Artwork at the Brown House under High Swan

Crosscut Saw Blade over Mantle

The art work in the Brown House, as are the furnishings & everything else, is highly personal. Much of it has been “rescued” from Goodwill, purchased at bargain prices. Sometimes I bought a print just for the frame, which I then used with another print, poster, or photograph. Most of it is unusual &/or unique. I have two long, crosscut saw blades that belonged to my dad. What follows is a description & known history of the each of the pieces. One of my ideas for art work in the house is that it depicts nothing you can see by looking out a window of the house. For example, I have almost no representational flowers or plants. I didn’t hold to that rule absolutely... 

Note: photos of many of these items are shown in the BH listings at AirBnb and Vrbo

African Blanket

Location: The wall over the stairwell.

This blanket was given to me by my aunt who lived in Cameroon, Africa, where she was a midwife for eight years.  The blanket is made of camel hair & has been said to be a Mali Wedding Rug.


Baskets & Pottery

There’s too much ground to cover all these in detail, but the baskets came from a number of sources, mostly Goodwill, & the vases mostly from the BFES, purchased on the 20% off day.  The wire baskets outside are a creative, time-saving innovation of mine.  They are located where I have previously kept hanging live-flower baskets.  But with all the landscape maintenance we have to do, & wishing to give guests all the privacy possible, it’s hard to keep the live baskets near the house watered & looking good.  If I find nice hanging actual flower baskets on sale in the future. I can always get them.


Biltmore House Postcard Reproduction

Location: To the left of the door just as you enter the Master Bedroom, Upper Level. 

One of my last art acquisitions for the Brown House.  Goodwill. 


Birds & Flowers Prints

Location: Downstairs Main Room

These two marvelous, complimentary prints were produced by the Dufex process, developed by F.J. Warren in the early 20th Century.  It involves printing images onto aluminum foil-lined paper or cardboard, using UV formulated transparent inks, which allow the reflective shine to be retained.  Engraving techniques are then used to add a range of light-reflective textures to the foil.  Goodwill.

Related: we have two ancient Chinese coin replicas, purchased in original packaging at GW.  $5, each.


Caféterras bij nacht (Place du Forum)

Terrace of a café at night (Place du Forum)

Location: Lower Level Bedroom

Vincent van Gogh, c. 16 September 1888.  At the vanishing point of the painting you will discover a horizontal line forming a horizon.  The line represents the Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, France. Original is on display at the Kroller-Muller Museum in Netherlands.  Print & frame from Goodwill.


Canoe Paddle.

Location:  The pole in the main room upstairs.

Maker, Our second daughter, who is letting us borrow it for now.


Crosscut Saws

Locations:  Above mantle, Lower Level & Hall of Upper Floor

These saws belonged to my Dad.  In the age of powerful chain saws, what better use for antiques, than to transform them into powerful two dimensional sculptures.

Egyptian Zodiac

Location: Behind the door in the Downstairs Bedroom.

This work & its fellow, the ducks in the main room upstairs, are printed on papyrus paper.  “The sculptured Dendera zodiac (or Denderah zodiac) is a widely-known Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos (or portico) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera Hathor Temple at Dendera, containing images of Taurus (the bull ) & Libra (the scales). This chapel was begun in the late Ptolemaic period…” -Wikipedia

Fantasy Musical Insect Poster

Location:  Downstairs Bedroom.

I have an interest in bugs of all kinds & Edie is a musician.  I don’t remember where we got the poster, but we’ve had it for 40-odd years & just recently put it in a frame from Walmart.  This piece of art covers the electrical breaker box for the house.


King Momo [of Spades] Print  momo ordinario

Location, Master Bedroom Upstairs, south wall.

Momus is the god of satire & mockery in Greek mythology & he is the basis of King Momo, who is celebrated in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay & elsewhere as the King of the Carnivals, & Festivals.  Look him up.  I found this piece in perfect condition at a local Goodwill. My mom was a master bridge player. 


The Last Supper Carving, Olivewood

Location: Above the wormy chestnut coat rack, Upper Level Hall.

Probably acquired from Edie’s parents, who may have purchased it in Israel.


Linn Done Tropical Fish Prints

Locations: the Three Bathrooms

I love these colorful, cheerful, water-themed prints & have two more in the house where we live.  Sources: Goodwill, eBay, & Walmart.


Log Cabin Print

Location:  The Master Bedroom, Upper Floor.

This signed, numbered print portrays the cabin of Appalachian writer & poet, James Still.  Edie & I knew Mr. Still & were his close-by neighbors for a few years when we lived & worked at the Hindman Settlement School in eastern Kentucky. I often ate lunch with Mr. Still & once pulled weeds in his flower bed at the cabin.  A biographical sheet came with the print & I fixed into a used frame & mounted it in the Master Bedroom closet.


Mirrors are windows of reflection & I wanted one in every possible room of the house.


Large Beveled Hickory-White Mirror with Wood Frame

Location: Main Room, Upper Level

This beautiful mirror was for sale at the Bridge Foundation Estate Sale (BFES).  When I looked more closely, I right away  saw a serious defect in the frame.  Like something had been ripped off of one side.  So I rejected it out-of- hand.  Another mirror of the same size caught my eye, but it was overpriced.  Some time later—a week, maybe—I saw the sound mirror at the Bridge Foundation Thrift Store, marked way down to $30.  Success.  Patience rewarded, so I thought.  I loaded the mirror into the car & then noticed: It was the defective mirror!  They had displayed it defect-down, & it being heavy, I never looked.  They don’t take returns, though I’m sure they would in this case since I was still in the parking lot. But I knew I could treat the defect.  & I did, using a two-part clear epoxy, the same material I used with the black walnut splash boards in the Upper Level kitchen. 


& later on, I found online an intact vanity of the same make of furniture, with the mirror mounted vertically. It was expensive, too.  So, someone had removed my mirror from the original vanity, roughly, crudely, torn off the top decorative piece & hung the mirror horizontally. Oh, my. You can check the left side of the frame & see how I treated it.  I don’t call this a repair, because that would imply an erasure of the cosmetic defect, but a treatment, a h&ling that neutralizes the defect, eliminating the rough surface & establishing a plane continuous with the rest of the piece, & rendering the piece more cosmetically appealing.


Palecek Bayview Hanging Rope Beveled Mirror with golden brown wood trim. Wrapped seagrass on the outer edge featuring intricately woven seagrass rope with brass details at sides.   Location: Lower Level Den

The story on this mirror is fun.  I first spotted it in the cart of a shopper who I shall call, Stuart, at a particular Goodwill. Stuart is an interesting fellow.  I first learned to identify him, even with his mask, as a more frequent customer than even me, because he was there every time. I thought he was an employee, but they aren’t allow to shop at their place of employment.  He was always talking with someone & he always had merchandise in his cart.  I saw him even on Friday night, & it seemed that Goodwill was an important part of his social life.  & I soon struck up an acquaintance with him myself.  So, when I saw the mirror in his cart, I wanted it because mirrors were then at the top of my list. I asked if he would sell it to me.  I don’t know if he heard me, or if he was ignoring me, but he said nothing & I let it drop.  But I regretted not seeing the mirror first & I still needed one.  Good used, small mirrors are hard to find.   A few days later I went hunting at the largest antique mall in Asheville.  &, guess what?  There was a mirror exactly like the one Stuart bought, in one of the booths propped on the floor & bearing a new price tag: $120.  The dealer—surely it was Stuart—was nowhere to be seen, so I did my usual inspection & photographed the maker’s tag  attached to the back. Palecek. I looked up the company & was amazed to see new ones priced for $850, which of course made me want it even more.*


The next day I returned to Stuart’s booth—his double booth—& he was there.  We chit-chatted for a minute. He knew I was furnishing a whole house, so we had lots to talk about.  Then I brazenly offered him the low amount of $80 for the mirror.  He countered with $90 & we made the trade.  Only later did I tell him that those mirrors were “worth” a whole lot more than he was asking.  Still, he did well.  He netted $70 on the deal.  & the mirror was missing it’s seagrass rope, ostensibly for hanging it, & when I hung it in the Den, I imitated the rope with jute.  Even though the mirror retails new at an astronomical price, I still paid more for it than I had hoped, which would have been the Goodwill price of $20. Even so, it was a good deal for me, because of the cost of time.  Finding a “steal” takes a lot of time, & often it pays to get what’s available rather than wait, if the item is of good quality & fits your space.              (*Some Palecek mirrors are inexplicably priced between $2k & $3k. It’s a mystery.)


Round Ornamented Mirror

Location, Lower Level Bedroom

Acquired from Goodwill for $10.  I cleaned up the mirror & repainted the backing.  The mirror shows some deterioration of the silvering, but the engraved glass is exquisite.


Vertical Wood-framed Mirror

Location: Master Bedroom, Upper Level

I love this old mirror in its handsome frame with brass corners. Acquired from the BFES, $45.


Mt. St. Helens Photographic Print

Location:  Downstairs Den, South Wall

The photo print belonged to my dad, who, after the volcanic mountain blew up on May 18, 1980, often climbed up the sides of the mountain & once walked close to the dome inside the crater.  Our house was only 35 miles south of the mountain.  At the graduation of a Ptarmigan Mountaineering Club class that I took when I was in high school, I climbed to the summit of the mountain. This was of course some years before the mountain blew.  On the dramatic day of the big explosion, I was at Washington State University in Pullman, 300 miles to the east, where the sky was blotted out & it rained ash.  I purchased this frame for the photo at the Bridge Foundation Thrift Store & the generic print of red poppies it contained is still within the frame, behind the photo.



Location: Bottom of Inside Stairs

Charlotte Young. A hand-colored lithograph, signed & numbered.  I like this cute, finely-drawn artwork & the bamboo representative frame.  See also the botanical prints in the stairwell. Goodwill.

Rag Rug

Location:  Downstairs Bedroom.

We purchased this fantastic, wool, decorative but real rug at the WNC Bridge Foundation’s estate sale $35.  Edie was a weaver, having a 5 foot wide floor loom for many years.


Roman Urns

Location:  The Main Room Upstairs

The urn prints are fine reproductions of copper plate vase engravings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi [1720-1788].  Piranesi was best known for his architectural documentation of Rome & its ruins. The two images among 110 plates of various vases were issued as individuals from 1768, first appearing in bound form in 1778 as “Vasi Candleabri Cippi Sarcofagi.” This cool book in its entirety may be seen at Engravings—copies—were published in “Vasi Antichi”, Rome, circa 1821 by Carlo Anonini.  The engravings in small sets may be purchased for around $2,000  The prints that I have in their frames were rescued from a local Goodwill store.  Edie says the prints & their heavy frames look like they belong in a funeral parlor.  I think, more like in a museum.


Signs, Metal on Wood

Locations: Back Deck, Spruce wall of the Lower Level, & above double doors of the Little Cabin.

These were fun projects.  My favorite is the welcome sign with birds & leaves.  The metal silhouette is likely brass because of its intricate design. & it sounds like brass. I bought the silhouette on eBay & it’s one-of-a-kind.  The backboard is a hickory cabinet door that came with our kitchen cabinets, but the door had a flaw, one to give a person a bad sliver. So, Lowes replaced the door & I repurposed the bad one.  The two other metal signs are cast iron & are commonly available on eBay.  The cherry wood backing  in the shape of North Carolina in the Lower Level Den was, oddly, used as a small cutting board.  The wooden paddle at the Little Cabin is not a real paddle.



Location: Lower Level Bedroom

This print is one featuring something you might see out the window, though our common birds are Phobes, Goldfinches, Carolina Bluebirds, Pileated Woodpeckers, Crows, Hummingbirds, & you might even see our resident hawks. A drawer in the Upper Floor kitchen contains binoculars & bird ID books.


Stained Glass Transom Window

Location: Main Room upstairs.

I purchased this window, retail, in its unfinished oak frame at a local antique shop, & it has five kinds of clear glass, including some that is prismatic.  The seller lived in Pittsburg, PA.


Swannanoa Valley 3-D Topographic Map

Location:  Hall Bathroom

We own another of these maps & refer to it often.  A poor B&W copy of the map makes the cover of the Guest Manual for the Brown House, with the location of the house marked with a red X.  So, you can see what’s all around you.  The maps may be purchased at the Black Mountain Visitor’s Center on State Street.  We purchased the frame at the Black Mountain Goodwill for $12 & tossed the pathetic collection of 5 moth-eaten feathers it displayed.  The grey vinyl frame with glass is perfect for this use.



Location: Upper Level

We purchased this whole, 60-piece set of Lenox Temper-Ware at the BFES for $85. The pattern

is “Merriment.” These more properly belong in the Furniture section, but they fit here too.    


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