February 28th, 2010

Faux Plus Design

I’d like to welcome another friend and decorative finisher to the blogging world. Debbie Hayes is a very talented Greensboro, NC decorative artist who has been featured a few times before on this blog. 


Her new blog,  Faux Plus Design showcases her photography and literary talents (she’s a former newspaper editor) as well as her artistic skills. Debbie has accompanied me on several of the painting adventures abroad that I’ve been involved with in the past, including France, Morocco, and Italy.

souk kitties

She talks about these (and her ongoing wanderlust) in some recent blog posts, including one on Moroccan Souk kitties….


…and one on our last trip to Italy.


Some of these travels have inspired the color-saturated decoration of her amazing, inviting studio!

Studio 2

I am happy that Debbie (and her talents and ever-ready camera) will be joining us on our next trip to Italy this coming Fall. To find out more about trips to both Italy and Morocco, click here….

January 10th, 2010

Peacock Painters Fly Again

The Marrakesh Express is leaving once again this May for a fabulous painting adventure to Peacock Pavilions in exotic Morocco. This will be the third trip to this intoxicating country where we will enjoy the warm hospitality of our lovely hostess Maryam of My Marrakesh as we paint, dine, tour, shop and partake of the many incredible sights, sounds, tastes and treats that this city has to offer.

Peacock Pavilions exterior

This will be the first trip where we have the opportunity to stay at the soon-to-open Peacock Pavilions during our painting days,


as well as the ever-enchanting Hotel du Tresor, which is located in the heart of the Medina and its famous souks.

Peacock Pavilions Suzani

On past trips we have painted dramatic ceilings,

Peacock Pavilions Zellij tile

done zellij  patterns on some stairs….

Peacock Pavilions Henna

and henna patterns on others-

Peacock Pavilions April

as well as ourselves!

Peacock Pavilion smural

We’ve done Art Deco murals


and graphic floors.

Our next trip will focus on the decoration of an entertainment and separate bar tent, which will be used for parties, wedding, and other special occasions at Peacock Pavilions. We will also do some smaller projects in the guest houses.


For inspiration, we are turning to classic Moroccan textile embroidery patterns


Moroccan Embroidery-5

in classic shades of black and cream


as well a bold and bright colors.

Would you like to join us?? We have a few spots still open….and for the first time, I am offering a savings of $300 dollars off the trip if you pay in full. But you have to hurry! All the details are here.

May 8th, 2009

2128 Mirrors

They say that the best things come in small packages-or something like that….Well, I think that our little studio bathroom (in progress) is definitely proof of that.




After spending quite a bit lot of time in stenciling the upper and lower walls with some of the new Moroccan stencil designs from Royal Design Studio (thank you Karen and Vicki!) the next area to tackle will be the ceiling. This is one of those projects that just seems to grow exponentially as it goes along. I’m a firm believer that once you start down a path of excess decoration you have to just keep letting that snowball grow as it rolls down the hill.


For example-rather than just paint the ceiling this lovely shade of metallic teal and leave it at that, I’ve decided that the only thing that will “do” is an allover treatment of silver leaf accented with small round mirrors. 2,128 mirrors to be exact. I did it first on a sample board to see if it was going to be worth all the work. I definitely think so-and will tackle it when I return from my painting trip to Italy. It will really pull in the silver leafed poem by Rumi that runs around the room just above the Moroccan zellij tile treatment. 

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that site becomes this art. -Rumi

May 1st, 2009

Robins Nest


On my last painting trip to Marrakech I was fortunate to be accompanied by a special group of amazing and talented women. Shown above are just three of them: Robin Johnston, Cynthia Davis, and Heather Bruno Sears. This was on one of our fun nights out to Le Comptoir, where we treated to beautiful belly dancers on our table. It was too much fun and our best night out I think! Check out the link if you want to feel exotic….


Robin recently updated her website, Faux Couture, and I’d like to share some of her lovely work with you.



Robin’s finishes have a quality that makes me think of “comfort”.



The soft, subtly layered colors, the pretty details, the vintage quality all combine to create a feeling of something cherished and faded that you might have inherited from a loved one.


Of course I may be little partial because she incorporates a lot of stencils from Royal Design Studio, but I would seriously be happy to have any of these looks on my walls, some furniture or even art canvases. Robin lives and works in the Detroit, Michigan area. You can find more on her Faux Couture website!

April 23rd, 2009

From the Office of…..

It’s been a couple of weeks since these posts of Maryam’s My Marrakech office showing our Royal Design Studio Moroccan collection stencils appeared on her blog and also on the great Decor8-right at the same time that our Royal Design Studio website got compromised by a virus/hacker/www no-do-gooder and all the links that came in went-to waste! I am NOT loving the whole internet thing right now but am getting better about it day-by-day now that the website is back up after much time and increasing frustration coinciding with a decreasing bank account. Heavy sigh. OK, done wallowing and back to looking at and thinking about pretty photos and designs. The last time I saw Maryam’s office was when we were there with our lovely little group painting this past January. Sorceress of words that she is, she had penned this little story which we set up in Petras Script and cut for her from a Modello Pattern.


It didn’t look like much then…..


but look at it now!


Maryam and Skylar have become quite proficient with the stencils and brushes I left for them, using Skylar’s Lace in the doorway…



and various borders and patterns from our Moroccan Stencil Collection on spraypainted storage boxes.


Of course, all the other decorative details and touches are just divine….


making this a very special place for a very special person. Images taken from Decor8 and My Marrakech.

I showed you Cowsablanca, the La Jolla Cow Parade cow that our local IDAL chapter, Artisans by the Sea,  painted using some of our new Modello patterns about a month ago.  Well, here she is strutting her stuff out on the street.





She CAN be bought, you know…..all the cows will be auctioned off in a couple of months.

February 18th, 2009

Cherry Blossom Closet

This might be a good time to share with you the closet doors that go with Skylar’s lace floor. This project ALMOST didn’t happen, and I’m so glad that it did because it’s SO FREAKIN CUTE IMHO! Maryam had sent me this super inspiration photo as a starting point.

Modello Inspiration

I apologize for NOT KNOWING the source, but think it is just very cool. It looks like puffy fabric shapes that have been applied to the wall. The morning before I actually left for Morocco I had just actually determined that I had run completely out of time to get another project designed and cut and there was no way that this was going to happen. Then, I started feeling JUST HORRIBLY GUILTY that Skylar wouldn’t get her closet done and her brother WOULD. You can imagine the potential for heartbreak there, I’m sure.

Modello Door Design

So, that afternoon I quickly designed (as in about 10 minutes) this random cherry blossom pattern pulling the simpler flower shapes out of the lace pattern. With the help of Heidi and our great production department here we got it set up and cut in time to stuff in my suitcase.

Modello Cherry Blossom Pattern

The design stretches across two closet doors which open in the middle. (shown here in the hallway where they were expertly painted by Cynthia)

Modello Cherry Blossom Pattern

I had purchased some packages of little round mirrors and gave Maryam the assignment of placing a few here and there. Aren’t they sweet?

New Modello Patterns

We are adding many of the designs that we did in Marrakech both to the Modello Designs website as Decorative Masking Patterns (one-time-use, vinyl stencils) and also turning many into reusable mylar stencils for the Royal Design Studio website. Yes, we are busy little bees here……

February 16th, 2009

Amazing Lace, How Sweet

Still reliving Marrakech, our loveliest project was stenciling a large custom lace pattern on a little sweetheart’s floor. Maryam wrote a beautiful post about her daughter here, and we were lucky to get an assist from darling Skylar herself.

Lace Stencil

She was very patient, meticulous, and quite proud-as well she should be!

Lace Stencil

The lace was simply done with grey concrete paint over a white base….

Lace Stencil

…and the large pattern was completed using two different sections. The stencil is NOW available through our Royal Design Studio website here. I so enjoyed working out this lace pattern that I am anxious to do more. Imagine how inspired I feel to have come back across a website for artist Cal Lane that I archived months ago that features gorgeous lace patterns used quite unexpectedly. As in….

Cal Lane

Wheelbarrows and shovels….

Cal Lane


Cal Lane

…oil drums…

Cal Lane

…and car parts.

This work is reminiscent of that from the Designed in Dust post and Cal also plays off that idea in some of her installation work. These patterns here are all plasma-cut from steel objects with the idea of creating “desirable oppositions”. From the artist’s statement

I like to work as a visual devil’s advocate, using contradiction as a vehicle for finding my way to an empathetic image, an image of opposition that creates a balance – as well as a clash – by comparing and contrasting ideas and materials.This manifested in a series of “Industrial Doilies”, pulling together industrial and domestic life as well as relationships of strong and delicate, masculine and feminine, practical and frivolity, ornament and function. There is also a secondary relationship being explored here, of lace used in religious ceremonies as in weddings, christenings and funerals.

This work truly blows me away. Let there be lace!

Updated 2/27/09
Skylar’s Lace is an international sensation (thanks to Maryam’s gorgeous photos and insane popularity). How cool that is it featured on Design*Sponge, de (coeur) acao, ZSOFI berendez!, Wide Open Spaces and More Ways to Waste Time. I don’t even know what language some of these are in but I’m grateful!

February 11th, 2009

Patterns of Lovely Light

I have SO many favorite things about Marrakech, but one of my favoratists is the amazing punched metal lanterns and the lacy patterns that they cast like metal stencils on the beautifully polished tadelakt walls.

Morocco lanterns

 Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Morocco lanterns

Aren’t these just to die for?! I think that I must do some stencil patterns to achieve this look!

Photographed by Vicki Shultz at magical Le Tanjia. At night, of course…..

February 7th, 2009

Henna Party

I never shared the stair riser project that our first group did at Peacock Pavilions last May. My bad! This first set of “themed” risers is what inspired the most recent round. Those, in turn, were inspired by this blog post, where Maryam saw something that I designed here at our studio with all different stained border patterns.


The stairs we did in May were actually seen in this photo from Maryam’s blog, but they were covered with all our tired bodies, so here is the big reveal…..




and here….


and here. The theme was henna patterns, and I had TOO MUCH fun reworking classic henna designs into the borders for these stairs. We worked them in a simple color palette of three colors chosen to coordinate with the marble stair treads. These designs were stenciled directly on the painted plaster risers….


under very adverse working conditions…..


so to prime ourselves for the project we had a fun little henna party. The henna has long since faded, but the memories are still lovely. Good times!