New Year, New Designs!

New Year, New Designs!

Happy New Year all, it has come in with gusto.It all started with a small flood in our library and in the process of assessing the damage we found some very old books that we did not even know we had (the fun part of inheritance). Doug has spent the Christmas holidays making patterns from some of these treasures.Our first find, and the source of this new pattern is a 10 volume set of books published in 1776, but the story goes back another 200 years to the time of Shakespeare’s London in the early 1600’s. There are 52 plays, at least one of which, “Two Noble Kinsmen,” was cowritten by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. John Fletcher followed him as house playwright for the King’s Men, the acting company which Shakespeare belonged to for most of his career.Each of these plays is preceded by an etching. Our newest wallpaper pattern is called “Tragedy and Comedy”. It has a repeat of 133.9” (11 feet) wide at 9 feet high. You can explore it in high resolution on the web...
Mural Restoration in Milton, Ma

Mural Restoration in Milton, Ma

The following “before and after” photos show a beautiful example of an early architectural mural, painted on the walls and ceilings of the foyer of the Dr. Amos Holbrook house, a Federalist style residence built in Milton, Massachusetts in 1800, and listed in the National Register. The mural was created by Italian artists brought to America by Dr. Holbrook to paint the entry hall of his new house with trompe l’oeil architectural motifs.The couple that own the house, an architect and a teacher, asked us to repair and restore the murals while maintaining the marvelous patina acquired over its 200 years of existence. Our approach was to repair only where absolutely necessary and try to retouch rather than repaint when possible. However, some parts were so damaged as to require significant repair of cracked plaster as well as the recreating and repainting of water-damaged areas. Water stains on the ceiling “before and after” Lena at work The area over the entry door had severe water and or smoke damage and needed to be completely repainted. You can see deep cracks in the faux molding, these cracks in the horsehair plaster needed to be repaired before we could restore the painting. Project complete.   Another “notch” in the belt of Zoe Design, we are now archivists.Here is a note from the homeowner, “Your wonderful repair and restoration of the murals in our house brings us joy every day, and we thank you so much for your talent and skill in bringing back these beautiful images.”Our reply, “Thank you for trusting us with this delicate...
Gilding (Metal Leaf) by Doug Garrabrants

Gilding (Metal Leaf) by Doug Garrabrants

Gilding is the art of applying a thin layer of metal to a surface. Leaf & other gilding supplies are available from many sources including SeppLeaf in New York. Leaf is made from metals such as real gold (ranging from 6 – 24 karats), Dutch metal (composition or imitation gold), silver, aluminum, palladium & copper. Real gold and aluminum do not tarnish; all the others will tarnish & must be sealed.  If you wish to do some gilding or contract an artisan to do the work for you this article can help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Start with the surface as smooth as possible. Orange peel is what we call the bumpy surface caused by roller application of paint and the leaf will reflect this texture. If your work is high up like this aluminum leaf ceiling there is no concern. Up close, even brush strokes will reflect. Your level of preparation will depend on your budget. If you can budget a perfectly smooth surface, spraying the base color & size (the glue that holds the leaf) and spraying the clear coat, your finished product will be far better on close inspection. Start with a base color of bronze or rust, depending on the color you want to see peeking through between the individual pieces of leaf. Over that you must apply the size in an even coat over the entire surface. We like water base Rolco Aquasize. After 15-20 minutes the size is ready to accept the leaf and will continue to be tacky for 36-48 hours. We have found that it is best to have all your work...
Fresco – From The Imperial Villa at Boscotrecase

Fresco – From The Imperial Villa at Boscotrecase

In 1991 we were asked to paint a powder room in Beverly Hills by our friend and art director, Rand Sagers. Lena & Rand settled on using, as inspiration, a fresco from around 14 A.D. which is housed in the Metropolitan Museum. During our tenure in L.A. everyone, it seemed, wanted to add patina to their walls. What better way to age a wall than with a fresco. For a library or powder room, this fresco is perfect for calming and enveloping you with its dark walls and the thinest columns ever. We were asked to repeat the mural in the Homby Hills home of Jerry Moss (A&M Records) and Annie Moss (Super Model) by their designer Linda Chase. During the work we became friends with Annie’s assistant Kim and have kept in touch with her through her marriage, baby and soon enough college & empty nest. I can’t believe it has been nearly 30 years since we painted this mural. I won’t go into any of the boring details of painting process although we will be happy to share our technique with anyone who asks. If you are interested in the history of the original, built by Agrippa and Julia (Augustus Cesar’s daughter), here is a link. Thanks for reading. Doug &...