I love vintage ornaments and Christmas decor. The patina of time just adds something special to them whether its a bit of fading, tinge of tarnish or the flattening of colors into a mellowed palette. Sadly, the good stuff is expensive, fragile and gasp, you better not re-craft it into anything but its original purpose. So, using some techniques I've developed over the years, during my stints as a department store visual designer, I cheat and make my own "vintage" using less than the best. I'll use dollar store decorations.
To recreate the vintage look we have to either create the illusion of age or deconstruct the finish somehow. Here are some simple ways to do it.
1) mimic age using pigmented paste wax
Using a soft lint free rag rub on a coat of pigmented paste wax. The wax I use is Howard's in a dark oak color. The wax dulls the mylar like finish and alters the colors to more of an antique hue. Fake silver becomes more champagne and gold becomes more brassy. The snow like mylar glitter starts to resemble glass and Mica glitter which was used in the early 1900's. The paste wax can be buffed once it is dry and removed selectively with either steel wool or a scotch brite pad. Notice on the mylar plastic tinsel tree and wreath how the paste wax makes the tinsel look like the old silver and tin used in days gone by. I love it.
Paste wax is flammable and contains petroleum distillates. Keep away from children, flame and heat sources until cured and always wear protective gloves and provide for fresh air ventilation.
2) Distress the finishes using steel wool
3) Use Rub-n-buff to mimic glass or metal
4) distress using fingernail polish Remover
Fingernail polish remover is flammable and contains petroleum distillates. Keep away from children, flame and heat sources until cured and always wear protective gloves and provide for fresh air ventilation. It may also dissolve and soften some plastics. Please test an inconspicuous area first if you are experimenting.
Using a combination of the steps above, I distressed a bunch of ornaments in a variety of sizes. Most of them I bought from the Dollar Store, Target, Michaels and Wallyworld aka Walmart. Keep an eye out for heavy discounting as the season moves on and start working on next years big wreath or faux vintage assemblage. Using the ornaments from this post, here's what I created. Share with me your newly vintage ornaments over on Facebook or Instagram or drop a comment or questions below. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from me to you!
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)?
Please visit my Spoonflower shop and explore the latest fabric designs I've added. The latest are yardage that coordinates with my superhero line of wall art. The fabrics are perfect for bedding, upholstery and crafts. You can also buy finished good from Spoonflowers' sister site Roostery. There you will find sheet goods, pillows, accessories and home decor all available in the fabrics I've designed.
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
This week I'm celebrating the launch of my new collection of kids wall art entitled Cosmos. The series is about space, robots and loving someone to the moon and back. Well, on that trip of love from here to the rock in the sky, you best take some provisions. Forget the dried astronaut food, I'm talking cookies! What if they were meteor cookies...ooooohhhh?
Here's a simple way to turn any cookie recipe into ones that look like meteors. Think about it, a meteor shower of cookies, you can't get any more deliciously spaced out than that!
What you'll need:
Black Food Coloring
Your preferred cookie recipe and ingredients.
The secret is to incorporate chocolate rocks. But, unlike chocolate chips, if you mix them in only a part of them will show and the effect won't be as obvious.
You could alter any cookie recipe for this. Keep in mind that the chocolate rocks are similar to M&M's so you'll want to expect that crunch. For this post I am making the classic Tollhouse cookie recipe and have simply left out the chips. I'd suggest choosing a cookie that's dark in color so you only have to use a minimal amount of food coloring.
First step is to make the cookie batter according to your recipe. Once it's mixed, add in black food coloring to override the cookies color. Fold it in thoroughly. The second step is to load your cookie sheet with dollops of dough. I separated the chocolate rocks into colors.
Now that your dollops are placed you'll need to pile on the chocolate rocks. They will settle and spread out as the dough cooks. Be sure to place some around the edge of the dough. Then bake the cookies according to your recipe.
Allow the cookies to cool. In a bowl add hot water into the a cup of confectioners sugar. Mix until it becomes smooth and free of sugar clumps. You'll want to add enough water to make the mixture thin enough to enable brushing it on. Holding the brush at a steep angle and simply dry brush across the surface in a couple directions to hit and highlight the texture and rocks. Let the sugar mixture dry.
My favorite color ended up being the turquoise blue. They gave the cookies that gem stone look.
The chocolate rocks look like well,.... like rocks. I imagine you could try this technique matching the rock colors to colored cookie dough. Yellow on yellow, red on red would be very space like. If you try a variation let me know how it goes and send over a photo I'll add it to the post. -Enjoy!
I'm happy to reveal my latest collection entitled "Cosmos". It's available now in my shop.
Are you hosting a birthday party, decorating your astronauts room or looking for some fun space themed activities? Be sure to follow me and visit my Space Themed Pinterest Board.
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.
New Releases - Vintage Sports Scoreboards For Basketball, Football and Lacrosse! Fresh Art For The Sports Fan.
I'm excited to share new additions to my vintage sports wall art line. These three new scoreboards round out my selection to include more color schemes and types of sports.
The images are available as archival paper prints and stretched canvases. If you have a favorite sport that's not represented in my collection send me a message. I'm always happy to receive feedback and inspiration!
$30.00 - $179.00
$30.00 - $179.00
$30.00 - $179.00
I'm always on the hunt for new bedding styles and designs for my customers and I often get asked what bedding works with my sports wall art lines. So here are my picks for new and tried and true pieces from my favorite haunts. I rarely use themed bedding with sports graphics on it, for me it's usually too expected and often tacky. In contrast I applaud my friends over at Land of Nod have done a great job of offering up some very simple understated pieces, I've included below. The top picks include bedding from Restoration Hardware Teen, PBteen, Ralph Lauren via Nieman Marcus, Rejuvenation Hardware and Schoolhouse Electric.
Having worked with several large retailers on the development and coordination
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.
2017 marks the 20th anniversary for Willows boutique in Vancouver, Wa. The independent women's apparel, accessory and gift store has changed through the years, evolving to serve its clients and customers. Embellishments studio has been there from the beginning bringing their brands style to life.
Willows and Embellishments studio celebrate
Hundreds of partygoers helped Willows celebrate its 20th anniversary, with florals by Stem Floral Design and treats by Rosycakes to coordinate with my summer display. What may not be known to many in attendance is the origins of the boutique they love.
It was 1997 when I first met the first time shop owners Sandy McCloud and her business partner and daughter Janna Moats. Bright eyed and ambitious to realize their concept for a bedding, furniture and gift store we hit it off. Our task was to transform a rather plain and unassuming space tucked into a refurbished car dealership into something alluring and vibrant.
It wasn't too long and their success lead to their expanding into an empty retail space next door. The new area allowed them to expand their offerings to include some apparel, baby bedding and more gift merchandise. It is with the addition of this space that glimpses of the Willows style appeared.
Committed to having the, mostly service oriented, marketplace provide a shopping experience to the downtown Vancouver scene, Sandy and Janna, in addition, opened Fresh Willow, a garden and gift store. I began my exploration of their interiors being modern with industrial and vintage accents. This would include creating elements and faux finishing them for both the interior and facade. Ingredients such as concrete, "rusted" metal and wood finishes will serve them well into their 20th year.
Despite their retailing success, the two Marketplace locations challenged the two owners with heavy schedules, separate merchandise buying trips and two vastly different goals within. The decision was made to merge the two and define "Willows" with a new location, street side in the newly revitalized Ester Short Park area. Here the merchandise assortment began the flip from home dec and gift, with some light apparel to apparel with some gift. Here's where the categories of garden, bedding and furniture were shed, a precursor to the boutique of today. The response from downtown Vancouver's apparel store starved women was amazing. Willows became the guiding light and a stellar example of a revitalized Vancouver success story. That forward momentum could not be sustained too long. With the onset of the economic recession bringing about a reversal of downtown Vancouver's revitalization and growth, Sandy and Janna made the tough, but exciting, decision to close their Ester Shore Park location and relocate to their current one in the Grand Central Marketplace. As a team, we decided to take the largest space yet further in expressing Willow's style and distill their offerings to be revolved around apparel, accessories and gifts.
It is their Grand Central location that would challenge me to create the Willows experience from scratch. This will be the first time I was given the freedom to develop a completly empty retail space. No more were there going to be stairs, low ceilings and a lack of storage. My first decision was to design them an actual working back room. This marks the first time in Willow's 15 years that they can process new merchandise off the sales floor. And I, as their merchandiser, display builder was eager to have a storage area for fixtures, tools and display goods.
To further build the brands reputation for eye catching eye candy and high end department store like treatment of visual display, I carved a niche out for a window display and purchased a ton of mannequins. The tradition of rearranging the store, adding new fixtures and displays with each season was born.
As if the planets aligned just for the ladies of Willows, the two spaces adjacent to the store became available. So without hesitation, the designing of the current, expanded Willows began. The additional space allowed us to accommodate more dressing rooms, increase the selling space, add a sale area and further indulge in the textures and elements that define Willows visually. And of course I got my wish of another window, an expanded back room and a central wrap desk that could hold four checkout stations!
I'm proud to play part in this 20 year love affair with the Willows brand. The owners, Sandy and Janna are like family. We've watched each others families grow. We've watched our separate businesses grow. And, we will continue watching Willows grow further with our collaborative ways and unrelenting love for the store. I'm including some additional photos from my Willows displays below. Enjoy!- Aaron
Okay Lax lovers, here we go... I proudly present my lacrosse wall art series collage. Available as a one piece, nine image design or you can pick and choose any of the nine as individual prints in canvas and on archival paper.
According to Thomas Vennum Jr., author of American Indian Lacrosse: Little Brother of War "Apart from its recreational function, lacrosse traditionally played a more serious role in Indian culture. Its origins are rooted in legend, and the game continues to be used for curative purposes and surrounded with ceremony. Game equipment and players are still ritually prepared by conjurers, and team selection and victory are often considered supernaturally controlled. In the past, lacrosse also served to vent aggression, and territorial disputes between tribes were sometimes settled with a game, although not always amicably."
With it's rich history and evolution into one of the fastest growing sports here in the States, it's time to be wall proud and art up! I hope you enjoy them, I'd love to hear your feedback.
Need some inspiration for your lax loving walls? Here are three style mood boards to give you ideas and inspire. Feel free to pin, post and print!
Reproducing and selling my own artwork direct and no longer licensing it out was the greatest of decisions. One of the biggest rewards is the direct communication line to my customers. Never before have I had so many ways to meet and discuss my art with those who enjoy it. Within these live, phone, email and social media interactions I've heard a lot of feedback, requests and ideas that inspire.
Here's what I currently offer
I've been painting sports art for 15 years. While many pieces are in private collections or are commissions, I enjoy selling my canvas and paper reproductions to the public. I've touched on many of the popular sports and decor themes. Some are more vintage some are more modern. Many of my sports wall hangings end up in boys rooms, teen spaces and areas of the home where sports fans gather. Given all of that, have you any requests? Do you have a particular decor style or color scheme you'd like to see? I'm painting now for my 2018 releases, I'd enjoy hearing from you.
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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