Monday, March 7, 2016

Artful Design

I've been thinking of abstract art lately. It might be because we just visited the Artist Project last month.... I know abstract art isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love the way splashes of colour create a focal point int the room, while picking up or complimenting some of the other colours present. When I was studying at the OCAD, I really didn't like to paint that much. My favourite medium was always coloured pencil, and doing detailed drawings with them. I'm always about complicated and intricate design, but for some reason lately I've been itching to paint and use colour freely. I'll have to try, but in the meantime I looked up some images on the Internet for inspiration.

Carol Finell via Etsy

Sarina Diakos via Etsy
Sarina Diakos via Etsy

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Powerful Powder Rooms

Powder rooms are small spaces, but you can give them a huge visual punch by using eye-catching wallcoverings. There are so many interesting, colourful and playful wallpapers to choose from! It's also less intimidating for those who want to ease into using wallpaper. It's not a large wall space, it feels more manageable than having to commit to covering a whole living room wall with wallpaper, and you can most likely get away with buying just a couple of rolls of wallpaper to cover it.

I chose some of my favourite designs. Enjoy!

Acquario Fornasetti wallpaper from Cole & Son by Ann Lowengart Interiors
Beautiful Tulip wallpaper by Rebecca Loewke Interiors
Gondola wallpaper from Cole & Son in a powder room designed by Ann Lowengart Interiors.
Victorian powder room using Osborne & Little's Derwent wallpaper by Jamie Hempsall Interiors.
Monkey wallpaper from de Gournay by  Brian O'Tuama Architects
Another beautiful de Gournay wallpaper by Ann Lowengart Interiors
Zebra from Scalamandre by Liz Caan Interiors
I couldn't resist... Koi Chinoiserie wallpaper from Judit Gueth by Melody Smith Interiors
 Koi Silver wallpaper from Judit Gueth by Galarasa Interiors
 Koi Lake wallpaper from Judit Gueth by Meredith Heron Interiors

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beautiful Poisonous Green

Last weekend we took a trip to the Bata Shoe Museum. I love the museum, but there is an exhibit that's even more interesting than the rest. It's called "Fashion Victims". The exhibit detailed all the perils of 19th Century fashion, including being under dressed in pretty short sleeved muslin dresses with Empire waists, wearing arsenic laced green fabric, poisonous children's socks, flammable dresses, and it also talked about poisonous wallpapers from William Morris.

As a wallpaper designer, it was really interesting to see how little attention was paid to the ill health effects of arsenic laced wallcoverings and fabrics in the 19th Century. At this day and age, we make sure, that our wallcoverings are as "green" as possible, but in Victorian England being "green" had quite a different meaning. Scheele's Green and Paris Green were popular pigments, and they were used in wallpapers, fabrics, threads, paper, children's toys, candles, even as food dyes in sweets. No wonder no kid is attracted to green candies nowadays! Toxic greens were also used by many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters, like Cezanne and Van Gogh. Eeks!

Scheele's green contains copper arsenite. There are two theories on how toxic particles got into the air: in damp and warm rooms, these green wallcoverings might have released arsenic gases into the air poisoning everyone around, or there might have been possible flaking or dusting of the pigments that got into the air.

Funny thing was, when people got sick, they were confined to their poisonous rooms, and most likely were giving arsenic to treat their afflictions.

Wallpaper manufacturers eventually did become aware of the dangers of these deadly shades of green and started to offer arsenic free . Apparently, William Morris' wallcoverings were first manufactured with arsenic pigments (according to a post by the Victoria and Albert Museum, William Morris' father owned large copper and arsenic mines), but were forced to find alternatives by 1875.

Cover of Morris & Co. Stand Book. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fashion Victims of the 19th Century
Ben freaking out over Elton John's shoes
Peek a Boo
Beautiful arsenic laced dress and William Morris wallpaper (possible arsenic laced as well)
My Little Hobbit

Friday, February 26, 2016

My IKEA Hack with Stefan chairs and a simple unfinished table

I had this unfinished IKEA table and some simple Stefan chairs. They were getting really nasty looking, so I thought I'd give them a make-over. I'd always wanted to try redoing furniture, so I rolled my sleeves up to do some painting and upholstering.

Before and After shots of my IKEA hack
Here is how I did it. I have a 6 year old little boy, so naturally, I wanted a non-toxic and fast drying paint. After looking at home-improvement stores and not having any luck, finally, I found a whole isle of them at Michaels! Who knew they existed!! I chose a nice chocolate brown paint from craftsmart. It was really easy to work with a dried super fast.

For the chairs I chose a fabric with a Florence Broadhurst design - Japanese Florals. It's funny, because at the fabric store they didn't sell it as her design, it was just a no-name fabric, but of course a long-time fan of her work I spotted it immediately. I got my batting and foam for cushions and basically cut the cushion to the size of the seat and stapled the batting first then the fabric to the wood. 

The foam is cut to size
Cutting  the batting to size
The batting is stapled to the seat
Seat with the foam and batting stapled
Measuring the fabric
The fabric is almost stapled to the seat
There, done! Once the seats were done I could put the screws back and attach them to the frame. Be careful though not to bulk up the fabric too much, because the screws won't have enough room, or if that happens you can use longer screws to put the chair back together. And it's done! I have a black and white rug, that I designed a while ago, and since it was black and white I just had to try it with the new chairs. It's great, but maybe not for the kitchen floor! Let me know what you think!

Judit Gueth IKEA hack with Stefan chairs and unfinished table
The finished table and chairs
Judit Gueth IKEA hack with Stefan chairs and unfinished table
The chairs and table with the Rococo rug

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What's the white powder under my rug??

Do you have a hand-tufted rug? Did you notice that there was white powder under it?

The white powder under your rug is latex, and its powdery mess is a common occurrence with hand-tufted rugs. Hand-tufted rugs are constructed from different parts that are "glued" together. There is a canvas with the design mapped out that the wool strands are inserted into using a tufting gun. This is a quick and cheap way of making a plush rug with amazing colours and endless design possibilities. The industry still calls it and sells it as "handmade", but it's a far cry from the hand-knotted rugs, which are really constructed by tying each individual knot by hand.

Once the design is complete, they coat the canvas with latex and attach a cotton backing to the rug. The problem with hand-tufted rugs is, that they don't last for a long time. While hand-knotted wool rugs can withstand the passing of years, latex can't. Sooner or later it will start breaking down and that's the powdery substance you see under your rug. It is harmless, unless you're allergic to latex, but it can be annoying. Simple vacuuming will keep it in check. You can also turn the rug upside down and vacuum the back once in a while. Using a rug pad will also help keep the powder away from your floors.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Our trip to the Artist Project

Last weekend we visited the Artist Project. It was a lot of fun, and even Ben handled the whole exhibition, which is pretty good for a 6 year old busy little monkey!

Mark Berens, my friend from OCAD was exhibiting and offered free tickets for the show. I'm so glad we went, and the weather was amazing, even for a lake shore walk afterwards. Thanks again Mark! :-)

Here are some of Mark's paintings of Canadian landscapes that are full of texture, rhythm and movement. 

I also liked the intricate little machines of James Paterson. Ben loved them too and tried to make them move.


Victor Molev's detailed surreal paintings were definitely eye candy in some magical world.

I loved the graphic, illustrative quality of Bill Keast's work. The yellow leaves just transport you right in the middle of a sunny fall afternoon.

I also liked the whimsical paintings of JoEllen Brydon, especially the snowy scenes.

Of the abstract painters I really liked the paintings of Claire Desjardins. It's funny, because on the way to the show we were chatting with a gentleman on the streetcar, who was visiting her and I took note of name to come by her booth.

And Lori Mirabelli's abstract work.

Ben with a chair sculpture by Rushdi Anwar

And a nice walk by Lake Ontario