May 30th, 2008

Gettin Freaky at Chez Ali



A trip to Marrakech simply would NOT be complete without a visit to that great *Disney in the Desert*, Chez Ali. The timing was perfect as we were 10 of 1000′s that attended (they seat 3K) the night after we finished up the painting at Maryam’s. We were ready to party! Those of us who weren’t completely pooped, that is. 


After arriving and being whisked through the large gates and past many large Berber tents surrounding the open field *stage*, and *a cast of thousands* we arrived at our tables.


Four bottles of wine were ordered immediately-and let the floor show begin! Oh, and if you are sitting on the outside of the table-or simply moved by the rhythmic drumming , you might have to *be* the floor show.


Wave after wave of different tribes from Morocco move past as the dining commences. Todd got WAY to good at imitating that high-pitched trilling sound the woman do with their tongues. Something about having just the right amount of red Moroccan wine after spending 4 days trapped on scaffolding with three women….


I am very sorry that no one was there to video the look on our faces when the big gulp-sized tagine was placed on our table and the top dramatically removed to reveal-a whole lamb! Even the carnivores among us (and half are vegans) nearly jumped from our seats. Good thing there was more wine and dessert to consume!


Then it’s outside for the show. The Fantasia was, well, fantastic. Handsome men on gorgeous horses performing acrobatic feats at breakneck speeds. What’s not to like? Then there was the charging *army*, firing their weapons to get the adrenaline going.


After some belly dancing and a magic carpet ride it was time to go backstage to try and get some autographs. Mr. Camel was having none of us, however. I think that the celebrity has gone to his head.


*Some* among us were not so secretly hoping to get kidnapped by the handsome horseman and ridden off into the desert night. Alas, we all made it safely back to the bus….

May 29th, 2008

A Tale of Ten Painters

We arrived in Marrakech with a song in our hearts and brushes in our suitcases.


We were on a mission to make magical patterns appear at Peacock Pavilions under the watchful eyes of this special woman.


We planned our strategy


to paint from here


to there.


We put up large patterns


and promptly pulled them down (with some painting in between, of course).


We painted stripes


and worked on top secret projects.


We made Maryam very, very happy.


And we clean up nicely too!


The Peacock Painters from left to right: Jackie Wiggens, Melanie Royals (me), Kari Caldwell, Debbie Hayes, Sandra Barron, Barbara Skivington, Todd Oberndorfer, April Long, Heather Mueller and Becky Roth (kneeling). Thanks for the hard work and wonderful memories guys!!

PS Check this post on decor8-simply the best design blog in cyberspace. Woohoo! 


We’re ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck, and missing Marrakech terribly I might add! The paint has dried, no one fell off the scaffolding and the husband was happy-complete success! Maryam treated us to fabulous shopping and even more fabulous food and in return we left her with hope, piles of painter’s trash and beautifully painted surfaces. I have SO much to share and am waiting for everyone’s photos so I can show you the very bestest. In the meantime here are some of my shots from the Dar Si Said Museum. WARNING! This may cause sensory overload. These photos are not for the faint of heart or non-lovers of decorative art.



May 14th, 2008

Two More for the Shelf



As I’ve mentioned here before, I loaded up my bookshelf back in the 80′s and 90′s with a plethora, (yes, a plethora) of books on stenciling and decorative painting. This century has been a bit of a disappointment so far, if only for a lack of new material on my favorite subjects. Well, I’m happy to report that there are suddenly two whole new books on the market, and I was fortunate to be involved in both.Art-of-Living.jpg
Decorative Finishes Inspired by the South of France offers 12 step-by-step finishes that Barb Skivington and I created, taught and applied (we DO climb the occasional ladder) at our Brandywine project for the Art of Living series. Check out some good project photos here and here. I have to give Barb and her staff all the credit for pulling this book together, and GUESS WHAT?? We are going to announce the NEXT Art of Living project later this week. It will be A-mazing.Mural-Painting-X.jpg
Mural Painting Secrets for Success is the latest book by my best bud, Gary Lord. He asked some of the best mural artists in the world to contribute and somehow slipped me in there with them. I like to think that at least my project, with NO hand painting involved, is achievable by anyone! This is really a beautiful book with lots of sage business advice to go along with the eye candy projects.

May 13th, 2008

Artisans on the Water

Get your sea legs and Dramamine ready, we’re going for a cruise! My lovely friends Susan and Todd Allemand from Out of This World Finishes in Seattle are hosting the first annual Artisan’s on the Water August evening dinner cruise.


Mix dining, dancing and imbibing with artistic demonstrations from namey “name” artisans and HUGE prize giveaways and what do you get? One rockin evening, that’s what! Oh, but hurry, you must get your tickets before May 20th to take advantage of discounted registraton.

May 12th, 2008

Holy Tabouleh!

I am leaving for Marrakech this Friday! EEK! I am SO excited and SO stressed with SO many things to do before I go I can’t stop capitalizing my words! OK, calm down. Breath. Breath again. That’s better. After exchanging about a million plus 6 emails with the famous and fabulous Maryam, we think we have all the details nailed down and MAN we are going to do some pretty fabulous things at Peacock Pavilions! There will be stenciled concrete floors


Suzani-inspired ceilings


Painted desks


Wonderful woven patterns inspired by camel-bone furniture inlays


and some other VERY cool things that I CAN’T share because they are special patterns that are secrets that will be used on equally special secret surfaces at Peacock Pavilions for a super secret project that I’ve been sworn to secrecy about. BUT if you pull the decoder ring out of your Lucky Charms cereal box and put on your special 3D glasses you MIGHT be able to figure it out. If not, I’m sorry, you must wait along with the rest of the world.

May 9th, 2008

Floor Focus

Well, I just have finished up my first Floor Focus class today and the class and boards turned out so well I decided I MUST share before heading home! I turned everyone a little loose this time and gave them each a different mix of patterns, some instruction and suggestions and had them plan out their own color selections. There were so many “winners” I decided to get a photo of each board along with the “recipe” so we can print them off and share them among the whole class. In no particular order, here’s Andreas…














Some assorted boards that deserve to be seen headless…..


and to be totally fair, a seriously bad shot of me.


Aren’t they cool?? The next Floor Focus class is scheduled for November 10-11. I can’t wait to see what develops then….

April 30th, 2008

Its Christmas!

I feel like I have been opening presents all day! You see, today was the deadline for submissions for customer photos for the soon-to-be published Modello by Design book. As artists ALWAYS work best under pressure, many waited till the last day to submit and I am thrilled to say that it looks like we will have almost 100 decorative artists and their work (and our Modello patterns) represented in this book. We have the basic layout designed to now we will be busy, busy, busy putting it all together in under two weeks. Special shoutout to Lauren here at Modello Designs who is doing a fabulous job managing all of this and will be laying it all out in the gorgeous way we’ve come to know and love.

More shoutouts go to….


Robbie Calvo,


Barb Skivington of Faux Works


Raina Gentry of Walls of Pompeii


and Susan Allemand, Out of This World Finishes.


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…..