Wed, 01/11/2012 - 1:07pm

1) A landing pad


Sometimes getting out of bed is painful. Having a soft and beautiful rug to step on will incentivize the chore of waking in much the same way as the promise of a delicious breakfast or hot cup of coffee. We recommend you find one for the guest room as well; an unexpected luxury for visiting friends and relatives. You’ll want to consider the dimensions of the bed and bedroom when selecting a rug, but any of our 1.05x5” gabbeh runners (see website) would create pleasing proportions in most spaces.  


2) A dining room carpet of ample size


Placing a carpet beneath your dining room table creates a kind of island of domestic pleasure, an incorruptible paradise for family, food, drink, laughter and conversation. Always go bigger rather than smaller when making your selection. The legs of your chairs should remain well within the border of the carpet no matter the size of your guest.


3) A funny rug for the bathroom


Regardless of how inviting it might be, nobody hangs out in their bathroom unless they have to. Of course, now and then, everyone has to. Try situating one of our 2x3” fish rugs at the base of your commode. Not only will it add an air of levity to those few tasks that require longer stays, but it’ll give you a comfy place to rest your feet as well.   

-Andrea O. Bullard




Posted By Kristen

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 11:29am

Today we begin a new series on the O’Bannon Oriental Carpets Blog. At the the start of each month, we’ll be interviewing a different O’Bannon regular for their ideas about what’s most beautiful and intriguing at the shop. January’s Patron of the Month is Marnie Monheim.  


A good friend of the O’Bannons, Marnie has been patronizing O’Bannon Oriental Carpets since the early 70s. She resides in downtown Pittsburgh and has traveled to all five of the ‘Stans. You’ll never find her without her beloved Chihuahua, Casper, tucked under her arm, attired handsomely to suit the weather. He’s got overcoats for winter, muscle shirts for summer, and even a yellow rain slicker for those damp and dreary Pittsburgh mornings. The two visit the shop every Saturday to see what’s new and chat with Kristen. “Casper loves that his paws never have to touch the floor here,” says Marnie. 


I sat down with them for a quick Q&A about Marnie’s personal style and her favorite O’Bannon pieces at the moment.    


Describe the style of your décor. 


Modern mixed with old odd pieces. I have an old Japanese hibachi that sits under a George Nama print.


What colors comprise your wardrobe? Do you think your taste in carpets reflects this?


I wear what I call “mouse colors.” Grays and browns. Muted colors. I like rugs with muted colors and bold, geometric patterns. I don’t care for things with French or Persian [sensibilities.]  


What is your favorite carpet in the shop right now?


The Suzani hanging at the back. It reminds me of the prize-winning cotton Suzani I bought in Uzbekestan that’s bright red with bold circles.


What is your favorite piece of furniture or decorative object?


The mirrored mercury vases. I have one sitting between two antique candlesticks. It’s a knockout. 


Describe your favorite piece you’ve purchased from O’Bannon.


The rug in my front hall. Everyone who walks in remarks about it. I’m pretty sure it’s a Turkish tribal rug.  

-Andrea O. Bullard




Posted By Kristen

Wed, 12/14/2011 - 8:57pm

Standing at the foot of our striking new silk pile carpet, it seems possible to walk straight through the strips of black, beige and crimson and into whatever otherworld exists on the opposite side. It has the depth and dynamism of abstract expressionist paintings, at times suggesting tree bark, falling water and even the pixilated graphics of old-school video games. When Kristen first saw it, she could not stop staring at it, captivated by its movement, in awe of its weaver’s adroitness and understanding of color.   


It measures 6’2”x 8’ 11” and is one of the first all-silk carpets to grace O’Bannon.                  


When she embarked on her most recent buying trip, Kristen worried she might not return with enough merchandise, but the trip proved downright bountiful. Not only did she find Afghani rugs, hassocks, and the silk masterpiece pictured here, but also a few kilim-based accessories that just might begin trickling into O’Bannon over the next few weeks.     

-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:07pm

When Mr. Kaden passed away in 2006, Kristen knew the next dog she adopted would be named for him. Though he resented the word patron, Mr. Kaden was one of her best, a salty man with a passion for Oriental textiles, who brought what he called “mazel” (good fortune) to O’Bannon during a difficult time in Kristen’s life. Over the years, he purchased many beautiful gabbehs and had an affinity for designs that incorporated fish. An inquisitive man, he would always pepper her with questions about the rugs he took home to consider purchasing. 


Kristen met canine Kaden in 2009 at the Animal Rescue League in Larimer. A Shepherd-Rottweiler mix, he is now three years old and has been accompanying her to O’Bannon since May of this year. Though his bed is situated at the back of the shop, he often sits at the center of carpets and will never pass up the opportunity to greet a customer or delivery person as they walk through the door. 


Kaden’s favorite things all begin with the letter B. His greatest material passion is for “babies,” plush toys with squeaky boxes at their middle, which he’ll diligently gnaw until he’s extracted the noisemaker. After babies come bones. He occupies himself with both while waiting for his favorite B of all to arrive: Bill, his dog walker. (See last week’s post for more about Kaden and Bill). Bring him any of these Bs and you’ll find a permanent place in Kaden’s heart.  


When she adopted him, Kristen hoped he’d live up to his namesake, and he has, bringing “mazel” to her life just as Mr. Kaden did.        

-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 2:06pm

It’s really no wonder that people collect footstools. I mean, look at these guys. Known as hassocks in some circles, tuffets in others, they pack tons of personality into such compact frames. It’s as if, at any moment, they might begin to scuttle across the floor, or perhaps to squabble in some primitive dialect. Some O’Bannon customers refer to them as “the turtles.”  


Kristen found them on a recent buying trip and couldn’t resist them. Upholstered in Turkish kilims, the hassocks serve, not only as footstools, but as low seats, easily stored under coffee tables or stacked inside closets. Treat your guests (or yourself) to a refreshing shift in point of view by offering them as an alternative to traditional chairs. They’re surprisingly cushy and supportive. Kristen likes to sit on them while talking on the phone to engage in what she calls “time out time.” 


Partly because of their size, they make charming holiday gifts. Stick a bow on top and you won’t even have to wrap them. They retail at $190. And who knows? If you give a hassock to a loved one this holiday season, you might inspire them to begin a footstool collection of their own.   

-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Mon, 11/28/2011 - 4:45pm

From the moment Kaden enters the shop each morning, he begins to anticipate his noontime walk. He plunks down in the middle of the floor, ears pricked, nose pointed at the door, earnestly awaiting his walker, Bill’s, arrival. Sometimes he paces or gnaws at toys to kill the time. 


When customers walk in the door he trots towards them, looking for a friendly pat or a scratch behind the ears. But when Bill arrives he gallops, unable to contain his glee, knowing the best part of his day has finally come. Where they go is a mystery. Kaden won’t say, but he returns tired, relaxed, and ready for naptime. 


Bill Westover co-runs a dog-walking business that services Pittsburgh’s East End. An avid cyclist and former marathoner, he has the stamina to keep up with even the most energetic of canines. If you’re interested in having him walk your pup, you’ll find contact information here. 


Next week, we’ll be blogging more about Kaden’s tale. Be sure to stop back to learn about how he became the official O’Bannon shop dog.  

-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Thu, 11/17/2011 - 3:18pm
When, long ago, our antique Tibetan yurt doors were still yurt doors, they were thought to ward off evil spirits. While we can’t promise any supernatural advantages to taking one home, each has tremendous functional and decorative potential. The trick is to stop thinking about them as doors.  
Walk into the shop, make a left, and you’ll see the first of these beautiful wooden pieces. On the front a dragon slithers through Chinese cloud bands and clutches amulets in each of its claws. If you consider it as you would a painting, it suddenly seems tremendously versatile. Hang it horizontally over a sofa and you’ve got a massive (26x67”) wall hanging that could serve as an anchor for a patchwork of antiques and art pieces.
You’ll find the other yurt doors downstairs. Either of these sturdy antiques would make a terrific surface for a coffee table or desk, but we recommend the door pictured on the left, with its masculine ironwork pattern (33x58”). Should you decide to use a door in this way, you’ll have to harvest legs from another table, or take it to a carpenter and ask him to fashion some for you. 
The final piece in our collection depicts a man leading an elephant amid bursts of lotus flowers (35x67”). The outward curl of the elephant’s truck is a symbol of good luck. Treat this piece like a sculpture and, propped at the end of a hallway or nestled in a niche, it could serve as a dazzling backdrop for a collection of potted plants and exotica.
All doors retail at $425.
-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Wed, 11/02/2011 - 5:38pm
The first textile Kristen ever purchased was an Uzbek embroidery she found hanging in a window while visiting a friend in Philadelphia during her early twenties. The two were walking back from dinner when she saw the v-shaped Suzani and decided she just had to have it. She returned to the shop the next morning, before they even opened, prepared to spend whatever it cost. 
Suzani is a central Asian embroidery technique that uses chain or satin stitches to embellish silk or cotton with organic motifs. The imperfections in a Suzani are central to its appeal. Unbalanced lines, uneven stitches and small deviations within a pattern give the pieces a sense of whimsy. 
Kristen first encountered the Ikat dyeing technique as a fiber arts major at Carnegie Mellon, when she used it to create fabric she later sewed into a kimono. To achieve the feathered look of Ikat pieces, the designer ties sections of fabric into bundles and soaks them in dye. He then enhances the design by weaving over the fabric to emphasize the lines. To call the process “tie-dying” seems a bit misrepresentative, as it requires incredible precision, unlike the popular summer camp craft. In the end, Kristen lacked the patience for Ikat, but fell in love with the  striking results. 
Imagine her delight when she discovered an Afgahni weaver who combined two of her great loves by creating Ikat/Suzani hybrids. Though Fred uses neither of these techniques, the fields of his rugs reflect the bold geometry of Ikat, while the borders echo the delicate, tumbling motifs found in Suzani textiles.   
The Ikat/Suzanis strike most people as contemporary, though they honor the traditions of both techniques as well as the human imperfections that lend each their charm. Within their fields, you’ll even notice “repeat marks,” thin squiggles which divide each section of pattern in Ikat pieces.
-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Fri, 10/28/2011 - 9:48am
For at least half of the intensive mosaics course she took while on sojourn in Italy, Kristen had to fight the urge to break the rules. "Follow the line, Kristen!" her instructor scolded when she began to deviate from the pattern laid before her in the wet cement. "Follow the line!" 
Along with her sister, Kristen traveled to Ravenna, the mosaic capital of the world, to attend a class at the Scuola Arte del Mosaico. The students met in the home studio of Luciana Notturni, a classically trained artist who has been refining the craft since the age of 14. She is now in her sixties.
For five days, Kristen arrived at the studio at 9 am, worked until 1, and then again from 2 until 6 alongside students from around the world. Walking to class each morning, she passed the same people, cyclists and pedestrians set in their patterns, in no rush to get where they were going. It was refreshing, Kristen said, to land in a slow-paced ancient place where none of the buildings exceeded three or four stories.
Eventually, she did get to break the rules, but her first assignment was to reproduce a section of a classic church piece in order to master the basics. Most students chose the dove, but Kristen felt drawn to the labyrinth detail from the mosaic hanging over Galla Placidia’s mausoleum.
To begin a mosaic, the artist must first create tessera (small chunks of marble or glass), using hammer and hardie (anvil) for splitting the larger pieces of source material. Traditional mosaics require uniform tessera. Using a water-based ink, the artist then renders the desired mosaic on tracing paper, flips it over, and then traces the reversed design before transposing it onto adhesive. She then presses the tessera into the adhesive according to the pattern, by "following the lines."
The latter half of the course was devoted to contemporary work, which gave Kristen the freedom to work intuitively. She used a muted, autumnal palate and focused on texture, color, balance, contrast and composition. Her final piece appears on the right. Unlike traditional mosaics, contemporary pieces incorporate tessera of varying sizes and, in general, are non-representational.
Kristen pointed out both literal and figurative intersections between mosaics and Oriental fiber art. By means of the silk trade route, western artists were exposed to eastern fiber art and influenced by its organic beauty. As a result, patterns that characterize Oriental carpets sometimes appear in mosaics.
Unlike most art forms, both Oriental carpets and mosaics were born out of necessity rather than impulse. The first mosaics emerged when people began breaking the stones they used to cover dirt floors in order to achieve a more even surface. Soon they began arranging the pebbles to create designs. Mosaics were later used to convey Bible stories and political histories to illiterate peasants.
Trained in fiber art and ceramics, Kristen loves working with organic materials. She finds herself drawn to media that combine form with function, and plans to continue creating mosaics like her contemporary piece. Eventually, she’d even like to install one in the entryway of her home.
-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

Sat, 10/15/2011 - 4:27pm
Your living room called. "Quit deliberating," it said. "And go get that new carpet already." What with the holidays approaching, your living room is right to tell you to stop procrastinating. If you’ve been on the fence about making a larger purchase, now is the time to hop off and over to O’Bannon. All rugs are 20 to 50% off from now until November 11th.
Nothing ties a room together during the holidays like a classic Oriental carpet. Not only does it create the kind of warmth associated with the season, but it can also serve as inspiration for your entire decorating scheme. This traditional 9.02x12.06 Afghani carpet features a classic Kurdish design. It was $7800.00 but is now $6240.00 (20% off). Place it in your living or dining room and gather your loved ones around its refreshing and intricate beauty.
Our fall sale is also the perfect incentive to buy a rug for a room you’ve been neglecting. While you may not spend a lot of time in your entryway, it’s a critical space in terms of self-expression. It’s the first glimpse a guest has of your taste and lifestyle, so why not make it memorable? Add a bold, organic burst to the space with this traditional 4x5.06 Pakistani rug. Place it in your entryway, and we have a feeling you’ll start finding ways to spend more time there. It retails for $1650.00 and is now $990.00 (40% off).
With so many beautiful pieces on sale, why not reconsider the potential in your living space? Your kitchen, for example. Why not cover that cold tile with a beautiful Oriental rug? Festooned with leaping fish, this playful yet sophisticated 2x3 rug from O’Bannon’s coral reef collection was $425, but is now $340 (20% off). Use it to create a stunning focal point.
Our longer, narrower pieces work beautifully in hallways, but serve many unconventional functions as well. This exuberant 1.04x5 Gabbeh would make a stunning runner for a dining room table or wall hanging in any room of the house. Featuring a delicate Tree of Life design, it retails for $650.00 and is on sale for $520.00 (20% off).
-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen

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