My client sheepishly made what she thought was a strange request. "Can we have animal heads for the store mannequins?", adding that she loved it when the big department stores did that for Christmas. Well, of course I said yes. That discussion lead to the idea of a Wonderland, minus Alice and all the trappings of red hearts, cards and royalty. It would be a Spring garden party.
Within the Spring soiree, I designed and created some "Drink Me" potion filled bottles, an "Eat Me" faux cake and arranged it all among a scattering of staked chairs. All of the chairs, including the upholstery were painted with a tried and true homemade chalk paint. One dry, a glaze of pastel color washed over the upholstery to give it a fresh Spring feel. Continued.....
I have several of the branded blade cutters and haven't really got to used to using them. Their software is a bit clunky for me. I recently bought a Glowforge laser and decided to give it a go cutting paper. The verdict is in, it did a wonderful job. Not only did it cut the sheets with precision, I was able to stack and cut multiple sheets at a time. What a time saver! Anyway, this isn't a commercial for laser cutting, nor is this a sponsored post.
The laser uses SVG files just like the blade cutting machines. I did have to play with the settings to prevent too much scald on the papers edges. There's a little, but I don't mind it, it seems to help define the shapes.
The project was a window and store display. I wanted to do something a bit bolder as large florals are all the trend. Here I painted the backdrop with florals and featured one wreath. Down below I placed galvanized orbs that I made from scratch using 3/4 light duty galvanized strapping and a spot welder.
For the wreaths I chose clematis flowers. They're dimensional and easily to recognize.
In another window I created a backdrop by stapling ombre dyed coffee filters. You can use Rit dye in different dilutions to achieve the effect.
More coffee filters were hung from fish line to dangle from the store's rustic reclaimed wood tree.
Galvanized tubs become hanging planters filled with cut paper flowers. Galvanized orbs round out the display. (Pardon the photo bomber, I tried waiting until she turned away, but she was probably curious what I was doing...ha!)
Glowforge Referral Program
If you're intrigued by the Glowforge let me know. They have a referral program and I might be able to save you some $$$.
Halloween is probably my favorite holiday when it comes to decor. As an experienced prop maker, I want to give kudos to some outstanding haunters of Halloween. You can see these top 5 and all of my frightening picks in my Pinterest board "Embellished Halloween"
#1 Make up tutorials by madeyewlook
Seriously talented make-up FX artist Lex Fleming stuns with her library of tutorials.
#2 Deliciously deadly poison apples
Over on Wannabite Nate takes you through the steps to create these near black beauties.
#3 ghosts by christopher mckenney
Photographer turned Halloween illusionist Christopher McKenney captures the creepy. Learn more about McKenney here or visit his Flickr to dig (get it) deeper.
One of Martha Stewarts creative monsters offers up a DIY about casting hands. Having created cast props, I do warn you it's messy but worth it's weight in ghouls.
#5 creep the lights on for us
While the first photo is what captivated me, I couldn't find the source...broken link pinners, bad form! But, I did find a similar look DIY from House of Dewberry, I guess Dewberry do good.
For more haunted hits check out my Pinterest Board, it's to die for (get it)?
My display building services were challenged with a contradiction. Can you combine a masculine window and store trim theme with a female sentiment?
The concept of a mechanic, automotive theme combined with some positive affirmations was the winning idea my boutique client chose. Off and running, I had a great time rummaging, replicating and altering automotive parts and car related goods.....continued
Digging through my old analog photos of kids room projects, I realized that I had photos of one project that had never been seen by the public. So, in retrospect here's a project where we built a bed for a boys room that looks like a truck. Circa 2005.
The one of a kind custom bed was for a young man named Zac. Both he and his sister had their Embellishments bedrooms featured in the 2005 Street of Dreams, Luxury home tour.
Despite looking like an actual vintage truck, the piece is completely hand made from scratch. It had to be, in order to fit in his bedroom. It measured 4.5 feet tall.
Each element was hand carved, primed and painted to mimic a old truck. The faux chrome emblem on the hood says "Embellishments" for fun.
Beyond being a show stopper for the luxury home tour, the truck bed and photographs of it topped HGTV's Rate my Space for the number one boy's room for multiple years, beating out its closest competitor by thousands of votes.
The truck bed was under construction before the home was completed. Despite blue prints and on site measurements along the way, the final door opening was 3/4's inch too small for the parts to be carried in. Therefore, we had to take out the second story boys room window, lean two extension ladders and push/pull the piece through the window. From a far, on lookers only saw two men pushing a truck up two ladders. It must have been quite a site.
The bed had enough room for Zac to play truck driver. The studio's faux garage door panels were to give the impression that the truck was in a garage.
In subsequent years, the studio created custom beds and play structures like a train car, princess carriage, tree houses and a pirate ship.
Ideas are easy to come by, harder to realize. I sold my clothing boutique client on the idea of a dimensional cactus themed summer window and store display. I've been drawn to tissue art as of recently, and liked the concept of watercolor like tones of tissue combined with the harder cacti form. Figuring out how to bring the concept to life became the mystery. It was my mission to find a simple way to create cacti plants that are lightweight and life like in shape.
After a stint of head scratching and store wandering, the idea came to me when I saw a display of foam fun noodles and little swimmer kick boards. I quickly grabbed a shopping cart and loaded up 20 noodles and 20 kick boards. In the checkout line I was asked by the cashier about my pool party. Still excited by the idea, I blurted out that I was going to turn them into cactus. Why I expected anything more than the half smirk and a random direction head nod from those around me, is beyond me. Huff! I guess my prickly pear making high was clearly a one man's journey.
If you can decoupage and cut shapes with scissors you can have a cactus garden! If you can climb over the fence and take your neighbors fun noodles and kick boards you can have a cactus garden for free, or the price of a misdemeanor. Relax, there is no need to pilfer. This time of year many big box and dollar stores have "polyethylene foam" swim noodles and boards for sale. Plastic suppliers like Tap often carry it in large rolls. It's used as a packing material and insulation, you will want 1/2 inch or thicker sheets.
If I were to identify whom might be my number one influence in my artistic endeavors, it most certainly would be Dr. Seuss aka Theodore Geisel. While Walt Disney the man, not the brand is close, Seuss was a bit more of a rags to literary wealth success story, which for me embodies the American dream. He single handidly changed the way in which young people learn to read and in turn see the world around them.
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss
On this special day acknowledging Mr. Geisel, please allow me to geek out for a bit and share some of my favorite Seuss and Seussisms.
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.
One of my greatest sources of inspiration and joy are my two children. Although they are technically no longer children but young adults, and very amazing ones at that. My son, whom defines himself as a creative, is always challenging me to see through his eyes. He has a great eye for what's important, interesting and meaningful to a generation that I'm purely an observer of due to the age difference.
This year marks an important milestone for him, as he graduates from COLLEGE. He's a student at University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon.
Four years ago we put together a fun high school graduation party for him that I intended to post about. Well, here we are four years later and it never quit appeared on the blog. So to reminisce and enjoy it all again here's the details of that special day.
The goal of the party was to acknowledge and celebrate his accomplishments in high school and build excitement for his college experience. One of the very basic things I started with was working out some common ground between the two school's color palettes. His high school colors were cardinal and gold and his college was green and yellow. So I tweaked both into my preferred color palette of vintage look colors. We were now working with burgundy reds, ochre yellows and olivey greens mixed with the neutrals of parchment, kraft and burlap.
I can't take credit for the concept but I can take credit for the execution of the little suitcase pictured. His school asked that we create a box keepsake and fill it with insightful and inspirational items, quotes and sentiment. I covered his in stickers I created that represent many of the stages in his academic journey. Many were logos I already had on hand from events and projects I had a design hand in through the years.
The box itself contained items that were adorned with small kraft tags. On each tag we came up with short explanation as to why we chose the item. Some of the items were toys he had as a boy.
The handsome heads you see are blow ups of my son's face. We used them as markers to reserve the family and friends seats at graduation. They we fun to wave in the air during the moments we could get noisy and revel.
At the house I used a lot of props, which as a prop hoarder it wasn't too difficult to do. Globes, encyclopedias , typewriters, flash cards, things with letters and ones that reflect the 12 in 2012. A hand painted burlap pennant streamer spans our front porch welcoming guests through the garden.
Small vignettes of photos and props were placed throughout the house. I used books to create fun shapes and opportunities to stage items. While its something we don't showcase year round the digital photo frame was a great addition to the displays. Having k-12 photographs scrolling through time was enjoyed by our guests.
Having a very large backyard gives us many opportunities for merry making. The problem often becomes scale. How to make a party look intimate and special on such a large scale is often the issue. To remedy some of that I strung very long strands of lights to bring the "ceiling" down a little and offer light as the evening waned past sunset. The combination of clear bulbs and paper lanterns were very handsome.
In the revised color palette, collections of school logo cutouts, paper goods and decorative details bring it all together. I found some amazing natural leaf made plates that had great texture. They were combined with the more graphic striped traditional party plates.
A multi layered dimensional height display of suitcases, manipulated books and other props made for a perfect dessert table. Letters and numbers were cut using my silhouette machine.
Now, we're in the planning stages of his college graduation. I might revisit some of these props and ideas to create a new but familiar and welcomed look. Hopefully, I will be good about posting those before another four years passes.
I hope you find a few things inspiring or just fun to look at. Shoot me over any questions or sentiments for the graduate. I look forward to your thoughts...
I've taken the liberty to host the photos above on Pinterest for your pinning! Be sure to follow me.
A local pediatric office commissioned us to create a treehouse for their lobby. The office was going through a remodel and a new waiting area was being carved out of obsolete storage areas and halls.
The office has a jungle theme. There are creatures in terrariums like a chameleon, turtles and tanks of fish. The doctor wanted something unusual to tie into the theme. We discussed lots of options and came up with a tree house. Now, the word tree house is a bit broad in concept considering 1) there is no tree in the office and 2) the ceiling is low at 8 foot.
I worked out a way to elevate the play space of the tree house, giving the illusion of a height and created access through a hollowed out pretend tree trunk. The exterior is designed to look as if it was built using various parts from other structures. A palm and banana tree were created to look as if they hold up part of the structure.
If you cruise the blog and our social media sites you will see we specialize in creating unusual things. If your professional office, home or business need something unique to entertain your customers give us a call. We'll dream something up for you.
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!
For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about when I refer to dance team props, here's a video of yesterdays performance by Parkrose Elite Dance Team. I'm their prop master and theme development guy. They compete with other teams and are accessed on the performance's level of difficulty, execution, overall concept and other categories. I work with the team and their volunteers directing the painting of their floors and creation of their props and sets. I have a tendency to take the ideas towards fantastic worlds, deconstructed environments and always try to push the envelope in one way or another. Here are my moths denied light living in a decrepit house until they discover light and the power to make it themselves. I proudly present....the Elite and the Architects of Light.
This is a high school team with members that are freshman up to senior in year. The dancers are expected to maintain good grades, be good citizens are practice together from late summer until now. This sport requires huge dedication on behalf of the students and their coaches, whom I adore.
The video is the first of two performances. Here are some close up photos by Patrick Smith Photography (used with permission), copyright 2015.
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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