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West Austin Studio Tour: Pieces for our Personal Museum

26 Apr

The West Austin Studio Tour starts this weekend, and it’s a must-do.  We went last year and could have started our own personal museum with all the delicious stuff we found*; and we only made it through about a quarter of it!  Of course there is a lot of great decorative art, but since we’re furniture buffs I figured we’d focus on stops where you can see items you can sit upon without getting beaten by the artist.

Reworks Austin reclaimed console

One of my favorite pieces from Reworks.

Our first stop will be the Reworks studio to visit our friends Chotsie and Willem. These two are New Orleans transplants who came to Austin after Katrina; their work is inspired by the amazing architecture of the city, and often includes pieces reclaimed from buildings .  I was over there earlier this week and got some snaps of some of their pieces; you’ll soon be able to find it on the Market. Storefront is up!

*Note that when we do start a museum, we’ll also start the Erichope Industries Center For Kids Who Can’t Draw Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

Here’s are some of the stops we’re hoping to make over the next 2 weekends, the numbers are page numbers from the catalog. Let us know if we’ve missed any other great finds! (Please excuse the ugly layout, I’ve spent hours trying to make the pictures line up and they just won’t.)

UPDATE: Had a ton of fun on Saturday, can’t wait to go back this weekend!  Our favorites so far were at the “yard” at 7th street, stops 128, 129, 130.  See some pics on Pinterest!

Blacksmith Industries Austin

56 – Blacksmith Studios

Aaris Studio Austin

57 – Aaris Studios

Bald Man Mod Austin

61 – Bald Man Mod

Reclaimed  Austin coffee table

82B – Reclaimed Austin

Jobe Fabrications Austin

145B – Jobe Fabrications

Green Summit Studios Austin

124 – Green Summit Studios

Hemza Designs Austin

130 – Hemza Designs

John Parkinson Furniture Austin

175C – John Parkinson Furniture
These chairs are killing me…

The Next Generation

21 Sep

I spent a lovely Friday afternoon recently with upholsterer (there must be a better name for this; Stuffing Stylist? Staple-gun Artist?  I’ll keep thinking) Emily Coleman and her mentor, Michael Thurman.  Emily had posted a few things on the Market and I was intrigued with her work, so I wrangled an invitation to visit.

Emily at work

Emily at work.

Michael has known Emily since she was born.  Emily’s mother, Charyl Coleman of CC Designs is an Austin interior designer who has worked with Michael as her upholsterer for over twenty years.

Emily started UT as an art student, but through a series of events ended up leaving school after a year or two.  She loved art, but wasn’t sure classes were the best way to express herself.  As she was casting about for a more concrete direction, she learned through her mother that another young woman was apprenticing for Michael. Emily flew in to a jealous rage.  Well, ok, not really. But she did ask if she could become an apprentice too.

Inspiration pile

The Inspiration Pile

The pair spends most days out in Michael’s studio in Garfield.  For a tactile, creative and slightly messy person like myself, it was heaven.  I loved the “inspiration pile” of found objects, fabric and stuffing that filled about a quarter of the room. Several of the pieces in the pile were acquired when Michael simply knocked on the door of a strange house and asked to buy the dilapidated chair sitting on the front porch. If Michael had a different calling, he may have been one of those guys with 20 rescue dogs running around. Instead he rescues furniture.

There were some great stories about the things found in furniture he’s re-doing: diamond jewelry, revealing photos of the clients (awkward…), and once even a letter describing the journey the piece had taken from Italy to Galveston and then on to Chicago.

While Michael acts as “elder statesman”, he says that Emily brings the artist’s eye to their projects, finding the perfect fabric to enhance each piece and adding unique touches that finish it off perfectly. Take this amazing Duncan-Phyffe sofa that she totally rejuvenated with the bold floral – no beige brocade here.

Duncan-Phyffe sofa

Bam! That’s all I have to say.

It’s great to see a new generation taking on a traditional craft.  See some of thier work on Red Chair Market below and on Emily’s blog.

1920’s Sofa

Refinished Aluminum Chair 

Tub Chair

Cowboy Chair 

Stay tuned for advice from the pair on picking the right piece for refinishing (follow our blog so you don’t miss it!).

P.S. A few fun facts about Michael:

  • He created a prop for the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre where the actor’s legs could down in to a chair so they looked like they had been cut off.
  • He was involved in two remodels of the Driskill Hotel
  • He made slipcovers for Matthew McConaughey’s van

More Creative Than Me

19 Jun

We recently attended the new West Austin Studio Tour, which was a lot of fun.  The studios range from traditional galleries like Wally Workman to a duplex with paintings hung on a shed in the backyard.  It was a great reminder that creativity comes in many forms.

One of our favorite stops was the home and studio of Elizabeth Chapin, a portrait artist, in South Austin.   Her work was wonderful, very full of life and a bit of mischief.

Unfinished portrait

But it was her house that was the real gem.  It is a fantastic, slightly dilapidated old Victorian, and it was decorated with such personality I couldn’t help but feel that my own style is a bit…pedestrian.   Everything was salvaged, painted, repurposed, original and just generally cool. I honestly don’t think I’m quite cool enough to live in a house like that, I think I’d have to have at least one room that was painted beige (although I’d call it “baguette” so I wouldn’t feel quite so lame).  But I very much appreciated her style and daring.

A rescued Victorian sofa, covered with an explosion of poppies.

Not sure what this was originally, but what a great way to store produce.