Wrought Iron design
Connecticut history from the ground up
by Marisa Nadolny
Who says you can’t reinvent history? Or, at least, replant it? On Sunday, June 23, the team behind Connecticut’s Historic Gardens marks 10 years of doing just that with Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day at 14 historic locations throughout the state.
In 2002, a group of tenders of various historic sites in Connecticut pooled resources to get some visibility by participating in the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford. Ten years later, the group continues its work to raise awareness of “distinctive historic sites and gardens within Connecticut’s borders.”
Locally, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, the New London Historical Society and Shaw Mansion and Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford will participate and offer special events that illustrate the unique nature of their gardens.
And really, what’s a historic house without a historic garden? These living installations provide additional context to the historical periods preserved in a given museum; or they simply offer a window into yet another historic period.
“In terms of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens, we deem ‘historic’ to be gardens designed by a known designer or reflect an historical garden style or design philosophy,” explains Tammi Flynn, a spokesperson for Connecticut’s Historic Gardens. Historical relevance, though, doesn’t necessarily exclude creative expression. “The gardens in New London County have great personality,” Flynn notes.
At the Florence Griswold Museum, the resident beds reflect the eclectic style of Miss Florence herself, who was an avid gardener. None too formal, Miss Florence opted for a hodgepodge of plantings that offered splashes of color. Visitors to the museum can expect to see variations of hollyhocks, iris, foxglove, heliotrope, phlox, cranesbill and day lilies.
Admission to the gardens will be free on Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, and painting supplies, refreshments and artist demonstrations will be made available to visitors.
Over at Harkness, park staff and volunteers will lead free tours of the gardens that surround the circa-1906 Roman Renaissance Revival-style mansion. The gardens reflect the work of Beatrix Farrand — one of the first noted female landscape architects in the United States — whom Edward and Mary Harkness commissioned to design their gardens from 1918 to 1929. Farrand’s designs combine Asian statuary, wrought-iron fencing and benches with plants that reflect Mary Harkness’ preferred colors.
Visitors who prefer to cover as much historical ground as possible might consider a stop at the New London Historical Society’s Shaw Mansion.
“You get two time periods at a time at the Shaw Mansion — a formal Victorian garden in front of the house and a colonial garden in the rear of the house,” Flynn says.
The colonial garden is a nod to the mansion’s heritage; Capt. Nathaniel Shaw constructed the building in the 1750s. His great-grandson, Dr. Nathaniel Shaw Perkins, inherited the structure in 1845; the Victorian garden illustrates that transition.
And don’t forget to take a look at the mansion’s accompanying summerhouse, intriguingly referred to as a “gentleman’s folly.” This little getaway was constructed in 1792 and offers views of the Thames River.
A local croquet club will play a match and offer demonstrations at the mansion during Connecticut’s Historic Gardens Day, alongside a plant sale. Refresh after the game with strawberry shortcake and lemonade.
Bath Beautification Project supported by local Rotary Club
May 29, 2013 the Bath Rotary Club saw its Bath Beautification Project come to fruition when twenty-three new wrought iron, hanging baskets filled with colorful flowers were hung on the light poles along Liberty Street.
The floral arrangements and baskets were done by TNT Greenhouses in Bradford. In addition, those Rotarians who helped hang the baskets that day with the assistance of personnel from the Bath Village Department of Public Works planted flowers, provided by the Bath Beautification Trust Fund, in the barrels throughout the downtown area.
The local club sponsored two fundraisers to benefit this project. In April it held a Stearns’ Chicken Barbeque, and at its 90th Anniversary Celebration Dinner in May the winners of its Big Bucks Raffle were announced.
Becky Stranges, Bath Rotary Club President, remarked, “Flowers say to residents and visitors that people care about the community. Betty Langendorfer has spent endless hours as the caretaker of the village beautification for many years. The previous baskets made the task rather difficult, and it was thus the general consensus of the Bath Beautification Committee to replace the wrap-around pole baskets with larger hanging baskets.
When the Bath Rotary Club heard about this need, it eagerly took on the project to adorn the light poles lining historic Liberty Street with new wrought iron, hanging baskets. We hope that everyone enjoys these new baskets full of colorful flowers.” The Bath Rotary Club meets every Thursday at noon at the Bath Country Club.
The Clawson artist melds organic and mechanical objects in ways described as demented elegance. Nature usually dominates what is man-made in her designs, giving a little insight into how her mind works — just a little.
“I wouldn’t want to go poking around in there,” Tyra, 52, said. “I’m always worried a psychologist will walk into my booth and want to give me a consultation. I prefer to just let the creativity pour out.”
Tyra has been offering her work — for sale and discussion — at art fairs starting with the first Royal Oak Artist Market in 2011. She will return March 1-2 for the third annual event along with about 33 other artists and craftsmen and women.
“Every time the artist market has a birthday, I have a birthday of my adventure into art fair realm,” Tyra said. “It has been a really great experience.”
The free indoor event at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile Road, lets creative entrepreneurs jump-start the art fair season, according to Market Master Shelly Mazur.
“They enjoy a climate-controlled venue,” she said of the artists who endure heat, humidity, rain and wind at street fairs other times of the year.
Artists from Michigan and northern Ohio were selected for the juried show set for 2-8 p.m. March 1 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 2. They will bring drawings, paintings, photography, clay, collage, glass, metal, wood, jewelry, leather/fiber and mixed media.
In addition to Tyra, other favorite returning artists include metal sculptors Joe and Sommer Realy of Ferndale, hand-blown glass artist Thomas J. Michael of Washington, and wrought iron worker Arjon Cokelek of Southfield.
Each artist will donate one work for a preview party gala from 5-8 p.m. March 1 to benefit the Royal Oak High School art program and South Oakland Art Association.
The artist market is a free event except during the preview party, when a $5 admission will be charged. During these hours, the music duo Cello-Bella! will perform; light fare will be offered by restaurants, including Lily’s Seafood, Café Sushi and Detroit BBQ; and there will be a silent auction of work donated by the artists to benefit the charities.
About 3,000 art fairgoers usually attend the event over the course of two days.
“A lot of their comments really encouraged me to keep showing my work,” said Tyra, a mother of two who runs DMT Ventilation, Troy, with her husband for her day job. “I know my art isn’t right for every person or living room, but it is really great to get feedback.”
Her illustrations start at $20 for a print and go up to $150 for an original drawing. The designs take about two days to complete, starting with the outline of a box to “contain” her thoughts being put to paper.
“I start with the thought of a flower or a request for a mermaid and say, ‘Muse show me what you’ve got,’” Tyra said. “When it spills, the box helps it manifests itself in a manageable way.”
From: Macomb Daily
Custom Ornamental Iron Works, the specialist in crafting exceptional wrought iron, ornamental iron and aluminum products, offers clients a selection of the latest designs for stair railings. These hand-crafted iron stair railing designs create a wonderful, rustic look in the home. The wrought iron Spanish-Mediterranean style is popular in many stylish homes throughout the country. Architects and designers seek out this look for contemporary homes, both indoors and outdoors.
With a selection of beautiful stair railings styles, homeowners can create a variety of looks. Designers will be able to select from scrolled balusters, belly balusters, wavy baluster and more, to create a completely custom interior style, from classic or modern. Clients may also choose to work with Custom Ornamental Iron Works, directly, to custom design stair railings to any specification.
Custom Ornamental Iron Works is known for exquisitely crafted iron work such as wrought iron stair railings. The company designs and creates all stair railings onsite at their workshop in Arizona, with superior craftsmanship and individualized attention to detail. Custom Ornamental Iron Works uses only the finest, high-quality material that ensures stair railings are not only beautiful, but also durable and safe. The company also offers prompt shipping, so clients can start creating their perfect interior design with beautiful iron stair railings.
To help clients envision how these unique stair railings will look in their home, Custom Ornamental Iron Works offers an easy-to-use artist design tool on their website. With this stair artist design tool, clients can select from the range of stair railings available from Custom Ornamental Iron Works, and put different details together, to create the perfect look for their home. The simple “drag-and-drop” feature allows users to see how these stair railings will look in the home.
High heels and country life with Christian Louboutin
When he is not dashing around the world, fitting celebrities with his glorious creations, Christian Louboutin likes to kick back and smell the roses at his enchanting 13th-century French château
A house is very much like a portrait,’ says Christian Louboutin. ‘I cannot disconnect houses from people. The thought of arrangement, the curves and straight lines. It gives an indication of the character at the heart of it.’
So what does the shoe designer’s romantic 13th-century château in the Vendée region of France reveal about him? Each room is unique: a dramatic wrought-iron spiral staircase greets guests in the entrance hallway, filled with natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows; the grand salon is crowded with Italian Baroque armchairs, Louis XV mirrors and delicate pencil sketches by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. ‘They were done early on in Ingres’ career but one of them is the exact profile of Meryl Streep! It’s quite fascinating,’ he says.
Shared with Bruno Chambelland, his business partner of more than 20 years — ‘one of my dearest, oldest friends’ — the property sits in seven hectares of enchanting landscaped gardens, with outhouses and a renovated oak barn that is used as an archive of more than 8,000 pairs of Louboutin’s most fabulous footwear.
The fanciful interiors are much more Chambelland than Louboutin. ‘It’s really Bruno who took care of decorating; he used to be an auctioneer. The château was owned by his family three centuries ago, but when the Revolution happened his great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Chambelland, was cut into 200 pieces and the property drifted from owner to owner.’ When Château de Champgillon came back on the market in the late 1980s, Bruno snapped it up and the pair set about restoring it, drawing heavily on 18th-century style. A number of pieces that had been kept in the Chambelland family, including an antique grandfather clock, were returned to their original home; other items, such as some 16th-century Spanish portraits and a woven tapestry by Alexander Calder, were purchased at Paris’ Drouot auction house, and more still were picked up by Louboutin on his travels (he spends more than half the year visiting his 70 stores, from Manhattan to Delhi).
Inside the barn conversion alone there are free-standing Indian rococo columns, Mexican totem poles and searchlights from the Suez Canal. ‘If there is something I like, I buy it and then find somewhere for it. I buy first then I think.’ The restoration of the château is an ongoing project — ‘restoration in France is never finished!’ — but of Louboutin’s five homes (an apartment in Paris’ ninth arrondissement and houses in Portugal, Egypt and LA), it is Champgillon that he holds most dear ‘because this is the one most painted with history’.
The fourth child of Roger Louboutin, a carpenter, and his wife Irène, Christian was born and raised in the 12th arrondissement of Paris with his three older sisters. Inspired by the dancers’ costumes at the nearby Folies Bergères, Louboutin’s childhood dream was always to design shoes and at 16 he dropped out of school to pursue his ambition. A chance encounter in 1982 with Countess Hélène de Mortemart, then fashion director at Christian Dior, led to a year-long internship at the atelier of Charles Jourdan, the brand that designed and manufactured shoes for Dior. After this, the fledgling designer went freelance, designing shoes for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. In 1987, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris announced a major exhibition of Roger Vivier’s work, and Louboutin became the assistant and secretary of this go-to shoe designer for chic Parisiennes.
With the end of the exhibition came an unexpected sideways move into landscape gardening. In his book, Christian Louboutin, he explains, ‘The garden allowed me to see blends of colours and materials, juxtapositions of gloss and matte surfaces… It was highly instructive.’ The change of direction coincided with the purchase of the château and, while the interior was left to Bruno, Louboutin immediately commandeered the gardens and began restoring. His enchanted idyll was inspired by the great gardens of history, from the Mughal astronomy garden in Jaipur to Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire. The grand project consumed all the pair’s energies and they ditched the Paris party scene, which revolved around the famous nightclub Le Palace where Helmut Newton and Grace Jones were regulars, for weekends at the château.
‘I never entertain people here — it’s not in my nature. A good host is someone who really takes care of everyone, from the food to their daily programme. I can’t. If I’m in the country, my big idea is to do nothing. It means talking, it means cooking with the leftovers in the fridge — l’art d’accommoder les restes — it means gardening.’
In the early 1990s a chance vacancy in Paris’ historic galerie Véro-Dodat compelled Louboutin to abandon topiary and return to high heels. He opened his first boutique in 1992 and his earliest clients included Princess Caroline of Monaco and Catherine Deneuve. Louboutin’s designs have since become a celebrity fashion staple, with fans including Victoria Beckham, Daphne Guinness and Inès de la Fressange. He still has the original boutique at Véro-Dodat.
These days Louboutin is happiest growing kumquats and mandarins in the 19th-century orangerie, and each season he assiduously selects seeds from catalogues (‘Thompson & Morgan, and Baumaux — between those two I hope to create miracles in the garden’) to cultivate by hand, no doubt under the watchful eye of his partner of 15 years, Louis Benech — one of France’s most fêted landscape architects.
Louboutin’s continually expanding business (there will soon be more menswear and a make-up line) requires constant attention from its creator, and Champgillon offers a much-needed respite. He has just flown from Mumbai to New York and will continue on after the international fashion weeks to Bhutan and Cuba, before taking a well-deserved rest at the end of March: ‘After that I don’t plan on travelling much more this year. It will be summer in Portugal and weekends here. But I have to be careful — I find that if I spend more than four days at the château, I could never leave.’