Story of 50th Wedding Anniversary Art from the Perverted, Morbid Heart

My parent’s 50th wedding anniversary was last month — worth celebrating, right!? While they said they did not want us to give gifts, how can you not give something? They didn’t want us to spend on more stuff because we all have plenty of stuff. So I decided to give a gift of “art from the heart.” Made by me, with things found around our house:

Mughal Arch Scrapbook Paper and Stencil Collage

Today I’ll share a story of the bizarre, silly trail of thought that can happen when you develop a creative project. This 50th wedding anniversary gift had inspiration that a 50th anniversary should not have! In the next post I’ll share a how-to tutorial.

So first, what is this art made with? Well, layered and patterned collages made with scrapbook papers and paint are becoming my “thing to do.”

Scrapbook Paper Projects

I already had a foot-tall stack of patterned scrapbook papers to choose from in my craft stash. Paper is a perfect memento as my mom, sister and I usually play with paper when we get together, and do silly giggling and sometimes snort-laughing. One time my mom wound up with potato chips behind her glasses and I don’t know how that happened but there is photographic evidence. Which I won’t post here!

A WEIRD WILD RIDE

So what to create with the paper and paint?

This is where my inspiration process can go on a weird, wild ride. The inspiration trail started with a promo email from Jaypore, one of my favorite sellers of creations from India. The email had a “love poems in marble” theme with products made of inlaid marble like you see in Agra at the Taj Mahal.

Jaypore Love Poems in Marble Marble Inlay from Agra

So thinking of love symbols, and with my affinity for India, of course the Taj Mahal’s story would be dreamy! Right? A man commissions this immense structure that took over 20 years to build, because of his eternal love for his favorite wife among all his wives!

My dad actually has only one wife so I am pretty sure she is his favorite as well. I have stencils that could replicate the Taj Mahal’s floral inlaid patterns. I could paint a “love poem in marble!” I even searched for romantic sentiments uttered by Shah Jahan (the creator of the Taj) for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, to turn into a love poem.

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal

Above is Shah Jahan gazing at the Taj Mahal, the final resting place of his beloved Mumaz Mahal, while he was under house arrest in Agra. Clearly that is not his beloved Mumtaz Mahal with him, but as I said, he had numerous wives, so apparently whatever is going on is all legit.

But other than the polygamy problem, the dreamy love dream totally blew up in my face for another reason. Because the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum! Built out of great love, yes, but “morbid mausoleum art” inspired by a building built for a dead wife is not the celebratory tone I was shooting for, for a 50th wedding anniversary where both people are very much alive.

Need another idea.

Mughal Arches and Tamil Script

I always “saw” a Mughal arch as part of the design. I could still use an arch, it just wouldn’t be the Taj Mahal. Instead, I saw a collage of an anonymous Mughal arch and … script! But what script? Well, what about literally, a love poem? A love poem in Hindi? Because at this point in ideation, my mind was still geographically close to the Taj Mahal and Mughal architecture and today’s leading language of the area.

The thing is, I have a husband who is from India. And he doesn’t speak Hindi at all. I’m not sure why whether my husband speaks Hindi or not should have anything to do with an anniversary gift for my parents. But it felt weird. In fact my husband speaks so little Hindi that the time we visited the Taj Mahal, we couldn’t communicate well with the taxi driver who drove us from Delhi to Agra. I was trying to translate English to Hindi on an iPhone app! That whole taxi drive turned into an experience we’d rather forget. Let’s just say he drove us into areas of Agra where there were very sad things to see. Long frustrating story short, turns out our driver couldn’t read the signs saying “Taj Mahal” in English on the freeway, so he didn’t know the way, which we didn’t know until we got in places where we shouldn’t be.

Taj Mahal

Anyway, when giving a gift it’s best to have happy associations. With that memory, putting a Hindi poem in this collage was maybe not the best idea.

So the next obvious idea is, why not find love poems in Tamil? Tamil is my husband’s native language and it also looks pretty when written, and perhaps even prettier when printed over patterns on papers. Priorities, here.

Tamil Love Poems

But finding “love poems written in Tamil” is kind of an obscure thing to seek! Thankfully for Google, I found “Sangam poems.” I learned it was a time in South India thousands of years ago. There were gatherings of poets and scholars and they wrote volumes literally and figuratively. The first web site I found had samples of Sangam love poems written in English and some were a pleasure to read. But what’s the point of a Tamil love poem written in English? So while spending entire episodes of House Hunters searching Google, I hit the jackpot. THOUSANDS (!!!) of Sangam poems!! All with Tamil script I can cut n’ paste into Photoshop!! My vision is gonna happen. SO exciting.

Sangam Period Poem

So exciting, except for that part about THOUSANDS of poems. And wading through hundreds of them to find just the right tone. Because a poem might be promising at first. A heroine is pining after her hero. Who left her behind in the village to go earn wealth after traveling over vast unknown distances through dangerous forests. The longing of the heart, how sweet! But then with no transition, the next line might be about bloody elephant tusks. And tigers ripping things apart.

People write about what they know. Obviously villagers were traumatized by elephants and tigers. They kept parrots and grew millet and bamboo. Women wore bangles and anklets. The villagers were afraid of the forests. There were warriors with spears and you’d better steer clear of them. Fishermen lusted after (for us in today’s times) under-age girls. There were lots of kohl-lined eyes. It’s not socially acceptable to leave the village to pursue wealth. While reading these poems, I learned a bit about life in South India long ago. I’d just like a bit more transition between the love sentiments and the killing of people in various ways.

Sangam Poem

WHAT KIND OF HEART DOES YOUR DAUGHTER HAVE

I also realize my parents would have no idea what the poem says if it’s printed in Tamil script atop a pretty scrapbook paper. I could even give a made-up translation! Which after reading 300 poems and not finding the right tone — there’s a lot of death, infidelity, and even eloping with forbidden loves — I seriously considered making up a poem. But I pressed on. Because a successful 50-year marriage cannot be built upon lies. So why would I put a fake poem — a big lie of a poem — in an art piece celebrating such a marriage? And what if by some chance someone  who knows Tamil visited my parents. And my parents (hopefully) proudly show off this “art from the heart” of their daughter. And the Tamil marriage love poem is actually a story of infidelity and lust for children. Oh my! What kind of heart does your daughter have?!?

I finally found a poem that would work. What I was thinking at that point is fuzzy. Because it was 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday night and I fell asleep on the couch. Without any pillow or blanket or anything. But I had a poem!

Sangam Love Poem

The next morning, because details are important, I thought using a North Indian Mughal arch might be inconsistent with a South Indian Tamil poem. So I go Googling again. And behold! I find information about architecture during the Sangam period when the poems were written. Then I find Chola temples in Thanjavur and they have arches. Yay! The arches fit the vision I originally saw. Although I know more about the Chola than is maybe healthy to know, I didn’t know whether the Chola ruled during the Sangam period. So, checked that detail. And indeed they did. Happy, happy.

I’ve got a poem.

I’ve got an arch.

They mesh well together.

We’re in business! Art may happen now!

This is how a creative project typically “germinates” here. Sometimes strange trails are followed to find inspiration.

This post has gotten long enough. So in a Part 2 post, I’ll show the DIY “how to do it” steps and you’ll see the vision emerge. I don’t think the final art is perverted or morbid, so it turned out okay.

 



Color: Coral + Indigo

In a moment of color serendipity, these two photos showed up next to each other on Pinterest:

Coral and Indigo

Is Pinterest getting so super smart that it’s analyzing color in photos? And serving up the same colors in a photo we just repinned?

Seeing these, I was struck by something about color:  they made me think about coral differently.

I’d always thought of coral as very Miami Vice-ish. Best left in the 80s. Like, bury that right along with Gordon Gekko, just as unsavory. But right now coral is trendy, and it’s even being teamed with teal again.

So plastic margarita glass … so Miami Vice …

That’s all I can see, I’m so sorry. I was an 80s teen so I lived through the 80s and really don’t want to live through it again, style-wise: the Flock of Seagulls hair, the Memphis style, the big-shouldered suits.

1980s Coral

Throw in green mint or lime with the coral and teal, and all I can see is Beach Vacation Condo Decor … it’s fine to live with for a week while you’re going all island calypso with colorful drinks and sand between your toes. But not to live with every day for years, in your house. Maybe it’s because I live near Chicago and these are not Midwestern colors? It’s way too much Don Johnson.

But.

I think the problem is all the bright clear colors. I feel compelled to sprinkle sea shells all over those clear colors.

The solution? Indigo

Dusty dusky indigo blue balances the brightness of coral and gives it some sophistication. The handmade nature of indigo and its origins from the hands of people in Southeast Asia, India, Africa … I think that’s the quality and “heart” that indigo brings. Slubby textures help too like these indigo pillows from One Kings Lane:

Indigo Pillows from One Kings Lane

Whereas the bright coral/teal/lime combo feels like it’s manufactured in a plant off the side of a New Jersey highway:

Manufactured Mint Coral Blue

That’s not a knock on New Jersey, I know great people from New Jersey, it’s a knock on mass manufacturing.

Even Don Johnson nowadays says “stick it” with the coral, go with the neutral:

Don Johnson what is he doing?

I had to work that photo in some how!

So, let’s go from silly mood to sophisticated look …

How do you “work it” with coral and indigo?

It’s a fine line to tread. The key is look for blues without green in them. Blue + Green = Teal. And coral and teal is how you get transported to 1980s Miami. Instead, look for dusty faded blues without green, or darker navy blues. Vintage indigo pieces mixed with coral help tone down that manufactured color feel. A textured beige in the mix is more updated too. Here are some good blues to look for …

A vintage print of a marine botanical shows a good “non-green blue” from Etsy shop High Street Vintage:

Vintage Coral Print from HighStreetVintage

Ralph Lauren via ABC Carpet & Home:

Ralph Lauren via ABC Carpet and Home

There are many more examples of indigo here on my Pinterest Indigo board:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Color – Indigo on Pinterest.

Add a dash of coral

Add just a bit of coral — reddish coral rather than girly-pinky coral — to the indigo blue. Mix in some textured neutrals. Include a few well-traveled global accessories or textiles.

This Treasury moodboard from Etsy by Stone House Artifacts shows how to do it well:

Etsy Treasury

This inspiration board for an indigo and coral wedding theme from Belle & Chic shows how to do it:

Indigo and Coral Wedding Theme from Belle and Chic

Another good example using navy and coral, this master bedroom makeover by DecorChick:

DecorChick Navy and Coral Bedroom

A pattern-full example from John Robshaw:

John Robshaw Indigo and Coral

You can often find the coral and indigo combo in Hmong hilltribe textiles. Like in this pillow from HomeGirlCollection on Etsy:

Hmong Pillow Indigo and Coral via HomeGirlCollection

And this Hmong indigo batik duvet cover from SiameseDreamDesign on Etsy:

Hmong Indigo Batik via SiameseDreamDesign

To wrap up, let’s get a closer look at the original color inspiration. It is Max Schödl’s “Oriental Still Life” actually painted back in 1907 with Oriental antiques:

Max Schoedl Oriental Still Life

Interesting that antique art inspired how to use coral in a more current way.

Max Schoedl Painting Detail

 



Goin’ to Goa: Beachy Bohemian Style

I am going to India again later this year, to Chennai the City rather than Goa the Beach. And I’ll be packin’ oversized boxy T-shirts and comfortable knit pajama pants with paint splatters all over them. But not for style! Because I’ll be painting in the India pied-à-terre. I’m also hauling my sewing machine across the planet to make the coolest curtains and other things for the apartment. So it’s a “working” vacation.

If I were on a relaxing seaside Indian vacation, Goa would be the place to go.  And …

When going to Goa, you gotta go bohemian!

Here’s some Goa boho chic style ideas from SHOP LATITUDE, showing the latest boho chic trends:

  • Fringe
  • Tassels
  • Pom poms
  • Beads
  • Semi-precious stones
  • Caftans
  • Maxi dresses

And no, this isn’t a sponsored post (I rarely do those) it’s just something that hit my email box that I thought would be good style ideas for summer vacations.

Fringe Elements Boho Style

I often wear black, even on hot summer days. Here’s how to wear black and be cool. If anyone should know how to make cool clothes for the heat, fashion labels from Mumbai and New Delhi would know.

Goa Boho Chic Style

Now, I realize these prices aren’t H&M bargains. I now choose to buy quality rather than super inexpensive. I find it costs less in the long run. Jewelry doesn’t fall apart, sweaters don’t pill too much, colors don’t fade, and fabrics don’t shrink in the wash as much. I’m only 5-feet tall, and seriously, I’ve had petite pants shrink so much they become floods for my height! Ridiculous! I’ve been burned by having these things happen too often with bargain priced clothes and jewelry. So lately I buy less, because it costs more up-front, yes, but I buy better. Anyway, look at these as style ideas, no matter what price point you’re looking for. You can find these bohemian styles in many stores right now.

BEACHY BOHO STYLE

Teal and Tassels

Yes it’s hot in the summer to wear a scarf, but I’d tie that scarf on the handle of the tote bag to add some more beachy blue color. Then it’s available for other uses, like to tie around your hair, or wrap around skin you want to protect from the sun.

Colorful Goa Town Style

Goa Gypsy Style

If you’re not goin’ to Goa, there’s no reason why these looks wouldn’t work at other popular beachy vacations like Cabo, Tulum, Belize. Or how about right in your own backyard?

 



Global Style at Tierra Del Lagarto

When you live in the suburbs in the Midwest, you might feel a little lonely when your style sense makes you hang a thangka, collect Burmese lacquerware, or use a rain drum as a side table next to your sofa. You might wonder, does anyone else out there like these things? Someone must, because these things are out there, and they’re sold. But I don’t know, I never see anything like these in anyone else’s house. My husband and I have lived on a little style island, all by ourselves.

Then along came Pinterest. Especially in the early days of Pinterest, it was easier to find people with similar global style. And that’s where I found Meg Van Lith of the Tierra Del Lagarto store in Scottsdale, Arizona years ago. If you follow her on Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook, it’s like you can virtually travel alongside as she searches for goods in India, Turkey, Morocco and Bali.

Then, join in the excitement as containers arrive and dozens of wooden printing blocks from India tumble out, such as these that she recently shared online:

Wood Indian Printing Blocks from Tierra del Lagarto

Watch as they unpack and share furniture with exquisite wood carvings and inlaid mother of pearl:

Tierra Del Lagarto Wood Carved and Inlaid Mother of Pearl Furniture

Get an eyeful of the graphic designs of Kuba cloth and mud cloth from Africa:

Kuba Cloth and Mud Cloth Pillows at Tierra del Lagarto

Seeing their photos of a Morocco shipment and so many familiar Moroccan things made me yearn to go back to Marrakech:

Moroccan Goods at Tierra del Lagarto

By the way, if anything here interests you, contact Meg — all her contact info is on the store’s website — and she can arrange shipping. She once contacted me while in Bali and asked if I’d be interested in some tjaps. Oh yes, yes I would! I now have some gorgeous tjaps in my collection thanks to Meg!

A few weeks ago I wound up at a meeting within a few miles of her store. Oh yay!! My husband and I stopped in and had a wonderful but way too-short chat with Meg and her mom Linda, and a stroll through their store. We had a plane to catch otherwise I might have brought my suitcase and moved in at Tierra Del Lagarto. After all, they have beds (sumptuously styled with pillows and patterns and textures!):

Bed Styling at Tierra del Lagarto in Scottsdale

Bedroom Styling at Tierra del Lagarto

Handira Bed Styling at Tierra del Lagarto

They have living room areas to lounge:

Living Room Scene at Tierra del Lagarto

Pattern Mix at Tierra del Lagarto

They have tables to dine:

Dining Table at Tierra del Lagarto in Scottsdale

Tile Table at Tierra del Lagarto

The thing that made me not want to leave, and perhaps miss a flight home like who cares about going back home, is the extravaganza of layers and patterns and colors. It’s so full of life and fun! As you can see in their photos here, they really excel at boldly and bravely mixing combos of patterns from different cultures and places. I was so enthralled while there, I forgot to take photos. But I guess that’s the best way to experience the store, with your own eyes, not looking through a tiny screen. And I don’t think I could take photos better than these photos styled by Meg and Linda. For a regular dose of these inspiring scenes, follow along at Instagram!

 



How to Mix Mid-Century with Global Style

Mid-Century Modern style — AKA, “MCM” — is hot right now, but I have to admit too many smooth simple surfaces leave me a little cool. Unless they’re mixed with dashes of patterns and textures from around the world. So when Chairish challenged me to do a Mid-Century Modern Mix, I could do that! I could mix MCM with things you’d never expect!

And here you go, a global mid-century look:

Chairish Mid-Century Modern Mix

Here’s a formula to get the global MCM look …

FIRST, ChooSE THE MID-CENTURY PIECES

 

Mid-Century Modern from Chairish

To establish the mid-century style, first choose your big pieces from this style. Here we used a sleek velvet sofa, a chenille chair and a storage cabinet all from the Chairish collection of mid-century furniture. Then choose a few mid-century accents:

  • The floor-to-ceiling atomic tension pole lamp (hiding in the plant!) is the coolest thing that reminds me of my 70s childhood — my parents had a pole lamp in our family room and I have it now, lighting up a walk-in closet.
  • The wall art — a painting and two blingy starbursts — are mid-century. The painting shows people, which helps tie in with the idea of global pieces from people and cultures around the world.
  • There’s a little brass pineapple on the cocktail table which is mid-century but I’ve also seen brass pineapples from India too, so it serves dual style purpose.

NEXT, ADD GLOBAL ACCENTS

 

Global Accents from Chairish

Once your mid-century look is set, look for accents from around the world to add textures and patterns. Here, I accomplished that with:

Indian Chest from Chairish

A great trick to add a well-traveled touch to a room is to use a chest from another culture — or a vintage or antique chest — as a cocktail table or side table. Here, the Indian chest used as a cocktail table adds that touch. Because the furniture is so colorful, I chose an Indian chest in a neutral color, like the storage cabinet, so your eyes don’t go too crazy from too much color. The neutral touches add places for eyes to rest.

Check: Do you have texture?

 

Textures

As I mentioned above, rooms that have all smooth sleek surfaces feel cold to me. Mid-century modern has lots of smooth sleek surfaces. I think a good trick to warming up a room and adding comfort is texture. Here, you can find many textures in the:

  • Basketweave detail on the cabinet
  • Actual baskets on top of the cabinet
  • Nubby rug
  • Embroidered pillow
  • Starbursts
  • Embossing on the wood chest
  • Feathery fronds of the plant

I hope this Style Challenge has showed you a different way to style with mid-century modern furniture!



Acoma Pottery

If you’ve lived or traveled in the Southwest U.S., you’ve likely seen Acoma pottery. I’ve been in Arizona for a few days and have been seeing it here. Then, with coincidental timing, Acoma pottery popped up in my email box today — Acoma pots from DARA Artisans. Enjoy these bold graphic designs, then I’ll tell you a bit about the pottery and Acoma Pueblo:

Acoma Pottery from DARA Artisans

A Lucario Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

DARA Artisans Melissa Antonio Acoma Pottery

J Torivio Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

You might think from the perfect symmetrical shapes, that this pottery is made on a spinning wheel. But actually, the traditional Acoma pottery vessels are built up with row upon row of tiny clay coils! It’s called “hand coiled” pottery. Then the coils are smoothed into the perfect shapes you see in the finished pots. I’ve taken a pottery class where we hand-built things with coils, and it takes tremendous skill to get a perfect smooth shape!

And what adds even more to the amazingness is the designs are hand-drawn. They’re so precise, but they’re not digital or stenciled. I can’t imagine the discipline and control it takes to draw these pots. As DARA Artisans explains, the artist divided the curved canvas of this pot into halves, quarters, eighths, and then sixteenths. And, she painted these precise shapes with a brush she makes from the yucca plant:

Dorothy Torivio Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

Acoma Pot via DARA Artisans

You can see here there’s variety in the designs, but one commonality is that they are often symbols of nature and the cycles of life.

As explained by DARA Artisans, these pots are not just decorative. They were functional, used for storage and to carry water. A special shape was used to store seeds for planting. The pots that have just a small hole in the top were used for seeds, so the seeds were less likely to spill out. The seed pots are my favorite shape:

Rose Chino Garcia Acoma Pot at DARA Artisans

The black and white and bold graphic style of pottery is made by artisans at the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. The Acoma Pueblo is worth a visit if you’re ever in New Mexico. It’s about 60 miles west of Albuquerque. I visited many years ago and bought my own little Acoma pottery bowl there. The Pueblo is in a stunning location! It’s on top of this mesa with sheer cliff drop-offs:

Acoma Pueblo on a Mesa

It was smart to build here. They could see potential invaders from many miles away and had natural protection. You’ll realize why if you visit — you’ll be climbing “stairs” cut into the rock, all the way up the side of that cliff to reach the top!

If you’re interested in Acoma pottery, there’s the collectible pieces that are made the more traditional way, built up with coils, and they are more expensive. There is also Acoma pottery made with molds and pre-made clay pots and these have a lower cost. You can also find vintage Acoma pottery pieces for sale on eBay. I will warn though, check the dimensions when buying online, because these pots can be much smaller than you think they are from the photos.



Global Style Tips from the Famous Trésor des Nomades Shop in Marrakech

There’s an unassuming door at 142-144 rue Bab Doukkala in the Marrakech medina:

Mustapha Blaoui Entrance via Dar Zaman

photo courtesy of Dar Zaman

Like many Moroccan doors, it gives no clue of what it guards. You are unaware of the visual feast that will hit you once you step through it. But only two steps in and you already see something like this:

Entrance to Mustapha Blaoui Shop

I’m sure the scene is ever-changing but that’s what greeted our group when we arrived in early November 2014. Step around the corner and the full impact is unleashed on you:

Mustapha Blaoui Shop in Marrakech

That’s only one small corner of a maze of many rooms. Proprietor Mustapha Blaoui has filled nearly every inch of Trésor des Nomades with  inspiration  and imagination. Your senses are hit with patterns, shapes, colors, textures and a mish-mash of cultures and things antique and modern, all mixed together.

I could have lingered there for days. If I could have hidden in a cabinet and been locked in there overnight to play with all the things without risk of being arrested, I might have. Instead I squeezed in a purchase of Mali mud cloth, then snapped photos like a crazy tourist, experiencing much of the store through an iPhone screen. All to share with you here. I will have to go back some day, sans phone — but who are we kidding I’d probably do the same thing, try to capture the whole store in my phone again. Don’t even try. The place is so big and fantastic, just enjoy it for what it is and don’t try to wrap your arms around it all!

But what my phone brought back are creative global style tips we can use in our homes …

TIP: Add textiles to chairs

My suitcases often come home from overseas trips filled with fabrics. Textiles are affordable and more importantly, lightweight and easy to pack in carry-on or check-in luggage. Perhaps you have only a strip of a treasured textile, which is common with handmade textiles found while traveling. It’s okay, work with it and use it to upholster down the middle of a chair:

Strip of Textile on Upholstered Chair in Mustapha Blaoui Shop

If you have a large enough textile, upholster an entire piece with it. Be brave — here you see chairs in the Mustapha Blaoui shop covered with brightly-colored “cactus silk” fabrics you find in Marrakech. I most often see this cactus silk as scarves and shawls but if the fabric is strong enough (or you give it a stronger backing), there’s no reason to not use it on furniture:

Cactus Silk Covered Chairs at Mustapha Blaoui Shop

Here are mud cloth covered chairs. I used the mud cloth I bought at Mustapha Blaoui to recover a mid century modern chair — to be revealed soon!

 Mud Cloth Covered Chair at Mustapha Blaoui Store

Mud Cloth Upholstery at Mustapha Blaoui in Marrakech

Mud Cloth Upholstery

I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like this fabric could have been a blanket, now upholstering a chair:

Upholstered Chair at Les Tresor du Nomades in Marrakech

TIP: Be wild with patterns

We all have our tolerances for mixing patterns. In Morocco the tolerance is pretty high. Be brave and push yourself a bit further. You see some pattern mixes in the above photos. Here’s a little tip to make pattern mixing work for you. This little corner is jam-packed with pattern in the carpet, the chair, the cabinet. What makes the patterns work together is the common colors in the red, natural colors and black. The chair, rug and cabinet each have natural and black in them. The rug adds some extra color in the red:

Patterns at Mustapha Blaoui Store

TIP: Think in multiples, lots and LOTS of multiples

Usually we will pick one little specimen of something we like. We put it on a shelf with all our other onesie-twosies. But imagine the drama of a collection of many! Things like baskets can be nested one inside the other to make it easier to pack them in luggage. You can even squeeze clothes and toiletries in them to make room in your bags. These little beaded heads were small enough to bring a bunch home. Small things have greater visual impact when there’s many of them. You may even be able to negotiate a better discount when buying many:

Beaded Heads and Woven Baskets at Les Tresor de Nomades Mustapha Blaoui

There are three different mud cloths on this sofa. Imagine if the back, seat and pillows were made of the same mud cloth. It would be a sea of sameness. But now mixing the patterns big and small, and white and black backgrounds, see what I mean about working with multiples. Plus imagine this scene with only one head. Wouldn’t it be lonely? It needs others, many others:

Mud Cloth and Beaded Heads in Mustapha Blaoui Shop in Marrakech

TIP: LOOK UP AND HANG SOMETHING INTERESTING UP THERE

Don’t forget your ceilings. One way to make them interesting is to hang unique lighting. We saw many examples of unique lights at Mustapha Blaoui:

Moroccan Pierced Metal Lanterns

Squeeze even more impact out of your lighting by hanging big mirrors which reflects the lights and makes them show up in multiples (another way to carry out the “multiples” tip):

Colorful Lighting at Tresor de Nomades in Marrakech

Sequin Light in Mustapha Blaoui Store

My pierced metal Moroccan lantern I found in Marrakech is curvy like these. It’s hanging in my Indian-Moroccan closet nook (also to be revealed soon, I’ve fallen behind on blogging):

Pierced Metal Moroccan Lanterns at Mustapha Blaoui Shop

A lot of people asked “How are you going to get a lamp home?” Choose an oblong or rectangular shape lamp instead of a round one. My lamp is shaped like the curvy oblong ones above and I had no problem fitting it in a regular size suitcase with plenty of room left over. It was even heavily bubble-wrapped.

 

Overall what I liked about the global mix in Trésor des Nomades was the brave pairing of colors, textures, patterns and shapes. Mix curves with straight lines. Put metal against wood. Pair textiles with beads. Contrast in the textures and shapes makes little interesting scenes to look at. As a parting shot, I often like the quieter things not the flashy things. I appreciated this curvy metal candleholder against the carved wood behind it:

Morocco Patterns and Shapes