New Design: Summer Squall

New Design: Summer Squall

The fabrics are almost ready! Thanks to all of you who have inquired. Thank you also for your patience. My web team is busy busy with the custom calculator and I hope it’ll just be a couple more weeks until we go live.

In the meantime, I’m also adding a new design to the web shop in January/February 2015. I’ve been working on it for half a year (I got a little obsessively into all the little details of the leaves, etc.)!

This piece will soon be available as wallpaper and fabric (9 different sorts, including cottons, linen, silks and velvet) at www.elliecashmandesign.com.

Summer Squall has a lot of personal meaning for me. If you want a little background on the design and the process, read on! This is a little piece I wrote about it …

 

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Summer Squall

I started working on Summer Squall at the end of August 2014, when we were descending from the height of summer’s sweetness into the colder, darker months of the year. Unlike the other prints I’d designed previously, I had this one named almost from the very start.

This was a time when I was readjusting to ‘real life’ after spending a blissful three weeks with my parents, my husband and my three children in a quirky summer rental house just a couple of miles from Horseneck Beach, in Southern, coastal New England, not far from where I grew up.

Since I expatriated in 2007, summers have been a particularly special time for me, when three generations of my family are in the same place, when my past, present and future convene on a New England shoreline. It’s a contrast to the rest of the year, when I spend my days in adopted surroundings and don’t often (ever?) feel this connected.

There’s a particular moment I was thinking of as I started work on Summer Squall.

It was an evening in late July, and I was sitting with my parents around a fire pit by a dock on the Westport River. We were, each of us, at distant points on an invisible circle, so far apart that talking was out of the question. The late afternoon light was fading and we formed a ring around my younger daughter, Juliette, who was dancing in the sand, circling the smoldering embers. She was jabbing at the air with a marshmallow stick and licking her tacky fingers. We had just eaten the quintessential summer dessert of s’mores.Juliette had turned four a couple of weeks earlier. For her birthday present, I had put together a photo album for her. I had tried to capture the highlights of her year – vacations, classes, parties, new friends, etc. When placing the photo of her as the new big sister, her three-day-old brother reclining in her arms, my heart broke a little.

When Nathan was born, she became our middle child and, paradoxically, seemed to lose her claim on being the center of attention.

And yet in that photograph, you can read the pride and happiness on her face. For the girl who loved to help take care of all the babies at daycare, this new role was more complicated than she could have known. Three would become a year of tagging along while I picked her older sister up from school, or waiting while I changed her baby brother’s diaper. She would have to entertain herself while I checked my e-mail or answered an urgent phone call.

But on that evening in late July, there she was at the fulcrum of the wheel, pinning us in a blissful orbit around her.

She may have waited all year to be at the axis of my orbit, but here she was now, the middle child at the middle point. Soon, the fireflies would frame the scene, shooting stars buzzing in the brush around us, silhouetted against a watercolor sunset. At long last, Juliette was the center of the universe, and what a universe it was!

Taking a break from her marshmallow, she turned to me. “Mommy, why do we have to wait?” she asked, referring to the fireflies, who hadn’t yet made their appearance.

Looking back, I think she meant, “What’s taking so long?”

But what I heard was, “Why are we waiting for fireflies? Let’s move on.”

And so I answered: ”Because if we’re not here when they come out, their light will be wasted.”

And then I thought, with a heaping dose of mother’s guilt, of how many times Juliette’s spark might have been wasted on me that year. I worried that I had been so busy, so focused on other things that seemed more pressing at the time: big-kid needs, baby needs, my needs. Until this moment, when her light was almost blinding, when it was as if the sunset sky was ablaze with her.

Juliette is my most challenging child. That year, perhaps more so than ever before. She was caught in limbo, between wanting to be big like her big sister, growing into her own personality, or a baby like her baby brother, rolled up in the familiar fold. Somehow, in that moment, it seemed she’d finally found a little peace in her own place, the middle place.

I think we all had.

It had been a long time coming, and it was a moment that I wanted to pause, and place on repeat, if I could.

And yet as an adult, moments like these always come to you coupled with the realization that we will have to let them pass, the way they must, on their inexorable journey from present to past. And the next moment waiting for us – the one in line for Security at Logan Airport, when we’ll all have to say goodbye to each other and go back to our ‘real’ lives – is imminent. This moment will fade to memory like the flames in the fire pit, smoldering to ashes that take to the wind.

And I tell myself that I’m happy that the moment happened at all, that we found that place, recognized it, that we lived it and felt it fully, doing everything short of capturing it and saving it in a jar. Maybe that’s enough to get me through the harder, darker days, the days when we’re feeling less connected. If we felt this peace of place in every moment, we wouldn’t have appreciated this one in the intense way we did, sitting by the fire pit, delighting in marshmallows.

So when I was working on Summer Squall, I was thinking about that feeling, which is so typical for the end of summer. You’ve basked in the light while it was high in the sky, while everything was alive and ablaze, and now it’s time to embrace the passing of the moment, the day, the season and move toward the darker days on the way. Going back to work, to school, to doing things you ‘have’ to do more often than things you ‘want’ to do.

For me, that moment by the fire pit is the smoldering point of light that I’ve taken with me into the darkness. That moment is the perfect white peony suspended above the dark foliage. Behind that flower in full bloom, and behind that moment, the leaves are just starting to rustle with its passing …

EllieCashmanSummerSquallDetail

Months later, on a Friday in the month of December, after close to a half year of arduous work, I finished Summer Squall in my attic studio, with Juliette playing with the puppet theater behind me. She had faked sick earlier that day, and I’d picked her up from school on what would have/could have/should have been a work day.

A few weeks earlier, I had scrapped Summer Squall, dissatisfied with the fact that it had become so rigid and dense and void of color. In the months of painstaking effort I’d put into it, I had forgotten about the warmth and beauty and love that was its inspiration in the first place.

Then I started writing about it, which helped me reconnect to its symbolism and make a new plan for it. Then the repeat burst open, I painted the color and the brush strokes back in to the highlights. It started to look less like a William Morris (my original plan) and more like an Ellie Cashman, sharing, in the end, more qualities with Dark Floral and Dark Floral II than had been my original intention.

Once again, there was joy in the process.

It was fitting then, on that December Friday, with my toddler muse at my back, that I shut down my computer on a completed Summer Squall, feeling that, once again, things had come full circle.

This amazing year had come to an end, marked by professional accomplishments I couldn’t have imagined. It was time to wrap up my work and head off on our Christmas vacation.

I sent the final files to my printer and a week later, I was on the receiving end of the service I’d provided my clients all year. On a sunny Monday morning, a FedEx truck pulled up in front of my childhood home in Providence, Rhode Island, delivering a box of final proofs that had followed us in flight over the Atlantic. I unwrapped each one, savoring the moment that I had worked toward for so long: the moment when I finally felt satisfied.

It is a season, a year, a life in chiaroscuro, the darks more prolific, accounting for most of the time and space, and yet it’s as if their only purpose is to direct you to the light, when it does spark. Framed against the darkness, the highlights reach new heights.

For all her struggles, Juliette pirouetted at the center of the summer universe, and for all the frustrations inherent to the creative process, I unrolled those proofs in late December with a feeling of satisfied completion. In the end, these are the moments that catch the light, while the the rest fade into shadow.

And once you’ve seen one glitter and spark, you’re bound to wait in the dark for another. Patiently, persistently, knowing: it’s precisely when the dark deepens, that the most brilliant moments are revealed.
Otherwise, the light is wasted.

Months before, on that night in July, Juliette lay her marshmallow stick in the grass, before ascending a darkened tunnel path up through the woods and back to our summer home. Her passage was framed on all sides by firefly falling stars, first a few, then many. They had finally shown up to give their nightly performance. It was magical, and seemed as if it was timed just for Juliette’s passing through.

Hours later, after a few motor boats had sped up and down the desolate river, after Juliette’s head had hit her pillow, her eyes had closed and she’d drifted off into a deep, satisfied sleep, I imagine a fortunate field mouse must have happened upon that stick.

Marveling at his good luck, he would have gorged himself on the last remaining marshmallow morsels. That gluttonous little rodent would have stumbled home to his mouse hole with a horrible ache in his belly. He would have tossed and turned through his whole day’s sleep.

And then, at the next onset of darkness, he would have woken up to a new night.

And then, as was all he knew to do, he would have gone off again.

Searching.

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EllieCashmanSummerSquallMidnightBluePhoto&StylingEllenMesu

EllieCashmanSummerSquallDaylightWhitePhoto&StylingEllenMesu copy

 

 

Announcing: Dark Floral II

Announcing: Dark Floral II

Later this week I will be adding Dark Floral II – a brand new wallpaper design – to the web shop. It will come in five color ways, one of which (‘Fresco Gray’), you see below.

Ellie Cashman Dark Floral Neutral Photo & Styling Ellen Mesu.2

Dark Floral II is the sequel to the Dark Floral wallpaper design that launched my brand last year right about this time.

I’ve been working slavishly on this follow up for about 7 months!! Of course, I work half an hour here, an hour there … between my kids’ naps, feedings, school pickups. You get the picture. In 7 months, this is what I’ve (finally!) been able to piece together.

It’s been a crazy time, full of riches.

This color way is the neutral option and we call it a ‘fresco’ because the flowers are on a concrete background, which gives it rich texture and the illusion of a concrete wall with a fresco painting on it. Here’s a detail, to give you an idea.

FrescoGrayDetail

Thanks again to Ellen Mesu for the photography and styling, which just keeps getting better!

And there’s more to come!

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Dark Floral Powder Room Paradise

Dark Floral Powder Room Paradise

Sorry for the radio silence here at the blog.

The last few weeks have been buzzing behind the scenes, thanks to Amber Lewis at Amber Interiors and Emily Schuman at Cupcakes & Cashmere, who posted this lovely post and this lovely post about the Dark Floral Powder Room Paradise that Emily created in her new house in Los Angeles.

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It was right around New Years that we shipped this wallpaper to Amber. It was a total surprise when she and Emily posted on February 25th with these great before and after shots of the renovation.

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I really envisioned this wallpaper on an accent wall when I designed it, but I love the total immersion experience you get in this small space. Kudos to these ladies for having such an original vision!

I also want to thank them not only for doing such a beautiful job with the wallpaper but for being so enthusiastic and supportive and for sharing their vision and process.

For an emerging designer, it’s just invaluable to have someone give you this kind of exposure and endorsement. So thank you to Amber and Emily, who were also willing to share these images with a major magazine that will be featuring the wallpaper in their May issue. Stay tuned!

In other news, I’m entering my final round of proofs for Dark Floral II, which I’ll be releasing in a couple of weeks (I hope!) This one is going to be available in about 4 colorways to start. One of them is a ‘sanded fresco’, which I’m particularly smitten with.

EllieCashmanDarkFloral2SandedFrescoforblog

Hope you like it too!

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10 Favorite Designer Wallpapers

10 Favorite Designer Wallpapers

In October of 2012 I wrote a post called: My Wallpaper Obsession Takes Hold.

Now I want to share with you some of the reasons why I’m so obsessed and so excited about what is happening in the world of wallpaper right now.

Digital photography, design and printing techniques are revolutionizing this product into something so different from what wallpaper has been in the past. Plus, paper manufacturers are coming up with papers that are so much easier to apply, clean, remove and … yes, do over!

Let’s face it, wallpaper is just getting cooler and cooler.

Here are 10 designers who are, in my opinion, testing the boundaries in really exciting ways.

 

1. Arthur Slenk Remixed Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: It looks 3D, like you’ve actually collaged thousands of little pieces of paper to your wall.

Arthur Slenk; Piet Hein Eek; Piet Boon; Merci; Rick Vintage; NLX

 

2. Brooklyn Tins Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: It strikes the perfect balance between delicate and tough.

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3. Deborah Bowness Wallpaper | England

What I love about it: The way it hangs loosely on the wall.

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4. Ellie Cashman Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: The drama.

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5. Groovy Magnets Wallpaper | Belgium

What I love about it: Its fluidity and flexibility. You’re an active participant. Change it up as needed!

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6. Piet Boon Concrete Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: Texture and light … Need I say more?

Piet Hein Eek, Piet Boon, Merci, Rick Vintage, NLXL, Scrapwood W

 

7. Piet Hein Eek Scrapwood Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: Totally deceiving!! It looks like real wood.

Scrapwood wallpaper 2 by Piet Hein Eek

 

8. Quercus & Co. Wallpaper | Australia

What I love about it: It retains the look of a hand painting.

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9. Studio Ditte Wallpaper | Netherlands

What I love about it: So clean and crisp, fun and playful.

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10. Suzanne Shade Wallpaper | United States

What I love about it: It makes you dizzy (in a good way), as it works in both 2 and 3 dimensions. When I look at this, I just can’t decide if I want to enjoy the simple geometry of how it’s put together, or get sucked into the depth of the landscape photo …

suzanneshadehandmadewallpaper

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What people are saying

Last week I put together a little slide show compiling some of the reactions Ellie Cashman wallpaper has gotten since we started shipping it around the world last August.

 

 

There are some quotes here from Lucy Feagins of The Design Files, Bri Emery of Design Love Fest, Nina Taylor, Head Wallpaper Stylist at Graham and Brown, Amanda Talbot, internationally-renowned authority on interiors, design and style and author of the book Happy, as well as a good number of happy clients. Nothing makes my day like hearing from a client that they’ve received their package of wallpaper and that they love it even more in person than they had online.

So check this out if you’re curious to see what all these people are saying … and if you’d like a sneak peek at Dark Floral II, the next installment in my dark floral wallpaper series, which I’m a month or so away from releasing …

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Fabulous Fabrics

Fabulous Fabrics

I’m heading into the weekend on a high note :)

One of my first clients, the wonderful Nikki Tibbles, founder of Wild at Heart in London, had the inspiration not only to wallpaper her office with the Dark Floral wallpaper last October, but to commission 2 sets of curtains (Linen and Velvet) printed with the Dark Floral! Wow! I’m just dying to see photos of how this turns out, aren’t you?

Nikki writes about her office revamp on her blog here.

While we wait for photos of the final result, I can share with you some detail shots of the color test I approved a couple of weeks ago. Dark Floral gets a lovely texture on this Linen Oyster.

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We’ve been working on these curtains for a while now, together with Sheri and the wonderful team at Downers in London.

Well, today the Linen and Velvet arrived at Downers, and the reactions from that side of the Channel were “Gorgeous!!!!” and “Fabulous!” and “It’s going to be stunning!”

I must admit, the color test on the Velvet (see below) pretty much knocked my socks off, but this is great feedback from a team who has seen lots of fabrics in their day.

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So keep your eyes on the web shop because these and other fabrics by the meter – and cushions – are coming soon. Really, really soon!

In fact, if you’re interested, please e-mail me at ellie@elliecashmandesign.com.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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Web shop live!

Web shop live!

Happy New Year everybody! I’m hoping that this year brings you all the best.

And thanks for holding on until 2014!

The web shop is finally live and working beautifully, so head on over to www.elliecashmandesign.com to see the collection I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. You can order samples and get instant quotes via the site.

It went live on Christmas Eve, and I figured no one was sitting around at their computer waiting for that news … Then I went to the US for a week to visit my family. More on that in a future post :)

But now I’m back at my desk and ready to share this exciting news with you (and ready for the orders to start pouring in :) )

I hope you love the shop. I’d love to hear constructive feedback too. You can e-mail me at ellie@elliecashmandesign.com.

In the meantime, I’m working hard to add more designs and products. If you want to stay informed, sign up for my monthly newsletter here.

Until next time,

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The Hangover

The Hangover

Unfortunately, this post probably isn’t going to be as funny as the movie that shares its title, arguably one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Last week when I posted I was on a tremendous high, anticipating that all the hard work I’ve been doing over the past years was finally coming to fruition. The (perhaps inevitable) follow up to that post is, not surprisingly, the hangover :(

When those maternity nurses I talked about last week come to work on the 4th day of their 8 day stay, they know their ‘patient’ is going to have some kind of terrible, embarrassing crying fit. They told me this 4 days after Nathan was born, when I was in the middle of one such fit.

It makes it all the worse to know you’re that predictable. You’re a hostage to your hormones, a sad cliché …

And I found myself in that place again this past weekend. This web shop is like my 4th child. Last Friday it finally went live/was born at www.elliecashman.com. Unfortunately, it hasn’t (in my book) earned a 10 on the Apgar scale of web shops – yet. A few things are still missing/not functioning properly.

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I was so looking forward to sending out my big MailChimp (birth) announcement and writing gleefully about the whole experience on my blog. I was expecting a marching band, Arsenio Hall fist pumps … I wanted to spike the football in the end zone and run a victory lap, trophy in hand. Then top it all off with some embarrassing dance moves.

But it just wasn’t quite there yet.

Last Friday, I realized I would have to refrain from all-out celebration, just a little bit longer …

And there I was, sort of in limbo. The site was live, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to take it full speed to the masses, shout it from the rooftops, etc.

So I decided to devote my afternoon to the design I’m currently working on. I’m about 2 months in and have at least that many months to go. It’s such slow-going, but I’m hacking away at the thick brush of it. If I’m lucky, I have a couple of (consecutive?) hours to work on it each day.

Here’s a super sneak peek:

meticulous

Last Friday my husband took the afternoon off of work so that I could have some glorious, uninterrupted time with it. I was finally getting somewhere, was starting to think ahead to relaxing on my living room couch with a glass of wine and a good movie, when my Mac froze and I lost 3 hours of unsaved work on it! Argh!! Can’t you just feel the anxiety in your chest?? I thought I was going to throw up!

I know, I know, how could I be so stupid? I usually save every half hour. This was just bad, bad luck.

And, at the end of a disappointing day, this was enough to push me over the edge, into the deep, dingy pit of postpartum blues.

I was determined to claw my way out, but that meant foregoing that glass of wine. Every ‘free’ moment I had this past weekend was devoted entirely to stubbornly trying to turn my Mac misfortune into a blessing in disguise. I decided to grant myself a reprieve from this huge undertaking of a design and do something ‘fun’ (albeit at my computer).

A few months ago, my cousin-in-law, who will be only the 15th midwife in the history of Netherlands to receive her PhD, asked me if I would design the cover of her dissertation for her. It’s an honor, of course.

She was envisioning two birds as symbols of the cooperation between mother and child/mother and midwife, etc. So this weekend I left my Dark Floral #2, monstrous 17th-century floral still life wallpaper design on the shelf, and I cranked this out.

marritkaft

We still want to play with it, with the colors, scale, maybe remove some elements. But at least it felt good to ‘finish’ something in a short period of time. Which has me thinking that I need to work on quick, loose designs like this at the same time I’m working on the meticulous monsters. For the sake of my mental health!

But now, it’s time to get back to that beast!

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

This year, at Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to reflect on the year behind me, even though it’s not over yet. That’s because so much has changed for me this year, in a way I’m especially grateful for.

At 36, I feel more complete than ever before in my life. Not because anything is finished. Quite the contrary, I have this amazing feeling that things are just beginning. It’s just the foundation that feels complete. Many times over the last (almost) 7 years, since I relocated to the Netherlands, it’s been heavy lifting. But I chose this life. I think I chose it because I knew it would be hard … to start my life over again, in a new land and a new language.

Design sketches from 2007.

Hand sketches from 2007.

In February of 2007, I took a one-way flight from New Amsterdam to Old Amsterdam. And I made a deal with myself. When I set foot on this side of the ocean, I wouldn’t speak English, a language that, after 30 years, felt like a form-fitting suit lined with cloud fleece. If something was going to come out of my mouth, it would be in Dutch, a language which I’d been studying once a week for a couple of years. In New York City, I’d found a native Dutch speaker who met me in Starbuckses all over Manhattan, sending me home with long lists of vocab. And I studied, I did, but I had a head full of words and no idea how to put them together. I had a box of beads, but no string, no clasps … no grammatical grasps.

I don’t know why I was so adamant about quitting English cold turkey (a fitting phrase for this time of year, don’t you think?) I had visions of immersing myself in Dutch for 6 months, at the end of which I would awake from a Dutch dream, knowing myself to be truly ‘fluent.’ Oh, how warped was my notion of learning a second language?? All these years later, I’ve only woken from a number of Dutch dreams (a number I can count on two hands) and what they all had in common was a feeling of stress and struggling to express myself.

What happened in those early months is that I started to say a lot less. I couldn’t express complex thoughts in Dutch. Telling stories was highly challenging; telling jokes was all but impossible. I didn’t know how to say things, so I didn’t say them at all. My personality changed: I became quieter, more serious.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

At 30 years old, I was starting over, laying down the first stones of a new foundation. In my new world, I felt like I child. There were so many things I didn’t understand, so many ways in which I felt out of my depths. Everyday tasks of doing groceries or going to the post office forced me to confront my incapacity, my uncertainty. Standing in line, I would look up just long enough to observe that the Dutch people around me were so much better adapted to their surroundings than I, with their native language skills and their totally sick biking abilities. I ejected myself from conversations the way I ejected myself from my bike seat on the Brouwersgracht, for fear of making mistakes, for fear of crashing.

While I disengaged from the outside world, I was escaping to an inner one, where I had another language. It wasn’t English, it wasn’t Dutch, it wasn’t even made up of letters or words at all. It was a language of images, of colors and forms, textures and patterns. It wasn’t a new language for me, but the way I needed it was new.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

This led me, in 2010, to establish Ellie Cashman Design. I started designing surface patterns for an agent in the US and an agent here in the Netherlands. I loved it, and whenever our two daughters (Ruby, then 2.5 and Juliette, then newborn) were at daycare or asleep, I was at my laptop (I can’t believe it now, but my first designs were done on a laptop with a 17″ screen. How spoiled I’ve become since then, with a 27″ iMac and a large Wacom tablet!)

Anyway, this thing called surface design seemed to combine my fine art and graphic design background. But it was such a big field, and I was just beginning to explore its many possibilities – to design for fashion, home interiors, wrapping paper, stationery products, quilting fabrics, tech products, you name it! I was looking at blogs like Print and Pattern and Pattern Observer and I was overwhelmed by all the inspiration I found there. I tried to emulate lots of styles as a path to finding my own. That’s what I was doing then, finding my style, experimenting with the technology – hardware and software – to see what was possible. Selling a design here and there.

Design made during a class in hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, 2009.

Design made during a class in combining hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, NL, 2009.

Because it was something I did in my ‘free’ time, something I loved to do and did for myself (not for a boss) and because I wasn’t making any money to speak of, it still felt like a hobby. It was hard to explain to people what I was doing. I had no finished products to show. When my agents sold my work, it was out of a portfolio of dozens of other nameless designers. I was anonymous. I felt disconnected. I knew I wanted to get to these trade shows myself, that no one would do a better job of representing me than I could, but with two young kids at home, I didn’t have the time resources to create the volume of work that would make going to a trade show worthwhile. My big goal for 2013 was to do Surtex for the first time (a few months before Nathan was born) but halfway through the pregnancy I decided to take that pressure off of myself and I canceled my booth reservation.

My early designs were mostly made using Adobe Illustrator.

From 2010-2012, I made my designs using Adobe Illustrator.

Then, unexpectedly, in April of 2013, several months after I’d posted it, an image of one of my dark floral wallpaper designs went viral on Pinterest. I started getting several e-mails a week from people who wanted to know where they could buy it. At that time, I was talking to a potential manufacturer. I’d been waiting for years to be ‘discovered’ by a manufacturer, and it looked like it was finally going to happen! But then that partnership fell through. I think because the interest I was receiving via social media gave me the confidence to ask for an advance, which scared the manufacturer off. I’m so happy about that, in hindsight, because each week brought more e-mails.

Some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

In 2012, I moved on to Adobe Photoshop. These are some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

At first, I didn’t know what to tell people. The wallpaper wasn’t available, yet, but I was working on it. I thought, “OK, if there are actually people out there who want to buy it, maybe I could look into having it custom printed.” And I posted a discussion on the Dutch Designers’ Association Group on LinkedIn, asking if anyone had good experience with wallpaper printers. I got lots of good tips, several of which I followed up on, and I ended up with a fantastic partner, a printer with a lot of experience, even a bit of a specialty, in wallpaper. The team there has since contributed to my creative process in ways I couldn’t have imagined! It changed everything when I started to design for a specific product, for a specific context and industry. My early work was missing that. I needed a focus, and in the early summer of 2013, I knew it was wallpaper.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

In August, I started shipping out my first rolls of that dark floral wallpaper, and in the months since I’ve tracked packages online as they’ve boarded trucks, trains and planes on their way to other continents (5 so far!) I watch, literally in a state of giddiness and awe, as the wallpaper journeys from loading points to check points to delivery points. The UPS guy and I are becoming fast friends, as he’s patiently teaching me best practices in printing shipping labels, customs invoices and running a little business from the storefront of my front door.

This has been the perfect primer period leading up to the launch of my web shop, which really should be this coming week. The builders say they’ll be done by Tuesday. Then we’ll run a couple of tests, and be live by Friday. And, as I think about that, as I look back on the last (almost) 7 years and the last year in particular, and I feel incredibly thankful for what feels like the completion of a foundational stage, I think about a particular moment on a particular day of this past year.

It was in the early morning hours of August 19th, around 1:00 a.m. I was in a hospital parking lot, climbing into the passenger side of our silver minivan.  My husband was in the driver’s seat, and our new baby Nathan, only three hours old at the time, was strapped into his car seat behind us. It was pitch dark and there was no one else around, just our two maternity nurses in their cars behind us, ready to follow us home. In the Netherlands, there are no hospital stays after normal, uncomplicated births. They send you home as soon as you can stand up again. That may sound strange, but the trade off is these maternity nurses who come and care for you for 8 days in your home. It’s a good trade, as there is just nothing like your own bed, especially when you’re cuddled up with your newborn in it, and someone is bringing you breakfast in it :)

When I closed the car door in that hospital parking lot, my husband and I were alone for the first time since all the delivery room drama had gone down. Suddenly, there were no doctors, midwives, or nurses telling us what to do. So there we were, in the darkness and the silence, searching for words while the still images from those few preceding hours rolled by on a mental reel.

We didn’t know anything about Nathan before he was born, besides that he got hiccups a couple times a day and kicked most at night. We chose not to know his gender. Because, we said, we’ll know it someday, and sometimes in life it’s actually nice not to know. And so we spent 9 months wondering, as we’d done with his sisters before him. In that way, I think our kids were just dreams to us, so abstract, until the moment they were there, and we could see and touch them, name them, and drive home with our dreams in the back seat. Healthy. Boy. That moment had come (again) and it was incredible.

In the silence, we scraped our minds for the words to describe it, and the word that came was “complete.”

And then there was nothing more to do but hit the gas, and go.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan, September 2013.

And that is how I feel now, about my family and about my work. The foundation has been laid. I’ve spent the last few years digging the hole, gathering the stones and putting them in place. So much of the activity was underground and unexciting, but at the end of 2013, I feel I’ve reached the surface, am maybe even breaking it and starting to build on top of it.

In 2013, there was an image.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again. I’m engaged in conversations, with my customers, my photographer, my printer, my web builder. On this side, I have something to say, and a language with which to say it.

Last Wednesday, after Ruby’s ballet class, one of her classmates gave us a baby gift. We came home, put Nathan in bed, and Ruby and Juliette did the honors of opening ‘his’ present for him. It was a book called Meneer (Mr.) René by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

We quickly settled into our spots on the living room couch, with Ruby on my right arm and Juliette on my left, and started to read the story of Réné, a dog who is a painter. He goes to the market every weekend and tries to sell his paintings, but no one ever wants to buy them. One day, a magic man shows up and tells him that if he cuts his paintings out, they’ll become real. So he cuts out a painting of an apple, and in an amazing instant, he’s holding a real, edible fruit. Then he rushes home and paints cars and planes and big house, which he’s sitting in a short time later when a rabbit named Rose comes to the door and rings his bell, asking to buy one of his paintings.

Rose ringing René's doorbell.

Rose ringing René’s doorbell.

He says he doesn’t paint anymore, that he doesn’t have any paintings to sell, and he sends Rose home empty handed. But that gets René to thinking, and eventually, he paints a painting of the magic man, cuts him out, and asks him to reverse the spell, so that his paintings will no longer come to life. Then he paints a regular old painting – a painting of a rose – and he heads off to the market and gives it to the rabbit named Rose.

To me, the message is: having things that you can keep is great and all, but given the choice, wouldn’t we all – as Réné did – give those things up to have one thing that we can give away?

I feel so lucky to have cast my line of life questions into a pool of possibilities, and to have had these answers come back to me. I feel so lucky to know what it feels like to bring life into the world. Nothing will top that. But as an artist, a respectable second place goes to knowing what it feels like when a rabbit named Rose rings your doorbell.

And now there’s nothing left to do but hit the gas, and go.

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Rose Decay wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Rose Decay wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

In 2013, there was an image.

Dark Floral wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

8 Beautiful Wallpapered Spaces

8 Beautiful Wallpapered Spaces

Hello, everyone! It’s Mari here with a guest post from Arcadian Home blog. It’s a fabulous place to find interior design inspiration including great decorating ideas for everything from beautiful modern pendant lighting to soft and cozy rugs for every room.

I’m so excited to be here with you today. I’ve been closely following The Wonder In Us, and Ellie’s adventure into wallpaper creation, for a while now. As you know, this uber talented artist has a passion for creating captivating wallpapers. I must admit I’m smitten by her designs and can’t wait to see her new website.

In the meanwhile, let’s distract ourselves with a little virtual tour of eight beautiful wallpapered spaces, beginning with Ellie’s gorgeous Dark Floral.

Please enjoy!

~ Mari

Wallpapered Space

Dark Floral is a beauty and it recently caused quite a stir on Pinterest as interior design and decor enthusiasts pinned and repinned, sending the image around the world. I’m sure this wallpaper will grace many elegant and formal rooms, but isn’t it stunning in a space with vintage modern furnishings?

Wallpapered Space

Also dark and beautiful but in an entirely different way, is this black trellis paper. Black modern pendant lights lined in glittering gold seem perfect for the space.

Wallpapered Space

With a black background, this pretty wallpaper has a Victorian feel and works beautifully in a tiny powder room.

Wallpapered Space

Graphic and colorful, this contemporary wallpaper seems just right for this traditional entry and stairway.

Wallpapered Space

Called Round & Round the Garden, this lovely paper by Australian interior designer Anna Spiro seems to have been inspired by artwork of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Wallpapered Space

What a great idea to apply Black Crow Studio’s Watercolor wallpaper to the ceiling of a nursery. The color and movement are wonderful. Wouldn’t this space be lovely with a trio of mini pendant lights hanging in one corner above a comfy rocking chair?

Wallpapered Space

Papering a cozy nook in a writer’s retreat with a delicate Brit Pop wallpaper by Elitis creates a great contrast of scale with the bold patterns surrounding it.

Wallpapered Space

This dream-like wallpaper pattern and colorful chairs are perfect together in this eclectic dining space.

We hope you enjoyed our brief look at a few of the diverse array of wallpapers seen around the design blog world today. Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

What do you think of these wallpapered spaces? Leave us your thoughts below and come visit our website for more interior inspirations, home decor, and foyer lighting!