One would think that a scheduled guest on the Martha Stewart Show would not sleep a wink the night before, tossing and turning in some kind of psychological soup of stress and anxiety. But I actually slept like a baby. I'm not sure what tricks my subconscious played to achieve this state of rest, but I'm very thankful for it. I was not nervous at all... At least not until I arrived at the studio, when I began to feel a slight palpatation and a few nervous knots in my stomach, but nothing to really keep me down.
I was pumped and ready to go at 7:30 a.m. The line-up for the audience was already starting to grow!
I arrived with my partner, Tomas, at 7:30, about a half-hour early. I had been to the studios before as an audience member so finding it was no problem. We were buzzed in and greeted by a very nice lady at the counter who asked for our names. We were given fancy name tags (made of a light fabric with adhesive on the back) and signed in. We were checked through security by a very kind (and handsome) security guard and taken upstairs by the assistant producer of my segment, Sarah Boroski. She was so sweet and very accommodating. Along the hallway to the stairwell is a long gallery of photographs of Martha in her modelling days, all framed in white.
The upstairs section, where the offices and guest quarters are, is painted Bedford gray. The green room is directly across from Martha's office, which is not as large as one might expect, although it's beautifully appointed and organized with a large orchid on the corner of her desk. The green room itself is furnished with Martha Stewart Signature furniture from Bernhardt. Based on my own observation, I was able to guess which collection the various pieces belonged to. The center table was definitely the large East Hampton Table from the Lily Pond Lane collection. A large hall table, I believe from the Skylands collection, holds a series of Martha's Emmy Awards. Two plush, wing-back chairs, also likely from the Skylands collection, are tucked into the corners and a series of eight chairs from the Opal Point collection surround the table.
These are Martha's personal Emmy Awards, kept in the green room for guests to admire.
Guests are offered tea or coffee (in beautiful porcelaine cups and saucers) or juice or water. If you're hungry (which I wasn't) there was cereal or fruit on offer. In the green room there is a large plasma TV to watch the show, a radio tuned to Sirius Satellite 112 (Martha's station) and stacks of Martha's magazines for the guests to keep.
Tomas and I hung out in the green room with the other guest, Jeff Blumenkrantz, and his two friends filling out some paperwork and getting to know each other. Our producers arrived shortly afterwards. Lenore Welby was my producer. She has been with Martha Stewart Living since 1994 and was so warm and friendly. (She even wore an Anthropologie sweater just for me!) Lenore gave me a grand tour of the studio, including Martha's wardrobe room and the celebrity dressing room, which had a large couch, a vanity, a coffee table, side table with lamps and a private washroom with a stand-up shower. This is where Alexis and Jennifer were.
For all of Martha's mis-en-place (incredients kept in bowls before adding them to the recipe) small white bowls and dishes are kept in neat rows and piles in a room just off-stage. Each cubby is labled with a clear P-touch label. One of the prop rooms has various bowls kept for the cooking segments, all arranged by colour. I noticed a scan of the cover for the new craft book lying beside the television set. This is where I met Aaron Caramanis, who has been on the show with Martha before and does many of the amazing craft projects and special sets.
One of the producers, Lan Cheung, pointed out that even the P-touch label makers are P-touched!
Along the hallway to the studio there is a series of rooms devoted to pre-production, including a sound studio, the make-up room, project rooms (where the crafts are done) and prop rooms. The studio itself, if you've never seen it, is an absolute jewel. It positively shimmers with light and gorgeousness! I explored it briefly before my rehearsal and took some photos of "my room" (the craft room) which is where I did my project with Martha.
A washer and dryer are on set for any segments about laundry or clotheskeeping. Sewing machine and threads are on set, as are beautiful arrangements of craft tools, yarns and paper.
The craft room has a beautiful cork board lined in faux-bois paper. Ribbon is organized monochromatically as are the storage boxes.
All of the flowers on the set are fresh and real. There isn't a spec of dust or a single item out of place anywhere on the set. Special grow lights cast the effect of natural sunlight.
I didn't have too much time to take photos since I was on a tight schedule like everyone else: make-up, sound checks, rehearsals, etc. Next time (if there is such a thing) I want to take more photos of the greenhouse and the kitchen. I tried to explain to one of the producers just how curious readers and viewers are about every little thing on the set: Where are the cake-stands from? What flowers are on the set? The rolling pins mounted on the back kitchen wall: where are they from? Who chooses the plants in the greenhouse? How are they cared for and by whom? I'd love to blog about all of that!
In the next blog I will have more photos of the backstage areas, a recap of some of my interactions and conversations with Martha and the other guests, the lovely make-up lady and her adorable knitted cap, Alexis and Jennifer, and more!
MY GIFT TO MARTHA:
Before leaving for New York, I decided I wanted to give Martha a gift, since I wasn't sure when I would meet her again. I decided to get her something from Anthropologie and opted for this beautiful book about Deyrolle, the landmark and historic "cabinet of curiosities" in Paris, which has housed unique and precious examples of taxidermy since 1831. In 2008, however, the museum burned down and many of the specimens were charred by fire. Laurent Bochet, a renowned photographer, archived the devastation (and restoration) in this amazing book, which also has interviews with some of the curators who are working to rebuild this historic and mythical place. The book is by Assouline and is gorgeously put together. Knowing Martha's interest in taxidermy (she has many examples at Skylands and Lily Pond) I thought this would be a book she would enjoy and may not have yet.
The book has a striking cover: the charred and rusted Deyrolle sign. I chose packaging that matched the cover: black and gold. The letter explains the book and the genesis of my interest in Martha's ventures.
Truly beautiful photographs of the devastation are so artistic. The texture of the photographs is almost tangible.Some of the curators are interviewed about what they were able to save from the fire and about how they plan to bring Deyrolle back to its original beauty.