Archive for May, 2010

An Afternoon with The Boston Ornament Company

In the course of a year, it seems that I spend many of my Saturdays doing something to further my craft. In the past it has been discovering new sources for artisans, antique dealers, artists, or vendors. This past Saturday, while John was off enjoying his “Day in Italy”, I spent the afternoon discovering the capabilities of Boston Ornament Company. They make plaster crown moldings, figures, brackets, and more, the old fashioned way. I’m a member of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classic America (ICA&CA), and with this group I was able to watch a new crown molding being made for a grand palace on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.


First we can see the basic shape of the molding, against which they will pour liquid plaster (ground lime, etc.) and then run their custom made “knife” across it to form the shape.


Step 1




They do this over and over again. Each layer dries pretty quickly. After a few layers, they add material to help hold the molding together.


Step 2




They added a sheet of thin fiberglass, and some straw-like material. In the old days it was straw, now it’s a synthetic. Then more and more layers of plaster, until all the air bubbles are out and they have a smooth shape.


Step 3






Step 4



I would guess that there are about 8 layers. After only about 5 minutes of drying time, they can pop the molding loose from the backer – and Voila!



Step 5



Now this molding is pretty plain – it provides the basic shape. With our friend, Sheldon Kostelecky looking on, we see Clayton Austin (owner, Boston Ornament) in the process of adding 5 more “embellishments”; egg and dart, dentils, modillion blocks, and lambs tongue to create a rich and complex crown molding.




Step 6



It was so interesting to see how this process is done. It certainly gives me a greater appreciation for the incredible craftsmanship that these moldings represent.



A Day in Italy – without Leaving Massachusetts!

I happen to love all things Italian, especially their cars and wine. Thanks to a tip from Budd Kelley of South Shore Millwork and an email from my friends downstairs, Salem Wine Imports, I was able to enjoy both of my passions on a Saturday earlier this month. What a glorious sun filled day it was!

As usual, the fit and finish quality of the Ferrari’s and Maserati’s was off the charts. What was interesting to observe up close was the distinctly different personalities of the two cars, with Ferrari clearly being the edgier of the two marques.

Ferrari 599

Ferrari 599

Ferrari California

Ferrari California

I was struck by the fact that I was drawn to the more traditionally laid out touring cars. I had arrived thinking the sportier mid-engine Ferrari’s were going to hold my attention. I must be maturing…. In fact the car that stole my heart was the Maserati GranCabriolet, a convertible! Delicious!!!!

Maserati Gran Cabrio

Maserati Grancabriolet

I could sit in this all day!


Maserati Grancabriolet

Pininfarina had it right when he said these cars are best appreciated when painted in light metallic colors. Look at the hi-lites!

Maserati rear quarter

Maserati Grancabriolet

Then it was back to Salem for a late afternoon of wine tasting. I arrived at Eric’s shop to find my friendly wine rep Bob behind the tasting table with 6 bottles of wine; 4 whites and 2 reds. And so as Bob poured, I was transported from one region of Italy to another.

wine bottles salem imports

First, a Prosecco produced by Faggeto. With its clean apple-like fruit, it was a perfect match for the heat of the afternoon! Then a Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Bianco from Sicily. (Already one of my summer favs!) Back to Alto-Aldsige near the Austrian border for Italy’s version of pinot blanc, Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco with it’s floral and fruit aromas, fresh acidity and mineral character on the finish. And finally back to Sardinia for the last white, Pala Crabalis Vermontino. This wine was a charmer with its floral aromas (a hint of thyme, too), and slightly oily texture. It finished with a hint of ocean saltiness.

All in all a perfect day.

The Architecture of Trust – Walking Tour

The New England Chapter of The Institure of Classical Architecture and Clasical America is sponsoring a walking tour called “The Architecture of Trust”.  The tour will explore Boston’s Financial District and feature the works of notable New England architects.  The work of Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, Daniel Burnham, Parker Thomas and Rice, and Cass Gilbert will be explored. 

The tour is Saturday, May 22nd from 2-4pm.  The tour commences at South Station’s Acela Lounge and concludes with a cash bar reception at the Oceanaire Restaurant on Court Street.

The tour is $15 for ICA, CA and Boston by Foot members and $20 for non-members.  Please call Michael Tyrrell, Tour Director, at 617-459-1232 to reserve a spot.

John Kelsey and Sally Wilson

Wilson Kelsey Design is an award-winning luxury architectural interior design firm serving discerning clients in Greater Boston and beyond.

With over 50 years’ combined experience, husband-and-wife team John Kelsey and Sally Wilson expertly manage the details while collaborating with you on every aspect of your design project, to create a beautiful home that reflects who you are and how you live. Our warm and approachable sensibility makes the design process an enjoyable and memorable experience, from initial design discussions through project completion.

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