Sunday, January 22, 2012

Boy Oh, Boy Oh, It's Faux Bois

A Tree is a Thing of Beauty . . .

"Dune Landscape with Oak Tree"
Jacob van Ruisdael

Arboreal Table via Martha Stewart

As you know from my recent post
 I have always been enthralled with TREES.

"Study at Marbletown, Ulster County"
Asher B. Durand,
of the Hudson River School of Artists,
was famous for painting trees in the mid 1800's

My grandmother Nanny loved
 the poem "Trees" and often
recited it to me.

I would love to sit here
 with her and listen one more time . . .


I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,         
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.  
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
                                       Joyce Kilmer

Paulus Veltman via Pinterest

For some reason,
I am STILL thinking about
trees and branches
 in this new year.

I LOVE to bring them inside!

 I have wonderful memories of those pecan trees on the farm out in the country. 

Pecan Faux Bois

But I also have memories of the trees at my Nanny's in Lambert,
 her mighty oaks that she planted
in the early 1940's in her front yard
and that she was so mighty proud of,
AND also a different kind of tree,
 "The Family Tree", tracing the family roots.

One of Nanny's older brothers (She was the only girl with six brothers, all older than she except one!) was my Uncle Joe, technically my great uncle. 

Uncle Joe was an accountant for the government before his retirement, and as you might imagine, as his profession had dictated, he was a very meticulous and persnickety, but still jovial man. 

He did everything almost in a ritualistic way:

He ALWAYS ate the same thing
for breakfast every morning.

He ALWAYS ate at the same restaurants.

He ALWAYS brushed his teeth after EVERY meal, which meant that
He ALWAYS carried his dop kit with him EVERYWHERE he went.

He ALWAYS ate fruit EVERY
 night before he went to bed.

photo via Slim Paley
(See her wonderful post on mosquito netting HERE)
He ALWAYS said,

 "Boy Oh, Boy Oh!"

 Uncle Joe lived in Washington, DC, technically Arlington, VA, for most of his adult life.  When I was a small child of about three or four, he would often drive down to Lambert for extended visits in the summers, once with his teenaged grandchildren
Dana and Mark. 

Back Row: My great uncle Joe Grantham, cousin Dana, Nanny, cousin Mark
Front Row: Me, my sister Susan
All standing before my favorite tree, Nanny's gigantic Southern Magnolia
c. 1964

 Of course I was entirely enamoured, and totally shy, of these remarkable teenagers.  Sixteen and living in a big city seemed the ultimate in glamour and sophistication to little me.

A good way to interject a little natural "Tangerine Tango" into a room this fall.
I just HAD to throw that in!

In the autumns, Nanny would in turn, drive to Washington to visit Uncle Joe.

Nanny at the Lincoln Memorial (I was wishing for the Washington Monument for my post!)
Of course my very particular Uncle Joe, included "South Side" in his inscription on the back.
September 13, 1964

It was during those years, that I first overheard Nanny and Uncle Joe and my mother discussing our "Family Tree"
and all its "branches" and "roots".
I don't think then that I ever heard the word "genealogy."

Custom Family Tree Print from on Etsy.
Etsy has tons of great forms for filling in your own tree or
for ordering custom prints like this one

Uncle Joe just referred it as "his research".

And when he was in Mississippi, he spent copious hours pouring through files from his big black salesman's type briefcase and running around to courthouses all over northern Mississippi doing this research, which was in that pre-computer era,
was quite a laborious task.

"Boy Oh,  Boy Oh!"
What geneological research Uncle Joe could have done
 with this laptop and, which I highly recommend!

Over the years, between summers in Mississippi and Nanny's visits to Virginia, Nanny and Uncle Joe managed to piece together, branch by branch, quite a
 "Family Tree" for us, tracing their mother's family back to Sandy Point, Virginia,
in the early 1700's, and our
 quite a few greats grandaddy back to
Colonel George Eskridge,
the godfather of
George Washington himself.

Glorious cherry trees in Virginia, NOT chopped down by George Washington!

"Boy Oh, Boy Oh!"

At the time, I wasn't really privy to all this information, but all the talk of trees and branches, coupled with the real pecans and oaks, did make a big impression on me.

via Martha Stewart

I have always had trees, real ones AND family ones, on the brain,
but it was many years later that I learned what "faux bois" is, and of course
I absolutely love it!

"Boy Oh, Boy Oh", Do I!

2000 Traditional Home Built for Women Showhouse
 by Barry Dixon for Diane Sawyer
via PlumSiena
Barry frequently incorporates faux bois to bring the outside inside.

The term "faux bois" ("false wood" in French) is used to connote any technique that reproduces the texture or look of wood.

A real wood knot

Skilled artists paint deceptively real-looking wood grain onto walls or furniture,
 like my friend and artist
 Kaveri Singh who recently worked on a project in Los Angeles for Sante Fe based designer Kris Lajeskie.

For more of Kaveri Singh's award winning work visit her  HERE.

Kaveri's faux bois and trompe l'oiel work in the media and bar area
are truly fantastic.

Kaveri started with a clean, flat, white background and created fabulous faux bois panelling. 

Here the faux bois is a pickled oak.

And here it is a blue.

Kaveri uses combs and brushes to create the faux bois.  The finish is done in several layer with badger brushes, glazes. steel wool, and rubber combs.  It is under painted with whiting and then glazed over, paying special attention to the gradations created by light and shadow on a raised surface
to create the molding.

Last year, Kaveri was awarded the Golden Brush Award  for excellence and innovation in the decorative arts in Colorado by the PDPA, an organization of decorative artists that are committed to the education
in the decorative arts.

Boy Oh, Boy Oh, It's Faux Bois!

Faux bois is believed to have originated in England in the early 1700's as a revolt against very formal French and Italian garden ornament, but there are samples from Sweden in the Gripsholm Slott or Castle whose origins date to the 1380's.

via Martha Stewart

Here in America, Elsie de Wolfe incorporated faux bois paneling for a client in the 1920's.

I certainly agree with Elsie in her love for faux bois and how to make things beautiful!

via Martha Stewart

Over the last several years, Martha Stewart has been a force behind bringing faux bois to the forefront and mainstream of design.

via Martha Stewart

Unable to find all the antique
faux bois pieces she desired,
Martha had this large dining table custom made for her home in Maine
by an artist in Texas.

via Martha Stewart

via Martha Stewart

She uses pieces throughout her interiors, truly bringing the outside in, combining the earthy with the elegant.

Martha has designed a large array of faux bois product including this rug and the china above.

"Boy Oh, Boy, Oh!"

I was lucky enough to find a fabulous antique French set in New Orleans not too long ago.

 I have used these faux bois fabrics in several client projects. 

Clockwise from left, Jane Shelton's "Faux Bois" Italian velvet in Coral,
 Fabricut's "George Washington's Mount Vernon Collection" "Wood Grain" in Antique Maple, Cedar Elm, and Dark Walnut, with my faux bois and silver letter opener.
Both fabrics are available in other colors.

And I love these faux bois urns.  I had them on my dining room table during the holidays.

One of my faux bois urns with dried magnolia leaves. 
I loved Nanny's gigantic Southern Magnolia.

I wore a pair of
Ray Ban "Woody" Wayfarers
in the 1980's until I sorrowfully
finally lost them.  They looked kind of like these, but more faux boisy,
more like real bark!

I am still looking for a photo of me wearing them!

I have so many wonderful memories of my family and our trees.

via Martha Stewart

Perhaps you will take a brief respite with me and we shall drink a nice bottle of wine and a have a sweet little treat while we share a few more stories about our family trees . . .

 via Brooke Giannetti

via Martha Stewart

I think trees always make things more beautiful, inside and outside.

Boy Oh, Boy Oh, Do I!


Do you love trees like I do?

What about faux bois?

Are you into genealogy?

photo credits: Martha Stewart, House and Garden, First Dibs, Pinterest, Slim Paley, Etsy, Marilyn Storey,  Brooke Giannetti