June 23rd, 2008

Cool Creative Weekend

Well, there was record breaking heat here in San Diego again this weekend! As we don’t have air conditioning in our house (didn’t used to need it here by the ocean!) I spent the weekend in the studio with the thermostat set at a semi-comfie 78. Well, it beats 101! Actually, I was going to be there anyway as I have a new class, Boho Modern, starting this week and wanted to work on some last minute ideas. Nothing like a deadline to spark some creativity!!! I actually LOVE being in my studio on the weekend. No distractions, no phone calls. I didn’t even turn on any music. Sometimes it’s good to listen to the thoughts in your OWN head, you know? There were more hits than misses. I tried a couple of different versions of an embroidery-ish theme.

Modello custom stencils

Neutral can be nice and tone on tone looks are always classy-and easy to decorate around. I love the subtle textural quality of this. It actually is all smooth when you rub your hand across. This funky floral motifs are originally from a series of old printer’s ornaments.

Modello custom stencils

I was playing around a lot with metallic foils that I got from my friend Gary Lord. These are applied to a bed of gold size, like metal leaf, except that they come on big rolls and in yummy colors like celedon green, blue and plum. I love the way the eggplant glaze settled in around all the little peacock feathers and makes these guys POP!

Modello custom stencils

I found this old sample board painted with this unusual (for me) coral color. It must have been left over from some long ago project. I’ve had these blank boards laying around for up to 8 years! I thought it might be cool to combine these funky modish flowers with some embedded lace.

Modello custom stencils

I transferred some metallic foil first; Candy Apple Red and Orchid. It wasn’t super dramatic but adds a nice little sparkle. The color of the plaster I pushed through the lace was actually a dark brown. The antique gold mica glaze I applied over it turned it more green. At first I wasn’t too sure about it, but one is really starting to grow on me!

Modello custom stencils

Another finish with an embroidered look. This time on a metallic stria finish.

Modello custom stencils

I’ve had these jars of large mica flakes sitting around for some time and wasn’t sure what to do with them. Hmmm. What would happen if I stirred some into a glaze? This!


I call this one blue steel. More metallic foils! This one incorporates a hologram foil as well which gives you some really crazy color shifts as you view it from different angles. I like patterns like this classic modern allover one, that divide the space in half. It has a nice symmetry and balance don’t you think?

Modello custom stencils

Well, I’m off to clean up the studio. I hope you weekend was equally fun and productive! BTW, the next Boho Modern class is scheduled for December….

April 17th, 2008

Im still here!!!!

I haven’t died, been arrested, abducted by aliens, gone underground in Mexico or even into a government witness protection program.

I’ve been so busy trying to get the studio ready for my FIRST class here (along with working on Maryam’s Peacock Pavilions project) that my blogging feet have been kicked out from under me. I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I haven’t completely abandoned this blog and PROMISE some juicy photos and details of all the projects that have been happening in and around my frantic painting life these past weeks. In the meantime, here are some tidbits and teases.


February 19th, 2008

Workshop Schedule Posted: Check!

I was thinking the other day that it might be helpful if I got my 2008 workshop schedule figured out before 2009 rolls around. No, actually I have been thinking about it a lot because Dawn keeps asking me because people keep asking HER if I ever plan to teach again! With the move, upcoming trips and ongoing major decorating projects at the new building it’s been a bit hard to focus and plan, but it’s done. I’ve created even more work for myself by adding three new classes this year, but I’m excited to create some new looks to share! Here are a couple of them-

Modello Workshop/Elegant Reflections

Elegant Reflections. I am continually excited about the possibilities of pattern on glass and mirrors and have some really cool projects planned for our building including a reverse-gilded Moroccan tile -themed glass countertop (that’s a mouthful, huh?) and mirrored tile door.

Modello Workshop/Boho Modern

Boho Modern Finishes. This is a term I picked up from this post by Holly at Decor8. My idea of Boho Modern is a little broader and more colorful (we can’t have all those plain white walls, now can we?) but I have some GREAT distressed wall finishes in my head that I will be developing over the coming weeks that I will share later! Also, check out Floor Focus, Modello Master Methods and SkimStone/Modello.

Hoping to see you in the studio….

September 12th, 2007

Florence Tile Floor

One of our decorating projects in Florence next month will be to do a large floor area (250 sq. ft) in Alison’s studio with an aged tile treatment that we will accomplish with SkimStone and Modellos. I had shared some of the tile treatments we did in a recent SkimStone class and these four samples build on that idea.

Modello tile samples for Florence art trip

With the exception of altering the blue color slightly these all use the same few colors, but they are layered a little differently. I am always amazed at how many different looks can be achieved with the same pattern, product and colors. The advantage of creating your own “tile” floor, of course, is that you can make it look any way you want. You can’t get that at Home Depot folks!

September 7th, 2007

In Love with Lime

Wow! I have been SO busy in the studio. I have so much to share and so little time! I was just reworking some of the samples for our Italy trip and feeling very happy with the results so I want to share! One of the finishes we will do is meant to replicate some of the gorgeousl woven silk fabrics found at Antico Setificio Fiorentino.

Royal Design Silk Damask

This one is done with Oikos’ Kreos material, which is much like a really thick, somewhat gritty paint. It’s fabulous for creating highly textured looks. For this I troweled on the lighter color and then stria’d it with their Corduroy tool (which resembles really cheap Astroturf). It works better than anything I’ve tried before for creating a slightly irregular stria with lots of nice “nubs”. Once dry I used a stencil and was actually able to roll on the darker color through the stencil and stria through it with a brush without pushing the product under the stencil-even over a textured surface. You really can’t see it well in the photo, but the finishing touch is using two different colors of mica-tinted Bee’s Wax (from Kathy Carroll) and manipulating them a bit.

Modello Sgraffito

I wanted to rework the Sgraffito finish done earlier for another room and found that the combination of using a 10mil Modello for the main pattern and just a bit of “scratching” with a sharp tool for the vein details makes it look like I was scratching and carving all day-not! I LOVE the Oikos Travertino texture on the background on this one.

Melanie Royals Lime Wash

Most of the finishes we will be doing in Alison’s studio need to be kept fairly simple and neutral, as they will serve as backdrops for her own beautiful handpainted and gilded furniture pieces. This Oikos Lime Wash (actually it’s called Pittura Calce Verona) with some handpainted accents will hopefully fill that bill. All of these products can be ordered through Kathy’s site here.

Modello Cartouche

This one uses Safra lime plasters from the School of Italian Plasters and is a sample to test the technique for some cartouche designs what will go around a door and as a frame for artwork. It is a Marmorino base with Calcenova Arredo through the Modello. I have not done much personally with lime plasters in the past, but after the last week, I think I am hooked! Now, to tackle some real walls…..

August 29th, 2007

Kimono Obsession Continued

Lest you think I have abandoned my kimono and Japanese design obsession, fear not! I have written previously about being asked to participate in an upcoming mural compilation book that my friend Gary Lord is doing. Well, seems I promised the editor some “new” mural photos for the gallery section a few months ago and she suddenly surprised me by wanting to collect on that commitment!?!? If the sign of a true artistic soul is to produce under pressure, then my hand is held high. Sign me up!

Stenciled Kimono Mural Inspiration

I decided to try a different kind of “mural”. This one is on canvas (typically) but the Roclon canvas is cut into the shape of a hanging kimono. Everytime I have picked it up I have always gone back to this one page in the book,Kimono, Vanishing Tradition, to look at this lovely wedding kimono shown above.

Kimono Mural by Melanie Royals

The crunch-time mural commitment finally gave me the opportunity to reinterpret it using a series of stencils from our Royal Design Studio Kimono Collection.

Kimono Mural Detail by Melanie Royals

I used Shimmerstone (a metallic plaster) as the base and to do the embossed stenciling over the glazed green area. I then simply used different colors of Modern Masters Metallic paints to add the colors through the stencils to the dried embossed designs. It is a much softer look than the original, and not quite as detailed, but I was pretty pleased with the outcome and now have something new to hang on the walls at the new building. The photography is by Gary Conaughton.


August 26th, 2007

Ibiza Carpet Complete

In every SkimStone class I teach we do a Modello/SkimStone Concrete Carpet design together. We should all be so lucky to have this many sets of hands working on one project! Imagine how much design could get done. This class worked especially well together!

Modello SkimStone Class Photo

This photo dramatically shows the effect of the final toning layer, troweled on VERY tight and thin,  to create a beautiful unifying and aging effect in the Ibiza Carpet design.

Modello Ibiza Carpet in SkimStone

The toning layer enhances the look of really old Encaustic tiles, which is something that I have been searching all over the web about and drooling over all the possible color and design combinations. We have so many patterns that work well for that look, I can’t wait to get into the new building and get to troweling!

August 24th, 2007

Italian Tile Design Times 4

I am trying to catch up a bit here after teaching back to back classes. They were both full of great and fun students. We had 6 that stayed the week and came to both sessions. I wanted to share some sample from the SkimStone class because they are just so darn cool. SkimStone is concrete and countertop resurfacing product that I have been using quite a bit for the last few year. You can see more examples of it in the Floor Gallery and some of the posts I’ve done on my patio projects. It is super easy to use and to create great decorative effects as sit trowels much like a Venetian plaster and you can layer the colors, make them more opaque, more translucent, more textured, etc.

Modello Tile Samples

I shot photos of 4 samples done by different students of the Italian allover tile design (OrnAll 107) sample that we did. These are 2′ x 2′ boards. Each one shows a little different use of color. The one on the lower left started as a “mistake” because she removed the wrong part of the pattern on one step, but it actually turned out the prettiest. In art, and life I suppose, mistakes can be huge opportunities to take you in a much better direction!

August 15th, 2007

Sample Sampler

When I wrote earlier on this blog about the amazing examples of Sgraffito that can be seen on facades around Florence I was amazed at the level of detail and craftsmanship. After attempting this technique at Kathy Carroll’s place in Chicago for a sample for our Italy project at Alison’s Florence studio I am completely humbled and ever more awestruck!

Sgraffito Sample Royal Design

I kid you not, it took over an hour to scratch out the small amount of design you see on each of these boards. Each! The lime plasters were applied over a Travertino basecoat. While still wet, we stenciled the design lightly to provide the pattern and then removed it in those areas to reveal the basecoat using a sharp pick and clay carving tools. I DO like the effect of the one on the right where we did the Sgraffito technique on the lower half and used the stencil to emboss the plaster on the upper part. I am certain we will take the easy way out on this and to a “faux” sgraffito finish using a Modello masking pattern for the positive/negative effect!

Sgraffito Sample Modello Designs

This one is just stenciled. A pretty look as well!

August 4th, 2007


Jali designs are something that I have seen popping up here and there lately.  “Jali” means net or latticework in Hindustani and the intricate designs were generally carved in sandstone, and later, in wood. They were and are used extensively in Islamic architecture and even more so in Indian architecture. The carved stone “screens” were used architecturally as window and door coverings, screens and to decorate facades. The beautiful graphic photos shown here are from artist Andrew Senior’s photo gallery.

Jali Screen Patterns

We have developed quite a few Jali designs into Modello patterns recently. Until recently, I was clueless as to their origin-I just loved the designs. Being a little more educated now, I love them even more! These would be great to emboss plasters through to create a slight relief that could imitate the look of real carved sandstone, but they would be equally lovely as allover floor or wall patterns or painted onto a tabletop.

Jali Modello Patterns