The big white tent is back on the front lawn of the Chautauqua Women’s Club.
This time it is sheltering and showcasing the two-day “Classic to Current: A CWC Furniture and Jewelry Event,” an endeavor enhanced by talented local artists that Nancy Langston and Ann Fletcher, both CWC members and retired interior decorators, began three years ago.
They have since been assisted by a committee of volunteers: Kuniko Washio, Edie Sklar, Judy Oliver, Michele Keane, Kelly Boyce Himebaugh, Tracy Edwards and Virginia DiPucci.
Inside the tent — from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. July 31 — there will be a sale, silent auction and unique opportunity to purchase and donate small pieces of furniture to programs and organizations around the grounds.
All special-event proceeds will support the CWC’s mission of enhancing fellowship; providing social, educational and service programs; and sustaining scholarship opportunities for students in Chautauqua’s schools and programs of fine and performing arts.
Last year, Langston and Fletcher purchased vintage pieces of jewelry from antique stores and via the internet, and CWC members donated pieces, Fletcher said.
More than 200 pieces of jewelry previously owned and loved by others will be available. They include collector’s items and high-end costume pieces designed by Bakelite, Fabergé, Heidi Daus, Jackie Kennedy and Joan Rivers. They range in price from $5 to $650, and all items are priced to sell.
When the CWC House was renovated several years ago, most of the furniture was “repurposed, refinished and redone,” said contributing artist and CWC Board Chair Gail Gamble. A few small pieces that had been donated to the Club but were not part of the renovation were stored in the attic.
Fletcher said she and Langston came up with the idea of restoring the attic pieces. They “acquired remnants of designer fabrics, such as Brunschwig & Fils, Scalamandre, Schumacher and worked with Diane Gatto to refinish and Dick Ribbing to upholster the pieces.”
With this furniture event in mind, Fletcher said for two years she and Langston also purchased small, special pieces from numerous antique stores to add to their collection. Gamble said chairs, desks, occasional pieces and tables procured were refurbished with new paint and donated upholstery.
Gatto, who manages Chautauqua Design Center in Mayville and is skilled in antique restoration and repair, handled the antique refinishing work. Fletcher said although she painted most of the antique wicker furniture white, she also painted a bookcase, a child’s school desk and small tables and chairs in solid colors, and rocking chairs in red with blue and white seats.
“The refurbished furniture is in cottage colors,” Gamble said. “Few are really big. They are tasteful, colorful and up-to-date.”
Ribbing, the Jamestown upholsterer who covered all of the CWC furniture during the renovation, has been working for more than a year to transform many of the hand-picked, bargain, antique pieces into custom furniture.
“He does really fine, high quality work,” Fletcher said. “He’s very, very good.”
A variety of local artists who have supported the CWC in the past were contacted — mainly members of Chautauqua’s arts community, including VACI — Fletcher said. Each selected and picked up pieces, and painted them over the winter, adding special touches. Some are Chautauqua-themed.
The CWC will be featuring these collector pieces — mainly small tables and side chairs for rooms and porches — as silent auction items with a “buy now” price.
Accessories will also be available, said Fletcher, including artwork, throw pillows, wicker and rattan, mirrors, designer fabrics/piece goods still on the roll, and odds and ends.
Virginia Cox, a CWC member involved with the Episcopal Cottage, came up with the idea of creating a fund for the purchase of furniture pieces for the cottage, including wicker for the porch and comfortable upholstered chairs for the guest bedrooms, Fletcher said. Donation checks have already been made out to the CWC enabling the purchase of the type of furniture that is on the cottage’s wish list.
Support for this or any other denominational house, or for props for the Chautauqua Theater Company or Chautauqua Opera Company, can be made by dropping off a check at the CWC House, payable to the CWC, side-marked for that special cause, Fletcher said.
“It’s a win-win benefiting two organizations,” she said.
Additionally, for a fair and reasonable fee, Gamble and CWC President Nancy Shadd have arranged for “strong arms” to be available both days to help with the transport of items within the grounds, Fletcher said.