Tuesday, January 28, 2014

LA's Answer to Downton Abbey

I've spent the last weekend sick at home with a cold, but it's been time well-spent: catching up on season 4 of Downton Abbey!

Highclere Castle / Downton Abbey
It's not just the frequent sudden deaths of main characters and the various injustices that Mr. Bates can suffer that keeps me watching. Just a few episodes of the show can inspire a pretty bad case of house envy for those of us design-obsessed.  I am now full-on lusting after those British floral living room wallpapers and lush green English landscapes. My desert succulent garden looks boring after seeing Grandmama's roses.

Apparently, in the English countryside, you can visit Highclere Castle, where they shoot the show [putting it in my Google calendar as I type], but for now I'll have to do with LA's answer to Downton Abbey: Greystone Mansion.

Greystone Mansion has a long and storied past (including gold prospecting, old money, and good ol' fashioned murder-suicide), but it's now become a public park and events location for the rich and famous.

For us plebes, it's just a place to stroll around after brunch when you've got an extra hour to kill.

It's not this...

...but I'll take it. For now.

ps. Speaking of the English, I played a Brit last week on CBS's new sci-fi show Intelligence  (starring Josh Holloway). Shoine ye' shoes, guvnah? (B

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

DIY Homegirl and Liquid Starch Walls

The lovely Angela over at DIY Homegirl featured my framed vintage wallpaper panels on her post last week about ideas for brightening up spaces of renters who are stuck with white walls! Click below to go to the article...

I go through phases of loving white walls versus wanting color and wallpaper, but I appreciate all the ideas she's got. I'm especially liking the idea about the temporary chalkboard wall and the electrical tape chevron. Also near and dear to my heart is using fabric with liquid starch...a cheat we use on low-budget set design for indie films.

For the set design of my short film, Mouthbreather, we used fabric and liquid starch to create the richly textured and wallpapered home of a cat lady, all without pissing off my landlord (yes, we shot it entirely in my own apartment).

Here's the before and after...

The original wall was white, and I painted it with Behr Silver Screen for that lovely grey with lilac undertones. A far cry from my cat lady digs. Once we put up the wallpaper for the set, I kept up the kitchen wallpaper after we wrapped and didn't take it down 'til I moved out two years later.

Tribeca Film Fest & Maker Studios' online channel Picture Show featured Mouthbreather just last month. You can watch the full short film and see the full on wallpaper/starch set design here.

Thanks, DIY Homegirl, for the shoutout and for your awesome ideas!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Decoupage Experiments

I love me some John Derian. If you've seen any of this New York artist's stuff at local boutiques or home decor sites, you'll know what I'm talking about.

He takes found images from old botanical manuals, vintage maps, etc. and makes all sorts of awesome paperweights and dishes from them. Genius and ecofriendly, right? His home goods shop in the East Village is filled to the brim with these gorgeous little treasures.

You know what's not so genius and Emily-friendly? The prices. His plates usually run about $55-180. For that price, I can buy myself 1/4 of the Rag & Bone boots I've been eyeing! Which would I rather have, boots or decoupage plate? I'll take the Rag & Bone boots, thank you.

Since it's the holiday season, I decided to try out some homemade gift-making with my version of the John Derian decoupage glass plates. I picked up some vintage glass plates at my favorite thrift shop. 6 vintage French glass plates for $2? Yes, please.

First, a silly guinea pig, using my usual kitty inspiration and some Kate Spade wrapping paper...

Success! Sort of...
Onto the real tries. First, I used the holy water of crafting...

...Mod Podge! I decided to take a stab at the square plate, which seemed easier.

Then I cut my fabric to size (the silk Duralee Kalah that I used to reupholster this regency chair):

Using an angled sponge brush, I painted a coat of Mod Podge on the back of the glass plate.

Then, I carefully laid the fabric face down onto the back of the glass plate, directly onto the glue.

How 'bout them nails, eh?

Here's the flip side.

After about 30 minutes, I trimmed the edges with serrated fabric shears (mistake!...don't do this!) and laid down another coat of the Mod Podge over the back of the fabric.

I don't love how the edges show through, but that was a lesson to learn.

Now, an attempt with the round glass plates...this time using a map of Italy.
First, I found the part of the map that I wanted to highlight on the plate...

Va bene, Sicilia.
Traced the edges and cut out the dish shape with scissors. Since it's a circle shape with slightly curved edges, pasting would prove molto difficile. So I cut that map into slices of pie...

How I wish this were blueberry pie.

...that would overlap when pasting the paper onto the curvature of the glass. Again, a coat of Mod Podge and the same ol' rigamarole...

One hour after drying, this plate looks pretty damn bellissimo!

Here's another I did with that same Kate Spade wrapping paper. I stamped it with a gold ink ginko stamp in the center, which isn't very visible.

I then spray painted the backs of the dishes with my trusty gold Rust-o-leum, for a classier finish...

Once I got on a roll with these, they were pretty easy to make. I ended up making a bunch, using both found materials and pretty paper I got from Paper Source. I found that fabric was the easiest to work with since it bends and curves along with the dish. Also, in the future I'll stick with square plates.

I originally bought this lovely fabric to reupholster the regency chair with, but changed my mind when I saw it in the living room. Which left me with a yard of fabric to play with! I didn't take any pics, but I used a bright pink paper decoupaged over the back since I love the pairing of pink and green - makes me think of prep school.

Next time I head to the flea market, I'll look for some vintage botanical prints that I can use for my second foray into decoupage. I ended up gifting all these plates above with a personal note...

...but I kept my favorite dinky one for myself.

It makes me laugh every time I look at it.
I still haven't perfected the art of decoupage, but at least I'm 25% closer to those Rag & Bone boots.