Sunday, February 14, 2010

Instant Glamor, We all can use some!

I first stumbled across my first piece of Syroco at Sydney’s Bondi Markets; it’s actually a rare find in Australia. I discovered these elongated flying seagulls and had to have them, At first I thought they actually were 100% carved wood but then I discovered after some research, they were in fact not at all 100% wood. Syroco products are actually made from a mold. These molds also featured a wood grain within the mold, allowing for a more detailed aesthetic. The recipe of wood flour, waxes, and resins combined with compression molding created an inexpensive, but high quality product.

The Syracuse Ornamental Company, also known as Syroco, was founded in the late 1890's by an Austrian woodcarver named Adolph Holstein. Initially the company produced ornamental carvings for the embellishment of coffins and furniture as well as the interiors of fashionable homes.

The Syracuse Ornamental Company became Syroco, Inc., in the 1930’s. By the1940’s, other companies such as Multi Products were producing Syrocco products. The Syracuse Ornamental Company produced many products for the home including ashtrays, decorative architectural moldings and very sought after cork screws."

During the 1950's Highly stylized wall mirrors, sconces, and decorations became the company's focus In 1953, Syroco introduced a process for obtaining the finish on these seemingly gilded home accessories, called "metalgold"; a process, as the catalog states, "...wherein real metal is deposited on the object and toned and shaded by skilled hand operations."

When I came to the States, I started to see them everywhere, particularly in the Flea Markets, from a distance they look like intricately carved architectural pieces from A French Chateau or Japanese Temple, but on closer inspection you realize they are in fact stylized replications, sometimes in plain wood finish, sometimes hand colored and sometimes gold gilded. When I started to watch Mad Men, I saw them on the walls of the offices of Sterling Cooper, Don and Betty’s home and even in their neighbors. The factory was in upstate New York so it makes sense that much of it can still be found locally and that they were probably in fact in many homes around that time.

I have to admit, A lot of it can be on the tacky side and an overload of it is not recommended, but the occasional piece will add some instant glamour at a decent price tag, They are lightweight too so they won’t come crashing down onto the floor. I also use the all the time on shoots, as you may have seen on this blog already and I rotate quite a few in my own place. It helps to have a sense of humor when decorating with these pieces, they certainly make me smile!

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