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Category: Garay Artisans

06 Jan


Hi, Everyone!

Well, it’s been a while since I have written but believe me, I have not been idle.  There are many changes that have occurred in my life and I’ve been meaning for so long to sit down and write this note.  As you know, I learned a ton about social media and blogging by simply starting this blog back in 2007 and being immersed in promoting it.

In time, I was asked by several companies to help them with their blogging and social media and this coincided with the general downturn of the economy.  But the defining moment came when I was doing a 40′ x 20′ long ceiling, all glaze.  You know what happens with glaze, right?  You can’t stop because you’ll get those dreaded lines.  There were 3 scaffolds side by side with 2 team members on each scaffold and we all worked in a line glazing.  Well, at about 35′ down the line, I was exhausted and I literally stumbled on the scaffold.  I barely made it to the end and it hit me — what was I going to do as I got older? It was at that moment I realized I needed to start finding a way to still work in this field  that I am SO passionate about but actively get away from the physicality of it.  As I filled in the empty slots of time in between decorative painting projects with social media and blogging work for creative companies, it became a new reality for me.  Plus, I loooove to write and research and have been dreaming of making both a bigger part of my life.  Thus, SociaComm was born.

These days I help my clients — all revolving around the Decorative Painting, DIY and Interior Design industries — maximize their digital marketing and blogging efforts.  I count among them Royal Design Studio, Modern Masters, Annie Sloan Unfolded and have helped design companies such as Roos International and bloggers such as Perfectly Imperfect as well.  Garay Artisans (both the decorative painting and the mirrors) are being managed by one of my most trusted friends who is an amazing artist and it’s going strong.  I still paint, finish and draw as I’m revamping my house and love the pace and consideration I can give it!  I use my decorative painting experience daily and am so passionate about this industry — I still look for the latest and greatest, still scout out great artistry and design trends, still love learning beautiful new finishes and products. But now I do it from a more personal and creative marketing point-of-view.

So, on that note, I am formally “closing” Fauxology. BUT. I will still be writing about decorative painting and design over on SociaColor, the blog for SociaComm.  There will also be social media, digital marketing and blogging posts too — all tailored to help the Creatives. I will be writing at the SociaComm Facebook page and you can still join me on Pinterest, Twitter and Google+PLUS. I’ll be writing regularly over at the new Paint + Pattern blogazine launched by Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio.

So c’mon over to SociaColor and Paint + Pattern as I look forward to writing for you regularly again on all things decorative painting, DIY, design and creative marketing.  I hope you’ll join me.



20 Mar

Tented Ceilings

A few years ago, we painted a tented ceiling and ever since then, I’ve loved seeing different variations.  Traditionally, the tents have been created with fabric but it also works beautifully to just paint them.  (I’m sure that’s probably the safer route, too.)

The architects and interior designers for Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, were Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine.  They designed her chateau of Malmaison and, drawing inspiration from the textiles and tents of Rome’s Golden Age, proceeded to drape several rooms with sumptuous fabrics.  The idea was possibly to recreate and pay homage to, in an elegant a manner as possible, the military tents her husband was used to and his prowess on the field.  It was incredible work and, of course, the designs were copied throughout Europe and the Americas.

Let’s take a look at a few beauties…

Designed by Miles Redd

Featured in Architectural Digest, this beauty is by Jayne Design Studio.

Designed by Timothy Corrigan, photographed by Firooz Zahedi and featured in Elle Decor.  Love the fantastic use of the primary colors.

An inspired dressing room for a man designed by Mario Buatta.

(left) Beautiful kid’s bath idea from Pottery Barn Kids and (right) a cheery, more adult version on House Beautiful.

Gorgeous handpainted ceiling by New Jersey artist Charlotte Sullivan. The design was inspired by one of the Newport Mansions.

The Deering Bathroom in Vizcaya.

Residence featured in Sköna Hem.

Here is our version…

Via Garay Artisans

We enjoyed the opportunity to create a tented ceiling. One thing I can say is that the work is better done with a team!  If you’d like to check out other great posts with tented ceilings, please do take a look at Habitually Chic and Apartment Therapy.  Do you have a project you’ve done with this design?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!  Hope you enjoyed the post — have a fantastic day!

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14 Mar

The Fifth Wall – Fabulous Ceilings

From the keypad of Peggy Pardo…

Let’s see…there’s The Fifth Dimension, The Fifth Element, pleading The Fifth,  being a fifth wheel, Fifth Avenue (the actual avenue or the candy bar, whichever you like)…but today I’m talking about the fifth wall – The Ceiling!

This wonderful piece of “real estate” is often the biggest uninteruppted expanse in the room and the one that most often gets overlooked when working on a room’s design. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to do something awesome with all that space!

To get your creative juices flowing and inspire you, I’ve found a few fabulous ceilings for you to take a look at.

I’ll start things off with the bathroom ceiling of Om Home creator, textile designer Oorbee Roy. His textile designs were used on the ceiling and vanity. I LOVE this ceiling; what a fantastic color. Note how the design extends down the wall…

Ceiling Orbee Roy powder room

Source: Apartment Therapy

Salvaged beadboard was used  to create this unique ceiling. The mix of colors really adds to the charm…

Reclaimed wood ceiling

Source: Country Living

Interior Designer Annsley McAleer used the ceiling to bring added interest and pattern to this home office space. You can can get the same effect using a stencil. (I found one that is very similar at Royal Design Studio)…

Annsley Interiors ceiling

Designer: Annsley McAleer

Bold stripes liven up the ceiling in the Avalon Hotel. Having the rows alternate makes it even more interesting…

Avalon Hotel ceiling

Designer: Kelly Wearstler

In India, tiles are often used to decorate the ceiling. Royal Design Studio has many stencils available that allow you to achieve the same type of look as does The Stencil Library

Tile ceiling India

Source: Apartment Therapy
Original Image: Mountain Label

NCF Studio created this fabulous metallic plaster ceiling…

Metallic Plaster ceiling

Source: NCF Studio

This is a floor’s eye view of a gold leafed ceiling done by Garay Artisans

Garay Artisans Gold Leaf ceiling

Source: Garay Artisans

Ceilings are just as much a part of the room as the walls and floors. They shouldn’t be overlooked when decorating a space. The right color or finish can often be just what a room needs to make it look complete.

Take a look around your home. Are there any ceilings where you can try something different?

Cheers to all,

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12 Mar

Gilded Mirrors

Our company, Garay Artisans, has a separate studio for creating unique antique mirrors.  We’ve recently been working on quite a few projects and below are a few that feature gilding.  All three were done with the help of Modello Designs — love how they open up a world of possibilities.

The first used aged silver leaf over an architectural panel pattern.  The mirror was for a space above a stairway and it works perfectly with the home’s clean, contemporary design.  The mirror itself is almost 9′ tall.

Here’s a closer shot:

The second is in a separate home and in a walk-in closet.  The top panel has a gold leaf ornamental design atop an ornate panel on the bottom.  This work was done along the top of the mirror as they were already installed. If you’d like to see the bottom design a bit more clearly, here’s the graphic pattern.

The third was more elaborate and in the same home as the walk-in closet, but this time in the master bath.  The client customized the Donatella Damask pattern and we created an oval within the pattern.  Here’s the outline…

We used blue variegated leaf to add some oomph and color. One of the tricky parts was the lining that separated the design from the mirror oval — it had to be done separately and cleanly.  The coloration also needed to match perfectly but not detract from the overall design.  When installed it flowed perfectly with the light fixture and the bath’s design.

Our client said the mirror sparkles so nicely at night.  All the work is done behind the mirror and each layer — from the stripping to the gilding — needed to be done with a lot of patience and love.  It was a big relief to see her installed perfectly.

Casting off wonderful shadows...

For these projects, we worked directly with the homeowner.  We’ll soon be sharing more residential and hospitality mirror projects that were collaborative efforts with incredible designers.  Hope you’ve enjoyed these shared today — have a great day!

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29 Feb

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

About seven years ago, my brother and I decided that our company, Garay Artisans, would actively pursue hospitality commissions.  Hotels, boutiques, spas, restaurants — these all fall under the hospitality design umbrella.  Since then, we’ve worked on a number of these projects and although wonderful, they require a certain mindset.  Over a year ago, we were consulted on a large number of columns for a hotel and in the back of my mind thought that if we did the work, I would post about it on the blog.

In a recent chat with Michelle Lopez of Sparkle Faux Designs, she asked me about the columns.  (How cool is that? Being asked about something you wrote on the blog?) I said that yes, indeed we received the approval but that the finish ultimately chosen did not represent well in photographs and so I was probably not doing a post about the commission.  She suggested doing a post on running a hospitality project as opposed to showcasing the actual commission as the focus.  So, I’m taking her advice.

Picture of the Hyatt taken during our very first meeting.

The column project was for the Hyatt Regency located within the Orlando International Airport.  There were 38 pillars to finish and each about 10′ – 12′  height, with varying widths and either made of metal or concrete.  They all had fading and peeling light wallpaper on them and so we needed to coordinate the wallpaper removal, cleaning, prepping and finishing of all the pillars.  Two of them would require a lift (those two were about 20′ high) and coordination with airport security as the lift base would be parked right in the area of where security checks are held.  Thankfully, we’ve worked at the airport before so we were familiar with their procedures.

You can see a few of the 38 columns within the scope of the project...

If pursuing projects such as these, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • TIMELINE:  In hospitality design you will overwhelmingly be discussing a project about a year (or a bit less) in advance.  Such was the case with this one – we met the wonderful Hyatt team in January and the work was done in August.  The design teams plan well in advance either because they need to time all the trades correctly and/or they need to schedule the work perfectly in between confirmed events at the location.  We are currently in the midst of negotiating two that are about a year away and one time, we started working on a project 2 years in advance. Sometimes it’s a bit surreal.
  • SCHEDULE: In all our initial talks, we discuss the schedule and the clean-up.  There have been very, very few hospitality commissions where we worked normal hours.  There was one project where we worked 8 am – 8 pm virtually every day for a little over a month — there was a grand opening to consider and a lot at stake.  That being said, we more work the 10 pm – 6 am shift.  We usually set up at 10 pm and breakdown at 6 am, leaving absolutely no trace that we were ever there.  We call it “Stealth Faux”.  (…and btw, you meet the most unusual folks at that time. The stories I could tell you…)

Finished Columns

  • BUSINESS FORMS & COMPLIANCE: Have your insurance and licenses up-to-date.  For these projects, they are not optional – they are mandatory and you will be passed over if you are not sufficiently covered. This goes for your team members as well.  Also, ask if you need to add any companies as an “additional insured” right at the beginning.  This will save you time and monies as some insurance companies do charge for this extra feature.  If using scaffolds or lifts, I always make sure we are following OSHA guidelines to a T.
  • FINISHES:  There are so many fantastic finishes out there and hospitality commissions can be wonderful canvases for these.  You do need to think long-term, though.  These are spaces where thousands of people will pass through and be inspired to touch.  The staff will go by with carts and nick the bottoms of your walls or columns. Housekeeping will use strong cleaners on your finishes.  Guests will touch, tear, write with pens, scratch, scar with their luggage, spill their drink, bang their chair — you name it, it can happen.  The finishes may be gorgeous but they must also be ultra-tough and relatively ease to patch up.  We usually plan to train the Engineering staff on how to touch up the finishes, provide them with written instructions and a guide on where to purchase the products in the future and how to contact us if things get out hand.  It proves very helpful to the client.

Finished Columns

For this project, five of us worked the overnight shift for three weeks. On Week 3, we started calling ourselves the Zombie Nation.

I came in to ensure our finishes looked good during the light of day and found the Hyatt staff setting up for a beautiful lunch in the midst of an area we had just cleared a few hours before! It was a great moment to realize how valuable great communication and organization with the design team can be. We all knew the products dried quickly and it kept the hotel's pace intact. Most of the columns you see are finished.

We went with a heavy but smooth application of lustery plaster over the columns.  It hit all the points specified: a) neutral but with a shimmery elegance; b) durable; c) relatively easy to fix and d) nestled perfectly within budget.  We originally had another finish slated with a more pronounced shimmer — but while it looked incredible in the evening lights, it did not look appealing in the sunlight.  Sometimes, you have to change your direction very quickly to complete the job well.

All in all, a wonderful project!  One more thing — and I cannot stress this enough — it is imperative to be surrounded by a good team, a happy team, during a hospitality commission.  When hiring for large projects, we look for talent and a fantastic attitude. There will be that day when you will have all sorts of things going wrong and to have a group that has a great disposition, some who are able to project manage while you put out fires, artists who are nice to one another at 4 am, people to laugh with and moan about coffee together, all pulling each other through the “zombie” hours — that is Priceless.  For that I thank Mary Childs, Monica Arrache, Roger Herota and NEVER least, my brother, Jason.  They, as well as the Hyatt’s executive staff, are extraordinary. The right people will make your hospitality commission that much more pleasant — to visit and to recall in memory.  Hope this has proved helpful — have a great day!

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07 Oct

Silver Leaf

We’ve been doing a lot of work with silver leaf — silver leaf schaibin to be exact.  (Schaibin is irregular sheets of leaf that are primarily used for “broken leaf” effects.)  Next week, we tackle several ceilings with it as well as a few inset niches. Messy (size & flakes) but a whole lotta fun.  I’ve been seeing a lot of beautiful traditional silver leaf work as well. I thought I’d share a few to take us into the weekend…

 Always a thrill to see a silver leaf wall.  This one is designed by Lisa Ficarra.

Love the quiet elegance of this guestroom in a Pacific Heights Victorian – including the silver leaf ceiling. Designed by Claudia Juestel of the Adeeni Design Group.

I looooove silver leaf furniture.  (Especially when paired with mirrors. Serious love.)  It saddens me to see the scratches on this one but it is a pretty piece nonetheless.  It was featured by the Little Green Notebook blog.

Gracie is a studio that produces extraordinary wallcoverings. This one features a handpainted mural over silver leaf.

Here’s one by my company, Garay Artisans. The client and designer wanted imperfections on the layout, with the dark base showing through. I profiled this finish and others for a restaurant commission in Tallahassee, FL.

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 

I was asked recently why I normally prefer to use leaf in a technique over foils. There are advantages to both actually. There’s just no beating the look of leaf in any way and I like how it covers the surface as completely and opaquely as you’d like.  Foils, however, do save you in cost as well as mess – there’s simply no product to clean up after the transfer. It does take quite a bit to fully transfer the foil product and has much more elbow grease involved. Both are fantastic in their own right and perfect for their own finishes.  Do you prefer one over the other? Do tell.  Have a great weekend!


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19 Sep

Fun Collaborations

About six years ago, I almost teamed up with two other artists to create a larger faux decorative company. That didn’t work out but one of the artists and I have kept in touch throughout the years.  Her name is Mary Childs, her company is named Focal Points and she is a fantastic artist — and not only do we crack each other up but we also understand each other well.  So, it was a pleasure to work with her during some recent projects.   For this one, I worked with designer Rey Hernandez of Leading Edge Builders.  The client gave us this image as a jumping off point…

Via Tuscan Style

It was for two groin ceilings and this dining room ceiling.

In the Dining Room, we decided to expand from just the oval center to the full ceiling.  Rey also wanted the crown molding to have a beautiful aged metallic to compliment the light fixtures.  My brother and business partner, Jason, helped me skim out the ceilings, plan the multiple colorations and plaster the first layers. Then, he hit the road for his vacation (wait until you see the pics he brought back from New England!) and Mary came in to finish collaborating on the project.

A few layers of metallic plaster.

I love decorative painting and am fascinated with the various methods one can use to transfer a design.  Some use stencils, some pounce in the design, others use Modellos and still others use carbon paper (homemade or commercial).  For this project, a projector was used.  Mary created and outlined the pattern.  I helped with the shadowing and Mary had great tips for me as I did so.  (I think she should teach more, she’s so great.)  I’ve sketched for years on art pads with pencil but have yet to take the plunge onto the wall.  Mary thinks I’d be a great muralist since I have “so much patience”.  We’ll see.  After creating the design, we glazed the interiors to darken them and add interest. Here’s the result…

Smaller Groin Ceiling

Dining Room and larger Groin Ceiling

Dining Room shot from underneath.

But Wait!

In the Dining Room, the metallic plaster was flashing near the center and although you couldn’t see it from all angles, it was very apparent coming in from the kitchen. My solution?  Trowel over that area with a smaller center oval and then fill it in with the decorative work and the same coloration as the oval perimeter.   We think it worked out well…

Dining Room: Re-mastered.

The Final Result.

Mary and I talked quite a bit about collaborations.  We ask each other questions frequently and she said that it’s incredible — here we are, two women who have quite a bit of experience and yet we ask each other about situations that we know the answers to but still like to hear the view of the other.  I think that’s what so important about having friends you trust in the business — they can be a great sounding board, talker-off-the-ledge and idea generator.  Sometimes you just want their genuine reaction when you walk into each other’s commisions and sometimes you know they’d be a great asset to your project.  Do you have local artists that you enjoy this type of relationship with?  Do tell.  See you tomorrow!

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