Thursday, December 30, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg

We have visited Colonial Williamsburg ( before, but not at Christmas season. Although Christmas decorations are not historically accurate to the time period, they do decorate the buildings, with the requirement being that materials used must have existed in the eighteenth century. Other than that, creativity can be exercised, although most look fairly traditional to our eyes.
Although a bit unseasonably cold, it was a nice time to visit, as it was not as crowded as summer, but was still surprisingly busy. It appears to be a tradition for many families to go there at holiday time.

We had two very nice meals in the colonial taverns, and dining (as well as getting around) with minimal lighting after dark certainly contributed to the eighteenth century ambiance.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Longwood Holiday Lights

I was never crazy about holiday light displays, until our first time at Longwood Gardens (, in Kennett Square, PA, several years ago. The design and execution is always good, with a design sense that keeps them from being garish. In addition to the exterior lights, the massive conservatories are completely decorated for the season.

Although the visit to Longwood was at the end of our trip, I wanted to get these posted first, before the holiday season had passed.

Wish I was better at night-time photograpy, but these should give some sense, although of course, it was much better in person.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December wrap-up

In spite of the good intentions, this December, with its end of semester assignments, a road trip to Virginia, the holiday dinner (and my usual Christmas flu) meant ignoring this blog, so there is a lot of catching up to do.

Given the prospect of airport hassles and delays, we figured out that driving was the most time and cost-effective means of travel this year. We left Massachusetts for an overnight in Wilmington, Delaware - no problems, until we hit Philadelphia at 3:00 pm, and icy roads meant another three hours to Wilmington!

We went to the Yuletide tour at Winterthur (, then headed to Richmond, Virginia. No traffic problems until route 95 south of DC - tie-ups all the way.

When traveling with Joseph, you are kept on the go, so I didn't often connect the computer on this trip (which was actually rather nice). Therefore, I still need to download and edit pictures from this trip, so will post in more detail during coming days.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Between school and New England traditions of getting ready for winter, I have been remiss in posting. We did have Thanksgiving at home again, and the dogs were delighted to have a new friend. Rita, an international student from Clark University, came to dinner, and since she misses her dog back in China, she was happy to play with Lilly and Savannah as much as they wanted.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dancing Dog

Savannah thinks that she needs to provide a floor show in order to be fed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Federal Mirror

I had posted about this earlier when working on the reverse glass :
Thanks to the old mirror glass from my brother's stash, this has finally been reassembled, meaning another project checked on the list.

Funny that in both images there happened to be a dog in the reflection.

Monday, November 8, 2010

End of the season

It's that time of the year when we close up the place in Wiscasset. Sometimes we get tempted to stay longer, then the weather changes and reminds us that it is time to leave. This past weekend was cold and rainy, but then bright sun came out for about 30 minutes. But I will not be fooled - I know what is on the way, and in fact, Monday morning in Massachusetts we had our first dusting of snow.
So, drain the pipes and come back in the spring!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Golden Pineapples

These wooden pineapples could adorn the entry for a hedge fund manager or possibly a Russian oligarch. Well, actually, the suburban home of a former colleague, where her husband has essentially rebuilt the entire house, and is now working on the finishing details.

These were new wood, but still required quite a bit of priming and sanding. Once gilded with 23K gold, they should be good for many years.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lots of Projects

One of my brothers is moving, and is no longer planning to do restoration work, so I was offered the unfinished projects from his cellar. I will either have a busy winter (or more likely, will have just effected a transition of unfinished projects from one cellar to another).
Will post if/when any of these get worked on.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Round-corner Frame

Very often I get frames that are not worth putting a lot of work into, but they often serve as illustrations of what happens to frames over the years. A friend gave me some frames from her garage, including this 19th century round-corner example. It had a bad break, and was covered in "radiator" paint. I clamped and glued the break just to keep it from creating more damage, and since I noticed glints of gold, decided to take a quick stripping attempt, using methylene-chloride based paint stripper. I found the original silver-gilt ("lemon gold") underneath (as shown in the top photo), although it was worn (probably the reason why it was painted).
If I ever have use for this frame, I will consider making a proper repair to the broken area.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Yes, it's that time of year when we all head north to view the foliage. I normally would not dare do this on a holiday weekend, but there was something scheduled for me up there.

I didn't get to take that many pictures, being tied up during the day, and not daring to stop the car with so much traffic. But here are a few shots. Actually taking more in our own neck of the woods, and as usual around here, the best foliage also coincides with rain and wind that seem to take it right down.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gilding Demo in Vermont

I went to Brandon, Vermont during the Columbus Day weekend to demonstrate water gilding at the Pioneer chapter of HSEAD (Historical Society of Early American Decoration).
The van was loaded with samples to show various gilding techniques and finishes, I didn't forget to bring anything, and a good time was had by all.
For more about HSEAD, go to

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A New Door

With the miserably hot weather (yes, hottest summer on record) not much got done on the Wiscasset house. The side door did have a problem with rot, and the bottom quarter of the door was long past the expoxy patching remedies. I suspect that one issue was that the door is unprotected, and also opened out, leaving it flush with the side of the house (this configuration was chosen since at the beginning of the renovation project, it was the only useful entry, and opening out made it easier for construction materials to enter the building).

Since this was the second replacement, I had the good fortune of a standard size, plumb rough opening.

I elected to go with a fiberglass shell door, hoping I will avoid some of the rotting isssues that plagued me in the past. While a competent professional would probably have installed this in an hour, we did get it in ourselves in an afternoon, now just finishing the painting and re-doing the interior trim. All set for winter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pemaquid and Round Pond

Hot weather and family visits contributed to August's lack of motivation. Now that the cool weather is back, it's time to catch up.

Here is famous Pemaquid light, at Pemquid Point. We take our visitors here (it's the only time we seem to get there). The kids liked having something "dangerous" to do, namely, climbing on the rocks and letting the crashing waves wet their feet.

Afterwards, we made the ritual stop at the Granite Hall Store, in Round Pond. The people working there are very patient with the children deciding on just the right selection of penny candies.

I am not sure that having the adult advantage of just buying my favorite (grapefruit slices) by the pound is an improvement.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Newport, Rhode Island

We have been to Newport to see the famous mansions any number of times, but usually miss some of the lesser visited ones, since they tend to be open on a shorter season, and we usually don't get to Newport during the peak of summer.

But we had the chance for a mid-week getaway, and went to Hunter house (eighteenth century architecture and furnishings), Kingscote (Gothic revival cottage), and the Isaac Bell house (shingle style).

In addition, Marble house had a special exhibit, where many of the artworks originally installed in the "Gothic library" were on loan and displayed in their original places, just for the summer.

We also enjoyed a walk around the early part of Newport, still chock-full of eighteenth century buildings.

See for more information.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Rufus

We finally had to say goodbye to Mr. Rufus, our Cairn terrier.

Rufus arrived in 1998 under the auspices of Jan, the fairy dog-mother. Since we were concerned about acclimating a new dog into the existing household (particularly with Clayton, the West Highland terrier), we decided they should first meet outdoors. They took to each other immediately, romping and wrestling, until both were covered in mud from the melting snow.

All dogs have their own personalities, and Rufus was no exception. But unlike the others under our roof, he was the only one confident that he was in fact, a dog, and was thoroughly happy with that role. There was a look on his face of utter disdain for the others when he saw them acting in a non-canine manner, as if they were an embarrassment to their species.

One of his greatest joys was spending time in Maine, where he considered himself the chief dog of Wiscasset. He would demand to be escorted around the village several times a day, and if the wind and tide were right, to wade in the harbor and snap at the waves.

His final weekend in Maine included a day resting on the grass in the sun, and a final circuit of Wiscasset to let all the dogs in the village know he was there.

He was a tough old man of 14, but we began to notice his physical failings (as well as those we pretended not to notice). So on Monday, we had to make that same sad decision we never get used to.

His final decline was sudden, yet graceful. His time had come, we were with him, and he went without a drawn out series of procedures and treatments, and without the humiliation of incapacity.

Goodbye Mr. Rufus; we will always remember you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bowen House, Woodstock, CT

We came home early from Maine due to dog issues, and since the weather was so nice on Saturday, we wanted to do something. We had not been to the Bowen House (Roseland Cottage), in some time, and since it is less than an hour from home, went for a visit. This was the first time we have been there when the gardens were in full flower, and since the house had been repainted the vibrant, 1880's color.
The house is a wonderful example of Gothic revival, and this area of Connecticut (known as the "quiet corner") is always fun to visit. For more information, go to:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hot Summer in the Garden

The hot humid weather has made some of the garden go crazy this year, but the color is drowned out by the jungle of weeds and invasive plants that went even crazier. But the old dependables, bee balm and daylilies came out in force. Amazingly, the checkerberry also did well. After many years, this is the first season they were not consumed by animal invaders. Perhaps even the woodchucks felt it was too warm to leave the den.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Finally Framed

I had been meaning to finish a frame for this painting since last year; the gilding was done on this and some others a while back, but I never got around to the finishing surface treatments until this week.
Normally I would like a wider frame, but the painting is small, and I wanted an excuse for a frame in this design. It is a simple, arts-and-crafts style, carved, water gilded and burnished.
The painting is an acrylic, a scene of lilacs on a side stree in Wiscasset, Maine.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Keene, NH Antique Show

Set up at a small antique show sponsored by the Kiwanis in Keene, NH. They did a great job organizing the show; not much business there, but a nice weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Eastern Maine Rail in Wiscasset

The railroad runs excursions during the tourist season, from Brunswick to Rockland, with a stop in Wiscasset. The mid-20th century locomotive and passenger cars have a great retro look; you expect the Andrews Sisters to get off when the train stops.

I was out with the dogs, and had my camera handy; not used to using it for video, and someone was pulling on the leash a bit too hard at the end of this clip.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New computer

In addition to going back and forth to Maine, among other tasks, I have been going through the migration to a new computer. Not as bad a project as it might have been, finally am back on line.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Currier Gallery, Manchester New Hampshire

We had not been to the Currier Gallery of Art in Manchester, NH since their most recent expansion project. A watercolor show was about to end, so that was the impetus.
A fine small museum, with a collection focusing on American art, including decorative arts, the expansion has provided them with a new winter garden/cafe, and has allowed much of the art to be installed more effectively. One gallery has paintings hung in a "salon installation", in the manner of the nineteenth century. In the center of the gallery is "Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii" from 1863, by Randolph Rogers. While I am not that fond of sculpture, especially such sentimental pieces, I found it engaging (perhaps because of the installation).
Probably my favorite painting in the collection is "Carnation and Black , 1892, an oil on canvas by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp. The pose and coloring are so striking, that it feels contemporary more than one hundred years after it was painted.
Visit for more about this museum.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glass Transfer "Varnished" Prints

I purchased this primarily for the frame, and when I got it home realized that it was a fairly good example of glass transfer of a print (I always called these "varnished prints" - I don't know if I saw the term somewhere or if that just came out of my head).

Basically, these were done by varnishing a print to the glass, removing most of the paper, and coloring/painting to add the color. The effect is of a reverse glass painting, or in this case, a faux painting on porcelain. I have seen many of these from the late 18th century, and this one I would date to approximately 1845 based on the lady's clothing and the frame.

Many of the earlier ones appear quite dark, as the varnish browned with age (and of course, many simply got broken, or replaced with something else if the varnished degraded to the point that the image was no longer attractive.

Here is a link to the blog on the website of The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd., in Philadelphia, where one of the owners discusses this art form:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wayside Inn Antiques Show

On Sunday I went to the antiques show held at the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA. Perfect weather, the antique cars parked outside the entrance lent additional elegance, and the exhibitors provided what looked like a New York City antiques show magically transported to a tent (but what a tent!) in a country field.
In spite of the many extraordinary and fine items available, "Best in Show" went to Royal, who was tending the booth for Elle Shushan ( So calm and dignified, I first thought she was a statue placed on the hearth.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Comes to Wiscasset

We spent a few days in Wiscasset, Maine, opening up the house for the season. It always seems to be a miracle, that just as spring always returns, the house survives another Maine winter.
So now water is turned on, plumbing and heating work, and we began cleanup outside (for such a tiny in-town lot, it does take a while to do the yard work).
More about our house in Wiscasset at