Faced with an awkward second story rooftop patio that had no practical purpose, my client hit me up with an idea. "Can you build a fairy garden for my daughter?" He asked. Then the cementitious siding, synthetic decking clad box mulled through my mind.
It was a winning idea once it merged with their young daughters wish for a fairy garden and a new dog house for her puppy.
Being a bit of a plant geek, I had fun incorporating some of my favorites and offering lots of texture and color play. For my fellow geeks you'll spot Aspidistra, Clerodendron, Echium, Persicaria Red Dragon, gigantic Ornamental Rhubarb and some annual Musque De Provence pumpkin. Most of the plantings are perennial and winter hardy, although I did mix in some annuals for instant color gratification.
People love to bring the outdoors in and I am asked to play Brutha Nature and create trees all the time. Big ones, little ones, realistic and modern. So here I am poised once again to create a one of a kind piece for a client, I had to go idea browsing. We settled on the idea of a tree shaped bookshelf. One that was modern and architecturally interesting. So I gathered together a Pinterest board with a variety of tree ideas.
You can see in the tree that I built, there are angles and pieces that point downward. These provide vertical strength, so the shelf can't be pulled down or tip down off the wall.
I'm a bit obsessive with building things straight and true. So this tree stands perfectly upright, the backing is all on the same plane. Great you think...but no, I mean NO! The wall I was to mount it to had been where a doorway was covered up, so it was really out of whack. I had to loosen my branches to tip them back a bit. This left gaps in my seams... oh hell no! So I went through painstakingly and finessed bondo into every little gap, sanded it and primed it. The final finish was to coordinate with a maple counter across the room so I faux painted the piece using a series of color washes and treatment with faux finishers graining tool. A topcoat of shellac gave it that amber wood tone I needed as well as protect the piece as a non-toxic clear coat. Shellac is safe for little nibblers that put their teeth and mouths on everything. Remember this is a pediatric dental office. I'm sure there's some little munchin munchkins giving it the beaver treatment as we speak....gnaw, gnaw, and gnaw.
Jump over to my Pinterest for these and other photographs of inspirational trees. I've included the following tree bookcases we've made here in the studio.
Other tree shelving ideas by Embellishments studio
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.
I love the opportunity to bring a clients vision to life. When my clients, whom home school their children, moved into their new place, they called looking for my help. You see, they had a huge room over their garage and wanted to convert it into a classroom for their kids and maybe other cooperative homeschoolers. Waving his arms around Micheal, the owner, asked how can we make it bigger than life, something the kids would go crazy over. Well... I was happy to oblige. Here are some first round photos. I need to go back with a wide angle lens to capture the entire room.
This concept won their hearts. It's a pretty grand in scale so I broke it down into parts.
One thing that is not illustrated in my sketch is the stair well leading to the classroom. We decided on a mural starting at the base with the dawn of time, and winding up through the years as the stairs ascend. Here I picked out some notable events, interesting facts and persons to illustrate a time period. The video below captures most of it.
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.
The task: Create a loft bed, fort, reading nook incorporating two double beds.
The clients: Two young twins- one drawn to performance arts, the other drawn to horseback riding. One wants pink, the other says yuck. Ones a bit tidy the other not so much.
The challenge: The mom wants something unique, more fort than furniture! She loves modern yet has a rustic touch to her style. The girls need organizers bulletin boards, space to stash their collections of things and an extra bed for sleepovers.
The result: A studio built grey and white washed horizontal planked custom bed loft fort unit. Custom wall organizers with pegs, dry erase, paper and storage. Extras: a display wall for art and a whimsical mount of their senior aged basset hound Clementine.
Garden mural project
Flash forward four and half years, they called me back to help them with their backyard eyesore, a cinder block garage wall. Their fresh landscape and beautiful hot tub gazebo and deck built by a friend of mine, Dave Izer were fantastic. The backside of the neighbors wall not so much. It was decided to cover the wall with a landscape that extended their yard visually.
There of course was a special request by their daughter (who's nursery I painted). She wanted a unicorn. With Mom and Dad's nod, I tucked a sleeping one into the painting. It's a magical surprise when you approach the mural but its not really visible from the house or deck. That way the illusion wasn't affected by the appearance of a large mythical creature.
Time Lapse Video
Here's one reason I love my job. When I completed the mural, it happened to be one day before my birthday. Well, my lil' client brought me a card she drew and a mandala she colored in. My heart melted. Good thing it was the last day because nothing could top that moment. Thank you McClures for your faith in my work and of course treating me like family. You're amazing!
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.
You know him, the beer drinking, pool playing country boy. Here I've created him the man cave that will make him the envy of his band of bad desperadoes. My Outlaw from Tombstone art was inspired by those campy old 40's - 50's pulp western movie posters. And look, the curled up mustache is making a comeback.
I've been know to crank up the Cash while I'm painting. His rugged voice and story telling lyrics are the epitome of a bad boy. While prison cells, gun fights and thievery inspired his music, it's nice to know that his love, June Carter changed him for the better. Yes, bad boys can be changed. Good luck with that! The whole dark black rockabilly honky tonk vibe is evident in my Diamond brand Silver Tipped Boots art. I could so see it as a mural on the side of some ghost town mercantile or on the back of a leather jacket. Am I right?
There's that guy, that one that could smooth talk his way into your life, heart and maybe your sheets (Bad Girls need love too). Well this guy is the perpetual bachelor, his 50 shades of desert gray inspired him to go industrial with a bit of slick, potion peddling art. My Snake Oil piece was inspired by a combination of modern day tattooed carnies and the twisted mustache barkers of days gone by. I like that it has an edge to it. There's something bad about wanting to believe in snake oil. This slick guy has fantastic grooming habits and loves a bit of luxurious living. What else is he going to spend your four easy payments of 99.95 on? Act now!
This guy doesn't have your Mom worried because she dated his clone back in high school. This guy has your Dad all freaked out. That tattoo wearing, motorcycle driving would-be rockstar is up to no good. He swept you off your feet and wants to show you his ultra cool urban loft. Did he mention it's actually in the basement of a brewery? My Vixen Strings and Straps painting speaks to that character. It's part tattoo, music poster with a bit of Betty Page. I hope you can get a cell phone signal in his under dwelling man cave. You'll need your best friend to talk you out of being the Bad Girl.
I'm an equal opportunity rebel finder. I thought I'd toss in the Bad Girl. I know her, you went to high school with her and every man from 16-60 watches her walk by. Of course they're looking at her tattoos...maybe. She's a bit more colorful than the brooding Joan Jett rocker. She knows what she likes when she sees him... I mean it, ya, it! I'd love to see her tattooed #&@#?^!}+% that bears the likeness of my Rebel Records piece.
Whew, now go wash your hands, it's been dirty on the blog today! If these inspire you to do some Bad Boy redecorating don't blame it on me. You knew when you met me that I'm a bad influence! Ha!
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.
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?"
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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