I have always loved roses.  In fact, I think that the Lord must have been in the best of moods when he created them.  I love them in all colors, but mostly whites and pinks.  So, it was only natural that when I was at an antiques show in West Palm Beach, I fell madly in love with the rose paintings of Pierre Joseph Redoute.  I learned that you say the last name, “Ray doo’ tay” with the accent on the middle syllable. Pierre Joseph Redoute was born in what is now Belgium in 1759.  His most important work was Les Roses, published from March 1817 until March 1824.  The book became the wonder of the age.  When I was at the antiques fair, there was an entire wall with his rose paintings….there may have been forty pieces and as I remember, the price was in the millions of dollars for the set.

Soon after that, the Shabby Chic phenomenon came to us via Rachel Ashwell.  She created Shabby Chic by drawing from flea markets and then painting cottage style furniture white and adding rose prints and common objects.  Even Target now has a Rachel Ashwell collection.  Once, when I was in Chicago for a business trip with my husband, I noticed a Shabby Chic store near to the restaurant where we were dining with a group.  I couldn’t stand not seeing the store.  So, I ordered my meal and excused myself, saying that I had to make a phone call.  I walked out of the restaurant and across the street to Rachel’s store.  Low and behold, they were having a grand opening, and Rachel Ashwell greeted me at the door.  I enjoyed her beautiful flagship store and then went back to the restaurant for my salad.   Soon after I bought a copy of Redoute’s Roses which contained the complete series of 167 full page paintings in full color.  I am sure that you have seen at least one of his roses somewhere.

When we lived in Des Moines Iowa, I decided to make some Redoute’ rose plaques.  But, I was not in to sawing wood.  So, I made them out of wall board.  I went to my local big box hardware store and bought a half a sheet of wall board.  That was about all that would fit into the car.  I learned to cut it to shape. Draw hte dimensions of the finished piece on the right side of the wall board with a pencil.  Lay a straight edge on the lines and score them with a utility knife. You do not have to cut very deeply. Take your knee or the palm of your hand on the wrong side of the wall board and rap it sharply.  The wall board will break in a clean line…. all you have to do now is to cut the paper that is still holding it together on the back with your utility knife.

I took my utility knife and made the edges of the cut wallboard uneven and irregular. Then, I painted it in an off white, just using left over wall paint. After all, it IS wall board.  I glued the image to the wallboard using the product known as, “Modgepodge.” Be sure to do this out of doors….that product has a very strong odor.    Then, I took some brown craft paint and splattered the image, used a wet brush to draw squiggly lines on the image and around the edge, and then dipped a cloth into brown paint and water and streaked the image.  The idea was to make it look old. Finally, I put a coat of acrylic varnish on the top (not the shiny kind but the matte) and hit the image with the blunt end of a screw driver to make little dents.  The finishing touch was to put upholstery tacks in the four corners.  The one below is hung by stapling a cord to the back of the wall board.  Staple it in several places.

I tried using photo copies of the pages from my book, but they streaked when I added the Modge Podge, so I ultimately decided to lift the pictures from my book and to use them. I don’t know why this particular paper streaked.  Usually, when you do decoupage, it does not do this. I enjoyed making them so much, I made lots…one day I took some to a local store and showed them to the owner. She had a Sabby Chic kind of store and she mentioned that sometimes the stylists from Better Homes and Gardens, which is headquartered in Des Moines, would stop by to take items for their magazine. She ordered six or eight of my wall board roses for her shop.  A few months later my sister Jackie, called to say that she saw some of my Redoute plaques in “Better Homes and Gardens.”  The stylists for BH and G had put them in an article about “restful bedrooms.”  They liked my work!  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

It appeared in the May 2000 issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  I got no credit nor does the article mention the palques, but I know that they are on page 54!

Here are two of the rose plaques in one of our bedrooms. The comforter is a tumble of roses and the plaques look right at home on the night stands.

A few years later, I had some notecards from the Natural History Museum.  I loved the image of the sea shell and the plant, so I used the same process to decoupage them onto a piece of wall board.  You can use any image that is good for decoupage.

Maybe you would like to play around with wall board….you could also stencil or paint a scene.  If you don’t like what you do, no worry.  The wallboard costs just pennies.  Create and be happy!

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