January 31st, 2008

Operation Decoration Tees

I wrote about our Operation Decoration logo and tees some time ago but neglected to let you know that we have them avialable online in our Modello store! It’s a good thing I’m an artist because I would never succeed in a sales job! Here is a shot I took one day when all the staff girls got the memo to dress alike. Aren’t they cute?!


Left to right: Lauren, Dawn, Michelle, Ivy, Mary and Theresa


Here’s a closeup. On the back it says “Waging War on White Walls and Ordinary Surfaces”. That’s what it’s all about…..

January 28th, 2008

Mughal Decoration

The Mughal style of decoration was the conscious creation of a line of Indian rulers who encouraged and financed excellence in the art of architects, calligraphers, painters, weavers, metalworkers and other skilled artisans beginning in the mid-1500s and lasting 250 years. They created remarkable visual unity in their surroundings, surpassing the limitations of scale and materials by repeating the same decorative themes across their architecture, fine arts and applied arts: Geometry, arabesque, calligraphy, flowers, animals and birds. These images are from the pages of the book, The Majesty of Mughal Decoration. The beauty of these surfaces that were created by human hands leaves me speechless.










January 25th, 2008

Paper Cuts

My son sent me a link recently to a wonderful artist’s website, Peter Callesen. I find that I keep going back to look at it over and over and each time I “see” a little more. I think you will find it captivating. What initially caught my eye was that his works in paper have a similar graphic quality to the Modello designs that we cut from white vinyl but there is so much more here, of course, in the intent of the artist and the effect on the viewer. I find his work fascinating!

The bittersweet beauty of Alive, But Dead.




The magic of Impenetrable Castle.




The haunting feeling of immortality of Looking Back and Halfway Through.




The helplessness of Birds Trying to Escape Their Drawings.


All of these extraordinary artworks are created from ordinary pieces of common A4 paper. Peter writes on his website of his works in paper

My paper works have lately been based around an exploration of the relationship between two and three dimensionality. I find this materialization of a flat piece of paper into a 3D form almost as a magic process – or maybe one could call it obvious magic, because the process is obvious and the figures still stick to their origin, without the possibility of escaping. In that sense there is also an aspect of something tragic in most of the cuts. Some of the small paper cuts relate to a universe of fairy tales and romanticism, as for instance “Impenetrable Castle” inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, in which a tin soldier falls in love with a paper ballerina, living in a paper castle. Other paper cuts are small dramas in which small figures are lost within and threatened by the huge powerful nature. Others again are turning the inside out, or letting the front and the back of the paper meet – dealing with impossibility, illusions, and reflections.

I find the A4 sheet of paper interesting to work with, because it probably still is the most common and consumed media and format for carrying information today, and in that sense it is something very loaded. This means that we rarely notice the actual materiality of the A4 paper. By removing all the information and starting from scratch using the blank white 80gsm A4 paper as a base for my creations, I feel that I have found a material which, on one hand, we all are able to relate to, and which on the other hand is non-loaded and neutral and therefore easier to fill with different meanings. The thin white paper also gives the paper sculptures a fragility which underlines the tragic and romantic theme of the works.

January 23rd, 2008

Singing Walls

Susan Bickford of Singing Walls in Nashville does really exquisite, high quality work as you can see from the photos on her website. Nice flash on that site intro BTW!

Modello Ceiling

This ceiling treatment that she did with one of my favorite Modello patterns, OrnCen162 is a prime example. To me, color selection is key to creating an elegant treatment that looks like it was born to be in a room and this totally hits the mark.

Modello Harley Motorcycle

Susan was able to surprise her husband with a really special and personal custom art piece this past Christmas by working with Dawn on our graphic staff. An original photo of the lucky man on his Harley was used to create a custom Modello that Susan incorporated with her specialty decorative and textural finishes on framed canvas. Vrrrrm. Vrrrrm!

January 22nd, 2008

A Man and His Machine

Seeing as how myself, Eric and Aaron are here in Las Vegas at the World of Concrete show I thought this would be an apropos time for this post. Aaron Knight is the go-to guy in the graphic department for our decorative concrete customers. With a fine art degree from Chico State he likes to utilize Adobe Illustrator vector art in many of his own studio projects. When it came time to contemplate what type of design to use on our concrete production room floor I gave Aaron the challenge of coming up with something that would be a little ”different”, reflect what happens in our company, and that would appeal more to men-our primary customers for decorative concrete. 

Tinguely Concept

Aaron was inspired by the work of Jean Tinguely and his scupltural machines and developed a working sketch for our floor after Tinguely’s work.

Modello Laid Out

This became a series of vector art, gears, screws, belts and other assorted ”parts”, that we worked into a “machine” that travels across our production room floor, much as our jobs flow through.

Modello with Spray Top

After many hours spent applying the various parts of the Modellos in proper order (see Aaron left) we had Ernie Archuleta (right) come and and spray Concrete Solutions Spray Top in a matter of minutes. This sprayable overlay is ideal for large-scale production as it lays down an even layer of colored concrete very quickly and we almost immediately were able to begin removing the vinyl.

Finished Modello

Some shots of various parts of the final machine.  Aaron is a man who puts alot of thought into his life and work and these were his thoughts for this project:

Machines are a refined process. This machine has been abstracted to suggest an openness to new ideas or methods. This site specific design is representative of the way I seen the different people who make up the business of Modello Designs. The design department feeds the machine with ideas. The gears turn in production to realize the idea of the designer. The finished patterns are then sent to the decorative artists who then apply their own unique twist. This machine was not meant to have one refined process, not condemned to a life spent stamping out fenders. This machine is an “idea” machine, capable of bringing together and realizing the ideas of many people.

January 18th, 2008

Painter Girl

Carol Leonesio is a lovely lady, long-time customer and fellow blogger in Massachusetts who tracks the ups and downs of her decorative painting projects.

Royal stencil Damask on magnetic paint board

One of my favorite projects on her site is the Magnetic Memo Board, and not just because she used our Damask and Trompe L’oeil Molding in one of my alltime fav color schemes. I had been toying with the idea of doing this in one or some of the offices here and it’s good to hear how someone else approached it. Carol recently updated me with the info that she thinks that 4-5 thin coats of the Magnetic Primer would be better than 2  or 3 as she has a hard time getting the magnets to stick. I am wondering about just painting on sheet metal? Does anyone else have an experience with this to share?

Royal stencil elegant fruit branch

Another one that caught my eye was this darling Nursery Mural that uses our Elegant Fruit Branch as a frame.

Hopscotch floorcloth

In a recent post on floorcloths she has done, she shared this one which I think is MOST clever!

Paintit Marketing postcard

Carol also shares her marketing tips, as in this post that shows an oversized postcard that she had printed and hand delivered door-to-door in a neighborhood she wanted to target. It’s easy to see how Carol keeps busy!

January 17th, 2008

Feeling Blue?

Lest you think we do nothing but floors around here I offer up this wall finish we completed one of our Operation Decoration classes. This was a modification of one of the finishes I designed for our Italy trip. It is, typically, hard to get a decent shot of the finished wall, but….


This uses the Oikos product called Kreos, which is quite nice for embossing and texures. Even rolling it over a texured background we had very little material creep under the stencil. Here is Christine to demonstrate.


Tired stencils resting after a hard days work.


Sweet smelling bees wax is tinted with mica powder and rolled on. Easy breezy and so fast, it’s blurry.


And it looks like this when it dries. This is our romantic, shabby chic, boho modern (a term I stole from decor8) lobby for Royal Design Studio, which features stencils such as the Grand Damask and our new Florentine Damask which, she says coyly, will be unveiled at a later date.

January 15th, 2008

Modello Makeover

One of my businesses is Modello Designs. I started this as an offshoot business 4.5 years ago from my original company Royal Design Studio, which specializes in elegant designer stencils for interior decorating. Rather than a reusable,mylar stencil Modellos are one-time-use decorative masking patterns (masking stencils!). They have some advantages over stencils for certain types of designs; can go very large, very intricate, continuous pattern, positive or negative image, allow for development of  new decorative techniques, can be custom-sized and cut to order, and much more.


We now offer 1,000′s of patterns and are constantly developing more, so a static, bound catalog just doesn’t work because it becomes out of date very quickly. This Spring, we will be introducing our brand new, easily update-able design binder, with a new look that really showcases what we are all about: Pattern and design!

Modello Design Library

Lauren came up with this great (I think) paisley concept after cruising many design blogs such as decor8 and print and pattern and being inspired by the rich paisley patterns that are popping up (again). We have filled the shapes with some of our favorite designs and I think the end result is colorful, unique and quite fetching….

Modello Design Library


January 12th, 2008

Going for Gold

In going through one of the many stacks of things I rip out of magazines I rediscovered this Elle Decor feature from months ago on the opening of the Reem Acra flagship boutique in New York. Ms. Acra’s passion and business revolves around luxury bridal and eveningwear designs. I ripped out the page not because I needed a gown (but they are gorgeous, aren’t they?!) but because it had a beautiful gold design on white floor: Unique and elegant and oddly familiar….

Reem Acra Modello Floor

After picking it up again and actually reading the copy I realized that it was the familiar work of one of our favorite decorative concrete customers, Dominick Cardone The Concrete Impressionist. One of Dom’s specialties is gilding with 24k gold on concrete and he had been sending us progress shots but we never saw the final result-until now. Isn’t this just swanky?

Reem Acra modello floor

Here’s Dom two years ago at the Artistry in Concrete event at the World of Concrete show where he used custom-designed Modellos for a 9/11 tribute-again with his special gilding techniques.

Dominick Cardone Artistry in Concrete

January 9th, 2008

A Bit Bookish

Ask me what my prized possession and major obsession is. Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s my paint, design and decorating book collection. I’m a fiend. A hound. An addict. I get my fix on Amazon and that pusher is open 24/7. Do I want to kick this habit? No! Give me more in massive doses. It got a little hairy for a few weeks when my books were all boxed up during the move. I was having major withdrawals for a lack of aimless book browsing and design brain tingling. Well, I got my fix and my babies are back!


They took awhile to organize due to the desire to revisit each one and sidetrack myself yet again.


But I finally made some sense of the assortment and built high stacks.


Ready for their new home and easy access to my wandering eye and aching need.