Friday Favorites 1/20/2012

January 20, 2012

Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief
Along with the opening of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum‘s Renzo Piano–designed new wing (more about that on Monday from our managing editor, Debbie Hagan) comes publication of the first complete catalogue of the institution’s Italian furniture holdings. Florentine furniture expert Fausto Calderai and former Gardner curator Alan Chong have produced Furnishing the Museum: The Italian Furniture in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a 340-page hardcover tome detailing this generally gorgeous but hitherto less-celebrated aspect of the collections at Fenway Court.

One highlight: A set of armchairs in gilded and painted wood, made in the 1760s for the Palazzo Borghese in Rome, now located in the museum’s Titian Room.

Photos courtesy of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Or perhaps you’ll enjoy this circa-1700 scrivania, or writing desk, from the newly-restored Tapestry Room

The brand-new catalogue is available in the brand-new museum store in the brand-new wing–a further incentive, if such be needed, to visit soon.

Cheryl Katz, Contributing Editor
“Let’s have a Belmont day,†my friend Nora, a resident of this charming town a few miles west of Boston, responded when I mentioned that I had nothing planned for Saturday. My husband, Jeffrey, would be in Pittsburgh visiting his dad; my son, Oliver, back at school after a holiday break; and my daughter, Fanny, working. I wasn’t entertaining any houseguests or worried about any pressing commitments–save for this blog–so I accepted the invitation without hesitation or guilt.

Belmont, home to such luminaries as authors Sebastian Junger and Tom Perrotta, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, also boasts a town center chock-a-block full of restaurants and retail shops, two tony private schools and Mass Audubon’s nature center and trail walk, Habitat.

One of the stops Nora had in mind for our Belmont day was the recently opened Artefact, a home and garden shop at 1000 Pleasant Street. Slightly off the beaten path, Artefact, owned by sisters Sue and Maureen Walsh, is housed in what was once a Dodge dealership and still shares space with automotive stores and repair shops.

The careful, adaptive reuse of the building by owners Paul and Adam Tocci is an appropriate setting for the shop, which features sustainable furniture from Verellen, unique lighting fixtures and a host of accessories, both locally and globally sourced, for the home and garden.

Handmade in Peru, a collection of microwave safe dinnerware from Montes Doggett

A collection of soaps and lotions from Portugal

An assortment of glass containers look great in a group

Paula M. Bodah, Senior Editor
I should have paid more attention to that origami kit I had when I was a kid. Once I’d made a couple of cranes, maybe a frog, by folding up little squares of brightly colored paper, I thought I’d pretty much plumbed the depths of origami.

Not so, I realized when I saw the sculptures Benjamin John Coleman creates at Origami Bonsai, his Pawtucket, Rhode Island studio.

These pieces are made entirely of paper. Coleman uses standard ink-jet printer paper, which he paints then folds using traditional origami methods to create the flower petals and leaves. The branches, trunks and other elements are crafted with a technique he developed called “makigami†(“roll paper,†in Japanese). He saturates strips of old newspaper in a water-based solution he concocted, then rolls and pinches them into the shapes he wants.

Photos courtesy of Origami Bonsai. Peach tree is 13 inches tall, 13 inches wide and 6 inches deep

Outcropping is 17 inches tall, 6 ½ inches wide and 5 ½ inches deep

As delicate as they look, the sculptures are actually quite sturdy and durable. They’re even treated with a dust resistant spray, so they’re easy to clean.