Home Is Where The Art Is

Local artisans create pieces that are as practical as they are beautiful.

They are commissioned pieces, works of art, cherished parts of your collection. They turn ordinary into extraordinary. They make this house your home. And yet, unlike the other pieces in your art collection, these acquisitions remain-long after you’ve sold the place and moved on. The metal railings along the staircase. The pieces of ceramic from your grandmother’s favorite lea set embedded in the mantel. The trompe l’oeil angels flying above your baby’s crib in the nursery. The hand-dyed leather wall in the library. The Renaissance-like mural in the dining room.

Dallas has a number of artisans who create both freestanding pieces and permanent installations. Just don’t call them interior designers.


Judy DeSanders uses glass the way a jewelry designer uses precious stones, collecting assorted pieces-from hand-blown to old, broken-up window panes-to create glass objects of art. “I’m constantly scamming for good materials,” says DeSanders, who made a name for herself in a variety of media before she became “interested in the molecular structure of things. Glass is one of the most fascinating materials-malleable and oddly conductive.” But because the work is tedious and DeSanders is a perfectionist, she averages only about 12 pieces a year. Take a number. 214-522-1916.


Stuart Kraft’s answer for the ls-it-art-or-is-it-furniture? question from patrons who see his pieces in both homes and museums: “Art first, furniture second.” The sculptor finds his materials-bridge beams, boiler walls, and plates of steel-in junkyards and then lugs up to 5,000 pounds of the stuff back to his studio in the Design District. There, he carves scrap metal into smaller pieces that he ultimately welds into tables, chairs, benches, and bed frames, as well as banisters, railings, and door hinges. Clients include Deedie Rose, Tom Hicks, and Shannon Wynne. 214-651-1661.


Marcelena Recatune began specializing in hand-dyed leather-for furniture, ceilings, wall panels, desk lops-after she stumbled onto a technique of oiling, waxing, and coloring leather that renders the material “old and worn.” At Larru Leathers in Oak Cliff, the business she launched 15 years ago, Recatune starts with pieces of “nude” leather and then creates one-of-a-kind designs and finishes using a secret formula and a mixture of special paints. Clients include Jerry and Gene Jones and Dick and Jinger Heath. 214-760-7003.


Robert Bellamy has always been intrigued by the artistic properties of ceramic tile-which explains why he likes to scavenge demolition sites of old homes. He is always in search of broken bathroom tile, cracked dinner plates, corroded flower pots-and other assorted bits and pieces the rest of us plainly consider debris-to create mosaic-like works of art. Among his clients: Jennie Reeves, for whom Bellamy designed a mantel using broken pieces from old tea sets. Robert Bellamy Design: 214-826-4612.


Mary Maddux was an instructor at Bauder College 10 years ago when she decided to practice what she’d been teaching. Maddux left the world of academia for the design world, eventually launching Imitation of Life in 1992. Her specialty: custom color and unique approaches to wall, furniture, floor, and fabric design. Right now. she’s best known for wax finishes, a process that involves hand-troweling tinted mud directly onto the wall before applying a series of waxes. The effect? A surface that’s “elegant and time-worn.” 214-948-/3!I.


From his studio in the Dallas Design District, Richard Holton creates one-of-a-kind trompe l’oeil plaster frames, plaques, and friezes, as well as elaborate murals on canvas, that he then installs in homes around the world. Working with architects and their clients, Holton and his team specialize in “rooms that are in themselves great works of art.” His work-much of it reminiscent of the Renaissance-can be seen in a number of homes along Swiss Avenue. Holton & Associates: 214-752-7300.


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