February 11th, 2008

Oh Suzani

Do you know of Suzanis? Even if you don’t, there is a very good chance that you have been seeing images of them in home fashion magazines and on the design blogs for the past year or so. I wrote this little post myself on the Art of Living last July. With the trend toward brighter colors and ethnic influences you will probably be noticing them even more. Suzanis are very colorful, elaborately embroidered silk wall hangings or bed coverings that originated in central Asia, primarily in what is now Uzbekistan. The name Suzani is actually derived from the Persian word for needle. There is a very informative article online here. Maryam collects antique Suzanis and plans to use them extensively throughout Peacock Pavillions and as I said they will also be used as the inspiration for the stencil art we will be applying there. I thought you might like to see some of the range of patterns we have been looking at for inspiration.












One of my favorite inspiration sites that I have written about here before is Marla Mallet’s. The link takes you directly to the page on Central Asian embroideries, but there is much, much more to see if antique rugs, fabrics and embroideries make you weak in the knees. Be prepared! There are both new and antique Suzanis for sale on this site, but Maryam advises that they are now using child labor to meet the demand for the newer ones, so she only invests in the antiques.

It makes for quite a hard decision when each pattern and colorway seems prettier than the last! With so many beautiful options, which will it be?? Oh, wait and see….

PS The middle design is not a Suzani, it is antique printed linen, but of a similar look and motif.

February 8th, 2008

Oh My!! Marrakesh

I am not one to gloat. At least not very much. It’s very hard to write this though without a smile on my lips, a song in my heart and the phrase “neener, neener, neener” running through my mind. Does that make me bad ;-) ? No, seriously, I am thrilled (you’ve guessed!) that I am going to be making two trips to Morocco in the coming months-and that’s not really even the best part. The best part is-why!

Why, you ask? Oh, no big deal, I am just going over there with a small painting group to add my small touch of art and decoration to the magical Maryam’s oasis of comfort and beauty, Peacock Pavilions, which is rising from the olive groves to soon become the Marrakesh destination of choice for weary travellers, saavy shoppers, design and culture lovers and the thousands of people who religiously read and enjoy and rejoice in Maryam’s blog, My Marrakesh, every day. If you read through some (many) of her posts, which you MUST, you will find that she and her handsome architect husband have been working on building their dream (I think she started it) to build a set of guesthouses, and one for them, for a year and a half. It started with a vision-


It’s ALMOST there-


Some beautiful images from My Marrakesh-


Maryam’s passions range from Peacocks to photographing and writing about design. When she’s not working as a personal shopper, she’s travelling to far-flung destinations for her real job working for a human rights organization.


Her love and the joy she receives from her family are permeating through much of her gifted writing.


She has been twice awarded The Rising Blogger Blog Post of the Day here and here.

So, our little group will be staying at Peacock Pavilions in May (first ones-breaking in the beds!) and adding some artistic touches to some walls and ceilings for many guests to enjoy for many years to come. Maryam’s head is full of wonderful design ideas and another one of her passion’s is antique textiles, which are going to be the inspiration for the artwork. More to come….


February 7th, 2008

The Insanity Continues….

Your’e familiar with the K.I.S.S method? Keep it simple stupid! That just doesn’t seem to fly around here. Wow, it would have been SO easy to just stencil a nice simple border design around the edges of the hardwood floor in my office. That way, I might actually be WRITING this from a real office instead of setting up a makeshift desk out in the hallway. But no-o-o-o, I had to fall in love with this classic, historical oriental design and the challenge of actually being able to do something with it! We decided to make it work with our Modello Marquetry Masking System, wherein we just weed a portion of the design to start and then remove certain elements for certain colors and apply stain in a sequence of layers. Well, I think it took a month or so just to get the design to work, cut correctly and fit together properly, but Lauren and Miguel came through and guess what? It works!! It’s not actually DONE yet, but I feel so thrilled that we’ve gotten through the hardest part (getting it to work and getting it laid down) that I feel compelled to share…..


Here is the design in all its dizzying glory being puzzle-pieced together and how it looks tonight whilst awaiting the first layer of stain.

Modello Marquetry

Just so you have an idea WHY I even wanted to do this in the first place, here are the color samples I did. Each one was colored and weeded a little differently. Can you see?? Can you find Waldo? If you do, I’ll give you a million dollars. No kidding! 

February 6th, 2008

Artistry in Concrete

The World of Concrete is a HUGE show-full of testosterone and all things that testosterone infused beings like: Mega-large machinery, tools, big displays of bags of cement and the like. Tucked away out back of the three huge halls filled with this stuff is a small area dedicated to “Artistry in Concrete” where 10 people are selected to show their stuff on a 10′ x 10′ slab that is poured just for the occasion. For the last fours years Modello Designs has supported some participating artists with design and products and this year we were pleased to have our product used by a couple of lovely ladies!


Stevi Michner was there representing her Detroit-based decorative concrete company, Surface. She created a concrete sculpture of a kimono using overlays and colorants from Colormaker Floors and decorated it with a customized version of our EasPan 114 Plum Blossom tree.




My friend Nancy Jones from Artworks! Spokane (and a participant on our recent Italy trip) create this very cool tiger mural. She worked with Aaron on developing the artwork into a two-layer Modello that was used with custom-tinted SkimStone. She achieved the subtle shading and color variations by applying by both brush and trowel and adding in more hand-painting after the Modello pattern was removed. The only sad thing about this is that they jack-hammer these slabs up at the end of the show. I hope you got better pics than I Nancy and that you get to apply this somewhere with some more permanence!

February 3rd, 2008

Stair Master

Our wood surfaces adornment assault continues! I showed you some of the finished landings in an earlier post. Now I’m happy to report that the connecting staircases are finished as well and they are GAWDeous!


My ever-abler new studio assistant, Melissa, did all the actual staining work on the stairs so is now an official “stair master”. You can imagine by looking at all that pattern on all those stairs that this was quite a bit of work!


There are 24 different border patterns used. I was able to set up the colorways first in Adobe Illustrator to try and get some nice balance and contrast over the length of each set of stairs.


The stair treads themselves are alternately stained a dark brown and a warm black and they look great from above as well but it’s the view looking up that is extra special. On a technical note, we have been using Bona’s Traffic for the topcoat and used this on the cork floor as well. It’s a bit tricky and pricey but lays down a lovely soft satin finish that has already proven it’s worth as a very durable topcoat for a commercial setting.

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.