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June 2005

Architectural Salvage

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I don't know about you, but I love exploring scrapyards and salvage yards, and a good architectural salvage yard (or a great one, like Ohmega and sister Omega Too, who sell mostly new items, in Berkeley CA) can provide hours of entertainment. Some places specialize in certain items – doorknobs, mantels, bathroom fixtures, clawfoot tubs, windows – and others sell whatever they can save from the wrecker's ball. These firms are a great and often inexpensive way to find one-of-a-kind items with history and character, and are also a good source of ideas and worth checking out before you begin a remodel project. Outside of the US, the selection is even greater, with companies like the UK's Salvo offering a huge directory of salvaged materials from all over Europe – they even have a big salvage fair every year. Here are a few of my favorites; please feel free to add other resources to the comments below.

  • Bill Raymer's Restoration Resources in Boston's South End has sold interior architecture elements, from mantels to fixtures and windows, since 1988.
  • Springfield's ReStore is another firm in Massachussetts, more interested in reuse as environmental philosophy than necessarily in historical conservation.
  • Massachussetts really does embrace architectural salvage (probably because there's so much good stuff to save)! The Building Materials Resource Center is another Boston materials salvage firm, and operates as a non-profit, marketing specifically to low-income customers by giving them steep discounts.
  • Architectural Salvage is in Exeter NH (an hour outside of Boston), and is open weekends only. The owner, an avid antique collector, left the home building trade after 20 years and opened AS in 1997. Their large inventory includes lots of doors and hardware, with an emphasis on Victoriana and Colonial Revival items.
  • New England Demolition & Salvage is located in Wareham, MA, and carries a large selection of clawfoot tubs, stained glass, radiators, mantels, columns and plenty of other architectural antiques.
  • Architectural Elements in Tulsa OK carries an enormous range of fixtures, hardware and wood and ceramic items.
  • Milwaukee's Salvage Heaven keep lots of built-ins and other items taken from local homes – many of them Craftsman and Prairie – on hand, and have an enormous inventory that includes everything from bricks and wooden flooring to furnaces, boilers, moulding, tin ceiling, baseboards, doors and iron railings.
  • North Shore Architectural Antiques in Two Harbors MN also have a huge stock on-hand, including plenty of tile, ornamental plaster, corbels, stair components and much more.
  • Howard Kaplan Antiques in Manhattan specializes in antique lighting and bath fixtures, including tubs, vanities and sinks; they also carry a large stock of antique furniture and decorative items, and a special exclusive Victorianesque pot rack.
  • Olde Good Things have showrooms in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Scranton PA, as well as an online store. Their firm has grown by leaps and bounds since its initial inception working with New York City demolition contractors. They continue to sell at flea markets and antique sales, as well; you can find them in Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena and Alameda, CA, throughout Illinois, Washington DC and Clarendon VA, and all over New York. Their trucks also roam the country, buying and selling all over the place; each truck is a showroom in and of itself - what an operation!
  • Louisiana salvage firm Crescent City Architectural has a good stock of doors, ironwork and windows - plenty of items with that New Orleans style.
  • Seattle's Earthwise maintains an enormous warehouse full of weird bits and pieces, from the antique to the modern, including some nice Povey Brothers stained glass windows, mostly salvaged from local churches.
  • My favorite, Steve Drobinsky's Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley CA, has both indoor and outdoor areas full of hundreds (or thousands?) of doors, windows, pavers and brick, tile, tubs, sinks and toilets, antique European and Asian interior architecture, electrical and gas fixtures of all types, church and movie-theater benches, pews and other sorts of seating, and so much more I can't even begin to list it. They have a cute little movie up on the web which includes a walking tour of their operation.
  • Tony's Architectural Salvage claims to be Southern California's largest architectural salvage effort. Their shop in Old Town Orange is enormous, with an especially large stock of doors, glass, mantels and hardware – check out the mountain of doorknobs!
  • The ReUse People in Alameda CA are both demolition contractors and materials distributors, and maintain a number of warehouses that are open to the public. They do not specialize in antique fixtures, although some gems can be found in their stock; they are more interested in salvage & reuse as part of a larger ecological philosophy.
  • Building REsources in San Francisco's India Basin is a sort of hippy junkyard of a salvage operation, but they do have an excellent stock of bathroom fixtures, tile and other bits and pieces, and you can sometimes find neat stuff hidden behind less beautiful items that fill their lot. The yard is also an ongoing art installation, and neat bits of sculpture litter the space year-round.
  • Also in the Bay Area, Caldwell's carry a pretty wide range of salvaged materials, including quarter-sawn mantels, turn of the century light poles, and elevator doors, all salvaged from old Victorians and commercial buildings in and around San Francisco.
  • Another great Berkeley salvage company is Urban Ore (the city's "major serial material recovery enterprise"), who moved a coupla years ago to a larger space down on Murray Street. They have a very eclectic mix of furniture, fixtures, raw materials, and thrift-store treasures - books and the like (I found a copy of a junior high school yearbook from a school/year I attended, once, signed by childhood friends of mine), although you'll have to be patient to sort the good from the plain.

Photo by our friend Knautia. Please add other resources that you know of to the comments below!


Craftsman Restaurants?

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Charlotte's Fig Tree restaurant is housed in a well-maintained 1913 Craftsman bungalow that's recently been redesigned to mimic its original look. The structure, known as the Lucas House, needed a 10-month renovation to put it back toward its original form. The new – almost purplish – dark browns throughout, wooden screens, and Arts & Crafts pottery make for a calm and serene setting, a great place to enjoy a fantastic rustic mushroom soup, osso buco served with a marrow fork and cooked to perfection,good spaetzle, and a lobster/scallop sausage that is to die for ... I'm getting hungry!

other restaurants where you can dine in Craftsman style:

Please add the names and locations of Craftsman restaurants in your area to this thread! pictured: Chez Panisse in Berkeley


Kathleen West

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Kathleen West is a Roycroft Master Artisan woodblock printmaker living and working in East Aurora, NY (where else?). Her style, developed over 40 years of practice and training, incorporates elements of the Pre-Raphaelite and Nouveau movements. The level of detail in her work surpasses so much other work that is done in this medium, and her work is colorful and bright. Take a look at her alphabet series, which reminds me for some reason of William Blake. Her work is sold by dealers throughout the east coast, as well as by The Craftsman Home in Berkeley, California


Joel Liebman Custom Furniture

DadscabinetJoel Liebman and Avery & Ginger (who succeed Jasmine) build beautiful and almost exclusively custom-to-order works of art and craft. Joel – formally trained at the Genoa School in the late 1980s – is now working out of a shop on the third floor of a classic New England millhouse (long since converted into artists' studios) in Easthampton MA. Much of his work has the angles of streamline deco and moderne styled work and would fit in almost as well in the early 1930s as it does today, but Joel's ability spans more than a single style. His use of multiple materials – wood, glass, and leather – and his tremendous technical ability as a cabinetmaker are what make his work really stand out. I am especially impressed with his original Craftsman designs.


Joseph van Benten, Furnituremakers

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Designing work that can only be categorized as Nouveau Shaker or possibly Surreal Shaker, Joseph van Benten and his staff build (very) original pieces from woods local to their shop in Brookline, MA. They've been at it for almost 25 years, and the range of work – from traditional Shaker designs to Greene & Greene & Craftsman style work to Asian-influenced plans and some very original modernistic seating – is matched only by their creativity. I especially like the simple lines of their Shaker & Prairie styled cabinet work.


Auction Season

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On May 14 & 15, Rago Arts will be holding their Craftsman auction weekend in Lambertville, NJ. A huge volume of beautiful, unique items will be up on the block including a number of especially interesting items from the Burton & Paula Geyer collection. Hopefully at least one Hewn & Hammered reader out there will be able to take some photographs to share with those of us who cannot make it.

As usual, I find myself poring over the preview photographs on the RagoArts website; there's not much here that normal human beings could possibly afford without cutting back, say, on food or mortgage payments for a year or two, as one would expect. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Denver Lonhuda tulip vase (pictured)
  • Fulper leaded glass chandelier
  • leaded glass window that survived the 1906 SF earthquake/fire
  • William Rice color woodblock print
  • Roycroft hammered-copper table lamp
  • Tiffany favrile glass vase
  • Harvey Ellis drawing
  • Wycombe set of six tall-backed chairs
  • Stickley "bride's chest"
  • Roycroft hammered-copper chandelier
  • Saturday Evening Girls desk set
  • Grueby advertising tile

Jeannine Calcagno Niehaus, potter

NiehausstudiobigJeannine Niehaus is one of my favorite ceramic artists. At her Santa Cruz, California workshop, Jeannine produces a range of Japanese-inspired vases, plates, bowls, and other pieces using stoneware, porcelain and raku materials/techniques. Her work is a perfect accompaniment to A&C interior architecture, as some of her repeating motifs - wisteria, narcissus, bamboo, iris, eucalyptus, gingko, etc - are patterns embraced by the founders of the various Craftsman movements as well, and have made their way into her work via her intense study of Art Nouveau decoration ahd the floral decoration traditions of China and Japan. Jeannine has been a professional potter for almost thirty years, and began her career not long after receiving her BA in art from San Jose State in the early '70s. Her work is sold almost solely at juried crafts shows throughout California, as she prefers having direct contact with those who purchase her work.

She'll be showing at a number of shows throughout 2005, and if you're anywhere near one, I urge you to stop by and see her work.

  • May 14 & 15, 2005: Clay in Courtyard, Soquel CA
  • June 11 & 12, 2005: Live Oak Park, Berkeley CA
  • August 10 & 11, 2005: American Craft Council wholesale show, Ft. Mason, San Francisco CA
  • August 12 & 14, 2005: American Craft Council retail show, Ft. Mason, San Francisco CA
  • Throughout September, Jeannine will be traveling and studying throughout Japan, but will return soon after for a few more shows...
  • October 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 2005: Santa Cruz County open studios - Jeannine's studio will be open for sales & demos
  • November 2005: a gallery show in Gualala, CA, date & location TBA
  • December 2005: Christmas shows, dates & locations TBA

For more information or specific show dates and locations, email Jeannine. Also, please see the pictures of her work that I'm adding today to our ceramics photo album.


Object Fetish: Craigslist, May 2005

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I love to trawl Craigslist.org for neat bits and pieces, although most of what I come up with is junk - all-MDF made-in-China "authentic Mission oak" entertainment centers and the like. However, in between that stuff are items of note, looking for loving homes; here's what I've found this morning:

  • an attractive 1-drawer telephone table in San Francisco
  • a Barber Bros. armchair, also in San Francisco
  • a tiled A&C/nouveau washstand in Berkeley
  • a Berkeley Mills dining set in Marin
  • a restored quarter-sawn white oak settle in San Francisco
  • an interestingly-framed mirror in San Francisco
  • doorknobs in Seattle
  • a rebuilt Mission pendulum wall clock in Seattle
  • a couple of good looking Couristan rugs in Seattle
  • a Globe Wernicke stacking bookcase in Seattle
  • a very pretty sideboard with mirror, also in Seattle
  • a relatively new-looking Morris rocker in Los Angeles
  • a set of interesting hanging table lamps in Minneapolis
  • a tiger oak piano, also in Minneapolis
  • a rocking chair in Atlanta
  • another, similar chair in San Diego
  • an intricate Nouveau hall stand in San Diego
  • a pretty high-grain golden oak roll-top desk in Manhattan