huge, two-building antique market located at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The Big Flea is held every other month and January is known as the best time to buy. Both buildings are open (the North building is being bought by Walmart) and they say there are more than 1000 dealers. Everyone shops the Flea-curators, collectors, dealers, and anyone looking for a deal. 

When I worked as a curator I always looked forward to the Flea, because you never knew what you might find and prices were reasonable. Plus, it was fun!

These are a few of my favorite things

I took pictures with my cell phone-sorry!- of my favorite finds. Since I missed the first day, things were picked over. A dealer friend who always gets the goods, went early saturday morning and found an early 19th century quilt, fabulous jewelry (really expensive) and several purses. 

If you go next month be advised the South building is the best. Everyone goes there first. Be sure to check out The Brandts booth. They are from Ohio and always have great early furniture and fabulous primitive smalls.

Jim, with the electric appliances in the 2nd row on the right side, has awesome stuff, especially early industrial. Check out his magazines and ask him about his appliances under the table. He has the best and there are always a lot of men checking things out. He never has a bad show!

The last row on the left side has all the difficult, weird, creepy, dealers. If you are into Death-photos of shooting victims, mortuary pictures, and really weird medical instruments this dealer is for you! What is it about seeing medical instuments under a picture of a dead man in a casket that gives you a chill up your spine.  UGH!

And right next to him is a strange, creepy, mid-century modern dealer that wears knee socks-you know the kind- you wore these with your plaid skirt and penny loafers in 8th grade. She is strange and has a reputation for being extremely difficult with just about everyone. Go down this aisle at your own peril.

Great purse

As a redhead, I always look for chestnut-colored anything. This red fox coat with brown leather belt was yummy! So seventies.

The perfect simple gold dress.
It is hanging up backwards.

Black Velvet and a Peacock

I think Ava Gardner had one of these.
It actually looks awesome on-not as vintage on as it looks off. The dealer said it was Jaguar-I think it is endangered and illegal to sell this.

Nice lines

Nice shine

Love the seltzer bottle.

For smokers or to hold your earrings

A "must" for your library if you are a textile lover. Printed Textiles by Florence Montgomery. 

I would be interested in hearing your comments about your opinion of the Big Flea.

The next Big Flea is in March 5-6

Monday, January 3, 2011

Batik Bedcovers: Quilts by Donna Radner

Donna Radner has been making quilts for more than 25 years and we have been friends for almost as long. You might say we grew into adults together. When we first met, at a quilt guild meeting Northwest, DC, we were both just beginning to explore quiltmaking.  There were very few places in the DC area to buy interesting fabrics at that time. 

Radner was always fascinated by color and pattern. In the early years it was clear she had a real talent for putting unusual colors together in a way that made her quilts stand out.

As Radner's quiltmaking evolved and her use of color and pattern became more intricate and complex, she began to develop a style of her own. She admits that part of her ability to evolve in this particular direction was due to the opening of several quilt shops in the DC area that supplied her with a large variety of contemporary cotton prints. Without access to these shops her style may have gone in an entirely different direction.

Radner worked hard making quilts-almost doing nothing else for years. Her output was more than 20 quilts a year and these were all hand-sewn. She used local quilters to quilt her tops to her specifications.

Quiltmaker's and people who just loved quilts began to recognize her work and seek her out at local shows. Soon she was being asked to teach. She has had a long successful career teaching color and design. And, she continues to learn herself. Always looking for more beautiful hand-painted fabrics and new topics to inspire her, Radner's work is still evolving.

With the advancement of quilting by machine in the past few years, Radner now quilts most of her work herself. She sells select pieces through the Textile Museum gift shop and on my website

Even the backs of her quilts are fabulous!

I have selected a group of her quilts to sell on my site that highlight her work with batik cottons and hand-painted batik panels. I love how these quilts look with the Asian fabrics popular with  interior designers today. Fabrics soften interiors and batiks look great with woods and contemporary furniture and designs.

The above bedroom would be even more perfect with one of Radner's quilts.

Another great modern interior that would be a nice setting for a quilt made by Radner.

Radner's use of color and the exquisite way she puts colors together make her quilts very popular with collectors. Her work can be seen in the homes of prominent residents in the DC area.

For more information about her or her quilts please check out my website or call me at 301-339-4919.