Friday, January 28, 2011

"The Roses" on Park Avenue
Flower Power!

Will Ryman Roses Sculpture from Paul Kasmin Gallery Website
I came upon these amazing photographs of Will Ryman's flower sculptures which will soon dot Park Avenue in New York City, between 57th and 67th Streets. The sculptures are site-specific and will bloom from Jan 25-May 31, 2011. Here is the full gallery press release from the Huffington Post:

"New York--Paul Kasmin Gallery, in conjunction with New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation, and the Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee, announces Will Ryman's The Roses, a new site-specific installation to bloom along Park Avenue from January 25 through May 31, 2011. Transforming Park Avenue into a fanciful garden, Will Ryman's 38 sculptures of rose blossoms towering as high as 25 feet, complimented by 20 individual scattered rose petals, will festoon Park Avenue Mall between 57th and 67th Streets in the artist's inaugural public art exhibition. Reflecting Ryman's flair for the dramatic and absurdly wonderful, roses painted in shades of pink and red will spring up in vibrant contrast to the traditionally bleaker winter months preceding spring in the artist's large-scale love letter to New York City"

Ryman is represented by Paul Kasmin Gallery. Take a peek at these colossal and joyful pieces of art.
Will Ryman Roses Sculpture from Paul Kasmin Gallery Website
Will Ryman Roses Sculpture from Paul Kasmin Gallery Website

Will Ryman Roses Sculpture from Paul Kasmin Gallery Website

From Tory Burch blog

Photo by Will Ryman from Trend Hunter website

Photo by Will Ryman from Trend Hunter website

Photo by Will Ryman from Trend Hunter website

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brunschwig & Fils: Where it Began

Brunschwig & Fils Advertisement
It was recently reported that Kravet, a fourth generation family company, one of the largest privately held distributors of fabrics and home furnishings, agreed to buy Brunschwig & Fils subject to a competitive bid process. As reported by, "Kravet has agreed to provide financing to ensure that Brunschwig & Fils can continue as a financially sound trading partner during this time of reorganization."  Reading this gave me pause to reflect on my past relationship with Brunschwig & Fils.

In 1985-86 I was a Fabric Librarian for Brunschwig & Fils, at the Washington Design Center in Washington, DC.  It was the most colorful job I ever had and exposed me to high design and French textiles at an early age.  It is there that I discovered my love for French design and French anything. I got obsessed with chintz, ball trims, luxurious silks and damasks, and everything that was B&F.

The B&F library at that time was a big mess, heaps of materials, bolts of fabric, and tons of squares and swatches all piled up in a back room on a few shelves. It was a little weird and daunting at the same time.  My job, as I had a library background (not fabric but books), was to take the vast mountain of textiles and make it all easily organized and found.  I categorized by colors & textures, mostly, and I vaguely remember giving everything a certain number system or alpha system, so any employee could find what they needed for a designer. No computers then (geez, I feel old), just a typewriter, paper, pens and a xerox machine to use for making color-coded labels for the shelves.

I may have worked in the back room, but I was the face of the library of B&F fabric, so designers would come to me with their orders of swatches and such and I would pull them out. I had to keep track of it all, sort of like a real library. It was all so mysterious and fun, and I really knew nothing about textiles before that time except that I liked hunting for vintage tablecloths at thrift stores and flea markets.  That should have been a dead give-away to me, as here I am today loving my French tablecloths that I sell in my shop and keeping abreast of all things French. 

Brunschwig & Fils was textile school for me.  I found love in the color, texture, weight and flow of the French fabrics I handled every day. It was just fascinating. The people I worked with were extremely talented and knowledgeable about the history of fabrics and I learned a lot from each one of them. 

I also thought long and hard about going to design school. At that time I was mixed up as to what I wanted to do next. I had spent many of my younger years in theatre (from age 14-25, at that time), on stage and back stage, and was trying to figure out if I could really make a go of it. I needed a real job then as I had been living without health insurance and got sick and was in the hospital for a spell.  Fortunately, I had ended up at G.W. University Hospital in DC and I qualified for free health care as I was extremely poor. I was acting and cleaning houses and temping for a library services company, so little money for health care insurance. 

So, this is why I answered the ad for "Fabric Librarian" in the Washington Post classifieds. To really put this time in perspective, this was before the existence of mass office computers, tweets, facebook or anything remotely technological. Not sure I knew anyone with a cell phone. This may all seem rather ancient. I looked for jobs by opening the newspaper, so it was kind of by need and by fate that I even worked for Brunschwig & Fils. But in the end it was the jumping off point for me and the beginning of my love of textiles and anything French.

Looking back at this amazing time in my life has been a great way to realize again that there are no mistakes in life. Every little turn of events can bring you something that is life-changing without you realizing it at that time. Only later does it all come full circle and you can see that everything that happened in the past was all too perfect. B&F had an interesting role in the creation of my shop, r.h. ballard---it's very Francophile and heavily influenced by color, texture, with touches of romance and uniqueness.  I couldn't have planned that better if I wanted to.  

J'Adore Dior

Christian Dior
I am so obsessed with color, especially when it's done really well.

No, we haven't started selling couture clothing in our shop and gallery (hey, you never know), but I was fascinated by this lovely Christian Dior image of spring fashion, and especially love the color palette and rich textures. 

After going to the Accessories Show in NYC recently, I can attest that these are the shades of things to come this spring. I can pretty much guarantee you will find these lovely colors splashing across the fashion spectrum this year, especially in spring & summer scarves.

Our shipments are coming soon, and I will post some lovely images of them when they do!

~ Joanie Ballard

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Signature Coffee!
by Joanie Ballard

On this chilly Virginia morning (12 degrees!) I thought it proper to plug our amazing Ballard blend of coffee, "Big Yellow House Blend"--named for our well-loved bright yellow shop on the corner of Jett and Main Streets in Little Washington, Va. 

I personally chose the bean blend from our local coffee roasters, Central Coffee Roasters, located in Sperryville, Va., (a fantastic business out here in Rappahannock County. Our coffee is a "secret" blend of three South American coffee beans, strong yet low-acidity.  Starbucks beware! 

We have many fans of our blend, selling it daily in our shop and also online at  So, take a trip into our shop for a free "first taste" or buy online. You will be happily surprised at the aromatic surprises that await!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rugs, Rugs, Rugs...and then some
by Joanie Ballard

Robert H. Ballard in our Fine Art & Rug Gallery
Robert has an amazing eye for rugs.  His choices for our gallery is superb, eclectic, beautiful and perfect.  I'm just sayin'.

We have new and antique rugs in stock from every major rug making country. We have Persian, Tibetan, Turkish, Pakistani, Afgani, Indian, Egyptian, and Armenian. And we are having a great RUG SALE right now, which includes all sizes of rugs, 30%-40%-50% Off, online and in the shop.  Click here to start the fun:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter SALE This Weekend!

Come by our shop & gallery this weekend and warm up! It is freezing out there, don't ya think? 

Our silk and warm winter scarves & gloves are 30% off this weekend, along with a special basket of 50% Off. A nice treat for your winter doldrums, no? And there are some beautiful choices to be had.

Here are some other lovely sale items to be found at our Sale:

All French Table linens 20% off
All Italian Frames 30% off
All Bagalinni and Faux Leather purses are 20% off
Select Rugs are 20%-40% off
Select Fine Art is 20%-30% off

Our Last Chance Winter Sale is Saturday and Sunday get in here, ya'll!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Artist Meg Walsh at R.H. Ballard
by Robert H. Ballard

It is with great pleasure that I introduce a new Virginia artist to our gallery, Meg Walsh.

 "Sunlit Island", by Meg Walsh, Oil on Canvas
9" x 12",  $700.00 Framed

Artist Statement:  “My favorite studio is the great outdoors. Dealing with the challenges of rapidly changing light forces me to focus on the essence of a scene, and I like the sense of immediacy it lends to my work.”
"Autumn Riverbank", Oil on canvas
9" x12", $700.00 Framed
A passionate plein air painter, Meg Walsh combines technical skills acquired through years of studio work with acute observation of nature. Her landscapes can be found in the permanent collections of the National Institutes of Health, Georgetown University Hospital, Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland.

Meg belongs to the Washington Society of Landscape Painters, the Alexandria Art League, and the Loudoun Sketch Club. She lives with her husband and son in Arlington, Virginia.

Here are a few awards that she has received:


o   Award of Excellence, “Out and About Norfolk Paintout,” juried exhibit, October 2010, Norfolk, VA
o   Merit Award, “Out and About Norfolk Paintout,” juried exhibit, October 2010, Norfolk, VA
o   First Place, “Local Color, Painters of the Delmarva Peninsula,” July 2010, Easton, MD
o   Honorable Mention, “Let There Be Light,” juried exhibit, January 2009, Art League Gallery, Alexandria, VA
o   Honorable Mention, “Scapes” international landscape juried exhibit, August 2008, Art League Gallery, Alexandria, VA
o   Honorable Mention, Plein Air Easton! July 2007, Easton, MD
o   Museum Purchase, Academy Art Museum, Plein Air Easton! July 2007, Easton, MD
o   First Place, Mid-Shore Plein Air Competition, June 2007, Easton, MD
o   Honorable Mention, juried exhibit, September 2005, Art League Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Virginia Wine at r.h. ballard
by Joanie Ballard

Yes!  We got our ABC License in 2010 and now carry wine in our shop!  

We are currently specializing in Virginia wines, as we are surrounded with great wineries right here in Rappahannock County, VA.  We can of course order any wine for you from any distributor in the United States. We can order cases, too!  Our best-seller, hands-down?  Barboursville Brut Sparkling Wine!

Here is a brief list of wines we currently carry.  It is expanding every month, so check back or come into the shop and see what's new!  

And remember, our pricing is the same as the wineries, so what ever they charge, we charge.  A great incentive, no?

Take a look at these magnificent wineries:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Claus Porto Lafco Soaps
by Joanie Ballard

Our packed Apothecary area of Claus Porto Lafco Soaps, $16.95 each
These giant Claus Porto Lafco Soaps have become one of our favorite finds over the years of carrying numerous brands of soaps, lotions, perfumes, bath salts, bubble bath, and body butters.

Not only does LAFCO create beautiful packaging, but what's inside the wrapping is even more amazing. We have customers who buy these soaps by the dozen and use them for hostess gifts, bridal and shower gifts, mother's day, and even father's day--guys are addicted to them too!

Come into the shop and smell some of our new scents! Here are some images of a few of our best-sellers to get your heart rate up:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jackson Browne in Little Washington
by Joanie Ballard

Well, what do ya know?

Jackson Browne flew into our tiny town on Jan. 15th, performed for a private party at The Inn at Little Washington , and played until 3:30am in the Parlor, according to several guests who were in attendance.

Well, the Inn sure knows how to keep a secret! The town was all a-buzz knowing that the Inn was rented for one night, all rooms, plus using extra beds at all nearby B&Bs.

The party-givers were well-known D.C. benefactors Catherine and Wayne Reynolds.

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls.....
by Joanie Ballard

I love pearls. I saw several designers of pearls on a recent buying trip in NYC, however my favorite find for our shop is Eco-Opulence.

Roseann Gapusan is the owner and designer and I have carried her work for a couple of years now, with great success.  Roseann uses only eco-friendly harvested pearls and include Freshwater, Tahitian, Australian South Sea and Philippine Golden South Sea Pearls. Really modern and gorgeous designs!

We sell a few of her pieces on our website & will be adding more very soon. Click here to view: (

Here are a few new pieces that we will soon have in our expanding jewelry section of the shop!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NYC Accessories Show 2011
by Joanie Ballard

Carla Mancini leather tote soon to be in our shop!
I've written several blog posts about the current climate at U.S. retail trade shows. The operative words were: "tentative and fearful, but somewhat optimistic."

The best thing to come out of the 2011 Accessories Show is the following:  larger quantities of retailers were in attendance and actually buying. I spoke to many exhibitors and most were enthusiastic about the amount of orders being placed. All good things to hear.

Walking this year's women's accessories trade show in NYC, the upbeat mood by wholesalers and buyers was palpable. New Mood Alert: smiling, jovial, positive. After two years of looking at worried faces, Robert and I both noticed an upturn in attendees interactions with clients and suppliers. This has been such a slow process, as many already know, with last year showing just a twinkle of positivity floating in the air.

As for our own shop and gallery, our final numbers were up from last year, not down, giving us hope for this upcoming year. Can I hear an "Amen"!

We are still being cautious, as our customers are also still timid with their wallets. But in the end, we are satisfied and going forward with a renewed sense of "yes! we are still standing!"

I always love seeing all the new upcoming trends in scarves/bags/jewelry. My favorite French and Italian suppliers had plenty of new designs to offer, and we even found some new scented candles to fill up our apothecary area for the spring.  Divine scents!

Blue Trend in Scarves, Handbags, Jewelry:
Lots of turquoise, misty blues, cobalt blues, across the board in all categories. I picked up a gorgeous line of purses from Carla Mancini (seen here). Here is a sample of the lovely blue hues I am talking about:

More to come: reporting on scarves, jewelry!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Yves Delorme Shipment!

Yes, we have the new, delicious and lovely Yves Delorme tablecloths now in our shop! Here are a few peeks at the designs.  Go to our website to purchase,

Villandry in white