January 30th, 2009

Art Deco Mural After Rateau

I’m back and ready to share some more Marrakech experiences from our recent painting project at Peacock Pavilions.

I want to share my absolute favorite project from the trip-and I loved creating them all! This was my favorite not only because the “inspiration” was so divine, but it allowed me to stretch my artistic muscles a bit. You see, I spend WAY to much time focusing on my computer keyboard and business matters these days in favor of actually doing the artistic design work that got me brought me to this point in my life. I hope to find more balance between the two this year!!

Rateau Art Deco Screen

Armand Albert Rateau is the artist who created this amazing paneled screen for Jean Lanvin. Rateau is the decorating force behind Lanvin’s famous Paris apartment in rue Barbey-de-Jouy, which has been now partially conserved in the Paris Museum of Decorative Arts. I will be making a beeline for that place the next time I am lucky enough to visit Paris for sure!

Modello Mural in Morocco

The space is a headboard wall of one of the guest rooms, approximately 12.5′ wide by 11.5′ high. The artwork above shows the computer mockup of the design that was created by using a combination of Modello Decorative Masking Patterns and reusable mylar stencils (for the scattered flowers and stars). While I did borrow a couple of the leaf motif shapes from the original, the majority of the mural was created afresh to personalize it to Peacock Pavilions while attempting to maintain the Art Deco feel of the original.

Marrakech Modello Mural

A deep decorative dado was added to unify the wall and to also provide a painted decorative headboard to the beds, which will need to be positioned both as single twin beds and a double bed, depending on guest’s needs. Here, Margaret and Pam are laying out the initial panels that anchor the mural.


The Modello masking portion of the mural was divided into sections that easily fit together, following a key. We found that we had to complete each section at a time quickly, as a cold, damp, outward facing wall was repelling the adhesive. It rained quite a bit on the days we were working. We actually came back after lunch one day to find a piece lying crumpled on the floor. EEEEK!!

Marrakech Modello Mural

Above, Rebecca and Vicki are wrestling to remove the Transfer Tape while keeping pattern on the wall while the deer (and me) watched expectantly. These ladies were soooo patient and calm-skills needed by every decorative painter as “challenges” are inherent to most projects it seems! The olive tree was included, of course, because Peacock Pavilions sits in the middle of a beautiful olive grove!

Marrakech Modello Mural

The finishing touches were applied with stencils. Here, Cynthia is following the graphic to apply some of the random flowers and stars with stencils. You may be wondering how this beautiful gold effect was achieved. I toyed with the idea of using either metallic paint or real composition gold leaf, but opted instead to use one of my favorite quick and easy methods for creating a gilded effect: We combined Mica Powders at a ratio of 1:1 with Aquacreme (a scumble-type glaze medium) to create a thick, opaque, glimmering stencil “gel”. It dries fairly quickly when applied with a dry brush method, so you can layer quickly for dense coverage-even over black. We used 3 different colors, randomly applied, to achieve a somewhat “tarnished”, aged look.

Marrakech Modello Mural

It makes quite a lovely backdrop for a group photo, I think! Our hard working, hard shopping Peacock Painters this time were: (back row) Pam Grace, Margaret von Kaenel, Cynthia Davis, Barbara Rasmussen, Robin Johnston, Heather Bruno Sears, Melanie Royals, and (front row) Rebecca Hotop, Vicki Schultz, and Gwen Ware.

Marrakech Modello Mural

Maryam and me….

Marrakech Modello Mural

……the full view…..

Marrakech Modello Mural

…and a detail. Can you imagine how fun it will be to sleep under the watchful eye of these friendly creatures? I can’t wait to see how Maryam beautifully decorates this room, but I know it will be stunning. Individual patterns and motifs avalable soon through Modello Designs!

I’m obsessed with repetitive pattern. I am particularly fond of tile patterns. I have a MAJOR THING for order and symmetry. I am particularly captivated by the Zellij tile patterns that are literally everywhere in Morocco, with their underlying meaning of infinity and the omnipresent center. They just draw me in….

Zellij Tile Stencils

So when Maryam proposed painting another set of stair risers for our upcoming painting project at Peacock Pavilions and sent me this inspiration….

Madeline Weinrib

I began pour through my pattern books and photos for appropriate Zellij tile patterns that I thought would be PERFECT for this series.

Zellij Tile Stencils

I found some….

Zellij Tile Stencils

and some more….

Zellij Tile Stencils

and yet more….maybe I’m taking this “infinity” thing a little too much to heart?

Zellij Tile Stencils

But are these not AMAZING?! Many thanks to Michelle here, who worked with me turn these classic and universally appealing patterns into stencils (available next month on the Royal Design Studio website) in record time.

This website has some fabulous information on the history, use, and significance of Zellij patterns in Moroccan decoration. It’s a must read!

Want more photos?? There is a fantastic Zellij Tile set here on Flickr.

BTW Maryam’s My Marrakech blog is a finalist in the 2008 Weblog Awards in the Best Middle East or Africa Blog category and she needs YOUR vote! You can vote here through Tuesday, January 13th.

January 4th, 2009

Gardz: Gotta love it

One of the issues that crops up occasionally with people using our Modello Decorative Masking Patterns is that the adhesive vinyl can pull the underlaying paint or finish off with it if the surface underneath wasn’t properly prepared and primed. What often happens in new construction is that the whole place is a dust bin, drywall mud is inherently chalky, and the painters will not properly clean and prime the surface prior to painting. Obviously, a layer of paint is not going to stick very well to a layer of dust! Apply tape or another adhesive backed material to it and pull it off and, well,  it’s NOT a pretty picture.


SO-when we were doing the build out on our new space here I needed some “insurance” for all those surfaces I knew I was going to be adding pattern with Modellos. Fortunately, I discovered Gardz-an amazing clear emulsion that virtually locks down the drywall and joint compound surfaces prior to painting. Using this makes your surface almost bulletproof. Case in point? My poor, neglected office that I sit in everyday and wish for a wish that would let me snap my fingers and make it done-like “poof”!


I put these Modello patterns up 9 month ago. Yes, it’s a very pathetic situation that I’ve been staring at this half-done ceiling for 9 mos., but also a great science experiment. You can see from these photos that the Modello pattern is pulling off NOTHING as it’s removed. Seriously, this is nothing short of amazing. The green tape has turned super sticky and the white vinyl is so old it’s almost cracking, but the paint surface underneath?? It’s perfect!


This is the room that has the above patterned floor I showed you here. I know what your thinking: All that pattern and all those bright colors must look Gawd awful. I swear it doesn’t-and I’ll prove it to you if and when I EVER finish this room.

Red Kitchen Island.jpg
Openwork chair.jpg

I have some added inspiration now that I’ve just ordered some additional furniture for it from my favorite catalog source-Gumps. This red kitchen island (for a storage piece) and two of these chairs (for important “executive” meetings)-both in the same red as the little accent table above, are all I need to kick by butt in gear to get this room done. I hope.

January 2nd, 2009

Last Call for Marrakech

First and foremost-HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that the coming year brings you peace, some prosperity, and many opportunities to explore and expand your creativity. If any one of your resolutions involves more adventurous travel, here is an opportunity for you:

We are returning to Marrakech to continue the painting projects at Peacock Pavilions in two weeks. YES! Two weeks. We have a lovely new group of ten going, but there is room to squeeze in one more Peacock Painter. We will be applying stenciled pattern to floors, a mural wall, chairs and stairs. The projects have a low degree of difficulty and a high degree of interesting applications and interpretations. The two floor projects are for the rooms of Maryam’s lovely children, Tristan and Skylar.

Skylar will soon be padding around on a lovely cream and gray, large-scaled, lace floor. This will be a new stencil for Royal Design Studio and I had some fun imagining different color combinations for it!

Lace stencil

Tristan will be trodding on an equally interesting floor; this one featuring layers of typography (surrounding a maze pattern )that highlight important life lessons, lucky numbers and Marrakech geography.

Modello stencil typography

We are all getting very excited about the trip. This will be my 3rd trip to Marrakech in the last year (lucky, lucky me!) and the first for the rest of the group. This will not be an all work/no play trip (heaven forbid!). We are going to dine deliciously, shop for vintage Berber carpets (among many other things!), tour amazing architectural treasures, go quading in the desert and learn how to cook like a Moroccan. Are you jealous?? Would you like NOT to be?? Info on the trip is here. We are all on the same flight from JFK to Marrakech and the airfare has dropped to under $1,000. Tempting, isn’t it??