Friday, November 30, 2007

Faberge egg sells for record £9 million

Above: Faberge Egg selling at Christies for £9 million

Christies, London UK

A rare Faberge egg which had been in the Rothschild family for more than a century sold for £9 million at a Christies Auction breaking three world records. The egg topped with a diamond studded cockerel was the highest Faberge work of art breaking the record for the most expensive Russian artwork, excluding painting and the most expensive time piece ever sold.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'Rock man'

Above: Two restoration projects - Picture deleted [req bg 7jun08tk]

Above: A commission for a Japanese client showing the progression to a spherical ball and will be used as religious worship aids

Above: One of the many machines at Ben's workshop

Picture deleted [req bg 5jun08cg]

Above: Rock crystal inspected for imperfections in Beazo-alcohol

Above: Crystal rock found in Madagascar

South London, UK

There is nothing Ben Gaskell likes more than to source a flawless piece of rock crystal, take it back to his studios and transform it through a new challenging project. He moved in to his premises in 1992 initially solely trading in rough material, importing from the vast Madagascan network he had built up and distributing large quantities to German and Japan. During a visit to Japan he identified an opening in the market and began to craft rock crystal spherical balls for Buddhists and other religions to use as religious aids. For a number of years his workshop produced only these highly polished balls before he began to take on new projects.

"It is important to be a market maker in Madagascar and to be known to offer the best prices, so in return you hear about the best pieces of rock crystal. Although this is proving continually difficult as the German and Japanese markets are becoming stronger and my last trip to Madagascar because of the children and other commitments was two years ago. This might have been my last had I bought the 800 kilo rock I was offered. It would have challenged the rock in the Smithsonian as the largest flawless rock crystal sphere in the world, but I only had a few hours to decide and although I believe you have to respond to things in a rush there was something not quite right. I wasn't going to hand over the six figure sum on something I wasn't 100% sure on, so I returned without it" Ben said.

Known locally as the 'rock man' his studios could be likened to a [deleted [req bg 7jun08tk]] base as high tech machines were squeezed in everywhere. "Some of these were used during the war to make prisms and periscopes for tanks, but now each one has it own specific task to do. The machine there will make tiny little holes and next to it is it's brains. Working on table tops would be pointless as they have to have large wheels for power, but also tremendous rigidity as there can't be any vibrations at all" Ben explains. The store rooms are like an Aladdin's cave, everywhere you turn there are beautiful examples of Siena marble, Imperial Porphyry, Blue John and of course magnificent rock crystal. Some of which are used to aid with restoration work which he undertakes, but many are lying there waiting to be chosen for the next project. He first inspects the rock in a tank of benzoalcohol to check for impurities "which could be created by any number of things including fluorides, but even one speck of black means that it won't work. The proof is in the pudding or in the tank" Ben said. The co-ordinates are then carefully mapped out to ensure no wastage and then work can begin.

[four sentences deleted [req bg 5jun08cg]

Ben is eager to make more contact with artists for future commissions he said "I enjoy new and exciting work, I can't even criticise the diamond encrusted scull of Damien Hirst as he is not a jeweler or a craftsman. it was produced by someone else and made in a rush with setters working twenty four hours a day in shifts, and I know what it is like to work in a rush on a project. The work was at a peak of high spending when people were shedding out huge amounts of money for Brit Art and this is why it worked. Although part of me hopes that it is broken up and the flawless E-coloured diamonds will be removed it will always remain a social post-it note". Ben is surprisingly humble despite a portfolio of impressive commissions [deleted [req bg 7jun08tk]]. It is clear that his drive is from his passion and enjoyment he gets from working with the material.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Above: Examples of the recycled plastic sheets, including wellies, CDs, plastic bags and mobile phones, prices range from £65 to £300 for a 2m by 1m sheet

Above: How the sheets can be used once they are bought by the designers

SmilePlastics the home of recycled plastics

SmilePlastics launched their first products a range of sheets made from old plastics bottles in 1994. Originally containing shampoo, detergent or milk, the bottles have been collected, sorted, flaked and thoroughly washed to remove any remaining contaminants. Looking like multi-coloured corn-flakes the pieces are then compressed into sheets by a process of heat and pressure, which retains the colours of the original bottles.

The second product range were made from high impact polystyrene and therefore designed to be more ridged and harder. Since then further products have been launched including crushed CDs, plastic water bottles, toothbrushes, banknotes, mobile phones and welly sheets. All of which are visually appealing, with their abstract impressionist colours and versitile as they are easily cleaned and transformed into numberous objects. SmilePlastics sell the sheets to a range of designers who create furniture, guitars, ornaments, fit bathrooms and kitchens with the recycled plastic. More commercial uses of the sheets have been in The Science Museum, the Tate Gallery and the V & A in London and various Body Shops throughout Spain have also adopted the product.


Demolitions: Imposing stone built property C.1920

Above: Examples of Salvageable materials from the impending demolition

Stonewood Co, Lancashire UK

An interesting demolition has come up on the Salvo Demolition site, James Pickles from Stonewood and Co has provided the following brief history and personal anecdote about the old mill, built in remembrance of those who fell during the Great War.

"The building was created for cotton mill workers by mill owner Mr Amos Nelson as a monument to the fallen heroes of WW1. Interestingly it housed a number of evacuees during the Second World War. Mr Nelson obviously had the foresight to keep his workers happy as within the building there was a refectory, a couple of bars, a superb sprung oak dance floor, band stand and stage, card rooms as well as changing rooms for the tennis courts and bowling greens within the grounds

Yes this is an interesting building and one which holds some interesting old memories for me as an eighteen year old being weaned onto the local dark brew ! Attending a seemingly harmless live band event one Saturday night, it quickly became apparent that the locals preferred to box rather than listen to the music. The evening erupted into something resembling a wild west saloon brawl. Chairs and glasses were hurtling through the air as were some of the more diminutive attendees. Eventually the police did arrive and things returned to a kind of normality.

That was back in the mid-eighties when "Jimmy Nelson's" had long seen the last of its mill workers and was now a bar-club hosting small rock and punk bands from the Burnley & Blackburn scene. It has been redundant for the last ten or so years. It is a wonderfully built example of early 20th century mill-town architecture and we are hoping that many if not all of the arches, doorways and window sets can be relocated and incorporated elsewhere."

Salvo Demolitions

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Obituary: Fritz Fryer

Above: Fritz Fryer in the Four Pennies [pict. from Telegraph]

We are sad to announce the death of Fritz Fryer who for over 20 years ran fritz Fryer Antique Lighting in Ross-on-Wye. Despite Fritz's obvious success and flair for antique lighting it wasn't Fritz's first vocation. in the 1960's he was the lead guitarist in the Four Pennies who topped the UK charts in May 1964 with Juliet, first released as a B-side to Tell me Girl.

Fritz was born on December 6th 1944 in Lancashire, where he met and collaborated with Mike Wilsh, singing harmony during school hymns at assembly. The duo then went on to form the Four Pennies with Alan Buck and Lionel Morton. He sold Fritz Fryer Antique Lighting and returned with his girlfriend Joan to a Villa in Portugal just a few weeks before he died, aged 62.

He will be sadly missed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Gaze Rural & Domestic Bygones Sale results

Diss, Norfolk, UK

FAIRS & AUCTIONS: A selection of results from the Gaze Rural and Domestic Bygones sale, 17 November 2007.

Above: A late Victorian walnut three drawer shop sewing cabinet, Estimate: £20 - £30, Sold: £110

Above: A cast iron fireplace with tiled panels - floral decoration , Estimate: £250 - £375, Sold £240

Above: An enamel sign with thermometer - Duckhams, Estimate: £125 - £190, Sold: £130

Above: A 19th Century eel cleave, Estimate: £120 - £180 , Sold: £220

Above: A 19th Century mistletoe cutter, Estimate: £30 - £45, Sold: £70


Friday, November 16, 2007

William De Morgan sale

Above: A selection of William De Morgan Tiles for auction at Woolley and Wallis auction house

William De Morgan sale
Woolley and Wallis Auctioneer's Sailsbury, Wiltshire UK
05 December 2007 at 14:00

WOOLLEY AND WALLIS are holding a sale at their auction rooms of various William De Morgan pieces, which includes vases, tiles, bowls and plates. William De Morgan is one of the most innovative potters of the nineteenth century and was central to the arts and crafts movement. His distinctive style and lustres are instantly recognisable.

William De Morgan sale at Woolley and Wallis Auction Rooms

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Olympia off with a swing

Above: Dave Bridgwater and skittles at Olympia

Olympia, London UK

THE Olympia Winter Antiques Fair had a typically busy first night, although the only celebraty spotted was Alan Titchmarsh. Dealers to the stars were visiting, including Bath-based Dave Bridgwater, who was caught clutching a rare set of eight woodworm-eaten French skittles, with two balls, for which he declined to state a price. This years loan exhibition was “Simply British” a private collection of naive English painting. There were some nice displays of pottery, including de Morgan tiles from £200 to £2,000. Three saddle stones were selling at £1,750 each, and a gothic medieval gargoyle head (looked Victorian or later) at £750. From the 240 International dealers there was some fabulous stuff, among which was a large 1950's wedge end-grain table.

Olympia Winter Arts Fair

Steinitz in three countries Christie's sales

Steinitz sale in New york, Paris and London

"NOTHING belongs to us, everything belongs to God," says France's greatest-living self publicising decorative antiques dealer, near octogenerian Monsieur Bernard Stenitz of St Ouen, in 'Le Prince des Antiquaires' a video of him and his son Benjamin, which promotes three small but high-lot-value Christie's sales in New York 19 October, Paris 14 November and London 6 December under the title of 'Le Gout Steinitz'. Highlights of the London sale includes an important bronze group, Hercules and the Centaur Nessus, from the early 18th century (estimate:£200,000-300,000) as well as a magnificent ormolu- mounted commode with sophisticated parquetry in kingwood, amaranth and sycamore, attributed to Martin Carlin, circa 1780-85 (£180,000-250,000).
The Chineur as he is known in France last had a big sale in St Ouen in 1993, glowing with superlatives, boiserie, chandeliers and parquetry flooring. The current sales this time seem to feature mainly superlatives and furniture, much of it rendered barn fresh, which Christie's is 'proud to have the honour of selling'. Although belonging to God, Christie's heavenly reward will still be a relatively large percentage.

Christie's preview video of Steinitz

Jeff Koons' heart breaks record

Above:Jeff Koons' heart

Sothebys, New York, USA

ON the evening of November 14, 2007 at a Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale in New York Jeff Koons’ Hanging Heart sold for a record $23,561,000. The magenta and gold heart took ten years from conception to completion and is one of five uniquely coloured versions. The monumental’s heart is coated in more than ten layers of paint. Executed in high chromium stainless steel, weighs over 3,500 pounds, is over nine feet tall and took over 6,000 man hours to produce. So surely it was worth the $23.5 million?.......


Monday, November 05, 2007

Acqua, sapone e creativita

Casantica, Novembre/Dicembre 2007

L'antico incontra l'hitech
La soluzione piu bizzarra della nostra passerella e sicuramente rappresenta-ta da questo curioso (e, a nostro parere, efficacissimo) matrimonio fravecchio e nuovo, fra legno di recupero e materiali hi-tech (il vetro e le rubinetterie iper-contemporanee).

Un lavabo da antiquari
Siete in cerca di un lavabo elegante e classico? Questo vecchio tavolino rinvenuto in un mercantino antiquario e adattato allo scopo puo facilmente fare al caso vostro. Un consiglio: quanto piu e bello il mobile scelto come supporto tanto piu risultera ricercato ed esclusivo il risultato finale.