Couple Follow Their Joy To Life's Work In Pine/Strawberry


Michael Tust started his working life employed by a contractor.

Laura Tust wanted to be an interior decorator.


Looking for a view like this from a Rim country window? Laura and Michael Tust can create it with tromp l'oeil. They can also do a variety of other decorative painting styles for clients.

After Michael went into the Navy, he decided he wanted to be a painting contractor.

Laura went to interior decorating school and took a class in marbleizing and gilding and knew that is how she wanted to make a living.

"We learned our business together," Michael said.

"Taking classes together, we learned who did what better," Laura said.

That business is Tust Studio at 3950 N. Highway 87 in Pine. Tust Studio is a decorative arts studio offering faux finish projects to clients including woodgraining, marbleizing, wallglazing, painted furniture, gilding and color consultation. Samples of their work are on display in the studio. In addition to providing a decorative arts studio, the couple also has a series of classes to teach their skills to others.

They started their business in San Francisco, but became tired of the hustle and bustle and decided to relocate.

"I'd visited Sedona about 12 years ago and had always thought that would be a nice place to live, but it isn't the same place it was then," Michael said. "We looked at Prescott and Flagstaff too, and they were just as busy. We found Strawberry and Pine on the Internet and came here as well and decided this is what we wanted."

The couple came to the Rim country last year. It took awhile to get settled, but they have their studio open and operating. Their work takes them all over Arizona and they still have clients in California.

Laura's work also is part of a group effort in a four-year restoration project in Enid, Okla. She and about a dozen other artists were called to help restore a symphony hall and its adjoining banquet hall and French theater.

"I do furniture, wallglazing, color, gilding, including crown molding," she said. "Mike does the woodgraining and marbleizing."

"We both do tromp l'oeil," Michael said. Tromp l'oeil is a technique of painting designed to fool the eye. For instance a client wants to have a window looking out on a plaza with a fountain, but doesn't have that view, using tromp l'oeil, the Tusts can give them that view, or any other.

There has not been much of a call for their decorative arts in the Pine and Strawberry area, Michael said.

"I helped someone with their fireplace and I'm doing the bathroom for one of the real estate offices," Laura said.

The couple have heard some strange requests for past jobs. One woman wanted her walls to look like red Kool Aid. Another wanted walls painted to match a striped purse. Still, another client wanted the walls of her bedroom to look like she was in a juniper tree because she had the evergreens growing on her property.

Then there are the doors Mike was asked to make match any number of different wood types on the walls, or make the walls match a special piece of wood furniture. Laura had a client who wanted a stained glass look. Using the thin canvas used for window shades, Laura spent three months creating a stained-glass look.

The couple's classes keep them busy, when they are not on jobs in Sedona, Scottsdale or California.

They have a full schedule of classes coming up in the next few weeks. During September, they will have classes on doing marble and working with color. In October, they've planned another marbleizing class, along with woodgraining. Wallglazing and gilding is on the calendar for November, with another color class set in December.

For more information, call (928) 476-3344, or e-mail

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