Was everyone in 1940 so short-sighted?

Yes, of course hindsight is 20/20 and no one can see the future.

But that so many antique candlesticks were turned into table and floor lamps in the early-mid 20th century makes us sad. What did Cher say? If I could turn back time? If I could find a way? Well we did both in this case, having to reverse the sequence of Ms. Cher’s plea.

We stumbled on these late 19th-early 20th century Louis XV Spanish-style sticks that had been turned into floor lamps and were commissioned to return them to their past glory without destroying the integrity of the pieces.

Unfortunately, we don’t have before pictures to show you, but imagine 50 years of dirt and cigarette smoke with a large pole drilled out through the center and some terrible canister shade with contrasting fringe. Bad stuff.
Final result:

I turned back all the things that hurt you...

Mama’s Chandelier (big)

We opened the crate marked “Mama’s Chandelier: BIG” and didn’t know what to expect.

Here is what we had once the dust settled and everything was out on the table:

We put it back together to see what we were working with, and sourced some of the scrolls we were going to need to replace:

It was painted with bronze paint, but under it was fairly intact gold leafing. This was one of those “Huh?” moments, as gold leaf doesn’t tarnish and gilding does…

In any case, we set about with a paintbrush and denatured alcohol to remove the gilding. Once we got it down to the real finish, we looked it up – this wasn’t some rare specimen, and parts were fairly easy to find, so we got permission to have some fun.

We mixed a simple cobalt and thinned it with super-refined linseed oil (straight, not boiled) to paint the recessed parts of the fixture, trying to give it a sense of cloisonné.

We like the finished result.

Now we just need to talk them into buying some drapes to go with it and get rid of those miniblinds…

Like Emerging From Purgatory…

When we took over the spaces at 4403 N Sheridan in 2003, we started small.

Really small.
Like 210 square feet kinda small.

View of original workroom

Original Workroom #203

Borris Powell in #203


This is the first space we had: #203. That’s right: 7×30 feet. We weren’t running full classes at the time – Tchad was still working for VSM International, the company that manufactures Viking brand sewing machines and couldn’t take the time to expand with his corporate job. The only students who have seen this space were our dedicated design students: Borris Powell (of
Borris Powell Designs) and Amanda Kezios (of Mojospa).

We were working with a number of private clients, but we were strictly using #203 as a factory in miniature. All of our fittings and deliveries were taken directly to the client so they didn’t have to deal with cramped quarters. Scores of dresses and interior projects came out of this little space.

Tchad Floor Stamp

Making one's mark.

All of that changed in the Spring of 2004 when #205, the space to the North opened up. Tchad had quit his job teaching for VSM and was ready for a challenge.


OH! A skylight

Well, a challenge is certainly what we got.

After the drop ceilings came down, we got a real sense of what we were up against. Turns out the ceilings had been put up for a reason. We aren’t terribly fond of the “it’s good enough for government work” mentality that permeates the Ohio River Valley we grew up in, so we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

This had to be right.

Almost makes "The Rat Incident" worth it.

When you start a rehab project, you should anticipate surprises. Sometimes they are expected, like when you find out that some joker has cut the electric lines and there they sit – quite live. Sometimes they are unpleasant, like when you find a desiccated rat tangled in a pair of size 34-waist men’s briefs (sorry, no pic but: yes. Yes we did. Our first thought: “Fruit-of-Rat’s-Tomb” we aren’t terribly clever here). And sometimes you are very pleasantly surprised, like when you discover a large 2.5×6 foot functioning industrial skylight under your dropped ceilings.


We had written a long, drawn-out spiel about what and how we grew from #203 to #201-209.

We were going to drone on and on about the first expansion when we took over #205 and added it to #203, then the second expansion when we took over #207, then the heartbreak of taking over #209 (it had been used as a hiding-place for feral cats). We were going to post and boast of the joy of laying lime plaster and our crazy skills with hanging 5/8″ drywall single-handed. Maybe some things about how we developed a method to eliminate basebaords and door trim. Some kind of celebratory look-at-us when we finally expanded to our physical limits and took over #201.

There was going to be something here about how we single-handedly rehabbed the building’s public restrooms with pictures that would make the world’s most jaded DCFS agent cringe.

We were going to write about the struggle of self-financing this much work and the pride we take in doing things for ourselves and how we feel that the creative community in general is held back not by a lack of spirit, but rather by a lack of functional knowledge of how to make things happen instead of relying on others or complaining/inventing excuses.

Throw in a few paragraphs about having had to scale back the client-side of the business since 2007 for lack of infrastructure, time, or energy and how that has held back our design work for three years.

All of it with pictures documenting our work, pain, and progress.

But no.

We are chomping at the bit to get everything underway.

Let’s let a couple of pictures speak for themselves.

Dust masks are trés fashionable!

How Tchad has looked for the past three years when not teaching classes.

After dropped ceilings came down

Bad. Really bad. Everything looked like this.

So here we are, writing about this in late September of 2010.

We have moved on, grown up, and:

Our space is set and we are ready to go.



Gallery & Workroom...

209 Tchad Chicago Classroom


New Classroom!

Classroom 209

Let’s do this!