IN A previous article when I was discussing the matter of reflections in beautiful woods, I deplored the use of anything beneath the vase, the candlestick, or any glowing incidental piece which might destroy the effective reproduction of its outline in
the polished surface on which it stood. In this article I propose to discuss the possibilities for preserving these charming reflected effects, and yet protecting the fine wood on which they are thrown from water-staining, “rimming.” and the almost inevitable defacement which comes of a long-standing contact with narrow edges of metal or glass.
Of course doilies are out of the question. In fact anything which produces a sharp contrast, as is the case in white, is at once out of consideration. The question is to provide a number of pieces of varying size, sufficiently mellow in tone to blend with the woods of your living room, and yet sufficiently rich in texture and appropriate in design to find a place in the more or less formal scheme.
For a long while there was only one type of “art piece” which presented itself in the shops. These were the little Oriental mats with borders and bands of peacock blue or purple Chinese embroidery, and bodies of rich deep oranges, purples and blues. They were beautiful, but they were costly, and those charming little bands had a way of loosening and ripping off that was trying. Then came the inspiration of creation, necessity being the mother of housekeeping as well as of invention. The first home-made attempts were domestic-looking little imitations of the Chinese pieces—bits of black satin with bands of gold braid, a square of brocade with a border of satin, a fraction of gold lace and a suggestion of taffeta—until we found that home-made products had the same ravelling propensities and tendencies to surface eruptions as the Chinese originals. That was the time that we began to cast about for something decorative that had no possibilities for ripping or rising in it, and when we made what we have chosen to call since, “the great art-piece discovery.”
The Discovery of a New Medium
IT WAS one evening when a member of the family came home with samples for a new evening dress that the discovery was made. There were two or three pieces of cut velvet in rich shades which particularly caught the eye of the art-piece maker. One was a sort of warm burnt amber with a medallion in silk velvet pile of slightly deeper hue; the other a royal blue background also with a slightly darker pile.
No sooner was the discovery made than it was acted upon and the results were bewitching from a decorative standpoint.
First with a pair of blade-sharp scissors we cut along the chiffon which surrounded the outline of the motif we wished to preserve. This was then turned under and blind-stitched down in matching silk thread. Now we had the finished piece save that it showed a slight tendency to curl around the'edges.
But when we backed it with a piece of satin
Table decoration which preserves the charming reflected effect and yet protects the surface from Waterstaining.
in corresponding shape, it acquired sufficient body to lie flat. Here was the ideal art-piece at a cypher cost. It had decorative properties, and they were un-rippable!
This idea of cutting out motifs and medallions, turning under and backing them, soon developed into other fields of fabric. Any material with a clearly defined repetitive pattern presented itself as a possibility, from brocades to cretonne, and these were available in remnants at all the shops at a cost next to nothing.
When it came time to plan for the summer,
we selected our cottage chintz with an eagle eye as to medallions, and created ambitious sets out of the several patterns chosen. In the bedrooms, where the light summer furniture was stained a cool green, a lavender printed linen presented wonderful possibilities for the little bedside table and dresser. One rather long oval unit formed a centre piece, and two round ones for either end proved ideal islands of color on which to place the very necessary candlesticks which, with lamps, were the only bedroom light. The same long oval was decoration alone for the bedside table which held the oil lamp.
By this time we had become so thoroughly saturated with the cut-out and back-up idea that in the living room cretonne we made two luncheon sets for the dining table, which was an integral part of the room.
Upstairs in the guest room we had invested in a chintz which provided no cut-out medallion, being an all-over design of small roses, and we were on the verge of abandoning our new hobby here at least, when the mother-ofall-cut-outs made one last stand and discovered that by cutting in scallops around the closely scattered roses in the pattern, another even quainter effect was to be gained.
All Roads Lead to Rome
I ONCE read an essay on the value of never wasting one possibility of a good idea. Certainly we applied the principle to our medallion art-piece discovery.
One of the most interesting was the appliqueing on cushions of pieces which seemed to have no other possibility and which would probably have gone into the stuffing bag but for the use we found for them. On one black sateen cushion, I conceived the idea of a tumble of modernistic-looking fruit and flowers from one corner. Small design medallions which were of too insignificant a size for mats, bizarre wisps of striped silk as well as any colorful piece of solid tone were selected. In the centre of some bright round pieces a French knot gave the appearance of the top of an apple; spider-webby lines of outline stitching radiating from a one-sided axis, gave an original touch; loby petals were indicated in the outline cutting of others. The cascade that fell from the corner of that cushion was one of the triumphs of the art-piece idea.
Going back to beginnings again in the shops where I was wont to circumspectly buy the little Chinese mats I always used to be attracted by the trays, under the glasses of which pieces of brilliant embroidery were pressed. They were delightful things. In some of my remnantbuying, I discovered some pieces of silk with a metallic thread woven in a sort of brocade design that suggested a venture in “upholstering” a pair of dingy and spotted little oblong trays which I had been considering with an eye to some sort of renovation for many days. When the material was cut to fit so that the design was centred to best effect, I took them to our local glazier who placed glass over them at most reasonable cost, and another “artpiece” triumph was achieved.
Perhaps there are still new worlds to conquer in the development of this idea, but at any rate, I feel that we have had our share in the delights of pioneering.
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