A Talavera Awning in 4 Simple Shapes


About a month ago, I wrote about my dreams for a Talavera Awning. Today, I’m excited to say that I have an update for you. It’s going to happen! It’s going to be a Talavera Awning in 4 simple shapes!

Yes, I’m excited. I see this awning design as an extension of my stitched paintings. It’s too big to paint, so it’s an opportunity to design something in a totally different medium. But, as with anything new and different, there was a bit of a learning curve. Here’s how my adventure has unfolded so far.

Talavera Awning design, first draft

As I mentioned in the first post, I made a rather complex drawing using a bunch of shapes inspired by Talavera dishes in my house. David, my iron guy, took one look and said ‘holy buckets!’

In all honesty, I’m sure he edited that for my consumption. He probably was thinking that I was *%2*#@ nuts! Sandra, our interpreter, suggested that I simplify the design and see if that would be more workable. (Have you noticed that interpreters can gently modify the conversation as it happens?)

Talavera Awning Design, second draft

When the three of us sat down again, David still had reservations about the complexity. It was not a matter of not being able to create the shapes, it was a matter of making so many different shapes. 

Still not understanding the issue, I asked David to explain how an iron worker goes about making the shapes that show up in windows, doors, and stair railings. He explained that they start by making the first shape by hand. Then they make a ‘mold’ that allows them to make multiple copies of a shape more easily.

As the lightbulb in my head lit up, I thought “oh my goodness, it’s like making templates for appliqué!” I asked if more copies of the same shape would be better than lots of different shapes. With a smile, he said “yes, now you understand.”

Talavera Awning in 4 Simple Shapes

Talavera Awning, final design

After the conversation with David and Sandra, I made yet another iteration of the Talavera Awning design. Version 3 was pretty close to Version 2, but I was able to cut the number of unique shapes in half. David will only have to make 4 molds for this design, which will make the work easier. (That assumes that one can make bending iron easier!)

Awning Design Comparisons

Out of curiosity, I lined up the three options in my design software and counted the number of unique shapes. I started with 20 shapes, reduced it to 8 shapes, and finally made a design with only 4 unique shapes. (The 4th wedge is color-coded to show which shapes come from the 4 molds.)

David in his work room

With the simplified design in hand, David drew the design on the floor of his workshop. That allowed him to calculate the materials and make sure it would really work. Those wedges will be 18’ long, so some of the shapes will be as tall as David!

Awning Design with beams and posts

For one last sanity check, I added the appearance of heavy beams to the outside of each wedge and figured out where to place the posts at the front. It’s going to be amazing!

Thanks for reading

Thanks for reading. Your attention is the greatest gift you can give to a writer. I appreciate the invitation to be a small part of your creative world and hope you enjoy this little story.

If you’d like to join the conversation, leave a comment below.


  1. Ann on March 5, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Wow! Just Wow! This was such an interesting process. Thanks for sharing. i look forward to seeing the completed piece.

    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 3:22 pm

      Thanks, Ann. I think it’s pretty “wow” too!

  2. Ginette Marcoux on March 5, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    Shelly, this is going to be a masterpiece! A great idea to start with and an incredible design for the awning!! Bravo! Can’t wait to see it installed (I bet you do to).

    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 3:23 pm

      Si, Ginette, it will be a one of a kind awning. I expect it will be up by the beginning of June. David needs 2 months for construction and he’s currently finishing odds and ends for the little hotel in our compound.

  3. Dusty Huxford on March 5, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    I cannot wait to see the finished piece. Wow, what a wonderful endeavor. We are in the process of remodeling, so I have no studio right now. Otherwise I would be joining in on the fun activities. I so love your post and seeing all the beauty that comes forth.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Also, I was sorry to hear about COVID hitting your area. My world is all online these days. Lots of ZOOM meetings, emails, and phone calls. You don’t realize how much you need people in your life until you don’t have them. I’m a hugger, and h how I miss not giving my family and friends a hug. Take care, be careful, and stay safe by distancing, wearing a mask when around others, and wash your hands. Prayers coming your way.

    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks, Dusty. It’s quite an adventure. For most of my years with my sweetheart, I have allowed his practicality to overrule my artistic urges — at least when it came to construction. But this one feels very important. I expect to live here for a long, long time. It will make me happy just to look at these patterns from my lounge chair. 🙂

  4. gretchen on March 5, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    It is very interesting to see the evolution of this project. I hope you can take photos of the various pieces as they are crafted and then as they are put together. It’s hard to imagine how big they will be…..I know they will be very big. About how much will the finished project weigh? I’m sure your sweetie is watching all of this with great interest.

    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      You read my mind, Gretchen. I have asked David to take photos and maybe make some short videos as he works. And I hope to visit his studio sometime during the process.

      I don’t know about weight, but that it certainly on Jack’s mind. Each section will have a strong border, and then lighter weight iron will be used for the shapes. It will be substantial, to say the least.

  5. Chris Beussink on March 5, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Can’t wait to see it either!

  6. Victoria Schmidt on March 5, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    Brilliant Shelly!! I can’t wait to see the finished product…and I’ll get to see it in person, I hope.


    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 7:11 pm

      You will be the first to know, amiga! And given that the neighbors will all be in the US before this goes up, you may be the first to see it!

  7. L Julian McLaughlin on March 5, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Shelly, I am so jealous! Imagine the everchanging shadows your awning will cast!! I suppose many of us are using enforced isolation to address home improvement, but nothing like yours. Hope to see it when we can go out again.

    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      That’s exactly what I’m hoping for — lots of interesting shadows. But I’m not sure how it will work out with the awning fabric over the top. I won’t want to touch this for a good, long time, so I have chosen a very sturdy fabric and a professional awning company to do the cover. They tell me the fabric should last 12 years. 🙂

  8. Barb Thorkelson on March 5, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    WOW! is right. That’s quite a project compared with the small shapes we’re dealing with!

    Shelly, this is so beautiful, and you’re playing student as well as designer through all this, both sides of the fence as it were. It took a while to get on the same page, but David now seems to want to get this going. I’ll sure be watching David’s progress. I can’t wait to see the finished project installed!


    • ShellyStokes on March 5, 2021 at 7:15 pm

      Oh yes, Barbara. This is a super, duper oversized project! It’s great fun to learn more about making shapes in iron — and fun to work with someone who truly has the eye of an artist. He just happens to work with iron and steel. I’ll keep you posted as the project progresses.

  9. Mary Wagner on March 5, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Wow! Just wow! That is going to be a stunner! I am so glad you are able to do this. I miss being part of your group, but I have kept busy with a pastel class and a collage landscape class. I don’t think artists can ever just sit! Stay well!

    • ShellyStokes on March 6, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Mary. It’s great to hear from you. I’m delighted that you are still making art. You have many talents, and it’s good to stay active.

  10. Lou Ann Caywood on March 6, 2021 at 9:40 am

    What fun Shelly to see this all come to life! Looking forward to seeing the progress. Had to laugh about the interpreter “editing” the comments and make a simple suggestion…maybe all of us need to have interperters around when some “discussions” get a little ragged. I have gotten my 2nd cv vaccine dose and Gary will get his in a couple of weeks. Interesting how much of “weight” it has lifted for my spirits. Best to you and yours.

    • ShellyStokes on March 6, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks, Lou Ann. Our “interpreter” is also the manager of the little hotel here. David has done a lot of iron work for the hotel and they go back a long way. David has passable English and I have a reasonable amount of Spanish, but we get lost when it comes to the technical details. So Sandra is a real life-saver. And a good editor as well. 😉

  11. Lucia Santos on March 6, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    You are so lucky to be in a place where you have great artists at such an affordable price. Can you imagine that amount of work in the USA? Can’t wait to see the pictures. Enjoy it in good health (with some margaritas, pinacoladas or ???). Keep safe and well.

    • ShellyStokes on March 6, 2021 at 1:33 pm

      I agree, Lucia. I don’t think I would ever tackle this type of project in the US. The cost would be prohibitive on our retirement budget. But here? More is possible. It’s worth the splurge to make my home more “me.”

  12. Sue Schneider on March 6, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    What a fun, expansive, amazing undertaking. I really enjoy how you simplified the process with 4 basic shapes. I like the new design better. More relaxed than the original design. Have fun with the rest of the process!

    • ShellyStokes on March 6, 2021 at 5:43 pm

      I agree, Sue. The final design is a better design. It was worth going through the edits.

  13. Barb Williams on March 6, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Wow this is so awesome. I can’t wait for it to be finished!
    Sorry that covid has made its appearance. We just got our first shot this week. What a great weight was lifted from our shoulders. We will get our second shot when we arrive home to Alexandria. Stay safe.

    • ShellyStokes on March 7, 2021 at 11:15 am

      We all have to wait for a bit. I’m hoping for installation by the first of June. Not quite soon enough to give shade during our hot season, but I have to wait in line for David’s time. Safe travels!