515 Madison Avenue

We were in hour five of six—cold and damp—muddy and rusty—hours of scouting the iron yard at our favorite location for Architectural Salvage. The confusion swirled amidst the chipped and bent iron rails as we attempted to reconstruct an image that existed only in our minds—creating a new puzzle, with no straight edges to start with. Frustration set in. We were on a mission to find 50 feet of Vintage Iron Fencing that could be adapted to recreate a banister on the upper balconies of The House at Rooster Ridge. We succeeded, but this not about that—

This little story is about what you might miss—the tale of reminding us to keep our eyes and our mind open—to all of the possibilities—yes, even when you are frustrated and freezing.

There is one heated room in the expansive warehouse of our go-to Architectural Salvage spot. Fortunately, you need to pass through it in order to use the facilities. Ahhhhhh…a break from the wind, the wet, the rusty, heavy, dirt encrusted, paint chipping, bent and crooked iron—adventure of it all!

As I walked through the (gloriously warm) building I became mindful—to stay open to the soft whispering of the heart aspect of the decorating style at The Cottage at Rooster Ridge. For me, the process is a soulful experience. I try to quiet my mind, stop thinking—figuring out—measuring—planning. And the method worked beautifully—as it usually does when I get out-of-the-way.

This is what I saw—a little corner peeking out—the last item in a mass of confusion leaning against a wall. Hidden from view and obscured by a depth of four feet of iron gates and window frames some with shards of broken glass snarling; “Keep Away!”

Refusing to be deterred—like a kid in a toy store—I raised my chapped, red, frozen hand (note to self; remember to bring gloves next time) and pointed at the little glimmer of brass and asked, “What’s that?” As my inquiry was “off-point” the question was met with, well, let’s just say, it was unenthusiastic.

And, yes, I really did want to find three guys to start moving the contraption which had been amassed by the myriad of debris (in my mind) that was blocking me from what I yearned to see. What I needed to see!

The Discovery! What is it? It says something!

Hidden behind the jumble of iron and glass we found a solid brass transom that once regally pronounced the address of 515 Madison Avenue in New York!

No longer attached to a building and without the traditional installed glass—it was simply put, a brass frame. It had all of the requirements; four sides, relatively flat with an opening in the middle…sounds like a frame to me!

The statement/question followed, “It’s gorgeous, but what would you do with it?”

Anything! My answer didn’t seem to be assisting me at arriving at the conclusion I was hoping for—time to think quickly—as sometimes partners need concrete answers. I’d put a gorgeous mirror in it with a 1′ inch bevel and hang it in the dining room!

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we attempt to allow ourselves—the privilege to forget what something is, or has been—and focus on the possibility of what it could be!

With heart, Art Lives!


Architectural Salvage: Part One—Discovery

On Sunday it seemed as though there was a hint of Spring in the air—after all, the outdoor thermometer boasted a balmy 46 degrees! With the sun shining what followed next was (almost) predictable…the official Spring is in the air chant;

“Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!”

Favorite type…Architectural Salvage!

“One man gathers what another man spills.”

                                                                         Lyrics by Robert Hunter

What may appear to be a vast wasteland of broken-down pieces haphazardly strewn in an iron yard—can become the seedlings of creativity, the birth of Re-Purposing and Recycling! What is more Spring-like than that?! (Okay, we admit it snowed while we were there…)

The Discovery—

One of the discoveries made on this Sunday; an intact and complete four-part capital.

From Wikipedia:

In architecture the capital (from the Latin caput, ‘head’) forms the topmost member of a column (or pilaster). It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column’s supporting surface

This is an example of what can become of a single section of a rusted and discarded capital.

This piece was sand-blasted and painted with metallic pewter, gold and copper paint. For this application, we chose not to treat the paint with an acid to create a patina. The options are endless—the possibilities for color, aging and the creation of a patina are limited only by your thoughts.

This singular section of an iron capital hangs as a piece of art in The House at Rooster Ridge. The beauty of the design creates a textural and dimensional masterpiece!

What will become of the four-part capital newly discovered—as well as the numerous items piled into the back of the car on the way back from—

“Road Trip! Road Trip! Road Trip!”

Stay tuned!

Art Lives!


Birds in a Crate—Flock on a Gate

While wandering through the iron yard of one of our favorite architectural salvage spots a disheveled black plastic crate resting on the back half of packed shelf—seemed to chirp—drawing attention to the contents. Climbing ensued. It was not unlike climbing a tree in order to reach a distant limb to obtain the full-view-vantage-point that was desired. While peering inside the curious crate a nest of sorts was discovered—for a flock of iron birds. Although the iron bird sculptures had been haphazardly piled into the crate and allowed to rust which resulted in some of the bases becoming detached—the beautiful and artistic design could not be obscured.

Reaching into the nest resulted in the discovery of two different designs; one bird looking intently forward and the other downward as if in search for a fallen berry or seed. The intricate details of the wing and tail feathers and of their lovely perch base was not diminished in the least by their current condition. Having no idea what the outcome would be—bringing them to The Cottage at Rooster Ridge seemed a natural fit—crate and all they came!

Behold the wonders of elbow grease, steel wool, copper paint and—love—of all things artistic! The copper paint which was used to paint the birds is an actual metal paint which contains copper. When the paint is left unsealed the exposure to the elements allows for a rich patina to evolve. Over time, there will be hints of the classic blue-green patina which develops in aged copper—or if one wishes, an aging solution can be added to speed up the process.

The birds in a crate have found many uses and nests—for one holiday they were incorporated into the table setting—as a line of birds paraded down the center of the table assisting in the creation of a festive mood! Additionally, the birds have been included in natural mantle displays encompassing leaves, twigs, pine cones and candles. Two of the birds currently enjoy being perched in one of the window sills of the cottage. It is rumored that one, due to its adoration by a guest was allowed to fly out-of-state and now acts as a paper weight and a sweet reminder of The Cottage at Rooster Ridge.

As we are fortunate to have many—a crate full—five now permanently flock on the front mahogany gate which is built into the rock wall which runs along the front property line of Rooster Ridge. Plans are in place for seven birds to be installed on the top of the upper balcony porch posts on The House at Rooster Ridge as the renovation develops.

At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge we have found that with the right eye, some effort and love of all things artistic—Art Lives!