July 30th, 2007

Kathy Carroll Shoutout

I just spent the weekend in the Chicago area at my friend Kathy Carroll’s studio, The Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes. Kathy was so kind to invite me there to help familiarize me with the Oikos product line and allow me to make samples for our upcoming Italy trip using those products. You see, we’ve decided to use Italian plasters, available in Florence, for our projects there and Oikos is one of the largest decorative coatings manufacturers there in Italy.

Not only did she provide me with her space and product knowledge, Kathy even blessed me with her two EXTREMELY good assistants Jennifer and Jenna, who were kept busy custom tinting quarts of Travertino, Marmorino and Veltura alla Calce for me to test out techniques and color palettes. They are shipping the samples back to me this week, so I will photo and post them later this week. Meanwhile, here are some photos from Kathy’s studio.

Melanie Royals and Kathy Carroll

Me playing/working and me and Kathy trying to get a good photo of the both of us before I rushed off to catch a plane. We gave up after 5 tries!

Oikos Plaster samples
Oikos Samples

Some of Kathy’s cool Oikos plaster samples I found around her studio. Kathy carries a wide range of products and teaches classes on all of them! www.fauxbykathy.com.

July 26th, 2007

SALI Show Wrapup

Well, we made it through our 14th SALI convention. Attendance was down, but it was still a great show and always great to touch base with all my friends in “the biz”, raise a few, compare notes and admire everyone’s work. We actually got into the city one day and ate at a great new place on Union St. call Palmetto. A friend had suggested Beetlenut (which looked very interesting) but the group was more in the mood for good meditteranean food-and it was!

Modello staff at SALI

Here are Lauren, Eric and Brandi in the booth. I think none of them was too comfortable having their picture taken, but they are smiling broadly inside.

Modello gilding demonstration

Kari was a big help modeling Designamour tee shirts and helping with our design instruction of gilding Modello Transitional Borders.


Just across the aisle, my friend Shauna Gallagher from Artistic Living Studio was inspired by our Dragonfly wall treatment when she did this raised plaster piece. She actually pipes hot mud through a cake decorator and then carves it. She does some amazing ceiling treatments with this technique and offers classes in her Sacremento studio.

Well, that’s it! I’m not the best shutterbug so am quite proud that I actually remembered to snap a few. Can’t wait to visit Charleston, SC for the convention next July! Maybe I will see you there….

July 22nd, 2007

Inspiring Batik

Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion is just one of a seeming 100 magazines that I have a subscription to. I love their features on artist’s studios and the way they focus on the artists themselves and what inspires them. This Batik inspiration actually comes from follow up on an ad that showed some really unique looking fabric. Kind of wall finish-y, which always is cause for a second look.

Batik Inspiration

Go to Robert Kaufman Fabrics for an online tour or the Lunn Studios batik process. You can see how they make their metal presses for transferring the wax resist to the fabric.

July 20th, 2007

Crusty Stencil Looks

So the “Old World” look is out in some circles, but I still can’t help partake in the joys of what you can create with a trowel and some type of plaster product. It’s especially fun to work with the “touch” of the trowel (and your arm that is attached to it) to layer materials that create the look of passing time.

Stencils_Distressed Acanthus Finish

This finish uses our Acanthus Damask stencil design and is troweled through with a mix of paint and joint compound in various colors and layers. The fun thing is that you have to apply it “not perfectly” so there is lots of wriggle room. You don’t want to get too sloppy but…

Stencils_Tooled Leather Finish

This is my new favorite wall finish. I just have a thing for embossed leather looks. This is the Folk Flower Allover stencil that is embossed and then buried with paint, Venetian Plaster, stain and wax. Both of these finishes will be incorporated into an Extraordinary Stenciled Effects class here a the studio starting in December-the first one in a few years!

July 17th, 2007

More Wallpaper?!

Here are some more fun and fresh looks with wallpaper. Of course it goes w/o saying that they could be even cooler and more custom if one were to use stencils, but I just L-O-V-E that people are using pattern. Does this mean that that whole mid-century modern revisiting is almost done?? Actually, I am finally like modern design now that its getting juxtaposed with ornate pattern. I am not sure what the name of the trend is, but am sure that there is one. These are from Issue #5 of Blueprint magazine. You go Martha!

Blueprint Wallpaper 1.jpg

July 15th, 2007


Have you noticed that wallpaper has come back in a HUGE way?! It’s not your mother’s Waverly wallpaper (with coordinating mini-prints and borders) though-the new look in wallpaper is, Ta Da, handpainted or looking as though it is. Well now, some of us have been doing this kind of cool stuff RIGHT on walls for many years now, but for some reason the design trade thinks it’s much cooler when it comes on a roll of paper with a high price tag. The good news for us decorative artists is that we can all apply our art to paper and charge 10x more for it. OK, I’m being a little facetious because I’m a little hungry and cranky right now and, seriously, there is some VERY cool and innovative stuff being produced, as featured in a book I recently purchased, called The Cutting Edge of Wallpaper.


These are my personal favorites from the book. These Modern Damask papers from Linda Florence substitute the silvery foil of Lottery scratchcards where the metallic threads would be on traditional damask fabrics. Homeowners can actually scratch off the foil to reveal pattern underneath when and where they feel like it. Messy, but very cool!


These patterns by Danish designer Lene Toni Kjeld focus on the way wallpaper has the potential to define and divide a space. The patterns in the papers “morph” from lace to leaves to roses and the places in which the pattern “morphs” occur in the room can be determined by the designer. Brilliant AND beautiful!

July 11th, 2007

Tra la la!

I’m SO happy as we shipped the crate out to the SALI show today and that stress and mess is DONE! Somehow, even though we “cut back” there was still a big pile of stuff that had to go ON TOP of the crate as it wouldn’t fit inside. Here are few more new ‘babies” that went off in the crate for display next week.


I am loving these fresh graphic looks that are definitely a current trend. It’s nice to be able to adapt some old and new stencil designs so easily to this just by changing the colors and painting techniques used. The one on the left uses our Japanese Flower Garden with String of Pearls as stems. The other ones all combine our Modello Silhouette patterns with stencils for “pattern in pattern” look. For the one above we used 4′ tall flowers, painted them in with latex paint and filled them with delicated little allover designs like our Lacy Leaves, Lovely Lace and more.


Above left, we done more of that with some new Dragonfly Modellos. These will all be part of our new “Silhouette and Stencils” series. Above right uses a Transitional Border to create the valance and that was filled the Allover Brocade over a background of a repeated Ornamental Cartouche. We have been having some kind of stenciling fun, let me tell you!

July 6th, 2007

Im SOOOO Bad!!

Wow, I feel just awful that I haven’t posted in so long. You see, it’s SALI time. SALI is the Stencil Artisan’s League Convention that happens every summer around this time and causes me to inflict major stress on myself because I have to live up to or exceed last year’s booth display which also caused major stress from having to live up the previous year and so on down the years for about 14 of them now. Every year I say “I’m not going to go all out” and then a few weeks before I get this major creative bug and make myself crazy/exhausted/happy that I got it out of my sytem. The good news is I have a lot of photos to post here for the next week or so! Starting with:

Royal-Design-Fresh-Stencil Finishes.jpg

These fun, bright graphic designs for kids or tweens or whoever else can handle the stimulation of a lot of color and pattern. More and more people, I think! The one on the left reminds me of some funky outfit I might have worn as a preteen in the late 60′s. It uses our Foliate Damask Allover, Wicker and Half Daisy Chain. The one on the right was fun because I used a “fingerpainting” technique in the wet glaze to create the random scrolling pattern and then we stenciled the Japanese Flower Garden B series in bright pink, black and white. They go quite nicely together, dont they? I think these would be really fun finishes to do in a boutique dressing room for some reason….