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Monday, February 20, 2012

Tortoise Shell

I adore tortoise shell. Although not just in the literal sense.

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In my high school and young adult years I wore Ray Ban Wayfarers. Now I have moved on to these prescription “sunnies” .

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My choice in spectacles are pretty much all her fault.

Since my hair has gotten a bit longer I often pull it back with a favorite barrette.


I wouldn’t turn these Louboutin Miss Tack lovelies away if they walked up to my door.

Any time I go to an estate sale I keep my eyes open for antique tortoiseshell tea caddy’s.

Alas theses beautiful boxes have, so far, alluded me.

Compacts and snuff boxes are quite desirable fun too. A large collection, like that of artist Brigid Berlin, is pure delight.

Tortoiseshell comes in a variety of shades from light to dark. Although what is manufactured today is not true tortoise shell but instead a variety of synthetic products.

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At the height of tortoiseshell popularity, which occurred from the Victorian Era through the 1960’s,  products were made primarily from the hawksbill turtle which now sadly is an endangered species. Thankfully in 1973 the trade of tortoiseshell worldwide was banned under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

The beauty of tortoiseshell is that it blends with any design style. Michelle Adams, founder and editor in chief of Lonny Magazine, paired an antique buffet with a modern lamp in her dining room.

In stark contrast to the light filled space above, Julie Miller created a room that seemed to channel the design style of Billy Baldwin. The combination of the bright blue opaline glass vases and touches of hot pink work quite well with the tortoiseshell boxes.


Tortoiseshell can be the showcase piece, such as this gorgeous table featured in a room designed by Miles Redd.

Yet tortoiseshell can also hold its own in a room full of pattern.

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Even in small doses, such as this armoire papered with a Schumacher wall covering, tortoiseshell is lovely.

Fashion designer Tory Burch is well known for her love of tortoiseshell. Ms. Burch took her fashion one step further by shooting her spring 2010 collection in her own home which features tortoiseshell moldings and chair rails.

Of course it is quite popular to use actual tortoise shells in well designed rooms. They enhance even small spaces such as this bar area created by Windsor Smith.

The impact of a large grouping of shells is stunning at the The Tides La Marea restaurant designed by Kelly Wearstler.

On Wednesday I’ll share how well designed tortoiseshell has now entered my home.



Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

I love this post!! I love tortoise too!

Karena said...

Laura so many wonderful tortoiseshell images! I love the collection of Brigid's boxes and that lamp base! Oh and the coffee table, adore!

Art by Karena

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Nature always does it best. The real shells on the wall tug at my heart strings, the faux makes me happier :)

Such a great classic though, can't wait to see what you've acquired.

Heather B. Quinn said...

I love tortoiseshell jewelry and glasses, but had never seen them used in home decor until this post! Thanks for sharing!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

I have one small shell that I have on a stand in the bookcase, but I love those sunglasses. Hugs, Marty

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Laura, I love this post, and I have bookmarked it to read later in the week! Great images, and I look forward to seeing what you are up to with tortoise shells!

I still wear white Rayban Wayfarers from the eighties...(Don't tell anyone...)


The Boston Lady said...

I had no idea tortoise shell was used in so many ways. Can't wait to see yours Laura! Ann

Jill Elaine said...

Can't wait to see what you have to show us!! I know it will be lovely:)

Ivy Clad said...

Oh how I love tortoise shell!! Beautiful post!


Craftymoose Crafts said...

Can't wait! I have some "tortoise" seed beads that I am hoarding--I see some beautiful lilies in their future.

Vel Baricuatro-Criste, MD said...

tortoise = fabulous dahling!

although i really will never put any type of turtle animal figurine in my home because I believe it is bad luck (you know, turtles are very slow, so we believe your life will be "slow" too in general) - don't mind the "quack" doctor.. :-)

Auntie Em said...

I love the tortoise shell-like hair pretties and the glasses are classic. The antique pieces are so beautiful and look so elegant in sitting somewhere unexpected. And I love the faux finishes for their shine and amber glow.
But the shells hanging on the walls bother me. It's like having their carcasses on display. I think I would just sit and cry in a room like the last one. Just silly old sentimental me.

Nancy's Notes said...

Wow, I've not seen so many uses for tortoise shell! All are great! I love those sunglasses, they are awesome!

Linda said...

I found your blog today and became a follower! Yay! Looks like fun is happenin' here! (:>)

I love tortoise shell stuff too. But I don't really have any collectibles in it. I loved the picture of the tea boxes that you posted. Very Pretty!

Things like shoes, purses, hair-clips, sunglasses are fun in tortoise shell. And I like it when it is in car interiors too. I think it is classy!

ms1128 said...

I have been obsessed with tortoise shell for a while now. I love this post!


Nezzy said...

Me too, met too!!!

I have sunglasses, headbands, hair combs, banana clips....

....but none as decor in my home. Now I have to ask why???

Maybe I'll find me some 'French Tortuous' to go with my very Country French home. Heehehehe!

God bless ya sweetie and have a glamorous day!!! :o)

Debbie said...

Until this moment, I hadn't ever given any thought to tortoise shell in design. I do have a pair of TS sunglasses among my stash.

Looking forward to today's post with your design idea.

Jen said...

So pretty, and who would've thought to use tortoise mixed in so many schemes. It makes such a subtle and pretty accent.

Can't wait to see how you use it!

Jennifer said...

Love the images...I have 3 large ones now for sale!