Master Pho at CAFAM

Master Pho at CAFAM

Having seen the extraordinary show, “Shadow of the Turning“, at the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles, we wanted to return the following Sunday, to see master crafts-person and artist Binh Pho wind up the show with a demonstration of his work techniques.

Shadow of the Turning” is also the name of a book, an integral part of the show, written by Pho in  collaboration with writer, curator and  director of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Ojai, CA, Kevin Wallace.

WEB1Pho uses, as I understand it, a dental drill,  to create a delicate lace of designs in this ultra-thin wood bowls he turns.

WEB2He demonstrated his techniques from 1-5pm, in the long courtyard outside of the Museum, attended by dedicated band of fascinated onlookers.

WEB3Pho jokingly explained that should he make a “mistake”, such as making an unplanned cut or shape or edge, he could incorporate it into the design later.  His humor is warm, engaging and infectious, and seems a bit “Zen“.

WEB5He applies a sticky film called “frisket” to the surface of the bowl, through which he cuts designs to create a stencil.

WEB6He then airbrushed color through the stencil design onto the wood surface, using acrylic paints…Golden Acrylics, in this case.

WEB4He worked at a table, outside, in December (LA weather not withstanding) surrounded by his myriad tools and materials, seeming completely at ease, stopping only to crack a little joke, or share a humorous anecdote with the crowd.

WEB7He is based in Illinois, and teaches at, “places like Anderson Ranch.” How lucky we were to have him share  his marvelously imaginative and intricate work with us in person, in conjunction with his show.

Possibly a once in a lifetime experience. (Which seems to happen a fair amount in Los Angeles.) Gratitudes to the CAFAM for making this all possible.

May 2016 be a year of magical possibilities and transformation.  Binh Pho does it his way…we can do it ours.

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Some Kind of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful

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It is wonderful fun to create these “Artissima Lumens

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These (plastic!)  light switch plates become tiny canvasses, ready for adornment (including the tiny metal screws).

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Each one is carefully sanded, primed and base painted with waterborne paint.

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The surface is then ‘textured” with semi-transparent, waterborne glaze.

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The glaze is manipulated over the dry,  base painted surface with tools such as sponges, rags and specialty brushes.

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Because the glaze is semi-sheer, the base paint shows through, but as an altered hue, with added depth and complexity.

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When dry, the glaze treatment provides an evocative  surface to paint, stencil, stamp and further embellish on.

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Next, pattern, imagery more texture and color are added, often with stencils artfully arranged.

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Finally, the whole surface is varnished, sealed with a clear coat of acrylic (again, waterborne), to add sheen and durability.

Some kind of wonderful experience…this process, and the satisfaction in creating “Artissima Lumens“!

“Folk Art Everywhere”

“Folk Art Everywhere”

CAFAM, or the Craft and Folk Art Museum, in Los Angeles, has  marvelous public programs.

 Called “Folk Art Everywhere“, this unique program … promotes the unique cultural and artistic landscape of Los Angeles by bringing art into unexpected spaces and celebrating all folk. Look for us in restaurants, markets, community centers, coffee shops, bookstores and other places where people naturally gather.”

All over the city, interested participants can learn to build their own percussion instruments, help to create a one-hour radio segment, or, as we did recently, observe and savor a Traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

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Held at the  Little Ethiopian Restaurant, located in no other than the  “Little Ethiopia” neighborhood of L.A., our adventure was kicked off by the owner sharing with us the concept and meaning of the traditional coffee-making ritual of his native Ethiopia.

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We were a varied, enthusiastic, and fascinated group, asking many questions, such as what was the significance of the popcorn displayed in bowls on the long table. Answer as I understood it: the popcorn represents the harvest.  And, it is a fun and tasty little prelude to the freshly made coffee we were going to taste.

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The raw coffee beans are roasted.  The popcorn is nibbled.

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An electric burner substitutes for the traditional brazier, and modern coffee grinder for the more time-consuming mortar and pestle.

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The Jebena,  the traditional container used to brew the coffee, is usually made of pottery. “Typically when the coffee boils up through the neck it is poured in and out of another container to cool it, and then is put back into the jebena until it happens again. To pour the coffee from the jebena a filter made from horsehair or other material is placed in the spout of the jebena to prevent the grounds from escaping.” —http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jebena

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Our lovely and friendly guide!

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The moment we have all been waiting for, (or I have, anyway!).  Encouraged by the tantalizing fragrance, we are at last able to “wake up and smell the coffee”…and taste it too!

I am here to tell you…it didn’t disappoint!  And neither did the delicious Ethiopian lunch we enjoyed afterwards.  We needed some sustenance to go with our coffee, of course.

Learning about cuisine and culture, enjoying gastronomic delights, chatting with like-minded individuals…what’s not to love?

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Many thanks to Mr. Sonny Abegaze, Project Manager, Folk Art Everywhere, A Project of the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

Another example of L.A.’s moveable feast.  Don’t miss it.  Folk Art  IS Everywhere!

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

In the spirit of the process of the necessity of the…well…updating, overhauling, revamping, refurbishing, and just re-ing the online presence of ArtiFactory Studio, and Artissima ventures….and, about to add/subtract/move around work from my site, I thought I would share some of the work completed since my last site update (yikes, was it really three years ago?), and look at some of the media, processes, forms and approaches that are part of the wide world of decorative painting.

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I created a line of hand-painted light switch plates which I call, “Artissima Lumens“, which though small, do take a lot of work and focus to complete! Sanding the plastic or wooden surface, as well as screws/hardware, priming it, base painting it, and then…the embellishment, adornment, decoration (hmm…not a good word in art school!), whatever you want to call it. This can include hand painting images, gradating color, stenciling  a design, pattern, image or scene, adding layers of semi-transparent glaze, and most often, a combination of some, many, or even all of these!

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Mid-Century design, style, decor and imagery can be rich fodder for decorative painting on the wall, as evidenced by these bedroom accent walls. The dawn of the atomic age, coupled with star-bursts, floral imagery, and geometric shapes and patterns can be inspirational. These treatments, based on a sketch (above with mirror), made by, and a re-imagined image, (immediately above), found by the Client constitute a creative collaboration that bore Mid-C fruit in both a guest and master bedroom.

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There is nothing quite like custom,  hand painted imagery on a wall, or ceiling.  Above, the Fightin’Irish and Michigan State logos find a home in the room of a young boy, with an avid avian interest. Custom-designed stenciled and hand-painted birds fly across his ceiling and desk wall, and perch above the entrance to his bath.

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Stenciling, and the art of repeated pattern is an effective and beautiful way to create a border. Especially effective in a room, such as this bath, with no crown molding.  The bright color ties the room together with the strong artwork displayed there, and connects to the vibrant colors seen throughout the rest of the house.

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Exterior  decorative painting on the wall, any wall, can go a long way towards brightening up an area that is often dark, and shrouded in fog, as many decks, patios, yards and porches are in the vast and often overcast Sunset District neighborhood of San Francisco. The painting of a colorful wall mural on the rough textured shingled siding of this deck not only brightened the area, and extended the adjoining living space to the outdoors, it also gave the inhabitants a colorful “garden” to look at through their kitchen window.  Doing dishes is going to be a lot more fun now in that house!

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“MINDS HEARTS HANDS VOICES” is the motto for  Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco. The painting of the motto so that is can be seen through the front windows communicated the basic approach and philosophy of the school. Samples of blue hues, and font styles were presented to the Headmaster and Development Director, who chose which to use. The intent was to keep the image and the message clean, clear and simple, albeit elegant, and let the words do the talking!

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House numbers  for HGTV Curb Appeal, “It’s All in the Details” episode were created with customized, hand-cut stencils, based on a font chosen by the host, John Gidding. Gradated shading using highlight and shadow was added to give the illusion of depth.

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The Flying Cranes project at The Briggs Residence (a historic residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles) was the brainchild of architect Kaitlin Drisko, of Drisko Studio Architects, who wanted to transform the living room TV cabinet into a work of art . In conjunction with the Owner, and Owner’s rep Paul Davidson, designs and imagery for both the interior and exterior were developed collaboratively.  The exterior sides of the cabinet doors are gilded with composition gold leaf, or schlag metal, then painted with the cranes composition.

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The interior of the doors are stippled with  layers of gold, blue and red paint hues, then stenciled with a custom motif adapted especially for the project. When open, the articulated doors frame the TV screen.  The piece is designed to be a focal point in the room whether the doors are open or closed, the television on or off.

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It is fascinating to look back over a three year span of work, and contemplate all the uses of decorative painting.  It is a form that marries function and beauty, usefulness and aesthetics, craft, visual art, architecture and design.  Playing at once subtly and powerfully through our visual landscape, decorative painting makes its mark!

Glimmer, Glamor, Glow and Glitter

Glimmer, Glamor, Glow and Glitter

Glow and glimmer, sheen and shimmer…the holidays are almost upon us…with their pressure, their joy, their longing, and their brilliance.

Stenciled  light switch covers, metallic  bathroom stripes, gilded stairway banisters, and golden ceilings created with layers of glaze are just a few of the unending treatments which can add shine, glitter and glamor to the space of the  built environment.

Dutch metal enhances a floret, and tinted wax a medallion…applications creating the illusion of precious metal are limitless.

Gilded furniture details spring to life against black, creating an elegant and festive air. Black tie optional, anyone?

       

Gold is not the only star…silver and copper have exciting roles to play for all ages, , both inside and out.

So…wish upon a star this holiday season…and, glow for it!

The Objects of Our Affection: Vignettes 3

The Objects of Our Affection: Vignettes 3

Mystery

Familiarity

Artistry

Wearability

Functionality

Are our objects expressions of our love?

Our drama?

Our hopes, dreams, wishes, needs and desires?

Do our vignettes express that which we are, or that which we aspire to?

Or, are they the place where these meet?

Have a little fun…express yourself, and play…mix and match, or don’t match.

Live a little.

Juxtapose, and strike a pose, then tear it all down, and start again.

Refresh.

Fresh.

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

Object Lessons: Vignettes 2

What makes a place your own…that goes beyond style, decoration and decor, becoming a personal expression that spells H-O-M-E, even  if the space involved is your place of business, work or office?  The way we put our objects of meaning together is a form of creative expression that is unique to each of our beings… in ways we don’t even seem to be conscious of.

Birds of a feather…flock together, or, do they?  There seems to be a common human urge to organize our aesthetic views by placing objects that have commonality together.  It might be common physical characteristics such as  color, shape, pattern or size, a common function, such as things to read, things to drink from, things to put plants in, or  a common material: ceramics, metal or  glass.

Or…the assembled objects may have a commonality known, and felt, only by the assemblers, and those they know, love and live with.  The “collection”, however spare, may be composed of objects which resonate with shared memory, joy, triumph, or transcendence, and which have an ineffable but profound effect on those in the know who gaze on them.

Other groupings may combine a number of these attributes, and create whimsy, humor, an inside joke, or, an outside joke.  The choice to display objects from different cultures which inter-relate on the basis of color, pattern, size and scale add other layers of meaning, and their juxtaposition may create new associations, or uncover existing ones.

The associations of “new”, and “old”, vintage, or contemporary, “My mother bought me that TV” or “My sister brought those slippers home from India” , speak to our memories, where we are now,  and even where we want to be- our longings, desires, dreams, hopes and wishes.  They are all there, impelling our choices, informing our decisions, coloring our moods, our plans,  our moments and our minds.

Reflected or unknowingly  expressed in the way we place our “stuff”…whether seemingly thrown together, or carefully designed and thought out on a conscious level, may be the design and drama of our whole lives, and an expression of the highs and lows, the needs and aspirations, the joys and sorrows therein.

What have YOU expressed through Your H=O=M=E arrangements, assemblages, collages, collections, compositions, and displays?

if You feel so inclined, please share about them with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all designing, assembling, collecting, gathering and displaying our way through this thing called Life, together.

E-LUMEN-8 your life

E-LUMEN-8

Your Life…

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor. They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

The plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”, readying the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Gold, silver, copper and bronze metallic media add luminescence, glow, and glimmer which  catch the light and animate the surface.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic , contemporary or celebratory.

The necessary hardware or screws are treated as part of the whole, and treated to each successive application.  They become part of the visual composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with  water-borne varnish. The “Lumen” is now is ready to eLUMENate its chosen light switch, and give the user a jolt of light energy.

Experience shows that we can become more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive through interaction with our visual surroundings.  Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings, and thus both our interior and exterior landscape.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

BELIEVE

CREATE SUCCESS

 HAVE GRATITUDE

The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

Once upon a time, after the New Year of 2011 had begun, and before 2010 taxes were due, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an esteemed Client and associate, to add that “finishing touch” (actually, the window treatments came afterwards) to a very special Guest Bath.

This Bath was in the process of being transformed, from a place of day to day use by his son, now gone off  to college, to a fresh and fun “new” space for his fiance, who tended towards a minimalist, Mid-Century,  New York sensibility.

My awesome Client, himself a long-time Berkeley, CA resident, has an eclectic design sense, informed by extensive travels around the globe,

art collected at home and abroad,

and a love of bright color,

rug patterns,


and funky furniture.

Indeed, he has done much of the interior painting in his home himself.

We discussed that bathroom in question, and I took a look…

It was freshly painted, with colorful artwork, of course,

and the green tile had to be taken into consideration.

I chose three repeating stencil designs, and made Samples for my Client and his Intended to look at on site, in the room. Taking my cue from the tile, the artwork, the colors in the adjacent hallway and throughout the home, I used cerulean blue and deep forest green, nature colors that would contrast beautifully with the base coat,  Benjamin Moore OC57, “White Heron”,  give a clean fresh feel to the room, and support its function.

I also wanted the design to reflect both a feminine and masculine sensibility, and be able to marry both eclectic-world beat-funky tastes with minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined preferences. Or, try, anyway.

I was thrilled that the Client chose a custom stencil that I had created from an existing source years ago, for a master bath suite  in another and very different East Bay city.  Happily, the design contained both geometric and organic elements, that created both a sense of movement and stability.

It was fun, it was crafty, it was elegant, yet funky, and the Client supported my idea of applying the paint color in a mottled, layered, and textural way.  Best of all, in the words of my Client’s fiance, “It complete(d)  the room!”.  As I was concerned that she be as happy with the result as he, this comment was music to my ears.

The repeated design pulls out colors in the artwork,

and creates a bower for the painted lovers.

The blue and green hues set off the strong red accents prevalent throughout the home.

The stenciled effect is multiplied through reflection.

A spot application of invisible clear varnish protects the stenciled border from the effects of moisture.

With careful planning, enhanced by Client collaboration, even a room already containing strong elements of art and color can be “completed” through the well-placed pattern, whether hand-painted, stenciled, printed or plastered. That extra addition of artful love and care to a space can really “pull it together”, and bring it to the next level of design and artistry.  A stenciled border can contain and express both feminine and masculine elements within its design.  Eclectic-world beat-funky can marry minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined. My Client/s, and our collaboration have proved that!

Have YOU ever “married” sensibilities, styles and approaches in Your projects?

If you feel so inspired,  please share about it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all collaborating in this thing called Life,  together.   Cheers!



Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “niche” as:

  • a recess in a wall especially for a statue b: something (as a sheltered or private space) that resembles a recess in a wall
  • a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
  • a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species
  • the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption
  • a specialized market

What is the connective tissue between the various definitions above? It seems to me that the term “niche” indicates a unique space specific to an individual, species or thing.

Those of us in the fields of decorative painting, carpentry, wood working, design, architecture and building most likely have designed, created, built, painted or adorned a niche or two at one point or another.

Those of us in our own businesses, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, creative-preneurs, creators, and those of us training, schooling, learning, job-searching,  job creating , or job holding,  have at least one thing in common: we want, need, or are compelled to “find our niche“, our “place” in our respective fields, professions, markets, companies, schools, programs, jobs, or careers. We are moved to find that  elusive (and sometimes colorful!)  unique space which seems to defines us authentically,  in our worlds of work, family, society, and community.

Abby Kerr, copywriter,  blogger, niche marketer, and owner of Abby Kerr Ink says of her work: “It’s about nichifying your offerings to meet your right people right where they are.” .  Within the “niche” business model, the proposition of uniqueness in gifts, talents, voice, sensibilities, skills, and offerings would seem to be a given.

So it is with Clients, who wish to express themselves by making something even more unique of their architectural niche space, at home.

Beloved Clients of mine purchased a “dream” retirement home…well, a house they planned to transform with color, design, furnishings, and decorative painting INTO their dream home, with the skilled assistance of various vendors.

Their realtor suggested a mural application for the hitherto unadorned wine bar niche, and the game was on!

Niche before "niche-y" adornment

My Clients had spent decades living in Southern California, and were enchanted by the Sonoma Wine Country in which their new house was situated.  They were  thrilled about making the Wine Country a theme in their new home.

We chatted about vineyard scenes, and determined we didn’t want a “prototypical” one.  We looked at photos, colors, applications and mock-ups.  We determined that a softly rendered scene of lines of vines gently receding to meet misty hills under a golden sky would be best.  I applied the mural with semi-transparent washes of glaze, as opposed to opaque paints, (an unusual approach) to the back wall of the niche, and glazed its side walls and ceiling in layers of red wine-y colors.  Involved with the whole process from start to finish, my Clients were delighted with the outcome. which reflected THEM, and the unique place they were at in their lives, right at that moment.

"Niche-y" adornment reflects Them

The entire wall into which the “niche-y” Wine Bar niche was placed was treated in concert with its “niche-y” focal point, the Vineyard mural.  The walls were painted a strong red, mitigated by an application of three deeper  red “wine-y” hued glazes applied simultaneously.  An original “adage” penned by the Clients was lettered in “grapey” purple, and sparkling metallic colors.  The built-in cabinetry and bottle storage were base painted and wood grained (treated with “faux bois”) in tones of “sweet rosy brown” , which worked beautifully with the bar’s countertop.

The Niche is part of the Whole

My Clients were pleased with a result which reflected Them, and their unique take on where they felt themselves to be, right at that moment.  The process of developing a “niche-y” design of artful applications in their Wine Bar niche, and throughout their new home during a time of transition helped them through that transition, and eased their way into a new phase of life. You might say that they “niched” their new home to reflect the people they had become, and created a “niche” of the entire house which would  support them in their adaptation to retirement, containing and expressing both the effects of their “old” life, and expressing their excitement about the new.

In this way, “nich-ing” can not only become an expression of our deepest selves, our uniqueness, offerings and worth, it can also help us to embrace our lives and experiences as they are now, and move more confidently, and happily, into the future.

When have you used your art or craft to create or enhance a niche, for yourself, or for others?  What was the quality of the process and its outcome?  If you feel so inspired, please share your unique, “niche-y” experience with us. We love to hear from you. Remember, we are all  in this thing called Life, together.