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

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Creating this bookazine, 365 Being, Savoring a Life of Abundance, Joy, and Beauty, is such a grand adventure, and sharing the fun of the creating with friends makes it even better.  I do still paint murals and sculpt plaster for a living (booking late February into March now, if you've been thinking of having anything done this spring), but on days when I'm not in a client's home making something pretty, I'm likely to be in my own, usually making a mess.  Today, Cat's husband Stephen came over to shoot the step-outs for two of the projects we'll be featuring in the spring issue.  Since I have projects for the bookazine and for clients scattered through every room, we ended up sliding the kitchen table aside and shooting the stuff on the floor in there. 

Somehow, I don't think this is how they do it at House Beautiful!

Stephen had fun playing at my house, shooting pictures of all kinds of things while I was styling these shots.  He's perfectly willing to let his wife Cat (my business partner in 365 Being) and I keep him so busy he doesn't need to keep his regular job.  We're working on that!
 You know what, though?  Even though most people at the big name magazines probably mostly love their jobs, I don't think they have nearly as much fun as we do.  I bet they don't get to work in ocelot slippers, or better yet, in their pajamas any day they want.  I bet they don't have the flexibility to bake bread while working on the marketing plan, or have long leisurely story meetings while cooking and eating lunch, and deciding if the recipe should be included in an upcoming issue.  Somehow, I think it's much more stressful there.  I once considered relocating to take a job at one of those magazines.  I'm glad I didn't pursue it.
What kind of crazy person quilts her ceiling?  One who loves fabric, but doesn't actually quilt.  Directions for crazy quilting all kinds of things will be included in our Spring issue.
Sometimes things start to get stressful here, but then we reality check it.  365 Being is about fully living a perfectly imperfect life, creating beauty in joyful ways, even if it's not in the ways we planned, so stressing out makes no sense.    As we get near our self-imposed print deadline, I know I'll be working some crazy late nights, but at home, in ocelot slippers, a four meter commute from bed. 

Whatever you are doing to make a living, I hope you truly are making a living, not just a paycheck.  If you have always thought working from home would suit you best, I hope this is the year you follow your heart.  It's not always easy, and sometimes it's really, really hard, but if you keep it in perspective, it's hard like a doing a triathlon.  That looks positively gruelling, if you ask me, but obviously those that do it love every sweat-inducing drop of the work.  From the bottom of my bottomless heart, I wish you work that you love, with people you love, in a place you love.

Now, I'm taking my blissed out self back to the art room, for a few more hours with the glue gun and sewing machine, and an audio book.  Oooh, I bet they don't do that at the big magazines either, having someone read them stories while they play with the art supplies.  Whee-hee! 

Busy with work you love?  Tell us about it in the comments below!  If you have paint or decorating questions you think I might be able to answer, you can leave them in the comments, too, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

I'm always curious who is reading, and from where.  If you are NOT a spammer telling me I've won the British lottery for the third time this week, nor one wanting to sell me enhancing medications for body parts I don't have, I would love it if you would post a comment and introduce yourself.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A wedding, a rock, and a happy ending...

I promised a sneak peek at the Spring Edition of 365 Being, and there are so many great stories and photos to choose from, it's hard to pick.  It will be about a month before it rolls off the presses though, and I'll be playing with the final layout a lot over the next week or two, so I decided to keep it simple tonight.  I love vintage clothing, and when I saw this wedding on the Rubies & Rust facebook page, I knew we had to share it.  Cat tracked down both bride and photographer, and they were delighted to share the photos.  Absolutely adorable does not end with these three! 

We have a whole spread dedicated to this charming vintage style wedding coming in the Spring Issue of 365 Being.  You can order a single issue when it comes off the press, or subscribe now at 365being.com.
 So, since I was working at home on the bookazine, I figured I may as well bake bread, which I have done the old fashioned way for more than 30 years, never yet having made doorstops.  Until now.  Not exactly sure what went wrong, but...well...can anyone say "flatbread"?
Flatter than a folded dishtowel!  Able to chip small floor tiles in a single drop! 
It's a brick!  It's a stone!  It's...
just sad.
Earlier last week, when not home perfecting my brick making skills, I was working on the technicolor dreamscape again.  Now that I don't have to crowd three continents around one door, I was able to start deciding who to put on the beach.  Lots more to add there and to the jungle, before I head off across the savanna, and into the outback. 

Ah, way much happier than the bread!  I've crossed the pond and started on the beachy animals.  Who else should join these two?  Suggestions welcome in the comments below.

I never was good at staying inside the lines.  In this case, I went over by about twenty feet.  Details to come...
 I hope your week is starting out bright and cheery, and if things don't go well, you just drop on by for a cuppa tea and a nice slice of doorstop.  Guaranteed to make you feel better!

Friday, January 25, 2013

8 great organizing tips from the woman once demoted from maid to dishwasher

Hey, I'm organized, I just don't do windows...very often...or very well.  And I may not use it all that much, but I know exactly where my broom is (I park it in the same place after every flight).  I may not be the Queen of Clean, but feel free to call me the Oracle of Organization, the Wizard of...hmmm...oh, just read the tips already!
Organizing is even better when you make the practical pretty.  This repurposed radio cabinet holds chalk for the menu board in a repurposed sugar bowl.  Tucked in beside the refrigerator, it's the perfect cabinet to hold cookbooks in an otherwise unused space, and to keep a few vases and  old teapots handy for flower arranging.
 So, did you read the last post and make your list? Having trouble figuring out how to re-arrange your stuff to suit your life, still? Here are my most useful organizing tips.
1.  Buy Less Stuff.
     The easiest way to avoid hauling home extras is to not shop at those really convenient stores that pack a full grocery store between the lingerie and the electronics.  They lure you in with one cheap thing, or ten, and sell you a bunch of stuff you never planned to buy.  For anyone with a clutter issue, these stores are not saving you money.

2.  Give Stuff Away.
     If you love it, keep it.  If you use it, keep it.  If you spent a lot of money on it, but it doesn't really work right/fit right/look right, cut your losses and let it go.  It's taking up space, causing congestion and maybe even feelings of guilt.  If it was a gift, and you don't love it/won't use it, find a creative way to explain how much somebody else loved it sooo much, you had to pass it on.  Time is relative, so you aren't lying, you're just telling the truth in advance.  Donate it to a thrift store (far from the gifter's home, if it's distinctive), and let the person who loves it find it.

3.  Keep a Give-Away Box by your door.
     Don't wait for once a year, or once a season, or to step on the crap one time too many.  Every time you notice something that's been hanging out unused for way too long, in the box it goes.  Every time the box is full, off to the thrift store it goes.  Put big stuff and things the thrift store won't take on the curb with a free sign.  Somebody else is gonna feel like they hit the jackpot.  I've been on both sides of this exchange, and it's fun either way.

4.  Store things as near as possible to where they are used, and make sure it's easy to get them out and put them away, without having to move other items.  This is why a toy box in the bedroom doesn't work for most young kids.  The toy they want is on the bottom, and the place they play is in the kitchen.  Store the chocolate fountain from your wedding shower on a shelf in the garage, and convert a kitchen cupboard to toddler storage.  When they are old enough to prefer playing in their rooms, they'll be old enough to want the chocolate fountain handy in the kitchen.

  Office stuff the problem?  Try grouping projects in baskets sized to hold file folders.  365 Being, the bookazine I co-publish, doesn't require a lot of files, but they do have to be dragged to various locations, which rarely actually include the office.  The ones I'm in charge of live in one easy to carry basket.  Lots of my other projects do the same.  Magazine caddies work well for this, too, and look pretty in whatever room you actually like to work in.
Need a convenient place to store an extra table for crafts or big family dinners?  Trade in a display console for a drop leaf, and you will always have one handy.

5.  If practical things are pretty, they can be stored in plain sight.  There isn't a convenient place to store an extra folding table here, but there was a spot in my entry where I wanted a small pretty table for display.  Turns out the vintage Duncan Pfyfe drop leaf that I used to use in the artroom looks perfect here, and pops up to full size in a jiffy.  These are so common on craigslist, you probably won't pay more than $50, if you have to pay anything.  Having simple lines, they're easy to paint, and go with almost any style from baroque to contemporary.

Glass candy jars organize all kinds of things.  If they don't have lids, vintage saucers and butter plates, with figurines epoxied on for knobs, will do the trick.  I store my tiered server here with ribbons on it, since it only holds party food about once a year.

Tiny craft supplies stored in glass jars.  Painting all the lids black really helps to make it look like unified abundance, rather than just organized clutter.
6.  Store things in clear containers, the prettier the better.  Put the staples you use most, which may not be the traditional flour and sugar (oats and doggy biscuits might be your true staples), in canisters on your kitchen counter.  In fact, store supplies you use a lot of in glass canisters in every room of the house.  What is always a hassle to get to when you need it?  If it doesn't go in a glass canister, it will probably go in a basket.  Projects from crafts to crochet fit this category, as do extra rolls of toilet paper.  Like I said, every room.
Keep projects in the works corralled in baskets.  This one travels to open studio nights almost every week.

7.  Dresser drawers always a jumble?  Put all your clothes except lacies and socks in your closet.  This may mean purging your closet of all the stuff you don't actually currently wear (See #s 1 and 2).  Hang all your pants, including sweats and jeans, and stack t-shirts and sweaters on divided shelves.  Dressers work great for storage in almost every other room of the house.
This buffet sits in its proper place in the dining room, except the dining room no longer pretends it isn't actually another art studio.  About the only dinner guests I ever have are here for 2nd Saturday Studio, anyway.  Ephemera and collage supplies, much like stuff in an office, are easier to use and keep tidy (yes, that's relative) if they are stored vertically.  Here, all sorts of specialty paper, vintage advertising, clip art, and old cards stand upright in planter boxes, bought for pennies at the thrift store.  Stock paper is stored in magazine and paper file boxes sold at craft supply stores. 

8.  Repurpose furniture, either the useless things you can't bear to part with, or thrifty finds that could solve your storage issues.  Buffets are great for art supplies, toy storage, and I've seen more than one spend its second fifty years as a tool bench in the garage.  Small coffee tables can stack to make shelves, on their own, or on a buffet.  If it's your style, it can be charming.  Farm benches are often used this way, too.  Small shelves and tiered plant stands can turn a narrow dresser into a hutch as well, and old lamps you don't need, but love the look of can be turned into small table bases, candle and plant stands, or even hat stands.

With an open mind and a proper disregard for the traditional rules of how a house is supposed to look, you really can fit the life you lead into the home you have.  Organizing your stuff will give you more room to do what you like, and more time to do it.  Hope this was helpful!  Have a great weekend, and I'll be back Monday, probably with a sneak peek at what's coming up for spring in the bookazine. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Organizing turned inside-out...

Are you an organization junkie?  I don't mean "do you exhibit signs of O.C.D.?", I mean "Do you collect magazine articles about organizing, drool over custom shelving, and feel a sense of impending magical transformation when you enter a store specializing in all things storage related?"  How long have you had these symptoms, and have any of the dozens of magic solutions sold at those stores actually made you organized?  Do you honestly need me to assign scoreable answers to these questions?  I thought not.  You know who you are.

Is there a magic solution to make your home look like something from the pages of Martha? Nope. If your home doesn't look sleek and tucked in, chances are, your life isn't sleek and tucked in, and that just might be a good thing. You may have kids, hobbies with no dedicated space, a home based business, a spouse/partner with a matching set of all those things, and you may be packing the whole lot into an apartment the average gerbil would find claustrophobic.
Making it pretty won't make it function better, but once you add a dresser to the spot between the doors on the other side of the room, and swap that silly little (photogenic) table for an old farm table with a drawer, there's room to put everything away.  Then making it pretty just makes it an even happier work space.

There are whole books on the subject of organization, and I used to read them all.  If you really want to add another to your collection, Julia Morganstern's Organizing From The Inside Out is probably one of the best I ever read.  It was the last, in fact.  Not so much that I learned anything new, but that it validated my thinking that I needed to stop trying to pack a round life into square cupboards.  Once I got that for myself, I found it solved a lot of my client's dilemmas, too.  Julia goes into a lot of the psychology behind clutter, among other things, and that can be helpful if you are a true hoarder, but maybe you don't need "fixed".

The basic concept I want to share is that if the house won't stay organized, it's quite likely that it isn't set up for the life you lead.  We aren't all alike, so why should our houses be, even if they're pretty much all built about the same?  In your home, what is consistently out of place, and does it consistently end up in the same "wrong" place?  What if that's the right place, or very near it? No?  Really?  Whatever "it" is, it's already living there.

What if it doesn't have to be an inconvenient eyesore?  Try thinking of it this way:  What if it had to be housed where it usually ends up, anyway?  How could you do it?  Stumped?  For starters, what if you took the labels off of the rooms in your home, except perhaps the kitchen and bath?  

Try this:  Make a list of the activities and people that need space in your home.  Now, how much space does each need?  What kind, and where will make it convenient enough it gets used?  A mom's office with soccer schedules and scout leader's lists will migrate from the back room in the basement to the kitchen counter every time, but it might stay put in a bedroom a few steps down the hall.  Or maybe the bill paying office isn't the same space as the family coordinating hub, and when split, neither needs a whole room.  What kind of possibilities open up when you don't automatically clump things together in the "typical" way?.

Maybe you don't even have a home office, and you're tired of the whole mess having to be piled on one end of the kitchen counter. I'll suggest one possibility that might fit your family, but keep an open mind here:  If you bunk two kids in the master bedroom, and move the grown-up or two into one small bedroom, you instantly have that second small (bed)room for an office.  The off-season clothes that won't fit in the smaller closet, which I know you just howled about (don't marvel at my psychic abilities, this ain't my first rodeo) can go in the closet here.  The bonus?  If the master bedroom has it's own bath, the two creatures most likely to make the main bathroom too gross for guests now have no need to be in it for tooth brushing or baths.  One change, and you might not cringe the next time company shows up without enough warning to do the usual stash-swipe-dim-the-lights thing.

Not that I'm known for immaculate housekeeping.  Good gravy, if dust bothers you, don't bother to come knocking at my door!  I do however like things to be comfortable for myself and my guests, and I don't think there is much point in creating pretty rooms and then having them so jammed with clutter that the decorating just adds to it.  As much as I would love to sell you my services, let me dispel the often touted idea that having a beautiful new space will inspire a person to keep it clean.  I've yet to see that alone work for more than the first few weeks, at best.  It really does need to be beautifully designed to function, too.  

Try making that list of people/activities/spaces this week, keeping an open mind, and considering whether it might be time to let go of the fantasy that you will one day miraculously morph into one of those mythical perfect people, whose homes always look like a design magazine.  Yes, there are perfectly happy people who love and live the real simple look, and there are some who iron their sheets before arranging them in carefully rotated order in their walk-in linen closets (whose happiness I can't fathom, but I'll take their word for it).  However, if you hang out here on this blog very often, I'm just about positive you aren't one of them.  What if you don't try to be?  What if you create a home that works for the life you really do live, the way you really do live it, however imperfect that may be by some standards?  What would you do, if you didn't think you had to do it the standard way?

There might be a cure for that addiction to fancy boxes and handy gadgets, or at least a way to fully satisfy the organizational craving, so you don't have to keep shopping for the elusive fix.  I'll be back late Thursday night to share some of my favorite ways to organize the things that easily become clutter.

I do provide some help with design and organizing, when it's in conjunction with my decorative paint and plaster services.  Portfolio and information at theartofthehome.com.

My perfectly imperfect home, and lots of ways to celebrate a life that doesn't fit in standard cabinets, are featured often on the pages of the quarterly bookazine, 365 Being, which you can read about at 365being.com.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Rubies and Rust Update

Cindy stopped in to visit a couple of weeks back, and says she had a great year at the barn.  What barn?  The wedding barn known as Rubies & Rust, of course! (Click over there:  rubiesandrust.com, or click on the Rubies & Rust photo in the column to the right of this blog, for older posts from this site.)  Cindy says the barn is already booked for several of the weekends in the spring through autumn of 2013, so if you're getting married this year and don't yet have your venue chosen, scoop this one up quick!  Not only will you get the most charming space for a vintage or country style wedding, you'll be working with one of the most charming and warm-hearted women I know.

Photographer Danica Donnelly took these photos, which I can totally appreciate for many reasons, including the fact that to an amateur like me, this kind of space can be tricky to capture.  Her website is danicadonnelly.com

All kinds of couples love the quirky atmosphere of this barn with chandeliers! 

...and the guests love it, too!
What a gorgeous venue, huh?

And now, here's a shot of the constantly working Cindy, down on the main floor, where my little point and shoot catches the action.  Not exactly breathtaking photography, but this woman is the heart and soul of it all, and you might only ever see her in business clothes and think she leaves all the work to little minions.  As if!  Of course the main floor doesn't look much like this anymore, since Cindy is an endless whirlwind of creativity, and I snapped this shot a couple of summers back.  You better check out the Rubies & Rust website for the latest photos! 
Just click here:  rubiesandrust.com
Slow down and grab a step stool?  So many ideas, so little time!  This woman gets stuff done like nobody I know!
Me?  This week, I'm working on the technicolor dreamscape mural featured in previous blogposts, more illustrations for the kid's book Fruit and Veggies Aplenty, and oh yeah, in my "spare time" putting together the spring issue of 365 Being.  If you are inspired by the things and people on this blog, our glossy, full (to bursting) color bookazine will give you tips and tricks and endless inspiration for creating not just the home of your dreams, but the life of your dreams, all bound up in four beautiful books every year.  365being.com is where you can subscribe or purchase single issues.  It's even more amazing in print, according to our readers, but you can get it in PDF, if you prefer.

And, hey, if you're inspired to say something here, SAY IT!  I'd love to hear your ideas, answer your questions, or have a conversation with you, and it's super easy to comment, by simply clicking the comment counter at the bottom of this post. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

My new favorite cake, and an old favorite soup...

I had my friends around for the usual Second Saturday Soup and Studio, this weekend.  Very little art got done, though Kit crocheted and tore out the same 20 stitches for a couple of hours, and Courtney managed to hook half a dishrag.  Darla got brave with painting a yellow background on a canvas, even going so far as to blend white in over the top, without my help.  We mostly just ate soup and laughed (really hard at a few stories).

Jill was the exception.  Jill, who has had a recent creative breakthrough, not only doodled another very cool pattern, I heard today she has actually ordered custom fabric printed from it, after someone suggested it here on Saturday.  Jill has agreed to writing a story for 365 Being very soon, probably the spring issue, about how the woman who steadfastly refused to consider doing so much as a doodle less than two months ago, is now dabbling in fabric design.  You can find the photos of her doodle journey on facebook, if you look for 30 Days of Doodle.  May I just say, "YES!!!!!!!"

I promised last week to post the soup recipe, and here it is, Chicken Tortilla, along with a bonus recipe for Squash and Sage Cake.  Yes, sage, and it was so insanely good everyone wanted the recipe.  Much thanks to my herb gardening sister Robin, who sent me the recipe, which I only tweaked a tiny bit.

Mamacita's Love in a Bowl:

Chicken Tortilla Soup
 1 chicken, roasted, with drippings (Do this the easy way, in an oven proof bowl.  The roasting rack is just a  pain to wash, and thoroughly unnecessary).  Cool, skim fat, pick meat from bones, and chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a big soup pot, combine:
   Two 32 oz cartons natural chicken stock
   Two 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
(You can of course substitute homemade stock and a heap of fresh diced tomatoes, if you have the time and inclination.)

As this is coming to a boil, toss in:
   1 large onion, coarsely diced
   2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
   4 stalks celery
   1 can hominy
   1 can black beans
   3 tablespoons cumin
   3 teaspoons chili powder
   2 tablespoons garlic, minced

Boil gently until veggies are tender, then add the chopped chicken, and
   1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Serve with fresh corn tortillas, sliced into strips like noodles, or just top it with crushed corn chips. 
This is super-mild, so if you like some heat, serve it with Crystal, Yucatan Sunshine, or your favorite hot sauce on the side.  It seems most Minnesotans can handle the cold, but not the caliente, so I have learned to add it to my own bowl.

Squash and Sage Cake with Maple Frosting
Don't let its unassuming looks fool you.  This is not just cake, but an experience waiting to happen to your taste buds.  The cake ingredients combine to create a complex flavor that is truly indescribable, though everyone around the table tried.  We sounded a bit like wine connoisseurs, talking of notes and hints.  
First, prep the squash:
  2 medium sized acorn or other non-stringy winter squash

Cut these in half, discard the seeds, and place them face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.  If you discover an extra half hour has gone by, do not panic, just set aside whatever sidetracked you, and proceed calmly.  The moisture is trapped in by the skin, and when you flip them upright and peel off the very brown surface (a yummy little snack), the flesh underneath is perfectly soft.  Scoop it out and measure out two cups.

Set oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9 x 13 baking dish (mine is ceramic, so may have needed longer cooking time than a standard cake pan)

In a sauce pan, combine
   3/4 cup butter
   6 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
and warm this until the butter melts.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sage-butter and the 2 cups squash with
   2 cups brown sugar
   3 large eggs
   2-ish teaspoons vanilla
   2 tsp ground ginger (resist the urge to add cinnamon, cloves, etc.  this isn't that kind of cake)
   2 tsp baking powder

Stir thoroughly until no lumps of baking powder remain, then stir in
   2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
   1 cup chopped walnuts

Spread in prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool and frost with maple buttercream:

In a mixing bowl, on low speed (unless you like to dust the kitchen), combine
   4 tablespoons butter
   2 cups powdered sugar
   2 tsp maple extract

When fairly blended, stir in enough milk to make a smooth frosting, a few tablespoons at a time.  Put most of this on the cake.  What you do with the rest is between you and the spatula.

This is very moist, so eat the day you bake, and cover left-overs loosely.  There probably won't be left-overs.

After the 3-D sculpted Christmas tree cake that became a very good trifle, I swore off cake baking, but I made an exception for this cake, since I had especially asked my sister for new ideas for cooking with herbs.  I will bake this again.  Many times.

When I'm not testing recipes on unsuspecting friends, I'm usually painting pretty cool walls.  You can see my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

And when I'm not painting walls, I'm usually writing about them, or recipes, or something (or cajoling my friends and family into writing about them for me) for 365 Being.  I take my "Boss of Everything" title there a little beyond the offices to bring you great stuff, like Jill's doodles, and Robin's herb advice, which should appear in the Spring issue.  You try these recipes, while I go call my sister and tell her I just announced she's writing something for me.  More on the bookazine at 365being.blogspot.com and 365being.com.

For those of you who know my darling business partner in 365 Being, Cathy Isles, I should mention that Cat's father passed Sunday morning.  He had been ill, and Cat cared for him at home until the end.   She will miss him dearly, but says he was ready, and the release from the illness was a blessing.  I've seen a number of messages on facebook talking about how sweet he always was.  Must be where Cat gets it.  May the next bit of beingness be a delightful surprise to his sweet soul.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Day on the Bay

Well, howdy there.  Yup, it's two o'clock on Friday morning, and I'm just now writing my Thursday night blog post.  Sadly, when I arrived on the job today, I joked with the customer that I would be done by midnight.  I know that's just asking for it, and still I said it.  Sigh.  Someday I'll learn.  Today?  Today, I put on my boots to leave the job site at exactly midnight. (Don't worry, I didn't keep them up.  It's their weekend house.)

Most of my day was spent faux finishing doors to match paint finishes in a couple of different rooms, and then I finished up by painting a trompe l'oeil frame on a mural I painted for them last year.  I'd write something witty or informative about this, but the yawns are coming at about one-minute intervals, so how about I just show you a picture and say buenos noches...
Pantry mural, now with trompe l'oeil frame.

Originally the mural faded into the wall.  The rest of this chalet style lake house is paneled in tongue-in-groove pine, so the pantry was the only place Michelle and Mark could put a mural.  I based the design on travel posters from the early 1900's, when their neighborhood was a get-away destination for the residents of Minneapolis.

Here's one of the doors.  As it's a powder room, this is about all I can show you, but you get the idea.  They needed this side of the new wood door to match the pickled finish in the powder.  I couldn't resist giving it a few knotholes.

I did these dragonfly tiles the last time I was there, but since they are one of my most popular posts, and one of my most popular pins on pinterest, I thought new readers here might like to see them.  The technique is done by using bonding primer on existing tiles, creating the raised design with joint compound, then sealing, painting, and clear-coating it.  Works on tiles that aren't in super-wet areas, like this kitchen back splash.

Have a great weekend!  I'll catch you back here on Monday, maybe with the recipe for whatever soup I make up to feed my friends who come for 2nd Saturday Soup and Studio.  Any suggestions?  Comments are always a treat!

Monday, January 7, 2013

I seem to have misplaced raw umber...

If my first week of January is anything to go by, it's going to be a brilliant year!  If you have followed this blog for awhile, you might remember this mural, though the eagle is new.  This is the 75 foot long mural I'm working on at Unity of the Valley Spiritual Center, in Burnsville/Savage, Minnesota.  Currently 75 feet, but soon to be closer to 100.  Am I done with the first 75 feet?  Nope.  Problem is, I had ended down the hall to the right, with a brief bit of jungle, which I figured could have savanna animals at the outside edge.  Considering the size of most savanna animals (elephant, giraffe...), and then how much space a rabbit and coyote take up, all I can say is "What was I thinking???" 
Look out rabbit!  An eagle just flew onto the scene!

Oh, wait, I remember.  Originally, this mural was going to be mostly around the four Sunday school classroom doors, with just a bit connecting in between.  Then it was going to be vegetation with animal heads peering out.  Then it took on an illustrators interpretation of an iconographer's depiction of stylized animals.  Now, I'm adding a continent, no make that two, no three, since after the savanna I need Asian rainforest and then some outback.  And shall I make it an even four?  Since the only thing left unpainted in the hallway will be about fifteen feet at the other end, why not add in the polar animals down that way?  Not only did I not finish in 2012, I'm not so sure this will finish up in 2013.  Ah well, perhaps completion is overrated.  At this point, it's part commission, and part labor of love, and my patron is delighted to let me color all I want.
This is how that wall looked a year ago, before rabbit and company arrived.
My new project this month, aside from putting together the spring issue of our fabulous quarterly bookazine, 365 Being (365being.com), is illustrating a children's book.  It's called  Fruit and Veggies Aplenty! It's a rhyming book for young kids by Cat Isles, with her signature interactive questions. She wanted to use both photos and illustrations in this one, so of course I complicated that one step more, by using tissue paper collage on painted backgrounds, and then complicated it yet again by sort of sculpting the tissue paper into veggie shapes. What can I say? The little broccoli trees just begged me to give them form, and after that I couldn't very well leave everyone else flat, now could I? I'll give you a peek when it's a little farther along, but here's the start...

Friday afternoon in fourth grade?  No.  This is my job.  Jealous?  Get your own goodies and splash some happy in your corner of the world!
Whatever the coming year holds for you, I hope it's full of juicy ripe color, interesting adventures, and richly told stories!
Be bold and brave and brilliant!

My portfolio can be seen at theartofthehome.com.  You can email me with questions at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.  If I don't reply, know that gmail sometimes spam filters real emails, and I don't always spot them, so you may want to try commenting directly on the blog, by clicking the word "comments", below.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New year, same list of projects...

!Hay, carumba!  Where did the year go?  Aside from finishing about six square feet of bathroom wall painting, I think the only thing I accomplished here at Belle Ami was repainting the living room mural, which by the way, I still don't like, and will be repainting again.  I'm planning a little trip this summer though, which I think will influence the redesign, so don't be expecting me to finish that, or the life-sized sculpture of a Welsh water sprite that steps out of it, anytime soon.  You're welcome to expect me to finish it sometime later, if it makes you happy, but I'm not making any promises as to exactly when. 

Now, having started a bookazine, 365 Being, Savoring a Life of Abundance, Joy and Beauty (check it out by clicking here: 365being.com), which takes up just about every "spare" minute of my time, I do have a good excuse for not accomplishing a lot on Belle's decorating.  However, since 365 Being is all about living beautifully, well, somehow I need to get the writing and the living back in balance. And then there's Belle's book, which has been on the back burner so long, it's about time to toss out that kettle of fish and start fresh. Still, isn't it grand to have so many delicious plans, which means never a moment's chance to be bored?

Lace decoupaged onto the walls with flat linen white paint, staples, and upholstery tacks.
I did pick back up on one old decorating project this week. I had started doing a lace covering on my art studio walls a long time back, and didn't finish, largely because it's hard to have this particular room out of commission for any length of time. I finally convinced myself to knock off the all-or-nothing mind game, and just work on one section at a time. It's slow, tedious work, so it really doesn't need me to clear the whole room. Tonight, I moved things from one corner, popped in an audio book (a goofy noir style crime story set in the 1950's), and spent a few hours decoupaging table cloths to one small section of wall.
To do this project, one needs a mountain of old lace (curtains, table cloths, doilies, and scraps). scissors, hammer, upholstery tacks, heavy duty stapler, paint tray, paint or white glue, and a lot of patience.
Now, why would I want to decoupage lace tablecloths to my art studio walls?  A few reasons come to mind.  First of all, to coordinate with the tablecloth stapled to the ceiling...
Crazy quilted ceiling in my main art studio.

Second, because the leather look treatment I started to do with grocery bags was too dark for the space, and sucked up all the light, which just doesn't work in a work room where lighting is key.  Third, removing the 1940's wall paper, and the other three decades of wallpaper behind it, is going to create a big mess, as the plaster underneath it all has pretty much gone to dust. 

Here's a detail of the ceiling.  The crazy quilted strips were created on muslin, embellished, then stapled to the ceiling around the centerpiece.  After the outside strips of fabric were added, I used lengths of ribbon to cover the long seams.
The studs of this house are nearly iron hard, according to a very grumpy electrician who did some rewiring for me years back, but the plaster in rooms that weren't refinished in the 1970's is pretty bad.  I repaired it in two rooms, but repairing plaster is even more boring than decoupaging lace over the whole mess, which is truthfully far more tedious than I anticipated, but should hold everything in place for many years to come.

Oh, and a fourth reason:  I happen to really like lace, but really don't have anyplace to put it, aside from down the leg seams of my paint pants.  I'd save it for dressier days, but I don't exactly have a lot of days not spent in paint pants.  Besides, on big jobs with other paint crews, it keeps anyone from mistaking me for one of the guys.  :)))

Once I get all the lace on the wall, I will have to clear the room for a day and over-glaze it in a soft moss green to catch in the holes, and then I'll trim the ceiling edge with a trim I designed using burlap, ribbon and acorns...

Moss green glaze will help the pattern show more.  Another skiff of white over that will further enhance the detail.

Trim for the ceiling edge, made of burlap, ribbon and acorns.   The origin of this design was the need to get a five inch wide trim that would surround the entire room and not break the bank.  I've got $6 into the burlap, and about $20 in upholstery tacks.  The ribbon was found at a thrift store years ago.  Despite it's budget origins,  I'm happier with this than any of the other ideas I came up with, at any price.  It's the acorns. 
And why would I want to trim a room in acorn bobbles?  Ummm...you're asking this of someone who stapled her best tablecloth to her ceiling in a work room.  Life flies by fast.  Don't pass up the chance to try out all those goofy, nonsensical, fabulously fun ideas!

I do stuff like this, and also slightly less um, unusual things for clients' walls and ceilings.  You can see my portfolio at theartofthehome.com.

You can contact me with questions or comments by clicking on the "comments" below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com.

And to see how I spend the rest of my time:  I blog over at 365being.blogspot.com sometimes, though my business partner's been doing more posting than I, during the holidays.