Archive for the ‘Furnishings’ Category


Friday, September 4th, 2009

wine cork trivetThere is a pleasantness to the feel of cork. Lamps made of cork were popular in the sixties. These days you can even get cork walls and floors.

I couldn’t resist this cork trivet. I’m not a wine expert, but I think all the corks used to make this trivet are from California wines.

A trivet, as those of you who follow etymology might deduce, technically involves an object blessed with three legs. However, according to reliable trivet trivia sources such as, a potholder can be an “informal trivet.” Which puts my oversize coaster or undersized bulletin board safely in trivet territory. And if you don’t believe Wisegeek, Amazon bestows upon it the official trivet designation.

I did not expect this trivet to still be in production, never mind for sale on Although I believe mine to be vintage (note the nicely beveled edges on the example I own), it was a letdown to see my trivet being sold on the Internet in kit form. I took some solace in the fact that its Amazon sales ranking was 54,455 in Kitchen and Dining. What do they expect at $19.19 for a cheap wood frame and some glue? They don’t even supply the corks, never mind the wine. I got mine for fifty cents at a tag sale.

As a service to you, and a treat before the long holiday weekend, I’m republishing a few Amazon customer reviews for the Wine Cork Trivet Kit.

We’ve bought this kit as a gift (and another one for ourselves) – it’s very easy to use and is fun. [Nothing worse than a hard to use, depressing trivet. -ed.]

I would describe the Wine Cork Trivet as a functional memory maker. During a recent trip to Italy, I got the idea from a local restaurant to save our wine corks. The corks were displayed in an oversized glass when we returned home, but they just seemed to be taking up space. With the Wine Cork Trivet, they serve a valuable purpose whenever we entertain and it’s also easy to see the many different types of wines. Just putting it on the table transports us back to “La Dolce Vita.” A great idea!

I bought this for a friend for a bridal shower gift. She saw mine and wanted one. The only issue is the glue takes a while to go from white to clear and as you get to the bottom of the tube of glue, it is really hard to squeeze. My friend loved it!

Quick shipping…good product with an added reason to keep our wine corks and hold onto some of our memories. Construction seems solid and sturdy. Hope to drink more wine because of this.

For some reason, this was labeled Most Helpful Critical Review:

This item makes a nice gift for someone interested in wine because it is not something ordinary like wine glasses or even a bottle of wine. You could probably make one yourself much cheaper, but then you have the difficult task of explaining what it is. Having it come in a box labelled as “Wine Cork Trivet Kit” makes it obvious what it is and that it is a gift intended for the recipient, rather than some wood you tacked together with a creative idea.

And this was labeled Most Helpful Favorable Review:

First, I love to say the word “trivet”. trivet! trivet! trivet! This is nice, simple kit that consists of a wood frame that serves as the base of the trivet (trivet!) and the supplies to glue down the corks. I am 3 corks shy of having enough to start the project, but will report back later when it’s complete. (He or she actually completes the project and reports back:) My only complaint, and it’s very minor and not really the fault of the trivet (trivet!) is that it’s a bit larger than I expected. it’s 9×11 – where as I think it would work better if it was a bit smaller.. maybe 6×6. Just being nit-picky. They probably make a smaller trivet (trivet!) and I overlooked it. We love to put hot things on it. Sometimes I just make large pots of hot water so I can put them on the trivet (trivet!).

Here’s an even easier-to-make cork trivet kit.

I think these people read too much into the Wisegeek idea that an oven mitt could be used as a trivet. Anyway this thing, whatever it is, talks.

To get meta, take a photo of some wine corks.

Big Bird

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

big bird lampWhen Sesame Street first aired in the fall of 1969 I was nine, a little older than the target audience. But I remember watching the show in our apartment in the Bankcroft Building on West 121st Street in New York City. If the Bankcroft sounds fancy, more often than not the elevator was broken and we got to ride the freight with the super.

There were seven of us living in a smallish 2-bedroom while my father got his doctorate at Teachers College of Columbia University across the street. When the front door was opened, the kitchen disappeared behind it. My parents slept on a pullout in the living room. To get some alone time I would read in the clawfoot tub for hours on end.

The college had a school for the children of graduate students. It was probably also some kind of weird 60s education experiment. The grades were combined—I think mine was 4th, 5th and 6th—and the classroom was often chaotic. It was taught by a team of two teachers, and at least one left (possibly drafted) and was replaced during the school year. Lester who took care of the gym tried to teach us how to pick locks. There was so little supervision that I went to the library two days straight to watch the Mets-Orioles World Series (they played in the daytime back then!) on the black and white TV way up on one of those multimedia carts. It was my dad who finally discovered me in there. Despite being a fellow Mets fan, he was not happy.

There was plenty of activity around the Columbia campus in 1969, but I don’t remember too much. I did write a collection of anti-drug poems and ran them off on a ditto machine.  To distribute my work, I placed the poems in pocket holders I had made of construction paper and put them up all over the college. My first self-publishing venture.

It was only a day or two after we found out Stephanie was pregnant that I spotted this lamp in the Salvation Army. And so Big Bird came to be the first object purchased specifically with this future soul in mind.

Since then we’ve acquired about a roomful of stuff–a changing table, a crib,  a bunch of plastic gates, a stroller, a thing that rocks the baby, another changing table, something called a pack and play, two car seats. Steph’s mom gave us a super cute stack of gently used baby boy clothes. There are toys, and a bookshelf full of children’s books. Thankfully, most of the items came from various friends who had babies not so long ago.

It’s an impressive collection of things for someone not born yet. I’m thinking of having a yard sale to lighten his burden.

Random question:  Both Woodstock and Sesame Street are 40 years old this year. Which has had a greater influence on our culture?

The Malmstens Move On

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

carlmalmstenchairGot a thing for chairs, especially simple, well-designed chairs, like the pair I took to auction yesterday that were made by Swedish designer Carl Malmsten.

Simple does not mean easily done. As my tai chi teacher would say, “Simple. But very difficult!”

Look at it, pick it up, sit in it, the grace and function are so intrinsic it’s amazing. Gentle shaping gives it a delicate air that belies its solid chairness. I kept these for a long time, but never found a place for them in my home. They eventually took up residence in the guest room. That space is being converted to a nursery, so it’s bye-bye gorgeous Carl Malmsten chairs.