Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Monday, February 28, 2011

Posting resumed...sort of.

Okay, I'm temporarily up and running with a borrowed laptop, but without photo editing software.  Without the ability to crop and sharpen images, I'm not sure I'll have anything worth showing, but I'll do my best.  I finished the woodland mural today, but thinking I didn't have the camera with me, I didn't get final photos.  After arriving home and searching everywhere to no avail, I unloaded the van, and found the camera had sifted to the bottom of the tool tote...aaarrrggghhh.  Honestly, I had stupid brains all day, so this was not a total surprise. 

It really wasn't a bad day, quite pleasant in fact, just absolutely brainless. I think I'll head for bed and see if a good night's sleep makes for a brighter day tomorrow.  In the meantime, I'll leave you with this image of Brooke, the older of the two sisters who share the room.  Both girls got to help paint a few plants.  Yes, even two-year-old Ava.  Her painting picture, as well as final shots of this room will be posted in two weeks, when I have a photo shoot/play date scheduled with these new friends.
My other rule:  Yes, you can color on the walls!

Check back Wednesday night for recipes for some of the goodies served last week at the Keystone Women's Circle ladies' night event, "The Gathering of the Goddesses".  Can I tempt you with a pineapple margarita?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Posts Coming Soon

Lots to blog about these days, but my old computer keeps catching bugs, or something, and has crashed again (this quick post being done from the library).  I have a computer on loan, but not the right cord to hook to the dsl box...grrrrrrr.  I may find one yet today, otherwise, posting will resume when I have time to computer shop in a couple of weeks.  Yes, this means I am booked and busy!  Today I'm off to start a woodland mural for two adorable little girls...photos to come (soon,I hope!). 

Hope winter where you are is treating you nicer than it's treating us here, though I must say I am very grateful to the anonymous folks who keep clearing my 75 foot long sidewalk, and to Prairie Farm Supply for keeping my driveway plowed.  We're on track to post the second snowiest winter in recorded history...yikes.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ahhh, love.

Conversation Heart cupcakes

What's your Valentine tradition?  Most years, I make Conversation Heart cupcakes (No heart pans required.  Just fill the papers 1/2 full, then before baking, slip a marble between the paper and the muffin tin, and create the point when you frost).  This year, being very recently single, and having also just had a major misunderstanding with a friend of the opposite sex, I have a bit of an attitude.  I made the usual words for my Keystone sisters and the Artgirls, but I had fantasies of a second batch, of a darker variety.  However, I found it difficult to express most of my thoughts in just two or three words. 

Sometimes, KISS ME, just isn't the sentiment a girl wants to express.

I did manage to shorten "Your oversize ego is truly astounding" to "Bite Me", but the rest just sounded more hostile than I honestly feel, and besides, it's not as if I was actually going to give cupcakes to the people who inspired these wicked phrasing fantasies.  Maybe Necco, the candy company, could run with this, and do them truly dark, in either chocolate or licorice flavor...expect to see them in retail locations where ID is required.

Now, getting back to the love...

Faith decorates her family home for every holiday,
 and made this pillow for the living room.

Faith (architect of the amazing gingerbread house back in December), wanted to do a simple project for Valentine's Day, using some red corduroy from my stash (aka Fabric Mountain), so she designed this heart pillow, and learned two new embroidery stitches for the words.

The story of the other project this week is a bit longer...

(Once upon a time)When I was a kid (a pretty long time ago), sewing your own clothes was still fairly common, especially for small town teens.  These days, few kids sew, especially kids as young as my art students, but just like basic carpentry, basic sewing is a valuable life skill, and a great thing to have in your art technique arsenal.  So, when eight-year-old Kadence proclaimed herself the next Miss Thing in fashion design, and continually drew the same dress, perfected a bit each time, I thought (and said), "Why not?"

Um...maybe because Kadence has only ever sewn three straight seams to make a super-hero cape.  Maybe because she's eight, and most kids that young don't have the attention span for this kind of thing.  Maybe because you are supposed to start with store-bought patterns, and kid-level projects.  Hmmm.  Sounds like rules from the Perfection Police.  I have two rules in my house:  #1.  Leave your shoes on, because if you take them off, your socks will get dirty, and I'll be embarrassed, and #2.  If you don't like something, for God's sake don't eat it, or I just might serve it to you again. 

Harry S. Truman said, "I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want, and then advise them to do it."   I can't quote you anything else Truman said, but I could love him just for this.  I mean, really, how stress-free for the parent, not having to devise complicated smart advice, and how freeing for a youngster to be trusted to have relevant ideas of her own.  So, we don't do things the usual way around here, we don't think the usual way, and none of these Artgirls is expected to be the "usual" eight or nine year old (you get what you expect, folks).

Kadence and I brought her drawing to the fabric store, where she chose about twenty possible fabrics, found an empty cutting table, and draped and tested until she narrowed it to just six.  There would have been just five, but a floor sample with a lace overskirt caught her eye, and the design was further perfected.  The next week, just like a professional designer, Kadence made a muslin test of each part, where she realized the very straight skirt was a little tough to imagine walking in, much less monkeying around on the playground, and also that there might be a useful reason to learn fractions in math class.

We did a couple of extra days together this past week, finishing her creation, as her fabric choices were very heart themed, and she wanted to be able to debut the dress at school on Valentines Day.  Kadence sewed everything herself, except the elastic in the waist band, which required a bit of finesse to match it to the three fabrics that converge at that point.  She never once complained about having to do boring parts like pinning or pressing, and even when she scorched a fingertip, she pushed on, then added a lace cape at the end, even though she was butt-draggin', eyelid-droopin' tired. 

Kadence designed and sewed this dress,
including a 3-layer appliqued bodice,
 and lace overskirt, with matching cape. 
Click to enlarge, click again for details.

Yes, she's breaking the shoes-on rule,
but multiple test-fits are not compatible with
snow boots.

She's eight, folks, so next time you come up against a challenge and think maybe it's just too hard for someone like you, remember Kadence, and remember: 
You get what you expect. Expect big things of yourself, and you will be pleasantly surprised at what little ol' you can do. 

I get paid to (re)learn these things every week. Gotta love that!

Friday, February 11, 2011

If you could do anything in your home...

One of the best things about my job, besides great clients who feed me, give me cool cast-off furniture they don't want anymore, loan me their children, and pay me to splash paint on every conceivable surface of their homes, is the opportunity to try ideas that might never make it into the mix in my own home.  Sarah and Randy called me in last fall, to see if I could paint their builder oak cabinets, and do something fun to the back splash.   We did something fun to nearly every surface in their house!
"Black Ember" hand rubbed finish on cabinets,
 vintage silver s&p knobs,
 and "bolted barn metal" back splash.

Sarah had seen the creamy white MacKenzie finish on a friend's cabinets, and wondered if we could go a little darker in her kitchen.  Turns out, she had wanted black cabinets, but was afraid to even mention it, for fear it would be too dark.  Luckily, I had a black-rub-over-red sample with me, so it didn't take long to discover she was keeping secrets from me.  Never keep secrets from your interior designer.  It gives her headaches, and gives you far less fabulous results than you deserve, if it goes undetected.

"Rusty Barn Metal" bolted onto the back splash...
or maybe that's just painted on
Sarah loves to mix bling and rustic, modern and baroque.  Once I realized that I could throw in baroque with her very contemporary furniture and accessories, we were off and running. 

Vintage salt and pepper shakers were drilled, filled,
 and bolted onto the doors for FUNky  knobs.
They asked if I could find interesting mismatched knobs in a decent price-point.  If I had actually charged for hitting every antique store in a 30 mile radius, I'd have seriously blown the budget.  As it is, I found some cool stuff for my own home, and met some really interesting shopkeepers, all while pretending to be at work.

Ya gotta have access to the right tools for some jobs.
Even I, Tool Girl, do not have my dream shop,
nor can I justify buying things I'll only use on occasion.
Everyone knows one guy with a great shop,
and if you can bake cookies, you can borrow his tools.
I happen to bake REALLY good cookies!

Black Ember cabinets, with vintage salt & pepper pulls
are the base of a very cool breakfast bar.
They had already decided to have a spray on surface done by another contractor to refurbish their Formica counters, but they wondered if I could do something really unique on their breakfast bar... 

Who says art has to hang on the walls? 
Counter tops are paintable, though this one is covered in canvas,
then painted, so it can move with them,
if ever they decide to head back to warmer climates.
Once I hung around the family for a few days, it became obvious that these are seriously fun people who love each other,  love good food, and at least one of them loves rock and roll.  If he wasn't busy in the medical field, he would have had to become a rock star.  If she didn't hit the gym several times a week, she couldn't indulge her not-so-secret passion for chips in all their infinite variety.  So, after looking at the art in other parts of their house, I came up with "When the party starts rockin', let the chips fall where they may."  An album of this title is flying from it's sleeve (of course we're talkin' vinyl, here!), to party with the spiraling martini glasses and dancing chips.  
"When the Party Starts Rockin',
Let the Chips Fall Where They May"
custom painted counter top.
Remember, you can click on the photos to enlarge, click again for details.
Once the kitchen was done, the adjoining spaces needed color and texture.  This wall finish is trowelled on paint, usually done to mimic plaster without adding so much texture.  Done in this color palette to accentuate their framed prints, it makes the whole wall an art installation. 

Trowelled paint in five colors was done on this
and a half-wall in the dining area.
With all the added color and restyling, the standard issue oak railings were really out of place, but the budget, which had to leave room for two bathrooms to be remodeled by other contractors, was really low.  When Sarah came home with a very ornate black crystal (ahem, plastic, but I swear you can't tell the difference!) chandelier to hang over her contemporary dining table, I knew we could actually use the classical styling of the railings to our advantage, and doing a distressed finish like this saves time and money on boring stuff like primer and perfect drip-free pint jobs.  The perfect solution at the perfect price.

Distressed black enamel over basic builder oak
gives a whole new look.
I like Benjamin Moore's Ironwood enamel...
whatever they've recently renamed it.

This armoire sports a new streaky teal and brown paint finish.

And custom knobs.

I went back to this job this week to touch up nicks, splatters, and other boo-boos from the contractors who came in behind me, and to get photos with the rooms all put back together, which I don't always get to do.  Of course, Sarah and I came up with two more projects, and I'm working on ideas for a cool paint treatment downstairs in the TV room, since that fresh pearly gray paint is just a little too tame...Hey Randy, I'll be back in a few weeks, in case you want to make me more of that fabulous guacamole!