Treasures almost everywhere
Baltimore secrets of the city
Renew make it do
Collecting how to start
Textiles patterns and tales
Wales it really is a country
Schumacher Summer Palace Fretwork in Wisteria
am so pleased to welcome you to the first edition of the magazine,
I always try and learn new technologies, understand new media and communicate better. Hence, the magazine Pigtown*Design. Some readers will be familiar with the contents of the magazine through the blog that I write, and for others the contents will be a revelation. But regard-
It is all of the readers who engage in a dialogue and comment on the blog that help make it so dynamic. I hope to publish Pigtown* Design magazine quarterly bringing you new ideas and new
ways of learning and doing. baltimore............5
Thank you so much for
less of which group you are in, I certainly hope that
reading Pigtown*Design, both the
you will learn something new.
blog and the magazine. I canâ€™t tell
Of course, I hope that you will give me feedback
table of contents
you how much I appreciate it!
on this magazine and the technology used to create it, as well as the blog that I write nearly every day!
Treasures... ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
The next house yielded
and I snagged three of
a trove of decorated tins,
them for a total of $1.75.
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tent and had laid out items
neighbours had set up a
first stop, where a group of
We struck gold at the
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
What should we look for?
7:45 a.m. and headed out.
5. Don’t go in with expectations. In all likelihood, you’re not going to find what you think you want. You have to have a really open mind.
Yes, it was worth it. I spent less than $20, and got about ten items, including the tins below, and the three flower market buckets above, in addition to the silver plate pieces, the Ice-O-Mat, three costume jewelry pins,
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sale” which translated to
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
scheduled. We met up at
advertised as an “estate
number of sales were
the city line where a
area where the sale was
neighbourhood just above
We moved on to another
We decided on a
Was it worth it?
lion-head handles and an
4. Train your mind’s eye. The biggest secret to yard sales is knowing what’s good and what’s not good. You have to educate your eye. Spray paint can’t be overrated. It’s a thrifter’s best friend.
third was solid brass, with
yard sales were concen-
silverplate pieces for $3.00.
find an area where a lot of
did pick up five small
and decorated tins and the
Craigslist to see if we could
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3. Cash is king. Bring small bills and change. Everyone gets $20 bills from the ATM, so sellers can run out of change quickly. It’s also easier to bargain if you’ve got small bills.
justify the price. However, I
Two were older embossed
more Sun and the local
ence in the two sets to
checking both the Balti-
to meet up, we started
for $75. Not enough differ-
○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○
price and stuck it in my
before we were scheduled
sale, there was a set for 12
promptly paid the $1.00
low tech as you can get. I
2. Bring ice water. You don’t want to stop if you get thirsty and you don’t want to have to use dollars on water that could be spent on treasures.
settings, and at the estate
the Ice-O-Mat, which is as
Early in the week
for $10 for eight place
found a vintage ice crusher,
○ ○ ○
Where should we go?
Thai cutlery at one place
At the first house, we
○ ○ ○ ○ ○
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story of our hot adventure.
yard sales. Here is the
could find treasures under
○ ○ ○
vente de bric-à-brac or
sales in one area so you can strategically hit more than one without much traveling. If housewares are what you want, avoid sales that mention baby clothes and toys.
a morning of a tour de
1. Scout sales online. Look for multiple
from the Baltimore Sun for
Sun editor was to see if I
reporter and photographer
summer, I was joined by a
My mandate from the
n the hottest day of the
In fact, we saw a set of
in their driveways.
five grosgrain watchbands and an embroidered linen hand-towel.
look what i found!
For less than $20, I found almost a dozen small treasures that could have cost several times that amount.
F IVE S ILVERPLATE B OWLS
D ECORATED T EA T IN
When I saw these five little
Baltimore used to have a thriv-
silverplate pieces, I just fell in
ing business of tin-decorating
love with them. Although I wasn’t sure what they were, I bought them. I thought they
companies and one of the old
P EACOCK B ROOCH
buildings lives on at TinDeco
might be either very large salt
I bought two peacock pins for
catered to Hollywood stars,
cellars or very small clawfoot
$2.00 each. When I got home, I
including Nancy Regan.
I have always been drawn to old
looked at the back of each of
They measure about two cubic inches with little paw feet. One
them to see if there was a mark or a signature.
I checked the N.W. Jewelry website and found a nearly iden-
decorated tins, since the work in them no longer exists.
tical pin for $75.00. The pin has
This tin is both embossed and
of the readers of my blog,
This pin was marked Swoboda,
amethysts, peridots and a ruby
decorated and the finial on the
Pigtown*Design, said that they
so I did a little bit of research
eye on a gold-washed base
top looks to be brass plated. The
were biscuit tortoni dishes.
and found that the company was
decoration is very detailed and
I think that they would make
no longer in existance, but there
great relish dishes on a nicely-
was a successor company, N.W.
set table, and I’d use some small
demitasse silverplate spoons with them.
The company was more well-
the tin is eight-sided. The workmanship on the brooch is very fine and I am sure that it will be a collector’s piece.
These old tins are great for storing either tea, as originally intended, or things like dog treats or biscuits.
known on the West Coast and I have a wide assortment of these and many are marked “Daher Company, Long Island City, New York, Made in England, although this particular tin is unmarked.
Baltimoresecrets of my city Mount Clare Mansion is a colonial era house museum which sits on a hill overlooking Baltimore City. The house and grounds are open to the public and there are numerous special events on the property, known as Carroll Park.
But it is the parts of the city that tourists don’t visit that attract my attention. There are small villages tucked into valleys that seem lost to time. There are tiny temples on streets ravaged by poverty. There are spectacular views and vistas of the city from the hills that surround it. Most of all, it is the fun discoveries that I treasure.
Evergreen, a country home, was the home of the Garrett family, who founded the B&O Railroad. The house is filled with priceless works of art and books, including a complete set of Audubon’s folios. Summers bring Shakespeare to the grounds. The halls of the exclusive Maryland Club just whisper about old men and even older money. The building, which suffered a massive fire in the 1990’s, has been re-built with its famous Tiffany glass and gorgeous woodwork 5
Since its founding nearly 300 years ago, Baltimore has been a port city, an industrial city, a business center and a tourist attraction. The Inner Harbour and its shops... Camden Yards, the home of the Orioles... Fort McHenry, birthplace of the National Anthem... Fells Point, a quaint harbour-side village. All are the wellknown parts of Baltimore.
Balitmore has out-of-the-way shops that hold fine fabrics for a song. There are scores of antique shops, thrift shops and vintage stores that will help you get dressed and then decorate your house. Our free book store allows you to take as many books as you can carry either in your arms or in your truck. All other cities have secrets, but Baltimore’s are always so unexpected by outsiders who only know of the city from The Wire or John Waters’ movies. It is both of those, it is none of them.
ne of the places that I go almost
every week is DeBois Textiles, as odd a place as you could possibly imagine. From the outside, it looks like the land that time forgot - a mid-century building with clothes redolent of the 1970’s in the windows. But once you enter the store, many great finds await you. The fabrics are from the finest American fabric houses, including Kelly Wearstler, Schumacher, Scalamandre and Ralph Lauren. All at a fraction of their original cost.
Sometimes, DeBois gets fabrics before they are available to the public, as was the case earlier this year when I picked up some Lilly Pulitzer fabric that wouldn’t be in the stores until 2011. DeBois also has a massive selection of vintage clothes, shoes and handbags. You can find anything from Buffalo-checked woolen trousers to a shift that looks like Jackie Kennedy could have worn it during the Camelot years. www.deboistextiles.com 6
p o s h s h o p s
ousewerks is another weekend haunt of mine. Ben Riddleburger and Tracey Clark, the owners, have such a great eye for items that you will not see anywhere else. Their stock is continually revolving as things move out and they find new items. Ben and Tracey term their goods as “architectural antiques” rather than salvage. At Housewerks, you can find anything from a life-size statue of St. Joseph to green glass floats from Japanese fishing nets. Housewerks is located in a Victorianera gas works building. The architecture of it adds to the ambience of Housewerks. The elaborate detailing of the building belies its humble beginnings as a pumping station.
In addition to selling architectural antiques, Housewerks also crafts furniture and other goods from their items. They just completed an order of “industrial style” farm tables for the Whole Foods chain of stores. Housewerks is also an excellent venue for an event. They have recently started hosting weddings and that’s been a very successful venture. www.housewerksalvage.com
f there is a place in Baltimore that
will transport you to another world, Nick’s Fish House is it. From it’s scary beginnings as the Dead Eye bar, owner Tommy Chagouris and his partners transformed the waterfront biker bar into the “go-to” place for summer evenings. The wooden deck overlooking the Middle Branch Marina and the Hanover Street Bridge’s classic arches, is the perfect venue for several hours of crabpicking and beer-drinking, often accompanied by live music and good friends.
In addition to all of its other assets, there is plenty of free parking at Nick’s which is always a consideration when a group is meeting for a meal. No worries about finding a spot, or the two-hour time limit. The food is mostly seafood-based and Maryland traditional, but there are always specials. The drinks are well-made and the beer selection is above average. Nick’s is on the Middle Branch in South Baltimore. 7
p o s h n o s h
oodberry Kitchen is one of those
places that every city should have... a chef committed to serving the freshest foods, an amazing location salvaged from an old mill and buzz from every corner of town. Beginning with the stove-top-popped popcorn with real butter and sea salt as a starter, through to the innovative, organically-grown meats and sustainable produce, each meal is feast for the mouth and the senses. Even the names of the menu items evoke a local feeling - Lancaster County popcorn, Tilghman Island crabcakes, Chesapeake Bay oysters, Firefly Farms cheeses...
Not only is the two level dining room a hopping place, but the bar is always jam-packed. Again, local sources for juices and beers help attract a loyal following of both foodies and regular folks alike. Woodberry is in the Clipper Mill section of Baltimore.
hen it comes to drinking, there
are a few places I like to head. It used to be the elegant Brass Elephant, but that’s no longer around. There are not really any bars that are within walking distance of my house. So it’s off to a nice restaurant to have a cocktail or two. Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art is a wonderful place to have a drink, especially if it’s temperate enough to drink outside in the sculpture garden. Inside, it’s elegant as well and they have an extensive selection of wines and cocktails.
p o s h
ven though it’s not the least bit
posh, a great place to go is J.Patrick’s in Locust Point. It is an Irish bar, but not in the cute theme-park way that so many are, but in the sense that it is someone’s 1960’s club basement, complete with wood-panelled walls, droopy ceilings and an oval center bar. Since my family is English, it took me about three years of living in Locust Point to venture into J. Pat’s. The drinks are good and cheap, the Guinness taps are certified a couple of times a year by the Guinness beer people and the bar food is decent. Several evenings a week, there is live music at J.Patrick’s. Sometimes there are organized bands or a duo, and other times there is a openjam session, welcoming
Another great place with an excellent wine selection is 13.5 in Hampden. The name comes from the alcoholic content of wine. They sell wine both by the glass and by the bottle. Additionally, 13.5 serves a selection of small plates of cheeses and breads.
t o t s
anyone who wants to join in!
If you’re lucky, you may see former Baltimore Mayor and current Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley, having a drink at the bar. And if you’re luckier, he might be there with his band, O’Malley’s March.
One thing I have learned living in a very small house, is adaptive re-use. I have many pieces of furniture originally intended for one thing that have been re-purposed for another. My steel barrister’s book case no longer holds a collection of dusty law reviews and journals, but my colourful collection of cashmere sweaters. I love being able to see them through the glass fronts of the shelves, and having them encased helps keep the moths away from them.
Recently, I found an amazing piece at a local Goodwill for just $20. At first, I thought it was a card catalogue, but when I checked out the size of the drawers, I realized that they would have fit a regular sheet of letterhead exactly. But what also fit exactly was a pair of shoes, and with 30 drawers in it, the card catalogue would be an ideal place to store part of my shoe collection. I labeled each drawer, which had a convenient slot, with the name of the shoe inside.
This doctor’s cabinet from the 1960’s has a ton of storage space, something that is at a premium in my 800-square foot house. There are two drawers, two cabinets and a large glass-fronted space with sliding doors. The most interesting thing about it is the glass which is ridged up and down on the inside and side to side on the outside, making up a grid pattern. It is the perfect place for storing the dog’s food, some of my copper pots and my assortment of low-tech coffee-making equipment, including a French Presse and a stove-top Italian espresso maker. It needs to be repainted, but I will take it to an auto-body shop to have it professionally painted.
With all of the emphasis on reducing
our carbon footprints and being green, reworking an old piece to make it new is simple. If
you buy envelopes for your
holiday cards, you may be disappointed in how flimsy they are. You can make them a little heavier and more substantial by lining them. This is a hallmark of good stationery, and it’s simple. Choose a lightweight paper
Instead of using paper napkins at every meal, use cloth napkins. They don’t have to be linen napkins, cotton ones will do nicely. Try and avoid ones with a
that works with your cards. Make a template of the interior of the envelope, leaving room for to seal it. Dab a bit of glue on the back and insert it into the envelope!
My friend, Phillipa took some old chandelier chrytals and used them to decorate a table for a dinner party. This is about as simple as can
high polyester content as they do
be. Take strands of chandelier
not absorb as well as a natural
crystals, which are readily
available at many antique or junk
It’s also not necessary to iron
shops, and drape them dramati-
your napkins. Just take them out
cally from an urn or a bowl of
of the drier while they are still a
bit damp and lay them flat. Even better, hang them outside on a clothesline!
The will add some wonderful sparkle, especially at a dinner where you’re using candles for light.
am not sure whether it is genetic or not, but people are either collectors or they are not collectors. And you know early on if you are a collector. It starts when you’re a child, putting sparkly stones or shiny shells in your pockets. It moves on from there with dolls or trucks and then to more serious things like china or cars. Once you acquire more than three of any one thing, you’re on your way to beginning a collection. Sometimes collections come about accidentally... I live in Pigtown, so people give me pigs. I never had them before I lived here, and probably won’t collect them after I leave, but while I am in Pigtown, I have pigs. Other collections evolve out of a love of something - you find one piece and then start searching for more and more. Part of the fun of collecting is searching and hunting for the object of your affection. It’s the thrill of the chase finding a first edition by an author whose books you collect or the last piece of a set of china. Now that so much is on-line, it becomes much easier to search for information about your collections and to find new pieces to add to them.
Displaying collections is a large part of the fun. A beautiful Welsh dresser filled with pieces of transfer-ware or drab-ware can be stunning. Book cases filled with favourite first editions of books that you have actually read, and that you love, is a classic look. Starting a collection is a great way for children to learn about a topic. Depending on what they collect, they will learn history, geology, geography and more. Encourage children to collect things that are organic, and not a commerical product, like the short-lived Beanie Babies. Collecting can provide a lifetime of fun, friendship, entertainment and knowledge.
here are a number of things that I have been collecting over the past several years. When I moved abroad, I sold or gave away almost all of the things I had collected to that point. I did keep some of the pots and pans from my extensive collection of copper kitchen pieces. But everything else was gone. When I moved back to the States, I brought some of my new collections with me.
In the first image, I Married Adventure is a classic book to have on your bookshelf. And all of the books on your shelves should be books you have read or plan to read. There is nothing more humiliating than having a guest ask how you liked a certain tome, only to to say your books used for decoration! In the UK, there’s a long history of decorating tinware, which you can see in image two. Many of the tins are both embossed and decorated, often in classic patterns and prints. A lot of these tins come from Daher in New York, although they are printed in England. While the glasses in image three look like classical Wedgwood, they’re actually American-made by the Jeanette Company in Pennsylvania. I have these glasses in with white Greek figures on a Wedgwood blue ground, and these with a Chinoiserie flair. You can often find sets of 1950’s style barware in these patterns.
Small silverplate goods, like those in image four, are easy to find, although they are generally very tarnished and don’t look like much. A few minutes with some good silver polish and these pieces are ready for a new life. Until you can afford everything in sterling silver, silverplated goods are a good compromise.
French Ivory-handled cutlery is something I very rarely found in the US. In the UK, it was everywhere, bundled by string, selling off the old folks’ things..
French Ivory is a synthetic ivory, similar to Bakelite, created in the 1850’s. Both grain patterns and the engine turned effect are added - in general, the patterns of these are very regular in the fakes, and more irregular in the real thing. Most of the blades are Sheffield Plate, a silver process that was created and perfected in Sheffield, England in the 1800’s. A lot of these pieces are marked EPNS, which stands for electro-plated nickel silver. This is the process that Sheffield became famous for perfecting. Some of the pieces of French Ivory are referred to as fish knives and forks, such as the top set on the right. They are generally more decorative with scrolled knife edges and incising on both the knife blades and the forks. Sometimes, the hasp, the piece connecting the handle and the business end of the cutlery, is decorative. Sometimes, it is only the knives which have the French Ivory handles. Other times, it’s both the knives and forks, and unless they’re a fish set, they’re very plain. However, you can still find them in the UK in their original wood canteens, or even faux pebble-grained leather cases. Some of the knives and forks do have some silver on them, and you can see the silver marks from England in the early 1900’s. Sheffield is marked by a castle, England is marked by a lion and the year 1916 is marked by a letter inside a shield. There are books and websites that can help you decipher these marks. One thing that you can never find are spoons, as they were not made. In the US, I would occasionally find a knife, and rarely a fork, but never a spoon. When an antique dealer friend told me that they just didn’t exist, I went into a major sulk. As one of the most amazing presents I’ve ever received, he had some spoons made as a gift for me from old dessert spoon tops and French Ivory forks for the handles. They are so special to me. Everytime I use these spoons, I think of my friend, and I always will!
Set of twelve fish knives and forks with incised blades A variety of styles of French Ivory knives and forks
Detail of a fish knife
Canteen of cutlery, including serving pieces
Artist-made spoons from london 14
A set of bone-handled fish knives and forks
the fabric of our lives Since discovering DeBois Textiles in January, Iâ€™ve become
a total fabric freak. I had always loved textiles before that, and would occasionally pick up a gorgeous piece, but I never had any
Silk is the natural filament produced by the
concept of what I would do with it.
salivary glands of silkworms which are a type of moth that feeds on the mulberry bush. Silkworms are caterpillars, not worms. Raw silk is bumpy and irregular.
I bought a sewing machine, just before we got a week of snow storms and taught myself to sew. Each time I am at DeBois, I find fabrics that I envision making amazing things from, even though my skills arenâ€™t there yet.
Thai weavers wash these raw silk threads,
At an auction recently, I picked up several large boxes of
bleach them, then soak them in vats of hot
Thai silks and Indian saris. They are just extraordinary colours
dyes. Afterwards, they wash the silk thread
and patterns and the workmanship is fascinating to see. Some of
again, stretch it, and put it through a final dying process. When that is finished, they wind the threads onto spools or drums in
the detailing on these is such fine and intricate, that itâ€™s almost impossible to comprehend that this was done by human hands. And some of the pieces weigh several pounds, due in part to the metallic fibers woven into them.
preparation for weaving using hand-operated looms.
I am equally fascinated by linens, silks and cottons, and much less so by non-natural fabrics, although I recognize that they
Thai Silk has triangular fibers which reflect
do have a place in this world. I love how some linens have almost
light like prisms. It also has layers of protein
a bounce to them, a shine to them. I am a huge fan of linen in
that gives it a natural sheen and makes it
almost every iteration, including clothes, towels and upholstery!
lustrous and smooth.
Toile de Jouy Toile de Jouy, sometimes abbreviated to simply “toile”, is a type of decorative pattern consisting of a white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as a couple having a picnic by a lake or a barnyard or a historical scene such as the signing of a treaty. The pattern portion consists of a single colour, most often black, dark red, or blue. Greens, browns, and magenta toile patterns are less common, but not unheard of. Toile is most associated with fabrics though toile wallpaper is also popular. Toile can also be used on teapots, beddings, clothing, and almost everything else. Currently, there are Town Toiles depicting Harlem, Charleston, New York City, Tampa, Annapolis and other cities. There is even a Musée de la Toile de Jouy in Paris, which has an extensive colleciton of toiles. Something new is the twists on traditional toiles. Richard Saja’s Historically Inaccurate toiles are hand-embroidered to add a new dimension to traditional toiles. A Canadian artist colours in toiles with bright high-lighter pens for a neon look. Timorous Beasties in the UK is making toiles of the darker sides of Glasgow and London. I even found a a toile that someone designed of scenes of the American heartland a Toile d’Iowa.
Yes, it really is a country!
When I moved to the UK, I lived in Wales for almost a year. Many people don’t realize that while Wales is part of the United Kingdon, it’s also its own counThe
try, with an assembly government and
its own language. Wales has mountains
and deep valleys as well as incredible
among the most
coastlines, and more castles than any
amazing I have
other country its size.
ever seen. The tides rise and fall more than 30 feet twice each day, and harbours completely empty out at low tide. There are huge beaches at low tide and sheer cliff faces that rise up straight from the sea.
When I lived in Wales, I was lucky enough to work in a 12th century castle which housed an international school. St. Donat’s Castle, which was once owned by American media king, William Randolph Hearst, sat at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. The Castle was
Even though Cardiff
tripled in size during the early 1900’s, when Hearst plundered
and the surrounding areas were
chateaux and castles in Europe to make St. Donat’s a show-
hit by bombs during World War II, because
place. He only visited the castle several times, and his mistress
of their mills and mines, there are still many of
used it as a base in Eu-
the older buildings remaining, including this
rope. It’s only open to
Victoria-era pier in the town of Penarth. It sits
the public once a year.
under the large Penarth cliffs and is still used
It was a magical place
today. If you walk out to the end of the pier, you
to work, and I spent
get a glorious view of the Bristol Channel
many hours exploring
towards England,and the city of Cardiff and its
both the castle and its
combination of modern and ancient architecture.
Schumacher Summer Palace Fretwork in Lime
A magagazine that consolidates the blog, Pigtown*Design