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Stencils let designers show off sophisticationIf you...


Stencils let designers show off sophistication

If you want to see just how sophisticated the craft of stenciling has become, take a look at two hall areas in the Baltimore Symphony Showhouse. Designers from the Harford Community College interior design program have used stencils from a local company, Manor House Designs. You'll see their "Rose Topiary," coordinating "Rose Border," two bird cages and several garden accessories from the company's trompe l'oeil collection.

Manor House Designs was started three years ago when two Annapolis women, Pam McIntyre and Laura Plantin, couldn't find the stenciling designs they wanted. Their business has grown rapidly, so they now offer a full-color "Catalog of Stencil Designs" (58 designs in pattern format) and "The English Country House Collection" (23 pre-cut stencils). You can get both for $6, or the catalog for $4.50 and the brochure on pre-cut stencils for $2.50.

For more information, call (410) 721-8945 or write Manor House Designs, 1795 Severn Chapel Road, Millersville, Md. 21108. Picture frames may be some of the most undervalued antiques around. Until recently many galleries and some museums -- at least in the United States -- discarded antique frames as worthless, according to this month's issue of Traditional Home. Now these frames are becoming a hot collectible.

Jimmy Judd of Amos Judd & Sons, a Baltimore antiques dealer, says that he and many other dealers no longer sell frames separately to customers who, for instance, want them for mirrors. Mr. Judd, whose shop on Howard Street specializes in antique art, says dealers hold on to frames for antique paintings that might not have their own. "We're particularly interested in larger ones that can be cut down to size," he says.

Bill Adair, an expert on frames at Gold Leaf Studios in Washington, suggests that beginning collectors look for American frames made in the last 150 years. Hand-carved examples from the 18th century or earlier are most prized but are, of course, difficult to find at flea markets, yard sales and junk shops. April showers bring May flowers, but they can also encourage leaf-spotting diseases like dogwood anthracnose. Because this has been a wet spring, David Clement, coordinator of the Home and Garden Information Center, Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, suggests that gardeners look closely at their plants for leaf spotting. Roses, dogwoods and shade trees are particularly susceptible. Treatment varies, so call the Extension Service or a nursery for specific information.

Here are some other tips on May gardening from Dr. Clement:

This is the time for broadleaf weed control if your lawn needs it.

In the middle of the month, fertilize your lawn if necessary.

It's too late for major reseeding; do only small spots.

In your vegetable garden, plant warm-season crops like tomato, squash and pepper around Mother's Day.

Now is the time to harvest asparagus, if the bed is at least 3 years old. But don't over-harvest a young bed.

For more information, call the Extension Service at (800) 342-2507 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Flowers and cards are nice for Mother's Day, but for something more lasting, consider an extravagant gift of Fitz and Floyd china. This is ornate, often unusual porcelain -- many pieces have 22-karat gold rims. But it won't be as extravagant as it seems if you shop at the Fitz and Floyd store in Silver Spring, which sells seconds, discontinued items and overstock. Discounts range from 30 percent to 80 percent.

The store opened last year at the City Place Mall in downtown Silver Spring, one of 12 Fitz and Floyds on the East Coast. If that's a trek for you, you can order over the phone. The number is (301) 587-0142. (The Maryland store can get items it doesn't stock from other locations in a day or two.)

Besides place settings, Fitz and Floyd has coordinating giftware such as teapots and salt and pepper shakers. Mix-and-match china is very in now, so it would be appropriate to give a piece or two that are different from but coordinate with Mom's china. Just take the pattern you want to mix with you.

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