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Ok this one will be short and sweet.  A torn stencil can stress out anyone in the middle of a project.

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In continuation of our blog series on painting with allover stencils, this video explains exactly how to fix your stencil and keep going! Hope this helps.

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Carey Dougherty, Founder of Her Haven, is an incredibly special person. Her organization brightens the lives of many in the inner city of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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Her Haven was founded on the belief that comfort and beauty do make a difference in all of our lives. The organization brings the gifts of designers and artists to those most in need. Her Haven changes the lives of women by offering them a haven in which to thrive, dream and prosper.

This story is all about partnership and collaboration. When Carey is at the tail end of a project she has contacted me to add a special touch to the space, a quote or a painted surface. Sometimes my schedule will not allow me to help or he job is too big for me to tackle. When Carey called me about sprucing up the entry to the Prospect House Homeless shelter in Bridgeport, it dawned on me that I could do a lot more for her if I had the decorative Painting “dream team”.


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Entry of Prospect House Shelter before the project

Hoping others would see the importance of her work, I reached out to some of the best decorative artists in Connecticut. Within a day Sharon Leichsenring, one of Connecticut’s most talented muralists, responded by offering to hand paint the shelter mission on the entry wall.

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She also introduced me to the talented artist, Peri Pfenninger  who had just moved to the area from the west coast. Holly Whiting, who is also a contributor to the Canvas Peace Project, immediately responded as well and drove all the way from Hartford to help. Rena Paris of Cynthia Designs  did not bat an eye about offering her valuable time, (she has 3 kids under the age of 5) so that’s a big sacrifice. She came to stencil the walls with speed and precision.

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On June 9 and 10, the new team of Her Haven decorative painters gathered in the lobby and hit the decks. Arches became windows and the walls took on an elegant Moroccan design using Wallovers, “Stained Glass ” stencil and Modern Masters mix of Pale Gold and Gold Rush opaque paint.
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Holly and Peri hand painted the bricks and Sharon hand while everyone watched in amazement at their talent and precision.

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Peri did an amazing job painting the colorful pots, we added some flowers, birds and topiaries and in a
day and half the space was transformed.

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The team of 5 had never worked together, yet it was like a perfect dance… all the colors came together, everyone knew what to do without barely speaking a word and the seasoned (over 100 years) of experience in the room took control with hardly a plan.

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There is nothing more gratifying that seeing talent used to cheer up the lives of others. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we received way more than we gave. Isn’t that always the case with voluntering?

Message from Carey to the artists….“I truly felt like I was watching both a symphony and a ballet, by how in sync you all were to bring forth your creative talent in such a collective way. The result was beyond what I could have ever imagined: beautiful, inspiring, filled with underlying messages of peace, tranquility, hope and dignity. I cannot thank you enough.”

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Thank you Carey and the Her Haven decorative painters! For more information on joining the Her Haven team please reach out to Cynthia at cynthia@cynthiadesigns.com


I’d like you to meet my new inspiration, Jill Gardiner. Jill is an 19 year old artist with a passion and flare for pattern and design. She walked into my studio one day to exchange a necklace I had created for her as a gift from her family.  We had set aside a time to redesign the necklace to be more to her liking.  During our visit, she asked if I could give her some advice on the wall design for her bedroom. She had already been experimenting with Wallovers stencils.

Then she pulled out a paper cutting design from her folder that made my jaw drop! She had cut and created this tiny, intricate pattern in a repeat islamic tile design… BY HAND!

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I soon forgot about the jewelry project… as we spoke about Islamic art and architecture, pattern, color and textiles. What fun!  (Above are her designs soon to be Wallovers’ Stencils)

Jill found a love for art after taking a multi-media art class in high school at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Connecticut.

“I used newspaper to build a replica of a mosque and I realized I loved working with paper!”

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But her real inspiration came after a civilization class with a fascinating  unit on Islamic art and architecture. Kudos to that teacher!  But all the real credit goes to Jill, who took this love into her independent senior study on the Ottoman Empire architecture. Her project focused on Turkey and the works of Sinan, one of the head architects under Suleyman I.

Jill traveled to Turkey to see the architecture which increased her passion for the style.

“I love to incorporate graphic design in my work and, because I and a perfectionist and love math,  I find repeat designs fascinating!  I used to carry around a ruler in school because I loves lines, but now I can see my work developing as I create more complex curves and repeats.” she says

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If you have read  blogs about my daughter, Stephanie Davis, you will see why I think these two girls would get along!  Stephanie, also a huge lover of pattern and design, will be soon exhibiting her colorful, ethereal paintings at The Skinny Pancake  restaurant in Burlington, Vermont.

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I can only imagine if I had both of them here to collaborate!

Jill is now an intern in the studio, working on new designs for Cynthia designs and Wallovers, marketing and efforts for the Canvas Peace Project.

Her paper cutting above will be translated into our newest design to be released in March….And….she did an excellent job as my assistant faux painting this very large wall for Spinning Lotus Studios using Wallovers Serenity stencil.

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Unfortunately for us, Jill does need to go back to school, but we hope to share our passions for pattern as long as we possibly can. So, if you call Wallovers or Cynthia Designs and hear a new, energetic voice…say “hello” to Jill.

I cannot imagine where this passionate and talented young woman’s talents will take her, but I definitely will be watching and staying a part of it!

Oh, and I think she was happy with how her necklace came out.  Maybe we will design some jewelry together too!

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