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Excerpt From Article About Littlestone Upholstery Designs & Anne Steinle written by S. K. List

“I try to keep each design very true to the color and markings of the actual bird,” Steinle says. “My goal is for the creature’s plumage to be recognizable in the chair, the ottoman, the pillow.” Through Wild Birds Unlimited, her pieces have been shown at the prestigious Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology.

But birds are only one direction for Anne’s talent and skill. Largely self-taught as a residential upholsterer, with 25 years of experience, Steinle has progressed far beyond mere repairs to old couches and chairs to the stage of designing true works of art for a widening client base in the Finger Lakes and beyond. She describes her pieces as “Expressive Furniture for Exceptional People” and they range from subtle to fanciful to dramatic, but always with a fine-tuned eye for the individual. Successively more important commissions have grown from her ability to create pieces that specifically echo a client’s history, style and taste. Using an impressive and deeply diverse mix of top-notch fabrics, from leather in both natural and exotic colorways to velvets, wools, denims and much more, she is able to fashion real focal-point pieces that also dovetail smoothly with individual home décor and lifestyle.

“I have different feelings when I work on an artistic piece,” Steinle says. “It’s exhilarating to feel that ideas are not only coming from me, but rather through me. I want the pieces that I finish for individual people not only to be a beautiful addition to their home, but to be radiating some sort of life.”

With a reverence for nature that shows in her bird pieces and a conscious respect for the environment, Anne uses the best materials—finely crafted frames, real wood and horsehair, coil springs, corner braces—but she goes to some lengths to re-use and reclaim viable materials from scrapped pieces. She has saved bags of small leather pieces over the years and divided them by color; from these, she can draw out accent shapes and sections to produce intricate geometric patterns for some furniture designs.

Former owner of Littlestone Gallery in Ithaca’s West End, which hosted ground-breaking exhibits and showcased the work of a group of gifted area artists as well as Steinle’s own pieces, Anne has been a collaborator at Belle Melange, just off the Ithaca Commons. She works by commission and also creates both one-off pieces and limited series of work. Among the series is her Gracie Group, a playful footstool design with a gathered skirt drawn back to show a coquettishly crossed leg—often with a tiny ankle bracelet—on the otherwise sedate piece of furniture. This whimsy is typical of Steinle’s artistry, as is her eye for juxtaposing the unexpected in a stylish and striking way. For one client, she re-did an antique Eastlake chair in leather, utilizing some of the shapes and motifs that characterize the Eastlake era. But her choice of colors that were brilliant and almost psychedelic, in the vein of Sixties painter Peter Max, brought the sleek chair to the level of fine art.

“Some clients have given me complete artistic license, which can be nerve-wracking,” Steinle laughs. “I try to work with people to get a glimpse of their ideas and to narrow color choices. After all, they’re the ones who are going to be living with a finished piece.” Then her eyes twinkle: “In the end, though, I do try to drop their jaws. That’s just fun!”

Article By S. K. List

For more information, contact Anne Steinle at 607-280-3252 orLittlestone5119@gmail.com Steinle’s Web site is <www.littlestoneupholsterydesigns.com>.