March 28th, 2008

Bamboo Forest Floor

We are closing in on getting all of our floors finished up in the new building-all 8300 square feet of them! We’ve done cork, wood and LOTS of decorative concrete. Our latest concrete floor project for our laser cutting room was inspired by this rug picture:


I wanted to do something organic and VERY different, so I reworked our Royal Design Studio Bamboo stencil into a Bamboo Forest that we cut from the Modello masking material. I decided that the best way to achieve this look of mottled color variations was with acid staining and acid etching.


Acid staining involves spraying on diluted acid stains (essentially muriatic acid, mineral salts and water) and letting it work it’s magic as the acid etches and opens up the concrete surface to allow the mineral salts to react with the lime, creating the soft, mottled color. Once that was cleaned up and dry we applied the vinyl pattern and troweled gelled acid through the open areas of the pattern.


The gelled acid pulls the color back out from the concrete in the exposed and treated areas-again in a way that is random with subtle variations.


Acid is not the most pleasant material to work with and you must take precautions and get lots of ventilation going, but it’s a standard finish for decorative concrete and MAN it’s gorgeous!! Special thanks to Melissa and Richard for their help with this project. We actually were able to get through this in a few hours. This type of pattern would typically be used on a vertical wall surface, but the stripe effect on the floor really looks quite nice and makes the room seem a little bigger as well!


Speaking of concrete! Please check out this post from my Artofliving blog about our weekend wine country trip with the fabulous Bob Harris and Bob and Lee Ann’s harley ride across the country to raise money for Breast Cancer Research.

March 24th, 2008

Blue Doors Down

While it is mandatory in Marrakech to have your building be one of a few slightly varying shades of a peachy terra cotta color, it must be mandatory in the pretty little seaside town of Essaouira (2.5 hrs drive west to the Atlantic Ocean) to paint your ancient wooden door a fabulous shade of peeling blue paint. Me to my son: Look! There’s another great blue door, I have to get a picture. Him to me: (in the dry way only a child can say) Mom, they’re ALL blue! I guess I’ll have to go back to photograph the other 1,429.


Even the boats….


Maryam just recently posted about doors as well. Even better than what you see is what you can’t see behind them. Ahh, the mysteries of Morocco.

March 23rd, 2008

Marrakech Express

All aboard/that pla-aa-aane! Wow! I had such a hard time figuring out where to begin to share all the exciting sights and happenings on my trip to Barcelona/Marrakech/Madrid that a whole week has already gone by since my return. I’ll start with Marrakech first:

It’s just hard not to be made speechless by the quantity and quality of the decoration there. Everywhere there! Even the most humble restaurants and buildings are a visual smorgasbord of color and pattern. The colorful fabrics, the lacy metalwork, the painted pottery, berber carpets, intricate carved plaster, inlaid wood, embroidered leather, zelij tiles, bebouches (leather slipper/shoes), the tadelakt walls that are everywhere with sgraffito borders ”scratched” into them: Everywhere you look is a feast for the eyes! Here’s just a sampling-


Left are the 2 story high windows at the Marrakech airport that is undergoing renovations. I looked at these closely, of course, and believe that the vinyl was all cut by hand! At right is an antique painted wood door that was in our courtyard at Riyad el Cadi.


Zelij tile floor at Ali ben Youssef Medersa and, right, a wall in a hammam.


A trip to Jardin Majorelle is required I think, if just to experience the most pure blue and yellow colors you will ever see. At right, stencil templates are used to transfer patterns for carving wood and plaster.


Tadelakt and a Sgraffito border at a restaurant off the amazing Jemaa el-fna and, right, the berber carpet that is hopefully winging its way to my dining room as I write!

My son Dan and I had a wonderful time meeting the most lovely Maryam, both in town and at Peacock Pavilions. She is all that you would expect, and then some more! One of my favorite memories is her and her friend bargaining (in perfect French, of course) with a vendor for about 10 minutes to get me a good price on my new fake Ray Bans. She’s tough, this girl! Our creative journey together continues!! Maryam and Chris’ style is very chic and sophisticated and their goal is to incorporate traditional Moroccan designs and motifs in a very modern, unexpected way into their interior spaces. And so we shall……more to come, of course. I am chomping at the bit to get back there with our painting group in May! Morocco is definitely NOT the kind of place to visit just once.

There are more of my trip photos here and here also is another great flickr set on Marrakech by someone who is actually a very GOOD photographer, rather than the accidental one that I seem to be!

March 19th, 2008

No way! Way!!

I’m still a bit out of it from my Spain/Morocco trip-Trying to catch up with new business, reintroduce myself to ongoing projects and organize my trip photos on flickr so I can share them in some semblance of order. Why does everything take so long? Oh yeah, it must be that you can/should add titles, descriptions and tags now to all your photos. That on top of my need to crop each one at the exact same size, adjust the “curves” because I can, etc. in Photoshop. Almost there.

Meanwhile, I found out by linking back through my incoming links from The Crafty Cameleon in California (thank you and love your sand art!) that this blog was listed on House Beautiful’s website under their “sites we love” area. How cool is that!!!! I had no clue. Not surprising. I just love this blogging stuff….

March 18th, 2008

Living in Morocco

Of the many books I have on Morocco and Moroccan architecture and design this is one of the best…..Living in Morocco-Design from Casablanca to Marrakesh.


As a PS to this post I have to share that if you EVER find yourself in the Marrakesh airport-which currently pretty small but undergoing an expansion-CHECK OUT the bookstore!!! They have the most amazing selection of art, architecture and design books. They are mostly all in French, but who doesn’t just look at the pictures most of the time anyway!?

I was too loaded down at this point to pick up a heavy book, but next time I will know better….


March 10th, 2008

Morocco Modern

Some pretty images from Morocco Modern


More carved plaster designs….


And that amazing blue!


March 8th, 2008

Carved in Stone?

OOOPs! Well I thought I had posts all set to appear while I was on my Spain/Morocco trip, but in my haste to get everything done the night before I neglected to select “publish” and produced a lot of dead air time. SO-while I recover from jet lag, do laundry, catch up on bills, edit my photos for Flickr and try to ease back into my “real” world, I’ll let a couple of these fly……

I love the look of the carved Jali sandstone in these pages fromAlberto Pinto Orientalism (fab book BTW!).

Alberto Pinto

I can’t tell if they are real or painted carvings….


but this look is easily achieved with a single-overlay stenciling and some careful attention to shading with a stencil brush.

Royal Design Studio Stencils

I featured in my book, Painted Illusions, and it’s also detailed out in this DVD on Advanced Shading and Shadowing and this one on Furniture and Floor techniques. If you do it on a textured sureface or apply decorative finishing techniques to create the look of stone before adding the stenciling it makes the illusion seem even more real. It works great on wood too! The designs shown above are the Italianate Border, Italian Medallion and Reverse Scroll and can be found here!

March 3rd, 2008

Silk Purse

Just how DOES one make a silk purse from a sow’s ear? I haven’t quite figured that one out yet, but I have discovered some easy ways to transform standard-issue commercial-grade bathroom fixtures such as paper towel dispensers and toilet seat sanitary tissue cover holders into something quite lovely!


I am sure I violated some ridiculous city code (there are many) by gussying up these ugly fixtures but I will throw caution to the wind and share them with you. Shhhhhhhhh.


Since we were using Modern Masters Metal Paints, we began by spraying Kilz, a bonding primer, on the metal surfaces. Be sure to do this outside and with good ventilation. We then applied a coat of their Acid Blocking Primer. After applying the Modello patterns we troweled on  a thick stone texture product, Fauxtex, to a create a raised, “embossed” pattern.


When that was completely dry we removed the Modellos, applied another coat of Acid Blocking Primer and two coats of Harvest Gold.


We spritzed and dabbed with some Green and Black Patina Solution to “age” and patinate the Metal Paint and then sealed. After applying some stain to antique and accentuate the raised designs we now have the MOST beautiful sanitary toilet tissue paper cover holders….


and paper towel dispensers in all of San Diego!

PS The designs used were EasAll112 and EasPan126.