The tulip garden in Elizabeth Park is what pulled me out of bed early Saturday… a peaceful morning taking photographs.
I learned of the scandalous Diderot Encyclopedia and it’s chief editor, Denis Diderot, shortly after I launched The Blue Twig. After purchasing an astronomy engraving at an antique paper show, I rushed home to research the 260 year old print. Turns out it was one of 3-4 thousand engravings included in the Diderot Encyclopedia. The discovery of Mr. Diderot’s curious life and influential encyclopedia is exactly what I love most about my job… the juicy stories behind each piece of antique paper that I find. Since that first Diderot purchase, I’ve unearthed more engravings from the encyclopedia. I think of Mr. Diderot and his notorious publication every time I glance at any one of them.
Here’s his story…
Denis Diderot was born to Didier and Angelique Diderot on October 5th, 1713 in Langres, France. His dad was a well known master cutler (made his own cutting tools) but little is know about his mother. From an early age, Denis was considered brilliant and was educated by Jesuits throughout his youth. At the age of 13, he was “tonsured” which meant his head was shaved as a sign of religious devotion. His parents and teachers were certain this kid was destined for a ecclesiastical career. It wasn’t until Denis left home to study in Paris that his views on religion began to shift. After receiving a masters in philosophy, Denis resisted family pressure to join the priesthood or practice law – his true passions were language, literature and philosophy.
During his 20s and into his 30s, Diderot threw himself into the intellectual and bohemian scene in Paris. He became a coffeehouse regular, befriending writers and philosophers (including Jean-Jacques Rousseau) and squeaked by financially with tutoring wealthy children, translating books and writing sermons for missionaries. His father wasn’t happy with his lifestyle, including his reputation for “chasing women”. Around this time, Denis’s sister died. She had been a nun and Denis was convinced she died of being overworked. The Diderot family knew something about loss – only 3 of their 7 children made it into adulthood. After losing his sister, Denis began to distance himself from his Roman Catholic roots, embraced deism and, eventually, atheism.
In his late 20s, he fell for Antoinette Champion and secretly married her in 1943 as his dad, once again, disapproved. He may have thought Antoinette was beneath his son as her father sold fabric for a living. Denis and Antoinette had three children but only their daughter, Angelique, survived. Diderot remained close with his daughter throughout his life but his marriage went south. He went back to “chasing women”.
I just added some unusual botanical prints to my online collection and have spring on my mind. Thought I’d share some of my favorites…
I love flannel pajamas, hot water with sliced lemon, jeans, a glass of red wine by the fire and snow storms (the kind where you don’t lose power). As a homebody, I’m a big fan of fall AND winter. When the air turns crisp, I crave switching things up on the home decor front to reflect the coming season. Here are some of my favorite ways of doing that (with fall accents that I’m in love with…)
Throw a few branches into a vase – beautiful & doesn’t cost a cent.
For a similar vase check out Kalos Design Store
Sip your tea from a beautiful mug that feels good in your hands.
DIY something simple & modern.
Indulge yourself with an object you love for the coffee table – Eames Black Bird.
Keep hot water at the ready all day long – SMEG kettle (amazing color options).
The Blue Twig’s photography collection is now featured at an exhibit at The Noah Webster House in West Hartford. The exhibit, The Town: Refocused, includes unique photos of the architecture and landmarks that makes West Hartford and the surrounding area such a fantastic place to live. For more information… Exhibit Article
The exhibit will run through January 2017
The Noah Webster House: 227 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT.
Spring has me thinking about my favorite flea markets, antique shows and second hand stores in New England (mostly Connecticut). Here’s a list of several that I love along with some of my finds from each.
Treasures – Old Lyme, Connecticut
Treasures is by far one of my favorite spots for antique and vintage home decor. I’ve also found amazing jewelry there.
The iron bench was a splurge but it brings me joy every time I look at it.
This vintage bust is part of a pair that hang out on our living room bookshelf. Also from Treasures.
Antiques on the Farmington – Collinsville, Connecticut
Located in the historic Collins Axe Factory, this antiques co-op has two floors and is very fun to poke around in. Carve out time for lunch in Collinsville. It’s beautiful.
Love this stone circle. It was used for sharpening tools – I scored two of them at the old red factory.
Three Ladies Antiques – West Hartford, Connecticut
On nice days, Amy and Eddie arrange inventory outside in front of their shop. I spotted the tufted chair below and pulled over. Had it reupholstered in velvet fabric from Osgood Textile in Springfield, MA.
This gold leaf Stangl dish is also from Three Ladies.
The Front Door Project is a very cool blog that features historical homes, their quirky doors and the stories attached to them. I was a fan long before I met the brains behind it all, Deb Cohen. Now that I know Deb, I like The Front Door Project even more.I was instantly drawn to the blog for 4 reasons… 1. The beautiful photographs. 2. The interesting stories entangled with the featured homes and communities. 3. Deb’s writing. She’s that intelligent writer who communicates in a non-fussy way. It’s as if she simply gave you a call to share something she’s jazzed up about. 4. A specific niche. Deb has created a clear cut focus for her blog that many bloggers/entrepreneurs (including myself) struggle to do – she doesn’t try to be everything to everyone. Take a look…
The Beautiful Photographs
The Interesting Stories
Sarah Whitman Hooker House, West Hartford, CT. – Built c. 1715
Did you know the owners of this home allowed their slave, Bristow, to buy his freedom in 1775 for 60 pounds? This was decades before the onset of the abolitionist movement. P.S. The newest middle school in town is named after Bristow.
I’ve been on the prowl for a few understated gray pillows and found some favorites on Etsy. If you’re into bold colors, don’t give up on this post! All of these sources have colorful options, as well. Take a look at these gray beauties…
Thought I’d share some tips for hanging a wall gallery as the task can be daunting. It involves many steps – picking out the art and frames, positioning the pieces, measuring, nailing, standing back and (sometimes) realizing you don’t love the arrangement and starting over. With that said, there’s nothing like walking into your home and coming face to face with a collection of artwork or photographs that bring you joy. You can do it. I promise.
Here are some dynamite art groupings that work for a reason.
via Elle Decoration
Counterbalance by placing art with the most visual weight in opposite corners of your gallery. The placement of the three black prints above help anchor the collection. The choice of only two colored frames (blond and black) in varying sizes also adds to a nice visual balance that’s not too busy.
Try making the most prominent piece in your collection center stage. Start by hanging this piece first in the middle of the wall (eye level) and move outward. When looking at the wall above (one of my favorites), you’ll notice your eye focuses on the large black painting first. Notice that the two other pieces with significant visual weight are positioned at opposite corners of the larger painting. This configuration creates an amazing visual balance.
Forget frames and throw some plates (or other objects) on your wall. I love the asymmetry of the collection above. Although the plates are of different colors/sizes and are arranged in no sort of logical order, the arrangement works because the shape and finish of the ceramics are the same. The colors complement each other, as well.
Above, the subject of the art is the steady variable that ties the wall gallery together. Even though the ferns are of different color, shape and size, the collection makes sense. If your collection of art is super eclectic, choose similar frames to make the grouping look cohesive. Without some sort of common thread such as, color, theme or frame style, you run the risk of creating a wall gallery that feels disjointed and stressful to the eye.