Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chicago International 2013

Oh. My. God. I'm still processing the whirlwind experience that was the Tom Bishop International.  I thought last year (which was my 'first time' --and you know what they say about the first time) was incredible, but this year proved to be even more enthralling!

I know I'm terribly late in reporting on the show, but I left my camera down in Chicago --not that there were any photos on it anyway-- my blasted charger stopped working for some reason, so I wasn't able to snap many pics at all!  Hence the delay... 

Our trip to the Windy City almost didn't happen due to yet another freakish, late-season snowstorm. Yes, mes chers, you read that correctly!  Snow.  In April.  Late April.

Was I going to allow the likes of Old Man Winter to keep me from driving eight hours in order to purchase Gorgeous Little Things?  Oh, hell, no!  Even the fact that the snow plows had missed our alley (where the car was parked) did little to deter your Intrepid Reporter...though the snow bank that the plows had deposited at the end of said alley did manage to jar lose some kind of thingamajig under the car.  We had to listen to whatever it was dragging all the way to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where it thankfully fell off.  Our little gift to you, Eau Claire!

This was the view on the way out of Minneapolis...good riddance!  Hopefully it will all melt by the time we get home!

photos courtesy of the local news.

Ugh!  So the first leg of the trip was, shall we say, nasty?  Fortunately, by the time we lost the aforementioned thingamajig, the snow eventually gave way to green grass --and even a few daffodils! Things were looking up!

We arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon at our friend Roland's tastefully-appointed, Rogers Park condo.  I haven't seen dear Rol in ages, but as it often goes with old friends, we all quickly fell into our accustomed camaraderie.  After an evening of delicious food, scintillating conversation --and copious amounts of martinis-- it was off to bed.  And even though the excitement for the next day's event was building to a colossal crescendo I quickly dozed off, while visions of GLT danced in my head!

                                                    THE SHOW!

We arrived at the show just as it was opening at ten o'clock. Oops!  Mr. Moneybags forgot to visit the cash machine, not-so-conveniently located at the other end of the hotel. By the time we returned to the ticket counter, the line stretched all the way down the hall. I noted that, though your Humble Reporter is himself, no spring chicken, he seemed to be the youngest miniature enthusiast in attendance.  This doesn't bode well for the future of the miniatures hobby! 

Tickets finally in hand, I took a deep breath and waded in!  Where to look first? These were among the finest miniaturists in the world, all competing for your attention! 

I was only in a few short minutes before I started bumping into and catching up with friends like Erik Goddard, who is also from hometown Minneapolis.  Eric makes the most marvelous room boxes and scale models in all manner of styles and I especially like his take on modern design. It was great to catch up with Erik and see his latest and greatest work, which you can check out for yourself on his blog.

At the sage advice of Andy, I made a very specific HotList of items to shop for, the main thing being a glam chandelier to replace the one in the Music Room.  I found a particularly gaw-jess one at the booth of DeCave Designs, where I spent an amusing half-hour (at least) talking to the Devine Ms. DeCave herself, Gerri. Gerri turned out to be a kindred spirit because not only does she create the most spectacular chandeliers, but she takes ordinary Bespaq furniture and gives it a marvelous, signature DeCave re-vamp.  Faux bois, faux marble --Gerri does it all with particular panache and a fine eye for the slightest detail, like mini silk tassels on all her drawer pulls.  Check out her website and Etsy shop.

While I was dishing the dirt with Gerri, my better-half was busy next door canoodling with another dish, namely David Iriarte, a very young and very charming, talented, young, --(did I mention he was very young)? furniture maker from Spain. David makes finely-crafted pieces in the manner of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and though he spoke nary a word of English, dove-tailed drawers speak for themselves, darlings!  My better-half, I daresay , was not the least bit interested in joinery a l'antique, and though exquisite, Louis Quinze furniture was decidedly not on my HotList, David had some rather lovely mantle clocks and other tchotchkes available which fortunately fit into my budget (if not my HotList).  And so your Intrepid Reporter picked up a few, miscellaneous nic-nacs.  Flexible, mes chers, is my middle name!

I have been stalking Martha McLean a la distance for quite some time.  She makes the most stunning, miniature floral arrangements in the biz.  As a former, floral designer, I knows me a tasteful arrangement when I see it and Martha, (as Marge Simpson would say), simply screams good taste.  Understated eleganza is Martha's forte and  I just had to have something from her booth, though it was not technically on my HotList, either! (Thank gawd I'm so damned flexible)!  I can't wait to show you her little bud vase of daffodils, sitting on the windowsill of the bedchamber.  Martha also has a great blog to peek at, too.

Right next to Martha's booth was my BFF Sophia of  Small Talk.  It took me a while to find Sophia's booth because --well--  she is rarely there, lol! Thank god her friend, Emily, whom I remembered from last year, was on hand to greet me!  While having a perfectly lovely chit-chat with Emily, Sophia eventually showed up, after completing an epic shopping excursion of her own.  Girl after my own heart!  Sophia always knows the T of the show and after finding out that I was on the hunt for dinnerware she guided me over to the Spokesay Ware booth.

I had already blown my wad on the chandelier, and so perhaps it was fortunate that the Spokesay booth had already nearly sold out of the china pattern I was interested in.  Divine intervention? You decide. Still, I was able to snap up a dinner plate bordered in the Greek key pattern I so admire.  And at least now the huz knows what to get me on birthdays and anniversaries, right? I mean besides sweatpants. 

Yes. Really. Sweatpants.

Also on my HotList: pillows for the bedroom window seats!   I scoured the show from top-to-bottom but could not find anything in my color-scheme of Dijon-mustard yellow and black  Oh wells, I did find some mini fabric I can fashion into my own cushions --though I had my heart set on needlepoint.

It was about this time that I ran into the legendary Ray Whitledge How can I even explain the experience?  I've been blog-buddies with Ray for ages, but here was the Real Deal!  For me, I guess it was like a comic book geek running into Batman or Superman!  --or the guy who invented Batman and Superman?-- well, you get what I mean.  Only it wasn't like that at all.  I wasn't tongue-tied, or nervous, or anything, because Ray is so cool, I felt like I was talking to my bestie the second I met him!

My history with Ray goes back to when I was trying to wire my first room and was having a hard time with it. Ray sent me his email address and offered to help.  I had no idea he was a famous miniaturist!  Yet he took the time to give me, a mere beginner, the encouragement I needed (I was on the verge of giving up) and eventually, I got my room lighted.  Sometime later I found out  (thanks, Giac) who Ray was and OMG was I  bowled away that someone like him would take pity and give the likes of me basic, introductory lighting lessons.  I will always be so indebted to Ray for taking the time to  give a newbie a little push. Ray, did you ever know you were my hero and that you are the wind beneath my wings?

Well anyway, at the show, Ray tipped me off to artist Lorraine Scuderi, for the aforementioned pillows I was relentlessly searching for.  Unfortunately, Lorraine had no pillows in my rather odd colorway, though she did have a hatbox --which conveniently fell into the 'bedroom accessories' category on my HotList.

So I had a hatbox , but it just seemed so --so empty!  Fortunately, a few booths down, I ran into The Doll's Cobbler, who had a whole mini hat rack, chock-full of hats!  YAY!  My newly-acquired hat now fit perfectly into my newly-acquired hatbox.

We had another lively chat with artisan Sylvia Rountree, who like us is coo-coo for all the jazz-age greats!  Sylvia has actually met many of our American Song Book idols, like Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, et al and we had a lovely time comparing notes on all things jazz!   Sylvia eventually shooed us off, as time was passing fast, but not before bestowing a cunning pair of shoes as a gift for the boys of Merriman Park.  Wait til you see them --they are too cute for words!  Thank you so much, Sylvia! I will cherish them, forever!

We high-tailed it back to Ray's  because I wanted so much to spend a little more time in his company...unfortunately, as I approached Ray's booth for a second time, the ballroom lights were shut off!  Last call!  We had little more time than to exchange phone numbers and murmur our parting good-byes: Adieu, new, old friend!

But I had one more item on my HotList... would we make it back to the booth in time?

The pair of urns I had my eye on were back in Sophia's booth, and when I pointed them out to her, as the lights grew dimmer, Sophia gifted them to me, the most lovely parting gift, ever! I can't thank you enough, Sophia!  (And your urns look fantabulous in my Drawing Room)!

I left the show higher than a kite, hehe, no small coincidence since the show fell on 4/20, LOL!  It was a major rush and I didn't even tell you the half of it.  SO many, many artists, each displaying the very best of the best...The whole thing was so utterly inspiring!  When I get my camera back I'll show you all my booty in situ.

Til then...have a lovely spring! (Or fall, for you southern hemisphere followers)...


P.S.  Here's what we're now dealing with, weather-wise --kind of spooky!

This is what happens on a warm spring day in Minnesota when the lakes are still frozen!


emily miller talbott said...[Reply]

You are so right about Mdme Twaddell! She is the belle of the ball at the show-knows everyone and buys all the best while somehow managing to charm her clients! Love her and love that I now know you better! Your blog is a stitch and Merriman Park is fab! BTW-I grew up in Palladio's hood, just down the hills from Villa Capra, or as we know it here in the US as Monticello!


John said...[Reply]

Hi Emily! Great to hear from you, again! That's so cool you grew up next to my FAVE building! My next trip to Italy will be a pilgrimage there. Thanks for the compliments,


Elga said...[Reply]

Oh, gosh, John, I am going to have to read your post a few times till it all sinks in, so glad you had a whale of a time in Chicago.

As to needlepoint cushions, I guess you can always commission someone to make you a few, there are no shortage of stitchers out there.

Looking forward to photos of all your loot.

emily miller talbott said...[Reply]

If you're on FB, like Vicenza. They post wonderful pics of the Vicentino and many of them are Palladian villas & buildings. There are both English & Italian posts, but the pics are fab! I graduated HS in the Teatro Olimpico, another of his works.


Giac said...[Reply]

Hello John,
I am so happy to hear you had a great time! It sounds like it was such a fun experience! I cannot wait to see pictures of your purchases! How I look forward to attending one day!
Big hug,

Wyrna Christensen said...[Reply]

Thank you for giving you time to tell about your trip to Tom Bishop show. It sounds like you have had a fantastic trip where you both have met familiar and famous people and where you have seen many wonderful miniature things. When I read about it, it's a bit, like been there myself.

I look forward to seeing some of your treasures.

The weather has gone completely mad. We have here in Denmark had the coldest March & April in 25 years. It is 1 May and we still get night frost down to -4 degrees????

Janice said...[Reply]

It sounds as if you had an absolutely fabulous time. I know what you mean about feeling like a sweet young these shows. I am into my 50's and feel like a spring chicken some times.

Gee said...[Reply]

:D Hi John, it is not that I was n't interested, I knew it takes time to come back to earth :D
Your post is another super-post; after reading it, I thought: now THIS is entertainment; and it is.
I am thrilled you had such a good time at the show and how cool is that, that you finally met Ray!?
Through your blog I am enjoying it all along with you; can't wait to see what you've bought and got!
Thanks for sharing the experience!

And the video is awesome!

Margaret said...[Reply]

What determination, it must be admired, your drive to the show reminds me of my venture a couple of weeks ago to the miniaturist store in Sydney. Driving through pelting rain affected the car engine, water in the spark plugs or something, so I drove my jerking car to Sydney and back before it magically recovered. I really enjoyed reading your post, as usual. Your life must be one adventure after another!

Lucille said...[Reply]

Hi John! It's nice to read about how much you enjoyed your time in Chicago and about meeting all those famous miniaturists. I look forward to seeing your purchases in situ. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

Fi.P said...[Reply]

Hi John,
I just love the photos of of the snow storm...amazing, it's so good to get a glimpse into your world.

It sounds like you had a blast in Chicago, so many wonderful things and how lucky to walk out with gifts as well. I am just dyeing to see the photos and I am so pumped for the Sydney fair now.....hahaha, not that it will be any comparison to Chicago.

I just love the way you write....what a great post! Thanks for the great links too, I can't wait to check them out!


Indy_Poppy said...[Reply]

Ok so I am now a tad jealous about your trip. It sounds fantastic to meet with all those fellow miniaturists. I can't wait to see photos of your purchases. IndyPoppy

Ilona said...[Reply]

Hi John!!! What an adventure!! Whilst reading your blogpost, for me it was like being there on the show, thanks for sharing. I am so curious after your purchases and the gifts, I would love to see them. It is the same here in The Netherlands on the dollshouse shows: a lot of friends and acquaintances, lots of impressions of new and awesome miniatures :D!!
I am so happy you had a wonderful time in Chicago.
Hugs, Ilona

Iris March said...[Reply]

Hello John,
Well, someone had a great time at the show! One of these days, I will be able to get there, too, and meet all you wonderful people and buy all sorts of wonderous things-- in the meantime, I live through your experiences--thanks for the wonderful write-up and I can't wait to see the things you bought.


Troy said...[Reply]

I am a visual kind of guy.. looking forward to seeing some pics.

miraclechicken said...[Reply]

Thank you John, what a fun post! Hope to see some pics---

Catherine said...[Reply]


Sorry... I know I owe you an email. It hasn't been about being rude it is just that I have been working 12 hour days and longer.

What a FANTASTIC post and all without pictures from the show. You might consider writing for a living. I enjoyed every bit of your description of the trip and show. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it and also to email me. OXOXO

John said...[Reply]

Darling (Catherine),

No worries --we're all busy --but thanks for the supreme compliment. I would have maybe gone into writing, but my High School writing teacher recommended I stick to TYPING. LOL!

Anna said...[Reply]

Do I envy you...I wish I could have gone. It sounds like a blast!

*sigh* Someday...

Josje said...[Reply]

Oh John, your writing so makes me laugh! Reading your post was like watching a little film in my head, drooling over all the beautiful miniatures and meeting old and new friends, buying and receiving beutiful miniatures... Was it your birthday that day?

Earlier this year I was making plans to go to Chicago as well, but it was getting very complicated (not to mention expensive!) so now I am going to the Kensington show in London next week instead. Not that that's much cheaper, haha, but easier for me to travel to. I would love to go to Chicago though, maybe next year!

Can't wait to see what you got at the show!

Daydreamer said...[Reply]

Such DRAMA!!! Even Mother Nature couldn't resist the opportunity to give you More Adventure!!! I am so glad you weren't stopped by the snow... but Hey... we're talking Northerners here... a Little snow does Not stop the show!!! I thoroughly enjoyed your description.... almost like following you through the crowds! I always forget to take pictures once I am caught up in the EVENT anyway! I do want to see pictures of the Loot when you get your camera back! It sounds like you had a Fantastic Time!!! Thanks for sharing!

minifleur said...[Reply]

John "Flexible"
It was so much fun meeting you both in Chicago! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Chicago show through your eyes - it is rather awe inspiring those first few visits!
I do want to thank you for your kind words about my flowers - I do so love the creative outlet of miniatures and the opportunity to meet so many talented individuals all with something to share!
Love your posts,

MiniLover said...[Reply]

Hi John--

Thanks so much for the call out. I'm delighted that the urns found a place in MP. And thanks, too, for your lovely thank you note--you're a classy guy!!!

Guess I better stay closer to my table next year....but the lure of the many mini goodies is just so great....



Norma said...[Reply]

OMG!! You went out in all that snow??!! I'm not sure whether to congratulate you on your bravery and determination or declare you insane! ;)

Thanks for such a full and amusing report on your adventure - loved reading every word of it. Sounds like you had a great time in every respect.

Evelyne Martin said...[Reply]

Now you've gotta show us the goodies you bought there! I'm dying of curiosity here!!! :)

Andy said...[Reply]

Dear John,

What a bad person I am, I was sure I had left a comment on you latest post, but now I come to read what all your other fans have said, I find I hadn't left a comment at all!! Apologies for that, I could use the excuse that I have been away from home for several days!

Anyway, what a trip!! You were sure determined to get to those miniatures!!! I'd have taken one look at that glorious spring weather outside and stayed at home! I hope the sun has started to creep out of its long hibernation over there now, or that it has at least stopped snowing!!

Sounds like you met some lovely people, and bought some great things, I look forward to seeing them all soon.

Once again, sorry for so late a comment!

Andy xxx

Melissa Boling said...[Reply]

Just found this post - what a wonderful description of Chicago 2013! How I wish I had known you were there - it would have been fun to meet in person. If you want a petitpoint pillow in Dijon mustard and black, let me know - I can design and or stitch one for you. Do you have any idea what sort of design you would want, or just anything in those colors? Fruit, flowers, geometric, certain time period.... Missy

Steinworks said...[Reply]

oh my goodness I missed your post entirely (Probably because I was in contest mode *I channel my inner Suzanne Sugarbaker and everything fades away except the contest* )

thank you so much for the link and I can't wait to see your photos