June 26th, 2012

How to Stencil Workshop

Have you ever wondered how to stencil like a pro? Did you know that I’ve been teaching stencil classes for almost 20 years? Geesh! That’s a LOT of stenciling!! It’s been quite a few of those years since I offered beginning stencil classes, but with the resurgence of interest (THANK YOU!) in stencils lately I decided to dust off my basic stencil skills and start sharing them again in a hands-on stencil class at my studio here in San Diego.

wall stencil workshop with Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio

Now, I realize the most of you reading this quite possibly DON’T live in San Diego, but on the off chance that you do or maybe lucky enough to have someone here to visit, I thought to share….We cover basic stencil techniques as well as how to stencil emboss, stenciling with glazes, stenciling on wood with stains, fabric stenciling, and more. It’s a super fun, 5hr class that will teach you all the basics and inspire you to spread your creative wings and fly-held here at the home of Royal Design Studio stencils.

April 27th, 2012

SNAP! Wrap

It’s time for a semi-quick SNAP! wrapup.

Snap Conference 2012

What is SNAP! you say? So glad that you asked! SNAP! is the brainchild of a group of amazingly talented, creative and design-savvy bloggers. It will hopefully become an annual event held in Salt Lake City. Judging from the attendance (325), and happiness all around, I imagine it will!

Royal Design Studio stencils at Snap Conference

Royal Design Studio was THA-Rilled to be a sponsor of this awesome event, and I personally was honored to be asked to present a Saturday stencil class there-Get Your Stencil ON!

Wall stencils from Royal Design Studio

As official sponsors, we had an official table in the official sponsor room. We thought that the best way to introduce these lovely ladies to our stencils was to GIVE them one. Not wanting to give out hundreds of the exact same stencil (boring!), I decided to take a range of designs. Then the dilemma: how to choose who got what? Inspiration finally hit on the day that we arrived, so we were off to Target to look for dice. We laid out six different designs on the tables and attendees rolled to see what number came up.

DIY bloggers with wall stencils from Royal Design Studio

Winners! It was amazing how many times people rolled and got the exact design they wanted. I was really stressing about this, so it was nice to see VERY few pretty pouty faces!

New wall stencils from Royal Design Studio

The day (yes, that IS how I roll) before I left for the conference I stenciled up some new canvas samples to share in the booth and in my stencil class. We just happen to have some new stencils coming online very soon, so it was a perfect opportunity to put them to the test. With almost 30 years of stencil life behind me, it was SUPER hard to try to figure out how much info and inspiration I could cram into a fast 1 1/2 hour stencil class/demo.

how to stencil class at Snap

In the end, I decided to stick to “stencil basics” but wanted to introduce some great options besides “roller stenciling” and get them to start thinking of stencils as more creative/less mechanical-and you can see from this pic that I had PLENTY to say! I think I succeeded because I got some fabulous feedback. There were audible gasps (of delight!) in the room when I showed them how to quickly stencil with a stencil brush and our Stencil Cremes and pulled the stencil away to reveal-ta da! no bleed-unders!

How to create vignettes with Beth Hunter Home Stories A to Z

Super fun for me, was that I not only got to teach, I got to learn too! They had an awesome schedule put together, with many popular classes running concurrently, so it was hard to choose. I think I chose well….I studied photography with Emilie Ralph of Photo by Emelie, Photo editing with Amanda Padgett from Everyday Elements, and attended a design panel that included Beth Hunter from Home Stories A to Z sharing the basic steps to creating an amazing vignette. This included some audience participation where a workshop attendee, Traci of Beneath my Heart, and Mandi of Vintage Revivals played the roles of accent piece, mirror, and plant respectively. I actually had some good AHA moments in these classes so glad I went!

What rounds out a great weekend of learning and sharing? Shopping!!! They had a Queen Bee Market on sight that was just a visual delight and an overwhelming temptation. The last thing I need to buy is more jewelry. So, what did I buy? Yes….I did……lots.

One beautiful piece of jewelry that I DIDN’T buy, was one that was graciously given to each and every attendee. The theme of the conference was to “Just be You” and to be authentic as a blogger. Great advice for bloggers and “normal” people alike! And now, I will leave you with some pretty pictures of tulip beds from the site of the conference, Thanksgiving Point, Utah that I was inspired to take after my photography classes……

blooming tulips at snap conference

Last thought…I want to give a very sincere thank you and shout out to the lovely, talented and oh, so helpful Shelley Smith of House of Smith’s who, not surprisingly, wrote a WAY better SNAP! wrapup than me! :)


April 1st, 2012

Skimstone How-To Videos

Some time ago, I offered a Sneak Peek at a new Virtual Workshop I was working on with Katrina Johnson of SkimStone: Mastering Modello Patterns and SkimStone Surfaces. I had hoped to have this new online workshop ready this past Fall, but obviously THAT didn’t happen.

stencil on floor with Modello pattern
floor stenciling with Modello stencil and SkimStone

Well, happy to say we are in the final stages of getting that ready to launch. In case you are wondering, Virtual Workshops is an idea I came up with a few years ago when the crappy economy started preventing people from having the time and money to travel to my San Diego studio for classes. These workshops are web-based, and featured extensive, detailed, pre-recorded video lessons, printed materials, and a one-time live webinar for review and Q&A. We are currently revamping our Virtual Workshop website, so that our previous VW’s Patterned Mirror and Glass, Foilin Around, and Stencil Impressions will be available again SOON! First things first, though-introducing Mastering Modello Patterns and SkimStone Surfaces.

Katrina and I have create a free intro series of SkimStone 5 how-to videos to introduce you to the basics of using SkimStone and Modello masking stencils. This video is Part 1. Please visit our How-to Videos page on Paint and Create to see the rest! These will give you a good foundation on how to use SkimStone, but if they leave you wanting MORE, and we hope that they do, we invite you to sign up for our Virtual Workshop mailing list for the possibility to win a FREE PASS to this upcoming Virtual Workshop and also to receive a special discount code to use when the full workshop becomes available mid-April. We will be giving away workshop passes to 5 lucky winners. Sign up to win at the bottom of this page.

We’ve created a gallery of lovely SkimStone and Modello pattern applications to inspire you. Have a look and hope you’re a winner!

Open publication – Free publishing – More skimstone

August 2nd, 2011

IDAL Roundup

The International Decorative Artisans League Convention was quite a success! Attendance was somewhat low, with just over 200 artisans attending, but with a renewed interest in stencils we had a busy booth and I was thrilled that both my classes were sold out! Before too much time goes by (just where DOES that time go?) Iwanted to share a bit of the action….

Modello wall pattern stencils

In addition to my classes and booth, I was asked to do some demos on the trade show floor. I came up with a couple of new concepts that I thought would be fun to share: a crackled Greek goddess on patinated gold leaf and a colorful paisley pattern done with metallic foils. Both of these were done using some new Modello masking stencil patterns that we’ve just added.

Greek goddess stencil

Unfortunately, with all that was going on I never DID get to the large Greek panel I had planned, which will have to wait for another day, but I did manage to finish the large paisley canvas which I just love!

large wall stencil in progress

large paisley wall stencil

I am loving the large scale of this and think it would be ab fab done as a headboard or across a tri-panel floor screen, or ????

wall stencils

Walking around the trade show floor, it was very exciting to see my Royal Design Stencil and Modello masking stencil patterns used abundantly in other booths.

wall stencils

Artist David Lusk had a particularly elegant display in Golden’s Proceed booth!

rusted wall stencil

Michelle Delgado, of Wonderfaux Studios had a super cool rusted plaster sample using our Grand Damask stencil.

Modello floor stencil on concrete

icoat and modello stencil countertop

My faux buddies Krista Vind and Cindy Everett filled their The Studio Destin booth with iCoat floor and countertop finishes featuring our Modello stencil patterns and also had lots of stencil samples showing for their wall and cabinetry classes. This tabletop was a huge hit!

wall stencil sample

Besides the trade show, we were well represented in the classrooms as well! Lottie Banner and Micki Coles used a variety of Royal Design Studio stencils in their “Cracked Up” class.

If all these fabulously inspiring photos are making you sorry you missed the International Decorative Artisan’s League Convention, fear not! There is always next year…..July 2012 in Reno, NV.

July 5th, 2011

Painting at the Monestir

I have been super fortunate to have been given the opportunity to plan and lead painting adventures to many beautiful cities and countries of the world: France and Italy with my friend Gary Lord, and Marrakech with the help of Maryam Montague. These trips have now actually become an integral part of my business AND personal life. I love doing all the research and planning for both painting and enjoying the local culture, and most especially introducing new experiences to the students who sign on to these trips.  With the help of my friend in Barcelona, Paul Deprez, I have just returned from a 2-week stay in Barcelona and the Catalunya region.

This was my fourth visit to Barcelona, and each time my love for this city grows exponentially. So much so that I am already planning a return painting trip for September 2012! But back to THIS trip….I have so much to share, but thought I should start with the primary reason *cough* for the tour-the decorative painting classes.

The trip was planned to include a 6 night stay in the city and 6 nights in a former monestary in the hills nearby.The monestir, Sant Jeroni de la Murtra, was partially burned and sacked in the 19th century during a widespread backlash against the corruption and power of the church. It is now run by a private foundation that maintains it as a place for solitude, silence, and encourages artistic pursuits.

We were able to set up some small, low-ceilinged rooms as studio spaces to work on a range of projects. I wanted to take the opportunity to incorporate some forthcoming stencils from The Hearst Castle Collection, as these were designs created by Julia Morgan to decorate Hearst Castle in a Spanish/Mediterranean Revival style.

The Delphine Panel sample was done on smooth textured plaster background. We laid in the initial color and pattern with a simple dry-brush stencil technique. I was inspired by the amazing work of Italian artist, Carolina d’Ayala Valva, to overpaint the stenciling with washes of color to create a luminous look.

Some day, I would love to have the opportunity to study with Carolina in her Rome Atelier, but in the meantime I have her wonderful book, which I highly recommend! After painting with watered-down acrylics (as opposed to the traditional egg tempera) the painting on plaster was sanded to distress, and given a soft toning glaze.

Here is lovely Nancy showing off her own completed panel.

Another panel that I have taken from Julia Morgan’s amazing architectural drawings is the Pescado Panel. It is full of whimsical birds and fish that appear almost happy to have been caught-ha!

This panel is stenciled with three colors of our new Royal Stencil Cremes over a background of composition gold leaf. The gold leaf has been patinated and distressed with a safe chemical process that I am still perfecting-as much as you “can” perfect a chemical process! Once I have it a little more “under control”, I will surely share the details. ;)

Another project that we worked on was a faux tile mural. For this we again used upcoming Hearst Castle Collection stencils. In this case we simply used them as patterns to trace and then add loose hand painting to create the look of classic Portuguese tiles. My sample above shows the mural in various stages of  completion. I hope to finish the mural in the next couple of weeks. It was thrilling for me to have the time to actually pick up a brush and paint, as it seems my hands are most often attached to a computer keyboard these days!

This study shows the final effect of the last step-adding a China Crackle layer (from Modern Masters) and rubbing in a toning glaze to reveal the cracks and add depth and aging.

Here is a completed mural by Debbie Hayes, who was the fastest painter of the bunch of us! It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it? All of the stencils featured in the projects above will be available soon from Royal Design Studio stencils!

Another decorative style that is synonymous with Barcelona is Modernisme, the uniquely Catalunyan version of Art Nouveau. I wanted to honor that heritage, and so we also did a tecnique using metallic foils with a new Modello Marquetry Masking Pattern stencil from Modello Designs.

On our way from Barcelona to the monestir, we stopped at Espintura Studio to do an embedded tile pattern technique with SkimStone and a Modello masking pattern.

Now that I am back, I’m continuing to work on the videos and lessons for my next Virtual Workshop combining these two mediums.

I hope you enjoyed seeing our painting samples from Barcelona! As I said above, I am already planning a return trip in Sept. 2012, so drop me an email if you want to be the first to get those details when they become available!. The details on this recent trip are still available here.

You can view more photos from the Barcelona painting class and trip in my flickr sets!

In the fall of 2009 I began introducing Virtual Workshops as a way to teach decorative painting techniques to students around the country (and world) through web-based methods. To date, hundreds of students have enjoyed learning new techniques such as metallic foils with Foilin’ Around, Stencil Impressions, and the popular patterned finishes for mirror and glass through a series of recorded video lessons, detailed manuals and review webinars. These have been very successful in this current economy where funds have been limited for travel to participate in hands-on studio workshops. Recently, we began production of our 4th Virtual Workshop which combines our Modello Masking Pattern stencils with one of my favorite concrete resurfacing products: SkimStone. This new workshop will be available in late summer. One series of video lessons will guide students through the process of competing a beautiful floor project from start to finish. I am joined in this video series by Katrina Johnson, technical sales director for SkimStone, and her wealth of product knowledge from her ten years with this amazingly simple yet versatile product. Would you like a sneak peek? Well…..ok….and to celebrate this upcoming workshop, we are offering super pricing on our current ones for a limited time here!


Modello stencils and SkimStone

Modello stencils and SkimStone

It was a lot of work trying to do this project and film it well at the same time, but it will be SO worth it to be able to show a major project from start to finish, in addition to the basic studio lessons and Modello finishes. I think it will really take the intimidation factor out of tackling a floor project that incorporates pattern work, as I get the opportunity to show how easy it is to make adjustments with the Modello stencils. Oh, and I love my new floor! Look for more info in this new Virtual Workshop coming soon! Meanwhile, you can check out quite a few  previous SkimStone posts here.

June 8th, 2011

Provence Plaster Finish

This year’s annual IDAL (International Decorative Artisan’s League) Convention is right around the corner. It will be held in Norfolk, VA July 20-24. I have taught there now for every year for the last 17 years. I guess you could say it’s a tradition! Last year, I taught a hands-on workshop that incorporated our Modello masking patterns and Royal Design Studio stencils with plasters from the Vella Venetian plaster system. My absolute favorite finish of the five that I taught was a distressed Provence plaster finish in French red and blue colors. In case you missed it, which I KNOW you did, the step-by-step outline of my Provence Plaster finish  featured at today’s edition of Artisphere Online-with photos!

The Artisphere Online, the official publication of the International Decorative Artisan’s League, is a relatively new digital magazine that has just gone to a daily (Mon-Fri) format. Each week there will be a feature article, an IDAL Update, a blog report, a featured product, and a step-by-step tutorial, so you will want to sign up for the feed so you don’t miss anything! ;) You don’t have to be a member to enjoy the magazine, but we would sure like to welcome you to “the family” if you’re so inclined to join!

Speaking of THIS year’s convention, I believe that there are just a couple of spots open in my hands-on class Shining Up Your Portfolio, where I will focus on metallic finishes with stencils and Modello patterns.

I will also be joined by the lovely Helen Morris, of The Stencil Library once again to reprise our lecture/demo from last year, Double Vision. I wrote about this last year, and am looking forward to working with Helen to show you all the ins and outs of the amazing stencil. Hope to see you there!


May 11th, 2011

Chalkin it up!

I think it’s a sign of the trend towards simplicity, rehabbing, and cost cutting that the hottest thing in decorative finishing right now is……PAINT!


Well, not just any paint, but Annie Sloane’s ubiquitous Chalk Paint.


And it’s no wonder. This paint comes in 24 delicious colors to mix, layer, antique, distress, and wax to a lovely patina. It can be applied directly over most substrates without priming, making it a prime CAN-didate for freshening up (or distressing up) old funiture, accessories and cabinetry. From the website:

Painting with our paint should always be a pleasure.
Annie Sloan developed her now famous Chalk Paint to answer the need she had for a paint which would have many uses from acting like lime wash to looking like old painted furniture and that had a good range of colour that could be extended by the user. This paint is very easy to work with and allows people to be creative as one doesn’t get involved with the technicalities of preparation and it also allows you to change your mind without hassle.


I will be hosting a one day Chalk Paint workshop here at my San Diego studio on Saturday, June 11, to be led by my talented friend Kari Saupstad along with Anne Skougard from House of Anne. One day last week, Kari and Anne came by for a little “Chalk Play Day”, to make some samples for the class and just generally have fun! Here’s a little look-see at what we came up with…..


I had pulled some tear sheets from the latest issue of Veranda magazine, which is FILLED with page after page of gorgeous painted furniture finishes-all easily achievable with Chalk Paint!


Of course, we had to do a little stenciling…


This was an MDF door sample I had had laying around for years just “being boring”, so I gave it a raised stencil image with our Parisian Urn Panel stencil, and Kari gave it a new and more interesting life with a few quick layers of paint.


It’s much happier now. Can you tell?


I also played around with another embossed stencil pattern, our new Indian Paisley Damask.

Another thought I had was that if Chalk Paint is good for bring new life to old furniture, it could also be good for bringing new life to old samples boards, and I certainly have plenty of THOSE laying around! This was an embossed plaster finish I had done years ago with one of our Modello tile patterns.


And here’s a closeup of the other stenciled paint finish using our Royal Design Studio Pompeii Pedestal stencil.


Kari, Anne, and I would love to have you join us to get your hands both IN this paint, and ON 8 fabulous samples. You will explore: two-color, rustic, crackles, limed wash, clouded stipple and mixed and waxed paint, along with a heavenly Chateau wash wall finish and a stenciled panel. You can download more info on this workshop by clicking here and register on the House of Anne website.

May 9th, 2011

Spanish Influences

There are two major projects that are the focus of most of my thoughts these days (though it’s pretty crowded inside my head, as usual!). They are: my upcoming painting trip to Spain, AND my new collection of stencils and Modello patterns for The Hearst Castle Collection, inspired by Julia Morgan’s architectural drawings.


With this post I get to combine the both. You see, much of the influence and architectural features for the design and furnishing of Hearst Castle came from Spain. They were able to rescue and repurpose whole antique ceilings from churches, monasteries, palaces, and villas. Nonetheless,  a great deal of the relief plaster, tiles, ironwork, moldings, coffered ceilings, wall treatments, etc. were designed by Morgan herself and fabricated by local California artisans. Now, I have the happy job of translating Morgan’s extensive design talents into classically inspired stencils that decorative artisans can use for years to come.

And what better time to introduce these new designs than for the hands-on class I will be teaching my students at the monastery outside of Barcelona? After much thought and image sifting, I had landed on these lovely samples to start with. The students will have the opportunity to be the first to work with these new designs in a combination of stenciling and hand painting techniques. We will be working on and with a variety of materials, including silk linen, SkimStone, plaster, and gilding, to create faux mosaic, Spanish-style glazed and crackled tiles, grisaille painting, and more.

So, if you are saying to yourself, “self, I REALLY wish I was going on this amazing, artistic adventure with Melanie and a lovely group of ladies” then I have great news for you! There is still ONE spot left open for this fabulous trip, June 16-29.

Download the Spain Painting Adventure brochure here. :)

April 8th, 2011

Rockin at Rocketown

It’s already been a couple of weeks since I attended and taught at the Concrete Decor Show, but it’s never to late to share a great project!  I told you about it first here in this post. Besides teaching an 8 hour hands-on training class with Katrina Johnson from SkimStone, we left a fabulous finished floor at a very unique and deserving and thriving community center in Nashville called Rocketown. Rocketown was founded in 1994 by singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith as a place to give teens a positive alternative to the many negative pressures they face in the world these days.


The first of its kind in the Southeast, Rocketown has grown into a regional outreach as well as a model for faith-based relational outreach across the country. Their goal is to lead and inspire youth through creative programs and mentoring relationships that are culturally relevant and eternally significant. Participant circumstances span the range of neglect, abuse, poverty, absent parents and normal peer pressures.  Rocketown engages local youth with a facility that houses a coffee bar; photography, art and dance, and recording studios; stages for live entertainment; and Middle Tennessee’s only indoor skate park. To date there have been more than 425,000 visits with an average of 1,350 teens from across Middle Tennessee participating in programs each week. It’s quite an amazing place, and we were happy to donate our time and materials to make it even more special, along with many other decorative concrete artisans who left their art in various rooms and areas throughout.


Audie Adams was one of many teens who actively participated and benefited from Rocketown’s programs and influence. A local stencil/graffiti artist, he has contributed much of the artwork that is found on the walls in the various studio rooms and offices. The project for Modello Designs and SkimStone was the recording studio/music room, and Audie provided the design inspiration that we adapted for the large floor graphic. I slightly simplified his original design concept to make it “doable” in two days and three layers, and Michelle did an awesome job of setting up the Modello stencil patterns in record time!


Katrina led off the class, which was a combination of hands-on and project demo, by discussing the basics of prepping for a SkimStone floor and mixing it all up. Her brother Pablo had done an awesome job of prepping the floor a couple of days early by applying a layer of their Bonding Primer over the existing finish.


Katrina and Pablo then power-troweled out the first coat of gray SkimStone over the Bonding Primer basecoat while the students looked on.


After a couple of hours drying time, I explained the design and stencil pattern process that we used and began the laying out the first layer of Modello stencils for the areas that were designated to be blue.


With all the vinyl stencils securely in place, we began applying an overlay of blue-tinted SkimStone.  You can see the art canvas on the wall that Audie Adams created, which was the inspiration for the floor design.


With the blue color down and the first layer of Modello stencils removed, we began the next day…


…and laid down the second layer of Modello stencils to complete the white areas of the design.


The last layer of Modello stencils added the finishing touches in bold red.


The red areas of the design overlayed right on top of the blue. Because SkimStone is an integrally colored overlay, it is possible to adjust the color to make it either opaque or translucent. We did two quick trowel layers of red for complete coverage and began removing the stencil immediately.



And here is the finished floor after sealing with 4 quick coats of Penetrating Sealer the following day. Rocketown reports that everyone there is thrilled with the floor, and we were so happy to be able to leave this “gift” to them!


Meanwhile, as the floor was “in progress”, Katrina and I kept the students busy in the other room learning all the ins and outs of SkimStone and how to creatively incorporate Modello stencils for custom graphics and design additions. Phew! It was a very busy two days but everyone was left happy!! If you want to find out more about the Concrete Decor Show, Dana Tucker did a great overview post over on the Fauxology blog. Next year’s show will be in San Antonio, one of my favorite cities in the country of Texas!