Tag Archives: April Elizabeth Design

Inspired to create by a very lovely client…

8 May

I have often wondered if I could break down my processes of creating to help those who say they aren’t creative be able to find their creative power. Maybe it is possible, but sometimes for me it is an elusive process. I rarely approach creating the same way every time. While Inspiration is a huge factor in creating, it is only one part of the process.

I can know in my head exactly what I want to create but if the timing isn’t right or I’m not in the right mindset it is often hard to put on paper & get it out of my head to a presentable medium. I recently had an amazing opportunity to create something bigger than I ever dreamed of creating. Believe me; I have a lot of big ideas & dreams when it comes to creating products designed by my own hands.

This though really pushed the limits of what I ever dreamed I could do. In fact, I probably never would have considered ever putting myself in this position if it weren’t for my very lovely client Lynette. Over a year ago Lynette hired me to help her & her husband create their dream home. I did not know at the time what a blessing this would be. There were many challenges along the way but I did my best to try to capture their vision & stay focused on making it a reality. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to do what I do best for these very deserving clients.

I did a lot of designing & collaborating with other talented folks throughout the process of designing the home. I created everything from custom fireplaces to elegant decorative finish work. I plan to write about some of those designs as well, but anyone who follows me knows my writing can end up on the back-burner somewhat.

If you follow me on instagram you may have already seen this project or the decorative library ceiling I painted. It isn’t typical for me to do work like this for my clients. Because of my background in art I am perfectly capable, but it is time consuming & stressful & as many artists know unless you are compensated for your time it isn’t always worth it. The turret ceiling took this to a whole other level by being so much more time & work than I anticipated. I knew though that I just had to plug through it & make it happen. I am lucky that I had the support I did, so I could get it done. I am so thankful for that.

I really started the process of designing it months before it came about. There was so much to do to move the house forward & there were many changes & additions. Every now & then she would say, “it would be nice to do something with that ceiling up in the turret.” I would agree with her, but we did not yet know what we were working with until the finish carpenter had completed his part of the installation.

I had grown to enjoy my client & her family so much. I was obsessed with making sure her home fit all her expectations. This is their dream home after all. She was a gem through every little problem that would come up in the building process. I also knew that when you start designing a high end home & putting high quality products into it, that nothing can ruin it more than having some element that is unfinished or non-related that somehow randomly sits in the midst of the design. I saw that the entry turret despite all its beautiful finish work was not going to look right without a little something more.

Design concept for Dashner Turret Design owned by April Elizabeth of A E DesignThere was so much to do but in the meantime on my downtime, I would try to sketch out options & ideas, at first I was hitting a designer’s block of sorts. I would continue to doodle knowing that even when I am not feeling it, sometimes I will have one little element that seems to lead somewhere.

I keep all my little sketch books for this reason. Sometimes I am doodling designs without a purpose but they are great & I am thinking how can I apply this to something? When I am struggling I go back thorough all the books & try to find elements that I can work with. It is rare that I sketch out a design perfect right off the bat. Sometimes It takes a lot of attempts to get things going in the right direction. This was probably one of the hardest designs to come up with. It took me a lot of time thinking & sketching it out.

I am extremely sensitive to my environment so sometimes my inability to create is because of surrounding distractions & then sometimes I am even fighting with little nagging subconscious fears that I won’t be capable of getting it right. I hold myself to very high expectations & when I am designing something I have never done before…it can be a small internal battle. I have learned a few tricks to deal with this though. I know the end result shocks everyone who has seen it including myself, but I wouldn’t want anyone to make the mistake of thinking it was a smooth process.

Up on the scaffold for AE Design Dashner Turret DesignGetting up on scaffolding when you are afraid of heights really makes you face your demons. I had experienced it a few months before when I painted the library ceiling. This was much higher & more difficult to reach. I am lucky I had a helper though. Still I have never experienced something that pushed me to the edge quite so much…the closest thing I have ever had to this feeling was when I was getting my interior design degree & pulling all nighters to get my presentations ready. I was a mom back then as well so I wore as many hats as I do now.

Moving Forward with the Dashner Turret Design by April Elizabeth of AE DesignTruth be told I would do it again. Maybe I wouldn’t have so many demons to fight off now. I found that being up high in a precarious situation made me feel vulnerable & like I didn’t have much control. I would run into trouble when I would find out the walls weren’t even or the template that was made for me wasn’t accurate. Things would take longer than I wished, then at night I would have to go home to modify or re-cut my reverse templates.It was an all consuming project that took over 100 hours. After I hit that marker I stopped keeping track.

The reason I would do it again? I have figured out through trial & error what works best but most importantly, It was a labor of love. I put a lot of my heart into it. There is something so powerful about creating something beautiful that always drives me to push through any discomfort that comes up, just so the finished result can come to life.

Honestly it is a good representation of how life can be. Things don’t always go well or the way to you plan. Sometimes you are wondering how this will ever work out. There are bumps in the road but if you keep persevering & keep your eye focused on the end result you can make things beautiful.

Dashner Turret Design lit up by the Chandy Design by April Elizabeth of AE DesignWhen I was up there I thought about their family & how many years of enjoyment they were looking forward to in their new home. I imagined their daughter someday standing on the stairs getting her pictures taken for prom or the boys walking up the stairs to their rooms after a long day of sports & activities. It is beautiful enough they could have a wedding in this home.

Even if they forget their designer down the road after all the work is done, I hope that somehow the love & respect I have for them will radiate from my work for years to come. I don’t know how it couldn’t. I left a little of my heart behind when I was painting.

Dashner Turret from below  Design by April Elizabeth of AE DesignMy daily goal is to fill the world around me with beauty & love…that to me is what it means to be lovely.

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Inspired to create by…an antique set of silverware

23 Jan

I am constantly inspired by nearly everything that comes my way whether via the web or my daily surroundings.

The only disadvantage to this is that I only have so much time in a day to act on ideas that will flood my mind. I am constantly leaving myself little scribbled sketches with what I hope will be just enough information about my vision, which I can hopefully discern for processing at a later time.
Yet it doesn’t always work that way. I can tell you looking at such scribbles a year later, even when they have color lists that were a big part of the idea with the intention of triggering the scene back into my recollection…the ideas are often lost.

It is difficult sometimes to resurrect these little creative surges & downloads. It probably doesn’t help that these creative blasts like to come during the most inopportune moments…such of those of deep exhaustion as I am lying in bed helplessly falling asleep.

You may ask what my point is? My point is this…I’m a constant creative magnet taking in more data than I can process into actual tangible results. My list of what I hope to paint, design & creates grows longer everyday even though my time to do it seems more limited. This however does not mean that I am not creating at all…quite the contrary. It means that my focus has become less of the things I want to do & more on what my clients needs are at the moment.

I have created some amazing designs in the past little while…some of which are top secret. Those that are not, rarely get much time in the spotlight as I quickly move on to the next task. Quite frankly I am suited to this sort of variety. There is nothing monotonous about my design business. I am just terrible at taking a moment to write about it & share.

That being said…a cross between apology & justification for not blogging in a while….I am going to share a creation that has been a while in the making.

Many of you who are close to me know I have been dating Craig for a long time… about five years ago his mother gave him some of her older furniture & antiques when she got re-married & moved away for a time.
One of these things was a set of silverware.

Not being a pro in the antique business. I’m not sure how to find the years, dates & values of things. All I know about this silverware is that it looks really old. I think it is stunning though. It fulfills all my beliefs about what old fashioned romantic silverware should be like (it is my Libra mentality to romanticize nearly everything).

Silverware from the Hewitt Family
Unfortunately the picture I have of it is not very flattering. Something about this designed medallion really struck me & I found the design fascinating.

In 2009 I was volunteered to refurbish some props for the Mountain West Ballet, Nutcracker performance. When it came to decorating the large presents that some of the dancers come out of, I decided that the only way to make it look like wrapping paper was to stencil them. It was difficult finding large enough stencils…so I resorted to creating my own using the silverware medallion as my inspiration.
It turned out so well that I never forgot the thought I had, that this pattern might look nice as a fabric pattern….

Vintage Bird Nutcracker Gift Boxes Designed by April Elizabeth for Mountain West Ballet
Back when I was very young, I had this dream. It was a big dream that carried me through my youth & teenage years. That was the desire to be a fashion designer. It may have been my exposure to sewing. I had been sewing since I was five years old…maybe it was the piles of old pattern design books I would track down at all the libraries & spend hours reading. Yes. That has to be it. The library…

I was driven to design clothes. Much of my teenage years I was self educating myself in such things.

It was this time spent, reading, studying, sewing, making my own patterns & clothes (otherwise I was limited to hand me downs) that taught me a great deal about textiles. Years later when I ended up on the path to an Interior Design degree, this knowledge came in handy because I knew them inside & out.

Knowledge is one thing, but I also loved textiles & fabric. I read everything I could on repeats & fabric design but so much of it was vague…almost protected information. It was hard to find much information & the tools to print, silk screen & paint my own fabric would be difficult to justify as a hobby.

Since that time I have wanted to have my own fabric line. Truthfully, every time I see a designer with their own fabric line I will pour over their bio to try to find out how they got started. Each line says so much about the designer’s personality as well as design style & I find it fascinating.

Duralee happens to be my favorite fabric companies to look at such designers, because they really put a lot of emphasis on their talents & lines. To private label with a company like Duralee…that would be the dream.

In researching fabric designers, I know there are people who specifically design fabric & do the artwork to help fulfill many a designers’ vision. For me being an artist before getting my Interior Design degree I decided it was time to challenge myself.

I needed an easy subject to start with so I defaulted to one I already had a myriad of sketches for. The bird medallion inspired by Craig’s antique silverware. Knowing that I could change the colors to any that I wanted later on, I made the decision not to invest in new paint. I painted it with what I already had & considered each color as a separator to each other.

A E Design Original Scanned Design of Vintage Bird Medallion
Then I scanned it into my computer & began using Photoshop to clean it up. This was a long process since I had to work on it in bits & pieces as time allowed. Then I played around with various filters…

A E Design Playing with color for the Vintage Bird Design
Many color samples later & it was beginning to look really decent. Then the craziest thing happened….
After looking for months for the perfect fabric for one of my clients…one with all the colors she wanted to bring into her home, I heard myself throw out the idea that “maybe I could design it?”

Well, she wanted to see what I had right away. She loved the design. It was transitional leaning into a traditional vibe, so the process of getting each fabric right began. It took time & weeks every time I would order a new color sample but finally we got it right.

IMG_20140621_092932
Then because she was ready to rock & roll…I used my sewing skills (which I had put in cold storage for a few years) & made eight back tab panels of 132” drapes, fully lined with blackout lining.

A E Design Sewing my custom fabric into drapes
I am really happy with the result & what I learned from this experience is invaluable. I may not be designing exquisite textiles for a high end designer fabric company, but I can design fabric. In fact I am planning to design a few things with my antique bird design & see how they sell online.

Azure Elizabeth Design Vintage Bird Fabric in Red & Gray A E Design

Azure Elizabeth Design Vintage Bird Fabric in Teal & Black A E Design The other thing I learned is that I need to have someone else do my sewing sometimes, just so I can keep myself moving forward & creating as well as get in some Z’s.

These particular color combinations were put together for my client. To see more of my colorways in this “Vintage Lovebird” pattern feel free to visit my spoonflower shop. Azure Elizabeth Design Vintage Bird Fabric in Redl & Gray

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