Rock star ceramist Christopher Spitzmiller headlines the Texas Design Week presentation at Found, the interiors store helmed by Ruth & Neil Davis. (Photo by Johnny Than )
Ruth & Neill Davis (Photo by Johnny Than )
Ceramist Christopher Spitzmiller, Found owner Ruth Davis (Photo by Johnny Than )
Suzanne Duin, Devin Babbit (Photo by Johnny Than )
Anne Kanshwaha, Maria Sehendzelos (Photo by Johnny Than )
Krista Sterling, Brenda Atkins (Photo by Johnny Than )
Liz Sculley, Monica Carter, Kathy Sculley (Photo by Johnny Than )
Anne Ramsey, Meredith Vecker (Photo by Johnny Than )
(Photo by Johnny Than )
Stacy Schliewe, Julie Durkee, Colleen Waguespack (Photo by Johnny Than )
Teresa Jackson, Melinda Cuebas, Marjorie Partin, Diane Moore (Photo by Johnny Than )
Phoebe Tudor, Mia Smith (Photo by Johnny Than )
Christopher Spitzmiller, Olive Hershey Spitzmiller, Sir Mark Haukohl (Photo by Johnny Than )
Enny Davis, Grant Moffett (Photo by Johnny Than )
Marion Evans, Karen Sachar (Photo by Johnny Than )
Yesely Love, Lauren Wills (Photo by Johnny Than )
Jane Wood, Karen Pulaski (Photo by Johnny Than )
Catherine Powell, Imogen Lopez (Photo by Johnny Than )
Courtnay Tartt Elias, Barbara Tartt (Photo by Johnny Than )
Lisa Fred, Sara Dodd (Photo by Johnny Than )
John T. Cone, Greg Fourticq (Photo by Johnny Than )
Sandy Lucas, Ruth Davis, Mimi Trahan (Photo by Johnny Than )
Marita Fairbanks, Julie Kinzelman, Lisa Hough (Photo by Johnny Than )
Cherie Lindley, Mandy Roschell Diaz (Photo by Johnny Than )
Master ceramist by vocation and gentleman farmer by avocation, Christopher Spitzmiller charms as much in person as he does in his recently published delight A Year at Clove Brook Farm. During his Texas Design Week Houston presentation at FOUND — a TXDW keynote sponsor — he captivated with a broad recounting of the 15-year endeavor that has transformed a derelict dairy farm into a showplace and his relationship with lifestyle diva Martha Stewart.
Spitzmiller’s book is so compelling that it is already in its second printing, only two months after the initial release.
Despite torrential rains, a sold-out entourage of interior designers, decorators and fans of Spitzmiller’s richly glazed lamps, tabletop collections, and other ceramics lined up for the book signing that preceded his engaging presentation. Among them were friends, including Sir Mark Haukohl and his stepmother, Olive Hershey Spitzmiller.
“I put my heart and soul into it and I did it as I could afford to do it,” Spitzmiller candidly shares about the reclaiming of Clove Brook. “I took on parts like new windows, painting the outside, new heating and cooling . . . all this time I was spending vast amounts of money.”
Luckily, his ceramist business is so successful that it allows for the continuing refinement of the five-acre plot. “I like to think that we make jewelry for your living room or for your bedroom, accents of some really good Verdura earrings,” Spitzmiller says.
He explains that he spent six years renovating and reconfiguring the farm house, the kitchen of which dates to 1700 and the main house to 1830. Then, it was a year and a half decorating, each room containing something from his mentorship under renowned designer Albert Hadley.
“We used Albert’s wallpaper everywhere we could, the best came out of Albert’s house in Connecticut. Every room in my house has some piece of Albert in it. Those magazines (on the screen that he is narrating) happen to be all of the old ADs, House Beautifuls and Verandas that he was published in.”
Among those whom Spitzmiller also credits with special guidance throughout his career is Mario Buatta, whose spaniel paintings he purchased upon sale of the revered designer’s estate. They hang in the living room of the farm in Millbrook, New York, some 90 minutes from Manhattan.
BFF with Martha Stewart
Spitzmiller laughs that many think that he worked for Martha Stewart at one time, so similar are their interests. Not so, he clarifies. They are friends introduced by mutual friends.
“But it’s our love of chickens and peacocks and now geese and gardening that bound that friendship. So every year, we load up the car and drive up to the congressional poultry show and fight over the best chickens,” he quips.
At the beginning of the COVID shutdowns, Stewart gifted Spitzmiller with eight geese eggs. “Then the geese hatched and they were so cute and I held them every night and I held them every day and then I gave them names like Carolyne Roehm, Bill Blass, Clare Potter and Joan Rivers, who turned out to be a gander,” he says.
Gardening at Clove Brook
“Gardening is really my new invention” Spitzmiller quips. He loves the methodical work of planting in which he and his partner, Anthony Bellomo, get their hands in the dirt. Their floral plantings correspond with the seasons beginning with 3,000 tulip bulbs planted in late winter for spring blossoms, then sweet peas and finally dahlias. The garden is flush this time of year with peonies, 450 bushes, he adds. The couple also plants enormous amounts of narcissus bulbs around the pond. Last year, they planted 13,000.
The next project is transforming the dilapidated dairy barn into a showcase barn with housing for the chickens, a central event room and a storage space for farm equipment.
The program was sponsored by FOUND, New Orleans Auction Galleries, Monogram, Porcelanosa, The Shade Store, Alto, K&N Sales, and Swiggard Creative.