Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Europeans Can Really Do a Library.

I frequently get emails from this online art source, Zatista, and I'm always impressed by the diversity of their offerings.

Today the email featured, among other pieces, this striking image of a rococo library.  I had to find out more.

Bibliotecha di Admont, by Massimo Listri, photograph, 40"H x 48"W
Thinking it must be Italian, I googled "Bibliotecha di Admont" and came up with the Itialian wikipedia page describing the history of this stunning library (and providing the images below.)  It is actually located in Austria in a Benedictine abbey.  (Evidently, I was misled by the Italian name of the photographer.)  Located at the foot of the mountains in Gesause National Park, the name derives from the latin "ad montes", or "at the mountains." 

Admont Abbey Exterior Building Shot
The library was completed in 1776, while the abbey itself was founded in 1074. Despite a massive fire which damaged most of the Abbey in 1865, the library remained untouched.  It was somewhat neglected and fell into disrepair during WWII with a Nazi occupation of the monastery, but underwent a huge EU-funded restoration recently that restored it to its former glory.  It now holds approximately 180,000 works including 1400 manuscripts and 530 incunabula.

The library's ceiling is comprised of seven domes with trompe l'oeil frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte depicting allegorical representations of art and science.

Low-res shot of library from the official site
Here is a less atmospheric daytime view of the library.  You can see a little more detail, but it doesn't grab me the way the more darker, more moody photo did.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Successful Sheffield Garden Walk 2011

Our garden is so tucked away we had to add an extra sign because people always miss it otherwise!
Thanks to everyone who came through our patio on the Sheffield Garden Walk.  We enjoyed meeting what felt like hundreds of visitors over the past two days from all over the country and beyond.  Many people complimented us on the serene, oasis-like environment we've created in a quite small space.  Some visitors even said it was their favorite garden they saw!

A closeup of our water feature
Our corner water feature/fountain garnered a lot of attention.  Many visitors took photos of our little stone fountain.  While we can't claim credit for creating it, we enjoy the sound of the trickling brook and wish we could thank the prior owners for installing it.  The upkeep is very minimal, merely requiring emptying the hose and storing the pump for winter.  I think one reason people react to it so much is that it they think it is simple enough to accomplish themselves in their own backyard.

I posted a while ago about the furnishings we selected including an all-weather sofa and chair, two ceramic garden stools, and a dining table and four chairs.  I'm glad to say they've all been holding up very well even though we keep them outdoors all winter (covered up.)

If you want help making the most of your small (or large!) garden or patio, contact me at!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Make Your Boring Carpet Awesome!

I found the coolest place today.  I don't know why nobody thought of doing this before, unless it's just that nobody could come up with the correct formulation.  It's called Vecco, and it will revolutionize boring wall-to-wall carpet!  The company/product is owned by SC Johnson, and their first store/studio is right here in Chicago at 912 W. Armitage.

Here's a video view of the studio:

Basically, Vecco offers a DIY template system for spraying designs, ranging from whimsical to more mundane, onto your carpet in a huge range of colors and styles.  And since you're doing it yourself, you choose the arrangement/placement of the designs and you pick the colors.  There were tons of inspirational samples in the store and they even have a teaching area where they'll offer classes for kids and grownups to learn how it works and get the creative juices flowing.

The best parts: it's and economical way to add a lot of unique character to your boring carpet, and you can easily correct mistakes prior to spraying the sealant just by using a paper towel and/or vacuum.  The more colors and templates you use, the higher the cost.  But you can definitely keep it simple and still create a real wow factor.  Look at the round rug with the "pie pieces" on the left below - it was only done with masking tape.  It uses a lot of colors, but no templates.

The texture of the stained areas starts off a little crunchy immediately after it's applied, but after repeated vacuuming, it gets virtually undetectable.

Here are some samples hanging in the studio:

Here are some small rugs that a group of kids (right) and parents (left) made in the studio (this should be rotated 90 degrees cc but for whatever reason it refused to upload that way.):

Here is a piece that was in progress using the "gingko" template:

They sent me home with a sample kit and a couple templates.  I can't wait to see what I end up creating!