Thirteen years ago Donna Lennard and Alberto Avalle took over what was then the studio and workshop of artist Warren Muller and opened an antiques store with Muller’s quirky chandeliers front and center. It would become the little slice of loveliness known as Il Buco, where Muller’s creations are still for sale at prices starting around $3,000. You’re likely to get the owners to part with the one incorporating oil cans — Lennard says customers always bang their heads on it — but if your heart is set on the not-for-sale one above the bar (an antique rake with porcelain sockets on each rung, not pictured) Lennard will send you to the artist’s Philadelphia studio. “He’s a magical guy,” Lennard says of Muller. “He loves to play with light in fantastical ways.” So fantastical, in fact, that Muller, who now sells larger pieces made from Mini Coopers and the like for as much as $200,000, is hard-pressed to describe his creative process. Nevertheless, we asked him to try.
Top left: “That’s a wooden box that I made out of old planks of wood. Then there are the flexible porcelain insulators that hold the funnels which were used to put oil into a car. If I made that today, it would be about $5,500.”
Top right: “In the wine cellar there’s a sphere with copper arms all around. Donna may have given me the [coffee pots]. In the beginning they gathered a lot of things from Pennsylvania flea markets.”
Bottom left: “I still make those in all different sizes. The ball is usually made out of a resin and usually coated with gold leaf, copper leaf, or a rust finish. They’re from eight inches ($950) to eighteen inches ($3,300) in diameter.”
Bottom right: “That has all kinds of kitchen tools. There’s a big coffee pot that’s the center. It’s pretty much an improvisation. I’ll start with the essential object that I can create the structure on. All the arms come out of that, and I add other things, and sometimes those objects get even other objects added!”