August 8th, 2011

Stencil Talk!

Guess who’s going to be talking design and stencils on Design Talk Radio THIS Wednesday at 2pm EST/ 11am PST??

Did you guess?? Yes, I will be chatting about stencils and decorative painting “live” with Carrie for about an hour. If you miss it or want to tune in later while enjoying a glass of wine or coffee (you get to pick your poison!) there will be a recording available. Hope you can check it out either way!

October 17th, 2010

A Golden Moment

There were MANY golden moments this past September when the PDPA, an organization dedicated to elevating the field of decorative finishing, held it’s first Education Summit in Golden Colorado.


After many years of work and planning by some of the most notable artists in the decorative painting field, the PDPA is working towards reaching its own “summit”, thanks in large part to the vision of founding President Andre Martinez (left) and incoming Executive Director and industry dynamo, Pat Ganino.


At this year’s inagural event there were daily morning lectures on a variety of topics…


held in a converted chapel that is now a local art center.


These were followed  by morning demonstrations in the garden by master artisans such as Sean Crosby,


and hands-on training in a variety of classic techniques by other notable artists in this field, such as Sheri Hoeger.


Before the afternoon presentations began, there were delicious hand-prepared lunches,


featuring guest chefs. Here, the incomparable  Pierre Finkelstein shows that he is a man of MANY talents…

Pascal playing 2

…as is French artist  Pascal Amblard.


One day’s afternoon sessions featured informal discussions on business practices with noteable artists such as Nicola Vigini of Vigini Studios.


The ultimate “Golden” moment for ME came when Mark Golden, president of Golden Paints…


…awarded the newly esteemed “Golden Brush Award” to 4 people who have helped to shape and support the decorative finishing industry in their own unique ways. Here I am, looking shocked and sheepish (and trying not to get TOO emotional) as I was the first recipient called to the stage. Truly, it was a great honor to receive this recognition from a man who is so highly respected and admired in our industry. Golden Paints is a company that is well known for putting it’s customers and employees first-a key to their ongoing success.


Congratulations to fellow recipients Jon Sunde, a master artisan and expert in the field of Tadelakt application…


…as well as Ilia Anassov, who works diligently to keep the art of true fresco painting alive. Unfortunately, I had to leave the event early to catch a plane and am unsure of who the 4th recipient was??


Next year’s Summit has been scheduled for Sept 8-10. 2011 and is open only to PDPA members.  Perhaps you’d like to be their to create your OWN Golden moments?

All photos by decorative artist and photographer, Jon Smith.

September 26th, 2010

Reflecting on the Possibilities

As a decorative artist and surface finish designer, I’ve enjoyed creating literally 100′s of unique finishes that incorporate pattern. In fact, I simply don’t “do” a finish without pattern!! I love the combination and manipulation of design, medium, tools, color, textures, and reflective qualities, and the million different ways that those can be combined to create something with purposeful beauty. My latest pattern process “love” is working with mirror and glass, and I am quite proud of the finishes and techniques that I share in our latest Virtual Workshop, Patterned Mirror and Glass. Not only do these techniques present amazing new artistic possibilities, but I really feel that this workshop offers amazing value and opportunities for decorative artisans.


For this workshop, I’ve taken everything (plus much more) that  I used to teach in a $1,000 3-day hands-on workshop ,and put it into 5 hours of recorded video lessons, an 85-page illustrated book, and a 2+ hour interactive Webinar meeting. When you throw in the cost (and aggravation) savings of an airline flight, hotel room, and schedule juggling, the lower cost of a Virtual Workshop becomes an even greater value! At least that is what our students say…..:)


But the even biggestvalue of this workshop is not even that you are getting a great deal on unique, quality information that you can review over and over. The biggest value is in what you can DO with the information. Beyond making pretty little glass and mirror samples, this workshop provides you with options for expanding your artistry over a wide variety of new surfaces and applications. If you are a DIYer, you can create unique accents for your home. If you are a professional decorative artisan, you can expand your portolio and add income to your bottom line with valuable additions to your decorative projects. Use these Patterned Mirror and Glass techniques on framed mirrors….


…ceiling medallions…


….custom tabletops, countertops, and protective/decorative furniture tops.


You can have custom mirror shapes cut to create one-of-a-kind wall art…


…or transform an inexpensive catalog side table into something highly unique and personal.


Use the easy “Faux Iron Grillwork” to add architectural interest to French doors, cabinet door, and fixed windows.


There are countless commercial applications for these techniques, as demonstrated by this focal point logo mirror installation by Garay Artisans in a retail boutique. Regina attending one of my hands on mirror workshops a couple of years ago and her company has worked hard to successfully develop their own signature techniques and market them effectively. Photo from Modello by Design, Volume 2.


Also from Modello by Design, Volume 2, this reverse painted glass backsplash beautifully demonstrates the possibilities of displaying and selling these finishes as backsplash options through high-end kitchen and bath showrooms. If you are already doing cabinet finishing and countertop surfacing, coordinating backsplashes are an easy and elegant “add on” project!



On a personal note, I also incorporated Patterned Mirror and Glass into my recent wedding. 20″ mirror rounds were patterned and patinated and placed in the center of each table. They beautifully reflected the lovely flowers and flickering votives. The cake “plate” used the same pattern, this time gilding on the front of an undistressed mirror round. Yet another marketing opportunity for these techniques: wedding and event planners!

Want to see more?!  Click here for lots of inspiring past posts on Mirror and Glass finishes!

After becoming fully inspired, sign up for our Patterned Mirror and Glass Virtual Workshop to get your login info to start viewing the 36 different video lessons, and you’re on your way!!! Then, take advantage of our Friends with Benefits program: refer a friend and get a $25 product credit while your friend enjoys registering with $25 off!! Call Jillian at 800.663.3860 for details.

We also have Virtual Workshop Combo Packages where you can save by enrolling in multiple workshops at once.

October 25th, 2009

Ready, Set, Photo-Part Two

Here are some more inspiring images from the forthcoming Modello by Design-Inspiring Images from Artist’s Portfolios, Part 2. These are all from a talented single artist-Rita Melnick.



A beautiful frieze using TransBor116


Modified panels.


Lovely Art Deco, lined leaves with ModAll111


A simple architectural frame pulled from our Chambord Carpet and Panel pattern.


An interesting wall “bump-out” that looks like a 3-panel screen using OrnTile162

Pssst! Don’t be shy-don’t forget-submit YOUR project photos by October 31…..get the details here….

October 23rd, 2009

Ready, Set, Photo-Part One

Back in June, 2008 we published the first edition of Modello by Design-Inspiring Images from Artist’s Portfolios. Featuring the work of 80 different decorative artisans using our Modello patterns, this book has become a definitive resource tool for ideas, inspiration, and enticement for incorporating Modellos into interior and exterior projects. Our next edition will be released in early 2010, and we’ve been receiving some fabulous photos that really highlight the range of options and applications for decorative pattern in surface finishes…


A custom fireplace surround by Joy Conway using a modified version of EasPan109


Beautiful handpainted ceramic bowl by Jeff Raum using Royal Design Studio’s Elegancia Border as a Modello around the edge.



TransBor132 used by Joannie Gaillardia in a decorator showhouse.


Virgina Weathersby’s simple yet highly elegant custom curtains using OrnBor132


Hand painted detailing by Deanne Cunningham over OrnCen 130 on a custom tabletop.

Krista Vind

ModAll124 on a contemporary art canvase by Krista Vind.

The deadline for submitting professional-quality project photos for the next Modello by Design book is fast approaching-October 31, 2009. You can find all the details and directions here!

October 6th, 2009

The Reviews are In

The reviews are in for the very first Virtual Workshop, Foilin’ Around. It was a “challenge” working through some of the technical difficulties and limitations of the webinar format, but I think I “have it down” now! I need to thank my great inaugural group for their patience, support, contribution, AND nice comments!

Just finished Melanie’s Virtual Workshop. It was great!! It was just like we were there. As usual, Mel gives mor than I expected for something like this. The foils are awesome in their own beauty!! Didn’t realize they could add so much to a finish. -Janet Gonzales

Loved it!!! Awesome job Melanie! Looking forward to many more; very inspiring! THANK YOU!!! -Denise Lindstrom

I have already learned alot from the videos and can’t wait to play around with some of these finishes. I really also appreciate the chance to purchase these items at this great rate. Thanks again for putting this together and I’m sure I’ll be taking your future virtual workshops. -Mignon Hunter

I loved, loved, loved this innovative virtual class!  No matter how much you think you know about this business, there is always something new to learn — and I learned so much from this session.  We’ve already reproduced several of the finishes with great success.  The videos were clear and concise and beautifully filmed and the supporting documentation was detailed and completed the experience.  This was definitely worth my time and I’m looking forward to the next — Stencil Impressions.  Thank you Melanie for always being such a great source for knowledge and inspiration. -Barb Skivington/Faux Works

Thanks so much for all the work you put into the Foilin’ Around virtual workshop.  And it’s obvious that you put a LOT of work into that class. I’ve always been an admirer of your innovative finishes and your ability to describe the techniques so well in person and in writing.  The virtual workshops take your talents to a whole new level, and I’m pleased to have been a participant in your first virtual workshop. I’m glad you decided to have students in future workshops view the videos in advance of the online discussion. When I viewed the videos I did have some questions, but I found the answers in your Power Point presentation.  But still, I found the real-time online discussion to be interesting and informative. Thanks for all you do in the world of decorative finishing. -Kate Kiernan


The trick to doing anything well in the end, I think, is to make it “look” like it was easy all along. Whether it’s a decorative finish, an edited video, or a 3 minute samba on Dancing With the Stars, that final shining ”ta da” moment only comes after a lot of mistakes, lessons learned, dedication to keep moving forward, and hours of grinding out a lot of practice and hard work. Once the memories of all the stress, hair pulling, and performance jitters fade, you find that you actually CAN do something, anything really,  by always venturing to take one more step forward, no matter what. Sometimes that requires a bit of back-stepping as well, but that’s all part of the dance, isn’t it? Next up, Stencil Impressions……

September 29th, 2009

Foilin Around Virtual Workshop

I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m in the middle of a major love affair. With Metallic Foils. I began innocently enough…I thought I’d do it just once…maybe twice, and get it out of my system. Then I fell into the shiny, shimmery trap. It’s so easy to do and so hard to resist….I keep going back. There is so much to explore, so many senses to touch, so many creative desires to fulfill!

As time wore on, I discovered new ways to do it with stencils, Modello patterns, different techniques, unusual tricks. My passion isn’t fading. I need to share it. I want everyone to feel the way I feel…and so, I now offer you the chance to indulge YOURself with-the Foilin Around Virtual Workshop

I’ve shared the results of my passion here before, and even as recently as the canvases I just created for our HD Boutique booth, all done with Metallic Foils. I’ve stocked our shelves with the most amazing colors, and even given them more enticing pricing. If you don’t want to make a HUGE commitment (just have lunch!), we have metallic foils both by the roll AND by the yard…..tempting, aren’t they??

Our first Foilin Around Virtual Workshop is this Thursday at 6:30pm EST. You can enroll in the class up until noon on the day of the workshop. Remember, no travel required. I’ll come to you….

….and if you missed it, all the details on Virtual Workshops are just below.

September 22nd, 2009

Modello, Me, and Miami

Well, everything arrived in one piece for the Modello Designs booth at the  HD Boutique Show (other than all the things that still needed to be assembled on site. that is), and after two days of sweating in an un-air conditioned convention center (they never have the air on when they have the loading dock doors open) we had-A TENT!


We (me and Barb) stuck vinyl stars on the outside, mirrored stars on the inside, finished off the large mirror’s decoration, hung still sticky canvases, hot-glued 40′ of beaded trim, laid tiles, hung doodads, made multiple shopping runs for last minute details like additional lights and flickering battery-operated candles, and phew! we had it done.


True to form, in the shower on the morning of the first day of the show I was already plotting how completely differently I was going to design NEXT year’s booth, but in the meantime there was THIS year to attend to.


“So, you do textiles?” “floor tiles?” “cabanas?” “custom mirrors?” “table bases?” Yes, yes, we do ALL of that, OR “we provide custom patterns for decorative surface finishes”. We witnessed both light bulbs going on and blank looks. It’s never easy to explain how you do “everything”, is it?? But, we did, hundreds of times…..


Like, “no, we don’t do punched tin lighting fixtures, but we CAN lasercut acrylic mirror into any shape….


…or do really cool custom canvases for wall hangings, cabana/tent “walls”, or faux granite/marble inlaid tabletops…


….as well as patterned patinated custom mirrors that are self-framed with a gilded decorative border….


….or tell a story about love.”


After all that ‘splain it felt really good to drink Caribbean-inspired cocktails and relax poolside at the elegant Mondrian hotel on the intercoastal in Miami Beach.


We didn’t provide the patterns that they used for the amazing sandblasted pattern in the decorative concrete decking…..but we could! Remember, we do EVERYTHING….

Bottom line: Miami is a pretty cool place to visit, with a frenetic energy that could come from the exotic, sensous, highly latin-influenced culture-or the drug trade. The scenery is beautiful, the food is tasty, and the water is warm. The HD Boutique Show was officially a success for us, with lots of great contacts, feedback, and potential future projects…pitching a tent there was well worth the effort…..and I’ll be back!

September 6th, 2009

An Unrestrained Hand

This coming September 14-15, Modello Designs will be displaying at a booth at the HD Boutique in Miami for the first time. I’m very excited!! Our Modello Decorative Masking Patterns have been used before in hotel projects: The Grand Del Mar near San Diego, Peocock Pavilions in Marrakech, and the Lesic Dimitri Palace in Croatia. But that is just scratching the surface! My brain spins with the possibilities of our patterns dressing up surfaces in hotels and resorts all over the world…SO, this booth is my chance to introduce THAT world to MY world.


Our space is small (10′ x 10′), and I have a lot of possibilities I want to show, so my initial thought was to use a restrained hand and stick to a neutral color palette-to keep it very chic and elegant and “designer-ish”, based VERY loosely around a theme of a contemporary Moroccan-style tent. I started off well enough, sticking to a nice cream and warm beige for the Moroccan tile floor done in Skimstone to mimic inlaid travertine tile…..


…with tabletops done with Aurastone (thanks to David Rairick!) to look like inlaid marble.


I decided to use large-scale geometric patterns for the inside “walls” of the tent…


…introducing little pops of color here and there.


Little pops of color led to bigger pops of color for the outer walls…



…which led to even BIGGER pops of color for the “embroidered silk” panels that will hang in between…



over which specially designed patterned and distressed mirrors will hang…



…and did I mentioned that the inside of the tent ceiling will feature twinkling little mirror shapes cut from acrylic mirror? So much for using a restrained hand!!! See how and IF this all comes together next week……….;-)

for more photos on this “process”, please visit our Facebook Fan Page!

September 5th, 2009

Modello Designs Video

Been busy, busy, busy! I’ve been working day and night on what I hope will be an amazing booth display for the HD Boutique show we are doing next week and will be filming more video instruction for my Virtual Workshop series tonight. Popping in to leave a link to our Modello Designs business profile video that was shot a few weeks ago by Turn Here. Unfortunately, this was BEFORE my makeup lesson….but I get another chance and another excuse to go shopping for something new! We are shooting one for Royal Design Studio this Wednesday….


Since I couldn’t get the video link to load directly onto the page (ARghhh!!) please click here