French Bronze 1930s - 1950s

A Small Collection

We have recently purchased some fittings for our home and we wanted to use vintage fittings to soften the newness of everything else. Adding vintage details seems to make a room more lived in, avoiding a showroom effect.

It was fun hunting down various bits and pieces, though of course everything we found which was, in our minds, perfect, cost more than the house itself. But we found that we didn't have to compromise too much in finding some lovely things which suited our budget and our taste in French 1940s interiors.

Choosing a warmer palette than usual, we chose a couple of bronze light fittings, which are warmly golden with the patina of age.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Maison Petitot started in the Paris in the 1870s, but it is probably best known for its art deco light fittings from the 20s and 30s. Specialising in bronze and other metal fittings, it teamed up with a number of fancy glass manufacturers like Sabino and Mullers Freres for the shades.   I love this fixture because of the heavy stylised drapery.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

We also needed a couple of sconces and we found these bronze and glass (I wonder if the glass is actually lucite because they never feel cold like glass, and also, lucite was a modern and chic material to use at the time) sconces from Maison Leleu (I should say attributed to as they aren't signed).  I wondered whether to clean these up a bit by polishing them but it turns out that they have been lacquered (whether at the time of manufacture or since, I don't know) and to clean them risked damaging them. It's fine, of course, I'll take the patina.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

My final purchase was a small key plate by the Russian/French sculptor, Vadim Androusov. Androusov was known for his terracotta, stone or wood figures from the 1920s but later created bronze fixtures for grand cabinet makers like Andre Arbus and Jean Pascaud. While I am waiting for the people from xlotto to send me a giant cheque, I am not in a position to purchase any such furniture, so when I saw this little key plate, I was more than happy to buy it! It's a small thing, I know, but it's a lovely piece of sculpture in its own right and resonates 1940s-1950s French interior design.

Who Wants to Live in a 1949 Farming Pavilion? Me.

Optimistic Architecture

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

Some things are designed to give such joy. I came across this small photo of a pavilion in an old advertising industry journal. A quick check reveals it was designed by Sir Misha Black (1910-1977) on behalf of the Hulton Press 'Farmers' Weekly' magazine for the Bath & West Agricultural Show in Bristol, 1949.

It has all the elements I love - stripes, white metal fretwork, stairs, angled roofs, glamour! So yes, I could live in this, even with the flags (which in my house would each be a primary colour and green for the fourth, with a central motif, like a crown, a pine cone, a palm leaf and a trident. Or something).  And the stripes? Maybe cadmium yellow and white! It's a happy looking building.


1950s Colour Bonanza

A New Find

I came across this book recently and had to snap it up! I love a good '50s style kitchen, though so often you find photos in old magazines and books and they're in black and white.  But not so in Interiors in Colour by Roger Smithells (1960)!

I love the lino, the vivid, clashing colours, the mix of simple lines with over-the-top ornament.  I still have a tendency, other than the kitchen, for a late 1930s-1940s feel. The theatrical appeals:

Yes, I like a bit of Dorothy Draper too!  I'll stop babbling and show you the rest of the pics from this wonderful addition to my book collection!

This book is a good antidote to the raw, minimal interiors that still seem to be popular. I like natural wood, marble and glass, but sometimes I find stripes, florals and quilted satin (especially if faux!) far more compelling! But each to their own, yes?!

A Magazine Rack for Cool Cats

This is what I do on days off

We had a few chores to run on the weekend but we made sure we popped into a couple of junk shops along the way.  As you do. We're not going to buy anything, we said.  We have enough stuff, we said. Let's wait, we said. But look at this:

How could we resist? It's only small and has some great 50s graphics on it.  So, here it is, our new magazine rack:

But it's back to work for us.  We will be at the Wattle Street Market next Saturday, and the following Saturday, we will have our final market for the year, at the Makers and Shakers Market. Our store will be closed from 15 December 2016 until after Christmas.  Any orders placed during that time will be processed on 27 December 2016, so if you are buying for Christmas, my advice is to not leave it until the last minute!

King Penguin Books

An Inspiration

We like to collect stuff and more often than not, our collections come from items made or designed between the wars. Our small, incomplete collection of King Penguin books is an example. We can spot one of these beauties across a room full of aggressive bookworms at a book sale! Printed between 1939 and 1959, the series ran to 76 volumes (sigh) covering a diverse range of topics from the natural world to antiques. The text is usually very worthy but the covers are brilliant! What does that say about me! 

The colours and designs are a rich source of inspiration.  I was going through the books and it made me think of autumn and lying in the grass under falling leaves. I know this might sound like a shameless segue, but it did prompt me to make another batch of our woodsy Arcadia eau de cologne.  Such are the links in daydreamy trails of thought.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

A night out on the town in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes.

Getting a bit tired of the rustic wood and exposed light-bulbs in bars around your town?  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just have a look at this small selection of nightspots from the 1940s and 1950s.  Sure, half of them wouldn't have let the likes of me through their doors but I'm sure anyone going to one of these places was up for a good time!  

Happy New Year to all!

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy  , James R. Harlan.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy, James R. Harlan.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From   The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister  , Chris Nichols.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister, Chris Nichols.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From   Havana Before Castro  , Peter Moruzzi.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From Havana Before Castro, Peter Moruzzi.

Royal Adelaide Show

Another extravaganza!

Part of our spring ritual is to visit the Royal Adelaide Show.  When we went yesterday, it was a beautiful clear day, very crowded and full of things to see.  

We always visit the floral displays, the crafts, the baking, the birds and the Grand Parade.  We always buy a freshly squeezed orange juice, buy daffodils from Hancock's and have tea at the CWA cafe.  I look forward to these simple pleasures every year.

This year, it was the 175th anniversary of the Royal Adelaide Show, something I had to think twice about - 175 years?! 

The bonus this year was a stage show put on in the Goyder Pavilion.   "175 Years of Fashion" promised to be an interesting display of costumes from those years, a fashion parade, or so we thought.  It proved to be a dazzlingly camp dance extravaganza of dubious historical accuracy.  The routines, gymnastics and glitter more than made up for the lapses in detail and the show was well received by the audience of city and country folk who crowded around the stage.

I highly recommend a visit.  The show has a rare connection with the past and is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in nostalgia and to eat lots of sugary food.  I even love the promotional campaign for the show this year.  It has collage, old photographs and flowers - of course I love it!   Here it is;

Pot Painting Tutorial

Putting some 1950s fun in your garden

You will need:
1 x pencil
1 x piece of paper
1 x dress-maker's measuring tape (or a piece of string and a retractable measuring tape)
1 x roll of masking tape
1 x calculator
1 x paint brush or mini-roller
2 x cans of paint, different colours
1 x round tapered pot; concrete, terracotta or fibreglass

Step 1

Choose a plain, smooth pot.  Fibreglass is great because it is lightweight and smooth.  Terracotta and concrete pots may be more problematic as they tend to leach moisture through the sides, which isn't good for paintwork.

In this case, I'm painting a terracotta pot because I couldn't find a fibreglass one, so I'll take my chances.

Step 2

You will need to seal the pot with an appropriate outdoor cement sealer.   I used Bondall 'Pot and Ornament Sealer', and this is readily available from hardware stores.

Give the pot at least 2 coats of sealer, as recommended by the sealer manufacturer.  Apply the sealer to the lip of the pot and to about 10cm down the inside rim.

Step 3

Choose your paint, in two colours.  I have selected some left-over paint from when our house was done.  An off-white and a light blue.  The paint needs to be an outdoor paint, suitable for use on cement.

Use the lighter colour paint as your base.   Paint the entire outside of the pot (you don't need to paint the base), including the lip and about 10cm into the inside of the pot.  When you plant out the pot, you will still get to see the inside lip.

Two coats, at least.   

Step 4

Ugh, the hard bit.  This can be a very painful process, so be prepared.  Don't do this bit when you're just about to go to work or when you're expected for lunch somewhere in half an hour.  Tell everyone to just leave you alone for a good hour!   Of course, you may be a mathematically inclined person, so this might be a cinch for you!

You need to plot the stripes.  As a start, I should say that this is not an exact science.  The stripes will not be perfectly regular, you will have all sorts of weirdness happening, but you need to remember that when the pot is finished and sitting in your garden, the overall impression is perfect!   And I defy you to find any pot this glamorous in a shop!

So, here goes.  Measuring the circumference of the top outside rim of the pot is difficult if you try wrapping a dress-makers measuring tape around it.  So, I recommend just measuring the diameter of the pot, as best you can.  With the measuring tape, stretch it across the top of the pot at the broadest part.  Measure the distance between the outside rim of one side and the outside rim of the other side.

Multiply this amount by 3.14 and that will be your circumference.  (This is where the calculator comes in  unless you're a brainbox). Write this down.

Repeat this exercise by turning the pot upside down and measuring the bottom circumference.  Write this down.

You need to determine how many stripes you want (and I mean stripes of both colour).  I suggest being fairly generous with the width of the strip unless you really want to spend a lot of time painting narrow stripes.  And make it an even number.  Odd numbers will leave you with two stripes of the same colour next to each other.

I chose 10 stripes for this pot.  To mark out where the stripes need to be, start with the top of the pot.  Divide its circumference by the number of stripes you have.   This will give you the distance between each edge of a stripe.  The space between two marks is the width of your stripe.

If your pot has a seam, you are lucky, and you will find out why shortly.  If not, it doesn't matter.  Make a small mark with a pencil on the outer rim of the pot, where you want to start (if you have a seam, I'd start here).  Then, you need to mark out each point on the pot.  Using a measuring tape to do this can be tricky because it is hard to hold and mark at the same time, so I suggest just getting your piece of paper and folding it so one side is as long as the figure you have just worked out for the width of each stripe.  Then, starting with your first mark, place the paper with one edge on that mark, and mark the point where the paper ends.  Do this around the circumference of the top edge until you arrive back at the first mark.  It may not be perfect!   If you are quite a bit out, say by 2cm, you need to increase the width of each stripe by a couple of millimeters.  This can be time-consuming and frustrating, but stick with it.

To repeat the process on the bottom, you need to make sure that you align one of the top marks with your first mark on the bottom.   If you have a seam on the pot, you won't need to do this, just start the measuring on the bottom at the seam.   Otherwise, using your measuring tape or string, start at your first mark and hold the tape or string so that it drops in a fairly straight line downwards.  As best you can try to mark the bottom outside rim of the pot where the tape or string is.  This will give you a fairly close alignment between the top and the bottom and hopefully, a straight stripe.

Then repeat the process of marking out the smaller circumference.

Step 5

It helps a bit to mark with an x which spaces you will be painting with your second colour. 

Using the masking tape, you need to block out the stripes you do not intend to paint with your second colour.  Start at the bottom.  Allow a little of the tape to fold over onto the base of the pot.  Align the edge of the tape to the left of one of the marks and draw the tape upwards to its partner mark on the top edge, making sure it is aligned to the left side of the mark.  Moving towards the next mark to the right, repeat this, but align the tape to the right of both marks.  In other words, the space you have marked with an x will be fully exposed, while the stripes either side of it will have the tape on.

Repeat this, moving to the right, for the remaining marks.

I suggest running your finger along the tape to ensure it has fully adhered to the pot.  This will help ensure a crisp line when you paint.

Step 6

Paint the spaces you have masked off with your second colour.  Don't rush it, be careful you don't paint over the masking tape and onto one of the base colour stripes.  It's no big deal if you do, as you can touch it up afterwards, but it only adds to the amount of time and effort you spend on this.

Two coats, at least.

Step 7

The fun bit.  Gently remove the masking tape.  Your pot is now beautiful and ready to plant!

These pots look fantastic planted out with bright annuals or geraniums.  We planted a small lemon tree in ours, but the options are endless!  Enjoy!

Space Age Fun

Flea market find 

I picked up these little paperback books a couple of weeks ago from a local flea market.  I can't say I'm a fan of science fiction, but I love the cover art on these numbers!

I think my favourite cover is the charming, almost domestic, scene of three guys fixing a spherical ship of some sort.  Love the leisurewear and how it looks like the type of illustration used in DIY home renovation magazines of the time - you've got the green lawn, the stepping stones, quite an idylic scene!   Great colours - even the aliens look cheerful!

Flea Market Find

Paul Jones Watercolour Menus

A perfect wintery day to be poking around a flea market stall and I have come up trumps!  A batch of menus from the early 1950s for the Orient Line.  The cover of each menu features a flower in honour of one of the destinations frequented by the cruise liner.  The artist is the highly regarded botanical watercolourist, Paul Jones (1921 - 1997).

A 1950s Dance

Belle of the Ball

I came across this photo at a market a couple of years ago of a young woman dressed up for a formal dance.  She is a local Adelaide woman and, of course, the dance was held some time in the 1950s.  That's all I know about it.  I love the photo because she has that sense of excitement you have when you're young and the world is full of choices and possibilities.   Lovely!   I hope the dance lived up to her expectations.

A taste of Sydney life in the 1950s - Milk Bars and Espresso Bars

Located on the corner of New South Head Road and Cross Street in Double Bay, the One Two Three Milk Bar was designed by F.J. Zipfinger and catered to the teens of well-heeled Sydneysiders.  The ceiling was multi-coloured and the counter and fittings were in pink and black.

While the kids enjoyed the pink and black fun of the One Two Three, their parents may have slinked into the risque venue, The Latin Quarter.  Located at 250 Pitt Street, The Latin Quarter was designed by Henry Kurzer in the 1950s.   The espresso bar featured a mural by M. Pretzel and had a very special ivory coloured acoustic ceiling, recessed with star lights. 

The Latin Quarter also had a restaurant - you can see the entrance at the rear of the espresso bar in the above photo.  The restaurant/supper club had floor shows nightly.  The restaurant was one of the businesses owned and operated by the colourful Sydney identity, Sammy Lee in conjunction with Reg Boom.   The pair also opened a restaurant in the 60s in Kings Cross called "Les Girls Restaurant".  I bet you'd never guess what went on there!

Here is a photo souvenir of The Latin Quarter from the 1960s.  It shows the front cover of the folder advertising The Latin Quarter, the photo within of a couple being entertained in the restaurant, and on the rear, an advertisement for the Les Girls Restaurant, "where every night is New Year's Eve"!

Photos of One Two Three Milk Bar and The Latin Quarter from "Impact of Design" by Clive Carney (1959).  The photo souvenir is from the collection of Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez.