the unwind collection preview

Through June 30th, you’re invited to preview our new Unwind Collection, apparel by three new designers that combines a soft, cozy feel with elevated styling and creative details.

The full collection will be available in fall, but you can preorder several styles now for 15% off. You’ll receive your order as soon as the pieces are available in late August.

Your thoughts about this new collection are incredibly helpful to us as we continue to seek out new small-batch designers we love. Take a look at the collection—and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Lisa Bayne
Artful Home CEO

By |June 15th, 2016|Collections|4 Comments

to frame or not to frame? and what to ask your framer

Your decision to frame a painting, watercolor, drawing, or other 2D artwork depends upon several things: the features of the piece of art itself, the place you intend to hang it, and perhaps most important, your relationship with the art. Is it art you’ll want to live with for only a few years (to match a wall or furniture setting, for example)? Or is it truly valuable to you beyond its setting and worthy of long-term care?

It’s certainly possible to find paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints that don’t need a frame: you can simply take them home and hang them. Art created on newer materials, such as gallery wrapped canvases and cradled clayboard or birch panels, have wide finished edges and require no framing for display.

Many artists featured at Artful Home offer works like this. For example, Victoria Primicias’s small and larger paintings, such as Tender Reasons and Lesson Three are on wood panels with stained edges.  You can hang them immediately.

Edge view on Lesson Three by Victoria Primicias

Stained Edge on Lesson Three.

Gallery wrapped canvases are deeper than traditional canvases – 3/4” to 2 ¾” – and the canvas wraps completely around the edge. The artist treats the depth edge as a part of the work. A frame is not needed.  For example, Karen Hale’s acrylic paintings are painted on 1 ½” deep gallery wrapped canvas and are ready to hang.

Relic of the Past by Katherine Hale

Relic of the Past by Katherine Hale

View of canvas edge on Relic of the Past.

Conversely, works on paper, thinner traditional canvas, and other surfaces that don’t have a supporting internal framework will need to be framed or mounted in some way for protection and display. For example, Eugenie Torgerson’s work on deckle-edged paper would work best framed with a mat or float-mounted to reveal the deckle edge.

Before Memory - Wells Road by Eugenie Torgerson

Before Memory – Wells Road by Eugenie Torgerson

Leonard Moskowitz’s acrylic painting, Afternoon Walk, is a large painting (30”h x 40”w) on a traditionally stretched canvas that’s 1” deep. It is described as “ready for framing” – that is, it requires a frame.

5_AfternoonWalk_Moskowitz Edits

Afternoon Walk by Leonard Moskowitz

Where will you hang your art? The place you intend to hang your art will determine its longevity. Anything hung in direct sunlight or near a heat source will degrade. Ultraviolet light is very destructive to pigments, paper, canvas (and to practically everything else). Heat causes paint to crack, wood to shrink, canvas and paper to dry and age rapidly. Consider the spot carefully. Whether you frame your new piece or not, excessive sunlight and heat should be avoided. To a certain extent, UV damage can be mitigated with anti-UV glass, but not totally eliminated. Don’t hang something in the sun unless you don’t care that it won’t last.

If you forgo the “ready to hang” option and purchase a work of art that is “ready for framing,” there is one decision you have to make before you meet with a professional framer:

Do you want this artwork to last? That is, do you want your artwork framed to archival quality?

These two questions are actually the same question. A framer who works to archival standards will carefully use only materials that are acid-free: papers, mats, tabs, adhesives, even distilled water to moisten adhesives rather than tap water. Why? Because acidic materials are extremely destructive over time, and the destruction they wreak on artwork cannot be reversed. Yes, some acid staining and degradation could be partially restored with careful painstaking techniques, but it cannot be made new again. It’s better to go acid-free from the beginning. Museums use archival methods for all matted and framed art.  If you want your art to last, go archival. With this in mind, be certain the framer you choose is able to work to archival standards. Ask.

There are, of course, many other questions you can explore with your framer: mat colors, whether or not to float-mount a print with a deckle edge, to add glass or not, choices of frame. But these are personal aesthetic questions for specific artwork, questions that will allow you to develop a long and trusting relationship with your framer.

By |June 7th, 2016|articles|1 Comment

in the studio with sylvie rosenthal

If you lose your wallet, you hope someone thoughtful will find it for you…and if you’re in luck, that someone might by Sylvie Rosenthal.

Last winter, an Artful Home employee dropped her wallet in a snowbank and considered it gone for good. Little did she know that it would be found by an artist whose work she knew well. Because of their shared connection with Artful Home, Sylvie Rosenthal was able to locate the wallet’s rightful owner and return it to her without a penny misplaced.

This serendipitous occurrence is certainly a “small world” moment; it also reveals a bit of Sylvie’s character, though it tells you nothing about her vast creativity and expertise as a sculptor and woodworker. For that, you have only to step into her studio or learn a bit about her personal history. We were excited to have the opportunity to do just that on a recent spring afternoon, when Sylvie invited us into her Madison, Wisconsin, studio to have a look around.

Sylvie Rosenthal in her studio.

Sylvie Rosenthal in her studio.

Sylvie has been making things since the age of 5. Growing up, she spent a lot of time at the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven, Connecticut, a hands-on, experimental children’s museum that nurtured her creativity and inventiveness. She worked there from third grade to eleventh, and admits that she sometimes went there instead of school. She has a continued relationship with the museum, teaching classes to kids in the summer and donating artwork to an annual fundraiser.

The museum’s emphasis on experimentation, risk-taking, and creativity left a lasting influence on Sylvie. She not only gained countless skills that she still uses today, but also learned that her talent for making things was valuable—even employable. This is part of the reason that working for herself was never a question—that, and the fact that both of her parents were self-employed while she was growing up.

Out to See, from the artist's "Animals and Architecture" series.

Out to See, from the artist’s “Animals and Architecture” series.

Sylvie went on to receive a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, which instilled in her a dedication to craftsmanship. She has since studied and worked with many prominent woodworkers, and recently earned an MFA in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin.

Equilibrium Balance II, an interactive kinetic sculpture.

Equilibrium Balance II, an interactive kinetic sculpture.

Sylvie creates both 3-D and 2-D work, including this sculpture and photographic print.

Sylvie creates both 3-D and 2-D work, including this sculpture and photographic print.

Sylvie Rosenthal has a rich, multifaceted artistic practice. She creates imaginative furniture and mirrors with a hint of the unexpected. She crafts fascinating, technically complex sculpture, often with kinetic elements. She even builds custom cabinetry and experiments with photography. Among her many works of art, there is one piece that is especially beloved by Artful Home customers: the Birdie Mirror.

Sylvie Rosenthal's well-loved Birdie Mirror.

Sylvie Rosenthal’s well-loved Birdie Mirror.

This popular mirror was not originally intended for sale; rather, it was created as a meaningful gift. When her sister’s best friend and husband were expecting twins, Sylvie was asked to design a special mirror for them in celebration. She decided to create not one mirror but three: a large one for the parents, and a smaller one for each daughter, which they could hang up in their rooms as children and take with them once they were grown up. The four birds on each mirror represented the four family members. Needless to say, the new parents were thrilled with the heartfelt, heirloom-quality gifts.

Sometimes, a work of art takes on a life of its own—and Sylvie soon discovered that the Birdie Mirror had broad appeal. Now that she offers them at Artful Home, they have been featured in a number of catalogs and found their way into many delighted customers’ homes.

Wood birds await further carving and detailing.

Wood birds await further carving and detailing.

The first trio of mirrors was a labor of love, and every subsequent mirror requires just as much painstaking attention to detail. Each basswood bird is carved, sanded, and painted by hand, then individually fit to its own branch. The cherry wood frames were originally cut by hand using a router and band saw, but Sylvie now works with a local CNC router to achieve smoother, more even cuts. Once the pieces are cut, Sylvie carefully assembles, sands, and finishes them. At every step of the process, Sylvie takes care to ensure that the piece is well constructed and built to last.

The artist constructs the frame of a Birdie Mirror.

The artist constructs the frame of a Birdie Mirror.

What’s next for Sylvie? She tells us that she is currently fine-tuning aspects of her art business and developing concepts for a new line of home decor (stay tuned!). She hopes to ramp up this area of her business while maintaining her sculpture practice. Doing so may require some additional hands in the studio. Currently, she does nearly everything herself, only contracting assistants for particularly busy times (this is actually somewhat unusual in the area of woodworking). If her business increases, she may need regular help—and she hopes to be at that point sometime soon.

Sylvie Rosenthal shows us a series of new bud vases she has created.

Sylvie Rosenthal shows us a series of new bud vases she has created.

We love Sylvie Rosenthal’s work and have an even greater appreciation for her incredible range of skills and ideas after visiting her studio. We are excited to see her business continue to grow and thrive!

By |May 27th, 2016|spotlights|1 Comment

10 teapots infused with creativity

Whether you’re a tea aficionado looking to serve up your daily “Earl Gray” with a splash of personality or an art lover hoping to add some new flavors to your collection, you’ll find plenty to savor in the world of artist-made teapots.

Teapots have been around for hundreds of years, having originated in China and then spread throughout Asia, Europe, and beyond. The history of teapots is steeped in a fascinating potpourri of social customs, culinary tastes, and cultural aesthetics of people across the globe. This rich history gives artists plenty of inspiration to draw from as they create their own variations of this storied vessel.

Here are ten remarkably creative teapots from our collection—everything from beautiful reinterpretations of classic forms to surprising shapes that defy the imagination.

Teapots53_RonMello Edits

Boasting elegant curves adorned with a rich, iron red glaze, Teapot #53 by Ron Mello is a striking example of the artist’s interest in ancient forms and traditional ceramic techniques.

BasketHandled_SuzanneCrane Edits

Suzanne Crane’s botanical inspiration is fully evident in her Basket-Handled Teapot with Red Berries, which pairs impressions from real plants with a dramatically vining handle.

ZoeyTeapot_MaryObodzinski Edits

Mary Obodzinski plays with proportion and texture in her out-of-the-ordinary teapots. A repeating floral pattern enlivens the dramatic, flattened silhouette of her Zoey Teapot.

Blackline_VaughanNelson Edits

Who says teapots have to be round? Vaughan Nelson’s hand-built Blackline Teapot is a celebration of playful pattern in an unexpected geometric shape.

DrivingTeapot_LilachLotan

And while we’re at it, who says teapots have to be, well, vessel-shaped? The arched form of Driving Teapot in Charcoal by Lilach Lotan is a whimsical (and functional) surprise.

SupermodelTeapot_CarolTM Edits

Supermodel Teapot by Carol Tripp Martens is an abstracted form that may not immediately register as a teapot. Its curvaceous form suggests the organic shapes of the human figure—and yes, it can actually pour!

BlackDragonTea_NancyAdams Edits

A water-pouring vessel is transformed into a fire-breathing dragon in this piece by Nancy Y. Adams. More sculptural than functional, Black Dragon Tea II uses the teapot as a starting point to celebrate the grandeur of this fantastical creature.

DancingShiva_MichaelTorre

Dancing Shiva by Michael Torre pushes the the teapot into purely sculptural territory. Created from unglazed red clay, it is not intended to be functional, but its designation as a teapot makes its flowing shape even more fascinating.

WildTeapot_Owen Edits

Sometimes, a sense of humor adds the perfect touch of whimsy and creativity to a piece. Such is the case with Riding the Wild Teapot, a petite metal teapot by Mary Ann and Malcolm Owen.

SnakeAteTeapot_SylvieRosenthal Edits

Likewise, The Snake that Ate the Teapot 2 by Sylvie Rosenthal uses the form of a teapot for a surprising (and humorous) effect. Hand-carved in wood, this intricate piece is meant to be displayed as a sculpture rather than filled with your favorite oolong.

From sculpture to utilitarian vessels, these ten pieces illustrate some of the ways artists explore and experiment with the classic teapot, transforming it into something fully their own. And whether you’re a tea aficionado, an art collector, or both, the world of artist-made teapots is brimming with extraordinary pieces to dazzle your senses.

By |May 24th, 2016|articles|Comments Off on 10 teapots infused with creativity

small enchantments in glass

In his delicious category-defying book, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, author Sam Wasson recounts the arranged meeting of two literary stars. Paris, 1948: Truman Capote was ushered by Jean Cocteau into the Palais Royal apartment of Colette. The French grande dame of literature, author of Gigi and many other succes de scandales, was nearing 80. Capote was a fresh-faced 23, basking in the glow of his own first success, the (also scandalous) Other Voices, Other Rooms. They barely spoke each other’s language, but a strong connection was clear:

After the tea was served, the room got warmer, and Colette opened Truman’s twenty-three-year-old hand. In it she placed a crystal paperweight with a white rose at its center. “What does it remind you of?” she asked. “What images occur to you?”

Truman turned it around in his hand. “Young girls in their communion dresses,” he said.

The remark pleased Colette. “Very charming,” she said. “Very apt. Now I can see what Jean told me is true. He said, ‘Don’t be fooled, my dear. He looks like a ten-year-old angel. But he’s ageless, and has a very wicked mind.’ ” She gave it to him, a souvenir.

(Sam Wasson, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, HarperCollins:2010).

Capote kept that white rose paperweight with him wherever he lived. And not for its utility. It was a memento of his meeting with Colette: an allusive conjuring of the past he could hold in his hand. He collected paperweights for the rest of his life and carried those he liked the most with him in a small black bag.

While glass as a utilitarian and art medium dates back to a least 2500 B.C., the first signed paperweight is rather new: it can be traced back to 1845 and Pietro Bigaglia’s signed weights for the Vienna Industrial Exposition. A few years later in 1851, paperweights showed up in the Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations in London’s Crystal Palace. This exhibition was intended to showcase innovations of artists from “All Nations.” One of the New Things was the paperweight. This huge event, as well as subsequent world fairs, served to introduce paperweights to the world.

Certainly there was a utilitarian aspect to this new object: letter writing had become all the rage in Victorian England. A daily epistolary habit required desk tools beyond pen and stationery: something to keep lightweight loose letter pages neatly in place in drafty houses. A heavy glass sphere did the trick. All the better if it was attractive or commemorated something—such as a coronation of Queen Victoria.  Paperweights sold well: they were trending!

Though the first primitive glass paperweights made in Venice were often rough spheres incorporating end-of-the-day colored detritus at the glassworks, French, English, and Bohemian glassworks quickly became known for their extremely well-executed and beautiful paperweights. Especially in France, 1845-1860 marks the “classic” period” of paperweight making. The production of exquisite paperweights became part of an attempt to revive the country’s depressed glass industry. Consequently, four company names are associated with this revival: Saint Louis, Baccarat, Clichy, and Pantin. Their designers and artisans developed prodigious virtuosity in ancient glassworking techniques.

“Antique” paperweights are from this “classic period.” The “American Classic Period” of paperweight making stretches from 1852 to 1870, continuing after the excitement had declined a bit in Europe. The “modern period” of paperweights begins around 1950 and extends to the present. In the early 1960s, the Studio Glass movement began in the United States as glassmakers moved from factories to studios. Glass work in studios shifted from the utilitarian to the aesthetic: to art glass. The range of ancient and innovative techniques and processes used to create glass paperweights today is wide and varied.

While the name with its lowly intention remains, the paperweight quickly broke free of the realm of utility and became, instead, the showcase for the most magnificent and refined examples of glassmakers’ workmanship. Most paperweights are never “put to work.” They are small enchantments in glass: extraordinary design and craftsmanship revealed.

Millefiore detail image on a paperweight.

 The products of the ancient glass techniques of canework and lampwork are fascinating to see. Canework calls for the stretching of colored glass into long thin straws that are cooled and then cut into smaller pieces. The artist uses them to create colors and shapes in a larger glass project: it’s the creation of the “crayons” the artist uses. Rods of many colors can be pulled together to create multi-colored canes. These are cut into thin slices that resemble flowers and are placed in the work.  This technique is called millefiore (“thousand flowers” in Italian).

Many paperweight artists in Artful Home use millefiore in their artwork. Michael Egan builds undersea reefs. Shawn Messenger is known for her lovely flower-filled heart-shaped weights. David Lindsay, Paul Harrie, and Ken and Ingrid Hanson all employ straight canework or millefiore, though their works are diverse.

Lampwork is very different. “Lamp” refers to the torch the artist uses to keep bits of colored glass molten as an object takes shape. That object could be a flower or butterfly—most traditionally—but also a salamander or, for example,  Clinton Smith’s poison dart frogs. Extraordinary realism can be achieved with lampwork, and many artists are virtuosos in representing flora and fauna. More lampwork can be seen in the work of Jeremy Sinkus, Aaron Slater, Richard Satava, and Mayauel Ward.

Glass artist Aaron Slater using a torch to create details in a paperweight.

Aaron Slater using a torch to work with glass.

Some artists use lampwork to create small free-standing sculptures without the glass englobement. Jennifer Umphress builds charming sculptures of sea creatures. The trio of Richardson, Tarducci, and Underwood create lampwork sailboats and other sculptures. Eric Bailey’s lovely tree frogs, snails, and lizards are all lampworked pieces. (Truman Capote’s first paperweight from Colette was a lampworked white rose in a crystal sphere.)

Beyond these traditional techniques, some artists apply gold leaf to the hot glass for the delicate lacy pattern that forms on the surface. The work is then encased in another layer of glass.  Robert Burch’s heart paperweights showcase this method.

Paperweight collecting is popular: many people have found it enjoyable and even addictive—an addiction that’s not unhealthy! There are many paperweights out in the world in every price range, and unlike so many other forms of art, they require no special upkeep or storage conditions. There are three large collections of paperweights in the United States: at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, the Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah, Wisconsin. All three are very popular destinations.

Many famous people have become paperweight collectors, including Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, King Farouk of Egypt, actor Andy Griffith, former President Bill Clinton, director John Landis, and astronaut Alan Shepard. Most collectors share Truman Capote’s feeling that paperweights are like “some fragment of a dream.”

 

Sources for this article:

By |May 16th, 2016|articles|Comments Off on small enchantments in glass