Decked-out furniture by designAmong all the playful motifs...


April 04, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Decked-out furniture by design

Among all the playful motifs in interior design these days, one of the hottest is playing cards. From the deuce of clubs to the ace of spades, you'll find them on fun fabrics and fine furniture. The idea originated in London, where many of design's most innovative trends come from, according to Marian McEvoy, editor-in-chief of Elle Decor. It's a '50s spinoff, she says, "the best of the '50s, with a sort of harlequin feeling, very sophisticated."

One of the most charming examples comes from Art Cetera, a division of Lexington Furniture that makes hand-painted pieces. It's a small table painted with a trompe l'oeil card game -- as though the players had left their cards in the middle of play. (The table is available locally through stores that carry Lexington, such as Shofer's.)

Linda Jones of Masco Home Furnishings has an interesting theory about why the playing card motif is so popular: "People are surrounding themselves," she says, "with the things they wish they had more time to do."

Jean Mellott, publicity chairwoman of the Baltimore Heritage Quilter's Guild, got a call from South Africa the other day about the group's scheduled show, "Baltimore Quilts: Many Threads." She's had lots of international interest, she says. And yes, the woman from South Africa plans to attend.

What's the draw for people from so far away? For one thing, the biennial show will include an invitational exhibit of five nationally known quilters, whose works range from the look of antique applique to the strikingly contemporary. And for the first time it will feature a silent auction of miniature quilts. But the heart of the exhibition will be the quilts of the guild membership, which in 10 years has grown from 15 local quilters to 200.

"Baltimore Quilts: Many Threads" will be held in the Friends School gymnasium complex, 5114 N. Charles St. The show's dates are April 17 and 18, and hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $3. Call (410) 667-6530 or 628-8092 for more information.

Buying an Oriental rug isn't as simple as it might seem, and most of us could benefit from doing a little research before we ever step into the store. Often shoppers aren't buying a collector's item but a look, says Jon Levinson, vice president of Alex Cooper Oriental Rugs. The most popular look is Persian; but if you aren't a collector, the same effect can be achieved with a generic Oriental, such as "Sino-Persian" or "Indo-Persian." (Authentic Persian rugs from Iran are embargoed and therefore expensive.) But sometimes people wish later that they had bought something more collectible, Mr. Levinson warns, because of its value as an investment.

Many buyers aren't even sure what Orientals are -- they just know what they like. (Mr. Levinson defines Orientals as handmade, of natural fibers, made in the Near East, Middle East, Far East or the Balkans.) The best thing you can do before you shop for one is to educate yourself a little. If you don't have the time to plow through books on rugs, a quick and easy guide is available for $3 from the Oriental Rug Importers Association Inc., Park Plaza Drive, Secaucas, N.J. 07094.

Since 1988, when Susan Magsamen began producing and marketing Curiosity Kits for children, her local company has developed a national market in stores such as the Museum Company, Imaginarium and the Nature Company. It all started when the Cloister's Children's Museum asked her to plan and run a cultural arts camp. Now she has 32 educational craft kits teaching children about the arts, science and world cultures. Everything is included -- even scissors, glue and sandpaper when necessary.

This year she's introduced kits for older children, roughly up to age 16, three of which have just won the Parents' Choice Approval, given by a national foundation made up of parents and educators. (This puts them in the running for a Parents' Choice Award for Doing and Learning later in the year.)

Kits include everything from making African trading-bead jewelry an insect house to a color optics spinning top. Prices range from $7 to $20. For information, call (410) 584-2605.

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