Map your memories ! Up-cycle to recycle your cherished maps !

I will be running a block of 10 weeks block of up-cycling class with the House for an Art Lover starting on the 14th September. Its a great way to learn new paint technics and to up-cycle small pieces of furniture. For info and bookings look Here

A while ago I used some old maps to up-cycle an old box I had found in my basement about 18 years ago… It had a great shape and once nicely distressed and covered with that map of an area of the North of England we had visited many moons ago it looked so great ! It now is carrying my small Chinese tea pots hanging proudly on my kitchen wall…

It was massive fun to do, I used the main body of the map but also some of the legend and borders to camouflage some of the worst features of the box… but also when out of negligence I tore a bit of the main body of the map… I just cut out one of the small details of the legend to paste over creating a feature out of a disaster !!! Every one loves it. I have had to fight at times to be allowed to keep it.

I took it a few weeks back to the Oxfam bookshop in the West end of Glasgow. I wanted to demonstrate how fun it would be to up-cycle using some of the items you can find in their shop… vintage maps… music sheet. So many people stopped by not just to look but also to tell the story of their maps then to elaborate on what they think they could with the maps.

Maps are such a great thing ! a bunch of colour on solid paper (sometimes backed by net to avoid ripping) the detailing giving you an idea of altitude, and more importantly of directions. But for up-cycling they are fabulous… first they are big so lots of cover  but also they are printed on great quality paper which can take glue and does not rip. But also they have a lot of detailing you can use in all the various small places of your object.

So I was hardly surprised when one of my participants of last week end up-cycling at the House for an Art Lover decided to use an old map of Arran to up-cycle a small table. Memories of past holidays on a little table that was kicking around. It looks fab don’t you think? First time up-cycler I think this is first class work. Great use of the colours… of the various features of the map cover and the border of the maps. Great tonality and coordination of Paint colour applied to the legs with the top of the table. I hope this lovely piece gives him the up-cycling bug.

Many maps can be used, OS maps that fill up your drawers as a memory of past holidays or Munro bagging… Road maps bought bound in a book, vintage maps purchased out of Oxfam for a couple of £. A drop of PVA glue mixed in a jar with a little water, a soft brush and you are in business… cover the map glued on your object with some PVA to seal it before you varnish or wax.

I hope You get the chance to try !

Have fun !

Betty x

In Thomson Greek Style 

I will be running a workshop on the 29th July as part of the Merchant City Festival on how to stencil “Greek Thomson Style” ! For details and bookings check Here

The Victorians were definitively interested in style ! After all they had to compensate for a recently gained status and a complete lack of looking my term in education in good style ! 

Alexander Greek Thomson, architect in Glasgow was himself into anything “Greek” from the architecture of his buildings to the shape of his stencils ! 

Below are some examples of his work in Holmwood House in Glasgow. 

Many of you will have similar designs on in your house or tennement flat and would love to know how to go about recreating them …

I will run this one day workshop giving you clues on how to proceed ! If you have any questions about it email me @ 

See you there I hope.

Betty x 

Make Chalk Paint ! and Up-Cycle !!!

Up-cycling furniture Week end in Glasgow on the 22/23rd July, we will make chalk paint and work on your own furniture. Click here for details and booking 

Up-cycling furniture 10 weeks block starting on the 14th September, you will make chalk paint and work on your own one or two pieces of furniture as well as learn some new techniques Click here for details and booking

In the old days … well just about twenty years ago it was called “Paint Effects” … today its up-cycling ! but basically the technic is the same … you take a piece of furniture or a small item someone has left behind and out of much sanding, painting, rubbing, waxing .. you make it a treasure for your home ! how great is that?  You save the world, recycle, practice your skills, relax and produce a beautiful piece for your home (or to sell at the next fair).

The difference between now and before is “Chalk paint” seen by some as a “Miracle paint” and by others a very expensive medium.

Its an acrylic paint with a soft fine grainy feel and a lovely velvety look, a paint which gives any old piece a vintage look, a paint that distresses well and with the help of wax adds 100 years on any piece you are working on.

I use it on furniture and I use it in my paintings, I like very much working with it slowly with a mix of sand paper, soft cloths and wire wool. Different brushes give different look but its always very special.

What I would say is that there is no miracle paint, wether its chalk or not… you have to prepare your pieces before you paint them, sand them and clean them, don’t even think for one minute that an expensive jar of chalk paint will do a miracle job for you. A well prepared piece will give you a great result which will last for many years… A poorly prepared one will give you a patchy result which is likely to flake off at any moment.

One of the restrictions of commercial chalk paints is the limited palette of colours. Not everyone likes soft blue and whites and sometimes you would like to tune your pieces with your room. While you can get vinyl/emulsion paint in over 2000 shades out of any D&Y store… most chalk paint colour cards offer a maximum of 20 colours… I find that quite frustrating…

Another major restriction is the cost of the chalk paint. Because it is made by smaller companies who have the label of “specialism” the paint cost a premium 2 or 3 times the cost of standard paint…. that is wrong if you are up-cycling !

In my mind you should be able to up-cycle with whatever is around you and it should be cheap… no one should have to spend a mere £100 in brushes and paint/wax to up-cycle a piece you bought in a charity shop for £5 !!!!!

So I make my own chalk paint and its a delight !

Many up-cyclers before me have experimented with recipes and I have spent a bit of time trying variations but I have now the right combination and I feel so happy to be able to pull any of my emulsion paint pot and within a moment be able to transform it into a pot of delicious thick and luscious paint ready for my up-cycling.

My recipe is easy and my final result is good looking, and I have given myself the flexibility of colours and costs. I am a happy up-cycler.

Being a good up-cycler is to open your garage/workshop/workroom and make something out of what you find there. A bit like making a delicious meal out of what you find in and almost empty refrigerator ! You should try give yourself a challenge… Only make with what you have.

Looking at your end result its a great feel !

If you would like to up-cycle with me I run regular classes with The House for an Art Lover and in my own studio in Glasgow, for more detail look Here

Hope to meet you soon and mix some chalk paint with you soon !

Betty xx









Oxfam bookshop workshop ! Up-cycle local … make the world a better place and your home more beautiful !

Free workshop

Upcycling old maps and musical sheets into stylish journals

@Oxfam Bookshop Byres road – Glasgow – 24th September

I will be running a 2 hours FREE workshop at The Oxfam Bookshop in Byres road as part of the Byres road book festival on  24th of September for details and bookings please click Here


For Similar workshops click Here

Free Demonstration

Up-cyling old maps and music sheet in stylish furniture and small items

@ The Oxfam Bookshop Byres Road – Glasgow –

13 and 16th July between 2pm and 4pm … Just turn up !


The beautiful West end  of Glasgow has been my home for almost 3 decades… a mix of stylish tenements flats, town houses, student flats, ethnic shop, stylish eateries, a very very Old University and … Byres road.

West end was not always part of the City of Glasgow but around the turn of the 19th century this is where the well to do Victorian entrepreneurs built themselves a home (a very lavish one) they placed it around a huge park, built a new University for their offsprings and a commercial street which has become my local place to shop and generally wander around at the week end for coffee, food shopping, general browsing and … loosing myself in the great Oxfam bookshop  ! I love books … well its almost an obsession and what better to do than buy books to read while giving to charity !!!

The thing about the Oxfam bookshop it does not only sell books … you also find there the best “Divine” chocolate… and some great gifts hand made in third world countries but also… old maps, music sheet, foreign publications, postcards… and it has become one of my sources of “stuff” for up-cycling on furniture and small pieces like boxes etc…

Imagine ! you have a box of old maps kicking in your garage … you donate it to Oxfam… I walk past and buy them… I make a beautiful box (see below) out of them and … with the money … Oxfam makes sure than in a small village in Africa children get fresh water to drink OMG it does not get better than that does it????

I have been thinking for a while that I should do a little more … and here it is… I want to show you how you could do your bit too… how you could also fill up your basket with some of their maps, music sheet etc… to take home and have a go at “up-cycling”… so here it is:

  • Free demonstration on how to up-cycle paper items in smart objects – 13 and 16th July between 2 and 4pm THIS IS A FREE EVENT – JUST TURN UP
  • Free workshop on how to up-cycle paper items in a travel diary – 22nd September between 9.30 and 11.30 am THIS IS A FREE WORKSHOP – PART OF THE BYRES ROAD BOOK FESTIVAL – for booking keep tuned link will be added this summer #keepthedate


I hope you will come along and get a taste for what this is about… and if you love it and would like to do more… you could always book on one of my classes with The House for an Art Lover. Up-cycling is a great creative way of saving the world while feeling very very happy !!! More Upcycling classes

See you there

Betty xx






Fauxidermy – Textile extravagance !

Helly Powell is a textile artist born and raised in Wales. I had the pleasure to meet her at The Royal Highland show this past week end. I was marvelled by her “beasts” !!! Made of beautifully woven and medieval inspired fabric her animal’s heads are a great statement for creativity.

Inspired by the traditional taxidermy created by the greeks to conserve animal trophies, Helly has perfected a method to model and cast her chosen animal’s head and then upholsters it with gorgeous fabrics … velvets, chenille, silk, wool and linen.

Helly’s collection is stunning and wether her galloping Hare or her Stag Head you will stopped on your tracks with the need to stare… and get your camera out. The simple lines, the rich fabric, the proportions and the pose of each “Beast” are perfect.

Her collection Fauxidermy  can be seen in a touring exhibition  The Beasts of the Mabinogion

and I hope you catch them on your way. Its a bit like stepping in the woods at the time of Robin Wood… a medieval story…  Helly is the magician recreating them…

Best wishes.

Betty xx

Tape and paint ! Upcycle the perfect triangle …

great week end coming on the 22/23rd july book soon only a few spaces left


I will be running a full week end of up-cycling furniture in the lovely House for an Art Lover on the 22/23rd of July. for booking look here we have a few spaces left… but hurry they are going fast !

This season, my group of up-cyclers have been experimenting for their furniture with geometrical shapes and bright colours creating patchworks of triangles and squares, and vertical lines. This is a simple yet very effective way of decorating a piece of furniture. Its simple and effective and easy to set up. Below are three examples of realisation by some pupils from this year’s group.

Sula’s chest is below, this is a discarded piece of inexpensive pine furniture which almost found its way to the skip. Sula brought it in … just to practice on and finished it today by decorating it with bold triangles of blue, greys and yellow. The design…

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Remember ! Remember ! The makers of the Mackintosh Wartime furniture !

Very rarely you get the chance to be involved in a project driven by “goodness” but a few times in your artist life you come across someone who just wants out of sheer work and creativity to set the record right ! to give credit back where deserved… and its impossible not to get involved.

I met Tom Krasny a young overseas student with the Glasgow School of Arts, a few months back when I was preparing some work for the centenary of 78, Derngate, the Northampton property of Mr Basset Lowkes which Charles Rennie Mackintosh refurbished in 1917.  Tom was preparing her final piece for her degree show. The statue of a seat designed by Mackintosh for 78, Derngate originally made on the Isle of Man. Dedicated to the War prisoner with no name… to their memory, to their hard work, to their beautiful skills.

And off course I wanted to help, her with some of the skills needed for this beautiful project.

I am always interested in the stencilling designs by Mackintosh, thats my forte and I knew of the stylish bedroom furniture as the original set is displayed here in Glasgow in the Mackintosh House. Light wood, light lines, some very striking blue fabric, very different lines from the 1900’s sets. When visiting Derngate I was made aware of the fact the original furniture for Derngate came from the Isles of Man but I did not give it more though.

Below the original design by Mackintosh of the 1920 stencilled scheme a striking design ! Its first layer form a great back drop for Tom’s seat. A very simple statement indeed !

Tom was there to set me right about the provenance of the furniture and of her project. And the fact she wanted some help with the making of her degree show set up. She told me about the war prisoners, very skilled cabinet makers working on the Isles of Man making stylish furniture designed here in England by Mackintosh and by other designers… She told me that while building beautiful pieces their names was not remembered and their work not acknowledged. Its was the War, those were different times. And it takes a young determined lady, a Glasgow School of Arts overseas student to set the record right.

So I did what I do well, I spoke to her about stencilling, general stencilling, Mackintosh stencilling, flat stencilling, textured stencilling and more importantly Mackintosh war time stencilling I had just worked on the recreation of the 1920’s scheme for 78, Derngate, a fascinating design for Mr Basset Lowes ‘s Hall Lounge. A complicated frieze made of 9 different stencils. But by far the first layer was the most striking and we all agreed about this.

And she and Roi came to learn the technique, they invested a good amount of time in the understanding and practising of it ! What a great level of commitment …

So weeks after my original involvement I received an invitation to the Degree show, at The Glue Factory. A great place with a lot of character !

The result of Tom’s work is stunning and so meaningful, a seat casted in metal, in the middle of a white room decorated with a stencil border, the first layer of the 1920’s hall lounge border. And a little chair making automaton ! That’s Charles Matts’s mallet … Charles Matts was the foreman in the Isles of Man workshop … how focused is he in making the little stool ! 

This beautiful automaton is the work of Philip Lowndes an English Automaton maker. Don’t you think this captured the nature of Tom’s projet ?

Mackintosh would be proud! Basset Lowes would approve… and I am so impressed that Tom found the right tone to offer respect to the unnamed maker, the one whose skills were so great he could transfer the drawings of the master in some stunning furniture without ever be named.

I hear the little chair will be transferred to the Isles of Man where it will seat as a monument to the makers whose names will be engraved in rememberance of their good work ! At long last … a century or so later ! 

The Degree show is open @ The Glue Factory until the 18th June.

Go see it !


Betty xx

Come and stencil Mackintosh at The House on the Hill

Up on the Hill, overlooking the Firth of Clyde there is a superb house, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for one of his favourite client Mr Walter Blackie.

The Hill House is the very first Mackintosh property I ever visited when moving to Scotland. Its a beautiful building covered of white rough cast, in the Scottish Baronial style in the middle of a beautiful garden. Last week when I visited the garden was covered with Fritillaries one of Mackintosh’s favourite flower. The Gardener Gavin does such a great job of it…

But then he would have to be inspired with such beauty around. Have you visited the Hill House ? Have you seen the beautiful stencilling of the seating room and of the master bedroom?

I will be running a stencilling workshop at The Hill House on the 29th of August. If you would like some information or to prebook look  Here ! Or Here

We will be exploring stencilling with acrylic paint on paper and fabric and each participant will be leaving with a stencilled cushion cover in the Mackintosh Style. The class will start at 9.30 and will be complete by 11.30. If you have not done so before you will be able to visit The Hill House at a concession price. But in any case you will be able to enjoy a walk around the beautiful garden of the House and admire the view.

The workshop is for all levels and lasts 2 hours, all material are included in the price.

I will be looking forward to meeting you there.

Betty xx




Together we made some chairs ! For an Art Lover’s House 

If you ask me of an advantage of sticking to the same job for many years ! The one that comes to my mind is the pleasure of working with old friends ! No need to try and understand a new creative partner ! To work out what they are like ! What will upset them ! Wether you can trust them ! There is an unspoken language about … an understanding ! And you can just get on with the job at hand listening to the radio ! As if it was your day off !!!

My friend and long time creative colleague Bruce Hamilton asked me recently to step in the making of a dining room set … a special order he was making for a special client “the art lovers one”. It’s a secret code ! 

21 years ago Bruce Hamilton and I worked together on recreating beautiful furniture for the dining room of Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover in Glasgow ! Bruce was the furniture maker and I ! The stenciller ! The result was unique If i say so myself ! It has been admired by many over the years and numerous young couples have tied the knot seating on them.

Those chairs though have been the beginning of a 21 cooperation and from time to time Art Lovers order a set to Bruce and I come along just before the last lacquer is applyied and stencil the design ! The same design ! The unique one conceived for The House for an Art Lover believing that Mackintosh would have been happy with it ! 

Bruce is a true furniture maker he has a workshop full of fierce machines to tame the wood ! No Mdf in there but the most beautiful planks of Oak with superb grain ! He spends hours choosing the right piece and then with some kind of magic (and much hard work) he turns it into a solid chair with a hand rushed seat ! A chair for life not the kind you will get rid of next year when the fashion is over ! 

Bruce is a Mackintosh specialist ! Many years of looking, working with the designs the great man created ! Recently his chairs made it down to 78 Derngate in Northampton for their centenary exhibition. And again we shared I stencilled (not on the chairs this time) and he came along with his chairs… 

And I stencil, I mean not little flowers around a bathroom out of plastic stencil ! I stencil up a tall scaffold designs I have cut by hand in oiled manilla card ! Designs I have researched and who are in perfect tune with the listed buildings I work in .. I once considered spending my life in researching stencilling and that is quite attractive but I love the buzz of creating with one’s own hands. 

I saw a photo of the dining room suit in its new owner’ s room it looks grand and I love the fact that it will go on being loved for years. So I put those stencils away for today and will wait for Bruce’s next text before I pick them up again ! 

If you would like to see more of Bruce’work well !!! Its Here 

As for mine ! Read on !

Have a lovely day I hope you like those chairs …

Love Betty xx

Stencilling with Mackintosh a West end Festival stencilling class #WEF2017

To book for this day stencilling please click here

Queens’ Cross church in the Glasgow West end is best know from many as “The Mackintosh Church” ! Indeed this is the only church the Art Nouveau Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh built. Its a very special building as today it houses the headquarters of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. A charity which protects and promotes the work of the great architect. This place is close to my heart ! this is where I secured my first job when moving to Glasgow many years ago. May be this is where I caught the stencilling bug.

Its a beautiful red sandstone building, simple lines, great big blue stain glass, pews inside, a superb church hall so similar to that of The Glasgow School of Arts before it burned down not so long ago. The Hall is a great place to do crafts and for that reason I come back to it every so often to run a Stencilling workshop for locals and visitors to the city. Last June I ran a great workshop part of the West End Festival. We had two pianists in the participants and were lucky enough to have them play on the old Baillie Scott piano during the afternoon.
The event was so successful I decided to ran another workshop this year during the Festival for anyone who might be interested to spend a day learning about using stencils for house decoration or any art project. I can not guarantee to have any piano players this time but I can guarantee immense fun and creativity.
We will start with some basic technic as it is essential to practise the dry brush technique. After a break we will then design a simple stencil using some elements of Mackintosh design, cut it and practise with it both on paper and fabric. Participants will leave with all the work they have done and the stencil they made.

All material is included in the price and tea and coffee will be served. Bring your own lunch or choose the option to nip around the corner to the famous Cafe D’jaconelli for some Italian fare.

Stencilling is a great rewarding technique, you don’t need to be very skilled to get a great initial result and this workshop is for all levels. Beginners are very welcomed. Here is some of previous participants samples.

The day will run between 10am and 4pm. The cost is £40.

I hope to see you there.

Betty x