Rust Patina

Rust patina, whether it is an applied finish or the actual rusting of iron or steel, is beautiful in its own organic way. It is used in many commercial applications, but is also incorporated into home designs.  The fireplace is created with plates of rusted steel.

House Beautiful

Rust steel fireplace

chemetalco steel backdrop

The following are photos of the first designer gas station in Spain, just outside of Madrid. The curved canopies are made out of corten steel plates and left to rust naturally.

Repsol service station

Repsol service station, aerial view

In order to create a rust patina, there are several items to pay attention to. You must start out with special paints, whether iron, copper or bronze, that are specifically made for this purpose. These water-based, acrylic paints contain a large number of actual metal particles, rather than mica flakes or pigment. The finely ground metal flakes create the look of a true metal surface. One applies a solution that speeds up the natural oxidation of the metal to develop the rust patina.

When applying the rust solution, careful attention needs to be paid to the product’s instructions. Because the solution is usually a mild acid, proper precautions should be taken, such as gloves meant for chemical protection and a face mask.

The next photo is a class sample from the All Aglow: Patinas and Metallics class at my studio.

Rust patina

When I moved into the old warehouse studio, this is one of the doors I needed to finish:

After I filled in the texture of the wonderful “wood”, I primed and then painted two coats of iron paint. Then the fun began! Several rust patina solutions were applied in every which way. I think the door is touched more than any other door I’ve seen! One caveat: because the rust patina is a result of a very organic process, it is not possible to accurately predict a specific shade of rust. The results are based on many conditions, such as temperature, humidity and air quality. Samples are definitely a good idea before beginning the final finish.

And, yes, it is sealed. You should definitely seal a rust patina if it is going to be exposed to extreme weather or if folks will come into contact with the finish.

However, do not seal with a polyurethane. Seal your rust patina with a high quality acrylic or solvent-based sealer.

door before

Finished door



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Filed under Faux finishes, Inspirations, paint

Oversized Damasks

Yes, I do love damasks, especially oversized damasks. They catch my eye every time, especially those incorporated into small, usually glass, tiles. They demand to be admired.
Damask, thought to have originated in Damascus, Syria, is probably the most popular woven pattern with any complexity. It enjoyed enormous favor in Europe from the mid-15th century on and is still favored today.
I am still working on a texture finish of small mosaic tiles with a gold leaf damask pattern. As soon as I get far enough, I’ll post pictures.
In the meantime, enjoy these oversized damasks!
Photography by Marcel Wanders Studio
Photography by Peter Margonelli

San Marco wallpaper Quadrille Fabrics

Bergonzi wallpaper Nina Campbell through Osborne & Little

Eau Spa at Ritz-Carleton Palm Beach

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Friday Favorites

Friday means fun and favorite things to me. Just knowing that soon you’ll have a couple days off automatically boosts my spirits!

Here are a few of my favorite images and inspirations.

What a fun way to create a focal point in the room and make your  bed’s headboard at the same time. This work of art could have been created with paints or Venetian plaster.

Painted headboard in French Style at Home

I saw this charming set of cafe doors in Paris, which inspired me…

Cafe doors in Paris

to create this plaster finish for a client’s powder room:

French Indochine finish

In France, this is a must see store to visit for me. I love their print ads!

Ressource Paints

In the book, French Style at Home by Sebastien Siraudeau, I saw this damask settee and

Damask settee in French Style at Home

actually based this finish on it for a living room. Six panels of varying widths were completed and framed (frames are not on yet here) with molding.

Metallic damask finish

My favorite way to choose a finish for a client is to have them bring me their inspirations;  I’ll take it from there and dream and experiment till we nail it!

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Filed under Design, Faux finishes, paint, Plasters

Beautiful lime plasters

Once you’ve seen an authentic lime washed wall, you’ll remember it. Touch a smooth lime plaster wall and you’ll remember it. There is something about its sleek, creamy feel…  If you’ve traveled in Italy or France or Mexico, chances are that you’ve seen these mottled, weathered, lime plaster walls.

They seem as hard as stone and that is because they are.

Orenzo Design

Lime based plasters and paints are mixed with natural pigments only. The pigments must be suitable to mix with the lime or they will not remain stable and fade over time.

Lime plaster has been used for thousands of years. The entire process is long and involved. Limestone is “cooked” until the chunks disintegrate and become a powder known as calcium oxide. This lime powder is then mixed with water and left to slowly age or “slake”. It is this slaked lime, in a putty form, that is mixed with varying amounts of marble dust and sand. The pigments are added at this time. In this day and age, other ingredients are often added to the lime plaster mix.

Generally, several layers are applied to the walls. As the lime dries, the water is absorbed into the wall and the carbon dioxide “slakes” the lime, rendering the material back to limestone. And it is as hard as stone.

Applying lime plasters directly to a latex or alkyd (otherwise known as oil based) painted wall will not work; lime plasters and paints need to have a special base that allows the lime to adhere to it.

Lime washes are created by mixing the lime putty with water to a milky consistency and applying the wash with a brush.  It has a faded, almost pastel look, that appears authentically weathered.  Lime based paints are generally used to let the walls “breathe” rather than locking in humidity. They are excellent for bathrooms and kitchens as they are a deterrent to mold.

Doors with blue lime wash Photo by Yann Monel

Photo by Ricardo Labougle

Lime wash on exterior Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Photo by Eric Piasecki

Photo by Carlos Domenech

Lime wash walls Photo by Simon McBride

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Filed under Faux finishes, paint, Plasters

I want to live here!

I just fell in love with Claire Basler’s studio/home when I opened the March 2010 issue of Elle Décor UK. An old iron works building on the outskirts of Paris houses this wonderfully talented artist. Claire’s love of flowers and her garden are certainly reflected in her work.

Being surrounded by so much natural light and having the subject you love to paint right at your fingertips sounds heavenly.

The colors mixed with the grays, the old and the new, the shiny and the textured… the combinations work.

Here it is! (All photos from Elle Décor UK, photos by Mads Mogensen)

A few of her paintings (courtesy of

I love the silver and gold leaf backgrounds in these photos!

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Filed under Gold leaf gilding, Inspirations, paint, studio

Mariano Fortuny- Did you know he also painted?

When I think of Mariano Fortuny, lush velvets and delicate, pleated silks come to mind.  The “Delphos” dress is a classic. The “Fortuny lampshade” is also. The beautiful damask fabrics, the gorgeous clothes.  His mystique.  What I did not realize is that he was also a very gifted painter. And engraver. And stage and lighting set designer. Some of his inventions set new benchmarks in theater that are still followed today.

Silk lampshades in Mariano Fortuny 1999 Marsilio Editori

Fortuny velvet

Mariano Fortuny (y Madrazo) was born in Grenada, Spain in 1871. After his painter father’s early death at age 36 of malaria in 1874, his mother moved her two young children to Paris, where Mariano was encouraged to study painting and etching under his uncle’s tuteledge. He was introduced to many of the artists at the time through his family and exposed to many styles of painting.   In 1889, his mother moved the family to Venice. Mariano spent time in both Venice and Paris, before finally settling in the Palazzo Orfei.  Today it is now called the Palazzo Fortuny, as it houses the museum dedicated to Fortuny and his works.

Here are some views of the Palazzo Fortuny:

Palazzo Fortuny exterior in Fortuny by Guillermo de Osma

Palazzo Fortuny exterior in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

The Grand Salon in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Palazzo Fortuny in Fortuny by Guillermo de Osma

The library in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Fortuny's studio in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Fortuny worked in oils, gouache and tempera, creating his own color pigments. He favored copper plate etching, which, along with his painting, greatly influenced his later creations in silk and velvet. He learned the subtle use of color and the importance of light to achieve the dramatic effects seen in his textiles.

Here are  some of Fortuny’s paintings:

"Una roccia a pareti verticali sulla riva del mare" 1948

Prove alla Scala di Milano

Ritratto di Henriette Fortuny in costume pompeiano, 1935

Here Fortuny painted his own Palazzo:

Interno dell'atelier del pittore a palazzo Pesaro-Orfei a Venezia

Painted by Fortuny's father, Mariano Fortuny Y Marsal (1835 - 1874)

And last, but not least, my favorite:

Schizzo per la decorazione dell'atelier dell'artista a Venezia


Filed under Fortuny- paintings and fabric, Inspirations

A few of my favorite things

Isn’t this the cutest thing? When I saw this book, I knew I just had to use it as my Blog Book. It is my calendar of  “assignments,” along with topic ideas and potential photos. (I cleaned it up a bit…)

My blog book

Although I don’t remember where I found this photo, I hope to find these candlesticks some day. Anyone know where they are from?

Lately, I’ve been loving color combinations such as these. The door has a wonderful patina which looks like old lime paint. I love the teal and burgundy together.

I saw this ad last year and have been trying to decide where to try this color combo from Ligne Roset. It’s not just the color combo, though. It is the lushness of the velvet in contrast with the aged roughness of the concrete.

Today’s favorite things is going to become Friday’s Favorites. I’d love to see what items and ideas my fellow bloggers love, too!

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Filed under color, Design, Inspirations