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.
I'm excited to have been contacted by a TV show producer who's interested in me as a host for a collaborative design show. While nothing is ever a sure thing, I'm always stoked to have the opportunity to pitch the idea.
The OSAA Dance and Drill Championships have come to a finish for 2015. In a previous blog post I shared the Architects of Light from Parkrose High School. Now I'd like to share with you Blue Ocean as performed by the Clackamas Cavalettes.
A quick bit of background information. I've been friends with the show designer Kurt Jull since the early 90's. We've worked on some fun projects together. Some have been very experimental allowing us both to explore new boundaries. I'll include a little retro Jull/Christensen project at the end of this post.
This year, Kurt brought his vision for Blue Ocean to the table and I was happy to help execute his ideas. To bring it to life, we needed two shoreline floor/mat paintings for the dancers to dance on and a plan to create budget friendly, portable giant coral and other props.
The two floors were designed to be part of a secret effect that would be revealed at the state championship competition. It was quite a risk to wait until the final moment to implement the effect but it payed off and was quite the crowd pleaser.
Here's the entire routine care of Cavalette parent Jodi. Thank you.
Here is a close up of the effect. For you non-dance team folks know that the floors are hand painted on a heavy weight vinyl, much like an awning or banner fabric. Each floor once you add in the weight of dried paint is in the ball park of three to four hundred pounds each as dead weight. The effect created is only achieved by capturing air underneath the tarp as it is pulled back. It's quite spectacular.
After painting the floor I decided to take a stroll along the beach. I know...nice socks. Black hides all the paint splatters they endure.
Close to twenty years ago, Kurt thought I might enjoy a simple challenge. He wanted me to recreate the scene from Michelangelo's sistine chapel "Creation". Did I say simple challenge? Not only was I to recreate one of the worlds finest example of religious art I had to do so while painting it in a Longview Washington Bingo Hall during closed hours. It wasn't quite the Sistine chapel environment with the whirling cash machine tucked in the corner and the lingering smell of corn dogs and cigarette butts. Had there been social media back then, we would have had a fun time posting videos.
I had visions of Michelangelo face palming himself and screaming NO, blasphemy! Sorry Mick, relax your 16th century self....this is for the kids!
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!
Nothing like a stroll along the beach... until you bump into a wall that's behind you while you're filming. Today, my pseudo beach scene floor painting will debut in its first performance. Good luck Clack! FYI, yes this is a gymnasium sized painting. Can you believe it is painted with paint rollers? Just another day at the office! :)
If you are going to have 5 ft tall beautiful moth dancers then you'll need a 9ft tall light fixture to draw them close. Announcing THE GIANT WALL SCONCE, it's big, it's bright and it a prop for one of my dance group clients. Their dancers represent moths and for some theatrical fun, I went into the studio and came out with a giant sconce for them. It's complete with a burlap shade....ooooh...trendy. They are firing it up using halogen lights and a 12 volt battery inverter. I mention my neighbor a lot in my posts. He bears witness to all the crazy stuff that leaves the studio. Nothing shocks him anymore. He just looks over and shakes his head and says, "Do I dare ask?"
Hey Holiday Hooligans! I know I've been slow to post some pics of the holiday trim I created for the Vancouver, WA clothing boutique Willows. Hopefully, I'll get a some time soon to blog and share my slr pictures. Here's a few I pulled off my phone. The peppermint pink SANTA marquis letters I built are a customer favorite.
Mural client reunion! I painted this Portland inspired cherry blossom tree mural for lil Harper before she was born. I finally got to meet her as we now are planning her big girl room. Her baby sister will inherit the nursery, once she arrives in Dec.
Remember that sheetrock pillar I cut open to discover what was inside? Well, it housed two steel posts. The master plan was to replace the boring sheetrock with a studio sculpted tree. With it having two posts, the plan changed to a two trunk tree.
To wrap one post the tree needed to be installed in two pieces. Now that two trunks were needed, it took some creative seam work to wrap both posts. Here are some snapshots reflecting a before and after. This project also included our creating a pretend fruit/market cart that would house all those freebie dental hygiene products that the dentist gives his clients. Packaged toothbrushes, floss and trial size toothpaste have zero visual appeal, so we integrated them into boxes and bins within the cart. They're now hidden in plain sight.
Thanks Dr. James for the fun project. Check off one more installation in our quest to turn boring dental spaces into theme park like kiddie wonderlands!
Can you guess where this is?
The studio's embellishing elves were busy last night installing one of our latest endeavors. It's a delicious mix of studio woodwork, props, and synthetic fruit and vegetables. It's designed to resemble an open air market cart. I'll give you a hint.... Towards the top, those packages look an awfully a lot like toothbrushes.
Who said no more monkeys jumping on the bed? Not me...jump away my friends, jump away! One more dreamers wish crossed off the list...now what? More jumping! Thank you to my friends who patiently watched their bedroom evolve from a brown and hunter green adult bedroom into a lil' girl's hangout, bedroom and performance space. Can I get a Ta Da!
My super combo custom bunk, platform bed, fort and stage is in the final stages of installation. Next up trim, chalkboard, lighting and carpet!
Good Luck to my prop/set/floor design children as they head to their state dance competition. It's always a pleasure working with such wonderful high school kids, coaches and of course parents!
These are basketball gym sized floors I've painted for several teams. The props and sets are also of my design. Thank you to Patrick Smith Photography letting me share some of your photos.
A little cemetery prop and and set painting rounds out my Wednesday. Halloween in March? Oh...and thank you Tom for the pizza, which is conspicuously hidden...not!
Bustin out the yarn and paper sculptures for Sunday night's Spring-ification of my clients boutique.
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
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