Thursday, April 29, 2010

I wish you could smell these!

Today was a day to celebrate!

We took our citrus, gardenia and fig trees out of "winter storage" in a partially heated warehouse and the lemon trees are full of incredibly fragrant blossoms. There is nothing quite like the actual scent of the citrus blooms. I've not yet smelled a perfume that accurately captures it. I wish I could say that we stored them in our orangerie,

but they survived the cold of an Ohio winter in a 50 degree warehouse with lots of windows and natural light.

One end of the messy studio warehouse, but with great light! This table is receiving a rabbit skin gesso base before it is finished with paint and gold leaf.

We have Meyer lemon, grapefruit, kumquat and regular lemon trees, as well as five fig trees that began life as cuttings from the original tree from Sicily. The gardenia topiaries are about 6' in diameter and are at least ten feet tall. They produce several flushes of gardenias which my hubbie uses for wedding bouquets and the like. Either you love or hate the gardenia scent; I am one who loves to smell them on a warm summer evening.

 orange tree in right foregound, fig tree in left background with the big leaves

I am sure if you live in California or Florida, it would not be quite so special. But up north, these scents are to be treasured!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I miss this!

I just came across several issues of the now demised House & Garden magazine.


I certainly miss it! While Veranda, AD, ID, Traditional Home, etc. are the go-to magazines, I used to really look forward to browsing House & Garden's unique view of the design world. It was slightly more down-to-earth, but savvy just the same.

I particularly liked the floral and garden coverage. And they seemed to be in the forefront of the green movement coverage as it related to our own homes.

May it one day return!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mosaics a la Venice

Talk about patience! These intriguing mosiac photos are taken in the Venetian atelier of Angelo Orsoni. The company was founded in 1888 and is located close to the Cannaregio canal in the Cannaregio district, off of the Grand Canal.

These glass tiles, or smalti,  are made according to the original recipes with glass and pigments, poured into slabs, cooled and cut into miniature pieces. The Orsoni mosaics are really exquisite fine art and are shipped all over the world.

The following photos are courtesy of Maisons Cote Sud. Photography by Bernard Touillon.

the library of tiles

love these colors!

the powder pigments

These last two mosaics were picked up at an antique sale. They were made in Italy by students at an art school in Venice.

I would love to see other mosaic examples. Care to share?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cultivated Pleasures

After visiting Greet's lovely new outbuilding in this Belgian Pearl post (here) and admiring Trish's poppies and David Austin roses in this Trouvais post (here), I thought I'd share some bits of my garden with you. The tulips, helleborous, magnolia and dogwood are in full bloom now, with the lily of the valley, tree peonies and lilacs almost ready to burst.

Before I started painting and plastering, I really wanted to open a garden accessories and antique shop. I would have named it Cultivated Pleasures as I've always loved that name. Wouldn't that be a perfect blog name? Hmmm....

The small round leaves in the foreground are European ginger. We split them every year as they make a wonderful ground cover.


These last two photos are of a unusual specimen of peony.

Have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Veggies and fruits for your walls

I chuckled when I saw this ad for Tollens paint, but it demonstrates a great way to transform your color preferences and ideas into actual colors for your walls. Gather up those photos you've been setting aside and take them to the paint store for color matching. Or ask your decorative painter to create a special finish based on the fish you've got in your hands!   

I found these veggie images with great color:


and when I saw the recent issue of New York Spaces magazine with the articles on using color in the home, the veggie and fruit colors just leaped out from the paper:

This is a lime plaster sample I created on textured wallpaper.

These fun peach colors...

certainly made their way into this room!

Who can resist these luscious colors?

They were my starting point for this sample of paint and water-based waxes.

Paint and water-based waxes

You can find color ideas everywhere, even in the kitchen!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A fleeting moment

Can you imagine spending many weeks preparing to install a work of art, followed by three weeks of the actual installation in a museum, only to have it painted over once the exhibition closed? On purpose?


Artist Richard Wright did just that. The Glasgow-based artist won the Turner prize last December in the Tate Britain Museum for his untitled, baroque-style fresco that is created with gold leaf on the entire wall of a gallery. Wright began with the traditional pounce method used in fresco: a cartoon (drawing) was pierced with holes through which chalk was rubbed. Once the cartoon was removed, a "ghost" outline was left. He then sized (applied a special adhesive for the gold leaf) the outlined areas, followed by the application of the gold leaf at just the right time. If the size is too dry, the gold leaf will not adhere. If the size is too "wet", the gold leaf becomes dull. Honestly, how he did it in just three weeks amazes me!

AP photo / Akira Suemori

The fresco, seen from afar, seemed like an abstract design but, up close, the design was composed of landscape images such as clouds and sun. It was said to be mesmerizingly beautiful.

Once the Turner exhibition was finished, the fresco was painted over. Whew! Wright said: " To see a work knowing that it will not last emphasizes that moment of its existence."


Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Favorites: Aged Patinas

Aged patinas always catch my eye. It's a way to see into the past and appreciate the artistry of people before us. With all of the technology we have at our fingertips, don't you just wonder how they did it one hundred, five hundred, a thousand or two years ago?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rust Patina

Rust patina, whether it is an applied finish or the actual rusting of iron or steel, is beautiful in its own organic way. It is used in many commercial applications, but is also incorporated into home designs.  The fireplace is created with plates of rusted steel.

 rusted steel fireplace

The following are photos of the first designer gas station in Spain, just outside of Madrid. The curved canopies are made out of corten steel plates and left to rust naturally.  

In order to create a rust patina, there are several items to pay attention to. You must start out with special paints, whether iron, copper or bronze, that are specifically made for this purpose. These water-based, acrylic paints contain a large number of actual metal particles, rather than mica flakes or pigment. The finely ground metal flakes create the look of a true metal surface. One applies a solution that speeds up the natural oxidation of the metal to develop the rust patina.  

When applying the rust solution, careful attention needs to be paid to the product's instructions. Because the solution is usually a mild acid, proper precautions should be taken, such as gloves meant for chemical protection and a face mask.

The next photo is a class sample from the All Aglow: Patinas and Metallics class at my studio.

All Aglow class sample

When I moved into the old warehouse studio, this is one of the doors I needed to finish:


After I filled in the texture of the wonderful "wood", I primed and then painted two coats of iron paint. Then the fun began! Several rust patina solutions were applied in every which way. I think the door is touched more than any other door I've seen! One caveat: because the rust patina is a result of a very organic process, it is not possible to accurately predict a specific shade of rust. The results are based on many conditions, such as temperature, humidity and air quality. Samples are definitely a good idea before beginning the final finish.

And, yes, it is sealed. You should definitely seal a rust patina if it is going to be exposed to extreme weather or if folks will come into contact with the finish.
However, do not seal with a polyurethane. Seal your rust patina with a high quality acrylic or solvent-based sealer.

studio door after