Monday, 2 December 2013

When life gives you lemons...

When something is ruined, all is not lost! You can view it as a disaster, or as an opportunity to create something new.

Look at it this way: You have been given some 
materials on a platter! Because of what has just happened to it, it's worthless in its present state.  So, close your eyes, breathe deeply, become calm and set aside the anguish, disappointment and all other negative feelings you harbour towards it.

Now, open your eyes and look at all the lovely building blocks in front of you. Dismantle it in your mind and see what you have to play with. Let your imagination run wild! The wonderful thing here is that you can't ruin it. All you need is a little inspiration from sites like Pinterest or magazines like THE WORLD OF INTERIORS, a few basic tools and some homemade paints. You'll be amazed what you can come up with!

This was more or less how we ended up with this large Clock Face.

It started off as a badly water damaged 8-seater table. The top was constructed of some MDF board with a wood veneer and the water caused the MDF to expand in places leaving the top extremely uneven. Sanding it down to an even surface would have taken days and resulted in losing the veneer in places and then what? Another set of problems. It was a disaster. Our table was ruined. Nobody would buy it. Getting it off the property would mean spending a lot of money and for what?

So, we were pretty much stuck with it! Once we made peace with it, we realised we could repurpose it and this is when the creative juices started flowing. After dismantling the whole thing, we could take stock of what we had - a great big oval with a rather nice edging, four heavy turned wooden legs and a few other bits and pieces of wood. And then...PING! We had it. A clock face!

A quick sanding down of the surface and we were ready to apply our first coat of milk paint we mixed using the authentic old recipes from our FARRAGOZ Online Course.  Several other layers followed and then we were ready to draw out and paint the design. We added 60 decorative upholstery nails, drilled a hole in the centre and plugged it with a short piece of tarnished copper pipe. Then followed the distressing process which is always the best part.  The bulges in the surface were a great plus and to emphasise the water damage, we added some "water stains" to the paintwork.  Lastly, we polished it and found the perfect spot for it in the studio where we can enjoy it every day.

And the table legs are patiently waiting outside, behind the shed, where they're completely exposed to the elements for them to age naturally and then be turned into rather large candlesticks. Can't wait to get stuck into them!

You can learn how to make your own smaller version in the online FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course.

Happy Painting!


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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Metamorphosis of a Display Cabinet

I'm a sucker for old shop fittings, lab equipment, etc.  I'm also a danger to my bank balance when I end up at what I consider to be a good auction. If I spot something that I really like, I'm like a Bull Terrier that won't let go. Somewhere in the bidding process, I'll put up my hand and just keep it there! Very, very bad for business if you're buying to resell.

That is how we ended up with 2 odd sized, 5 ft high, glass-fronted wooden cabinets in our home.  I loved the great big sliding doors and all the glass shelves, but the lack in height and a few missing moulding pieces, together with the fact that it had far too many layers of reddish brown varnish slapped onto it, made it less than perfect.  It was in need of some alterations.

So, out came the plans, the tools and the paint! After a fair amount of sketching, measuring, sawing and hammering, the first huge cabinet emerged, complete with extra storage for bulky objects in its new base and secret compartments in the top section. These were constructed from 16mm MDF board. We added 3mm MDF cut-outs for detail to the top, bottom and sides and topped it off with a wide cornice piece. All this newly added detail changed the whole style of the display cabinet and it was screaming: "Paint me in a two-tone...or more! And it had better be casein paint!"  I obeyed.  

But first I had to sand it down to key the wood. Then I mixed my own primer and applied that. Next up was the paint. I mixed various shades of grey casein paint and applied several layers. Then I distressed it (which is always the best part), sealed it and started filling it with tableware. I decided to keep it simple - white crockery, pewter, silver, glass and crystal.

We love flavoured teas and coffee and I thought that these can also be stored in the cupboard,  providing they meet the colour regulations.  

I was left with one gap. A space behind the plates.   It needed something with height. So I had a look around the studio for an object that would do the trick and my eye fell on my angel plaque from the FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course... VoilĂ !

Bistro tables, paired with French country rush seat chairs, complete our own private French CafĂ© when we're thousands of miles away from our favourite city.

These days I just stay away from auctions altogether. We no longer have a shop and the house is bursting at the seams as it is.  Besides, it is so much more fun creating your own "antiques".  And the 2nd cabinet?  Well, that's a story for another day.



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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

September: Now you see them..

While most other people I know are surrounded by buildings, tarred roads and the occasional die hard tree or lawn, artificially kept alive by pesticides and fertilisers, my reality is something quite different. One glance out of any window and I can see at least 30 different natural plant species and many of them only to be found in this small spec on the globe. This is floral kingdom at it's best and I very seldom actually realise how very fortunate I am to live here. My "normal" is being surrounded by wildflowers.   

I prefer to see these flowers right there where they grow and feel quite guilty picking them. But occasionally I simply can't resist and today was one of those days. All the yellows seem to be in bloom right now and it's almost as if the different species are competing to see who can produce the most impressive display of blooms. For me, September is synonymous with yellow and October's pink is just starting to show itself. 

While putting them in a tea glass, my eye caught the almost same cheerful colours of the leftover velvet ribbon I had used, wrapping a gift last week. Yes, it's been lying there for over a week! I enjoy gift wrapping and there are always a lot of ribbons being hauled out and tossed about in the process. The problem is, that they have to be rolled up neatly again, before being packed away and that's time-consuming.  So they sometimes just end up lying there for a while - not very tidy I know, but pretty!

And then I suddenly recalled the same powerful colour combination that wowed me at the Chateau de Versailles. So I dug out the Versailles pictures and sure enough, there were those jewel colours again in the Mars and Mercury Salons. 

It was this picture of the bed in the Mercury Salon that set my mind off into designing mode.  What if I could revamp this room? Set aside the fact that this a museum where they try and keep everything historically correct.  If this was just a room with the most exquisite ceiling, panelling and furniture, what would I change here to bring this room into the 21st century?  Not much, really.  I would add some bold fabrics that would pick up the gold ornamentation and the colour of the wallpaper. Perhaps I would also throw in a fresh floral design on a white background for a lighter, airier touch. Something like this, using Designers Guild fabrics. Mmm... I wonder if Marie Antoinette would have approved.

Anyway, enough of the daydreaming and back to the here and now. It's time I packed away all of this and get back to the studio where the colour palette ranges from natural linen, through taupes and greys, all the way to pewter and chalkboard black. Other colours that found their way there are muted and faded by time. No bright fuschia pinks and luminous lemons there...yet! That's about to change. I'm taking the tea glass with me!  


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