Had a bit of impromptu fun in the shop today when two of my lovely painty lady friends came for a coffee and a catch up.
I decided it would be fun to see what three individuals using the same colour paints, the same methods on three identical wooden love hearts would create and how different they would be. (As usual I forgot to take “before” pics!!!)
The idea was to create a really chippy, chunky, distressed layered look.
We used a combination of Frenchic “Lima”, “ Lipstick”, “Anguilla”, Panther, Easy Crackle and Browning Wax.

Here are the the photos of the different stages and finished hearts.

We also ate chocolate eclairs and almond choux pastry things to such an extent that I’ve not eaten any dinner tonight!!!
Our experiment used very bright contrasting colours but would look great using subtle shades of the same colour hue. We also buffed ours to a high shine in line with something that had an aged patina.
The reverse of the hearts had some raised stencilling which we rubbed back to expose before finishing with the Browning Wax.
Let’s just say that it was a fun thing to try and a good way of learning new techniques!!

This weekend I drove all the way to Selby in Yorkshire to attend a Frenchic furniture painting course run by the fabulous Linda Karslake from Drab to Fab fame.DRAB TO FAB

It reminded me of why it’s so important to do courses. FIND OUR COURSE DATES HERE

It renews and reinvigorates your enthusiasm and you learn so many new techniques and pick up little tips from like minded people.

We arrived on the Friday morning and were shown round Linda’s lovely studio and had the opportunity of getting up close and personal with her work. Yes we see them in photographs on Facebook but it’s not the same as seeing them in real life. They really are awesome and so inspiring.

Linda is cheerful,  friendly, welcoming and after coffee gets us started on “mood boards”.

This was excellent actually as we didn’t see a finished one to start off with so literally went in blind with no preconceived ideas of what we were aiming for.

It was so clever how it gradually all came together and included, decoupage with fine art, blending, crackle, raised stencilling and finally waxing.

It totally absorbed us and allowed to us to get to know one another as we got on with our boards.

Each one was so different and they were each works of art in their own right.

I love mine.

 

We had a sensational lunch all laid on by Linda and delicious gooey chocolate brownies dropped in by Paul, Linda’s lovely hubby.

We were staying at a near by hotel for the night but as we were so close to York and I hadn’t been there before we drove in and had dinner there and a few drinks. What a beautiful place. Will definitely go back and spend a few days there again in the future.

Day two was about painting our piece of furniture we’d taken to do.

Six people, six different pieces of furniture and six different ideas of what we wanted to do on them.

Linda effortlessly got us sorted and on track and we set to work.

Funny how quiet it goes at times just because everyone is concentrating and engrossed in their work.

The beauty of working in a group is that you can see what other people are doing and how they’re achieving it.

I learn best by watching so for me it’s excellent.

I wanted to work with the “metallics” so set about undercoating my side table before shading with “Grey Pebble” and “Hot as Mustard” using a synthetic “natural” sponge to help minimise brush strokes.

Then came the layering of “Sexy Silver” Frensheen followed by “Gorgeous Gold” and then a final pulling it all together coat of “Cool Copper”.

Then the “ageing spots” followed by Browning Wax to complete.

Somehow in between all of this Linda managed to produce another wonderful lunch and even scones with jam and cream (to die for).

Paul turned up towards the end when we’re frantically applying finishing touches before Linda staged each piece so professionally and photographed them.

It’s not until you get to this stage that you realise what amazing work has been carried out in the time scale.

For me these courses are food for the soul. There’s the group energy for starters. Then there’s the teacher who wants you to learn and who is only too willing to pass on some brilliant tricks of the trade. She wants you to benefit and is generous with her knowledge and full of enthusiasm.

And then there’s the actual “doing”. No interruptions, just time for yourself and your passion.

It’s tiring but liberating and so motivating.

I feel as if I’ve been plucked from normal everyday life and been put in a time warp of pure enjoyment. Feels like I’ve been away for months and it’s been so good for me to have this top up.

Sooooo, do I recommend courses? You bet I do. Pick someone whose work you really admire and see if you can do a course with them. You’ll be so glad you did.

So to Linda,  I thank you for being so happy to impart your knowledge and to the other lovely ladies on the course it was just fabulous to meet you and I look forward to next time.

 

Today’s little project in the shop …. decorating a cardboard box from Hobbycraft to put a birthday present in. In order of appearance I used “Pumpkin Pie”, Easy Crackle, “Lady Grey” Finishing Coat for the decoupage both as the glue and the sealer and then finished off with Browning Wax. Such a joy working with these Frenchic products

H there, Ginny here,  I wanted to share my kitchen now that it is a bit nearer to completion. Fifi was kind enough to paint the units in the Frenchic Furniture Paint. She chose to use the Al Fresco colours as they are durable for a kitchen environment.

She used the little bird stencil to add a little detail.

Also she chose some stripy material picking out the colours for the blinds. Our lovely friend Lois made the blinds for me.

Then I after umming and ahhing for ages I  purchased the fantastic “Clock Face” circular table which Fifi painted in the Frenchic Furniture paint.

Then finally she kindly painted a little wall shelf in a mixture of the colours and the little heart stencil which I think brings it all together nicely.

How lucky am I to have such a clever sister!

I took this 360 photo of the room, which gives you an idea of the space, but it’s always hard to get an accurate 360 in a small space.

Happy Birthday to us!!

Well a year ago today we opened at our lovely shop on the High Street in Wotton-under-Edge. Contrary to today it was a bright sunny day and enabled us to put out the bunting and our furniture on the pavement under the shop windows.

Today we have decided to close just because the weather is so awful.

However, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t still working. It’s stock taking time and having completed two rooms worth at the shop (two more to go) I shall be counting and sorting the stock that is currently in my loft (Christmas stuff), my dining room, garage and utility room!!! I sometimes feel like I live in the equivalent of Steptoe’s Yard.

Ginny will be doing her usual amazing work of catching up with logging items on to our web and Facebook pages and posting things of interest. And then there are the accounts ….. that’s her department too. I freak out having to do anything with sums or spreadsheets.

Because I am allegedly the artistic one out of the pair of us I get all the praise and as Ginny once said to me “no one ever says, wow what a beautiful spreadsheet”. That’s true of course but it’s a vital part of being in business and thank god Ginny excels at her part of the business and I love doing the creative bit.

Such a lot has happened this year and the time has just flown by. It seems ages ago now that we started the business using £1,000.00 from my savings account.  Our rule was that we had to be self funding. No bank loans, no credit cards. If the money wasn’t in the business account we couldn’t have it. Simple as that and Ginny was very strict about it. So its been challenging at times but we’ve seen the business steadily grow and sleep well at night knowing that we haven’t got huge debts hanging over us.

We have a thriving Frenchic paint side to the business and of course running painting courses helps to promote that. We also found that selling the “project” furniture is a great idea. This is furniture that we source knowing it will lend itself to a Frenchic makeover and if it doesn’t sell quickly then I will do it myself and sell it on the shop floor.

Equally as we’ve grown we’ve taken on more trade accounts and are now able to offer lovely accessories and objet d’ar for the home. A lot of times its about how you dress a piece of furniture or put it together with other pieces within the home that makes it special and this is something I particularly enjoy.

Strangely even after a year in our fabulous shop I’m still not able to say with clarity what sells best. Is there a paint colour that sells way more than the others or certain styles of furniture that trend in our particular neck of the woods? The answer is no. Its so random. All I know is that there is something for everyone and in the end even the most  quirky and outrageous item will appeal to someone who will just have to have it!

I do know that having your own business is not for the faint hearted and its certainly not all glamour and glory. Behind the scenes there is the effort of sourcing the furniture, going to auctions, house clearances, end of line sales, there’s the collecting and delivering of pieces and sometimes it is so heavy. I remember Ginny and I went off in the van to collect a biggish Mexican pine dresser from a lady’s house in Yate. The lady couldn’t help as she’d recently had an operation so it was down to the two of us and it was in a very cramped room so it was difficult to move in any case. We just about managed to get it out of the house and as we were trying to lift/drag it across the lawn to the van Ginny said “i resign”. It made me laugh to the point where lifting it into the back of the van was near impossible but we did it somehow. I’ve grown muscles where I didn’t know they existed before. I’ve also ended up in A&E with cuts and bruises and had stitches whilst performing my job and using power tools etc. Its certainly not glamorous. Nails….. what are they? Gone are the days of glossy nail varnish and beautiful clothes!!

But would I change it …. no I don’t think I would. If I  won the lottery tomorrow I would still want to paint furniture and I’d still want to interact with the public.

And then there are the people you meet…. the locals who start off as customers but become friends, the local business owners of the town who are always there for each other and the amazing Wotton Auction Rooms right on our door step with all their lovely friendly helpful staff. The people of Wotton have been fantastic. So supportive and encouraging. They make it all worthwhile.

So would we do it again …… you betcha!!

 

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