Tuesday, July 28, 2009

International Decorative Artisans League-Memphis 2009

Just got home from the IDAL convention held in Memphis , Tenn. this year. This was a very intense week of classes, lectures, demos and sightseeing!

I was fortunate to assist Pierre Finkelstein in one of his faux marble classes.(never washed so many paintbrushes and cups!) He is the author of The Art of Faux, which is a must have in any decorative artist's library.

Working with Lucretia Moroni is always a class on my list! We learned Italian techniques for producing several varieties of marble.

It was my first time to study with Tania Seabock. We worked with gilding and painting decorative ornament on leaf. Such a beautiful technique!!

Here I am working with Vella, a trowelable product carried by many Sherwin Williams stores in the US. This is a great look with the feel of Venetian plaster. Vella can be waxed, polished to a high sheen or left dull for a more rustic feel. It can be embossed or manipulated to resemble marble...a very versatile product!

It was so good to see Helen Morris, owner of Stencil-Library in the U.K. and Design Inspiration blog. Helen was the keynote speaker for the opening of the convention.

To unwind in the evening, we would hop on the trolley and head down to Beale St......home of the blues and great food!

All the heavyweights in blues are represented here. Music pours from every storefront as you walk the downtown street.

This is part of the menu from the Memphis location of Ground Zero, a popular blues club partially owned by Morgan Freeman....seems barbeque is a staple here!

These conventions are always good sources for cutting edge decorative finishes. Faux Effects booth featured a new twist on animal skin showing it in a high gloss mimicking patent leather! They also featured an asian influenced stencil technique done with layers of texture.

Stencils are much more complicated with intricate designs influenced by delft tiles, moroccan floors and moorish fretwork.

If you are needing a green product, JaDecor is the answer. Teaming up with the Cotton industry, they offer a wall finish that is "acoustic, thermal,repairable, durable, and Green". This is the perfect finish for a home theatre , art gallery, or a noisy environment such as a school.

Looking for sophistication? Sherry Haydel, Ltd has it covered. She is based in New Orleans and features a line of fabrics, hand painted furniture and fortuny inspired stenciled walls.

This is a detail of some of her artisan furniture finishes.

The convention ended with a banquet wrapping up a creative week. Helen's skirt summed up the week featuring an iconographic stencil of Elvis along with the IDAL logo.

All things must end, and the 2009 IDAL convention is now being filed in many tired brains as we travel home to practice newly learned techniques. Exposure to new things makes us see the familiar in a different light. Go out and look at your world with new eyes today!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Window Licking is the literal translation for this french phrase. Americans call it window shopping but; in any language, it translates to visual eyecandy for the pedestrian. With many people having a "staycation" this year, I thought we could do some lèche-vitrines from our computers!

The summer soldes or "sales" are in full swing in France through July 28th. In case your passport is expired or couldn't find a pet sitter, here are some things you can purchase on line from Europe without getting out of your pajamas!

Pylones offers these Tour Eiffel graters in two sizes. (Thanks goes to ParisBreakfasts for this photo) These can be snatched up also through Amazon.

Once you own a jar of  Fleur de Sel de Camargue from France, you will never use common table salt again! This salt is harvested from the top layer of a salt marsh and each jar is signed by the harvester! The salt is not bitter like common table salt can be in the states. I love it sprinkled over salsa or in salted caramel! (thank you David Lebovitz)

From Italy, we can't forget the Santa Maria Novella potpourri. Aedes de Venustas offers this in the US from their New York store.(they also have the Cire Trudon candles that I love from the oldest candle shop in Paris)

Piment d'espelette is a chili grown only in the Basque region of France. When ground, it is a sweet yet hot pepper used to compliment chocolates , truffles and other candies. Hard to find in the US, but Thefind.com came through with a source!

Got home from your last trip to Paris and regretted leaving a souvenir behind? Don't fret mes amies, just click here for those great enameled signs or a french beret. Stretch your american dollars by staying home and shopping smart! Enjoy your finds and have a great summer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I recently missed a good friend's birthday. I felt terrible and started plotting ways to redeem myself! We already had an appointment to discuss colors for an upcoming project, so I told them I would bring lunch.

Not only did I bring lunch, I gathered my Jacquard Francais linens, china, flatware and some cute coasters picked up at a card shop.
My lavender was in bloom(remember, Blue Moon Gardens?) so I added a bunch tied in a ribbon to the gift.
I used a snippet of "Ming Circus" wallpaper by Scalamandre to wrap the gift . Jade bowls held cookies from a local bakery.

Had to bring TyNant water with their beautiful blue(bubbly) and red(still) bottles, who could resist seeing them on the table!
I grabbed pizza cooked in a wood fed oven along with marinated portobello mushroom baguettes with goat cheese. The napkins were "Border of Roses" from the Victoria and Albert Museum collection.
More dessert from the bakery served with a "pelle a tarte" picked up at the Paris flea market.
It was a wonderful time for us both, much needed break for me and fun for them!
Looking for an unusual gift for the friend that has everything??? Try these Armenian burning papers from Bell'occhio in San Francisco.
They also have these great boxes to put gifts in or for storage.
Furoshiki is also a creative solution to wrapping if you have an interesting piece of fabric to be incorporated into the gift giving.
Make every day a celebration!

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