Tag Archives: decor

Tin: Victorian Decoration Gone Insane

This photograph of a blue door with a tin wall was a first for me. The faded blue door itself was little more than two pieces of painted plywood being held into place by a set of old rusty hinges. There is no telling how long this building has sat in disrepair. Even the latch where the lock once held the doors had and been long forgotten.

The door was being held shut by a thin beam of wood, showing a lot of weathering from the dry alpine desert conditions and the bushes were overgrown all around the place. Overall the door provided an interesting view into the history of this old dilapidated building

However, the most striking feature by far was the brightly colored tin wall panels attached to the decaying adobe exterior. It is the first time I ever saw decorative tin used on the outside of a building to such an extent. Normally,  tin a decoration used inside of a building.   Of course, this does not mean it’s never used outside, but I’ve never heard of it being used on the outside from ground to roof. Surely the use of it as a full outdoor wall covering is a very rare event.Blue Door 2

In the 1800’s during the Victorian era, the use of decorative tin for ceiling tiles and other cosmetic features was very popular .  Even today, it is often used as a decorative and easy to clean back-splash for a kitchen or wet bar area. So the using tin is not that unusual in the decorations found in some very old buildings.

I’ve seen decorative tin tiles lining roofs and even used as wall hangings on the outside of a building. They usually appear as stars or decorative shapes that give the building a distinct character.

Indeed, there are hundreds of designs and patina available for walls, separate wall framing and ceiling covers. They are still a favorite decoration used while  restoring 19th and early 20th century homes and farmhouses. On the outside of a building though, you might see only a few decorative pieces displayed as a garden fixture or hanging on a barn door or wall but never in the measure as this photograph suggests.

So, even though it’s a mystery you walk away from this piece with two known facts. The owners really wanted to stand out in their community.   I mean, look at that use of tin and of course the color!   The second is that this door with it’s faded blue and white really give contrast to the bright red of the tile, making this a unique piece of art worthy of any wall.

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5 Reasons to Enjoy Cacti

Growing a cactus is generally a love it or hate it part of the gardening world.  They make some of the best plants to grow and it’s even possible to plant varieties that produce fruit and eaten.

Some of the advantages of cactus in a garden are:

  • Low maintenance –  You really don’t need to worry about watering them everyday.  In the Texas summer when the temperature reach 105° in the shade, the heartiness of  a cactus plant is well suited to the dry and drought  conditions of August.  You do want to generally avoid tall-growing cacti such as a Sedona like cactus due to the intense storms that can roll off of the Great Plains.   A tree branch being torn from a tree in a 70 mph wind gust is bad enough, but an entire cactus with spines?  That’s a little frightening.
  • Little trimming –  Generally, you can let a cactus plant grow as it wishes however, if a cactus ever needs trimming make sure to use heavy work gloves and a good pair of garden shears.
  • Go long periods without nourishment  – Cactus can survive in desert climes with little water and little minerals from dusty and rocky soil.   Miracle-grow isn’t a necessity.
  • Cacti put out fruit that used in various candies and jams –  I learned this 1st hand when I was a student in archaeological field school.  Along with learning how the Native Americans cooked turtles, not for the weak of stomach, we foraged for prickly pear fruit during our time off.   It’s full of moisture and is just the thing when your hot and thirsty.
  • Security –  One of the most overlooked reasons for having a cactus garden is security.  Placing cactus strategically under windows is a great deterrent to a burglar.  Also, you can plant them as a border for other plans in a garden.  They serve as a natural defense against animals like dogs and coyotes.


There are some down side to cactus in a garden.

Cacti that receives too much water too much can start to rot and become an invitation to rodents and insects.

The largest deterrent to a cactus garden is pets and small children.  The curiosities of pets  or children child under 10 years old are generally not compatible with cactus.  These critters need to be trained about these plants so that a painful trip to an emergency room or veterinarian is not necessary.

Here is a good website with some further information about cacti:



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Why Do You Buy Art?

The purchase of art is not a small thing.  Sometimes it is a very daunting and scary experience. Experience is the best cure for this.  However, people buy art for many reasons.   Social or financial status alone does not necessarily show a person’s ability or wish to buy or own art.  What one’s purchase power does affect is the level at which the person can take part in the art world.

Many moons ago when I was a teen, I bought, owned and displayed art.  Sure they were posters, but it was art, and it was art I could afford at that time. Art served the purpose of not only decorating my bedroom, but it let me display a part of my personality.  The art we own allows us to present our self to others. It tells our visitors that we enjoy other cultures, or that we are naturalists at heart.  It can even tell others that we are football (Australian, American, Calico, or Champions League) fans or even our religious beliefs.  Anthropologists use art to study cultural patterns and beliefs to understand the way they work.

Interior decorators and designers both use this knowledge of personal preference and culture to bring a room to life.  However, their job is only complete if the client agrees with the style choices that the decorator or designer makes.

I want the art I own to express my complex personality.  As a storyteller, I want my art to tell a story.  I want my art to represent a scene, a culture, or something I find beautiful and most of all meaningful to me.  If it seems that I’ve blurred the lines between the art I own and the art I make, then please understand that I haven’t.  I want those same qualities in my photography for any of my collectors and clients as well.

2 Questions That Continue to Influence Photography and Interior Decorating

There are several concepts about the arts of Interior Decorating and Photography that when blended together and create the same questions about why things happen a certain way. While I can always come up with excuses as to why these problems exist, they always limit my ability to make sense of it all.  Here are 2.


1.  What is up with all the colors?  Under scientific laboratory experiments the CIE or International Commission on Illumination came up with a number around 2.38 million.  However, the world does not enjoy scientific laboratory conditions and each of us may see only a small fraction of this number due to lighting and even our eyes physical makeup. Some computer graphics cards and monitor combinations are capable of producing between over 9.8 million. Because my eyesight is different from your eyesight, how can we be sure that Sea Foam Green is actually Sea Foam Green?  Computers have done a lot to standardize this, using CMYK, RGB, Adobe 1998, and of course Pantone™ but it’s far from a perfect set.


2.  Do you use color photography or not?   When choosing to decorate a room in which the focus is a piece of art such as a painting, the common thread is to focus on the colors in the painting, matting and frame.  When I read any of the Interior decorating or designer magazines, OK,  I just look at the pictures,  I see that a majority of the photographic art displayed, if any, is only in black and white.  Why? Black and white as a photographic format is an awesome way to portray a sense of sophistication and power, but so is color.  Yet color photographs are largely ignored in the mainstream decoration and display.  Photographers, what makes a picture better in black and white than in color?  Decorators, how do you decide on just black and white as your decorating medium?

These are questions that probably have as many answers as there are people reading this.  Nonetheless, I’m interested in your thoughts.

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4 Tools to Hang Pictures, Posters, and Prints

One of the most frustrating things about art is how to display it on a wall.  This is actually a problem that dates back to the earliest civilizations.  Unfortunately, most of us can’t use the solution our ancestors did.  They simply painted or tiled a mosaic on the wall.  In today’s world, most landlords would tend to frown on that solution.

So, the modern world has come up with some ingenious solutions to get around this issue.

nail hook

1.  The Hammer and Nail- I didn’t really want to state the obvious, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it.  This category would also include the nail held picture frames.  There are three issues I’ve always seen with this method.  The first is hammering the nail in straight while not damaging your walls or thumb.  The second is leaving enough of the nail exposed outside of the wall to securely hang a picture on it.    The third is leaving a hole in your wall after you discover that the picture is off-center, not that this has ever happened to me, yeah right…


2Hurricane Hooks, Monkey Hooks, and Jhooks- These things look like a long U-shaped nail with a hook on one end.  I’ve personally used these to great effect.  They hold a decent amount of weight and you don’t need to use a hammer to install them.  The drawbacks to them is that they are difficult to install if there is something behind the drywall where you want to hang your picture.  While it is fairly easy to twist these things through drywall, a lack of space behind the wall or a stud will stop it cold.  Unfortunately,  they also leave a hole in the wall.  You can buy these at most hardware stores.


3.  Putty- This putty is usually sold in small strips and comes in a white or blue color.  Any teacher who has ever had to put up posters in a classroom knows this stuff by heart.  It basically sticks your picture or poster to the wall.  I’ve had mixed experiences with these putties.  I learned after many trials that its important the putty is fresh, don’t try to reuse it, and the paint on your wall will have an effect on how well and how much weight the putty will hold. Putty is great for a simple poster, but there is no way I would trust a glass framed picture or a full-sized painting to it.    Duck Poster Putty


4.  Command Strips- 3M sells these removable self adhering picture hooks.  Like the putty, I’ve had mixed experiences with these.  I’ve had some of them work for a long time, many years in fact.  Some of the stickers just gave out after a couple of days.  That being said, the company as improved the adhesive since I used these for something as big as a picture.  When hanging an expensive or weighty piece I always double up on them regardless of what the packaging says they can hold. That way if one of the hooks gives out, I will notice it before my art goes crashing to the floor.  I love using these things for hanging light objects like rope lights or x-mas lights because they are easy to take down and perfect for temporary displays in the home or office.

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