The results are in. About a year into blogging via tumblr, I have to say I'm pretty happy with the results. You can catch me now at my personal blog: michelleosaurus.tumblr.com or at my design-oriented blogversation I'm having with my friend Kim: mychairlady.tumblr.com. See ya!
I'm doing a little experiment with a tumblr blog now - mymichelle.tumblr.com. It feels a little more personal and a little less strict than the crazy rules I gave myself for Ornament Criminal. I plan to still post designy things when I feel like it, but the tumblr world is great for lightning fast expression about anything and everything. So after following a few people for a while, I decided to give it a shot!
Since we're talking politics so much today and since I have heard the phrase "Senate seat" about a million times in 2009 alone thanks to Rod Blagojevich, I thought I'd take a look to see what the actual Senate "seats" look like. I think it's rad that the chairs of Senators have become so representative of the office of a Senator that it is commonplace in the media to hear about Senatorial "musical chairs," or to hear that Harry Reid is blocking Roland Burris from "being seated." Of course, Harry Reid is not blocking Burris from sitting, he is blocking him from joining the Senate ranks and performing the duties of a Senator. Fun with metonyms, eh Pop?
The Curator of the Senate (so glad they have one) discusses the actual Senate chairs on the Art and History section of the Senate's website. This fascinating little section filled me with joy as I learned the following fun facts:
The chairs are currently made by the Senate Cabinet Shop and are based on the original design (1819) by Thomas Constantine, which are based on Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807)
Which means that Thomas Hope's text was so broadly read that it made it across the pond and into not only popular, but high-end commissions within 12 years. Wow.
Only three of the original chairs still exist (the fourth survivor was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina).
Senators are able to purchase their chairs at the end of their term.
Even more fascinating than the chairs is the story of the Senate desks. Fun facts about Senate desks include:
Senators sign the inside drawer of their desks during their term and have done so since the early 20th century. The website allows you to drill down and see the legislative graffiti for yourself. I saw Barack's.
Senators are allowed to change their seating arrangement at the beginning of each new Congress.
When one party has an overwhelming number of representatives (physically speaking) the rogue party sits together in the back of their opposition's side. This is called a Cherokee Strip.
There has been a candy desk in the Senate since 1965. Apparently it is on the back row of the Republican side, on the aisle, next to the most used entrance. The most recent seating chart makes Jim Bunning of KY the last Senate candyman who filled his bottom desk drawer with candy.
Laura Bush unveiled the Bush Presidential china service yesterday and broke with tradition to add not one, but two patterns to the White House collection. According to a Washington Post article, the Bushes have been dining off of the Reagan, and Johnson (because of the wildflowers) china in the private residence and have been using the Reagan and Clinton (because of the quantity) china for state dinners. The First Lady explained that she hoped the less formal, but still hand-painted porcelain, service would be a nice option for the families in the residence. The Bush's formal service was manufactured by Lenox (as is typical) and features a green basket-weave and gold trim and bald eagle. The more formal service was ordered in enough quantity to be used at state dinners - 320 settings - for a total cost of near $500,000 paid through private funds.
While I'm sure Mrs. Bush has been working on these designs and their manufacture for a long time, I'm a little annoyed by the ostentatiousness of some of her design decisions in this economy. In order to illustrate, lets talk a little bit about the Clinton china in comparison. The lovely people at Lenox indicate that the Clinton service was different because it coincided with the bicentennial of the White House, which called for a commemoration and a replenishment of the china used at state dinners (which had not been done in two decades). So, the Clinton's ordered 300 pieces of Lenox china with images of the White House and different architectural designs on each of the placesettings. That service was ordered in 2000 and utilized pale creamy colors rather than the bold primary colors featured on most services (red, gold, other colors of Empire). Ok, fair enough I think.
What this makes me understand about the Bush service is that 8 years later, the White House needs another full service for state dinners. And further, that this service needs to be larger than the previous service (really Laura, do you really need a 9-inch soup cup and a bouillion soup cup AND a cream soup cup (with respective saucers)?). And further, that this service needs to be gold. Really? Gold?!
Now I'm in no way saying I disagree with the tradition of presidential china, which I know is still out there for many. I understand it's expensive and nobody really NEEDS it, but in terms of the historical collection of presidential china, I understand and can appreciate it. And in typical Bush Administration fashion, I'm not even really shocked so much as disappointed. I suppose that the great thing about presidential china is that it so often reflects the taste and mood of the time of it's creation and these pieces are no different. In fact, the Bush china design does reveal something about the Bush legacy. In the face of the greatest economic crisis in decades, the Bushes think... let's do two. And let's do 'em in gold.
PhD Candidate in the History of American Civilization at the University of Delaware. I read and write about American families, migration, and home life, mostly in the 20th century. I use objects to tell stories.