August 29th, 2007

Kimono Obsession Continued

Lest you think I have abandoned my kimono and Japanese design obsession, fear not! I have written previously about being asked to participate in an upcoming mural compilation book that my friend Gary Lord is doing. Well, seems I promised the editor some “new” mural photos for the gallery section a few months ago and she suddenly surprised me by wanting to collect on that commitment!?!? If the sign of a true artistic soul is to produce under pressure, then my hand is held high. Sign me up!

Stenciled Kimono Mural Inspiration

I decided to try a different kind of “mural”. This one is on canvas (typically) but the Roclon canvas is cut into the shape of a hanging kimono. Everytime I have picked it up I have always gone back to this one page in the book,Kimono, Vanishing Tradition, to look at this lovely wedding kimono shown above.

Kimono Mural by Melanie Royals

The crunch-time mural commitment finally gave me the opportunity to reinterpret it using a series of stencils from our Royal Design Studio Kimono Collection.

Kimono Mural Detail by Melanie Royals

I used Shimmerstone (a metallic plaster) as the base and to do the embossed stenciling over the glazed green area. I then simply used different colors of Modern Masters Metallic paints to add the colors through the stencils to the dried embossed designs. It is a much softer look than the original, and not quite as detailed, but I was pretty pleased with the outcome and now have something new to hang on the walls at the new building. The photography is by Gary Conaughton.


August 26th, 2007

Ibiza Carpet Complete

In every SkimStone class I teach we do a Modello/SkimStone Concrete Carpet design together. We should all be so lucky to have this many sets of hands working on one project! Imagine how much design could get done. This class worked especially well together!

how to use SkimStone and concrete stencils

This photo dramatically shows the effect of the final toning layer, troweled on VERY tight and thin,  to create a beautiful unifying and aging effect in the Ibiza Carpet design.

floor stencils with SkimStone decorative concrete

The toning layer enhances the look of really old Encaustic tiles, which is something that I have been searching all over the web about and drooling over all the possible color and design combinations. We have so many patterns that work well for that look, I can’t wait to get into the new building and get to troweling!

August 24th, 2007

Italian Tile Design Times 4

I am trying to catch up a bit here after teaching back to back classes. They were both full of great and fun students. We had 6 that stayed the week and came to both sessions. I wanted to share some sample from the SkimStone class because they are just so darn cool. SkimStone is concrete and countertop resurfacing product that I have been using quite a bit for the last few year. You can see more examples of it in the Floor Gallery and some of the posts I’ve done on my patio projects. It is super easy to use and to create great decorative effects as sit trowels much like a Venetian plaster and you can layer the colors, make them more opaque, more translucent, more textured, etc.

Modello Tile Samples

I shot photos of 4 samples done by different students of the Italian allover tile design (OrnAll 107) sample that we did. These are 2′ x 2′ boards. Each one shows a little different use of color. The one on the lower left started as a “mistake” because she removed the wrong part of the pattern on one step, but it actually turned out the prettiest. In art, and life I suppose, mistakes can be huge opportunities to take you in a much better direction!

August 19th, 2007

La la la Lobby

A lovely customer, Dey Kyper, recently gifted me with an equally lovely book, Alberto Pinto Classics This man is a designer for the uber-rich: royalty, heads of state and such. Raised in Casablanca, his designing reflects his Moroccan roots along with an amalgamation of British Chic, French elegance and American rationalism. OK that last sentence was lifted right from the book jacket, but this book is scrumptious. I’ll share more later, but right now I need to show what idea I am planning on taking from Alberto and translating to my new lobby walls.

Alberto Pinto Wall Inspiration

We won’t do this exact design, of course, but there WILL be an overscaled, ornate pattern on the walls over a Coccio Pesto plaster finish. Coccio Pesto is an Italian lime plaster that contains small bits of terra cotta that get crushed in to the burnished plaster, providing a slightly pinky cast if left untinted. Linda Self, from the School of Italian Plasters will be coming in and we will actually be doing a hands on class while completing the walls. More on “Operation Decoration” and our “Up Against the Wall Workshops”  later on this blog channel.

August 18th, 2007

Exotic Style-I want it!

If you like to decorate with a global vision in mind I have a really good book recommendation for you! Exotic Style features decorating ideas from around the world. Now that the new building we will be moving the buisinesses into is mine all mine and they are winding down on the construction, it’s time to get serious about some decorating decisions. I am pouring though books and this one has some VERY cool stuff to share and show.

Exotic Style Japanese

I love everything about this wall: The use of pattern and paint finishes, the different patterns, the contemporary look with traditional motifs. Everything. Going to translate it somewhere…

Exotic Style Tiles

We have one large wall at the end of the studio that could be the ideal candidate for a tile pattern cut out of an ornate silhouette shape. This one’s a keeper.

Exotic Style 1

We have I don’t know how many 8′high doors going in around the building. The stenciling on these panels combined with the relief arch shape is very, very interesting. Hmmmm. Back to browsing….


August 15th, 2007

Sample Sampler

When I wrote earlier on this blog about the amazing examples of Sgraffito that can be seen on facades around Florence I was amazed at the level of detail and craftsmanship. After attempting this technique at Kathy Carroll’s place in Chicago for a sample for our Italy project at Alison’s Florence studio I am completely humbled and ever more awestruck!

Sgraffito Sample Royal Design

I kid you not, it took over an hour to scratch out the small amount of design you see on each of these boards. Each! The lime plasters were applied over a Travertino basecoat. While still wet, we stenciled the design lightly to provide the pattern and then removed it in those areas to reveal the basecoat using a sharp pick and clay carving tools. I DO like the effect of the one on the right where we did the Sgraffito technique on the lower half and used the stencil to emboss the plaster on the upper part. I am certain we will take the easy way out on this and to a “faux” sgraffito finish using a Modello masking pattern for the positive/negative effect!

Sgraffito Sample Modello Designs

This one is just stenciled. A pretty look as well!

August 4th, 2007


Jali designs are something that I have seen popping up here and there lately.  “Jali” means net or latticework in Hindustani and the intricate designs were generally carved in sandstone, and later, in wood. They were and are used extensively in Islamic architecture and even more so in Indian architecture. The carved stone “screens” were used architecturally as window and door coverings, screens and to decorate facades. The beautiful graphic photos shown here are from artist Andrew Senior’s photo gallery.

Jali Screen Patterns

We have developed quite a few Jali designs into Modello patterns recently. Until recently, I was clueless as to their origin-I just loved the designs. Being a little more educated now, I love them even more! These would be great to emboss plasters through to create a slight relief that could imitate the look of real carved sandstone, but they would be equally lovely as allover floor or wall patterns or painted onto a tabletop.

Jali Modello Patterns