The designs of Maryland painter Kristin Helberg enhance household objects from folding screens and fire boards to chests, small boxes and candlesticks. Partly because of the paintings' naive style and partly because of the historically correct finishes that Ms. Helberg used on the boxes and frames, the objects seem rediscovered, like treasures found in antique shops.
The painting style relies heavily on the comforting themes of the Peaceable Kingdom, and the marbleized and grained finishes are known as vinegar paintings. The development of such textured embellishments began with necessity. The early settlers in this country had no access to the various marbles and exotic woods they were accustomed to in Europe. This technique of vinegar painting was developed by itinerant folk artists to disguise simple woods with exotic faux finishes. The technique is still in use today by artists who are experts in antique furniture restoration.
Ms. Helberg's works are sold at the Museum of American Folk Art gift shop in New York City and may be viewed at various museums of American folk art around the country. Locally, her work is represented by the Unicorn Gallery in Fells Point.