Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau: What’s the Difference?

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Saturday, June 9, 2018

    Although they all start with the word “art," each of these styles has its own distinct look. Let’s look at the differences between Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and the Arts and Crafts style. We’ll include one bonus style at the end, Craftsman.

    Art Deco
    Art Deco rose to prominence in the 1920s. It celebrated all the incredible achievements happening in the 20th century; the creation of electricity, radio, skyscrapers, and Cubist art to name a few. This style is easy to discern from the others because of its strong geometric focus, sharp angles and zigzag style. Mirrors, black lacquer work, and highly polished metals are hallmarks of this style.

    Great examples of Art Deco can be seen in movies like the Great Gatsby, Metropolis, Cabaret, and Chicago. By the 1930s we could see most notably in the Chrysler Building in New York, Art Deco had started to soften its hard, sharp edges and take on a more curved silhouette.

    Art Nouveau
    In the late 19th century, Art Nouveau was all the rage. Art Nouveau is immediately distinguishable from Art Deco, because of the whiplash curves and ornate nature inspired designs featuring wings, flowers, and vines. One only has to look as far as the art of Toulouse-Lautrec and his advertisements to see the curving lines and beautiful medallions that introduced the “curlicue” style for which Art Nouveau became known. Art Nouveau also branched out into the fine arts, including stained-glass bas relief, crafted wood and meta, in both architecture and interior design.

    Arts and Crafts
    Arts and Crafts style became popular in the mid-19th century. Handcrafted wood, pottery, and stained-glass were heavily incorporated. Motifs are focused on nature and the land. A great example of this style is the collected designs and patterns of William Morris, still produced and relevant in today’s home décor trends.

    The Arts and Crafts style emphasized harmony with nature and a rejection of cookie-cutter, industrialized, mass produced consumer home products. Art Nouveau’s crisp geometry and Art Deco’s curved lines and fluid nature pair well with the straight-line simplicity of Arts and Crafts style.

    It’s common for Craftsman and Arts and Crafts styles to be confused, especially at first glance. Craftsman is considered a modified interpretation of Arts and Crafts style. The name comes from a popular magazine published in the early 1900s by Gustaf Stickley called The Craftsman.

    Craftsman style pieces, particularly the furniture designed by Stickley and his company, were thicker and larger than furniture of the Arts and Crafts design. Craftsman pieces also lacked the ornamentation of Arts and Crafts style. There were no carvings, inlay curved boards, or any other decorations. Stickley’s later designs evolved over his design career, however, and later productions had more in common with Arts and Crafts sensibilities.

    Understanding Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco, not to mention Craftsman style, will allow you to incorporate these design disciplines seamlessly into your home.

    4 Tips on Opening Your Cabin After a Long Absence

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Thursday, June 7, 2018

    Cabin living is a wonderful way to take in the great outdoors and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Unlike your day to day family home, however, occasional occupancy in a vacation cabin has a few additional steps to it that an owner should keep in mind when they are opening and closing for the season or after a long absence. Here are four tips to make that process a quick checklist.

    Make a Plan
    You’ll want to plan before you head up for your first weekend, as tempting as it is to just pack a suitcase and go. Call to turn on any services you shut off over the winter, including electricity, water and trash collection. 
    Check the insurance policies on your second home and boats or other vehicles stored there. If you’ve purchased any new recreational vehicles, make sure they get covered right away. Check your boating registration and renew it if necessary. Pay careful attention to expiration dates.

    If you plan to put in a dock or repair an existing one, call your crew a few weeks in advance to see if they’re available to come up the same weekend and give you a quote.

    The Nuts and Bolts
    Check the furnace and put in a new filter. Check pipes for rust or damage before you turn on your plumbing and water heater, then when you are ready, turn the water on and keep an eye out for potential leaks. Call for professional help if needed.

    Be on the lookout for signs of animals. Check screens and windows for holes and gaps, and electrical cords for fraying or bite marks. Inspect your deck and eaves for signs of rotting. Schedule any repairs or cleanups necessary. 
    Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test and replace the batteries in motion sensor lights on the front door, deck and on the way down to the dock or other outdoor areas.

    Cover Necessities
    Go through your pantry and throw out any expired food you forgot, as well as anything that looks like it may have been something else’s snack. Set traps if needed! Check that you’re stocked up on sunscreen and bug spray, and check your expiry dates. Check the stock of your bathroom toiletries and towels.

    Make Your List for Next Year
    While it’s fresh in your mind, take notes of what you’ve done this year to open up and make note of anything you’ve missed. In addition to what we’ve already covered, make note of furnace and air filter specifics, vacuum bag sizes, and tools needed to check or turn on specific systems.

    Rags and cleaning cloths and cleaning solutions are good to restock, along with toiletries. Animal traps or deterrents should be plentiful, just in case. These are supplies we don’t often think of, but if your nearest store is quite a drive from your cabin, you’ll be glad you planned. Take a photo of your list with your phone and save it as a favorite.

    Opening up a cabin is a lot of work, but once you are done, you get to relax and enjoy the beauty around you. It’s worth it!

    5 Signs You Need a Kitchen Makeover

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Tuesday, June 5, 2018

    The kitchen is one of the most highly used rooms in the home, and every so often, a makeover is necessary. Here are five indicators that it may be time.

    1. Your Appliances Are Dated
    If your appliances came with your house, or they have been giving you a mounting list of issues lately, it may be time. It’s also worth considering that older appliances tend to consume more energy than newer models. Rather than do a slow roll to total replacement one appliance at a time, consider a full refresh.

    Buying more appliances at once also gives you greater bargaining power at the store, which may allow you to get a great package deal. Plus, there are many new appliance finish choices on the market! The selection has never been better.

    2. Your Cabinets Are Dated or Have Seen Better Days
    If your cabinets are worn around the edges or the finish has started to wear, you may want to consider updating them. If the organization of your cabinets isn’t an issue, you may be able to reface them. For 2018, the trend is smooth finishes and a clean European sensibility. Warm wood and darker cabinets are a great refresh.

    Bonus: If you are simply refacing and not changing your kitchen configuration, you won’t have to do new measurements for your appliances.

    3. Your Flooring Is on Its Last Legs
    Cracked tiles? Outdated color or style? Perhaps the flooring style wasn’t the best choice for the amount of traffic your kitchen gets? A change in flooring can make a big difference in your kitchen. Especially with new cabinets and appliances!

    4. The Design of Your Kitchen Overall Isn’t Working
    Did you have to add a few more freestanding cabinets? Rolling cabinets? Do you have to get appliances or pans from another location in your home because you have no room in your kitchen? It might be time to reboot your kitchen floorplan. If you’ve gone through your cabinets and done a purge and still need more room, then booking a design consultation may be the next step.

    5. You Are Thinking of Selling Your Home
    If you are considering selling your home in the next 5-10 years, depending on your market, it may be wise to invest in a kitchen makeover. However, let that impending sale guide your design choices: keep it neutral and the finishes understated. A modest remodel with the focus on function, solid appliances, and up to date materials can go a long way to standing out on the market, but don’t dig a debt hole to get it done. Kitchen remodels don’t get the returns on investment they used to, and it may not be necessary in your market to get a good price.

    If you can check off each of these five signs, a good place to start is with a designer. Getting a professional to look at your current layout and make some suggestions is a smart time investment. Many designers do an initial consult for free or a one-time fee that is deducted off the overall service.

    3 Characteristics of Amish Furniture

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Saturday, June 2, 2018

    Amish furniture is known for long-lasting craftsmanship using carefully chosen wood and hundreds of years of skill passed down from artisan to artisan. Here are three facts about Amish furniture that you may find interesting.

    Shaker Style and Mission Style Are Not the Same
    It can be a challenge to see the difference between the two styles, they are so subtle. Mission furniture compares to modern style, using straight lines throughout the design and construction with square corners and box-like shapes. You’ll also find that Mission style furniture uses tenon joints to hold the pieces together, creating a hand-made look that’s the hallmark of the style and the Arts and Crafts movement. This creates a classic look that’s perfect to use in both modern and old-style homes. Mission style is sometimes called a transitional style because of this versatility.

    Shaker style has the straight, simple lines of Mission style furniture, but it also includes some softer, rounded elements in pulls, knobs, and shapes of trim on doors.

    Interesting Fact: One-piece wooden clothes-pegs for hanging up coats were invented by the Shaker community in the 1700s.

    No Two Pieces Are Identical—Accept No Imitations
    Mission style or Shaker style, no two pieces will ever be the same. Each piece of furniture is made from carefully selected pieces of wood, and the type chosen depends on personal taste or the purpose of the piece. The pieces of the log that are chosen also differ depending on the effect the artisan is looking to achieve.

    The furnishings should be solid wood and quarter-sawn or plain sawn, and can be made of any portion of the tree, be it the heartwood (interior) or the outside circumference. It is often kiln-dried.

    There is a whole rainbow of stains to choose from, not to mention upholstery colors and materials. The finishing will be applied by hand sanding and varnishing, creating a flawlessly smooth finish that lasts for years. There should be no evidence of machinery in the assembly or manufacture of the piece if it is truly an authentic piece. Amish beliefs prevent the use of electricity, and woodworking tools in Amish shops are powered by hydraulic and pneumatic power that is run on diesel compressors.

    No Composite Materials Allowed
    You won’t find any composite wood, particle board or laminate in the construction of a piece of Amish furniture! It should have a weight to it and “feel” substantial. This means you can pass these pieces down to family members for years to come. A piece of quality furniture is an investment, and since the Mission and Amish style of furniture is so classic, it moves from decade to decade and fits in to any home décor.

    If you are considering new furniture or even a single piece for a special spot in your home, consider the timeless beauty and enduring appeal of Amish furniture. It will be a part of your family for years to come!

    William Morris: Tapestry Artisan of the Arts and Crafts Movement

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Thursday, May 31, 2018

    William Morris is well known for being the Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement, but his contributions to the textile art of tapestry weaving is often overlooked. This a shame since he developed an amazing array of skills to achieve them. His range of talent in the décor arts was truly an amazing achievement, demonstrated by his love and devotion to tapestry design.

    Morris Taught Himself How to Weave
    Morris was a dedicated artist and entrepreneur. During the mid-19th century, tapestries had become lifeless, mass-produced items and emblematic of what Morris disliked about the Industrial Revolution. He rejuvenated the tapestry industry with uniqueness, creativity and character.

    Morris experimented with naturally derived dyes to get the subtle shadings associated with the Arts and Crafts sensibility, seeking to replace the harshly-coloured coal-tar dyes that were developed for use by factories producing large quantities of fabrics. By the 1870’s he was dying his own wools for weaving his own textiles.

    In 1879, Morris set up a loom in his bedroom and taught himself to weave with only an old French crafts manual for guidance. His first tapestry took over five hundred hours. Within a matter of months, he had completed his first tapestry design, Acanthus and Vine. His hands were constantly stained from experimenting with every form of natural dye he could find, determined as he was to tint the wool used to weave his botanical creations with the truest colors he could devise.

    There are at least 150 tapestry designs created by William Morris and Morris & Co still around today.

    Morris’s Patterns Today
    Morris’ designs are now out of copyright, being 75 years after the death of the original designer, and are commercially available from many manufacturers of fine textiles.

    In some cases, many of his original designs, like his tapestry The Tree of Life, have been in continuous production for the last 130 years. This speaks to their longevity and evergreen appeal to lovers of fine design. The collections are just as appropriate to today’s restoration or construction of Arts & Crafts style homes in North America, not to mention the more recent trends toward mid-century design.

    Tapestries are making somewhat of a resurgence in design right now as 2018 heads into a period that values natural tones, textures, and comfort. A tapestry may be the finishing touch to your room, or a beautiful centerpiece to set its tone. A quick online search will show dozens of retailers that still produce Morris’ designs at a reasonable cost.

    As Morris himself once said:
    You may hang your walls with tapestry instead of whitewash or paper; or you may cover them with mosaic; or have them frescoed by a great painter: all this is not luxury, if it be done for beauty's sake, and not for show: it does not break our golden rule: Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
     –W. Morris, 1880

    From Carnival to Living Room: A Brief History of Carnival Glass

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Monday, May 28, 2018

    Carnival glass is molded or pressed glass, always with a pattern and always with a shiny, metallic, iridescent surface shimmer. Carnival glass has been known by many other names: aurora glass, dope glass, rainbow glass, taffeta glass, and critically as “poor man's Tiffany.”

    In the 1950s, during its resurgence, it became commonly known as carnival glass, since historically it had been given as prizes at carnivals, fetes, and fairgrounds. Although lots of carnival glass was acquired this way, much of it was purchased outright by housewives looking to add a source of light to their home that didn’t require electricity. It had a way of capturing what little light was available and illuminating even dark corners of a room. It shouldn’t be confused with mercury glass or irradiated glass.

    Both functional and ornamental objects were produced with the carnival finish and patterns ranged from simple through geometric and 'cut' styles to pictorial and figurative. A wide range of colors and color combinations was used. Scarce colors not part of larger production runs command very high prices on the collectible market.
    Some carnival glass is still produced in small quantities. At the height of its popularity in the 1920s, huge volumes were produced and prices were low enough for the ordinary home to afford.

    How Is Carnival Glass Made?
    Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing. A final firing of the glass brings out the iridescent properties of the salts, giving carnival glass the distinct shine it is known for.

    How Did Carnivals Acquire Them as Prizes?
    Carnival glass originated as a glass called “Iridill,” produced beginning in 1908 by the Fenton Art Glass Company. Iridill was inspired by the fine blown art glass of such makers as Tiffany and Steuben, but did not sell at the anticipated premium prices and was marked down. After these markdowns, Iridill pieces were used as carnival prizes, kickstarting their spread in popularity to an alternative market.

    Competition became fierce. New patterns were continually being developed by rival companies. Each company ended up making a wide range of patterns. By selling sample pieces to carnival fair operators to tap into the market found by Fenton, the hope was a winner would go on to purchase further items in the same or a similar pattern.

    Iridill eventually became popular and profitable for Fenton, in over 150 patterns. Fenton maintained their position as the largest manufacturer and were one of very few makers to use a red-colored glass base for their carnival glass, a color coveted by collectors. Although Fenton was at the forefront of production, carnival glass was produced in large quantities in the US by Northwood, Imperial, Millersburg, Westmoreland, Dugan/Diamond, Cambridge, and U.S. Glass companies.

    Next time you are looking for a piece of nostalgia to add to your mantel or shelf, consider carnival glass! There is a brisk market online and in antique stores for a range of colors and styles that still brighten the dark corners of any home.

    Gustav Stickley: American Pioneer of the Arts and Crafts Movement

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Saturday, May 19, 2018

    Gustav Stickley (March 9, 1858 – April 21, 1942) was an American furniture manufacturer, design leader, publisher and the chief evangelist for the American Craftsman style. His adherence to the British Craftsman style and movement was largely responsible for the movement prospering in America. Here are five fast facts about his methodology and his legacy.

    He Hated the Term “Mission Style”
    In the summer of 1900, Stickley worked with Henry Wilkinson to create his first Arts and Crafts works in an experimental line called the “New Furniture.” In 1901, he changed the name of his firm to the United Crafts and issued a new catalogue written by Irene Sargent.

    His work was nostalgic in tone, a reminder of the period before the Industrial Revolution. It was referred to by critics and fans as “Mission style,” though Stickley despised the term as ambiguous. In 1903, he changed the name of his company again, to the Craftsman Workshops, starting a concentrated marketing campaign. His furniture designs were joined by textiles, lighting, and metalwork.

    He Was a Libertarian Socialist
    In 1901, Stickley published “The Craftsman” magazine. The magazine was an important voice for promoting Arts and Crafts philosophy and furniture alike. The magazine featured articles by libertarian socialists, all curated by Stickley.

    His Furniture was a Pushback to the Industrial Revolution
    Those ideals—simplicity, honesty, truth—were reflected in his trademark, which includes the Flemish phrase “Als Ik Kan,” which translates as “to the best of my ability.”

    Stain rather than elaborate carvings and ornamentation were the hallmarks of Stickley’s style. Wood was carefully chosen for each model and stained to emphasize each piece’s grain and character. Mortise and tenon joinery was left exposed, further demarcating where nature began and man turned nature to his purpose. Hammered metal hardware, in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper emphasized the handmade qualities of the furniture. Dyed leather, canvas, terry cloth and other upholstery materials rounded out the designs.

    He Had Pastoral Leanings and Loved Log Homes
    Craftsman Farms was built between 1905-1907. Intended to serve as a boarding school for boys, Stickley later moved his family into the home after the idea didn’t take off. The main house is constructed from chestnut logs and stone found on the property. As he wrote in The Craftsman:

    “There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea. First, there is the bare beauty of the logs themselves with their long lines and firm curves. Then there is the open charm felt of the structural features which are not hidden under plaster and ornament, but are clearly revealed, a charm felt in Japanese architecture.... The quiet rhythmic monotone of the wall of logs fills one with the rustic peace of a secluded nook in the woods.”

    Today, the Stickley Home in Pasadena, California, stands as a testament to all the hallmarks of the Arts and Crafts style that Stickley pioneered in America.

    7 Key Elements of a Craftsman Home

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Thursday, May 17, 2018

    The words “Craftsman Style,” “Craftsman Inspired” or even “Arts and Crafts Style” get thrown around a lot in home building and décor magazines. But what elements make a home a true Craftsman? Let’s look at seven key elements of Craftsman and the overarching Arts and Crafts Style homes.

    Natural Materials
    Craftsman homes are typically built of real wood, stone and brick. Composite board and decking are great eco-friendly products, but they would only be utilized on homes that are new builds or hybrid restoration projects.

    Built-In Furniture and Light Fixtures
    Built-ins were the hallmark feature of the Arts and Crafts era. Built-in cabinets allowed the furnishings to be part of the architecture, ensuring design unity and economic use of space. Even the light fixtures are often part of the design. The fixtures often were made of natural materials too: gold, bronze, or copper metals incorporated into wall sconces, chandeliers, latches for built-ins, and window closures.

    A fireplace was the symbol of family in the Arts and Crafts movement, so most homes feature a dominant fireplace in the living room and a large exterior chimney. The surrounds were often made from porcelain tiles, handmade and hand dyed in colors reminiscent of nature and botanicals.

    Most homes in the Craftsman style have porches with thick square or round columns and stone porch supports. These porches are wide and meant as an additional outdoor living space. Some porches on the back were enclosed with screens to make an evening sleeping porch for when it was too hot to sleep indoors in the summer.

    Low-Pitched Roofs
    The homes typically have a low roof with wide eaves and triangular brackets. The rooflines are harmonious and reminiscent of nature, evoking hills and mountain summits.

    Exposed Beams
    The beams on the porch and inside the house are often exposed. It is not true to the period if they have carving and heavy ornamentation. Craftsman style emphasises clean lines and rich stains to highlight the natural character of the wood.

    Open Floor Plan
    The Arts and Crafts Movement rejected the small, boxy rooms like those in Victorian houses. An expansive mindset with a nod to the movement of life is evident, echoing the environment around us that naturally flows from season to season and climate to climate. Room divisions are achieved only by built-ins and beam placement, but sightlines from one room to another remain clear.

    There are some amazing examples of true Craftsman style. The Gamble House is one of the preeminent expressions of craftsmanship and attention to the detail demanded by the period. This 8,200-square-foot Arts and Crafts icon is in Pasadena, California and was built in 1908 by Charles and Henry Greene. Every aspect, from the house itself to the interior furnishings, was crafted with obsessive attention to detail. Take a look for yourself, it’s a beautiful home to fuel dreams of Arts and Crafts style!

    Decorating the Interior of a Log Home

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    Log homes have been around in Europe and North America for over 5,000 years. For some people, it’s a vacation home, but according to the Log and Timber Homes Council, building log homes for year-round living is on the rise.

    Decorating a log home is a mite different from a traditional home. Here are five things to consider when choosing the décor for your log home!

    Coordinate the Interior with Cabin Sensibilities
    Facing the empty interior of your log home may be intimidating, especially if you are new to log home living. That’s a lot of WOOD! But take a deep breath, keep in mind these five tips, and you’ll have the cozy cabin of your dreams in no time.

    You don’t need to default automatically to a hunting lodge theme, although too many modern modular furnishings won’t fit with the log cabin aesthetic. There is a middle ground that can be achieved, but balance is key. Keep it warm and inviting. Break up all that wood with soft furnishings and textiles in bright colors. Bold colors that may overwhelm a traditional space could be used to great effect in your cabin. Don’t overlook patterns either.

    Getting the Log-Cabin Look
    Besides protecting your home's interior from fading, a stain can provide a splash of color and set the tone for the whole home. You can choose one stain for the interior of the whole cabin, or choose a different stain for each room.

    When it comes to hanging pictures or curtains in your home, have no fear! Your pictures will still hang straight even on rounded logs, and any nail holes will be no concern and add to the overall character of the home.

    Furniture with Style
    Furniture with Mission style sensibilities or Arts and Crafts style pair quite nicely with log cabins. The simple, sturdy construction and symmetrical exposed joinery are a beautiful counterpoint to the hand-hewn character of a log home. There is also the choice of getting the seating upholstered in any color or style you wish, should you choose furniture with cushions and pillows.

    A Warm Glow
    Lighting in your log home can go a long way to making your interior cozy and inviting. Although the deer antler rustic chandelier is always an option, again, Mission style fixtures can give a modern feel that still feels harmonious with your wood walls. Stained glass shades would cast lovely colors across all that stained wood.

    Mix It Up with Fixtures
    This is also an opportunity to play with different colors of fixtures, like a warm copper or bronze. Again, what may be too bold or overwhelming in a traditional house may be the perfect balance in a log style home. You can try this with everything from hardware on your furniture to lighting fixtures.
    The best thing about decorating the interior of your log home is the array of options you have available to make it a cozy retreat for your and your family.

    5 Tips for an Organized Kitchen

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Saturday, May 5, 2018

    A kitchen is arguably the busiest place in a home. As a gathering place and the source of sustenance, cabinets and counters end up holding everything from mail to keys, to the latest art project or letters from the school, or quick snacks for the family to pack with lunches. Here are five tips to keep your kitchen running like clockwork.

    Create a Lunch Cabinet
    Put all the lunch bags and read-to-go snacks in one convenient place and the morning routines will be a snap for the whole household. A small whiteboard on the inside of the cabinet can be used for snack refill requests or to leave notes to direct family to cold snacks in the fridge. Make sure you put your plastic zip-top bags in there along with plastic utensils.

    Create a Container Cabinet
    There’s nothing more annoying than having a million plastic containers and one lid (which fits none of them!). A standing magazine holder can be attached to the door of the cabinet or set inside to hold all your lids.

    Old Wine Racks Serve a New Purpose
    Just about any kind of wine rack will work for this trick, and you can find inexpensive ones at any discount store. Placed inside a cabinet, your water bottles and to go coffee mugs can finally have their own home!

    Storage for Those Paper Bags
    Magazine holders to the rescue again! Paper bags and reusable bags slip right into this holder that can be mounted anywhere, from inside a cabinet door to inside a pantry on the wall.

    Create a Family Communication Center
    Remember those keys, mail, and papers from home? Utilize a wall in your kitchen that is just for those items. A chalkboard integrated with a mail holder and key holder is a great start. You can find these anywhere online, to fit almost any style of home décor. They’ve been around for hundreds of years, so you may even find an antique one at a flea market that you can make over. The board is also a great place for schedules and chore lists.

    You can mount hard-case or wire file-folder holders to the wall next to it with a person’s name neatly labelled for each member of the family. This way, instead of dumping everything on the counter (where it will inevitably be thrown out in a fit of organizational panic) small items and papers can go to the person they are intended for!

    As a bonus, create a file folder that goes into your family’s filing cabinet and have each child pick their favorite homework assignments to keep. When the file is full, they’ll have to sort through it and decide what to keep and what to throw away. At year end, package the folder up and add it to their keepsake box.

    Start your new year off right with these few organizational tricks and you’ll be set up to succeed for the rest of the year!

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