Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Book Worship Volume VI

Gothic Revival by Megan Aldrich

Now everyone already knows about our problems keeping our library in order. If it is not one tribe of books warring with another, then it is an all out anarchy rebellion with books running everywhere breaking the china and scaring the cats (wait, we don’t have any cats....) Recently we took some time to organize and restore order to our bookcases and ran across a book we had not perused in some time.

We do not know about you but this time of year always brings to mind all things over dramatic, heavy handed and self aggrandizing. What better time for a post on Gothic architecture and design, we said to ourselves? Our favorite book on the subject is Gothic Revival by Megan Aldrich. This luscious and weighty volume published by Phaidon, contains beautifully produced color plates depicting its origins though the revivals in the Victorian era. The astute Dr. Aldrich provides an extensive text covering all aspects of the Gothic style. (Of special interest to us are the bold and mind warping wallpaper and tile designs.)

It seems as though we like our architecture like we like our music (that would be spike clad and drenched in gloom). At the time we purchased this book we envisioned living in an EVIL GOTHIC COTTAGE studded spires and turrets and encrusted with stained glass oriel windows reminiscent of devil’s eyes. (Needless to say, the fore mentioned cottage would need to be surrounded by a demon haunted forest straight out of an Immortal song.) But it turns out that gothic cottages are EXPENSIVE even if they are only mildly bad tempered and not actually evil (so yet another architectural related daydream cast to the wayside…)
We hope a wicked and sublime Winter Solstice was had by all!

Gothic Revival by Megan Aldrich
© 1994 Phaidon Press Ltd London
ISBN 0 7148 2886 6

Take me...can't you feel the Call
Embrace me eternally in your daylight slumber

To be draped by the shadow of your morbid palace
Oh, hate living...The only heat is warm blood

("Transilvanian Hunger" by Darkthrone)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deck the Halls

OK, we know the burning question on everyone’s mind is how do you apply the Art of Living in Sin to the current holiday season? Come to think of it perhaps “burning” is the wrong choice of words…it has been suggested by someone that people like us (and we quote) “will fry for eternity like a Jimmy Dean sausage.” That is what we love about this time of year – it brings the best out in everyone… HA!

But anyway, back to living in sin. Here at Chintz of Darkness we suggest doing away with Frosty, Rudolph and rest of the creepy traditional themes and instead create an enchanted Pagan Forest or a haunting Witches Wood straight from the pages of a Grimm’s fairy tale. Several years ago we ran across (Ok, we begged and pleaded for) a lovely and pristine aluminum tree (complete with its original box) from the fabulous Deluxe Junk here in Seattle. The only drawback to aluminum trees is the fact that you cannot use electric lights on them (something to do with electrocuting ourselves and knocking out the power grid to the entire West Coast…) Instead we used one of those odd light wheels that bathe the tree in a muzzy aurora borealis style of illumination that makes your head swim after too much “holiday cheer”…

We have been collecting vintage and antique glass ornaments for quite a few years now. Our collection is limited to primarily birds, fruits and berries with a few stars and lanterns thrown in to light the way. The appeal of collecting glass ornaments is the fact that they are so temporal and fragile beyond belief. There is a time and place when they will return to the earth. Every year some ornaments seem a little more transparent and ethereal, such as our favorite set of grape clusters that are as delicate as a daydream or a breath of air.

Now, we don’t know about you but it seems that our decorations multiply rather like a pen of rabbits. Every year we open the closet to find the ornament boxes have displaced entire villages of shoes and boots and have pushed countless velvet frocks and jackets to their untimely deaths. It does not help matters that someone around here (wait that was me…) always says things like “LET’S PUT UP A TREE IN EVERY ROOM!!!” It hasn’t gotten to that extreme yet, but lets just say ornaments do end up in some odd places.

One of our favorite places to find vintage ornaments is our local thrift stores. Usually they will put out a big selection in the middle of July when no one is in the mood to think of the holidays. We have noticed the strange looks we get shopping for decorations wearing our Dimmu Borgir shirts and skull gloves (and probably humming a lovely black metal hymn instead of the more appropriate Silent Night.) Just for the record we ARE NOT one of those people that pose the reindeer figurines in compromising positions or replace the baby Jesus with a shot glass and glass olive…quit smirking, we are quite serious…

Deluxe Junk (sorry no website)
3518 Fremont Place North
Seattle, WA 98103-8623
Phone: (206) 634-2733

Where the days are Dark
and Night the Same
Moonlight Drank the Blood
of a thousand Pagan men

It took ten times a hundred Years
Before the King on the Northern Throne
was brought Tales of the crucified one

(“A Blaze In The Northern Sky” by Darkthrone)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Peep Show

If life could only be as faded and derelict as a hand tinted photograph…It is hard to create such an ethereal environment amid harsh lighting, building codes and the general rules of physics and logic. This is perhaps the reason we are attracted to early Victorian era photography. The sets were always a bit odd and slightly surreal. Where else could you find rocks, ponds and a waterfall amid a formal parlor? Or ask yourself why are those ornately carved columns growing in the middle of a forest? Looks closely and you are also likely to find some creepy taxidermy, mind altering trompe l’oeil backdrops and various arcane furnishings. Is that an umbrella stand, hat rack or a WICKED TIME MACHINE capable of traveling to another dimension? (The same thing can be said of their hats as well…)

The best thing of all is the delicious clutter of textiles, pillows and draperies that accompany these fantastic settings. Tassels seem to sprout from sprigs of ivy, doves hold swags of fabric delicately in their beaks and a never ending cascade of brocades floods every available surface. It seems the best place to observe these fabric wonderments in their natural habitat is in early erotic photos plates. Maybe we are missing the point but truth be told we wish the models would put their robes back on and go home. Stop standing around getting in the way of the luscious scenery, woman!!! Don’t even get us started on all of those amble Victorian haunches pressed up against otherwise innocent and unsuspecting pillows. (NOTE TO SELF: DRY CLEAN ALL ANTIQUE TEXTILES PRIOR TO USE.)

We can’t decide if we are happy or not that we didn’t find any men featured in the photos from this era (although we are sure they exist.) It would be thrilling to see an uptight Victorian dude with a weird mustache and a monocle draped in taffeta and chasing a butterfly…

I will leave you in the cold.
In the dead of the night,
Black leather and latex queen
A lush of the world

(“Black Shining Leather” by Carpathian Forest)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hell's Shells

If I, Splendor were a mermaid princess you can forget all about the Disney version full of sweetness and light, complete with dancing starfish and singing seahorses (or whatever nonsense it was). And you can forget about the CLAM SHELL BRA as well. If I am deprived of my feet I promise you it’s swimming topless all the way. A living skirt of skin tight, shining scales sounds good on paper, but does not began to make up for a life without boots, shoes or other foot fetish related activities. (I could insert a link to John Fluevog Shoes here, but that would be 1) overselling the point 2) a huge person distraction to actually writing this post.)

Ok, Ok I admit it, I just went online and looked at some boots…damn, it seems apparent that I would make a dreadful mermaid indeed…But I am straying from the point at hand (fin?) Every decent mermaid palace needs a few adornments. Here is an eclectic mix of objects that would decorate the fathomless depth of our undersea domain…

We are quite partial to 16th and 17th century still life paintings. They tend to be quite enigmatic and full of hidden meanings and cryptic compositions. Does a shell placed with a skull become a metaphor for the fragility of life? Or perhaps a cautionary statement against human vanity? We are not sure of the answer but from now on will keep our collection of skulls from mingling with our assortment of shells just to be on the safe side. Last time we caused a cosmic upheaval with one of our vignettes, it took a week to recover and we lost our damage deposit.

On the lighter side, what is not to love about these circa 1950 dishes designed by Christian Dior? They would make any table quite grand, below sea or above.

I want to be as deep
as the ocean
mother ocean
some people tell me
home is in the sky
in the sky lives a spy
I want to be more like the ocean

(“Ocean Size” by Jane’s Addiction)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Book Worship Volume V

Roomscapes: The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino

We cannot remember the exact moment we fell in love with Renzo Mongiardino. Was it the first time we experienced his work in a glossy design magazine? Or perhaps it was when we first held Roomscapes in our trembling hands (oh, what a day…) Maybe our love for him was always there, like our love for the rain, the stars and the moon…

Renzo was born in Genoa in 1916 and continued living and working in Italy until his death in 1998 at the age of eighty-one. He is truly one of the greatest designers of the twentieth century. We are sure that the work produced in his lengthy career will continue to have a profound influence on generations to come.

To us Renzo’s work is visceral, organic and awe inspiring. To have the ability to mold such extravagance into reality is an alchemy that few possess. It seems as though his rooms sprang to life out of a baroque daydream or were woven by the fingers of some elegant mage. To think they had their inception in the mind of a mortal man is a humbling thought indeed.

In our very favorite rooms designed by Renzo there is a theatric flair that is slightly brooding and melancholy. We find this utterly enticing. It is as if there is something at the very edge of perception that evades the eye. If we ever had the opportunity to see his work in person we would walk though on our tippy toes and hold our collective breath as not to break the glorious spell holding such finery together…

Hail Renzo, wherever you might be, we know you have made that place a little more beautiful than you found it.

Roomscapes: The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino

All these landscapes are timeless,
and this is all just a part of cosmos,
(but) all is mine and past and future is yet to discover...
Much have been discovered, but tomorrow
I will realize I existed before myself

(“Cosmic Keys to my Creations and Times” by Emperor)

Gilding The Willy Part II

After spending the better part of the afternoon on a particularly nasty piece of business (which accomplished nothing more than a mild migraine and a dizzy spell) we were able spend a few moments rummaging around our library (by “library” we mean the big oak bookcase in the corner of the studio. If we actually had a ROOM ENTIRELY FULL OF BOOKS nothing would ever get done around here.)

The result of our search was finding the sofa of our dreams. We aren’t sure where he / it has been all our lives or how we have developed such an attraction to such oddities. I guess that is why we call our blog Chintz of Darkness and not Seraph + Splendor’s Musing on a Well Adjusted Life…
Again enjoy…

No star will shine tonight.
No star, no matter how bright.
Across the firmament goes its flight.
A great darkness devouring the light.
(“Stellarvore” by Watain)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Splendor's Spooky Children's Books

May your Halloween be wicked and wonderful, dear readers! Here is a glimpse as to why every day is a little like Halloween to me…

As the story goes after the rebellion the fallen angels were cast into the fiery abyss for all eternity. Luckily for me the abyss turned out to be the gloomy Pacific Northwest and a sublime and disheveled Victorian near the shores of Lake Washington. As for fiery pits, the most I had to contend with were gigantic fireplaces, as well as hidden rooms and haunted closets.

I was a tomboy to the bitter end the only things I hated more than dolls was having my hair brushed or wearing a dress. Although I have reformed my ways in several aspects (OK, I haven’t reformed anything, I’ve just become more subversive…) dolls STILL TO THIS DAY make me queasy. And even though my mother insisted (FORCED) me to take ballet lessons, I still manage to sharpen my budding horns on some rather interesting books…

Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee (above)
© 1978 Henry N. Abrams New York

This book was like a child’s faerie guidebook to me. I spent hours studying the illustrations and will admit that some of the pictures scared me to death. Alan Lee’s artwork truly evokes the world of the fey. His illustrations are at once haunting and sensual, full of dreary mists, gnarled trees and exquisite beings. He has also illustrates J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Children of Húrin. Brian Froud’s work might be recognized as the inspiration for characters in the movies The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth (in collaboration with Jim Henson)

Kay Nielsen edited by David Larkin (above)
© 1975 Peacock Press / Bantam Books New York

As a child I had literally dozens of fairy tale book ranging from the mundane Americanized volumes to the crumbling Victorian books found at thrift stores by my parents. Some of my very favorites (still to this day) were illustrated by the Danish artist Kay Nielsen (1886-1957). His work brings to life an old world essence and a deep sense of European grandeur that I find missing in the American versions of the same stories. Nielsen’s characters are expressive, heroic and passionate. Definitely not to be missed.

Ratsmagic illustrated by Wayne Anderson / story by Christopher Logue (above)
© 1976 Pantheon Books New York

This is the truly wonderful story of The Valley of Peace and the imprisonment (and inevitable rescue) of Bluebird and her Magic Egg. I HIGHLY recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and illustration as well as collectors of children’s book. To me Wayne Anderson epitomizes a more modern day approach to children’s book illustrating (although I do realize the book was published in 1976, I am fan of the Golden Age of illustration, so it still modern to me!) His work is slightly edgy and over scale and departure from more tradition styles.

Splendor as a Cherub (and or the last time I left the house not wearing black…)

I was born in the cemetery
Under the sign of the moon
Raised from my grave by the dead
I was made a mercenary in the legions of hell

(“Evil” by Mercyful Fate)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gilding the Willy

The concept of a gilded man holding up a glorious china cabinet greatly appeals to us here at Chintz of Darkness and it is something we feel we could work into our interior. Baroque furniture is quite out of our budget, but gold body paint is NOT… (Don’t you just love those weekend DIY projects…)

Architect Design’s recent post about a visit to the Cooper- Hewitt Museum sent us on another of our frenzies searches through bookcases and file boxes. The ensuing results are some wicked and sublime Baroque objects from the museum’s collections.


A commode that demands to be the center of attention. (One of a pair (!!!) made by Andre-Charles Boulle for the bedchamber of Louis XIV.)

This harpsichord is to die for! How can anything so lovely exist in the world? (The pastoral scene painted on the lid is attributed to the Italian painter Crescenzio Onofri.)

Roaming through the mists of gold
Feeding with the ancient ones
Teaching kills and holy wars
Drinking black forgotten blood

(Seraph’s Baroque Incantations)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Now that it is officially Fall and all the better elements of our garden are dead and gone, it seemed like the perfect time for a post about gardening. (NOTE: we do not actually have a “garden” because we do not actually have a “yard”. Think more in terms of an eccentric jumble of ceramic pots, antique wrought iron trellises, a birdcage and some odd statuary piled onto our apartment terrace. It is in fact a vast improvement over our last “garden” that consisted of a patch of sidewalk between a restaurant and a bar. So at least we are going in the right direction…)

Perhaps we do not appear the types, but we have always tried our hand at gardening. Both of our families contain more than a fair share of successful gardeners, so while we might not be truly green thumbs we try our best. There is a particularly highfalutin nursery here in town that will remain nameless (*cough*Swanson’s*cough*) that is a favorite, no make that an entertaining place to shop (and they actually DO have a fabulous selection of everything related to gardening.) The last time we were there the salespeople tended to follow us around. Perhaps it was the tendrils of Seraph’s tattoos blending with the armload of Creeping Jenny that he was carrying or possibly it was just the evil and vicious plants that we selected that made them jumpy. But it is not as if we were planning a daring getaway with a BRIGHT RED RADIO FLYER WAGON full of shrubs. We swear to you, dear readers, we really are not the trouble makers people make us out be…
Our fantasy garden would be a blending of the indoors and outdoors into a series of decrepit and decaying roomscapes. We envision ornate graveyard of chairs, benches and plant stands slowing being reclaimed by nature, faeries and wildlife. Crystal chandeliers and jeweled sconces would spring from tree branches, while wrought iron room screens would form hidden parlors and pantries. A tile mosaic of stepping stones and plants would create elaborate Persian carpets and garden pathways. Stained glass windows would look upon unknown vistas while a gilded mirror would reflect nothing but sky…

Among the old trees,
As the dust covers every flower in bloom,
The mourners hide their eyes,
To reap the seeds and harvest.

Withering flowers of the northern autumn,
Shall never thrive again.
The time has ceased,
Now my dreams are true....

(“When Thousand Moon Have Circled” by Carpathian Forest)

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