Most of you are aware of the talented actress Andie McDowell. She is a dark haired beauty from Asheville, North Carolina. What you may not know about her is that she lived in the most beautiful home in Biltmore Forest in Asheville. The interiors of the home were mostly of arts and crafts design influenced by the Roycroft movement at about the turn of the century.
So you’re probably wondering why I’ve dropped off the face of the map for the past few weeks. I was looking forward to sharing with you all of the great photos and info from my trip to Victoria, and those will be coming, but I’ve entered into a very busy couple of months with work and at the same time there is a lot going on with the artistic part of my life.
When I joined the New West Artists group a couple of weeks ago I found out that all members were invited to participate in a showing. It’s a 3 day event, June 7-9 called Art Squared which will be held at the Network Hub at the River Market, New Westminster Quay. All paintings are 12″ x 12″ and selling for $100. I can submit anywhere from 1-10 paintings and always being an overachiever, I’ve decided to get closer to the 10. But that means I’ve been painting instead of spending time blogging and until May 31, the final entry date, it is likely that postings will be very sporadic.
I have never been much of an outdoors person but all of that has changed in the past few weeks. The weather has been exceptionally beautiful here in the lower mainland and being outside and painting is so inspiring. Every day I wake up and even though I have to head to work I am keeping my eye on the weather all day to see if there is the possibility that I can spend a bit of time painting in the park.
Any time I have spent on the computer has been working on the set up of two websites–one is for my fine art at www.susanlgreigfineart.com . It is a work in progress because at the moment I have more paintings on the go than finished. Check back over the next few days to see it as it changes. The other site is for a new business venture that I’m not quite ready to reveal. Suffice to say it combines my two loves – Arts and Crafts design and painting. It’s not imperative that the second one is completed by the June 7 event but it would be nice as I’ll be meeting a lot of people. I have also been revising my original www.susanlgreig.com website to reflect the change from writer and graphic design to writer and fine art painter.
If you happen to live in the area or happen to be in New Westminster on June 7, 8 or 9th I hope you’ll visit the Network Hub and the New Westminster Quay and come to see Art² and my finished paintings in person. I’ll keep you updated.
It’s a bargain-hunters’ Shangri-La, and I will attend every year for the rest of my life—but not for the bargains.
Every May the Queen’s Park area of New Westminster residents host a community garage sale and it’s one of the events that I really look forward to, but it’s probably not for the reasons you’d think.
Yes, you can get some absolutely fabulous bargains and it’s no secret that I love to get a deal. It’s also an event that builds community because it’s a good excuse to chew the cud with your neighbours, and everyone ends up buying some sort of junk from each other. I’ve picked up lots of things for our Arts & Crafts bungalow including vintage framed prints, a craftsman-style front porch lamp, and even a wooden door for my art studio. In fact, it was during this annual sale that I bought one of my most prized possessions–my fireplace surround. I love that I know which house it came from and the connection it gives me to the heritage of my city. So yes, great deals, neighbourliness, the treasure exchange, and the proverbial “hunt” for a great deal are all reasons to shop at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale.
But even if I was never to buy another thing, I will always attend. This sale will always be close to my heart because each year it is held in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
Back in 1995, Frank Wright, a local realtor, decided to sponsor the Queen’s Park Garage Sale in support of the then-under construction and first free-standing children’s hospice in North America. The doors opened that year in November. And only two days after their opening, my husband and I and our two daughters walked through the shining new front doors for our first stay there. In 1994 our oldest daughter, Brenna, was diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare, degenerative neurological disease. During the next few years after our inaugural visit we received respite at the hospice and, later, palliative and bereavement care there.
Despite what you might think, the hospice is a place full of life–children in wheelchairs zooming around, siblings playing video games with the occasional visiting hockey player and families enjoying time and relaxation together. But children do die there: Brenna passed away at our “home away from home” on the last day of summer, September 21, 1997. The funds raised by the Queen’s Park Garage Sale from 1995 to 1998 directly supported our family while we used Canuck Place.
Another New Westminster family, who live just a few blocks from us in Glenbrook North, needed Canuck Place too when their younger daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Says her mom, “Madison passed away in January 2004 at Canuck Place. And we are forever grateful for the care she received.”
The Queen’s Park Garage Sales continued and the funds raised during that time directly helped and supported their family. Then a few years ago, we found out that another young boy living in the Queen’s Park area also received palliative care and subsequently passed away at Canuck Place. Once again, this family was helped in their time of need by the community through the dollars donated during the Queen’s Park Garage Sale. Families receive all the services provided (accommodation, respite, cooked meals, psychological & emotional support, etc.) at no charge, a blessing at such a vulnerable time in a family’s life.
Now the tradition continues. On the Saturday of the Mother’s Day weekend, May 11, people from all over the Lower Mainland will crowd the streets of Queen’s Park for the 18th annual sale. It starts at 9:00am and continues until 4:00pm.
Some are there for the deals; others come to get a glimpse and walk around one of the area’s favourite heritage neighbourhoods. New Westminster—“The Royal City”–and once our provincial capital, is a great place to view Victorian and Arts & Crafts era heritage homes and bungalows.
The families who host the sales do so for many reasons. One woman told me it’s a way to clear out her house each year and she knows the funds she donates will be going to a good cause. Another told me she does it because she never wants to take her children’s health for granted.
But it’s the children who touch my heart the most–the kids with the cookie or lemonade stands and a big sign that says “All funds go to Canuck Place” or “In support of Canukc [sic] Place.” Over the years parents have told me they encourage their children to participate because it teaches them about civic responsibility and how giving back to their community and to a facility like Canuck Place is important. It’s children helping children.
One final reason why I will never miss the neighbourhood garage sale? It’s my opportunity to thank garage sale participants. Sometimes it’s awkward because people don’t know what to say when I tell them who I am and why I’m thankful for their support. But that human connection is always worth the effort because it is a concrete way to express the great appreciation and esteem held in my family’s hearts for what the people of Queen’s Park have done for us and others in our time of profound distress and need.
Now I have the opportunity to say thank you more publicly. I also want to thank Frank Wright for the years he sponsored the event and now Dave Vallee and his team who have taken up the cause. If you are a participant in the sale, thank you from my heart to yours, for cleaning out your house and supporting the families who use Canuck Place. If you live in the Lower Mainland and have purchased or intend to purchase items at the sale, thank you too.
On that note, for those who plan to attend this year–please spend, spend, spend! How often do you get to do something so entertaining and fun and be certain that the funds donated really do make a difference in people’s lives?
Canuck Place has made it possible for many families like mine to go through the loss of a child and come out the other side mentally and emotionally healthy. For the many families who have benefited from your support through the Queen’s Park Garage Sale, that old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” has never been more true or carried such deep meaning.
Roycroft Motto: Nothing is of any value excepting that which you create for yourself, and no joy is joy save as it is the joy of self-expression.
1909 Roycroft Motto Catalogue; Digitally enhanced scan
My trip to Victoria was absolutely wonderful. A highlight was meeting with the owners of the Waterglass Studios and fellow blogger, Hostess of the Humble Bungalow, to talk about our love of all things Arts and Crafts. I’ll be sharing a tour of Suzanne and Patrick’s home and shop as well as the home of their good friends who I would venture to say have one of the best collections of Arts and Crafts movement pieces in BC.
You know those times when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them all your life? That’s why visiting with master craftsman Wil van der Pijl and his wife was such a great pleasure. It was also a wonderful opportunity to see his stunning wood motto plaques as well as all of the other home furnishings and items he has handcrafted.
Our friends treated us royally over the three days to fabulous food including crepes with whipped cream and fruit for breakfast, a lovely steak barbeque and our favorite type of eating on Saturday, antipasti and wine. They also introduced us to Chocolate Shop Red Wine for dessert–and yes, I thought they were crazy and just couldn’t believe that a wine could taste like chocolate. There is no other way to describe it except heavenly….rich, dark chocolate tones and cherry bursting onto your tongue and palate. Our friends purchased it in the US and brought it home but we are trying to find out if it is available for purchase somewhere here in the Lower Mainland. They also treated us to an hour of kite flying. They found out that flying a kite was one of my bucket list items when they visited last time and decided to surprise me. Once my kite was up in the air I couldn’t stop laughing and it really did make me feel like a kid again.
Then we headed off to the Royal BC Museum for a special evening, The Museum Amplification project. This immersive, performative installation featured 10 groups/artists who performed while we were able to wander freely through the exhibits. It was a challenge as my hip was very sore and we didn’t get around to seeing everything but spoken word poet Jeremy Loveday on the Discovery Ship was my favorite with one of his last poems of the evening entitled, I Think of the Children. It touched me quite deeply and has remained with me since.
I smiled when he referred to “snot nosed wonders” as he swiped his hand under his nose in the child-like gesture, I thought of my brother when he referred to “worm cutters” and my daughter with the words, “kindergarten chemists stirring up everything in their lunch kits”. In one line he talked about how each morning children awake, ”further from God and closer to the forgetful strength of adult-hood” and I couldn’t help but think of how children lose their innocence, especially in this day and age full of violence-visions of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon flickered quickly through my mind. The last few lines of his poems spoke directly to my heart, ”child, hold on to your wonderment” and “let the dandelions of your heart grow wild.” It is those final words that have stuck and caused me to deepen my commitment to pursuing my dream of painting fine art. I enjoyed all of Jeremy’s poems and even though this was my first experience with performance poetry something tells me it won’t be the last.
Since the weekend was a “retreat” I spent a goodly part painting. There is nothing that quiets my soul and forces me to take care and be present more than putting a brush to canvas. Before heading to Victoria I took at big step and joined the New West Artists group and that means I can participate in an upcoming showing called Art Squared 2013 to be held at the Network Hub in New Westminster’s River Market from June 7 – 9. I have completed two canvases and plan on finishing a few more. On June 6, New West Artists group is also hosting Visual Verse 2013 where artists and poets are matched up–after being introduced to Jeremy’s poetry, it is definitely an event I need to attend.
The Roycroft motto above just seemed so appropriate and resonated with me today because of the joy of self-expression that characterized my entire weekend in Victoria.
One of the best places in BC to check out Arts and Crafts homes is Victoria and I’m really excited that Bruce and I have decided to make a trip there this weekend. We’re fortunate we have a built in dog sitter as my father lives with us so it makes it possible for us to escape at short notice.
Good friends need help with their renovations so Bruce wants to help with that and I’ve decided to have something of a retreat. I’m going to spend a portion of each day painting but I’ve got some treats in store that fuel my passion for the Arts & Crafts movement & architecture. We’re going to be visiting with kindred spirit craftsman Wil van der Pijl and his wife and I’m hoping to visit Waterglass studios as well. Then of course, there will be a thrift store stop or too and driving around snapping photos of houses. If there is any place specific I should be checking out as well please leave a comment! I cannot wait to share the trip with you.
The other day when looking on Craigslist as I always do I came across a lovely antique print and best of all it was located right here in New Westminster. We went to see it and I purchased it immediately. Normally I always make offers but I was so in love with it that I didn’t quibble on the $25 price tag-really the antique wooden frame would be worth that.
When I got it home I had a good look at it and what I thought was a print may be an original watercolour or a print that someone has touched up with paint. Quite a number of the leaves on the trees and other areas of the print show shiny splotches of paint. I don’t know if I will actually take the back off and examine it, although I suppose that’s always a good thing to do in case some rich somebody owned it and stashed thousands of dollars in it. The point is I LOVE the birch trees and the landscape-we have birch trees in our front yard and the path reminds me of Burnaby’s Fraser Foreshore park so it’s really only a matter of finding where to hang it so I can enjoy its loveliness all of the time.
Here’s a sampling of some of the other Arts & Crafts era items that I found that would suit a Craftsman style bungalow – something for every budget. Starting at the top (most expensive)…
Let me be clear and put out this disclaimer and sorry if this sounds a bit militant but one can never be to careful: I don’t know the people who are selling these items and I don’t know anything about them or the items so cannot answer questions. I will send a courtesy email to let the sellers know their item has been posted on my blog. The information provided on my blog is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to accuracy, authentication, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on these Craigslist postings and will not be liable for any injuries or damages arising if you choose to contact the sellers or purchase from them. I’m not recommending or endorsing them and all information is provided on an as-is basis. Buyer beware.
You may have noticed that several of my Tile Tuesday postings have had links to Arts and Crafts tiles that have been available for purchase by a collector named Bungalow Bill, located in New Jersey. His website at www.bungalowbill.com explains that he has been a collector of 20th Century objects for over 15 years and is passionate about their use in the modern interior. Some of his antique tiles can be found in the books Encyclopedia of American Art Tile, 1000 Tiles and Flint Faience A-Z. He has also loaned them for the museum exhibits “American Art Tile” at Craftsman Farms, and “Machinery Can’t Make Art: The Pottery and Tiles of Henry Chapman Mercer,” at the James A. Michener Art Museum.
Bill has very generously agreed to participate in a blog interview. Please click on the photos of the tiles to be taken to his website.
What started you on your path of collecting? And why tiles?
Necessity. I inherited my modest bungalow in my mid 20’s and needed to furnish it inexpensively. A friend suggested that auctions would be a good place to buy well made furniture at a low price. I bought a set of dining chairs that the auctioneer called “Stickley”. I didn’t know what Stickley was but I knew I liked it so I went to the library and did some research. I became enamored of the Arts and Crafts movement and began filling my house with furniture and ceramics.
Then one day, at an auction in NYC, I bought my first tile. It was 9” with a grid pattern in a raised design with diamond shapes interspersed throughout the field. I thought it had a wonderful graphic image. I put it on an easel to display then I began seeking out tiles. I found them to be great pieces of art, so varied in designs and styles that it always kept me interested and learning from every piece I acquired.
Since the focus of my blog is the Arts and Crafts movement, philosophy and era can you tell me what is the most unusual or unique Arts and Crafts Tile you have found?
Years ago I bought a tile panel from a man who sold old books. It was an image of a Native American and about 26 inches square. I knew it was made by the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Pennsylvania, but was unsure if it was old or a modern copy. The Pottery had become a working museum and makes new tiles based on the old designs. I contacted the curator, brought the panel to the museum and found out that it was indeed old. He showed me the original plaster mold from which it was made. After more research he found an old photograph with my panel. It was used as a display piece in the tile work’s showroom since the 1920’s. When the business closed in the 1960’s this panel, along with everything else was sold off to the general public. The book seller’s family, who lived close to the Pottery must have purchased it and stored it in their barn until the man took it out to sell at a show. I feel privileged to own an important piece of history.
What is your all-time favorite Arts and Crafts tile and why?
There are so many tiles that are my favorite! I’ll have to narrow it down to my favorite tile panel from my favorite tile manufacturer, the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company. Mueller was based in New Jersey, my home state. Their tiles can be difficult to identify for the casual seller. They used about 4 different clay bodies and the tiles were rarely marked. In my opinion the glazes are as beautiful as Grueby. This panel shows garden gnomes using rabbits to pull a plow in their miniature garden. I mean, who can’t love that?
Mueller Mosaic Tile Company, Farming gnomes and rabbits
Do you have any unusual or entertaining stories about how you found/purchased a tile?
When I was a new collector I was scouring the antique stores at the Jersey Shore. I entered into one shop and found a few sets of Grueby tiles sitting around the shop. I struck up a conversation with the owner and after a while he said “If you like tiles let me show you something not many people get to see”. He led me down to the basement to a room was filled with shelves. Each shelf was filled with original crates filled with Grueby tiles. After Grueby went bankrupt in 1919 the company was purchased by the Pardee Tile Company in Perth Amboy, New Jersey (near where this store was located). They continued to make Grueby tiles in their New Jersey plant using the original Grueby glazes. This man was lucky enough to buy an entire warehouse filled with glazed and unglazed tiles. He pointed to one side and told me I can look at those, but they weren’t for sale. The other crates I was free to pick out what I wanted to buy. I fell in love with a huge unglazed tile of birds that wasn’t for sale. I spent over 3 hours down there. When confronted with too many options it’s so difficult to pick out the perfect $20 geometric tiles. I climbed up the stairs covered in 60 years of dust and grime and made my purchase totaling about $200. I’ll always remember how patient the shop owner was with me. I’ll also remember what a tough businessman he was too. He wouldn’t sell that bird tile. Years later that tile was sent to auction and I was finally able to buy it.
Grueby birds, unglazed
Do you have any advice for collectors who are just starting out or on a budget?
Buy what you love and you will never be unhappy with your purchase. Buy some books and learn about the different tile companies and what they produced. Train your eye to see what is quality work and what is not and don’t be afraid to buy something good that is unmarked. You and the seller may not know who made it now but someday you might just figure it out. Find someone you trust to buy from. They not only want your business once, they want you as a returning customer. They can guide you on your way and find things that fit your taste.
Thank you so much for the interview Bill and for writing so passionately and entertainingly about your tiles. You’re not just a tile collector but a story-teller too. You are absolutely right about the tile with the garden gnomes using rabbits to plow their garden–who couldn’t love that?
Check out more tiles by visiting Bungalow Bill’s website.