March 30th, 2011
You know that saying, “everything old is new again”? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to apply to the aging human body, but it sure seems to apply to the popularity of stenciled pattern through the ages. After falling out of favor in the early part of the 2oth century, stencils enjoyed a major resurgence following the Bicentennial celebration of America in 1976. I became heavily involved obsessed with stencils in the 80′s as I spoke about in this recent post, and watched stencils as an elegant wall decorating choice grow exponentially through the 90′s and early 2000′s. As fashion trends come and go, so too do decorating trends, and wall stenciling gave up ground to other types of surface treatment options such as Venetian Plaster, gilding, and various other mediums, and eventually gave way altogether to that awful trend of JUST plain, unadorned paint. Phew! Glad THAT seems to have passed quickly!
Well…..stencils seem to be BACK in a very BIG way these day (happy dance!) as a whole new generation of young designers and home decorators are discovering stenciling anew! Case in point: this lovely post recently on our Royal Design Studio stencils by Brittany at A Daily Dose of Harri Ette. (I am reposting her photo montage above) Brittany is not alone! I see bloggers worldwide now ”discovering” stencils as an outlet for creativity and personal design expression in their own homes. Another example is Angel Li’s post on 77+Love. So, if you hang around long enough you can be be “trendy” all over again!
March 28th, 2011
Angela Perrone of Divine Rooms has a wonderful blog post today on how she used our Royal Design stencil Corsini Damask to “rescue” a tired Venetian Plaster finish with softly blended metallic pattern.
Under normal circumstances, you can’t rely on wall stencils to “save” a bad finish, but this venetian plaster treatment just needed a little more pleasing color and some pattern action, and Angela’s “fix” worked beautifully! You will enjoy following Angela’s blog as well; she is a lovely soul with a heartfelt “voice”. It was a great pleasure to have Angela along on my last painting trip to Marrakech and I’m looking forward to her company again on my June painting adventure to Barcelona! There are still 2 spots open for this trip if you’d like to join us!!
PS You can find the Corsini Damask Stencil here.
March 25th, 2011
I have a little mini-obsession going with artistic typography. I think it started with the typography floor I designed for one of our project in Marrakech. It continued on with the It’s Just Your Type collection we released through Modello Designs. Lately, I’ve been focusing on stencil designing and have been exploring ideas for a collection of typography stencils for Royal Design Studio.
The first few stencils for the collection are now ready and I’m really excited to share them. Here we show the whole Springtime in Paris Typography stencil set. Each of these stencils is sold separately, but I actually envisioned them all working together as a layered treatment.
The first layer of this look is a repeating wallpaper stencil of a French poem about Spring! How’s that for timing? You can read the interpretation of the poem on the website.
Of course you can create a sweet focal point by just using the sweet Paris Postage Stamp stencil by itself.
Here is another version of the whole stencil set that is a sample on a subtly distressed plaster finish that I created for a uncoming stencil workshop I will be teaching in May at my friend Gary Lord’s Prismatic Painting Studio. I am really interested to know what you think of these, as I have so many possible ideas swimming around in my head! If you think I’m on the right track with these, just say the word!
March 23rd, 2011
If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know how much my heart sings for the art of Morocco. There was a wonderful article in the New York Times this past weekend about an amazing Moroccan courtyard taking shape inside the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. This authentic recreation of a medieval Maghrebi-Andalusion-style courtyard will be the jewel at the center of the Mets’ rebuilding of its Islamic art galleries-The New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands. The work includes intricate zellij tiles (geomentric mosaics), carved cedar molding, and hand carved filigreed plaster.
The carving is done while the plaster is still wet…
after transferring the design with a cardboard stencil.
The work is sometimes so detailed that it can take one artist a full day to accomplish 4 square inches.
The type of handcrafted and detailed work being done on site by a small group of skilled craftsman from Fez is truly and sadly not being done even in Morocco anymore. The process is simply too painstaking and expensive. According to the article a couple of the men are planning to hang up their tools after the project because they feell that they will never be able to do this high level of work again. It’s heartbreaking to think that this may be “history” in the making, but such a joy to know that this type of craftsmanship is still alive….for now.
The exhibit is scheduled to open in November 2011. As IF I needed another reason to go back and spend a day at the Met! Join me???
March 14th, 2011
I am SO in love with this wall finish and blog post by Cat at The Golden Touch. NOT just because she used our popular Moorish Trellis stencil, but because she also used one of my favorite decorative mediums, Interno Lime Wash from Sydney Harbour Paints.
I have actually shown you pictures of some walls that were done in our studio with the Interno Lime Wash before here, but they are so, so pretty I think they bear repeating….
One of the things I love about Sydney Harbour is that they produce hand painted color fan decks. You can pick these up from your local distributor (ours here is the local, independent Ben Moore store) or order them online. I think the cost is quite reasonable for what you get! This one above is the interior/exterior fan deck.
Cat took a different approach to her walls by applying the Interno Lime Wash with a roller over a base of thinned, rolled on joint compound-which looks fabulous! We followed the manufacturer’s instructions and applied the Lime Wash in two coats with large “box” brushes over their lime primer.
Either way, this is a very fast, easy finish that produces walls that look like they are ALIVE. Actually they are! The natural lime “blooms” through the paint creating subtle, natural color variations. The Lime Wash is a great alternative to lime plasters when you want to add a Mediterranean feel to your walls-and the color selection is simply divine!
I hadn’t been to their website in awhile and was excited to see some new specialty finishes including Colored Chalkboard Paint, some REALLY cool different Rust options, and something called Industrial Lustre. I am inspired to get my hands particularly on the rust finishes. Are you inspired too?? It looks like right now this Australian-based company is limited to stocking in the US in California and New York, but their website indicates an online store coming soon. Let’s hope so!
March 10th, 2011
Stencil flashback!! I was going through a stack of old magazines lately and came across the May 2003 edition of Romantic Homes magazine. Way, WAY back in 2001 I created a whole training program for combining stencil patterns with decorative finishes, plasters, and textures called Extraordinary Stenciled Effects. At the time, I was almost exclusively working with products from the Faux Effects, International product line. Decorative finishing was just starting to BOOM, as an interior design option AND as a career for creative entrepreneurs. Teaching studios were popping up all over the country to meet the demand to train artisans and service their needs. It was a heady time and I think all of us in the industry are sorely missing it! I had been traveling almost monthly to various studios around the country to teach my techniques in hands on workshops. It was a fabulous, if not exhausting, experience. To meet the demand, and stay home a bit more, I shot a series of 6 instructional videos, and created a series of recipe cards and a supporting technique manual. Many of the techniques were put into action in my own home, which was featured in a number of books and publications, including Romantic Homes.
My living room, with the textured faux silk linen walls stenciled with our Fortuny damask pattern. I don’t have any desire to change the walls here-they are very soft, neutral, and classic!
My kitchen which still looks very similar and is in severe need of a redesign!!
My former home office. This was my favorite room, with the faded stenciled damask stripes, stenciled velvet pillows, and a cozy little desk area I build into the former closet.
My old bedroom with stenciled trompe l’oeil mouldings and stenciled panel treatment below. There is actually a stencil gallery here on this blog with more house photos that you can browse through. I titled this post “Vintage Stencils”, but (with a few exceptions), I think most of these looks stand the test of time. Stencils are definitely an up and coming “trend” again, which is GREAT to see. It’s a “trend” I’ve been happily riding for 27 years now…..:)
Here’s a PDF of the full article from Romantic Homes with additional stencil photos.
March 7th, 2011
Last month, our local Borders book store shut its doors forever. I know….bummer!! The only bright spot for me is that I was able to pick up a fantastic, recently published book, The Finest Rooms in America, for 40% off.
This compilation of 50 gorgeous rooms, selected by interior decorator Thomas Jayne, celebrates the most elegantly designed rooms in America, dating back 200 years, beginning with George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf, even at full price! Here are some of my favorites, though I could have easily share dozens more….
Winter Garden Room: New York City
This room, which overlooks Central Park, was designed by Henri Samuel around 18th century painted Chinoiserie panels taken from a Belgium chateau. Notice how the lovely raised trellis pattern on the shutters is echoed in the plant stand and gold chair trim. The other photo in the book shows that the room is filled with an abundance of potted plants and flowers, as well as being bathed in natural light.
Sitting Room: New York City
I simply adore this blue color accented with gold and “framed” in the black and white mini-print wallpaper. Simply stunning and stunningly simple-by the legendary Albert Hadley.
Living Room: San Francisco
This Nob Hill living room, owned and designed by Jeffry Weisman, features many elements that were gifts from the great Tony Duquette, as well as amazing and expansive mirrored walls. Mirror and more mirror. My kind of place!
Dining Room: Palm Beach
Designer Thad Hayes had commissioned Gracie to replicate the original Chinoiserie hand-painted wallpaper for this 1938 home designed by Marion Sims Wyeth. Lynne Rutter has written a fab article on Chinoiserie for the new Artisphere Online magazine, BTW!
Reception Room: Portland, Maine
What is now the Victoria Mansion began as a stately brownstone villa decorated in the mid 1850′s by Gustave Herter (of the Herter Brothers firm) and saved from demolition (thankfully!) in the 1940′s. The extensive and inspiring decorative painting was done by a leading decorative painter of Herter’s time, Guisseppe Guidicini.
Bedroom: New York City
Designed by the late Mark Hampton, this bedroom in his family apartment’s prominent feature is the Chinese wallpaper hand painted on a silver ground. Hampton took the risk to roll the paper into tight balls to crease it before installation to give it some “age” and surface texture to reflect the light inevenly. Way to roll! It’s super lovely.
Dressing Room: Vizcaya
If you ever, EVER find yourself in South Florida don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of this country’s great historical houses, Vizcaya. I’ve been there twice now, and would easily go back in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, they do not allow you to photograph in the house, so seeing this dressing in this book was a special thrill. The fully restored linen canopy is completely hand-embroidered. I did a post several years ago on my now abandoned blog, The Art of Living, if you’d like to see more of Vizcaya.
This book is full of many beautiful examples on Chinoiserie, antique mirrors, tasteful interiors, and tasty design ideas. I hope you enjoyed a little peek!
March 4th, 2011
It’s been awhile since I updated you on my adventure of becoming a licensee for stencil patterns from the amazing Hearst Castle Collection. I have been holding off because I had plans to write a multi-part article about it for the new Artisphere Online magazine. Now, I can take the opportunity to update you on two things at once! How’s THAT for time management? First, the Artisphere Online is the new digital magazine of IDAL, the International Decorative Artisan’s League (formerly SALI). I’ve been an active member of this fabulous organization since 1984 (yes, you read that right!) This new online mag is going to be fabulous ongoing resource for decorative painting industry news and inspiration, with articles, tips, and how-to’s from top artists in our industry. I am honored to have been asked to be a regular contributor, and I encourage you to check it out OFTEN as new content will added on a continuous basis.
My first article presents an introduction to Hearst Castle and the two iconic people behind this national treasure, William Randolph Hearst and the amazing architect, Julia Morgan.
I was thrilled to make the trip up to San Simeon from San Diego last January for a behind the scenes, private tour of the estate to learn more about the history and photograph inspiration for our upcoming Hearst Castle Collection stencil line for Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs.
My article and accompanying photo gallery includes just a sampling of the photos I took there and I’ll be sharing more in future article. I’m just including a few here in this post to inspire you to read the article and check out the whole Artisphere Online magazine while you’re there! As you can see, there is a wealth of pattern inspiration at Hearst Castle for me to develop new stencil designs from, including Julia Morgan’s fabulous architectural drawings. Mygoal is to introduce the new stencil line at the IDAL Convention this July in Hampton, VA. Maybe I will see you there!!
March 3rd, 2011
I’d like to personally invite you today on a little tour with me of Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs “home” here in San Diego, CA. I’m slightly embarrassed by the low quality of the video and editing (this was all shot with a little Flip camera), but hope can find some inspiration from all the ways we have used our stencil patterns and Modello masking stencil patterns throughout our teaching studio, offices, and showroom!
I hope you enjoyed the tour and getting to see “almost first hand” what we’ve been doing around here! I have kind of been laying off doing hands on workshops here as I’ve developed the web-based Virtual Workshops, but hoping to find the time to schedule some studio classes here in the coming year. I’d love to get your comments below and please feel free to ask questions as well! I know it was a bit of a whirlwind tour!