Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Angus Open Studios 2012 - part 1

This year Kirsty and I had grand plans for doing a big AOS tour again, but unfortunately she was quite poorly on the only day we were able to go out together.  It was scorching hot too, and the thought of travelling around in a stuffy car really didn't appeal to her.

However, she's a big fan of Love and Peas, aka Jenny Blair, who makes the most amazing books, so we did eventually set off for Tannadice.  Jenny has already encouraged Kirsty to make her own books and was kind enough to give her a book full of ideas some time ago.  

On Sunday she showed Kirsty several binding techniques and gave her lots of ideas for the kinds of materials she may like to use in future creations.

Jenny was exhibiting, along with a number of other artists and makers, in the lovely setting of Tannadice Church, beside a sparkling river - just lovely.

We only managed one other venue on Sunday, which was the nearby Oathlaw Pottery.  We were greeted by Maggie holding a large pitcher of lemon barley water to quench our thirst!

There really was no air movement whatsoever and the temperature was stiffling so it was very much appreciated.

She showed us her kiln and explained the processes involved in creating a wide variety of beautiful ceramics.

The bright and welcoming gallery space had all kinds of lovely pottery and I couldn't resist treating myself!

The pottery is open all year - check the website for opening times.

Friday, 25 May 2012


There's a mad place near here called Steptoe's Yard.  It must be pretty famous as I've had several far travelled customers ask me for directions (it's beside the St Cyrus Nature Reserve).

Steptoe sells a mixture of lovely antiques, awful tat and broken things, unusual reclamation pieces, crockery, furniture in good condition and furniture in a terrible state.  

There's no point 'nipping' to Steptoe's - you have to spend a good amount of time there to find the wee nuggets hidden away in a sea of 'stuff'.

I've bought quite a lot of things from here and given them all a new lease of life - piano stool, travelling trunk, footstool, bench etc.  This was my latest acquisition - a set of scruffy old drawers with two handles missing, water damage at the bottom and bird poo on the top. Lovely!

It's solidly built though and only cost £10.

After giving it a good clean and a light sanding I gave it two coats of red Annie Sloan paint. 

I bought some stencils with celtic designs from an excellent selection at Stencil Kingdom  to give it a bit of decoration.    

I attached the first stencil with repositionable spray adhesive and at this point learned a valuable lesson - always read the instruction on the tin properly!  I neglected to wait for the freshly sprayed glue to become tacky and as a result, when I removed the stencil it left a sticky mess on the drawer.  Grrrr!  

So I had to leave it a while, rub it down again and repaint it - lesson most definitely learned! A selection of red, pink and yellow acrylic paints were applied...

...and, once they were dry, the entire thing had to be waxed.  

I brushed wax onto the surfaces, left it to soak in for an hour or so, and then started rubbing it to a lovely sheen.  Kirsty helped with this bit as it's quite hard work.

The photo below shows what a difference a bit of vigorous rubbing makes!

All that remained was to screw on some new handles (ridiculously, the most expensive part of this whole process!)  and there you have it - a totally unique set of drawers!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Finished flower

Just a wee postscript to the Fife Open Studios post - 
Kirsty's fused glass flower has arrived and she's delighted with it!  
Thanks again to the ladies at Chillilicious for making our visit so enjoyable.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Fife Open Studios 2012

This year Kirsty & I treated ourselves to an overnight stay in order to make the most of the Fife event.  
We visited a total of 16 venues and saw metalwork, painting, textiles, glass, ceramics and an assortment of mixed venues.  A really fun day and a half out.

One of the wonderful things about touring around open studios is that you get to visit places that you'd never normally see.  The venues we visited ranged from the stately home at Mountquhanie... a quaint thatched cottage in Collessie... a workshop in the woods near Falkland.

This workshop is where Dave McKeen makes his amazing wooden boxes that we have for sale in Starfish Studio.  He builds secret drawers and towers of drawers into his work, and they are a constant source of amazement to my customers!

Here are some works in progress.  These include a secret drop down tower and comprise 54 individual pieces, all carefully numbered to be sure that they go back in the right places!

The signage to the various studios was very good, my favourite being the row of chillies leading the way to Chillilicious in Ceres.

At this venue, just like last year, Kirsty had a go at making her own fused glass creation.  
Now we just have to wait for the postie to deliver the finished, fused piece!