Cassie and Adri Pretorius: On a Lifelong Safari Together
Peni and Lee Powell: Displaying Their Flemish Art Collection
Introducing New IAPA Members:
- Stefano Bonfatti: Photorealism
- Pierre Doré: Decorative Interpretations
- Lestat de Lioncourt: Erotic Fantasy
News from Old Friends:
- Michael Janson: Listed in Russia's Artindex
- Houba: New Works for Exhibits in 2003
- Dino: Featured in an Interior Design Magazine
- Update on Husband-and-Wife Team Alejandro and Gabriela
The Powell Home
Although not a pyrographic artist decorative artist and teacher Peni Powell is one of
the earliest members of IAPA. She joined because of her interest in
collecting Flemish Art, one of the names for pyrography (along with the
word 'pyrography' itself) coined during the turn of the 19th century to
the 20th when that art and craft form became hugely popular. She has
contributed to the pages of WOM on various occasions since at least
1999, and has had a salon of her antique pieces in the E-Museum of
Pyrographic Art since even before that. Her own website is a joy to
behold for many reasons.
Peni and her husband Lee, now retired, live in Portland, Oregon in the northwestern United States. Their house is only a short distance from the Old Oregon Trail. They have taken great delight in the enormous effort they have made together to turn their generous 3300 sq. ft. house and surrounding property into the beautiful home and showcase gardens they have become. Lee joined in the enthusiasm for the collection, which has become very much a part of the interior decoration of their home. At this point, for lack of space, the couple has greatly curtailed their active collecting.
I had seen quite a few of the pieces in the collection thanks to the pictures that Peni has been sharing over the years. This time, however, Peni very graciously agreed to take some interior pictures to show all of us how they have been displaying their collection in their lovely home.
Foyer, Partial View
A great part of the fun of any collection, as Peni and Lee will tell you, is in the collecting. Peni goes to eBay off and on, she says, and has found the pyrography catalogues and a few art pieces there, as well, to add to their collection. The most fun, though, she claims, is in the hunt when they are traveling. They enjoy stopping at junk stores and antique shops, Peni says, and that is where they have found their best bargains, too. "Although bargains," she notes, "are few and far between."
Library Wall, Partial View
Den, Computer Room
Needless to say, with major groupings and small displays throughout
their large house, dusting can be a challenge. In addition, Peni oils
the pieces at least once a year so they won't dry out and warp; it is a
task that can take up to a few days.
To answer my query regarding cleaning and restoring an old piece you've just acquired, Peni replied that she has found a product for cleaning dirt and grime called Kramer's Best Blemish Clarifier, which she applies with either a soft rag or, for resistant spots, four-zero steel wool.
For after cleaning, she also recommended a second product called Kramer's Best Antique Improver for putting a little sheen on the surface and oiling the pieces. "It has beeswax in it, I believe," she says.
Peni is careful not to alter an original piece in any significant way; refinishing, for example, could not only spoil the patina but could actually devalue a piece for later resale.
Although she personally has always bought her Kramer's products at antique shops, she looked up the www.kramerize.com website for me and recommended reading the 'what it can do' page.
The Master Bedroom
The Guest Room
This wonderful chest at the foot of the bed in one of the guest rooms is
not only a favorite piece in their collection but it hides
another important part of it. Peni found this chest ideal for storing
their early 1900's collection of books on pyrography, including
catalogues of the Thayer & Chandler manufacturers and another
A. H. Abbott & Co., which is less known but one of the oldest
manufacturers and importers of art materials. Although the catalogues
do not bear copyright dates, Peni and Lee are able to estimate them with
certainty because they own signed and dated pieces of Flemish Art
offered in those catalogues.
Her most prized possession among her books is a 1912, second edition, two-volume set of Charles Dana Gibson drawings (originator of the famous Thayer & Chandler "Gibson Girls"). Peni says she never tires of looking at all his drawings and the humor in his captions.
Tool collection. In addition to their collection of over 400
pieces and their extensive book and catalogue collection, Peni and Lee
have acquired most of the tools that were used in the early 1900's and
that were able to be ordered in the antique pyrographic catalogues of
that time. Their "latest and greatest" find is an original
set of carving tools. Peni says, "I just wish that it had a date
on it, but it is signed. Not all of the carving pieces are there, but
most are, along with several platinum tips that were used in
Carving sets from that period offered as pyrographic accessories, were primarily used for removing a layer of background wood so as to leave the pyroengraved foreground figure in low relief. Usually the lower area of background was also darkened and textured by burning.
Thank you, Peni and Lee Powell, for being such gracious hosts.
Peni has her own delightful website Peni's Palette of Colors
designed to transport you to a relaxing place where you will want to
spend some time enjoying the scenery: it features not only Peni and
Lee's Flemish Art favorites but also Peni's own decorative art
paintings, the how-to books she has co-authored on decorative art, their
lovely home, and the beautiful landscaped gardens that
are Peni and Lee's pride and joy.
Visit the salon of Peni Powell's Collection of Flemish Art in the Antique Hall of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art. Also on display in the exhibit of Antique Tools in the E-Museum are more items from their collection of tools, especially accessories related to the old Flemish Art work: special paints, a jewel inlay tool, and their latest find, a carving set.
For background reading on Antique Pyrography, including the early 20th Century pieces like Peni and Lee's Flemish Art, see the WOM article Antique Pyrography linked here.
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2003, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.