Spotted: Collections of Round Things on Walls

Could the post title be more articulate? Probably. But it describes exactly what I’ve been seeing lately − round things on walls. In big clustered collections. It all started a few weeks ago at the Antique and Garden Fair at Chicago Botanic Gardens. I saw this scattering of round things in The Golden Triangle’s booth:

Wooden Thai Rosettes from The Golden Triangle

They are wooden rosettes from Thailand. Some red, some ivory, all gilded with a touch of gold. It’s like a whole garden of these wooden blossoms is blown across the wall.

Then, while perusing Pinterest tonight, I see a similar cluster of round things on a wall:

Patterned Paper Circles on Wall via BHG

They are patterned paper medallions from Better Homes & Gardens. You could do this with scrapbook paper! BHG describes how to make these step-by-step here.

Then, not even an hour later, I see fellow Paint+Pattern blogzine contributor Debbie Dion Hayes’ photos from the High Point Furniture Show on her blog, My Patch of Blue Sky. And what do I see? She shows round things on a wall!

High Point Furniture Market Mirrored Orbs via Debbie Dion Hayes

Mirrored glass orbs! Although this makes me feel nervous just looking at it on a computer screen. With my penchant for breaking glass, paper round things would be much better on my home’s walls.

So once you see something for the third time in short order, it’s definitely a thing.

I decided to scroll through my “Collections” Board on Pinterest to see if there’s more examples:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Decor – Collections on Pinterest.

Sure enough. Yes.

These are ceiling medallions from home improvement store, painted and hung on a wall. From House & Home and  BHG:

Painted Ceiling Medallions on Walls

A wall garden of exuberant ceramic flowers, shown at Elle Decor:

Garden Wall Flowers from South African Ceramicists

A wall installation of juju hats, via Kronbali where you can get these hats:

Juju Hats from Kronbali

After those color bursts, I will leave you with a visual palate cleanser from Bloomingville before you go wherever you go next online!

Baskets on Wall via Bloomingville

In Honor of Earth Day: How to Create New Storage From Old Things

The comedian George Carlin had a routine I’ll never forget, about “stuff.” About how we have to have stuff. And then we have to buy stuff to hold our stuff. When we get too much stuff, we buy bigger houses. To hold all our stuff. And so we can go out and get more stuff.

If you have extra stuff that needs organizing around your home, why not recycle and repurpose things that already exist to hold your stuff? Here are some really cool, attractive ideas …

A banana box bin to hold extra blankets and pillows in the bedroom. This fun and funky recycled vintage crate was shared on BHG. I like how it’s lifted up on a few luggage racks:

Banana Box Bin via Better Homes & Gardens

We’ve all been seeing a lot of recycled shipping crates, so I’m working really hard here to find ideas that are not made from shipping crates. Let’s find some ideas that are more unusual. Sometimes the “unusual” comes from the extraordinary vision to see what something could be. Which is very different from what it is right now. Like, Centsational Girl found a $10 Goodwill cabinet and saw its potential and completely transformed it:

Centsational Girl's $10 Goodwill Cabinet Makeover

Are you in awe of this? I’m in awe of this. There’s a lot of cabinet makeovers out there but this is in a class of its own. So the next time you’re confronted with a storage cabinet that’s not at all your style, imagine what would be your style. Maybe a makeover is possible.

Gather up all your lotions and potions in little wooden vintage drawers. You can find drawers like this at flea markets, antique shops and Etsy. Give them a new job in life! HGTV shows how this can tidy up your bathroom countertops:

Vintage Drawer Storage via HGTV

Another idea from HGTV, you can often find old wooden test tube holders on Etsy and Ebay. Look what you can do with them!

Test Tube Holder Repurposed via HGTV

If you have a smaller kitchen that’s lacking an island, Apartment Therapy shows how to repurpose an old dresser into a kitchen island. Just add some marble, granite or even butcher block wood from IKEA cut to size to make a countertop:

Dresser Repurposed as Kitchen Island via Apartment Therapy

Do you have a pile of magazines you just can’t throw away? Store them and turn them into seating at the same time! This is a genius idea from NJUORDER:

Hockenheimer Magazine Storage Seating

To really take the repurpose and recycle idea to heart, you can recreate this with a cushion, old belts and some kind of a wood platform.

All these ideas and many, many more (like, more than 1,000 ideas!) for repurposing and recycling things are on my Pinterest Board. Check them out and follow the board for more ideas as I pin them:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Repurpose Reuse Recycle Reclaim … RETHINK on Pinterest.

Tribal Tassels

They’re all the rage right now in boho chic fashion and home decor: tribal tassels from lands now known as Rajasthan, Punjab, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan … but the tribes that make and use these fringy textiles have been around longer than states and nations and cross many borders. Their traditions have lasted generations too, of draping their yurts, their clothing and their camels with colorful tassels and poms. You might find tassels clustered together in threes, as this was auspicious and protective.

Here are vibrant beaded Paktika Kuchi and Baluchi Afghan vintage tassels from Tribal Muse:

Tribal Tassels from Tribal Muse Shop

From northern Afghanistan, here are Turkoman tribal tassels from Tribal Souk that are used to decorate animals, people, cars, trucks, and motor bikes. These bright colors are now popular in the region:

Turkomen Tassels from Tribal Souk

Those tassels are 15 inches long! You can’t miss them.

If you wonder how these can be worn with more western styles, Vivienne Tam showed us how back in 2011, when obviously I wasn’t quite paying attention yet:

Vivienne Tam 2011 Tribal Tassel Style

If you like this look either for fashion or home decor and want sources to find such treasures, let’s look some more …

The rich jewel colors of these Uzbek tassels – gorgeous.  From Dancing Tribe Etsy shop:

Uzbek Tribal Tassels from Dancing Tribe Etsy Shop

From Luxethink on Etsy, these vintage Turkoman tassels have a sophisticated color combo:

Turkomen Tassels from Luxethink Etsy Shop

These fringy camel decorations from Rajasthan are so fun! Brought to you by Woman Shops World on Etsy:

Camel Tassels from Woman Shops World on Etsy

Anthropologie is hanging tassels on handbags, such as this Samirah Tassel Bag which is now sold out (so, get your tassels and make your own handbag tassel!):

Anthro Samirah Tassel Handbag

Tribal tassels can also be used on pillows, such as this pillow from One Kings Lane with Gosha tribal tassels:

Tribal Tassel Pillow from One Kings Lane

I hope this brightened your day with the possibilities of how to add a bohemian touch with tassels!

The White Buffalo Styling Co.’s DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket

This deserves more than just a pin on my DIY board. Way more! As a maker of globally-inspired DIYs myself, I am in awe at how Lindsay of The White Buffalo Styling Co. found a way to make a Moroccan wedding blanket:

DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket by The White Buffalo Styling Co

http://eastcoastcreativeblog.com/

I’m not spilling the beans here on how this was done, because that’s not cool - you simply must visit her tutorial over at East Coast Creative and show this project some love if you like it. You can do this too, with a few easily-found supplies and she shows you how! Not everyone can afford the real deal. I haven’t sprung for one yet. If you like Moroccan wedding blankets, this is a way to add their shaggy and sequin-y texture and boho look to a room, in an affordable way.

East Coast Creative has “Creating with the Stars” going on now. Have you heard of it? Hold on to your chair before you click over there. It’s amazing what people can create with imagination and resourcefulness!

India Craftsmanship: Coppre

Whenever Coppre’s photos pop up on Facebook, I practically salivate. The warm luster of copper makes it my favorite metal, far above silver or gold. It’s like copper wants to reach out and embrace you, while silver is far too cool and gold is a few levels too high. Copper’s warmth is welcoming.

Copper from Coppre

Coppre is a company in Pune, India that is keeping a traditional skill alive. They work with the Tambat metal craftspeople in Pune who have a 400-year history with creating copper wares. Coppre helps to connect these craftspeople with modern product designs and gives them a worldwide marketplace. As I scrolled through their Facebook, I was fascinated with their story. So I did a little interview with them to share it with you …

Why copper as the metal you use?

We love the sheen of copper. Copper reflects even the minutest changes in light quality; Light is a muse to copper. It is so amenable and versatile in accepting finishes – it can be made to shine bright, it dulls if left unfinished and can age to a rich natural patina over time. Also, copper is one of the oldest metals. It is very traditional and we want to present it in a contemporary fashion.

Table Setting with Coppre Wares

Coppre Song Bird Platter

So, this is a 400-year old art form from Maharashtra? Can you tell us more about the history?

The ‘Tambat” craftspeople we work with are traditional metal-working artisans. The craft itself has a recorded history of over 400 years. The skills and craft tools are passed on from one generation to the next. They migrated to Pune, in Western India, in the 17th century on the invitation of the Peshwas when they set up Pune as the administrative base. Under the Royal patronage of the Peshwas, the craftspeople flourished and made products such as artillery, seals and coins, ritual objects and utensils until the British victory over the Peshwas. The craftspeople were then relegated to making utensils.

Over the years, the craftspeople have had to face enormous challenges from growing copper prices, competition from machine-made and other easy to use materials such as plastic and steel. Coppre is an effort to make the heritage traditions relevant to today’s times with our design and marketing interventions. The craftspeople also work with Traders and are paid either on a kilo basis or on daily wages.

Coppre wants to bring in a paradigm shift in this – so we remunerate our artisans for each product crafted by them. We want their products to be perceived as a piece of art rather than an as an object.

Raw Materials to Become Coppre Products

Can you tell us about the process of making a Coppre product? What tools are used?

Tambat craft is a skill intensive craft and needs strength, dexterity and a keen hand-foot-eye coordination. The skills are passed on from one generation of the family to the next. ‘Matharkaam’ or beaten work is the distinguishing feature of Tambat craft. The hand-beaten indentations, made by profiled beating hammers, strengthen the object and enhance the inherent rich surface by imparting a mirror-like appearance. It is the only skill that the community could save from the onslaught of mechanization with the coming of British rule, which to date has not lent itself to be mimicked on any machine.

Here is a step-by step process of how Coppre’s popular Meditation Urli is made. Click the photo to open a larger size:

Making a Coppre Meditation Urli

Some of the tools used are khod karvai (metal worker’s saddle), shaping hammers, beating hammers, shears, marking tools, pincers and the like. These are passed on from one generation to another within the family.

The Tambat community has faced many challenges. The loss of the patronage of the Peshwas, the introduction of mechanization and the bans imposed by the British, forced the Tambats to set up their own shops to sell their wares to the commoners. Over the years, the members of the Tambat community practicing this craft have continued to dwindle. There were upto 800 Tambat households in the early 1970s. By the early 90s, The Tambat households in Pune city fell to 250. Currently, about 80-100 families directly depend on the Tambat Craft for their livelihood.

Tambat Copper Crafts in Pune India

Hit by changing traditions, rising copper prices on the commodity markets in recent years, the convenience offered by materials like stainless steel and plastic and the provocative economic opportunities outside the confines of their craft, has led to a near stagnation. Yet some families of the community persevere with this craft of shaping objects from sheets of copper they carry on the ghadkaam (raising, sinking and shaping of the utensil), the crafting of ritual wares, nakshikaam (repousse and chasing), and the crafting of one-off temple objects.

Passed on through apprenticeship from one generation to the next, today the craft remains in the hands of a few craftspeople with even fewer willing to take on this heritage craft.

Khod Karvai Tool for Making Copper Items

You have a modern take on traditional Indian wares which is a nice twist for today’s homes, such as your meditation urli. Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

We believe that there is much warmth, richness and cultural integrity in India’s designs and skills of yore. Traditionally, craftspeople lived and worked closely with the communities they serviced. Contemporary market requirements have now become alien to craftspeople as trends and fads are now dictated by a class (and geography) of people that are several times removed from our craftspeople. Coppre’s Founder and its Design Lead, Rashmi Ranade, believes that skilled craftspeople should once again have a direct link and contact with markets.

Some of Rashmi’s inspirations for Coppre’s collections include:

In the inaugural series, ‘Beautiful Copper’ she contemporarized her grandma’s trinket box and her mother’s meditation urli. The Ayurvedic practice of drinking Tamrajal (water stored in a copper vessel) from the lotta and kalshi, inspired her to create the bedside water carafe.

Coppre Bedside Water Carafe

In ‘Lamps & Flowers Festive Collection 2012’, she drew inspiration from nature- from palm leaves, castor leaves, peepal leaves and lotus buds.

In ‘Vintage Inspirations 2013’, she draws from influences of from a trunkful of antique brass/copper utensils, puja/ritual accessories brought to India by her friend’s grandmother during partition, from erstwhile East Pakistan.

Coppre Trinket Box

Will Coppre products develop a verdigris patina?

We coat our Coppre wares (except the Bedside Water Carafe and the thalis & katoris) with an imported lacquer which retards the oxidization. The shine on the Coppre wares will remain for 2-3 years depending on the humidity.

My husband grew up in India and he says during his childhood, the family’s drinking water was kept in a big copper vessel. I’ve heard that copper has antimicrobial properties. Is this true?

Traditional wisdom and practice prescribes the use of copper for storing drinking water. Copper vessels used for drinking water were ubiquitous across India. In Ayurveda, it is recommended to drink tamrajal (or water stored in a copper vessel). Scientific studies today show that water has anti-microbial properties amongst other benefits.

I see you can put together gift packages for wedding guests? What a wonderful idea. How could a bride go about doing this for her wedding?

Indeed! Copper is an auspicious metal and it makes for great wedding gifts. Besides, a handcrafted product is even more special. In a sense Coppre is a marriage of good design and our precious heritage. You could write to coppremarketing@gmail.com for more information.

Coppre Wedding Gift

How can people find out more about Coppre products?

Get in touch with us on Facebook: facebook.com/coppre or you could write to us at coppremarketing@gmail.com

Coppre Coaster Set

P.S. I own a set of these coasters. Coppre is right when they say they can give a traditional craft a modern design sense! And their packaging is lovely too, with little copper stamps.

DIY Chalkboard Menu + Don’t Forget the Plastic Rooster

It was spotted at Hobby Lobby – a red chippy paint chalkboard menu. I have no need and no place for a chalkboard menu every day. But it could be a good occasional decoration for a dinner party or holiday meal. So I wanted to “DIY it” on the cheap. Here’s the finished DIY chalkboard menu:

DIY Chalkboard Menu

Breaking the menu down into its parts, it’s very easy to put together yourself. Here’s the supplies (some I already had):

Chalkboard-Menu-Supplies

All supplies passed inspection by Chaai the Crafty Cat. From the bottom-up, the menu is built with:

  • A wood base
  • Candlestick
  • Small wood dowel
  • Two picture frames glued together back-to-back
  • Chalkboard painted inserts in picture frames
  • Plastic animal

Before I continue, you’re going to see some lack of continuity in the photos here. Because I tend to break things:

Broken

Yeah, two candlesticks fell over and broke! After that I decided not to try again with this candlestick style, and got a different one instead. The base of the new candlestick was too wide for the wood base you’ll see below, so that’s why a wood base is not in the final photo/finished project.

So here’s the first steps:

Chalkboard-Menu-DIY-Steps

  1. I used two pieces of square beveled wood that are in craft store woodworking aisles for 79 cents. These two pieces were glued together. (Is the clamp overkill? Probably. But it was nearby, might as well use it! Made me feel like a super serious DIYer.)
  2. I chose a heavy resin candlestick because the menu should be bottom-heavy so it doesn’t tip over. I put wood filler in the top of the candleholder to make more surface for glue. Then I glued the candlestick upside down on the wood base.
  3. The frames did not have glass, so I cut heavy chipboard to make the chalkboard.
  4. Then the chipboard was painted with chalkboard spray paint. If you use two frames as I did, put the chipboard back into the frames before you glue the frames together. Sounds obvious, but I almost didn’t!
  5. Choose very lightweight picture frames so the menu doesn’t get top-heavy and tip over. Two $1 picture frames from Michael’s were glued together to make the menu two-sided. The frames were not exactly the same size (hey do you expect quality control for a buck?!), and this left obvious seams along the sides. I added some wood filler to blend the size difference.
  6. Next I glued the finished picture frame assembly to the candleholder.

See how using the candleholder upside down gives more surface for gluing the frames. This gives more stability because there will be pressure while writing and cleaning the chalkboards:

Chalkboard-Menu-DIY

The frames came with tiny wood dowels. I wanted to cut a dowel to hold chalk in place. But looking at the options around here … there was a chainsaw … and there were  Xacto knives. Nothing in between that’s just right! It’s like the Cinderella story of tools around here. So I hacked at a dowel with a kitchen knife. After that chop job and sanding, I glued the dowel to the candleholder, leaving space to hold chalk:

A-Spot-for-Chalk

Then I glued a lightweight plastic rooster to the top of the frame. Because the Hobby Lobby menu had a rooster there. So I guess I was stuck on the idea that a rooster must be there. It’s better than other plastic animal options at craft stores: tiger, dragon, pterodactyl … those are not exactly charming. Our menu shouldn’t include animals that would eat us. But hey if pterodactyl is your style, go for it. A rhinestone skull? Go for it! I should have been more unique! There was a turkey at Michaels – perfect for a Thanksgiving menu.

Now this whole assembly looks so weird, right? Like a Franken-menu:

Franken-menu

What if I stopped here, and said “wow, isn’t this great looking!” You’d tell me honestly what you think, wouldn’t you?

We’ll fix this so it looks good. This was very simple to do with paint. I painted two coats of Annie Sloan Emperor’s Silk chalk paint. Then I dry-brushed brown and ochre colors of acrylic paint to make distressed highlights here ‘n there.

Antique Effect with Dry-Brushed Paint

Painted Plastic Rooster

Candlestick Painted with Antique Effect

Finally, to protect the chalk paint, I buffed the red painted areas with Annie Sloan clear soft wax. Obviously you don’t want to put wax on the chalkboard paint.

And here you have it, a chalkboard menu!

DIY Country Chalkboard Menu

Isn’t this something to crow about?

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Painting and Stenciling in India

A few months ago I was sitting in my in-laws’ home in Chennai, India and kept staring at a big blank wall just inside the main entrance of their flat. It’s visible from the entire living room/dining/kitchen area. And I imagined, what if? What if it was a bold color? What if it had a design on it? Wouldn’t it make the place feel different? It would  welcome people as they stepped in. It would embrace people with color. But no one we know does things like this to their walls there.

But now they have this wall:

Stenciled Wall in India

I chose deep red to coordinate with the textiles found around the room.

Painting supplies from the U.S. were already stashed there, waiting for when they’re needed to decorate our own apartment. And I know my way around Asian Paints locations near T Nagar neighborhood in Chennai very well! Better than anyone who lives near Chicago should know about paint sources in Chennai! Because when I wasn’t looking, I somehow turned into a painting addict.

That’s why I got the itch while sitting in a chair. Staring at a blank wall. In India.

It so happened my father-in-law said he’d like birds on the wall. And I knew that Asian Paints has a stencil with branches, foliage and birds (they call stencils “wall fashions”). So we visited our local friendly Asian Paints dealer, who is within walking distance down dusty Usman Road:

Asian Paints in T Nagar Chennai

Asian Paints Store in Chennai

Yes, this the dealer of my painting drug when we’re in Chennai! Don’t be fooled by appearances. If you haven’t been to India, a lot of places are not like our Home Depots, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good stuff. They can mix anything you want here. Even rich gold shiny metallic paints! I have some. They said that only designers buy that kind of paint. My husband assured them that I’d know what to do with the shiny gold metallic paint. People aren’t really into DIY there. Labor is affordable so you pay people to do many laborious things. Except, what if you enjoy doing these things?

It was a spectacle for awhile. Relatives stopped by.  My husband’s cousins. Many cousins dropped by, curious to see this painting going on.

Painting Wall Stencils in India

If that tube light is bright for you in the photo, imagine your eyes up next to it!

Stenciling a Wall in India

That wooden bench is said to be about 100 years old and belonged to my husband’s grandpa. Apparently the bench had a beautiful old worn wood patina. But they wanted it to look new so they painted it “new brown wood” color. We joked that we’ll strip the paint off of it on the next trip. Okay maybe we are serious about that …

Sometimes I had to improvise because supplies aren’t available like they are in the U.S. So a Q-tip (AKA earbud) became a touch-up brush. It worked fine. I didn’t have a stencil brush or sea sponge, so I used edges of paint rollers to “pounce” paint color onto the stencils. The only paper towels I had were from a roll brought from the U.S.

Painting Stencils in India

The best thing was seeing the pride in my father- and mother-in-law over their new wall! Smiles all around! They even sent roses to our Bangalore hotel (we had to move on to our next city the next day) because they were so happy about the wall.

Asian Paints Wall Fashion on Wall in India

I’m starting to think it can be even better to paint for other people, than to paint only for myself.