Friday, April 22, 2011

Recycled Kitschy Can

I've got a thing for containers, whether they be cigar boxes, hat boxes, bowls, or tins. Especially tins. I seem to have a radar for them. So when I spy one being thrown around in a pile, I immediately feel the need to rescue it. The biscuit and candy tins with handles and finial lids are my favorites, and if they have an interesting shape, all the better. I don't normally bring home ones that have severe problems, but for this one, I made an exception. 

It had a gold swing handle, which had been pulled out on one side. At first, I thought I would be able to re-attach the handle, but that was proving more of a challenge than I anticipated. So there were only two options - pull the handle out completely, or get rid of the tin. So after many crazy little ideas, I ended up with this:

I've had these little soft plastic red flower beads for some time now, and knew someday, I would find a clever use for them. I threaded them onto tie wire, which you can find in the building section at Lowes or Home Depot. It's really thick wire, but very flexible for winding around things. It fit perfectly through the flower holes, and then I stuck the ends through the existing holes of the tin, looping the ends to keep them from slipping out.

The finial was rusty and jiggly, but still intact, so I decided to paint it to coordinate with the flower colors, and triple sealed it.

So the next time you see an unfortunate looking tin, give it a second chance with some funky alterations. You could change the handle with wood beads, gathered fabric or ribbon. Endless possibilities. They're great as gift baskets, and for storing tea bags, office and craft miscellany. With a jar of water, it makes a sublime, cottage-y vase. This little charmer is ready for a new life of retro goodness, instead of a sad landfill existence. Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Just Paint, right?

One day, many years ago, I was surfin' the nets, and I stumbled upon a picture of the Cypress Hotel lobby in California. I'm not sure which Cypress it was, since a new search doesn't yield any picture that looks like this one, which I assume means they have since changed the lobby.

The gorgeous red and old gold squares on the wall are/were leather, and Wow, what a bold attention-getter. I was in a painting mood that weekend, so the inevitable light bulb glowed above my head. I was living in a rental home, where I was allowed to paint anything my heart desired, as long as I painted over it when I moved. I decided that if that wall was good enough for a hotel, it was good enough for my foyer, so off I went. 

I didn't bother to use primer behind the red, because I wanted to benefit from the white wall as a base color. That way I could brush on the color, and then smoosh it around to give it a mottled leather look, making messy and uneven a good thing. (The red was actually a much deeper shade, not so orangey like the picture.) Then, just for fun, I made some medallions to tack into the corners of the squares, to give it a Medieval touch. I had a vintage metal fob, made a mold of it with paperclay, allowing me to replicate it, and I stuck upholstery tacks in the copies before they hardened. After painting them to coordinate with the wall squares, they were ready to stick into the wall. Voila! 

This picture only shows a portion of the entire foyer I painted, so imagine double the amount of squares. These were painted floor to ceiling, on 10' high walls, making each square 30". I realize this look would be too bold for the average homeowner, but I just like to remind people how fabulous and versatile paint can be........and yes, I used 2 or 3 coats of primer to cover it up when I moved. Oh, what would I do without primer!?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hormonal State of Mind

If Mother Nature were to pick a state for going through her Menopause, Oregon would be it. Cold chills, Hot Flashes, and lots of weeping. Yep, that's us. 

I picked these lovely Grape Hyacinths yesterday, during the 10 minutes the sun shone through the clouds. 

This is my absolute favorite shade of blue..........a vibrant, rich Periwinkle. Aqua and Azure come a close second and third.

Photo Courtesy of Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands
I've grown up with these charming little gems, making them my favorite Spring flower. Easy bulb to grow, since they are so talented at multiplying, and you just can't beat their impact. 

It's supposed to be Spring now, but you wouldn't know it by the temperature. The weather report is calling for the snow level to drop to 1000 feet tonight, but do the flowers give a damn? Nope, just one of the pitfalls of a hormonal state.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Avril Trompe L'oeil

April Fool The Eye!

And speaking of about the technique of trompe l'oeil, French for "deceive the eye". Given the right opportunities, paint is really the magician and over-achiever of all home decorating elements. With nothing more than paints and brushes, any surface can be transformed from Plain Jane Mundane into objects and architecture. Yes, practice and skill are required to manifest these tricks, but even a first attempt is so much for fun than not trying at all. The key to painting adventures is to be fearless. Always remember it's just paint, and you can paint over it if you don't like it. Don't you wish everything in life could be this simple?

So, in honor of April Fools Day, I thought I'd share a few of my eye deceptions, which were all first attempts when I painted them. All of these examples started out as plain white orange-peel walls. Although I don't believe any of these were worthy of being in the Smithsonian, I really enjoyed the process and the atmosphere they created.

Faux wood-paneled walls

This was a rental home, so some structural elements could not be changed.
Faux stone block wall
Faux Tuscan window with a view
If you really want the best optical illusion., the key to trompe l'oeil is understanding perspective and lighting, Without that understanding, your paintings will be pretty murals on the wall, but they will lack the dimension to qualify as trompe l'oeil or fool anyone. Perfecting that skill can be very technical and taxing, which is evident in my own examples' many flaws, but even a bad attempt enhances the atmosphere in a room. So just go for it, and have some fun.

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