May 8th, 2012
It’s been a long and colorful journey for my friend Maryam and her husband Chris to realize their vision for their “built from the ground up” boutique hotel, Peacock Pavilions, in an olive grove just outside of Marrakesh.
A journey that has been well-told and documented on Maryam’s award winning blog, My Marrakesh. After meeting online, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Chris and Maryam on multiple painting projects at Peacock Pavilions that have turned into leading American artisans on almost annual painting adventures to this lovely place. It’s been such a joy to see the transformation of PP from a muddy construction site to a beautiful oasis, and also to see Maryam’s transformation from a budding blogger with a dream to an accomplished photographer, international design star, Moroccan decorating expert, and now published author!
Just last month, the family home at Peacock Pavilions was featured in none other than Elle Decor! What a thrill to see the Art Deco mural I had designed for a guest room featured in all its full-page spendor!
Not to mention, the master bedroom floor stenciled with lovely Skylar’s Lace!
Now just this week, Marrakesh by Design, is hitting the bookstores and Maryam is on her official American Book Tour, which just so happens to be making a special stop at our San Diego Studio this coming Saturday May 12th!! If you are in the Southern California area you won’t want to miss this Moroccan Decorating Event and book signing opportunity. Besides a design talk, we have some special treats planned, including a Peacock Feather stencil to take home, a Moroccan themed stencil project, a henna tattoo artist and other goodies. Please do check it out as we are looking forward to bringing a touch of Morocco-and Maryam- to San Diego!
September 1st, 2011
Well, it is just one month away today that my 4th and next Peacock Painting trip begins to lovely Peacock Pavilions in Marrakesh, Morocco. We have a fabulous group going but there is still space and time available if you’d like to join us on October 1-11! You can find more trip and itinerary details here.
I’ve written about these trips about a million times, so you may know that I coordinate these painting adventures with the super chic and creative Maryam from My Marrakesh. Maryam has no limits to offering up great spaces to decorate with paint, or exotic inspiration to draw from. On past trips we’ve applied all sorts of inspired decoration to varying surfaces throughout Peacock Pavilions-a boutique hotel and retreat site just outside of Marrakesh.
There was an Art Deco Mural inspired by Rateau,
stair risers based on henna patterns,
ceiling patterns taken from inlaid camel bone furniture
and antique suzani fabrics. We’ve done lovely lace and typography floors,
and even an entertainment tent stenciled with Fez embroidery inspired patterns.
We have several projects planned for this next trip, the largest which will be another stenciled concrete floor with the look of patterned indigo fabric. The floor will be the base of a new, open air tent created for outdoor yoga practice and more.
As I begin to work on the designs, I thought I would share some of the inspiration I am working from: Nigerian resist-dyed indigo.
Resist techniques such as tie-dye, folded and stitched resist, wax batik and starch resist are common methods of surface decoration throughout the West African region, and the Yoruba of Nigeria are masters of the indigo-dying process. The two examples above are done with a starch-resist method, where the cloth is carefully folded and the intricate patterns hand drawn using starch made from cassava flour and sharpened quill from a large bird.
Stitched resist patterned are achieved also by folding the fabric, but raffia is used here to stitch the patterns into the cloth. When dipped,these areas resist the indigo dye, which is infused over multiple layers to achieve the rich inky blue/black color. The level of detail and intricate quality of this work is quite humbling for me as I attempt to interpret these into easily usable stencil designs! I am really looking forward to this, though, as I think that the concrete stained and painted floor that we create will be AMAZING!
Serendipitously, I just happened to stumble across this post on Indigo on a lovely blog called This is Love Forever, by super stylist Kayte Terry which featured the above fabric sample. One of the previous Peacock Painting trips caused me to design a whole collection of Moroccan stencils based on zelij tile patterns and this is one that we have called Large Moroccan Inlay. I think that doing this pattern in random sized dots would be be brilliant and pondering if this could be replicated on dark denim fabric using a bleach pen?!?! Hmmmm.
Just have to say it one more time guys….if you are interested in going on an amazing journey to Morocco with us, you can find more trip and itinerary details here.
June 1st, 2011
Every year for the last 3 years I have had the great fortune to lead a different group of “Peacock Painters” on an amazing journey of art, culture, and discovery to one of my favorite places in the world: Marrakech. Each trip has been unique in the projects that we have done with Maryam (of My Marrakesh) at the increasingly lovely Peacock Pavilions. On our first trip in 2008, this chic boutique hotel was still a major construction site, but we were able to stencil some amazing graphic ceilings and henna-inspired stair risers. In 2009, we returned as Maryam and her family had just moved in to the main house there-with much work still to be done. This trip featured stenciled floors, more stair risers, and a dramatic, Art Deco-inspired mural. In 2010, we inaugurated the hotel as its first guests while we stenciled a beautiful entertainment tent there. As many projects as we have done to floors, walls, ceilings, fabric and stair risers, there are still spaces that are calling for an artistic touch.
And so, I am happy to announce that in October 2011, we will return to make more magic and more memories! And the memories ARE magical. In order to prepare for planning this upcoming trip, I spent a couple of days reliving our past journeys. Each person, each group, each project lives happily in my heart. I wanted to honor that with a special video that (I hope) captures the mystique and the joy that these trips have brought to me and all who have joined me….
Would you like to join me in Marrakech as well?? You can find more trip information here, and download a pdf with all the juicy details here. Space is limited, so don’t delay, OK? See you in Morocco!!
April 15th, 2011
Today being “tax day”, April 15th, they ran a story on the news last night pointing out that a full 25% of Americans put off filing until the last two weeks before the deadline. I’m guessing THOSE are the people who aren’t expecting refunds?! Anyhoo, it prompted me to come clean on a character trait I have that I am none to proud of: I am a serial procrastinator. This fact is all to evident in my own house (and lack of regular blog posts), where the wheels of decorating grind slowly and projects get get pushed off for years. As in, MANY years. Gulp.
It’s been 4 years now (she writes incredulously-where DID that time go??), since I wrote this post about redoing my home office. I actually dismantled the room shortly after writing that post, and it’s been living in “no man’s land” ever since.
Back then, I was SERIOUSLY into Japanese decoration. Actually I still am, but the problem is, I am seriously into lots of OTHER decorating themes as well. That seems to be the problem. I have been back and forth, up and down, and even sideways trying to settle my mind on something that I will want to live with-and so, I’ve done nothing. Brilliant, huh? Until now…
I have loosely settled on a boho/contempo/Moroccan/upcycled/glam theme. Actually, that’s not a theme at all and obviously my brain is still crankin. But while my brain takes its time getting it’s thoughts together, I have at least started something. I am decidedly NOT a linear thinker, and take an “organic” approach to design. What that really means is that I figure it out as I go along. The main thing is to GET STARTED, and I am starting with the floor.
On my trips to Morocco, I have always been drawn to the zigzag zellij tile patterns on the floors-usually done in black in white or green and white. I was also inspired by Maryam’s kitchen floor tiles. I love the dusty look of concrete tiles and SkimStone is the perfect medium to give me that.
So, I came up with this sample, and havc the floor all ready prepped with the creamy white layer of SkimStone. Note: to get here, I removed the existing carpet from the concrete slab and spent some time removing the excess glue and scrubbing the heck out of it to get it super clean.
It’s going “down” this weekend, with the help of a custom-fit, Modello masking stencil, and here how it all lays out. It’s a smallish room (11′ square, more or less) and the stripes will definitely help to enlarge is visually. I will be adding an area rug at some point, but I really wanted a “neutral” but zingy (or should I say ziggy?) floor as a starting point.
So then what? Well, after considering about 183 different options, I think I am going to do a dado, made from upcycled cabinet door parts. I am quite partial to the look of this furniture piece I saw on this “Get the Look” post on the Etsy blog. Again, it reminds me of Morocco, where they reuse EVERYthing. I will need to cobble together a mix of old pieces and new pieces that I just make “look” old. I have been dying to check out Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint, and think this will be the perfect opportunity to do just that AND utilize a bunch of unfinished cabinet doors that I’ve had sitting around for years now ;).
And what else?? Well I currently plan to cover the rest of the walls with an off-white organic plaster, and am DYING to do the ceiling with this pink color as seen in the May issue of Elle Decor (it’s in Marrakech-where else?!). This will probably be done with Sydney Harbour’s Interno Lime Wash.
This is unsurprisingly turning into quite a project….let’s just get the floor done first…BTW, if you were one of those who put off doing your taxes till the last day, you’re in luck! The IRS is giving you till the end of the day Monday! So….you can put it off till after the weekend….
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???
February 11th, 2011
Besides my old friend Kermit, the color green reminds me of fresh cut Summer grass, the new buds of Spring (it WILL come eventually), verdant forests, and fresh beginnings.
The color green is also featured as an interior design trend on this recent post from The Colour Lovers blog! Perfect timing, then, to share these new allover stencil designs imagined in inspiring shades of nature’s favorite color: green!
This Moroccan-inspired stencil is called Chez Sheik-3071. It is available in two sizes (large shown here) and makes quite a statement on a “bed wall”, don’t you think?
The allover Chain Link Stencil-3086 is super clean and contemporary. It keeps you “going around in circles” the best possible way! We’ve been busy creating a whole flurry of new stencil patterns over at Royal Design Studio. I’d love to know what you think about these new patterns! There are lots more in the works….
February 2nd, 2011
I am in the process of planning yet another (my fourth!) Moroccan painting adventure to Peacock Pavilions in late October, 2011, so thought to revisit the results of our last trip where we focused on a VERY fun fabric stenciling project: turning an ordinary canvas tent into a special space for dining, dreaming, and entertaining.
The inspiration for the series of Moroccan stencils based on class Fez-style embroidery that I developed for this project came from this lovely book. The graphic patterns seemed to just beg to be translated into stencils! So, I created a whole series of designs that could be mixed and matched and layers in different ways, depending on the needs of the project. We didn’t get a chance to see the tent “all dressed up” while we were there, but could imagine all the possibilities that can arise from a basic black and white color color palette. You can see how Maryam has been able to style and decorate the tent in multiple, beautiful ways and various color schemes.
Such as the beautiful Moroccan blue colors this post….
…my favorite pink accent color in this post…
…and your basic, elegant black in this post . So chis! Note the stenciled paper placemats! What a fun idea!!
Stay tuned for my next post, where I will show you this same series of stencil patterns used to create an amazing backdrop for a most deliciously colorful product display….
January 5th, 2011
As most of the country seems to be snowed in and gloomy this time of year, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a SUNNY, cheery stencil project that talented Carol Leonesio posted recently on her Painter Girl blog, featuring stencils from the Moroccan stencil collection at Royal Design Studio.
I was really tickled to hear that Carol was was inspired by these stenciled stair riser projects (above) that the Peacock Painters did on two different trips to Marrakech. She had been JUST WAITING for the right customer to want to do this type of project!
For the black and white stenciled stairs in Marrakech WE were fortunate to be able to stencil the Moroccan patterns on precut pieces of wood, that would then be later installed on the stair risers.
This made the stenciling very easy as we were able to do it comfortably at tables, and didn’t have to worry about squeezing the stencil into a tight space or corner.
For Carol’s Moroccan stencil project, she didn’t have that luxury, as the stair risers were already in place. Before beginning to tackle the stairs, however, Carol worked up samples for her client in multiple colorway-and was thrilled when her client made the bold choice of bright yellow.
Carol began by painting every other stair riser yellow and white. Then she alternated 4 different Moroccan stencil designs on each riser. Carol used repositionable spray adhesive to hold the stencils in place and use Aura paint from Benjamin Moore for the stenciling. The Aura paint is ideal for stenciling because it provides excellent coverage and dries quickly-allowing you to do multiple layers in quick succession, if necessary. She touched up design areas around the edges with an artist’s brush and topcoated each riser with a water-based urethane when dry to add protection from scuff marks. Pro tip from Carol: Use a gardener’s foam kneeling pad to cushion your knees from the hard floor surface. Carol consistently turns out great stenciling projects that she shares regularly on her own blog, Painter Girl. Check it out!
Moroccan stencils used for this project from Royal Design Studio: 3015 Endless Moorish Circle, 3014 Moorish Fleur de Lis, 3010S Small Curved Connection, 3012S Small Eastern Lattice
August 4th, 2010
I have been EXTREMELY fortunate to take and lead many decorative painting trips to many fabulous countries, including France, Italy, Morocco, (and soon) Spain! While the landscape, culture, food and sights are always droolworthy, it’s the fabulous people and friendships that I get to experience that make these trip truly special. We had a small but mighty ( and super interesting and talented) group of ladies on the last trip to Marrakech, and damn! we had some fun!!
Touring the Bahia Palace…
and snapping pics of ourselves snapping pics of ourselves..
having a rooftop henna party…
with frothy cocktails, of course.
Visiting the famed Majorelle Gardens…
..and enjoying the, um, view at La Mamounia.
Waiting for our Moroccan knight in shining mini van Mustofa…
…and making friends on shopping excursions.
Making a splash in “the hood”…
…and strutting in the lovely seaside town of Essaouira.
Enjoying the “entertainment” at Chez Ali…
….and providing “the entertainment” at the Hotel du Tresor.
Overall, it was a bit of a spiritual experience I can’t wait to repeat….
Want to go? Let me know….
August 2nd, 2010
As I told you in this blog post, our most recent Peacock Painting trip project in Marrakech was themed around Moroccan embroidery designs from Fez. This style of embroidery is characterized by a singular color of thread, usually black, on a cream-colored background.
The project was fairly simple and straightforward: stenciling the patterns in black on the interior walls of a canvas tent built especially for entertaining. The stencils were designed to coordinate and combine in various ways to create a unique, overall scheme.
We started with a border. Then added a diamond pattern banded by a different border set on the diagonal.
Then we added a more complex lacy border to complete the dado area.
It probably sounds tedious, but it was actually a LOT of fun. We felt like we were doing an old-fashioned quilting bee. The six of us worked really well together and Maggies’ music mix and nice l-o-n-g lunch breaks kept us humming along.
It WAS nice to near the end though, and as each subsequent “wall” was finished and rehung, we enjoyed being enveloped by our handiwork.
The cat provided a temporary distraction, but other than that was no help at all….
So we continued on to stencil the door panels (that convert to awnings) in a coordinating pattern…
until we got down to the last brush stroke….and then it was Moroccan Mint Tea time! My awesome little flock of Peacock Painters this time were Lisa Wilson, Nancy Jones, Angela Perrone, Alicia “LuLu” Danzig, and Miss Maggie O’Neill.
All of these stencil patterns have now been newly added to the Royal Design Studio website here. There are lots of ways to mix and match them and they will be equally fabulous in both bright and pastel colors!