When Nature meets Culture, the magic of Eco Printing

My next workshops :


My next Eco Printing workshops will be:

  • In Glasgow in my West end Studio during the week end of the 11-12 August : Info here
  • In Edinburgh at The Remakery on the 25th August  Info here
  • In Strathaven with Creative Strathaven on the 30th September Info here
  • In Edinburgh at The Remakery on the 10th November Info here

At the beginning ! 

Eco-Printing has some kind of Magic associated to it and most don’t understand how you can get those beautiful definition of leaves onto paper or fabric using any additional colour. So I had to discover for myself…

Every summer I take time off to go on a creative course, a few days spent learning a new technic, something different, something I have not done before, following someone else’s instructions, doing the thinking me just doing the learning, experiencing a new set of rules and new results…

I am quite fascinated about colours and printing, and that summer I decided to experience Eco Printing on a course during the Summer School of the Scottish Felters in Dunblane. Liz Gaffney Whate was the tutor and she was very inspiring … That was a while ago… Eco Printing is very enjoyable and completely addictive. I have found myself walking around picking up leaves wherever I go and running back to the steamer to print another batch of papers, a length of fabric, some pages of an old Greek manual.

This is mark making in perfection, you know what goes in it but never what will come out. You use steam and a chemical reaction generated by an Iron bath or other secret potion… If you print on fabric you need to use a mordant to make sure the result is colour fast.

I have been running experiments since then, In Arran I collected sea water and bundled up some leaves between the sheets of an old book, I collected them into sealed bin bags under a huge set of pebbles and left them for two weeks. The iron water transferred a delicate imprint of the leaves onto the old paper, grey and black…

In Glasgow I have collected leaves from my garden and that of many neighbourgh’s and the local parks and printed pages after pages of different paper and material, cotton, linen…

Beautiful imprints of leaves of warm colours appear creating wonderful and colourful collage of nature upon the old printing of the Greek grammar books I have been up-cycling. As if Nature was meeting Culture for a reunion of beauty.

The most amazing and unusual results sometimes give the best results… I recently printed some scarves of calicot and used basic A3 copy paper to line the fabric. The scarves turned beautifully harmonious but the the lining paper was even better, the delicate shades of the leaves printed on a background of thread marks. A real treat to the eyes. Mark making ready to be up-cycled.

I will be sharing Eco Printing with the participants of next workshops through the whole of 2018 as a way to use Nature to create some beautiful marks to incorporate with their work.

I hope you will be able to share one of my workshops to discover with me the magical process. Its a great voyage of discovery and I would love to keep on discovering with you.


Betty xx



This is a shopping bag hand stencilled by artist stenciller Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw to celebrate the 2016 outreach art project #THEBIGROSE. This project celebrates the sharing with a wide public of the technique of stencilling used by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporary in Glasgow.

#THEBIGROSE was launched in 2016 during the Mackintosh Festival in Glasgow.

For the Mackintosh Festival 2017 it takes the shape of the making of a stencilled banner in several venues in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

The Bag for life is made of calico a material used extensively by the Glasgow School of Arts students in the late 19th century and has been stencilled by hand with a traditional Glasgow Style Rose designed by Mackintosh as part of his scheme for the Willow Tea Rooms. (wash by hand only).

It is 35 x 40 cms plus handles and should be washed by hands to preserve a crips design.

This bag is sold to help funding my outreach art project… and you always know someone whose birthday will be soon…

This is a very special bag, which I will stencil at your request for your chosen deserving person…



Betty xx


The Big Banner – the diary

20th September – My sponsors are local business !

Any good project relies on a great idea, some supporters, a pile of hard work and … A number of well meaning sponsors !

That is why this year I decided to approach three local companies for some help and guess what… They said yes ! what a relief to have both the moral support and some financial help in the form of products and services.

Mandors the Fabric Store is a family business in the Garnethill area. Very well appointed shop with a small team of very dedicated staff and the owner Michael always about. If you need fabric, or haberdashery they will for sure have what you need… they always do. I have known them for many years… and I though it normal to go speak to Micheal about my needs in term of material, I am so touched by their generosity… If you need any fabric for dress making make your way there its the best place in town.

Hobs Repro is a country wide repro company which has been dealing with printing and communication over the years. ! when they offered to run my banners I was overjoyed ! it will be a real pleasure having some graphics telling the public to shy to ask what they are…

Who does not know CASSART? they supply material for art and crafts in the whole country… Last year they had giving me a small stypen to spend on brushes and other arty things for The Big Rose project. So naturally I visited them and I found I was talking to the store manager and more or less getting an offer for paint, brushes, paper etc…

My sponsors are part of our project and I am very pleased to stepping in and helping in the process.

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5th September – we visit the Hill House with Hermitage

Today was the first day of The Big Banner project and I made my way to The Hill House to meet there 20 pupils from Hermitage academy. The first Big Banner workshop will be ran on the 26th of September @ the Mackintosh Club. With the Hermitage academy pupils we will be using stencilling and other techniques to create a banner and today I took the pupils to visit The Hill House. We looked at designs, symbols, colours, techniques and traditions in the Victorian Interior.

I am looking forward to pick up my graphics from Hobs Reprographics in the West end. This very local branch of Hobs Repro have offered to sponsor the graphics part of my project. I am very touched by the generosity of the local companies around me. Hobs are not the only one who want to help… A very local family business Mandors textile are helping with some of the cloth and Cassart in our city center will supply some of the Art Material. It is a great pleasure to see this project being embraced by a good number of very generous individuals.

Most of my events are now up online on this website as well as on the Glasgow Mackintosh website and some of the paid events are already fully booked.  Thank God we have a good number of drop in Free events to welcome the public too.





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 @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com 

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