Friday, 30 September 2011

Recent renovation projects

I need a bigger shop!

I really enjoy revamping scruffy old wooden things with the fabulous chalk paint from Annie Sloan.  I buy mine from Rustiques at Milton near Banchory.  The owner, Moira, is full of inspirational advice to anyone wishing to have a go themselves.

It's a chalk based paint which is very easy to use.  There's no tedious rubbing down and sanding to do before you get stuck in with the colour - yay!  Once the painting is finished, I brush on a soft wax and rub it down to give each piece a lovely sheen.

So, here are a few before and after photos of some of my recent projects.

This chair is really tiny but very chunky and solidly built.  It would suit a toddler or could maybe be used to display a plant?

This wooden box looks really, really old.  It was covered in bumps and scratches and had a big stain in the bottom. 

This table was very scruffy and wobbly.  A few new screws and a lot of paint and wax later, and the revamped version is now in use in my sewing room.

 The magazine rack was very fiddly to do with all the spindly bits taking quite a while.  I haven't decided yet whether this is finished, or I should do more to it?  Hmm...

And finally, here are some scruffy old wooden bowls that I've been revamping too.  Each one is completely different, painted and waxed entirely by hand.  They each have a felt base to protect furniture and are now available to buy in the shop.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Trial and Error

Remember the Shibori class that Kirsty and I went to in the summer?  Well we loved it so much that I decided to splash out and buy all the necessaries for us to be able to do more of this at home.

The lovely ladies from the Diva Design Studio (who were our tutors) were very happy to pass on their advice and encouragement via email, and we set about creating some more pieces.

Lots of time was spent stitching, wrapping marbles and dying the felt, and everything was going well although we were lacking in one piece of kit - a steamer to fix the dyes.  The instructions for the dyes said that a microwave could be used instead, so we gave it a go...

... I suspect that whoever wrote the microwave instructions wasn't expecting the dyes to be used in conjunction with marbles and beads!! 

One large marble burst or melted or something - hard to tell exactly what happened, but the felt was burnt all around it and several small charred holes had appeared.  The smell was awful!

When rinsing out the dyes the charred areas fell away with a bit of rubbing, and after removing the marbles and other stitching, it didn't look too bad (from the front at least).   

The holes were not intentional (but I quite like them!) and a large chunk is completely missing.  I do like the colours though, and I'd already spent a long time on this piece, so I decided to finish it off with some beads.


Needless to day, next time I'm near the shops I'll be buying a cheap steamer!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Map Books

Now that both my girls are at secondary school, I've found myself with an extra hour to myself EVERY DAY!!!  Whoop whoop!!  The bus whisks them away to Stonehaven at 7:40, which is awful in that none of us are morning people and getting them out of the door on time is a daily struggle.  However, the payback is that from then until I open the shop at 11am, my time is my own.

I've been for a walk almost every school morning so far this term, and I've spent more time in my sewing room than I've ever managed before.  Yay!!

Instead of going straight to my beloved embellisher, I had a sort through some of the assorted bits and pieces that I've been accumulating.  Earlier this year I did a blog about a trip to Glasgow where I stumbed upon an antique/ junk shop. 

I bought some old linen backed maps from there, and decided it was time to put them to good use.  This is the result.

It was actually surprisingly hard to take a pair of scissors to a map!  My mum was a geaography teacher so I grew up in a world of maps.  My hubby is a map fanatic too, and it did seem very, very wrong to cut one up.  (He gasped when I told him!).

However, I reasoned with myself that these maps are not particularly rare as there were so many printed. 
Also, by turning them into book covers, one map can be enjoyed by many, many more people than the whole map ever would - especially if it's folded up in a cupboard in my house!

This one's a bit wonky but I tell myself that this just adds to its charm!

The books each have a piece of map featuring a town or village - as this was a map of Angus these feature Glamis, Forfar, Kirriemuir & Brechin.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Outside In!!

I've already posted this on my 'Photo a Day' blog, but I thought the folk who read this blog may find it interesting too.

This first photo shows the location of the later ones in relation to Starfish Studio.

The room above the shop was, for many years, a house belonging to Lizzie Blues.  In later life she was known as the Cat Lady due to the large number of cats she kept in this tiny house!  (I think I'll probably be a cat lady myself one day...)

Her house is now our living room, which I find staggering.  It's a decent sized room, but as an entire house, divided into a sleeping room and a living room, it would have been tiny.  No bathroom of course.

Enough of the history lesson, more about the photos.

The house was accessed via an external stone stair which you can see to the left of Starfish Studio.  The stones are quite worn so it was obviously in use for many, many years. 

As the door now opens directly into our living room, we never use it.  Coupled with the fact that we are extremely busy people with no natural gardening ability whatsoever, it's not surprising that the steps become very overgrown every summer.  I have to admit that I quite like this - there's a pretty fuscia growing out of the steps at the moment, and I love the rambling look of this spreading plant that has taken over.

But last night I noticed that the outside has started to come to the inside!  It's like the Triffids or the Little Shop of Horrors invading our living room!!

Time to get our gardening gloves on methinks!

FYI - the key in the above photo is the one from the ill fitting, ancient door that was here before we started all the building work.  This door in fact...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Path to Abstraction

I'm extremely fortunate to be part of a very supportive group of local artists known as South Aberdeenshire Abstracts.  As a group we are able to exhibit in locations that would be much more difficult for an individual to secure and also to fill.

For most of September our 'Path to Abstraction' exhibition can be seen at the excellent Aberdeen Arts Centre.  For anyone planning to visit us as part of  North East Open Studios, please note the change of venue from last year.

It's a super building in central Aberdeen, and we have been given the main hallway and one large room to display our work.

Unfortunately my camera seems to have been on the wrong setting, and as a result all the people photos are blurry and the others are a bit dull as the flash didn't go off.  So annoying!

I have one painting and four textile pieces in the exhibition.  The textiles involve the use of pre felt, lutrador, acrylic paint, lots of hand sewn beads, free machine embroidery, and a secret metallic element!  Here's the biggest one...

...and here are some of the smaller pieces (they have lots of metallic threads and beads and are much brighter than they appear here).

Here are a few pics of paintings by various members of the group.

I was extremely happy to get the first red dot of the show - hope there are many more to come!

The exhibition runs until Saturday 24th September, so please pop in if you can.