Wow, I never thought I’d go nearly a month without posting. Over the six years blogging here, that’s the longest break. The truth is I’m suffering from a dis-ease. The dis-ease of being busy. Oh so, so busy. This article is an interesting reminder that we’re supposed to be human beings, not human doings.
Though I do like to do. I like “do it yourself” projects for the fun of it, when I’m not busy being busy. And today, here is an easy, fast DIY project I made recently that appears somewhere in this room:
Here’s a clue. I thought the area above the sofa looked boring with only the big mirror there. This is how it looked for 12 years!
I like to keep things simple, but it was time for a change.
Where did the idea to line a picture frame with silk come from? Well, I had silk left over from another project. And I remembered silk-lined wall niches I saw in Thailand, and how they can add rich color to a wall.
Why not get the same look by lining a frame with silk?
Here are supplies you would need:
l found a deep picture frame because I needed a frame deep enough for the brass spoons. You can also use a shadowbox.
Iron your silk, if needed, so it is smooth.
First, cover the backing of the frame with silk. Pull the silk taut over a solid backing like foam core board or thick cardboard. Tape the silk in place on the back side. I used blue painters tape because there was a roll sitting literally right behind me, and I was too lazy to search all over the house for more appropriate tape. I know there is a lot of tape in here! I just can’t find it when I need it!
For the sides of the frame, I just needed tiny strips, because my frame wasn’t super deep. I found basswood that’s so lightweight, I could cut it to size with scissors!
Cut pieces of silk and pull the silk around your side pieces, and tape the silk in place on the side that will be pressed against the frame (it won’t show).
Because my strips were so thin, I was working with small everything, including skinny slivers of tape.
I did not use glass, but if you want glass, place your frame with the front laying face down. Place the glass in the frame. You are next going to glue the side strips in, and this is going to make the glass difficult to remove later, so be careful to not break the glass.
Next, run a line of glue along the sides of the frame, and push the silk-covered pieces into place against the glue.
Then assemble your objects or artwork on the silk-covered backing. I actually did this after my frame was finished and hanging on the wall, because I didn’t use glass. So if you don’t use glass, you can assemble your display later.
Push your silk-covered backing against the silk-covered strips on the sides, and tape the backing to the frame. Again, I used blue painters tape. Because it was convenient and it works.
I think this silk-lined frame idea is great for displaying objects. It gives them a nice colorful background, and silk fabric elevates the luxe factor and makes things look more expensive.
Here’s the frame on the wall, and here you see how the orange silk ties in with the pillows on the sofa and other things in the room:
Do you think that’s a crazy headline? Who would do that? Well someone has! Someone recently commented and said she read one of my blog posts on her phone, while sitting at a red light.
What?! It’s just design, decorating and paint here. It’s not that important. I am happy you are reading here! But please visit while sitting in a chair, couch or bed. Please don’t read while sitting in a car, even at a red light.
You may know me here as a decorating and DIY blogger. But this blog is not my job. My full-time job is … guess it! … preventing distracted driving! I work on preventing distraction from technology like our cell phones and dashboard infotainment systems. I’ve worked on traffic safety for 20+ years and distracted driving for the past 7 years. I’ve reviewed about 600 fatal and serious injury crashes involving cell phones. These crashes really do happen. A lot. So I was shocked to see someone read my blog while driving.
This month, April, is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Nearly everyone knows it’s dangerous to use phones while driving.* So why do people still do it? A lot of people think it won’t happen to them.
And a lot of us are trying to squeeze things in while driving because we’re too busy. We brag about our busy-ness. “How are you?” “Oh, soooo busy!” You know how that conversation goes!
Personally I love that my car is an escape. It’s an escape from the electronic communications coming at me 24/7 from my phone, computers and TV. Research shows listening to music is not very distracting to us (as long as you’re not lip-syncing on video while driving like Sam and Nia, don’t even get me started!) and if music helps you be less stressed or bored while driving, that’s good. I have great speakers and an amplifier in my car and it sounds like a concert hall. It makes driving easier. I protect my time in the car as time to re-charge my energy. It’s a time to take a break from all the communicating.
Why not “Take Back Your Drive” this month? Put the phone away and just drive. Drive more peacefully. Try it for 30 days. You may find there are benefits to that! A lot of skeptical people try it, then find they’re more rested, creative ideas pop in their minds, and if you’re driving with children, it’s a time to connect as family.
If you try it, I’d love to hear how it went, but please don’t comment while driving! ;)
* Nearly everyone knows texting while driving is dangerous. Most people still don’t know that hands-free talking and voice control features are distracting! If you’re curious, click here to learn more about all that.
What can happen if your bed doesn’t have a headboard? Is it really a terrible thing to not have a headboard? Will you really get a circle of hair oil on the wall from leaning on the wall? Will you really smack the top of your brain on the wall and render yourself useless to the world, unable to earn an income, and fated to a life of being hungry, nearly-naked and homeless? All because of a missing headboard? We are having this debate.
Husband: Definitely a proponent of the headboard. Must protect the brain at all costs.
Me: Steadfast on no headboard. Design is more important than protecting the brain. Of course!!
That’s the inspiration photo for the master bedroom of the India pied-à-terre. A design inspired by those mother-of-pearl doors will be painted on the wall, behind the bed. Here’s the current state of the design when I left the India pied-à-terre in September 2015:
Yeah I know, looks nothing like the inspiration! Yet! It’s the first coat of many, many layers of paint and perhaps other things like metallic foils and leaf. I have the stencils, I’ve been painting samples. Here’s a stencil after I was playing with metallic foils (I may build up more foil and pattern on the stencil itself then cut it and frame it, why not!):
Just get me to India, and give me enough time to finish the design — it will happen!
Here’s the thing … you can’t block any of this with a headboard! Right?
I’m standing ground on being a “no headboard hold-out” in the interest of design integrity. Now, I’m not saying we put the mattress on the floor, like the inspiration photo, which I believe was a styled situation for a Vogue photo shoot, not a real permanent set-up. The mattress should be on a platform. But a platform without a headboard.
It’s hard to find a bed without a headboard. Like, 99.8% of modern beds in India have headboards. People really need to think more flexibly! So as a compromise, I’m seeking beds that have a removable headboard, or if you have to assemble the bed, a headboard you don’t have to attach to maintain structural integrity of the bed. This means lots of hours of life scrutinizing bed diagrams on Indian furniture websites — not what I expect to do with the dwindling hours of the rest of my expected lifespan. But this is how important no headboard is to me!
See, like this one from FabFurnish.com seems to have an easily removable headboard:
That headboard could even be turned into a console table top, so it’s not wasted.
So the bed base will look like carved wood that you often find in India. I think making this vision a reality will be a fun DIY! I like the idea of applying block print patterns to surfaces other than fabrics, in different ways.
The room will eventually have layers of various patterns, but the wall feature will be the star of the show. All other patterns will be more subtle like the supporting characters of the room.
I see it all in my head.
What I don’t see is a headboard.
My husband made one point that gave me pause to … maybe consider, possibly not but really … what if you lean on the wall and over time make a circle of hair oil on the wall? Like I used to see on the back wall of classrooms in college. Yuck! His concern was for the protection of the painted design on the wall. After all that painting work, would I want a circle of head oil on it? Well, no! But here’s the thing. Are we really going to be sitting there leaning against the wall? I don’t think so. India is not an easy place for me. I crash at the end of the day. I want my head to meet a soft pillow, immediately! My husband argued he might read in bed. But is he really going to read with his head leaning against the wall, which means he’d be looking straight ahead and thus holding a book way up, arms sticking straight up, and very unnaturally? I don’t think so? I have never seen him do that in the nearly 20 years I’ve known him.
Also, pillows don’t need to be propped up against a headboard. Pillows are fine laying flat on the bed. Pillows really don’t care what they are doing.
So, no, I am not yet convinced we need a headboard.
Stay tuned in the future to see how this room shakes out!
Maybe it’s because I live near Chicago, and it’s the tail end of winter and after being surrounded by brown, gray and white it’s time for blues and greens and all the glorious flower colors of spring. Let’s go on a color trip around the world in search of these gorgeous fresh blues and greens …
In the Tangier home of architect Roberto Peregalli, featured in World of Interiors:
Another Moroccan scene, this time a riad belonging to Countess Marta Marzotto, featured in the Wall Street Journal:
I think I photographed this in one of my design magazines picked up in Thailand, maybe Elle Decoration. This is muted with some yellow and brown, in a bathroom in Bangkok:
If I remember right, it’s in a guesthouse in Bangkok so you could possibly lounge in this tub too!
Featured in Zsa Zsa Bellagio, English designer David Hare mixes Islamic textiles with antique furniture and aged paint finishes:
Actress Lupita Nyong’o lounges at El Fenn riad in Marrakech, where even bathrooms are colorful. Via Vogue:
The Vogue interview shares an interesting detail — that Lupita brought a Pinterest board of fashion ideas to a meeting with her stylist. In small ways, maybe the stars are like us.
What happens when Roberto Cavalli, Burberry, Missoni and Christian Louboutin get ahold of India’s textiles? Fashion magic happens! Vogue’s Project Renaissance paired the world’s most famous fashion designers with fabrics like Benarasi brocades and Kanchipuram silk sarees. Although we know the famous fashion brands, we don’t know the names of the weavers of these fabrics unfortunately, as they are just as much artisans and geniuses of design. Here are the results of this celebration of India’s textiles …
My personal favorite is what Christian Louboutin did with Kanchipuram silk, the “wedding saree” fabric from South India:
I don’t know if this is what was intended, but what I see here in the gold spikes is an edgy homage to the real gold threads that are often woven through Kanchipuram sarees. Yes, real gold woven in fabric!
Although the iconic zig-zags of Missoni are a pattern you will find in India, Missoni broke from that tradition and used Chikankari to create a dress that could fit in at a New York City evening event:
Chikankari means “embroidery” and is from the artistic city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. It’s a delicate embroidery usually done on lightweight fabrics. Usually I see it on beige fabrics where it feels cool and summery. Here on this red dress, it looks so lush and rich.
From Nazrana Chikan, here’s a detailed view of the complexity of this embroidery:
Of course Burberry made a trench coat, of Maheshwari silk:
You can see how the silk was layered to build it up into a substantive fabric.
I love this little ETRO jacket. If you have a small piece of a treasured textile found while traveling, sewing a little jacket is a great way to use it:
And Roberto Cavalli. Who would guess it’s a Rajasthani bandhini (also called bandhani) fabric?
I’ve always believed textiles from India can be used in Western fashion silhouettes.
One of my favorite fabrics of India is Benarasi brocades, and here’s how Jimmy Choo turns it into a shoe:
From Prabal Gurung, another creation from Benarasi brocade and an example of shaping these fabrics into a very different silhouette than you usually see for this fabric, but it works:
In the Marrakech souks, I was drawn to these chunky beaded and silver necklaces — you can see big displays of these everywhere in the souks:
Yeah, I know it’s hard to focus here, there’s so much to see. It got overwhelming because everywhere you turned, there were scenes like this. I was able to focus and find a few things to buy in this shop, which was my first experience with negotiating in the Marrakech souks. Even though I probably still paid way too much, this man was nice and made the experience fun! It was like bargaining anywhere else, especially in Thailand where they make it a fun game.
But I didn’t buy any necklaces. Why? I know I wouldn’t ever wear them. Often we see things on vacation that are great in that vacation setting, but when we get back home to our regular lives, these things just don’t fit. The colors don’t go in our house, the style doesn’t go with our everyday work clothes, etc. It’s like getting back to the reality of our lives, versus what we’d like our lives to be when we’re on vacation. Maybe I’d like to be a bohemian babe who wears piles of these necklaces with caftans and I drift barefoot along long sunlit hallways all day, caftan fabric flowing and chunky beads clanking.
That is a magazine shoot. Or an Instagram shoot, more likely nowadays! It is not me or my real life. More likely I’m in a beige office in a basic all-black outfit, responding to email, or reading and highlighting a scientific paper and writing lots of notes in the margins, before I run to the next meeting of the day.
So. Felt like a fantasy just came crashing down there.
So I did not buy chunky beaded necklaces in the Marrakesh souks. But one night there, while at Le Tanjia restaurant, I spotted something. Something on the wall:
My apologies the photo is so bad, but Le Tanjia is lit entirely with pierced metal lanterns so the atmosphere is dark and shadowy, and I may have had several strong mojitos before snapping this!
But you get the idea. Necklaces can be works of art. So why not treat them like works of art? Why not frame them and hang them? You can use shadowboxes for thick beaded necklaces like this. Here’s a few more framed necklaces I found online — this framed look is especially good with tribal necklaces with big style and personalities. These are from Neiman Marcus (left) and Amalthee Creations (right):
Choose simple frames and matting to let the necklace be the visual focus.
You can drape necklaces on a vintage dress form. Put a plain dress or tunic on the dress form so the spotlight is on the necklace. This necklace was sold by Etsy shop MorningDoveDesign:
It appears these necklaces have sold, but this Etsy shop has many other beaded necklaces.
You could go crazy-nutso and pile a whole bunch of necklaces on a small vintage-style dress form that’s sized to display necklaces on a dresser or tabletop:
You could also pile beaded necklaces in bowls. Here’s a pile of old beaded necklaces I spotted in a bowl at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanical Gardens:
For a neutral look, here are strung African beads piled in a rustic industrial bowl that I saw at Randolph Street Market in Chicago years ago:
If these were turquoise, amber or carnelian color beads, the color pop could be really interesting.
If you come back from a vacation with jewelry that you feel doesn’t fit into your regular everyday life, try framing it or piling it in a bowl. Or display it some other way. This way, whenever you look at the jewelry, you can get the vacation fantasy and feeling back in your life, if even for a moment!
I seem to make a Pinterest Board for everything, and I made a board to collect ideas for displaying necklaces. Check it out for more ideas:
Have you ever dreamed of making your own patterned fabrics? You can! You can unleash your inner textile designer, very easily. How? With paint and stencils! Most tutorials that show how to design textiles talk about using Illustrator or Photoshop to design patterns. Then you print patterns on fabric digitally with services like Spoonflower. And that sounds fun! But for me, there’s a problem. It’s creating the pattern. I have a hard time creating a nice pattern from ground zero, starting with nothing, like a blank piece of paper or a blank laptop screen. But I can take existing patterns and mix them together!
With stencils, the pattern is already made for you. You just choose a stencil you like, or mix several stencil patterns together. Then, paint the pattern on fabric:
Now, you may not wind up creating a textile collection sold wholesale at a design center. But we’re not all looking to do that. You can design fabrics for your own use, using your favorite patterns and colors. And who knows, maybe you’ll branch out to sell to friends and family, and maybe even launch an Etsy shop. So, what can you design if you want to be a textile designer? Lots of things! To get your ideas going, here’s a few DIYs I’ve done, with links to tutorials. After these inspiration ideas, I share tips on paints to use with fabric.
Pillows are easy projects for the budding textile designer. They’re small, so if you make a mistake or don’t like the final result, it’s not a huge commitment of fabric. You can always start over with a new piece of fabric.
I started with a plain teal shawl dug out of the back of a closet. I painted the Moroccan stencil on the teal shawl, then sewed patterned teal silk fabric to the sides to make a multi-patterned pillow. I painted with Stencil Creme paint from Royal Design Studio. Below, I share more information about various paints for fabric, including Stencil Creme.
In the Moroccan pillow photo above, you may notice more patterns on the big cushion. I designed a huge seat cushion for an Indian-Moroccan closet nook. That was the project when my inner textile designer started bursting to be let loose! I paired two stencils — one for the top and a different border for the sides — and painted them on a silk fabric with shimmery Stencil Creme:
Again, I used the Royal Design Studio Stencil Cremes to paint this. I must really love those paints!
For this project, I used Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan to stencil on an Ikea rug. I used only three colors of paint, but I mixed them to make five colors in this rug. This took a rug from plain Jane, to exotic Ikat:
Here I stenciled Japanese style stencils on a silk fabric to make an obi-style table runner. But you can stencil on many different types of fabrics to make a table runner that fits your decor. For a farmhouse look, you can stencil on burlap. You can stencil on a plain store-bought table runner. Let your imagination go!
I bought plain absorbent kitchen towels, and painted them with an olive and vine pattern, and colors inspired by the French countryside. This makes a great gift! I stenciled with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. This is mostly a decorative towel, so it hasn’t been washed many times. I know Chalk Paint can be durable, but I can’t speak to whether it would hold up on dozens of washings. If anyone has experience with that, please share in the comments! I would think even if the pattern fades, it’s fine, it’s part of the patina of use.
Nearly anything you can think of, you can paint stencils on. That is how you can easily design textiles, without having to create patterns from scratch!
WHAT PAINT TO USE?
You might have questions about what kind of paint to use. The paint you use depends on:
What you’re making
How much wear it will get
Whether you will be washing it.
Fabric Paints — If you’re making something that will go through a washing machine a lot, I suggest using paints specifically designed for fabrics. You may need to heat set the paint with an iron, or mix an additive into the paint that “fixes” it permanently. This means the fabric can be washed and the paint won’t wash out. Dharma Trading sells a huge selection of fabric paint colors. Dharma Trading even organizes fabric paint by light fabrics and dark fabrics, because you want more opaque paints for dark fabrics. I like the Jacquard and Lumiere brand textile paints for stenciling. I’ve found Jacquard and Lumiere fabric paints at my local Dick Blick art store, although Dharma Trading has a far bigger selection, and I found Dharma’s online colors to be accurate so I’m comfortable ordering online. You can also find fabric paints in craft stores like Michaels and JoAnn.
When buying fabric paints to use for stenciling, buy thicker paints, not the really runny paints. It is easier to paint a stencil pattern with a thicker paint. Thinner runny paints may seep under the stencil.
Acrylic Paint + Textile Medium — Another option for a durable paint finish for washables is to use acrylic paint and mix a “textile medium” into it. Acrylic paint comes in smaller tubes so if you want to experiment with different colors, the price is low, like $1.50-2.50 for a tube of paint from brands like DecoArt, FolkArt, Delta CeramCoat or Martha Stewart. Look for the textile mediums in the same sections as the acrylic paint in craft stores. Here’s what you will be looking for:
Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan — Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan can be quite durable. However I have not yet made anything with Chalk Paint that I washed frequently, so I can’t personally speak to its ability to withstand frequent washing. I think it would be fine for items that aren’t washed much. As mentioned above, I’ve painted lamp shades, rugs, and tote bags with Chalk Paint.
Stencil Creme from Royal Design Studio— I love stenciling with this Stencil Creme paint because it was specially formulated to use while stenciling. It’s thick and heavily pigmented, so it’s less likely to run under a stencil. It also has a metallic sheen that I like. I have limited experience with washing fabrics with this paint, but I did accidentally get some Antique Gold Stencil Creme on jeans. I’ve washed those jeans many dozens of times and the paint hasn’t come out. I know you can get paint off fabric with rubbing alcohol, but it’s not noticeable on the jeans so I just left it alone. I’ve mostly used Stencil Cremes on fabrics that I won’t wash much, like the big teal blue cushion in the closet nook, and table runners.
A Final Word about value
Because I’m saying this last doesn’t mean it’s least important. This DIY idea should not at all diminish the importance and value of bona fide talented textile designers. Their creations astonish me. I know I don’t have the ability to do that myself. (At least I think I don’t.) Not all of us can create designs from nothing, and not all of us have the time or resources to do that. If you feel that describes you, and you want to try your hand at this, this is an option for making beautiful textile designs yourself.
If you have any questions, please comment and I will try to answer them!