Viewing entries tagged
Custom

Blanche P. Field

Blanche P. Field

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Much of the joy of decorating is having the ability to design bespoke items for a client’s home.  It’s these custom details, along with the layering of one of a kind items - often vintage or antique - that create rooms that are unique, timeless and a simply a pleasure to experience.

One of my absolute favorite custom finishing touches comes in the form of lampshades.  Custom lampshades on beautiful lamps make an immeasurable difference in the feel of a room.  They can be incredibly modern, transitional or traditional, but no matter what genre a custom shade is, it is exceptional!

Lisa Simkin, of Blanche P. Field in New York City, is truly a master at designing such exquisite shades. Blanch P. Field, a Boston based company, purchased the business from Ruth Vitow in New York.  Mrs. Vitow worked until the day she died at the age of 102.  She was a milliner who applied her skill to lampshades.  Clearly a craft Lisa has embraced.

Lisa oversees six ladies sewing by hand, one lady electrician and one lady expediter – girl power to say the least and all ‘Hand-Made In The USA’.  In New York that is!   The wire frames are made to order and carefully sized to a lamp.  Shade materials include everything from fine pongee or habutai silk, linen, cotton, Hermès silk scarves or a client’s own material that may match the scheme of a room.  Fabric shades can have box pleats, reverse box pleats, knife pleats, smocking, shirring and twisted trim or tape detailing on the top and bottom.  Pops of color are always remarkably successful.  They can also be pierced paper, laminate or string shades.  The options are truly boundless – these are just to name a few!

Lisa has an innate sense of style and fashion that she applies directly to her shades.  Her vision when she sees couture fashion instantly translates into a fabulous lampshade.  And she treats lampshades as such – couture fashion.  Lisa perfects the scale and shape that best fit a lamp likening it to a dress that fits the body gracefully or a hat that frames the face.

Enjoy this visit to her workroom to observe firsthand how the stunning shades you see in magazine spreads and design books are made by hand.  You will notice a collection of grey sconce shades that were on their way to Bergdorf’s chandeliers.  You will also find photos of shades for my Master Bedroom, currently in production, with a ‘box pleat - pinch every other pleat (in contrasting blue thread!)’.  And most irresistible is that sweet little girl Gigi who is as comfortable as can be at her Blanche P. Field home!

http://www.blanchefield.com

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Christopher Spitzmiller

Christopher Spitzmiller

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The making of a lamp, by Christopher Spitzmiller, is an art form in which he creates timeless heirloom-quality pieces of decorating history. Christopher’s lamps are seen in the most casual to the most elegant of rooms, including the Oval Office, adding a touch of modern that is successful in any setting imaginable. In unique shapes with the most saturated gem-like glazed colors, there truly are no other lamps like his.

Most interesting is the 6-8 week long process in which these sculptural and luminous ceramic lamps are made, all happening with a team of skilled artisans in his loft studio on the 17th floor of a West 35th Street industrial building. Christopher was kind enough to ‘throw’ a new lamp to show me how it all starts.

Sitting at his wheel, he begins with a mass of earthenware clay. As a traditional potter does, he ‘throws’ the clay until it takes the shape and form he desires. Once he is satisfied, the piece is set to dry. In this case, producing a new lamp that is comprised of two separate pieces which are later combined to create the lamp form. He uses tools of different types, including a ubiquitous fork, to trim the pieces before they are left to be dried.

After drying, the ceramic lamps are sent to be fired in a 2000 degree bisque kiln before being glazed. The glaze is not paint – it is a liquid comprised of minerals and silicates that gives them their magical radiance. Following the glazing process, they are fired a second time in a glaze firing. Even the 2” square sample chips are made using this process.

The lamp Christopher is making is intended to be a model that will be used to create a plaster mold from which the majority of their lamps are made.   A lamp is typically only thrown to be a one-off design or a model for the mold.

Once the ceramic glazed base is complete, each one is individually fit for a hand carved hardwood base in the wood shop. The carved base is either water gilt in 23k yellow gold or 9k white gold for a silver finish, stained in mahogany or finished in black lacquer by one of their artists after which it is paired with its partner lamp. It then awaits the gentleman who wires the lamp. All lamps are made to order so each one is unique. Choices include color, base finish, electrical fittings and cord colors (including red or blue twisted silk!).

Christopher has recently expanded his prolific collection to include tableware and decorative accessories. He is truly an artist. Whatever it is he creates, it is iconic and a treasure that will surely endure the test of time.

www.christopherspitzmiller.com

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