Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekend Finds: Seventies' Art Textiles (What to Do!)

Good morning!

I was just talking over the cubicle fence with one of my coworkers about today being A GREAT DAY. I woke up this morning after a goodly amount of sleep, no hangover, no crippling allergies, and the bright, sunny world ahead of me. Is it a shift in solar energy? I don't know, but I'm not complaining! This weekend I got to catch up with fellow blogger/bookmaker extraordinaire Jenna over lunch at Gojo Ethiopian (LEAD ME TO YOUR LENTILS), watch a completely terrifying movie I'd been looking forward to on Amazon Instant (possible review of that later this week, if I can get unscared enough to type it out), make four full scale crazy, to-the-wall vegan meals (ICM, you are running me ragged in the kitchen), and clean my room (miracles do happen)! As for shopping...well, you can about guess how I spent my Saturday morning, which was crisscrossing Davidson County with my pappy riding shotgun, on the hunt for estate sales. I did drag home a number of strange things-- best of which?

THESE. Behold!

What are they? What AREN'T they. In the parlance of Richard from season 11 Project Runway, these wall hangings are everything. Oversized textile...uh, art...creations...? Call 'em what you will, but aren't they one of a kind and CRAZY? I immediately scooped 'em up for the office in our house, total of $11 expended for the pleasure. You know that art world saying about "I like it, but it doesn't match my sofa"? Well, rest assured, seventies' amateur artist, these pieces match my sofa (and more importantly, my lamp) but perfectly, and I love them. Remember said lamp, to the left of the photo? I bought it in Bordeaux around four years ago, and it seemed to blow up to four times the size I thought it was in the car ride back to Inglewood. WELL. It has met its match in these weird, color-matching panels from an estate sale in Hendersonville. 

The sale that yielded up the art was in a huge house, built in the mid to late seventies', waaay the frank out in the semi-country of Hendersonville. Out towards the lake out there, but high on a hill, and tucked back into a cul-de-sac of seventies' or a little later houses that were pretty expensive back in their respective days. To avoid the teeming masses of fellow salers that were fever-pitch dealing in front of the checkout section on the first floor, I hot-footed it upstairs, where I was impressed by a MASSIVE stone wall and fireplace that took up most of the pair of upstairs bedrooms. Now, everyone who's been in anyone's seventies' house is likely to have seen the average, slightly kooky, Flintstones'-esque configuration of hand-sized and au naturel stone fireplaces. A little 3D to give texture, but mostly flat, right? This one was like...the Lou Ferrigno of those fireplaces. It literally took up the entire room, was outsized proportioned to look like something in a nature reserve, or possibly a visitor's stand in Jurassic Park, and featured significant 3D of actual stones protruding from the wall. AMAZING. I found these panels leaned up against the staircase, near a bookshelf overfilled with books like You CAN Macrame! and Batik Patterns for Beginners. "Oh!" I thought, visions of the granola-y home owner as a pretty young art student with an interest in love signs and astrology. I was hoping there might be maxi-dresses to match, but found no clothes on the second floor.
What were they thinking?! You can almost see the wall in either of these pictures, after and before.
Downstairs, was I in for a surprise-- not a shadow of the seventies' remained on the main floor! The whole place was done up in that late eighties', rose pink berber carpet, pine-green velveteen drapes kind of vibe-- lots of ceramic angels in cherry wood etagères and gleaming, 80's brass chandeliers (like this one, before its brilliant DIY renaissance). I'm not trying to be hateful, because this was very popular among women of a certain age and upper-middle-class economic bracket in its time, and the dickering going on between older women over statuettes of bunnies in bonnets and porcelain roses was fierce as I tried to sidle through the crowd. It was just weird to see a house built towards a specific aesthetic (natural-wood-grain-seventies'-tree-hugger) completely re-decorated (powder puff formal elegance) and to its specific detriment. You can't change a leopard's spots that much! As most of the kitchen items weren't for sale, there weren't any pictures on the website and I didn't think to take any, but imagine the whole cook's kitchen, it was enormous, was done in French Provincial, super ornate trim, stainless steel appliances...which doesn't go with the rock wall that would have looked at home in the Rainforest Café and comprised the ENTIRE main wall of the house. So what did the lady do? She painted it! The whole wall was literally painted white as if that would somehow cast a spell of invisibility over it instead of making it the eyesore of ages. The estate sale people assiduously avoided photographing either wall, but you can see hints of it in the photos above...imagine that, stretched across a 10 foot wall. Eeek. (It looked a lot like this in its natural state, but a different overall shape)

Maybe the lady of house ended up loving the way it looked, but I couldn't help returning to the thought, "Who would buy this house now?". While the rock wall mightn't have been for everyone-- maybe someone out there is as kooky as me, but with more money, and would have loved a kind of outside-comes-inside look for their house. Update with hardwood floors, very simple, clean lines, natural looking furniture...and you have something ready for Apartment Therapy. But with the split personality between the bones of the house and its renovation (we're not talking curtains, there was some major construction in the kitchen, and the paint is not going to come out of that wall), I can't see someone with enough money to buy an expensive house in that location buying that expensive house, all its faults foretold. I think what they were going for would have worked with a BRICK fireplace (all flat) and a white wash, rather than a thick couple coats of white latex paint-- it also might have worked with a smaller fireplace (i.e. one that didn't take up 90% of the house). Ah, if wishes were fishes, right?

sourcesource, source
However! I am glad I was able to extricate these fantastic, hand-made pieces out of the house from an earlier, earthier phase of the homeowner's aesthetic life. Let's wrap this back around to my own struggles with interior design...I might just be the pot calling the kettle black!

I've been tearing my hair out over this room for what seems like a dog's age...the third bedroom of the house I live in is a kind of office slash catch all for the kooky things I bring home, and a good place to hang out when you need to watch Game of Thrones and eat kettle corn in a less formal, less please-keep-your-feet-off-the-coffee-table setting than my living room. Functionality is perfectly defined-- now, form...I can't seem to get a handle on. In 2008, when I first moved in with Kelsey as a roommate, there were both our computer desks, computers, and an entire bookshelf full of VHS tapes and movie star bios from my embarrassingly large collection. Now I have almost no VHS tapes (I can't bear to get rid of some studio system Hollywood things that aren't on DVD is it even possible that things aren't on DVD or VoD in year of our Lord 2014?), and have whittled down my books to a single, huge (admittedly full, but still, only one!) bookshelf. The room is more people-friendly than it maybe ever has been, which is what is making me so crazy! This wall used to have a huge, 1930's patchwork quilt hanging the width of it, which a friend said reminded her of a "trip shack" for its kaleidoscope of patterns and colors. While I liked the idea in theory, and it was very pretty, it was a little too much (yes, I just said "too much" for me...hard to imagine!). Now, I really like just the three art pieces here, haven't seen the other wall. It is COVERED in 1890's portraits, 50's pennants, and weird pieces in a collocation I am very fond of, but kind of makes me nervous at the same time. Too much visual input!

While I DO love how much this looks like beginning credits to Ray Bradbury Theater, it IS overwhelming!
Which brings me to my quandary-- how do you decorate a room that is essentially two long walls? I feel like one picture on that wall is about four too few...yet the horror vacui wall collage I've created might be too much for even me. I'm thinking of moving two or three other "seventies' folk art" type pieces I have in here, and maybe painting the walls back to white. Sidenote: WHAT IS IT WITH MY LATE TWENTIES' THAT I WANT TO PAINT EVERY WALL WHITE?! This is what the other wall would look like with a neutral color to let the crazy colors I love in the wall hangings, couch, and lamp really pop:

Thank you, Benjamin Moore Personal color viewer.

All right! I have gabbed on way too much this morning and need to catch up to some work, but let's get down to business! What do you think about my rock wall horror story? What would YOU do if the main feature of your house was one you simply couldn't live with (me, I'd move...what is the point of disliking your nest if you can afford a new nest)? How do you like my art pieces? What do you think about my plan to re-vamp the green room into the white room....and PLEASE let me know what you'd do about the crazy wall. While it IS beautiful, I think I need to pare it down to something more manageable in the eyeball department. I need your input!

That's all I got for you today! Have a great Monday, and I'll be back here tomorrow with more tricks and tips (and more things I bought at the sales! Don't worry, not too many :) ). Talk to you then!


  1. oh wow! i find those super cool. thanks for sharing... i'll have to keep my eye out for these. i just find them so fascinating!
    i also wanted to mention that your hairstyle and dress are very awesome too :)

    1. Thank you! I just let my locks loose whenever this's funny because I almost *always* wear a braid or a beehive to work, so when my hair is down, people are like, "WHO KNEW YOU HAD SO MUCH HAIR?" haha. I hope I can find a few more pictures like this for the other wall in that room!

  2. I love love LOVE Seventies decor/home furnishings. Everybody always talks about how "ugly" the Seventies were but to me, the colors! The macrame! The ferns! I adore it all. My dream home would be straight out of Better Homes & Gardens circa 1978 and no f*cks would be given. :D

    1. AMEN, SISTER! And to be sitting in the middle of that BHG 1978 paradise in a black, off the shoulder, knife-pleated-skirt disco dress, with big strappy gold ol' platforms, reading the latest scoop on Cybill Shepard in Cosmo? PERFECTION. ((as I daydream about this for the rest of the day)) Thanks for the support!

  3. Very Awesome-love it. But for us touchy feely people I am interested in more of a description-the flower one looks needlepoint, the highest one looks like sand art and the one below that looks like yarn/latch work-what ever they are comprised of-ITS BEAUTIFUL-LOVE IT.
    BTW-love your hair & fab dress!!!

    1. It's funny, they're all textiles! I can't figure out if she embroidered or sewed or how she made these strange shapes, but each of them is made of fabric, yarn, and thread from what I can tell. I only wish the lady had made like four more so the room would be even (selfish me, haha!!). Thanks about my hair and dress! I need to wear my hair down more often, I like how it looks in this picture!



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