Rose Gold, Copper, Gold and Pewter - A Custom Mixed Metal Christmas Boutique Display by Embellishments Studio
My younger self was a professional window and holiday display designer and visual merchandiser for high end department stores. 20 years ago when I left that world to start Embellishments Studio, I retained a few of my freelance clients. Flash forward to 2016, I've created dozens of trims for several clients. The trims that quickly comes to nostalgic memory are the ones I've created for my client in Vancouver, Washington called Willows. It's a clothing and accessories boutique.
Often when I design props for store displays or fixtures for merchandising they are purely from my imagination. The challenge lies in bringing those ideas to life. I recently proposed a farmhouse chic style trim for one of my apparel boutiques. In my mind I saw old water/wind mills, old barn doors and abandoned relics.
To create vintage look props its easiest to find old wood and supplies to build them out of. One of my local haunts, The Rebuilding Center serves me well. There I can find treasures to build my ideas from. For this particular trim I came across old packing crate supports, degraded galvanized flashing and oddities, old cast wheels and a ton of reclaimed bits of wood.
Staring at the items in my checkout cart I decided to build a windmill out of the flashing, an old hoe and the packing crate supports which were rich with rusty character.
The wheels, some old mahogany wheelbarrow handles, old galvanized channel and 2 x 12's would become a vintage look florists or fruit vendors merchandising cart.
Random chair parts, old wood, part of a tv roof antennae and miscellaneous bits of hardware would become an abandoned swift bird house.
The studio is filling up with projects, so I must be better about selling off a few things. So, heres some gems from previous displays. They are one-of-a-kinds.
This one-of-a-kind anchor was built by the studio for use in a seasonal display. It's in pristine but vintage looking shape. How great would this be used as a photography prop, a signature decor piece or as a theme element in a restaurant. Due to its size, I'd be hesitant to ship it. I'd recommend it find a home in the Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington metro areas. For more detailed information:
These mixed whites fabric sales are a perfect photo booth backdrop, prop for a kids room or as an accent in a nautical themed space. Due to the weight I wouldn't recommend shipping. But then again anythings is possible.
The following three lights are available. They are made from reclaimed glass containers and glass ware. They're fun, vintage and bohemian.
The workshop is hot today. Not only are we hitting weather highs in the nineties , I have found myself under a welding mask creating fireworks welding. I have to be careful I might just slip on my own puddles of sweat.
I'm welding together framework for a faux bois table. You often see faux bois in historic gardens as benches and archways and in theme parks as railing and fake trees.
While I've sculpted many things in my life, this is my first attempt at cement furniture. Hey, I just dive in with both feet. I've worked with cement before. I sculpt trees from other materials all the time. Why not combine the two?
This table is destined for a retail boutique. It will be merchandised on as a fixture. I'm personally handling the store design for the owners. I want a variety of textures, finishes and hand wrought signature pieces throughout. I'll journal about the store soon, as we are just beginning construction.
Here's my finished armature. I will be wrapping it in metal mesh to provide stability and a surface for the cement to adhere to.
As a feature in the garden, faux bois was very popular in the 1940's. If you own a vintage piece you are very lucky. Given most pieces were exposed to the elements, many have degraded and sadly disappeared.
I'll pop back in and update this journal entry with progress pictures. I'd love to hear from you if you own a piece. I'd be curious how you came to own it.
Update- July 3rd
I neglected to take a picture of the piece wrapped in metal lathe. I was just so excited to get into it. The first coat of cement was to cover the rebar and the lathe. I also shaped the first coat to start creating some of the twists, turns and scars one would see on an old branch. In the photo above you can see the rough first coat in the back (the darker horizontal branch) The two foreground branches are after the second coat which is a finer mortar mix. Once that mortar sets up a little I started carving, brushing and stamping details. I'm excited how much they look like old driftwood with the natural cement color. Once the finished piece is stained they will look more like a wood in tone. More updates soon...
update - July 7th
The legs have dried thoroughly so it was safe to finally flip it right side up. Now I will start applying mortar to the top and sculpting it.
Last night at midnight, standing outside their store I realized I've designed three stores for Willows over a span of 18 years. Holy Toledo...18 years! Over on my Instagram, my friend Stacey said it eloquently "Aaron Christensen and Willows, a match made in retail heaven". I like to think so Stacey...
I've had the pleasure of working with the owners Sandy and Janna through the many styles of Willows as well. There was the furniture vending Shabby Chic period, the overstuffed bedding and bath phase, the modern steel and glass era and now our rustic deconstructed glam clothing and accessories boutique.
This latest trim is constructed of recycled glass objects, plastic utensil handles and a bit of Embellishments distressification. What was once a black wrought iron, atypical 90's chandelier was stripped of it's functioning parts and turned into a living sculpture. Its vintage blue mason jars contain plant cuttings that will grow with the season.
I'll have to stop in and check on the cuttings, as sadly despite all their style and grace neither Sandy or Janna have a green thumb. They've quickly killed every poinsettia over our 17 holidays together...ha!
For my style loving female friends out there, know that Willows will soon be opening up a web-shop. I'll share the link when it's ready to go.
If you're a customer of Willows you can look forward to a pre-summer give-a-way featuring the spring decor pieces...ooooh!
Welcome to my Embellishments Journal, it's a new feature. I will be posting about some of our projects, sharing pictures and interesting things. Chime in, ask questions and keep your arms and hands inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop. -Aaron