December 4th, 2009

Pssst. Hey Santa!

You know how when people ask you “what do you want for Christmas?” and you can’t think of anything off the top of your head. Well, that’s what happens to me anyway….Whether your list for Santa is long or short, you might want to consider asking for the gift that keeps on giving….and creating.


We now have Virtual Workshop Gift Certificates available in our online store. They are good for any Virtual Workshop offered in 2010, including the two current offerings: Foilin’ Around and Stencil Impressions. Coming soon are Patterned Glass and Mirror, SkimStone Surfaces and Marquetry Effects on Wood, Walls, and More! If you’ve been a good boy or girl and whisper in the right ear, you may just find one in your stocking this year….

October 26th, 2009

High Style in High Point

My good friend, Barb Skivington, has undeniably one of the loveliest decorative finishing teaching studios in the whole country-Faux Works Studio in High Point, NC. Besides a state-of-the-art studio area, it also includes an elegant showroom full of interesting decorative treatments. Many of the featured treatments incorporate Modello patterns. Am I biased? Maybe. Are they fabulous? Definitely. Take a look…



Multiple Modern Allover patterns are worked into an allover metallic wall treatment. The tile idea is a great way to work in different patterns and slight color variations while maintaining a cohesive look, don’t you think??


This is one of our exclusive Marquetry patterns, MarqAll106 done on cork tiles in the coffee bar area. One of the benefits of staining pattern on unfinished cork tiles (as we did also in our showroom spaces at Modello Designs) is that you can do the pattern work prior to installation-much easier than working down on the floor!


An allover Eastern Lattice pattern, EasAll106, painted on a table in the teaching studio.


Some custom Typography to define different workshops and the unique finishes that Barb teaches.

Barb will be teaching one of her famous cabinet finishes classes here at our San Diego studio this November. The class is sold out, but you can find Barb teaching both at her own studio and other great studios around the country throughout the year-including a “date-to-be determined” back here in San Diego. Just check the Workshop page on the Faux Works Studio website.

I’m so happy to announce that my good friend Barb Skivington of Faux Works Studio in High Point, NC will be coming out to San Diego to teach one of her famous and highly regarded cabinet and furniture finishing workshops at my studio this coming November. All of the training will be done on exquisite cabinet doors that will be finished in class using both HVLP spray and hand applied techniques. Barb has created a whole new series of finishes for the premier of this Artisan Cabinet and Furniture Finishing class using both Royal Design Studio stencils and Modello Designs Decorative Masking Patterns. While the incorporation of the patterns adds an additional custom touch, the underlying finishes are all classics that can stand alone with ease. Below are six of the amazing eight samples that will be taught and mastered.







Cabinet and furniture finishing and resurfacing are HOT and an important and potentially profitable niche market to excel in during this ecomomic “down time”. Register by July 31, 2009 to save $145 on this premier workshop!

March 23rd, 2009

Painting Play Date

Carol Leonesio, who has her very own Painter Girl blog, also write for the Stencil Talk blog over at sent me a lovely email today about a “play date” that was arranged in her area to gather together local decorative artists for sharing creative inspiration, potential projects and mutual support. This is such a great idea in this day and age when we all need a little “extra” from our friends! We have a similar group that has formed here in San Diego that I’ll tell you about in my next post, but meanwhile, check out Carol’s post about their creative learning and sharing day spent working on some marquetry techniques and samples that they got from Modello Designs.



I feel very honored that they chose to use our products for their first get together. Thanks for YOUR support girls!

August 10th, 2008

Say Hello to IDAL

It’s been a couple of weeks ALREADY since my trip to the SALI show to teach and exhibit. I’m very happy to report that it was a great show and a good turning point in this organization that I have belonged to for almost 25 years. The Stencil Artisans League, Inc. is NOW, ta da, the International Decorative Artisans League. I strongly feel that the future of the organization hinges on embracing the future and the full spectrum of decorative arts, both in action and in name. I lobbied for and served as the Committee Chair overseeing the name change, so YEAH! It’s done. The new website is here at


Charleston, NC is SUCH a cool town, even when its 95 degress with 100% humidity! Some of us got the got a chance to get into town a few times for the requisite carraige ride around the historic district and multiple trips to some amazing restaurants including my favorite-S.N.O.B.


The booth was planned to be “easy” this year (as opposed to hauling half the warehouse there) and I have to thank my friends Barb Skivington, Becky Roth and Jackie Wiggins for all their help in setting up and manning the booth with me.

As usual, I forgot to take any pics with my own camera and have to depend on the kindness of companions for even the few photos shown here. My friend Helen Morris, of the Stenciled Library, however, has some really great photos posts on the convention and Charleston here on her blog! I think she really captures the magic of Charleston. Next years convention site? Memphis!

Ooh! Almost forgot. Thanks also to the 40 people that took my Faux Marquetry classes there! I just got the teacher evaluations in the mail yesterday and received 39 “Excellent” reviews. My apologies to the person who wasn’t 100% happy with the class. I really enjoyed teaching it and sharing the Marquetry Techniques.

April 29th, 2008

Glamour Glass

Our new studio has a little “kitchen” area with cabinets and a countertop. I had them install stock cabinets from Lowe’s and a simple black formica countertop. This was more of a budget than design decision (story of my life!) and of course provides the opportunity for yet another painting project. The cabinets will get some sort of eggplanty finish on them with patinated mirrors (cut to size) on the upper doors. For the countertop, I opted to do something simple. It’s all relative! *Simple* turns out to be getting a large piece of glass cut to size. Of course I didn’t take careful enough measurements and the builders didn’t take care to make anything plumb or square in the building so my nice square-cornered glass has a slight *fit* problem. What to do? Distract the eye like crazy!


I had a classic Moroccan zelij tile pattern cut and placed it on the back side of the 2′ x 7′ glass to do some reverse gilding with the new Celestial Leaf (colors: Dawn, Moonbeam and Twilight again). I used our Marquetry Weed technique to reveal different areas one at a time which receive a different color leaf.


When it’s all done and dry it receives multiple coats of black lacquer spray paint….


gets flipped over and viola! we now have a lovely surface that is easy to clean (and check out your hair in). This is a really quick and easy finish and can be applied to any piece of furniture that you can lay a piece of glass on!

April 28th, 2008

Ready, Set, SALI



Woohoo! Online registration begins THIS morning for classes at the 28th annual SALI Convention. Even though I am *very* young, I have been a member of this organization since it’s first year. My membership cards states I am member #31! I served on the board of directors back in the 90’s (seems like a century ago) and was incredibly honored and extremely nervous when they asked me to be the keynote speaker at the convention banquet 3 years ago in 2005.  

I chose to use the moment to trace my history in the industry along with the history of the organization-and ended by *suggesting* that it may be time for a name change. You see, The Stencil Artisans League is a name that we have outgrown as this organization has long been representative of the decorative arts and decorative finishing in a much broader sense: Murals, decorative finishes, plasterwork, gilding, and concrete to name just a few of the mediums represented at our convention and exposition. Well, that was enough to get me lassoed into chairing the name change committee and FINALLY we will be announcing the new name for the organization at the annual meeting in July. It will either be IODA (International Organization of Decorative Artisans) or IDAL (International Decorative Artisans League). Drumroll please! And the winner is? Can’t tell you. Someone will kill me. Guess you will just have to be there!

I am really looking forward to this, my 15th year as an exhibitor and instructor. Having never been to Charleston OR South Carolina, I am ready to soak up some Southern charm. I even have a suggestion if you are wondering what class to take on Thursday, July 24 from 8-12. Faux Marquetry with Modellos, of course!


Even if you or not interested in attending that or any of the other fabulous classes, you should come by for the Expo full of industry booths and ongoing demos. We will be introducing our new Design Library Binder, Modello by Design book, new designs and some other surprises!

Update! My class sold out right away. Yeah! I’m sure it helps that noone was offering anything similar. I’m hoping they will give me a second time slot…..

April 21st, 2008

Modello by Design

We get so inspired from seeing the photos that our customers send back to us showing how they have utilized our Modello patterns in artful applications! A picture IS worth a thousand words. I know that our customer base of professional decorative artisans get a lot of great ideas by looking at other artist’s work and also how important it is to be able to show a potential client how a design will look in a real-life setting-in living color. And so, last month we announced that we will be publishing an inspirational book entitled Modello by Design, Inspiring Interiors from Artist’s Portfolios. We asked our customers to submit photos of some of their favorite projects which we will be compiling for a book to be released in late July. I love the idea of being able to get our talented customers “in print” while giving them a tool to spark their imagination and entice their clients.

Modello by Design 1

Cover photo by Terri Riesenman.

Modello by Design 4

Marquetry floor by JoAnn Kingsbury.

Modello by Design 3

Fabulous ceiling by Nichole Blackburn.

Modello by Design 2

Awesome niche by Dee Ann O’Neal.

The photos are still coming in! The deadline for submission for Volume 1 is April 31 so if you are out there and sitting on some great work we’d love to see it! Soon!! Here’s the skinny on how to submit.

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.

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!