27 Dec 2011

tracking down a family heirloom

This Christmas, there was a mysterious parcel from Portland, Oregon under our tree. No one in our family knows anyone from Portland, and my dad was being quite secretive about it. He wouldn't let anyone open it until my sister and her family arrived for the day.

Inside the box was a faded old rug that I'd never seen or heard about before. My dad explained that my grandmother hooked the rug in the early 1960s. He remembers her giving the rug to the Nelson's, the family who sold them the farm in rural Alberta. As a Christmas surprise to our family, my father tracked down the rug. It was with one of the Nelson children in Portland.

It's quite a bit more faded than my dad remembers it, and it's a bit shabby, but the handiwork is impressive. The rug is my grandmother's artistic interpretation of the property itself, which was called "Stonewall Farm", named after the stone wall that was built around the farmyard. As is common in this region, the rocks were pulled from the field to create more arable land. Stonewall Farm was one of the few places in the area to repurpose these rocks by creating a wall -- an early example of upcycling, before the term existed.

So now the question is, what will my parents do with the rug? I think they'll likely get it framed and find a nice place to display it. Any other ideas?

22 Dec 2011

homage to matte living

I received my first Christmas gift this past weekend from my best friend, LS.  It's so beautiful that I felt it deserved some mention on my blog.

I was originally going to call my vintage furniture business "Matte Living", and this blog was going to be called "Unglossy: The Art of Matte Living" -- a nod to my preference for the humble beauty of hand-crafted, non-glitzy furniture and houseware. Several incarnations later, here I am as Kipkoo, but I still possess a fondness for all things matte. So the gift -- a porcelain maple syrup dispenser with a decorative wood grain -- is a welcome addition to my home.

maple syrup container by www.mariannechenard.com

20 Dec 2011

beyond fun fur - designer cat beds

Maybe (that's my cat's name) told me what she wants for Christmas this year: a pEi Pod, or pet egg pod. It's made from high density, fully recyclable polyethylene. Though I try not to buy much plastic, it's still fun to imagine her lounging around in such a stylish cat bed. The beds and pillows come in several different colour options, all of which remind me of Cadbury mini eggs -- a favourable comparison, I think.

Read more about this pEi Pod animal bed at www.peipod.com

A little wizardry in Photoshop and -- poof! -- my cat has her own pEi Pod!
The original photo (without cat) can be found at www.peipod.com

Perhaps a more eco-friendly choice would be the "wingdream supa plush" by kittypod. Their site is filled with designer cat accessories that aren't harmful to the planet.

The "wingdream" is patterned after a bug's wing and made of soft organic cotton
sherpa on one side, woven hemp on the other.

And if money were no concern whatsoever (and I had the space for such a thing) I'd buy this coffee table designed by Koichi Futatsumata for Japanese design firm Case-Real.

Sleek and sophisticated glass and steel table with rattan kitty hammock.

Okay, to be honest, Maybe didn't tell me she wants a pEi Pod for Christmas. She really just wants me to buy her a knapsack and leave it lying on the floor all the time. That's her idea of the perfect cat bed.

Sometimes there's no accounting for taste.

18 Dec 2011

What to do with a collection of art glass vessels?

It's funny how something you don't see right away as particularly beautiful can really grow on you. 

I bought a lot (I mean a LOT, as in a set of articles for sale at an auction) of art glass recently.  In general, I've been feeling rather ambivalent towards it. But once I put the pieces in front of the camera, I changed my mind. Now that I've become better acquainted, I admire their graceful curves and playful colours.

four of my favourite glass beauties

I'm still wondering what to do with them, how to sell them. In some ways, I don't think they belong on my store site "as is". I feel I need to devise a purpose for them first. As a collection, they'd make an amazing light fixture. Definitely a project for someone much handier than I am. Or maybe they'd look good displayed on a light table, with light pouring in from underneath them.

Coincidentally, that same day, I found this magazine clipping taped to the wall of my workshop. It's from the home of British interior designer Tara Bernerd. I'm pretty sure I originally clipped it because of that amazing orange couch and reverential pigeon photos, but this time around I found myself taking in the table full of bubble glass ashtrays. Now, if the table had a lower level lit up with candles in the evening, wouldn't that be splendid?

from Elle Deco (Dec 04)

14 Dec 2011

a year in the making

I spied this awesome vintage chair at the market about a year ago, but the dealer didn't want to part with it. He wouldn't even give me a price on it. He said he had to do some research on it first.

Then about a month ago, he was selling off everything in his store and my friend arranged for us to have a visit before the general public ascended.

"I still have that chair you wanted," he told me. At first I didn't know which chair he meant, but then I remembered and was pretty excited! The chair has beautiful curves and a lovely profile, but unfortunately, it needs an overhaul.

Here's my to-do list:
1. web the base with Pirelli rubber (crazy, high-quality webbing that's hard to find)
2. sand down to the wood
3. varnish/finish
4. buy soy-based foam
5. sew box cushions

So I've just completed step 2, and I've got my work cut out for me, but when I'm done, it's going to be beautiful.

Last week, I was in the middle of a photo shoot of some product shots, and felt inspired to create a little vignette. The chair took centre stage:

Chair draped in a deer tapestry, with 3 wooden bowls +  vintage trouble lamp cage.

12 Dec 2011

setting up shop

As some of you may know, I'm opening an online vintage furniture consignment shop! I've been very secretive about it online because I don't want to give too much away before it's up and running. For one thing, I've gone through about four name changes. I moved pretty far into the set-up process with the last name, only to drop it at the last minute, due to a potential trademark infringement. It's been quite the process, finding a name -- and quite the process switching over the domain name, business license, bank account, etc etc. I advise any future business owners to do a LOT of research before settling on a name. Otherwise, it just makes more hassle for you later. (Tip: if in doubt, make up a word!)

Anyway, here's a sneak peek at a few things happening behind the scenes. This photo shoot took place at the storage area where I keep most of the larger items. Unheated and uninspiring, we had to dress in our jackets and toques and bring along my iPod deck to provide some musical motivation.

A big THANK YOU to S for helping me with the photo shoot, and for suggesting we take off our shoes so as not to ruin the seamless backdrop.

S, incongruously, in winter coat and stocking feet, setting up the Wassily knock-off.

Of course, when we turned our backs on the chartreuse twins, there was some horseplay.

This sofa was too long for the backdrop. Will be calling on my pal, Photoshop, to help later.

2 Dec 2011

broken things

I have an ongoing list in my head: Items That Have Been Broken. It's a pretty long list – I think. You see, I also (luckily?) have a bad memory, so I'm only able to recall the last 3 items on the list:

Item #245: a spherical hand-blown glass oil lamp (I broke it the first time I used it.)
Item #246: an animal horn cuff bracelet (The vendor at the market swore it was stronger than it looked. She was wrong.)
Item #247: my favourite little potted plant.

The last one, #247, happened today. It was hand-painted by someone who clearly knew how to paint. I marvelled every time I looked at it. Honestly. It was a special piece.

I found both pot and plant on the bathroom floor, in pieces, apparently knocked over by my cat, Maybe. (That's her name – Maybe. I'm not questioning whether she did it or not!)

1. The planter, while it was still in one piece.  2. The furry culprit.
3. Check out the artist's mysterious monogram.