Gath­er­ing rain­bows

One woman’s life­long pas­sion has filled her home with an ex­plo­sion of colour.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By LINDA NAVARRO

THE mid­day light pours through the wall of win­dows. Sun­bursts ex­plode into a rain­bow pal­ette.

White hair float­ing around an ethe­real face, Eve Til­ley Chavez smiles at the vivid colours cre­ated by her hun­dreds of pieces of coloured glass on shelves in the win­dows.

There are vases and glasses, plates and bowls.

“The colour of glass is so pure. It has al­ways at­tracted me,” she says, think­ing back maybe 25 or 30 years to when she first started a small collection in a bay win­dow in her pre­vi­ous home in the North End in the Amer­i­can state of Colorado.

All it takes for a collection is three.

“Two is not enough. Three is a magic num­ber,” she says, laugh­ing.

Only three? Til­ley Chavez can’t quite re­mem­ber how long ago, if ever, she just had three in her glass collection. Some of the crys­tal came from her mother’s fam­ily and her mother. Her grand­mother passed down a piece of cut-rock crys­tal that re­sem­bles a di­a­mond as well. Til­ley Chavez, who is well-known as a lo­cal ac­tress and theatre di­rec­tor in Colorado Springs, has cut crys­tal from the 1800s and 1890s and coloured glass from the early 1920s.

The collection, she says, grew “like Topsy” over the years and to­day dom­i­nates the hill­top so­lar home de­signed for Til­ley Chavez and her hus­band, Sol Chavez. The house, by the way, was the fi­nal home project of famed ar­chi­tect Gor­don Ingraham in early 2000s. Even the pa­tios cre­ate pat­terns through the Vin­cent O’Brien stained glass hang­ings.

Til­ley Chavez has no idea how many pieces of glass and crys­tal she has, but now, when she finds a new one she par­tic­u­larly likes, it re­places one on dis­play that she had col­lected. She gives some of those away; oth­ers she stacks out of the way, hold­ing them in place with clear mu­seum putty.

Til­ley Chavez has never col­lected glass for its value. It’s “value for plea­sure” and adds to her life aes­thet­i­cally in colours she par­tic­u­larly trea­sures. She doesn’t col­lect spe­cific pat­terns, styles or de­signs. She knows what she wants when she sees it, she says.

Til­ley Chavez tries to never pay more than US$25 (RM82) for a piece of good crys­tal. “Some­times US$10 (RM33) is too much. I don’t need it that badly.”

One ex­cep­tion was the US$135 (RM446) she paid for a crys­tal bowl at a friend’s fam­ily es­tate sale. “It was sen­ti­men­tal and beau­ti­ful,” she says.

Once she and her mother drove to the Amer­i­can Mid­west to see a Rus­sian ex­hibit of the czar’s clothes. How­ever, what caught her eye were heavy leaded crys­tal brandy glasses, “and the colours were just gor­geous,” she says. They were well worth the US$25 or US$30 (RM82 or RM99) she paid for each, she says.

Til­ley Chavez can’t name her favourite glass colour, but “yel­low ochre is bor­ing”. One bright yel­low piece in the collection is beau­ti­ful, and a colour, she says, that glass blow­ers won’t usu­ally work with.

“Some of the colours are poi­sonous. There is mer­cury in that glass, par­tic­u­larly glass be­ing im­ported from China, and it’s dan­ger­ous for the glass blow­ers,” she says.

Lead and ura­nium have also been used to colour glass.

A par­tic­u­larly eye-catch­ing, red cut-crys­tal piece was made with gold ore, she points out.

The best glass has the colour in the glass, she says. “Colour that is painted on will fade and scratch.”

Col­lec­tor’s crys­tal shouldn’t have a chip, she warns. How­ever, it didn’t bother her when she found a red punch bowl that the owner had washed in hot wa­ter, turn­ing it into a land­scape of cracks.

Til­ley Chavez just filled it with small dec­o­ra­tive glass items. To avoid that fate with other pieces, though, she cleans her glass in the dish­washer with vine­gar on a cold rinse cy­cle.

Where in Amer­ica do you find glass like those in the Til­ley Chavez collection? In the be­gin­ning, she says, she went to Good­will and to es­tate and yard sales.

But most thrift stores have be­come savvy to value and Til­ley Chavez says it’s dif­fi­cult to find top pieces at Good­will any longer. She’s been told that thrift stores usu­ally put the best items on eBay.

Til­ley Chavez also checks out eBay: That’s where she found the 25mm crys­tals she needed for her chan­de­lier. She’s also found glass she liked at Hobby Lobby. How­ever, she doesn’t even go shop­ping for glass that much any more. She has run out of room.

“If I found a spec­tac­u­lar piece, where would I put it?”

For all the en­joy­ment, there are down­sides of col­lect­ing glass. Namely, her cats.

When she was liv­ing in the first house, the one with the bay win­dow, Til­ley Chavez lured a feral mother cat in­side so she could get her kit­tens fa­mil­iar with hu­mans and they could even­tu­ally be adopted. Mama cat wasn’t hav­ing any of it and lunged to­ward the bay win­dow to get out­side, send­ing coloured glass crash­ing. The cat fam­ily was shut in a dif­fer­ent room – one with­out a glass collection – as the ba­bies were tamed a bit.

To­day’s cat fam­ily mem­bers – Ster­ling, a gi­ant and quite lazy fe­line, and brother Leo, a sleek ad­ven­turer who brings mice and birds to Ster­ling to play with – have had a few mishaps, tak­ing out glass­ware as they jumped at birds that fly into the big liv­ing room win­dows. And an­tique hob­nail glass ended up in pieces when ma­raud­ing rac­coons came in­side through the cat door.

And then there was the un­named hu­man glass de­stroyer. He had en­joyed him­self per­haps a lit­tle too much at one of the Chavez par­ties and took a header into part of the glass collection. His wife brought her hosts re­place­ment coloured glass as gifts for quite some time.

For Til­ley Chavez, it’s just life. “If I had to care about the value of the glass, I would have to get rid of my cats.” And that would never hap­pen.

“I have to just chill out when a piece gets bro­ken. If I bought it for value, I would have to put it away in a case some­where.”

It’s all part of the Til­ley Chavez “lov­ing life” and not tak­ing it too se­ri­ously mantra. And it fits right in with her pas­sion for col­lect­ing and just en­joy­ing it all. She col­lects – and wears – furs, shoes (hun­dreds), an­tique ball gowns and hats (500 at one count un­til she had a sale to get the num­ber down to 250). Each piece of art on the walls is hand­picked. – The Gazette/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Colour every­where: a pane of stained glass by artist Vin­cent O’brien makes a back­drop for the stopper of a cut glass bot­tle in eve Til­ley Chavez’s home full of coloured glass in all shapes and forms. – MCT pho­tos

The unique stem of these glasses caught the eye of Til­ley Chavez.

The grad­u­ated colours of glass­ware fill a wall of win­dows in her din­ing room.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.