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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Burning the Ditches

Smoke travels a long way in our valley. So not to alarm our neighboring farms, we first call the Sheriff.

We have to time the burning just right. Before the ground-nesting birds build their nests. The wind has to be just right and come from the south.

Burning weeds and underbrush is a very efficient way to clean an otherwise wild area.

It only takes a few days and the burned area is emerald green and ready for the birds and countless other little creatures to take up residence.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stencilling walls

Several of my friends have asked about my "Fresco" technique. It is quite simple. First you paint or stencil a perfectly good image and then you mostly destroy it.

Stencil or paint image onto surface. Let dry. Mix 10 cups of builder's sand to one box of joint compound. With trowell scrape mixture over stencil, leaving a few spaces "open."

With plastic kitchen scrubber (the orange ball type) remove as much or as little of both the stencil and the joint compound for desired affect.

For best results, scrub hard. The sand helps. To enhance the antique look even further, mix a watery solution of beer and several colorants and apply to area with large natural bristle brush.

I believe that this image appeared in "House Beautiful" magazine, many, many years ago. Not only the stencil but the walls appear to have been treated in a similar technique as described above.


Today I'm joining  http://www.theshabbychiccottage.net/

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stencilling, a different way

If you are not a confident freehand painter, then maybe, individual stencils will make an artist out of you. These different design elements (leaves and flowers) are available from Melanie Royal of "Royal Design Studios".

Each leaf and each tiny flower floret is a separate stencil. You put them together, any way you like. Then connect with a few stems and a few tendrils.

See the leaf shapes? I use stencil brushes and acrylic paints. I also use stencil paint cream. Very little paint is used. Always "work off" most of the paint on paper towels and check for color density.

Adjust color intensity. My favorite stencil is the one that almost disappears all together. Experiment with trowelling on joint compound mixed with a bit of sand. When dry, take a kitchen scrubber and remove most of the joint compound and the stencilled design. (It is the sand that does the work).

What you see is a stencil cutter. Works similar to one of those wood burning gadgets. This one cuts through mylar so that you can make your own stencils. A company from England, "The Stencil Library", sells uncut stencils. You save about 50% by cutting your own, however, you will never be able to cut as cleanly as a laser. By the way, The Stencil Library has an incredible assortment of classic and beautiful stencils.

Can you see the glass plate in the background? It is full of gold and dried up finger paint. That is my palette.

Same technique, same leaves, but grapes added. Use lots of different colors but use them sparingly. And don't tell anyone that you did not free hand paint your masterpiece.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Color - Mood Altering

Need a color lift? Paint a Lamp shade.

I have painted every one of my lamp shades. Either on the inside or on the outside. And all of my wall colors I have painted with at least 3 different shades of color, one on top of the other, leaving open spaces for each individual color to come forward.

Some colors are difficult. Green for instance. Green needs a lot of natural light or the room will feel like a dungeon. Yellow is another difficult color. It can look brassy and needs to be calmed down. I always start with a color that is darker and livelier than the end result should be. The adjustment is made with the next two color applications.

The walls are glowing. The mood of the room is changed with the flick of the light switch. Complexions improve. Faces soften. The sun is always shining.


Today, I'm joining  http://www.atthepicketfence.com/
Today I'm joining  http://frenchcupboard.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Morning

It's blustery outside

But look what wealth to me the snow has brought


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I knew a Gentleman, a decorative painter. He scoffed at the term "Faux Painter". Do you want to be known as a "False Painter?" He said.

The Italians paint wooden stairs to look like marble. Not because the material is too expensive but because marble is too heavy. It adds too much weight to an already very heavy structure.

They left us with a problem. How to conceal the underside of the stairs? We bent wet dry wall sheets around a five gallon drum, we bent them around a tree. Nothing worked. So Gene tacked up a special kind of wire and started filling in with joint compound. Sanding in between each layer. Over and over again. See the glass of champagne? He was celebrating. Finally, the last layer of compound and the last coat to be sanded.

And then I painted the stair treads to mimic marble. I had already painted the iron railing to give it a verdigris finish.

So happy to be a "False Painter".


Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the road to Marrakech

North Africa

On the road from Fez to Marrakech. Nothing but sand and the occasional Oasis in the distance

A few camels on the horizon

Now and then Life out of nowhere, by a water well. And then nothing for a long while and then all of a sudden color, lots and lots of it.

On either side of the road a fantastic scene repeated over and over. Riders on Arabian horses. Diaphanous material of azure blue, citrine yellow, emerald green, iridescent studded jewels and gems, and kohl black eyes.

Astride, on the first Arabian horse a most beautiful woman sitting in front of a handsome Rider. The next woman on a horse, by herself, also beautiful, the next and then the next, a little older a little less beautiful and then a woman dressed in black on a donkey.

Where were they all going? A fantastic scene. And I couldn't take pictures. I was warned not to take pictures of women in North Africa. But never mind, the picture is still vivid in my mind and I am going back to Marrakech in September.

And then outside of a small village a huge gathering. It was market day. That is where everyone was going; to the weekly Market.

Every animal imaginable was being traded or sold.

But where are the beautiful women we just passed? There must be more. Is this their day to spend time with their women friends to gossip and renew friendships? Are they kept hidden?

A very brisk trade of Arabian Horses was in progress. I was the only woman in the area. Maybe I should not have been there!

And there was a particular horse, this one. You could hear the exitement when the rider brought it into the open market. Loud shouting, frantic bidding, secret hand movements and the stallion was sold.

I didn't partake. Purchased nothing that was alive. Was content with less moveable objects.

Will be having a new experience in Marrakech, staying at the newly opened Peacock Pavilions.



Friday, April 16, 2010

Have you heard of Granita?

An Italian dessert, so refreshing and so easy on your figure

Strawberry Granita. 1 cup sugar and 3 cups water, make simple syrup add 1 pint strawberries, 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup Kirschwasser or other cherry liquor. Combine in blender and pour into container. Freeze and break up with fork every 2 hours until mixture reaches grainy snow texture. Serve "up" in cocktail glasses.

This amaryllis bloom showed up in my greenhouse, unexpected. It was to bloom at Christmas time. It's the same color as the strawberry granita.


Today I'm joining http://thetablescaper.blogspot.com/2011/07/seasonal-sundays-56independence-day.html

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Cloche

From the Medieval Latin clocca meaning Bell

The French probably developed the glass cloche. It is formed from a solid piece of glass. The cloche protects plants from the cold in your garden. In the house, it can showcase a rare and special plant. It can also be used as a food cover. Chocolates, fancy cakes, or cheeses come to mind.

When you bring in your daffodils do not mix them with other flowers at first, but let them stand in water for a few hours. Daffodils exude a very sticky substance which will clog the stems of other flowers. Who can resist a bouquet of daffodils and the exotic Rembrandt tulip?


Today I'm linking to  http://astrollthrulife.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 12, 2010

The most versatile Table

The narrow side Table, no more than 5 to 6 feet long and 12 to 14 inches deep.

My table by the window where I paint. Perfect size, made of rod iron, easily cleaned.

Left over, hand painted tiles from Italy. I painted the wooden trim to look like marble.

A small wooden table to hold a few items to make an awkward space look more interesting.

Krieger and Ricks of Springville, Utah manufacture beautiful gilded frames for very large paintings. I selected the legs, then the skirting and then ...

the center medallion. And a new table was born. I then sketched the side table using measurements that had to be exact so that the side table could fit under a 200-year-old gilded, and very large Mirror from Argentina.

I painted these tiles after an old Spanish design, makes this table much more interesting.

This table spends most of the time outside in the summer, ready to be moved wherever needed.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Orchids and Ceramics

A Passion for both . . . . Happy Sunday Morning

The white with pink centered Phalaenopsis are my favorites, and then there are the yellow with pink and then the chartreuse with pink . . . . .

And then there are the ceramics by Deruta, Italy artist Giovanni Marinetti. Giovanni is a devastatingly handsome young man. His mother owns the "La Torre Maioliche Artistiche" shop in Deruta. She features many artists, but who can resist Giovanni's work? I can't. Look for them way in the back, in the catacombs, signed "GM".

And, while you are visiting Deruta, have lunch next door at the "La Locanda del Bracconiere" owned by two beautiful sisters who serve fantastic lunches and dinners, and not expensive. Try to be in Deruta on a Tuesday, market day.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Come, paint along with me

Let's paint a plate

Paint on once-fired bisque, with the help of a Banding Wheel, with small brush, paint blue border rings. Draw image in center and color with underglaze colors. Always work from the center out.

Fill border rings with different designs. Almost finished. Back on the Banding Wheel for yellow rim. Top Glaze applied. Into the Kiln for 8 hours firing and another 10 hours cooling.

Ta Da, another masterpiece. YES? Well, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lavabo and Straw Walls

The Lavabo, my other Kitchen Sink

Lavabo, "to wash hands". In many Mediterranean countries, the Lavabo serves as a means to gather water. When it rains, water is collected from rooftops. and stored in the upper basin of the Lavabo.

In my kitchen, the Lavabo serves as the "other kitchen sink". Hand painted Delft style tiles, similar to those from the 17th century, prevent water from damaging my straw walls.

Gene mixing wet straw into mixture of dry wall compound and sand. The tongue?

A trowel and a little elbow grease .... it is surprisingly easy. And, you don't have to finish the project in one day. The next day or the next week, you can begin where you left off.

I don't have to wait for rain. My water source comes from the mountains.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Golden Easter Egg Tutorial

There is still time for you to have a golden Easter Egg

Paint the egg with a thin coat of "gold leaf adhesive size". Wait till tacky, about 1/2 hour

Lay on gold or copper leaf and carefully polish egg with soft cloth.

Happy Easter, my dear blogging friends.