June 26th, 2009

Persian Garden

Just browsing the blogs for something inspiring this morning….came across an Etsy link on Creature Comforts to the Persian Garden shop of Afsaneh Tajvidi, offering prints of her original graphic illustrations based on Persian art and design themes.



Afsaneh and her sister Azedeh also design pretty websites, jewelry and create many other lovely things…..



Thought you might enjoy seeing some BEAUTY coming out of Iran this week.

June 23rd, 2009

New Stencil Sneak Peek

Well, it’s that time of year again! Time when all my thoughts turn to the completely ridiculous and unrealistic amount of things I want to accomplish for the annual IDAL Convention. (formerly The Stencil Artisans League-now the International Decorative Artisans League). Funny how last minute stress gets all the creative juices flowing! We will have a booth there for the 15th year in a row (surely a record worthy of some sort of prize….) and of course all my best intentions to be “ahead of the game” at this point for creating new designs and inspiring educational materials vanished in the weeks that seem to just fly by. WhatEVER! What gets done, gets done. I know for sure that we will have about 30 new stencils to show. I haven’t worked these stencil designs up into decorative finishes just yet (after all I have a good two weeks to go) but can share some digital images of some that will be coming on line VERY shortly….


….at Royal Design Studio. Shown left to right, top to bottom: Tailfeathers Allover, Ribbon Damask, Morse Code, Curly Q, Hip to be Square, Akita Allover, Kimono Damask, Circling, and Berry Romantic Damask. Will keep you posted….

June 19th, 2009

Bella Vella

Earlier this week, I had a great day with “the girls”. You know the drill; lunch and shopping plastering! I had organized a little day trip for myself and Karen, Kari and Julie up the I-5 to the Vella Venetian Plaster Systems studio in Orange, CA.


The guys from Vella (that’s Ken (VP) and Brett), had been down to my studio in San Diego a couple months ago to demo the product to our local IDAL chapter. I was impressed by a lot of the aspects of the Vella product (inexpensive, ease of use, gorgeous color range, etc) and wanted to see more!


They generously (and wisely) offer free hands on training at their facility, where you can see the products applied on numerous walls and ceilings, get the run down on application, and try your hand at a few quick samples. Apparently, they do this a LOT because if you notice how the plaster is built out on the wall where Ken is demoing-that’s the build up of layers plaster where they keep going over with new coats to demonstrate the various steps in the process.


And a simple process it is! The Vella plaster requires no special primer and can go over anything from unprimed level 3 drywall to enamel paint. It starts with a quick allover basecoat  followed by an “interest” layer to create subtle highs and lows and color variations. There are just two main products, the Vella Premium Plaster (some lime) and the Liscio Plaster (all resin) and they can be used separately, layered, or even combined to make the plaster crack.


Of course, I wanted to see how it worked with our Modello Decorative Masking stencils and Royal Design Studio mylar stencils. The answer is: fabulous! The viscosity of the product makes it ideal for raised, embossed stencil effects and the strength and elasticity of it makes it great for Modellos.


The Vella plaster does need to be sealed with carnauba wax and that is where the real fun begins. They have clear and pretinted wax colors and easy mixing formulas for also adding mica powders in. You can layer the waxes, buff, not buff, blend while still wet with buffing to create a color wash effect…green-sample

Another easy way to alter the look is to throw some crushed marble or clean sandbox sand (30 mesh) into the Vella for the first layer. Adding the aggregate allow for a look that resembles travertino and give you a nice textured look.


Here are Kari’s samples, showing a coordinating smooth and textured finish.


Apparently, they don’t generally add the sand to the Liscio (all resin) product, just the Vella. Julie unknowingly added the sand to the Liscio and it’s awesome! This is just two plaster layers, plus wax. Love the texture, love the crackle! We were literally in and out of there in two hours and nailed down a bunch of great finish ideas and some beautiful samples. Kari even sold a job the next day…

Want more bennies? The first layer of Vella will bridge orange peel and knockdown textures so you can do a two layer finish over those hideous walls and be done, OR just use the Vella as a filler for something else. The carnauba wax can be rolled over with Kilz primer down the road when it’s time for a change, and this product runs 30-50 cents a square foot from start to finish. It is available in or through Sherwin Williams stores around the country as well as other local suppliers. Vella Venetian Plaster System.

June 17th, 2009

Indian Summer

I’ve been loving Les Indiennes for a long time, but think that the look of their fresh block printed fabrics is especially appropriate for summertime. Owner Mary Mulcahy has simplified the beautiful and organic motifs that are traditionally used in Indian decoration and printed them in limited color palettes on fabric and paper.



I love the fact that the company now provided fair trade employment for over 50 families in India…



I also love (and covet) their amazing flip book. It is beautifully arranged and designed and puts all the patterns and products into a very cozy context.


PS I just discovered a very “readable” new blog. You may want to check it out. Thank You For Asking: A woman starring in her own movie that no one is watching. Be sure to start with the beginning post. I think I’m hooked on this “novel” novel!

June 13th, 2009

More Foilen Around

This past week I hosted a demonstration and hands-on class for our local International Decorative Artisans League chapter in my studio. I shared with them the techniques I have been playing around with lately combining the metallic foils with Royal Design Studio stencils, including our forthcoming Stencil Impressions line. It’s always so much fun to see how artists can take the same techiques, stencil designs and colors and come up with completely different looks. Really! No two (out of 36 different boards) were even closely alike. Here is a random sampling of our inspiring evening!








Want to see more?? You can see MORE photos in my Facebook photo album here.

I’m so excited! After 25 years, I’m going to take my second-ever stencil class. This looks to be TOO much fun and way “outside the box” for me. The class is online (so you can take it with me) and is taught by Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from LA. The class is definitely geared more to working on paper and creating journal pages and other small “works of art”, but I’m excited to translate some of the ideas to wall finishes. I can imagine introducing glazes, texture and gilding along with the spray paint and layering techniques. I’m also thinking of hosting some of my own classes this way in the future. It makes a LOT of sense (cents)! These photos are some cool student works from Mary Ann’s last class.




You can find more details and enroll here. The “work at your own pace” class runs from June 26-July 17. There’s also an inspiring Flickr group here. “See” you in class!

June 5th, 2009

Call for Entries

Last June we published our very first Modello by Design book, Inspiring Interiors from Artist’s Portfolios, Volume 1. When I put the call out for our customers to submit professional quality photos of their decorative painting projects using our Modello Decorative Masking patterns, I didn’t know what to expect…..Well, we got an amazing response and amazing photos from 80 different artisans and were able to create a beautiful and inspirational resource book that artists turn to for ideas and for a super sales tool for future projects. They say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and it’s true! Being able to share visual proof of how custom decorative treatments can transform a room can make the difference when it comes to making decorating decisions for designers and homeowners.

Now, it’s time for Volume 2! We plan to publish the next edition in the early part of 2010 and are seeking entries of professional quality photography Modello projects. To “inspire” you, I’d like to share some of the lovely work we’ve received so far, from….


Barbara Wurden of Long Beach, CA….


Tricia George of San Rafeal, CA, and….


Angela Monk of Louisville, MS.

You can imagine the thrill and pride I feel when I see what amazing things these talented artists have done with our pattern products!! I think that this next book is to be off the charts with inspiring art and architecture. If you’re considering submitting some of YOUR projects for our next book, please go here and download the submission forms and read the guidelines carefully. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

June 2nd, 2009

I think I thought this.

When I was writing the previous post about Debbie Hayes and her work I typed in “you can see more of Debbie’s work here and here” thinking that I had already posted some other photos that Debbie has sent me. Well, lo and behold, they were never blogged! More proof that just thinking about doing something doesn’t make it happen, LOL. So, here now is what I thought I had done before but only really thought I had done. Follow???


Debbie, and her very lovely interior designer friend Sandra Barron, have actually been on a couple of painting trips abroad with me. The first was a trip to the South of France that involved some medieval church stenciling renovation led by a Parisian artist. Debbie and Sandra were inspired by that experience to create this unique ceiling treatment for Sandra’s bedroom.


They also were on the May 2008 trip to Marrakech where we did this very graphic ceiling treatment based on an antique textile in one of the guest rooms at Maryam’s Peacock Pavilions. Debbie and Sandra reinterpreted that design on a slightly smaller scale in this dramatic powder bath.



Above are some photos of Debbie’s very cool studio in Greensboro, NC where she’s used Royal Design Studio stencils and Modello masking pattern typography. Speaking of trips to Marrakech, I have just received a pdf of an article that I wrote for the Artisphere (a trade magazine) on our most recent trip there in January 2009. If you would like to relive that experience with me (sigh!) you can find the article here.