Saturday, November 29, 2008

Give Them Hope—Harvey Milk

On days that my mom was feeling blue, she would pop in her trusty videotape that had these 3 films on it: The Way We Were, The Times of Harvey Milk and Sixteen Candles. She would have a long, good cry, and then laugh her self silly with “Long Duk Dong”…and let the blues pass her by. If you haven’t seen
The Times of Harvey Milk, the Academy Award winning documentary by Rob Epstein, go rent it today—make sure you have a box of Kleenex nearby.

Then go see the new film, Milk, based on the life of Harvey Milk, who was assassinated thirty years ago on November 27, 1978. In a nutshell, Harvey Milk (the first Gay San Francisco Supervisor and first openly gay man elected to public office in California) and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were murdered by fellow Board of Supervisor, Dan White—out of jealousy and homophobia. Dan White was given a very lenient sentence due to his “twinkie defense” (eating too much junk food) and riots ensued in San Francisco from the injustice...

We walked to the Castro Theater Saturday afternoon to see the film Milk at the historic Castro Theater (my mom’s favorite theater)
—and the last historic theater in San Francisco. The line snaked down Castro Street. The crowd was a bit overwhelming, but was all worth it the moment the golden pipe organ rose from the stage floor with the organist playing "San Francisco." We tried to spot friends and acquaintances who were extras in the film, but only recognized Peaches Christ in the protest scenes. Before the elections, the Castro Theater quietly hosted a star studded premier. Sean Penn brilliantly plays the lead role of Harvey Milk and is supported by a stellar cast. Emile Hirsch playing Cleve Jones (who later created the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt) is a standout. Director Gus Van Sant did a fantastic job creating Milk and filmed many scenes on location in San Francisco. Mr. Peacock enjoyed watching the live shooting on Castro Street earlier in the year.

The Castro Theater marquee was painted and repaired to bring it back to its glory of 1978 and storefronts on Castro Street were transformed to their 70's identities for the location filming of Milk. Bravo and thanks to Mr. Van Sant and the entire cast for fearlessly and brilliantly making a film about an American hero most Americans know nothing about.

Harvey Milk isn’t the only American hero who has been murdered. Each year Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender (LGBT) folks are killed just because of who they are. Some of their tragic stories, such as Matthew Shepard (who was brutally killed and hung from a fence post in Wyoming in 1998), make it into the mainstream media, while many others are never heard of, like Lawrence King (the 15 year old Oxnard, California boy who was shot and killed by a fellow student in front of tweny-four other students in his English class in February of this year)—all victims of hate crimes. There are 13 states that do not report LGBT hate crimes and 5 other states that report no hate crimes of any kind. The Gay American Heroes Foundation wants to create a traveling national memorial to honor and remember LGBT victims of hate crimes and to inspire compassion and greater appreciation and acceptance of diversity. To quote the Gay American Heroes Foundation, “All people who live honestly about their sexual orientation or gender identity are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them—heroes." To find out more about this foundation or to make a contribution, click here.

This is the speech Harvey Milk recorded, in case he was assassinated. The video footage is the massive march that took place on the evening of his untimely death.

There are so many great movies out this holiday season, but make sure Milk
is at the top of your list. As the San Francisco Chronicle said, “…with Milk, a great San Francisco story becomes a great American story.” Harvey Milk urged all gay and lesbians to come out of the closet, and make people understand that gays and lesbians are everywhere and just like everyone else. I hope the film, Milk, educates people not only about the American hero we lost thirty years ago, but also teaches people to appreciate and respect the diversity of other human beings—which was paramount to Harvey Milk. Go see Milk!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dear Santa...

Here's a few goodies that are on my list for Santa:
(click image to enlarge)

1) Artist, Milton Carter, makes clever and interesting t-shirts that you won’t see anyone else wearing. This Greco-Roman t-shirt in the color "deep sea" is a beauty...and it’s also on sale, buy it here while they last!

2) Mr. Peacock adores this signed photograph by Erwan Frotin—one out of sixteen, from the series “Flora Olbiensis.” Frotin’s exuberant portraits of tiny wild flowers
found in the fields and forests around the Villa Noailles in Hyères, France, resonate with the Surrealist history of the location. Built in 1925-27 by the architect Robert Mallet Stevens, the villa was a holiday home for the Vicountess Marie-Laure de Noailles, a famous patron of artists including Jean Cocteau, and Man Ray. The dimensions of this gorgeous print is 11.7” x 14.6’, with a .4” white border. Purchase one here
see the other beautiful prints in this series.

3) This small red vintage chair is only 22’’ high. It would look great in a bathroom holding a stack of clean, white towels, or next to your bed with a stack of your favorite art books. This little chair would add a touch of whimsy and a pop of color to any room, without being too cute. Buy one here.

4) Jean-Michel Cazabat has designed for some of the leading shoe companies, including Charles Jourdan and Stephane Kelian. He recently launched his own line of men’s shoes. Jean-Michel Cazabat shoes are hand cobbled by artisans and combine both comfort and style into each exquisite shoe. This stunning pair of gun metal silver "Matt" oxfords would look great at any holiday soirée. You can order a pair here,
they're on sale too! FYI: Mr. Peacock is a size 10, if you want to order an extra pair.

This hand made “Queen Anne’s Lace” tea strainer, by the amazing designer Ted Muehling, has been on Mr. Peacock’s wish list for at least 10 years. This delicate, barely concave disc of silver (½” x 4 ½”) rests atop your teacup and makes the mundane task of straining the leaves from your tea into something special. You can purchase one here.

6) Mr. Peacock looks forward to this seasonal holiday tea by renowned French tea company Mariage Frères. “Esprit de Noël” is a rich and velvety smooth, sweet black tea with orange rinds, vanilla and spices. Don’t assume this is your run-of-the-mill “orange-spice tea” because it’s not—this extraordinary tea is like drinking Christmas in a cup. Buy some of this exquisite, limited edition tea here.

7) Need help making decisions? This handy little “roulette-wheel” paper weight will guide you in decision making from the comfort of your desk—and besides, it’s much more chic than that Magic 8-ball hidden in your desk drawer. Take a spin and leave it to chance. Along with the standard yes and no answers, outcomes include: today, tomorrow, pass the buck, reorganize, maybe, and sit on it. Buy one here, from the Japanese emporium, Takashimaya.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Setting the table for Thanksgiving

I would always help my mom set the table the night before Thanksgiving and one of my duties was making the place cards. We would gather the vintage china from the china cabinet and bring the fancy green goblets up from the basement storage and wash them. One year, we must have missed a goblet and my Aunt Criss found a spider in her glass—luckily she thought it was funny. Thanksgiving was always held at my mom’s house, until one of my older sisters, Theresa, passed away in 1995. Then my mom quit having the celebration at her house, because Thanksgiving was my sister Theresa’s favorite holiday. Everyone was always welcome at my mom’s house, and like my sister Theresa, they both were accepting and non-judgmental with all people. Theresa would frequently bring “weird” people to the dinner, or at least they seemed weird to me at the time—from a tween boy’s perspective. She’d drag along friends and acquaintances that had nowhere else to go. I think some of these folks were actually homeless—and who knows where she even met them. She only saw the person, not their circumstances (or race or sexuality) when she made friends. I always think of my mom and sister Theresa while I’m preparing my Thanksgiving celebration and remember all of those wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations at my mom' house. My mom is now at an assisted living with Alzheimer’s, but I still set the table the night before and make place cards for everyone—whether there are four guests or a full house. I hope I’m as good of a person (and as stylish) as my mom and sister, Theresa.

Mr. Peacock's Thanksgiving table from last year’s celebration. I cut up an oversize black and white xerox poster I had rolled up in the closet (which was getting a bit tattered around the edges) and used it as the table runner over a white linen tablecloth. It really made the clean-up easy too, I just wadded it up and recycled it.

I made the poster from a scan of this vintage etching of poisonous plants. The 72" x 72" poster nearly covered an entire wall in my kitchen for a few years, before it was transformed into the Thanksgiving table runner.

I used feathers, baby apples, fiddleheads, leaves and chocolate asters in last year’s Thanksgiving bouquet. I have to admit I cheated with the asters—they’re artificial, but look very real. I keep a stash of authentic looking artificial flowers just to fill in, if I run short, when making bouquets. I abhor arrangements of artificial flowers, but one or two fake flowers mixed in with the real flowers can fool the eyes. I found the feathers at my favorite hardware store in the whole, wide world—Cliff’s Variety in the Castro.

...including these amazing feathers. I don’t even know what you’d call them, but I called them “feather-swatches.” I tucked one "swatch" into each napkin as a party favor for each guest. The color and texture of the feathers were beautiful on the table.

I now use my “feather-swatch” as a substitute pocket kerchief.

This year I’m basing the table “theme” on this vintage Thanksgiving tablecloth that I’ve had for years, but never used. I love the color palette of greens, browns and oranges with the metallic gold "glitter" highlights.

Whatever your plans are this Thanksgiving, take a moment and reflect on the blessings in your life. Mr. Peacock wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and will be back on Friday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Taproot Foundation—do it pro bono.

My mother always quietly donated money to her favorite cause or charity. When she couldn’t give financially she would volunteer. Whether it was driving a bus of protesters to encircle Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant (she had a commercial driver’s license), or being a buddy to someone with AIDS—she always gave back to her community. At this time, more than ever, our country has so many charities and nonprofits that need our help—both financially and with manpower.

There is a unique nonprofit, the Taproot Foundation, that matches creative, business and marketing folks up with nonprofits that need their help. Lawyers have always had an outlet to do pro bono work, but this is a first for marketing and creative professionals. In a nutshell, the Taproot Foundation matches your skills and expertise to the nonprofit that needs your help. There is a team of volunteer professionals for each project and you’ll donate about 3-5 hours per week on a 6-month pro bono project. There are a variety of volunteer roles needed including: project management, marketing, creative services, human resources, information technology and strategy management. The projects vary from creating a basic website to renaming a nonprofit.

Aaron Hurst (above) created the Taproot Foundation in 2001 to connect this country’s millions of business professionals with nonprofits who need their talents and experience. He founded the Taproot Foundation 40 years after his grandfather, Joseph E. Slater, wrote the original blueprint for the Peace Corps. There are now Taproot Foundation offices in the following cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.

Mr. Peacock volunteered last fall on an annual report project for a domestic abuse/homeless shelter. It was a very rewarding experience. It was more fulfilling than just stuffing envelopes (which I did numerous times volunteering for different nonprofits/charities), because it utilized my professional skills and talents. The volunteer team members and the nonprofit grantee staff were wonderful to work with too. Corporate egos and politics were absent because there was no money involved, just everyone using their skills and expertise. The recipient nonprofit grantee was so grateful for the help. You can pick and apply from a variety of upcoming projects. Click here to read more about the Taproot Foundation or click here if you want to apply to start volunteering. I would highly recommend the experience!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grab the Bull by the Shoehorns

My father was a golf professional and for his golf pro-shop he would have custom faux tortoise shell shoehorns imprinted in gold lettering with his name and the name of the country club. Whenever a club member would purchase golf shoes, they would receive a complimentary shoehorn. I took at least a dozen of these plastic shoehorns for myself—and they’ve lasted decades! Over the years, the plastic would get dry and the shoehorn would crack apart. Just recently my last custom shoehorn broke. So I’ve been on the search for a replacement shoehorn that will last for the next few decades. Nobody ever talks about shoehorns and I don't notice them at retail stores that often anymore. I might see a couple of shoehorns at the shoe repair shopwhich are also becoming harder to find, unless you live in Manhattan. Do you think it is because so many people now wear sneakers everyday? I still find a good shoehorn a necessity. Here's a few interesting and beautiful shoehorns, which would make a nice gift for any gentleman in your life.

Mr. Peacock loves these Italian shoehorns with different animal head handles. They almost look like walking canes. The actual shoehorn is plastic, but the handle is made out of beechwood and the animal head is plated in nickel. Buy one here.

I especially like these 3 beauties—how quirky is that little owl on the right!

This leather shoe horn would get a nice patina on the surface, from constantly sliding your heel over it.

This extra-long 31" stainless steel shoehorn is very utilitarian and you don't even have to bend over to slip your shoe on.

These heavy, rugged shoehorns are made out of real bull horn and retain the natural curve of the horn. Each bull and camel horn is unique and may have slight flaws and imperfections, which make them even more beautiful. They’re almost like a piece of art and will last a lifetime. Get one here.

These are also made from 100% real bull horn. The bull horn can be molded when heated and is then formed into the curved shoehorn shape. The polished finish looks and feels beautiful. Get one here.

Mr. Peacock loves the rich, dark colors of these real bull horn shoehorns—but remember, the colors can vary depending on the horn. Order one here.

Here’s a funny little folding shoe horn you can stick in your dopp kit while you’re traveling. This one is a bargain for $12.95 (including shipping), order here. Which shoehorn are you gonna get?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Cookie for Remembrance

My favorite recipe from the cookbook Herbcraft (see Monday's posting) is an unusual bar cookie made with rosemary—the herb symbolic of friendship and remembrance. These lumpy, bumpy bar cookies will fill your kitchen with the delicious scent of rosemary while they’re baking. Plus, they’re super easy to make. You can adjust the amount of rosemary to your taste—and of course, using fresh Rosemary is the best. I’m not a big fan of the taste of Rosemary myself, because it can be very overpowering—but for some reason I like the "evergreen" taste it adds to these chewy bar cookies.

Rosemary Squares- adapted from Herbcraft
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ dried powered rosemary (I used 2 teaspoons of finely minced fresh rosemary)
2/3 cup pecans or sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (I lightly toast them in a cast iron skillet and let them cool first)
1 cup raisins or currents or candied fruit

Beat eggs vigorously (I used an electric mixer to get them really fluffy). Add sugar gradually, then vanilla and the flour that has been sifted with salt and baking powder and into which you have stirred the rosemary (if you use fresh rosemary add it to the egg and sugar mixture). Fold in nuts and raisins. Bake in 8 x 8 inch pan which has been buttered and dusted with flour. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and test with a toothpick
(I bake them a few minutes longer, because I like the edges a little crispy). Remove from pan while warm (otherwise these cookies will want to stick to the pan), cool and cut into bars (squares or rectangles). It makes about 16 bar cookies.

Make a batch of Rosemary Squares this weekend for yourself or for a friend! These cookies are yummy with a big tall glass of milk or hot cup of Cambric Tea.
Herbcraft has other unique recipes and a compendium of myths and information on herbs, and of course the charming illustrations by Win Ng. You can buy a copy of the book Herbcraft here for only a penny (yes, it's only 1 cent, plus shipping). Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Design Sponge—Style and Grace

A big Mr. Peacock thank you to Grace Bonney at Design Sponge! She featured Mr. Peacock's DIY Project on Wednesday. I'm glad it inspired people to try decoupaging. You can visit Design Sponge here. Pick-up a copy, if you haven't yet, of the November issue of Domino Magazine and see the lovely photo and article about Grace and her inspiring site. Also, keep an eye out, Mr. Peacock will be guest blogging on Design Sponge.

NEW DEAL on the block

A new home furnishings shop, New Deal, recently opened on 18th Street, in The Castro neighborhood, in San Francisco. Actually, New Deal isn’t really new, the shop just relocated from it’s previous 15 year location on Market Street, by Zuni Café. The new space is so charming and fresh that Mr. Peacock wanted to move in himself—it feels like a cozy, modern cottage in The Hamptons. The shop doubles as a home furnishings showroom and interior design office for the proprietor, Terje Arnesen. New Deal has an array of updated, traditional and contemporary styles—never too modern or too trendy.

Mr. Peacock was drawn to the unusual "silver chromed linen" fabric Mr. Arnesen chose for this Louis style chair, which also happens to be his favorite fabric right now—Pirates Treasure by Brunschwig & Fils.

New Deal stocks a beautiful selection of sofas, chairs, tables, lighting, mirrors, rugs and original artwork—all well edited by Mr. Arnesen's discerning eye.

Right now, Mr. Arnesen, is loving all shades of gray with jewel tone accent colors and this "Damask" rug is a prime example.

Mr. Arnesen originally hails from Norway, but now calls California his home. In addition to being a talented interior designer, he’s also quiet the bon vivant and peacock in San Francisco.

Mr. Peacock: Let's switch gears from interior design to menswear. How would you describe your style?
Mr. Arnesen: That naturally depends on where I'm going, whom I'm seeing, the nature of the social occasion, as well as how late it is. But generally: sophisticated, adventurous, unapologetic—but never trendy.

What's your favorite item currently in your wardrobe?
Three gray Dolce & Gabbana suits, all with a little sheen, and a pile of ties from Andrew's Ties in Milan.

Who do you consider a style icon?
The people I really consider style icons are all dead. Although, I like the crazy personal style of designer Kelly Wearstler.

Have you had any fashion disasters?
I've had more wardrobe malfunctions than I care to mention, especially during my 14 years of competitive ballroom dancing.

Whose your favorite menswear designer or brand?
I always end up buying a lot of Dolce and Gabbana because it fits my body type and I think it's the perfect combination of style, quality, and attitude. I wish I could wear more Dior and YSL but it's made for stick figures.

How old were you when you realized you were a "Peacock"?
I had barely turned 4 when I knew exactly what I wanted to look like. I lost the battle often with my mother who had a very strong opinion as well.

Is there any style or clothing item you absolutely disdain?
I hate anything that doesn't fit properly. Take the time and get your clothes altered! Otherwise you end up not wearing them and you always look bad.

Do you have any pet peeves about how most men dress in San Francisco?
San Francisco men DON'T dress. I'm excited every time I see a good outfit and it doesn't happen very often, although it's getting a little better. Take a look the next Friday night you're out having a good dinner and you’ll notice the state of men’s fashion in San Francisco—very nondescript.

Do you “archive” your favorite clothing items or get rid of them after their prime?
I keep certain items that were very good quality, or really identified certain periods of time, and that I possibly see wearing again at some point in time.

Any sartorial advice?
Put some effort into what you’re presenting to the world when you leave the house and own it! Why would you want to look like everybody else? Create your personal style based on what inspires you and run with it. Take what you like from current design and work into your own combinations.

New Deal is located at 4529 18th Street in San Francisco and can be reached at 415/552-6208. Check out their website (which will be re-launched in early 2009) for hours and additional information. New Deal can also custom order pieces that suit your needs. So stop by New Deal and see everything for yourself—tell him Mr. Peacock sent you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Bounty of Autumn Goodies

Here's a few goodies that are on my Autumn wish list:

1) Hurry, this little canvas duffle bag with green leather handles for $25.00 (and free shipping too) won’t last long! The bag is 22 x 10 x 14.5 inches. Buy one here.

2) These comfy, handmade ring boots from Quoddy Trail Moccasin Company in Maine will be your favorite shoes on rainy days. Warning: this small company has great products, but not the best customer service. Shipping can take up to 3 months and without any communication, but it's worth the wait. Order information here.

You know Mr. Peacock loves a good brooch and this "Captain Pin with Diamond Lapels" brooch by Digby & Iona would look fantastic pinned onto any gentleman's lapel. I can't resist this vintage, rough hewn styled piece made with oxidized silver and bronze, and of course diamonds. The touch of bling adds a modern and unexpected touch to this 1.5 by 1.25 inch pin. You can purchase it here.

4) I’m nuts about these charming wood acorn boxes at West Elm. The small acorn is 3.75"diam x 5.75"h and the large acorn is large: 6"diam x 9"h. Buy them here before they sell out.

5) This linoleum block printed kitchen towel with a quail, by artgoodies, would also make a very handsome over-sized napkin on your Thanksgiving table. This quail is just one of many different creatures this sweet etsy shop offers. Buy it here.

6) Mr. Peacock has always had a weakness for top hats and this loden green “Charles” velour top hat by Eugenia Kim makes me swoon! You can buy this beauty, and other great items, at the wonderful menswear boutique, BBlessing, in New York's Lower East Side. Click here
to purchase this top hat.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The charming illustrations of Win Ng

Cookbooks are another obsession of mine. One of my favorite series of cookbooks is the “craft” collection by Violet Schafer, sometimes co-authored by her hubby Charles, which include: Herbcraft (1971), Wokcraft (1973), Eggcraft (1974), Breadcraft (1974), and Teacraft (1975). Besides recipes, the authors include myths and folklore associated with the topic of each book. What makes these books really charming is the illustrations by the late San Francisco artist, Win Ng. His delicate drawings have clever details that make the cookbooks come to life. Mr. Ng illustrated four of the “craft” books. Barney Wan, the art director of British Vogue (in the late 1960's), illustrated Breadcraft, which has a different vibe than the rest of the series. Here's a few samples of Mr. Ng's illustrations.

This beautifully stylized teacup with Lotus flowers is from Teacraft. These teacups would look handsome, framed and hung on a wall in in some cozy nook at your home.

I love the dreaminess of this enchanted teacup from Teacraft.

This whimsical fairy tale teapot is also from Teacraft. The fishing "prince" frog makes me giggle.

This adorable lion and owl (and detail shot) is the illustration for chervil, from Herbcraft.

Also from Herbcraft, this representation of Adam and Eve is for balm.

This giant potted jungle is the illustration introducing the section “Herban Renewal” in Herbcraft, which I think is the best book in the series. You can buy a copy of Herbcraft or Teacraft here or here for only a penny—that's the bargain of the day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can we brooch the subject?

As of late, Mr. Peacock has been adorning his blazers with a brooch or two, ala' 1985. Believe it or not, I'm not even a jewelry person. I don't wear any rings or things, just a humble watch. Let’s face it though, menswear doesn’t really change that much from year to year, like womens apparel. But adding a brooch is a nice refined way to add a little pizazz and personality to your standard male uniform, especially for festive occasions. Dare I say, it can still be masculine too, depending on your selection and how you wear it. A brooch can also look chic pinned onto a hat or even a denim jacket. Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for holiday parties—maybe you can raid you mom or grandmother's jewelry box.

This dark and tarnished brooch I found at a flea market. I’ve always liked crown and key paraphernalia, so when I saw the crown and keys together—I couldn’t pass it up. The patina is very pleasing too. It looks great against tweed.

I don’t remember where I found this inexpensive, little skull and crossbones cameo, but I like it.

I don’t even have to explain why I like this golden peacock beauty. It looks great perched on the lapel of my Harris Tweed blazer.

I call this piece, from the 1950’s, my sparkly-fleur des lis-lady slipper brooch, because the shape reminds me of a fleur des lis and it also kinda looks like a lady slipper bloom. I save this piece for special, celebratory, evening occasions when I wear my black velvet suit. My mother gave me this brooch, about 20 years ago. I would routinely borrow it from her when I went clubbing, until she finally gave in and let me have it—with the prerequisite, “Don’t lose it!” I've lost a few great accessories over the years on some rowdy dance floors.

I had to throw in this wonderful photograph of my mother, JoAnn, because, you guessed it— she's wearing the sparkly-fleur des lies-lady slipper brooch (I checked with my magnifying glass). Before my parents were married, my mother owned a nightclub/lounge, The Matineé, which had live bands and dancing—and she grew mint in the back of the club for her signature mint julep cocktails. I believe this photo was taken one evening in 1960 in the parking lot of the club with an unidentified customer, by an unidentified photographer. Whenever I wear this brooch, I think of my mom posing on the hood of this convertible car—and that makes the brooch even more special to me.

This faux Roman coin medallion brooch was also my mother’s. It’s from the 1960’s and I like wearing it on my corduroy jacket. This brooch has got a bit beat up, but I think it adds more character to the piece.

Continuing the coin theme, I wore this brooch, I found on ebay, to see this amazing performer a few weeks ago. I like the quiet, tinkling sound the small dangling coins make when it moves. I pinned it to a vintage black tuxedo jacket, my friend Roger gave me and wore a Ganesh t-shirt from the Bombay Bazaar, on Valencia Street.

Ages ago, I collected vintage alarm clocks, Big Bens, etc...At some point I started taking the alarm clocks apart and turning the clock-faces into brooches. Somehow this one survived my gypsy lifestyle and I still wear it occasionally. I like the contrast of the whimsical clock-face on something really traditional—like a khaki blazer.

Mr. Peacock saw this jaw-dropping brooch last spring at Vera Wang. It's been etched in my memory ever since. I would wear this piece on a vintage black calvary jacket I have from the turn of the century. The flower petals are made with trimmed feathers that have deep blue and green highlights. The stem, leaves and stamen are made with diamond studded platinum. The real question—do I want to buy a car or a brooch? This unusual goth beauty is a mere $30,000. I guess I'll stick with my collection of vintage brooches. I would hate to lose a $30,000 brooch on some rowdy dance floor.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Decoupage your ceiling this weekend!

Mr. Peacock loves to collage! One uneventful weekend last year, I collaged the entryway ceiling in our apartment using black and white xerox copies. It’s a cheap and fun way to add some drama to a drab foyer! You could do a larger ceiling, but it would take more time, so I recommend starting with a small area first. If you rent or like to change things around—like myself, they’re relatively easy to remove. Just dampen the artwork with a wet towel and slide a blade or scraper under a corner and “peel them off.” Here’s how I created my decoupaged ceiling. (You can click on the image below to see the detail a bit better)

1. Pick your pattern
First you want to decide your theme or subject matter. I called mine—The Birds and the Bees, even though I didn’t include any bees. I used birds, flowers, butterflies, and beetles. An object, or animal, or something that you can silhouette (cut out) works better than say a photo of “a wheat field.” Although you could simply cut interesting shapes from an image like “a wheat field” and make more of an abstract pattern with shapes. You could also use clip art from a Dover book. The possibilities are really endless. My ceiling is painted white, but you could also paint the ceiling a color and decoupage the black and white images over it.

2. Find the images
I wanted to do something nature oriented, ie...The Birds and the Bees. So I selected some books on birds, flowers and bugs. I bookmarked pages I liked with a post-it.

3. Xerox
Then I went to the copy store and enlarged the images on a black and white Xerox machine. I used 11" x 17" size paper. You’ll have to play around a bit, adjusting the size and contrast to your liking. Don't worry if the copies look too gray or the dot pattern looks too prominent, you won't notice that after the next step. You could also scan images you like and play with them in Photoshop and then print them out at home.

4. Cut
Then I carefully cut out the images from the Xeroxed pages and piled them into groups, ie birds, flowers, leaves, and bugs. I used two different pairs of scissors and an exacto knife (see photo below). Your first trimmed image might be a bit sloppy, but don’t worry, once it’s up on the ceiling, nobody will notice. And besides, you’ll become an expert at cutting these images after the first few are done. (I even like the cut out images against the wood floor in the photo above)

5. Clean your surface
I cleaned and wiped the ceiling with a mixture of hot water and TSP, and let it dry thoroughly. Don’t skip this step! It is important your surface is clean and dry, otherwise your beautiful collaged images will curl on the edges and not adhere to the ceiling.

6. Glue
Then I got on my step ladder and just intuitively started gluing the cut out shapes to the ceiling, creating a organic “pattern” as I went. If you want it to be more structured, you could lay the pieces out on the floor before you start gluing. I used oversize glue-sticks and tried to cover most of the back surface of each piece, and gently rubbed it smooth when I pressed it to the ceiling. Be careful when you smooth the image, it can tear.

Actually I brushed on more of a light “wash” than a full on decoupage. I thinned some Elmer’s glue to a watery, but still sticky consistency. You want it thin enough to brush on and just lightly coat the surface and around the edges of each image. Normally when you decoupage, you would want a thicker consistency like Mod Podge, which you could also use (but thin out with some water). The glue "wash" will dry fairly quickly.

I think my ceiling is quite fetching. My photograph really doesn't do it justice and the light fixture is a bit distracting to see the final product in its full beauty. People ooh and ahh when they step into our home for the first time and notice the glorious "birds and bees" on the ceiling. It also adds some depth to the ceiling and makes the space feel taller. If you decide to decoupage your ceiling, send me a photo, I’d love to see what ideas you come up with!