Wednesday, July 7, 2010

17th and 18th Century Prints Leap from Old Volumes onto Lamps, Furniture and Fabrics

I have been following Susan Carson for over 20 years in her various showroom locations in High Point, N.C. She is a welcoming, smiling pixie of a woman with a great sense of humor and vibrant energy. There is decoupage and then there is Susan's unique and evolving take on this art form. Starting with lamps, graduating to furniture, and textiles, Susan's vast collection of 17th and 18th century prints have recombined in delightful patterns that always look fresh. Chipmunks, caterpillars, frogs, turtles, leaves and acorns all magically assemble within patterns of plump, majolica looking begonia leaves or other forms to create a wonderful woodland scene.

Susan Carson's lamps styles extend across geographical boundaries and styles. There are playful country house combinations, side by side with luminous, more formal lighting that look as elegant as a hand painted Herend lamp, but for me, so much warmer.  They have an organic look, with lots of movement. I feel like these little creatures might start swirling around like the paintings in Harry Potter.
Brilliantly, in this modern day and age, Susan Carson is able to create custom pieces for her collectors employing the cottage industry tradition. Artisans work from home (in America) adapting prototypes, for custom requests. A painstaking process of choosing themes and styles takes place, as Susan scans and trims each image from her collection and assembles them with attention to scale and balance. This process takes 25-30 hours for each style lamp. Naturally, the adaptation from the original design takes less time. I always say: "More fat bees please!" 

Slowly,  Susan layers the images, waiting for the glue to dry completely between each strata, then she paints, 2 coats per day, for a total of 6-8 coats depending on the color. She looks for images that seem "happy" with one another.
The epiphany of the furniture transition created the most beautiful card table I have ever seen--anywhere. Absolutely, there is no other artist with as sophisticated a grasp of this common art form. 
I love the motion of the fluttering leaves, punctuated with marvelous beetles, moths and assorted hardwoods. 

The legs and apron on this exquisit gathering table can be adapted in several ways. Multiple color bases and themes are as infinite as your imagination. Our family loves the pieces we have collected from Susan over the years--our happy collaborations.

Custom work and artistic magic take time, but it is well worth the wait for a carefully selected piece that add to the vocabulary, and language, that characterize the well designed room. Susan Carson's designs add sentences, paragraphs and pages, in my opinion. Here are a few more images of 
Susan's incredible exploration of her craft. 

You could go Palm Beach, or Hollywood Regency with a twist

Lately, digital technology and this old time "poor man's craft" merged, creating Carson Designs new textile line. The process involves scanning high resolution prints into the computer, digitally cutting the selected little bugs, acorns, leaves, flowers or fruits depending on the theme. Susan draws out the spacial arrangement of the pattern and scale to breathtaking results.

These whimsical scarves sell from $240.00-$300.00 retail. I, for one, would spend an extra $300.00 for a frame and hang it on my wall. Sharp, contemporary, and traditional, this fantastic design reminds us that we really have not seen it all. 

Lizards, and dragonflies, and weeds--Oh My! This singular pattern and design appears to have no repeat, while the decoupage concept applied to fabric is completely unique. Beautiful in mountain houses, or country cousins, we await images of sofa's, chairs and drapes to see what designers create with this fresh, new idea.


  1. Lovely! I want that green table!

    You've got blog!

  2. That gilt table is AMAZING! I have seen it in a small entry and it was so chic and fab! It was placed in front of an antiqued mirror wall. I loved it!

  3. Tammy: Anytime you want that table, just let me know! Oh, and Devon, I wish we had a photo of that table in the hall!

  4. liz enjoy NYC wow wow your eating well

  5. I love those lamps. Very traditional and classy!

  6. These remind me of the days that my Mother and I would decoupage boxes, and trays - We would make purses and things - so fun!
    Lovely things here.

  7. Susan's a dear friend and as lovely as her work. Thank you for introducing your readers to such talent!

  8. I'd love a pair of those lamps- they are stunning!

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