Sometimes, you just should say ‘no’ – The Before

Silence from me as of late, but for very valid reasons.  On top of general life, work, running a late night parental taxi service and so on, I have been preparing to sell my house (it sold in a week), and then I got myself in a total pickle with the local church.

I was chatting to a parishioner, who mentioned that they had been let down by decorators as the church was long overdue for a repaint.  He then told me the quote they had been give, which was shockingly huge.  And then, more fool me, the worlds shot out of my mouth ‘oh I can get it done for you for far less and immediately’.  As the words came out, his face lit up and I was pretty much hired on the spot.

Now this church is not small.  It has 13 meter ceilings, huge cross beams running throughout and needed to be used every weekend between painting.  It was also black with 10 years of soot from candles.  The photos below show how grimy it was.  Once upon a time this was pale pink.


Before I knew it, I had booked myself out of other work for 2 weeks, pulled in a fellow female whizz with the paintbrush, hired a cherry picker, had a moveable scaffolding erected and sorted out hardcore industrial insurance.

We attempted to wash the walls, but the soot just spread around.  So they were sealed first with a PVA bond, so that the paint would take, and then the HUGE task of painting started.


Look at the beast of a cherry picker!  Every time we needed to do a new area we had to move dust sheets, pews, sometimes the altar and so on.  Plus at weekends it had to be cleaned and shifted back into being a working church.  My muscles are aching, and I managed a spectacular topple off the cherry picker (while it was grounded) which resulted in a torn ligament in my knee and trip to the osteopath.  But as a plus I also got a huge, wide roller to speed things up, which is amazing.  I shall never moan when I have to paint a normal sized room again, or even a ceiling.

We are up to over 160 litres of paint so far.  The sacristy end of the church was so sooty that it needed 3 coats of paint to give a crisp and clean finish.  But we have done it all in 2 weeks as promised.

Here is my partner in crime Angelique on the cherry picker.  She is such a whizz that I have renamed her Davros after the Dalek leader as she shoots about on it.


So we have a day left before I can do the final reveal, just some woodwork left to finish and tweaking.  But it has been monumental, and I will now think before I speak next time.

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Breakfast Room makeover reveal

I have spent the last two days clambering around my breakfast room with paint in hand, and turning it from a very sedate and calm green into a zinging, intense deepest blue.  It all started with some botanical prints that I spotted online at  vintage printables.

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Dramatic botanical prints free for public use

These were really intense botanical images against dark backgrounds, and I fell in love with them.  I sent them off to be scaled up into large prints for the princely sum of £27, and then framed them into the existing frames that I had for my paler versions…  here is the room before:

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It is nice, but I have lived with Farrow and Ball tasteful pale shades for too long! I chose a really intense colour for the walls, skirting and cupboard surrounds called Basalt by the Little Greene Paint Company.  It is a really dark, dark blue, like squid ink:

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Basalt, a really very dark blue tone that looks black or grey in some light

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It’s a bit dark ?!

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Coat one on walls, too late to go back now…..

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Beginning to think it might work now…

I wanted to leave the original Victorian doors, floors and cupboards in their natural state.  As one end of the room has pale painted panelling, plus the door frames and window frame, I though these would be too dark in the Basalt, so I used Lime White by Farrow and Ball for these areas to freshen it up.  The rest of the room was painted in Basalt, and woe betide me if I ever have to paint it out again with a paler colour as it is very dark indeed!

I upcycled the old picture frames with the new prints, (I had 6 printed), and first of all hung them as they had originally been.  But then I decided to make the wall more exciting as the dark background is a great foil for artwork.

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Here are final photos of the completed room:

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Storage cabinet awaiting transformation

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Repurposed window frame as a mirror

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Orchids

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Gallery wall detail

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Gallery Wall

All that is left to do now is to is to overhaul the painted wood cupboard with the lamp on top, as it looks too pale for the room.  I am thinking a zesty green or something similar would work, and I may repaint the table legs to compliment it.

An educational Art Week for very little people….

Although most of the blog tends to be about Crafts & Interiors, I also tutor art to children and paint myself.  Last week I was in London to run an Arts Week for 4-7 year olds at a Primary School.  They are very small, and there are 3 classes per year group and three year groups.  So it worked out to be 270 children over the week, EEK….!  Actually it ran very smoothly….!

I had been asked to provide large scale works for the school, with each year group basing one on a specific genre of art and helping to make the pieces.  Reception Class  have Andy Warhol, Year 1 have Salvador Dali and Year 2 have Georges Seurat as their artist to study.   The school want large pieces to have as permanent exhibited pieces, and we will be making them with the children.

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My partner in crime Marianne and I, who run these weeks through Primary School Art, came up with ideas for large impact pieces.  For the tiny ones in Reception we  used Marilyn Monroe screen prints by Warhol as the theme, and prepared 4 very large canvases for the children to mosaic using EVA foams and glues.  As they are so little, we felt glue and cutting was ambitious enough!

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Canvas’ ready to mosaic onto (bit of a painting by numbers theme going on here)

For year 1 we looked at Dali, so rather than do the expected dripping clock painting, we planned a 4 ft sculpture of ‘The Persistence of Memory’ instead.  This is using steel, concrete, wood, plaster, plastic wrap, and paint.  We  made a maquette below of the piece to see how the balance worked with a melting clock at an angle (all OK),  and it looked fun, if not challenging, to get it made in 2 days with the little ones.

Maquette of the main sculpture

Maquette of the main sculpture

Sculpture large 4ft base awaiting attention by the children next week

Sculpture large 4ft base awaiting attention by the children next week

Year 2 are doing Seurat, so we marked up a very large 5ft canvas with the ‘Bathers at Asnieres’, ready for them to get dotting on.  We planned to only be using 3mm diameter dots, and also using Seurat’s method of colouring using adjacent primaries to create new tones.

Colour washed canvas for the children to paint over

Colour washed canvas for the children to paint over

The week went really well, and here are the finished pieces by the children.  Each one only had 8 hours in total to create, minus breaktimes, and we managed to stay on track.  The children loved the week and the art is amazing considering they children range from 4-7 years old:

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Reception Class mosaics

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Year 1 Dali Sculpture

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Year 2 Seurat pointillism

I SAW this and had to make some more…..

My husband bought me home a beautiful, and bit odd, gift recently…. this amazing saw with message painted onto it:

IMG_9368This is serendipity I am sure, as I am helping my friend design her tattoo parlour ‘Rocket Queen’ at the moment.  So I decided to make some for the shop that she can use…. after much font investigation and paint sampling, plus a trip to the local junk shop for saws, here are the results:

I basically upcycled some old saws, painted the metal black and then painted the fonts and decorations on after tracing the text using a reverse method with chalk on paper. A final coat of lacquer and they are good to go.  I love them, and think that every operating theatre should have one above the door saying ‘Surgery’ on it….