when in doubt, visit the metropolitan museum of art

I had the fortune of spending a recent weekend in New York... The primary purpose was to celebrate my mom's birthday.  The other objective was to visit the newly completed Islamic Art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which turned out to be even more amazing than I had anticipated.  Here are some my favorite pieces (all images from the Museum's website):

The striking graphic lettering on this bowl is the first taste of the glories you'll behold in the galleries:
10th Century bowl with Arabic inscription reading "Planning before work protects you from regret; prosperity and peace"- Iran

So delicate and I love the colors:
9th Century ewer fragment - Iraq

Have you ever seen such a great chess set?
12th Century Chess Set - Iran

The watery blue glaze is most perfect in this talismanic fish bowl:
13th Century bowl with central fish motifs - Iran

That fine dotted line linking the two vegetal motifs is ingenious.
10th Century bowl with red and black vegetal motifs - Iran or present day Uzbekistan, Nishapur or Samarqand

 The form and decoration are so charming:
ca. 1525-40 Ewer with "Tughra-Illumination" style decoration - Turkey

 "Imitation" or not, how daring and brilliant to just drip some green glaze down the sides of this bowl:
9th-10th Century Imitation green-splashed Samarra ware bowl - Iran

The extremely vibrant shade of turquoise glaze on this vase can only really be appreciated in person:
Late 12th - early 13th Century turquoise jar - Syria

All that junk you see at Pier 1 can only dream of looking so awesome:
12th - 13th Century Low table or stand - Iran

Stripes, as I've mentioned, beat not-stripes, especially when paired with carved relief in pottery:
Second half of 14th Century Architectural tile with partial inscription - present day Uzbekistan

I wish I could convince people they need this kind of tile in their lives today:
13th Century Panel composed of star and cross -shaped tiles - Iran

 Jaunty and sepia toned:
ca. 1019-20 Bifolium from the Nurse's Qur'an - Tunisia

Such graceful letter shapes:
9th - early 10th Century folio from a Qur'an manuscript - Central Islamic Lands

 Bolder and graphic:
Late 9th - early 10th Century folio from a Qur'an manuscript - Syria or Iraq

 Yes, please, I'll take this carpet:
Mid-17th Century carpet with niche and flower design - India or Pakistan

 Yes, please, I'll take this tent panel:
17th Century panel from a tent lining - India

 The kind of tent I'd like to spend the night in has walls made like this:
ca. 1635 Tent panel - India

Serious but not uptight:
8th Century Pear-shaped vase - Iran

Simple bird form:
9th Century Oil lamp - Iran

Some serious finials:
ca. 1650–80 Palanquin finials with lotuses - India

I wish I was wearing these right now:
11th - 12th Century Earrings - Iran

Sort of scary like a grenade, but whimsical nonetheless:
Second half of 12th Century Bottle with sprinkler top - Iran

Such playful form and pattern:
10th - 11th Century Bottle with impressed decorations - probably Iran

I want to drink from this today:
7th - 10th Century or later Cup with molded honeycomb pattern - Iraq

Such an expressive shape, like a still from an animated film:
19th Century Figure of a mouse in deep blue glass - Iran

I'd wear any perfume if it came in a bottle like this:
18th Century Gilded green bottle - Northern India

Simple chevrons:
Early 13th Century Perfume Sprinkler - Syria

I've barely scratched the surface of the treasures in the 15 rooms of the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia.  The galleries are an incredible joy to visit and are filled such great designs that would be just as at home in modern lives as they were in the 10th-19th centuries.  Go there as soon as you can (or at least browse the galleries at home on the Museum's exhaustive website)!


one table begets another

last summer before we moved to nc, we were walking around oak park and found a water damaged table on the side of the road left out for trash collection.  the top of the table was a nasty faux wood grain number, but the legs were the classic 50s hairpin shape.  without any particular purpose in mind, we decided to pry the legs off the half-sodden table top and carry them home.

the raw as-found iron hairpin legs.
closer view.
you can imagine how fun it was to move from illinois some rusted old iron thangs that threatened to ding or scratch or gouge everything around them on the moving truck.  here in nc, the legs have been quietly biding their time tucked away under another piece of furniture in the office.

today i had a sudden inspiration.  i've been wanting a small bookcase for quite sometime to hold the contents of a couple of still-packed book boxes.  after doing some craigslist, thrift store, discount store, cost plus world market, target, etc. scoping, i still had had no luck in finding a ready made bookcase that i liked well enough.  with the oak-park-found-metal legs in mind, i realized i could turn my current rigged up dining table base into little bookcases.  so basically, the metal legs had to transform into usable form and the table bases would require some extra wood to act as shelves.

the dining table earlier today.
a lone table base disconnected from the dining table.
to create shelves, i had mdf cut at home depot to the size of the top and inner dimensions of the dining table bases (which are a now discontinued ikea desk base).

the table base with the top and a bottom shelf.  middle shelf not yet added.
i also decided to add a middle shelf.  to do that, i picked up some L-shaped shelf pegs at home depot and just drilled the right sized holes in the middle of the four vertical supports.

i had actually thought at first that i would stack the three of these bases that i own on top of each other to form a tall bookcase, but i realized that a better use would be as sofa end tables that could double as my much needed bookcases.  the height and width is pretty perfect for the sofa.  

former table base transformed into a bookcase.
(the matching one is unseen in this photo at the other end of the sofa.  the third is awaiting its placement but will probably stay in the office.)  eventually i will paint the mdf some kind of fun color, but since we're having people over for the super bowl tomorrow, i didn't have time to complete that step. i can't say i mind it terribly in its raw state.

so now that the end table/bookcase situation was taken care of, i had to complete the dining table base.  this step was surprisingly painless and makes me wonder why i waited so long to actually do it.  i spray painted the legs a glossy white, let them dry and then screwed them into the bottom of the same table top (also ikea) we already were using.

the new table looking retro.

two easy and productive projects in one day.  done and done.
new bookcase at left, new table at right.


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