Recycle while Upcycling you will make this world a better place 

Upcycling Furniture was a short serie of upcycling furniture class I ran for The House for an Art Lover in the Spring 2016. I will be running this class again (10 weeks of 2.5 hours on a thursday night) from the 22nd September. For details read New Evening class ! Up-cycle furniture and for bookings here

Last Thursday was the third of a serie of 5 workshops in Up-cycling furniture at Artpark the beautiful complex linked with The House for an Art Lover.


My 8 students had brought their own piece of furniture, and the place was buzzing with chat, brush noise, hair dryer, smelling of glue and paint… Different projects, colour schemes so exciting! Discovering all the creativity you have in yourself is a very powerful tool to your well being. Give me a piece of sand paper any day I am feeling down and I feel my blood flowing better than with chocolate or even red wine 🙂


Every week I introduce my students in a new decorating technique and I am passionate in getting them to push the boundaries of creativity do everything with nothing ! Chalk paint is just a marketing ploy to make you pay £20 for a pot of paint only worth £10. You have to understand how to antic the proper way!
So a while ago we printed with a bit of embossed paper ! Just a snippet ! A sample I had once collected at a local B&Q … A free sample ! A piece of recycling and the result was AMAZING ! A delicate frieze of Art Nouveau style appeared on my board and I heard the gasp when lifting up my improvised stamp. With a bit of recycling I hope I have opened the mind of my 8 ladies to the potential of recycling for Upcycling but for sure they were on a complete high when they left !


 This week to my surprise several of my ladies had raided their own DIY stores for lovely free samples of wall papers !!! And my pile of them is now gigantic … Beautiful delicate flowers !!! Moroccan styles mosaics !!!  Fun camping vans all in great colours !!! And through the two hours of our class our prepared pieces of furniture were decorated with paper cuts in bright colours. A white discarded chair got a triangle treatment while a bright turquoise side cabinet is getting garlands of Chinese looking flowers all this creativity for next to no pennies 🙂 … but so much fun.


  
I am so proud of my students … They are the proof that in this era of consumerism and high tech you can still get great pleasure with bits of colourful paper and a pot of glue.


I can’t wait to see what next week is going to bring us. We are guilding …


This course has been an eye opener for me and I am planning to run it again this Autumn. It will be 10 sessions starting on the 22nd of September. Will you join me ? At the house for an art lover it’s a great venue.

Betty xx

Upcycling furniture, printing patterns out of nothing

Last Thursday was the second up-cycling furniture session. After the original chaos of the first week I am happy to say participants had started getting the hang of the methods and made friends between them and with their piece of furniture and material. Thinking outside the box (the tin of paint…) is my teaching method. I like making sure the participants to my classes use their full potential to maximise their experience with the techniques I show them. My main aim is to make sure that all leave the course feeling confident to try just about anything under the sun. Sometimes the best results come from trials and error. Specially when it comes with paint effects.

img_7438

During the first session we distressed some items by applying two coats of waterbased paint and working with sand paper, we also make a go at crackle varnish. This time, participants, had brought in their own piece of furniture. They made a good start on it, first coat of paint, and soon no sound other than the sanding paper and the wet brush. From to painting to sanding to painting but also a great deal of sticking and painting/printing going on.

Some of the participants had made sure to research their favorite style using lifestyle sites like Pinterest and had general discussion on colours and finishes. But each session brings a new set of skills and this week its “decorate with print”. I had though of making stamps with polyesterene packaging but not being able to find any… I used embossed wall paper instead.

From my visit to the local D&Y shop I had come back with a large selection of samples of wall paper. Some of them vintage, some tiles, some patterns, but also some embossed and I decided to use this for making the most exquisite prints.

Here is how it goes:

img_7394

To make a delicate print out of embossed wall paper.

1 – prepare your surface to decorate. In this instance I have used some shadowing with my top colour and applied it loosely.

2 – select a wall paper with smallish patterns but only use those with seriously raised areas. In this instance I have used an Art Nouveau pattern border.

3 – with a smallish brush cover the embossed pattern of your design you may have to try to print on loose paper before you go ahead to get the level of pressure right.

img_7398

4 – turn over your design apply the raised areas on your work and apply gentle pressure with your hand on the whole back of the design.

et VOILA !!!

You should be able to apply several coats of paint before you have to change the piece of paper. You may able to get a better several prints in one go.

We kept going after this very magical moment and tried two colour printing as well as a week bit of stencilling.

Here is my board…

img_7423

Protect your work with varnish.

Enjoy the process… Betty xx

 

 

 

 

 

Stencilling Mackintosh – 2nd/3rd April 2016

What better place than The House for an Art Lover to come and learn from scratch the art of Stencilling and learn how to introduce Glasgow Style in your interior.

   
    
   
Built in the 1990’s from the original plans of Charles Rennie Mackintosh from the turn of the century HAL is a beautiful property open to the public in the middle of Belahouston Park in Glasgow. A team of artists, craftsmen, architects and the Glasgow School of Arts teamed up to realise this amazing project.

   
 It is today open to the public and beside the Mackintosh rooms it offers a delightful cafe, a beautiful walled garden and more importantly … The Art Park a complex of exhibition room, visitor’s centre and two lovely studios with window on the park. There I run evening and week end workshops in traditional Victorian crafts.
   
   

For the first week end of April we will learn the ropes of stencilling like turn of the century craftsmen and painters. We will design a stencil, learn to apply it to wall, furniture and fabric. We will use traditional material and several types of paint. But also we will take a minute to view the magical stencilled schemes of The House for an Art Lover. Re-created from Mackintoh’s drawings and some of his existing schemes they are a great example of Glasgow Style stencilling. I was lucky to be able to stencil part of that scheme and I will answer any questions on the realisation of it.

  
The class runs both Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm with a break at lunchtime where a delicious but simple lunch will be brought in from The House for an Art Lover’s kitchen. The cost is £110/person inclusive of all material and the lunches.

To book please contact The House for an Art Lover but if you have any questions email me directly @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com

Hope to see you there.

Betty x

UP-CYCLING ! AGEING FURNITURE AND SMALL ITEMS

Tonight I ran the first class of the Up-cycling course at the House for an Art lover. We had great fun the group of 8 ladies and myself. Two hours full of taking some objects back a few years with some antiquing techniques… distressing and crackle-Crackle glazing.

   
   
This class runs at the House for an Art Lover for another 4 weeks. We will have a follow up course in the autumn. If you want to hear about it drop me a line.

This is what we did tonight :

Ageing a piece of furniture, or a small object:

Distressing a planter pot:

   

   

You will need, two complementary colours of emulsion paint mat finish (water based) like dark brown and off white or pale yellow and dark brown, a small planter, a flat 1 1/2 inch paint brush and a piece of sanding paper medium (120).

Start by rubbing off the pot of any dust, then apply the first colour (for example the dark brown) with a loose brush in a irregular manner, vary the amount of paint used on different area of the pot and steeple some paint in some areas to create the effect of dust gathering with time.

Leave the pot to dry. If necessary touch up.

Make a “glaze” by mixing in a jar 4/5 of paint (second colour i.e. the off white) with 1/5 water. Apply loosely on top of the first coat, this does not have to look even.

Allow time for the pot to fully dry to a hard finish.

Using your sanding paper rub off some areas in an irregular manner of the top coat showing the bottom coat. This has to be done in a very irregular manner to look authentic.

You can use home made stamps or small stencils to create a light pattern for extra decoration.

Crackle glazing a small piece of wood:

To crackle a small piece of furniture or a small item you will need:

One or two shades of matt emulsion paint, some polyurethane varnish (any finish), some ready made gum arabic or some gum arabic granules and some warm water, a hair dryer and finally a 1 1/2 inch flat brush. (brush will be cleaned with water apart from when using the polyurethane varnish.

   

    
 

Apply one or a succession of two emulsion paints to your object. When fully dry apply one coat of polyurethane varnish, leave to dry until tacky (you can touch it with your hand but it is not yet dry however its not fully dry underneath. Apply a coat of the gum arabic. Leave to dry then using the hair drying to hot setting create some cracks in the gum arabic drying. When cool, rub in a mixture of artist oil with linseed oil. A good shade is burn umber.

Leave to dry (probably two or three hours or an overnight) and when fully dry protect with a coat of polyurethane varnish, preferably satin finish

Next week we will do some printing and some stencilling…

Fun to do 🙂

Betty xx

New Evening class ! Up-cycle furniture

This class is now full and running, however please read as it is so popular we will run it again this autumn. It will run in The House for an Art Lover from the 22nd September for 10 weeks… if you are interested in booking look here but if you have any questions you can email me @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com

Spring is a good moment for resolutions, I will spend less, I will fix things, I will recycle, I will learn a new skill, I will do more crafts, I will do something instead of watching the TV every nights… To me that sounds like “I would like to sign for an evening class where I will learn to recycle my old furniture by painting it and I will do this at The House for an Art Lover”

Upcycling is the new Recycling… a lovely shaped piece of furniture but wrong colour or not in keeping with your new scheme we all have one of those at home ! can’t quite give it away but no space for it because it somehow does not fit in…

At this up-cycling class you will learn a few new techniques and gain confidence to transform this piece in something new (but with an old look …) at minimum cost but a lot of love… between crackling and distressing there are so many ways to adorn your old treasure and you will learn just that.  The House for an Art Lover is running it .

Not only you will get the chance to save your old friend but you will gain great satisfaction about doing up yourself.

A drop of paint and a wee bit of sand paper and you are ready to rescue an army of checks, cabinets, wooden boxes etc…

 

So … see you there?

Love   Betty xx

 

New Stencilling class at The House for an Art Lover

Learning a new skill is a great pleasure always to be taken but learning a new craft skill brings even more joy. For many life does not bring in many opportunities to be creative and few have had art classes as such. They go through life believe that they can’t draw or paint and are not “artistic”.

Stencilling as a basic decorating technique is quite simple to learn and thereafter “practice makes perfect”.

Off course if you want to tackle your own home decoration or make a business out of it you will have to push further and be daring…

   
    
    
   
I offer week end classes with The House for an Art Lover in stencilling where you will learn the basics if you are a beginner but if you are passionate I will push you to the limit of your creativity. Either or you will come out of the week end marvelled about how much you have achieved and so quickly.

Architectural stencilling is of the essence during that first week end of April  (1st and 2nd of April) and I will spend half an hour talking to you about my work during the construction of the House.

If you would like to book contact the House directly (follow the link above) but if you have any direct questions email me @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com

See you soon I hope….

 

Betty xx

The house Mackintosh dreamed about … Stencilling A House for an Art Lover

Every artist, craftsman, maker likes being part of a dream, the best part of it usually is to team up with the dreamer to discuss, elaborate, plan and realise the dream !  But in the case of The House for an Art Lover the dreamer long passed away the challenge was to be so interesting that I had to take part. How wonderful to interpret the original dream of an artist such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh and … with a team of makers and planners make it alive for all to discover, admire, dream about too.
That was the challenge of The House for an Art Lover in the 1990’s !

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret as a german magazine competition in 1901 this beautiful project was never completed at the time although it was praised as being so very unusual for the time as stated a famous critic : Hermann Muthesius, ‘…it exhibits an absolutely original character, unlike anything else known’

You need a magical vision to take on such a dream and Graham Roxburgh a local consulting engineer had just that when running one morning in Bellahouston park and the rest is history. He raised awareness and the funds to start the work, could not complete and the City of Glasgow and the Glasgow School of Arts took over. The whole point is that almost 100 years after being designed by a genius, a great team of people from Glasgow and further afield joined forces to built a stunning building in the middle of a park for all to admire and care for.

The best part of this adventure is that I was commissioned to team up with a group of makers to realise the interior. My task was to come up with the stencilled schemes for the music room, the dining room, the large panelled hall and the gallery upstairs. With very basic sketches that was a very good challenge.



  
Part of this challenge was to decide on the designs used. So many possibilities, do you use existing Mackintosh designs and adapt them? to come up with some original designs in the ‘Mackintosh style’ ? Mackintosh and Margaret were always so unified in their interior schemes. It was very important to liaise very closely with the other makers to insure the colour schemes were perfectly coordinated, as if they had been chosen by the original designer and his wife.

For the dining room, Dai and Jenny Vaugh were to work on the gesso panels above the picture rail. A beautiful story of ‘The Rose’ in a delightful blue background which was going to become the background for the fire place stencilling of the rose motif. Together we teamed up to come up with the most beautiful purple/blue shade. The result was stunning and is still today enjoyed by many as this is the room most couples getting married in the House chose for their ceremony. I have seen to my great pleasure many bride and groom photographs in front of my stencilled fire place. What a great reward for me to see my work being admired again and again ! (Even if my work was only to illustrate Mackintosh’s dream…).

If you want to see some truly stunning wedding photographs taken in The House for an Art Lover check on the blog of Ashley Coombes who regularly works in the house. Ashley Coombes photography


  
For the design of this fire place frieze, much research took place and I looked at many rose friezes, but one caught my eye and it was that of The Hill House master bedroom. Very similar in shape to that of Mackintosh’s drawing for The House for an Art Lover. It was decided the dining room would be very much inspired by the former. The final plan was approved by The School of Arts and up it went. I can not tell you how scary it was to allow anyone to look at it at first. Would anyone approve of this work or would they not think it was up to Mackintosh’s dream?

One of the best part of the project is the makers I met while working on this commission with whom I still work today. Like Bruce Hamilton the furniture maker. Together we made the chairs for this dining room. Bruce was commissioned to make the dining room furniture. He is a genuine furniture maker with a true understanding of wood and joints, his workshop is full of magic and he has been working on Mackintosh chairs for many years. A great deal of expertise. He made the chairs… I stencilled them… great team work ! and we still work together today. We have this understated connexion which comes out of sharing a very special task. Today he makes clocks and I stencil them ! But this is still the Mackintosh connexion.


  
  
  

photo Asley Coombes photography

I have though one regret about this commission and I might one of those days raise the issue again and it is about the painted over frieze which probably no one remembers apart from a handful of people !!! The large panelled hall had a very clearly stencilled frieze in the shape of a geometrical tree in some drab green and pink. I came up with a design, it was approved and I spent 2 months up a scaffolding stencilling it. As tall as me a very impressive motif. It was truly stunning but… a couple of weeks before the opening… The Glasgow School of Arts on the basis that none of the other built Mackintosh properties had stencils in their halls decided to paint over. The rational was that Mackintosh would have probably changed his mind and not gone ahead with the design. I am not so sure about this. I think the great man had the right to have a variation on his usual theme. Below is the photo of the stencilled scheme taken before it vanished. I have the hope one day it will be reinstated.


  
 What do you think everyone?

I visit the house regularly, I even run classes there every season. It is terrific to see this work marvelling the visitors. It is great to have your own dreams but its even better to work with others to make a Genius’s dream come through for many to admire.

Take a visit its easy access and will hopefully marvel you too. And if you would like me to take you around and tell you more about it. Drop me an email @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com

The House for an Art Lover

 

 

 

 

 

When vintage decoupaged pots meets Chocolatier or the definition of good style

A good 200 years ago French craftsmen to the name of the Martin brothers came up with a varnish to fake the Chinese and Japanese lackerware to make it available to the well to do. Their ware took Europe by storm and most household had to have a set of vases or a carriage clock in “Vernis Martin”.

A good number of years ago I saw a carriage clock in delicate shades of turquoise blue with lovely soft hand painted roses in a Lyon (France) Decorative Arts Museum. It was a “Vernis Martin” clock, I can’t remember the museum but I can still remember the clock vividly. It had this elegance of timeless pieces, it had aged beautifully and the varnish had … 200 years later taken some lovely small cracks which we aim to copy nowadays with all sort of concoctions. Off course I have spent the following 30 years trying to reproduce this elegance in my ware.

I have decorated a good number of items over the years, all shapes and sizes, all colours with and without prints but my favourite is still the humble planter pot. A few thousands of pots have gone through my workshop and I hope they are adorning the home of those who have purchased them. I have this vision of pots seating on window ledges with delicate plants ageing beautifully. Every so often I meet a past customer who still treasures their. Sometimes I come across a course goer who confirms pot making is addictive and after joining one of my classes they made pots for months… showering the whole of their families with those humble pots decorated in all sorts of way.

I even meet last week end a past student of The Glasgow School of Arts, now the successful painter Elaine Johnston who antiqued pots for me during her students years…. Elaine and I laughed at the memories of pre-Christmas rush and piece work.

For my pots I have always used French prints, farmyard designs, classical borders, delicate botanical plants and flowers… hand cut (another piece work joy) they were delicately glued to a painted pot and then an antique finish is applied over the top. Finally it is varnished and protected to insure the finished object is enjoyed for years to come.

Those pots have found their way to some of the most prestigious gifts shops around Europe and beyond… from the National Trust of Scotland garden shops to the shelves of Harrods via Paris outlets and even the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in NY one year.

Nowadays I go for smaller batches, more interesting places. I also prefer to teach all willing to learn how to make those, how to find the right print, how to cut it in a way to match the pot shape. How to make sure the glaze cracks … You could join one of my courses any time next year and make your own pots then…for my course program you could always email me at bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com

This week I have extracted from my workshop 18 unique pots in a variety of styles and I have given them to Glasgow based Chocolatier Stacey Hannah (alias Miss Sugar Wings)  to fill up with her hand made chocolates, her hot chocolate mix and her hand made marshmallows. She will sell them over the Christmas Period in Glasgow to lucky people who will get the best chocolates and other delicacies and a delightful pot to keep for years to come (I mean the pot not the chocolates… if I was them I would scoff the chocolates on my way back they are that good…). Stacey is a proper Chocolatier you know… she was trained by a French Man from Meert in Lille and her chocolates have the sparkle of French chocolates they are truly amazing… Have you ever read the novel “Chocolat” ? Well when I read the pages about the chocolate making I can just imagine Stacey using some of her magic to produce those little miracles … you only bite in them slowly and savour every little bit. She combines the best coco to delicate flavours. Her battle name is “Miss SugarWings” and she will be at the Glasgow – St Enoch Place Christmas market until Christmas.

Why don’t you pay her a visit and treat yourself to one of my pots with her delicious concoction in it. What a treat… it does not have to be for Christmas but it could !

Let me know if you do…

Love Betty xx

La Poule de Grand Mere hand decorated planter pot with crackled finish from The Lansdowne House
La Poule de Grand Mere hand decorated planter pot with crackled finish from The Lansdowne House

Ault Wharrie ! A very enjoyable job indeed ! Team work is essential for a great achievement !

Once before I was blessed with taking part in a grand and exciting project.
Realising the work of a great architect as part of a team of makers! Project of great artistic value, renowned architect of the turn of the century, team of very skilful crafts people … It was around when Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s The House for an Art Lover was built in Glasgow.

 

The House for an Art Lover circa 1992
  
Dining room stencil at The House for an Art Lover
 But even then, some components were missing to make it a completely blissful project… there was no patron and very little instructions from the said architect. Difficult decisions were made, like painting over a completed frieze never knowing if the said architect who have wanted that. Experts were deciding but no  patron there to decide what would be acceptable for their great house.

Several times after that, I worked on re-creations of stencilled schemes for some of the great exhibitions, The Charles Rennie Mackintosh retrospective and the George Walton retrospective both in Glasgow, but even then, while more information was available and the schemes were based on existing work made for clients there was still something missing… still no patron… Just visitors; they would come… admire very briefly the work realised which then would be dismantled. And every time I longed the rapport with the client, the admirer who was so keen on the architect/designer’s work that he/she had decided to make it happen and be happy with it ever after. The discussion on how to interpret the instructions of the master…

 

Ault Wharrie 1903 Walton
  
os map showing Ault Wharrie
 

Ault Wharrie is another story, built in 1903 after George Walton’s design, this building has pleased and marvelled a client already, its first owner . Someone who has admired the architect/designer enough to invest time, money and energy to have it built and lived in it. This time the story repeats itself and the building has a new owner, a new patron, a couple so enthuse about the work of the architect/designer that they have decided to invest a huge amount of time and resources into getting it back in its original condition. Bill Carman, Celia Aitken and their children are so taken by the work of George Walton that they have researched, funded and worked hard at putting together a team of makers so to allow the rebirth of this wonderful building. It is history repeating itself, a truly wonderful thing. Walton would be proud of us all.

The best part is that I have been blessed enough to be asked to be part of the team and this time, it feels complete. Architect, design, patron, makers all the components are there.

   
    
    
 George Walton highlighted the crucial importance of the role of the skillful craftsmen in the realisation of the architect’s design during his career and wether this influenced Bill and Celia in their quest to make sure Ault Wharrie was put back to its original grandeur is not certain but I can confirm that they have been relentless in their search for any elements and people to help in the remaking. From the right architect firm who would understand traditional early 20th century buildings to the skilful wood worker who can return the old wood panneling back to its original beauty. Painters, Restaurers, Stenciller, Metal worker, Stain glass artist, have been found sometimes after great effort and long research. They have been enrolled into this quest for the perfect recreation of what was in 1903 a superbe private commission by the young George Walton and his team of craftsmen.

My role is to re-create some of the stencilled schemes. Those are the first who vanish in any historic building. The fashion changes quickly and well… what gave the owner a lot of pleasure yesterday just gets painted over as soon as it runs out of fashion and that is usually quite fast. We think that because those buildings were built over 100 years ago the owners protected their interiors but in fact just as today fashion in interior design were very short lived and any frieze, tile, wall painting did not live for very long. My job is to research the signs and use the elements made available by the restorers to re-create yesterday’s frieze with today’s findings.

   
    
    
    
    
   
Its not just artistic and indeed the process of applying the paint on the wall is a very small part of the job at hand. When recreating the stencilled frieze on the ceiling at Ault Wharrie my hardest task was to get the stencil plate to stick on the ceiling… gravity being there to make my last very difficult. But it is so rewarding to see the job complete knowing the client will be looking at this frieze for the years to come.

My very favourite  room at Ault Wharrie is the seating room on the side of the house. Just around from the old Billiard Room this is a room full of lightness with walls lined of an almond green hessian wall paper and decorated above the picture rail and on the ceiling with the most exquisite stencilled roses. But the ceiling is just so very magical. To restore this room though we had to put some serious team-work together… Restorers to uncover some traces of yesterday… A wood specialist to restore the panelling to their original splendour, A glass man to rebuilt windows like only Victorians could put together, myself off course to re-create the stencilled scheme. A client to sponsor the lot. The end result is magical.

  
But that was yesterday… I am moving upstairs to the master bedroom where I will be using a great design from one of Miss Cranston’s tea room design in Glasgow.

 

The master bedroom work in progress
  
The deer stencil a modern take !

 I have to pinch myself regularly to make sure I don’t wake up in a dream. This project has something of a surreal quality.

But i feel i have finally found the Perfect team work … Architect design patron makers … I can not wait to see the finish product