Thursday, 29 July 2010

M-J's Elegant Greek Salad

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M-J's Elegant Greek Salad

Lettuce, Feta Cheese Chunks, Olives, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Cilantro Make an Elegant, Refreshing Summer Luncheon Salad

Elegant Collecting

Collection of Noritake Porcelain, Japan 1910-1952
Photo Copyright Elegant Survival 2008 

Shopping at Yard Sales and Flea Markets

Flea Market and Yard Sale Shopping
By M-J de Mesterton, May 20th, 2009
Attending yard sales and flea markets is an adventure of discovery. Sometimes, the acquisition of one five-dollar object can inspire a decorating revolution in your home.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of things at a sale in someone’s yard or house. Flea markets can be a challenge to the senses, though perhaps well organized. If one is subject to the constraints of time and space, it is important to employ focus and vision, as well as some knowledge about quality.
Focus on what you need to furnish or enhance your living quarters, and keep space limitations in mind when tempted to buy an interesting item for possible future use.
One reason yard and garage sales exist is that people have changed their decorating schemes and lack space for the overflow. The term, “trash to treasure” doesn’t always apply; often people are just tired of perfectly good things, or have no place to store them. If you stay within your parameters, only considering things that will fit your purpose or plan--whether it involves clothing, tools, or furniture--a garage sale of your own won’t be necessary.
Vision is a handy mental tool when shopping at flea markets and yard sales. Without an imagination, one may miss an opportunity. A lone pillow sham can be beautiful enough to serve as the centerpiece of a redecorated bedroom. A brass stand could make your bathroom floor space more useful. An old rug may cause you to revise the color-scheme in your dining area. When looking at furniture, consider how it might be useful for storage or seating, and realize that it can be painted to suit your existing interior design plan.
The quality of old things is often superior to that of new ones. For example, there are plenty of new kitchen gadgets, but they are usually made of plastic and destined for quick obsolescence. By contrast, many kitchen implements made in the 1950s are still around. An old spatula made in the U.S.A. of high quality steel could have several owners in one lifetime, because its integrity is unmatched by anything new.  Oven-proof mixing bowls are rarely made in the U.S.A. these days; sturdy, American-made bowls from the 1970s and earlier are enjoying usefulness in their old age.
Well-made clothing and textiles are always in style. It is only necessary that a fine article of clothing flatters your figure, or that a vintage bedspread is congruous with your décor. Old fashions resurface as new clothes in magazines, but their construction may not be as good as that of the older versions. Check woolens, silks and linens for moth-holes. Make sure that you bring a tape-measure and use the actual dimensions of a garment for fitting purposes; clothing makers are continually changing the size numbers, and sizing is different in various countries. Home textiles such as tea-towels, bolts of fabric and remnants are useful for redecorating or sewing projects. A new skirt can be made with high quality material from another era. Tablecloth and napkin sets from the past add charm to modern dining rooms.
Focus, vision, and the ability to recognize good quality will help you shop for used home furnishings and enrich your wardrobe. Yard sales and flea markets have the potential to improve your life in elegant style.
By M-J de Mesterton; Copyright May 20th, 2009

The Most Famous Paris Flea Market

Here is all you need to know, on their own site,
in English: Les Puces, St. Ouen, Paris


Stamps are beautiful works of art in miniature. They depict people, places and historical events. There are stamps to interest everyone. Recently, author and humorist Maggie Van Ostrand appealed to the United States Postal Service for a commemorative stamp of the famous champion racehorse, Seabiscuit. A 55-cent envelope bearing a painting of Seabiscuit by artist John Mattos was released in May, 2009.  Maggie tells me that they are already sold-out. The effort continues, and I predict that the jolly equine will grace a first class stamp soon. One can join the effort by filling out and mailing a form found on Maggie's page.  I'm rooting for Seabiscuit's ultimate photo-finish, his own stamp.
 See Elegant Survival News for a pictorial press-release from the U.S.P.S. on  the 2009 and "Forever" stamps. We bought some Forever stamps. They will always be good for first-class mail, no matter how exorbitant the rates become. That makes the Forever stamp a good investment--if the U.S. Postal Service stays in operation, that is!
Kenmore Stamp Company has plenty of technical advice and special offers. 
American Philatelic Society has good information and tools, available if one joins.

Pottery in the Arts and Crafts Style

Van Briggle Pottery, of Colorado

[M., M-Jeanne de]
M-J,  May 1, 2006 
Rookwood Pottery Piece from 1913

A Rookwood Mark

[M., M-Jeanne de]M-Jde Mesterton - May 1, 2006 4:50 pm  

1910 Pierrefonds Vase with Drip-Glaze

[M., M-Jeanne de]M-J de M. - Dec 22, 2007 11:36 am   McCoy Pottery Website

Noritake of Japan

Photo of Noritake Collection, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008

Asian Antiquities

[M., M-Jeanne de]M-J de M. - Jan 23, 2008 12:36 pm  
The Porcelain Capital of China: Jingdezhen

[M., M-Jeanne de]M-J de M. - Jan 23, 2008 12:38 pm  
Chinese Glazes: Their Origins, Chemistry, and
Recreation Book by Nigel Wood
Book on Chinese Glazes by Nigel Wood

[M., M-Jeanne de]M-J de M. - Jan 23, 2008 12:43 pm
  Chapter in Nigel Wood's book on Chinese glazes

                     Licchavi Caityas of Nepal: 
Solution to the Empty
by our friend, Ian Alsop

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Martini Glass by Artist Polly Gessell

Dallas Glass Artist Polly Gessell's Martini-Glass, Signed on the Bottom Photo ©M-J de Mesterton

Larry Risko, New York Artist

Larry Risko was one of my Manhattan art students in 1983. I taught retouching, when it was an art done by hand instead of via computer. At that time, I was a life-long fine artist who had been a professional retoucher for seven years, and I was  27 years old. Larry, almost five years younger than me, carried an impressive portfolio of his drawings that made me think, "Here is a child-prodigy!"

The 23-year old Mr. Risko was charming, courteous, unassuming and humble, with the face of a Sistine Chapel cherub, looking very much like British actor David Yelland as the Prince of Wales in Chariots of Fire. Larry, a Parsons School of Design student, learned retouching so quickly that in very little time he was expanding his professional art horizons, and almost thirty years later is at the top of the digital and hand-retouching field in the world's toughest work-environment, New York City. I quit the discipline when it went digital, and had  already moved into art restoration, but Larry went with the flow of technology and excelled, as ever. As I had done many years before, the talented Larry Risko figured out a way to make his own luck as an artist in New York: he learned a skill that was always useful in commercial  art and advertising. Larry's older brother, Robert, became a cartoonist-illustrator for the New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines, and it seemed to the equally-gifted Larry that one Risko in that line of work was all that NYC could handle.  Back in the 1980s, the world outside Manhattan had practically no idea that retouchers such as ourselves existed; our numbers were few and we didn't have to look for work....

Larry bought his Chelsea apartment on 23rd St. in the 1990s for around $70,000.00. Having undergone extensive renovation, it is now a testament  to Larry Risko's keen eye for good design and real flair for executing his vision. A sensitive artist can be driven to distraction by surroundings that do not meet his or her aesthetic standards. Instead, Larry was spurred to action. He set about renovating his apartment with verve and vigor. The end result was so stunning that Larry's Manhattan co-op was featured in a 2008 show  on Home and Garden TV (HGTV).

New York City's Borough of Manhattan, mighty hub of finance, fashion and advertising,  is a tiny island which contains some of the world's highest-priced real estate. Square footage is always at a premium, borough-wide. Making the most of a small space is a requisite for inhabitants of Manhattan, especially those free-lance artists who must work at home. I had a good deal of experience at this, but when I saw what Larry Risko did single-handed with his apartment renovation, I was floored. Larry's personal urban renewal project included not only walls, ceilings and mouldings, but also floors, fixtures and furniture. Wonderful job of work, Larry!
©M-J de Mesterton

Larry Risko with Photos of Friends and Family, Some of His Brother Robert's Caricatures--
and a Large Light-Bulb above Larry's Head, Symbolizing a Brain Chock-Full of Ideas!

Larry Risko Renovates His Old Manhattan Apartment
Larry Risko has been creating eye-pleasing images all his life, and making  the work of others look perfectly divine through his retouching skills. A few years ago, as a professional artist, Larry embarked on the biggest retouching job of his life: his Manhattan co-op apartment. Below are some before and after photographs of Larry's restoration and renovation project.
Larry Risko's inspiration for his kitchen renovation was the tropical island of Hawai'i, where he and his partner Robert enjoy the sunshine and brilliant blue water. The elegant little kitchen has a  stainless gas stove, a top choice of chefs everywhere; a sleek stainless steel refrigerator, and a stainless steel sink. The kitchen floor is coated with Eurothane Lacquer and finished with a high gloss. Larry's clean scheme would  be appreciated in Stockholm and Helsinki, perhaps even in Japan, where the designs are simple and pure in the well-established modernist idiom. This Chelsea neighborhood kitchen is now perfect down to the tiniest detail--what a transformation!
Above: Larry's Computer Room and Bathroom, Before Renovation
The bathroom features cream-colored subway tiles, a classic New York City design element,  and a birchwood basin cabinet in high-gloss with a Corian top.
The walls in the apartment are all hand-plastered and primed.

Larry's dining table is a large piece of highly polished white Calacatta marble which sits on a Knoll base. The two white leather chairs are by Eero Saarinen. Risko has excellent taste in textiles and furniture. A classic, small and white Eero Saarinen table sits near the luminous corner, in perfect proportion to the room. The black sofa is Florence Knoll's timeless 1954 design, which you will see with its new beige Alaska Beluga leather upholstery by Spinneybeck Leather, in the next photograph.
From Larry himself: "One of my building...and a shot of my foyer with a resin-sliding closet door, that I built with a drawer-slide...very inexpensive, $25!    A lot of German-made hardware to do this costs in the hundreds!"

Larry and his apartment were deservedly featured in the New York City segment of an HGTV show. There is a lot of beauty to see wherever Larry Risko applies his deft hand and finely-honed talent for design.
©M-J de Mesterton, July 2010
UPDATE on Larry Risko's Renovation
Larry recently replaced his fourteen-year old counter-tops with white quartz ones. He did the installation himself. The white surfaces harmonize with the artist's white Eero Saarinen dining-set as well as his leather Florence Knoll settee. Photos below depict the brilliant white quartz counters and back-splash, which blend-in very well with Larry's existing design.
~~©M-J de Mesterton, February 26th, 2011
Photos ©Larry Risko 2011