Would George have been proud ? For historic re-creation we all rely on the first owner’s vanity !!!

“There is a great deal to be learned from the craftsman who intelligently executes one’s own designs… he is as much as a necessity in producing a beautiful piece of work as the designer himself.”

George Walton, Lecture to The Philosophical Society, Glasgow 1900

I have described recently in an article I wrote for The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Journal (Nr 100) the complicated but enjoyable process of the refurbishment of Ault Wharrie. You can get a copy of the Journal from the Society directly, they are based in Glasgow in the most stunning and only church that Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed… Queen’s Cross Church. In the Maryhill area of Glasgow its a great place to visit. The stylish red sandstone building with its deep blue stained glass stands on the corner of Maryhill and Garscube roads like the tower of a chess game. If you cant make it there, you can order it online from the website of the society or you could just become a member and get it free

The Number 100 journal from CRM Society is just out

The Mackintosh Society is a charity and it looks after the Mackintosh Heritage. It has members all over the world and organises events as well as look after buildings and heritage. I had the pleasure of working for them when I first moved in Glasgow many decades ago.

Queens Cross Church the only church Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed is in Glasgow

Recently I was asked to recreate stencilled schemes as part of the restoration of Ault Wharrie an A-listed property built between 1899-1901 in Dunblane, Perthshire. The house was designed by architects Fred Rowntree, and George Walton – a direct contemporary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Walton design a good deal of stencilled schemes for Ault Wharrie, some of them could be conserved but for some others I had to recreate them from scratch. Left unoccupied for many years, Ault Wharrie was in need of both substantial structural and interior repair work before it could become a home for its new owners.

Bill Carman and Celia Atkins purchased Ault Wharrie in March 2013, and immediately began researching its history. With endless determination and resources, they have been reinstating the house to its original state using the best makers and crafts people around to recreate the schemes. The lack of surviving archival material made things difficult.

I have described the process of the refurbishment In a previous post It was a great experience but all along we had this recurring question : “What would have George thought” ? would he have been happy with our approach? Would he have liked this shade of green? this shape of leaf? Would he have come up the scaffold himself as he was known to do to correct a detail?

It is a great relief for historian when the first owner of a grand house showed signs of vanity by publishing many articles about their new beautiful property in well known magazines of the time. I remember the magic of “discovering” hidden elements during the refurbishment of a turn of the century Glasgow mansion. We had access to a 100 years old published article describing the set of “hand painted tiles” or the “marble fire place” and it was like taking part in a grown up treasure hunt trying to find as many as possible of the elements described in the Journal.

But in the case of Ault Wharrie … nothing… no memories, nor write up. Just a lot of guess work and a very few black and white photos in some old books.

So we have for the almost the past two years worked hard, questioned one another and put together as much as we could of Ault Wharrie and we do think at the end of the day … Walton would be proud of our common effort and enthusiasm.

The house is close to completion and I hope the new owners will open it to the public from time to time. Its a marvelous space and in the refurbishment we have managed to capture the “Arts and Crafts” feel of the original scheme. I will be stencilling my last piece in it next week. A “rug” in the dining to tie in the stain glass door panels recently recreated by Linda Cannon with my stencilled frieze above the wood paneling and the luscious curtains made by The Glasgow Guild .

A sample tracing of the floor stencil for Ault Wharrie dining room due for completion May 2016

Re creation of stained glass panel in Ault Wharrie by Linda Cannon

The Glasgow Guild were commissioned to design luscious curtains for the dining room

The Square borders were recreated from scratch in Ault Wharrie dining room 

But I am looking forward to completing this task to see the house in its complete state. Its been long coming and the new owners are well due a resting time by the fire contemplating their achievement.







Recycle ! Turn old news prints in beautiful objects – Papier Mache week end in Glasgow 21-22 May  

If like me you still read newspapers you probably have regularly a trip to the recycling bin with a bundle of very good quality paper and it seems such a shame to drop it in the bin but then again what to do with it ???

The week End work shop I will run at the House for an Art Lover will Adress just how to transform this waste into lovely objects for you and your dear ones using pva glue and some corrugated cardboard! Or balloons !!! How to make bowls ! Frames ! Mirrors or any other objects and decorate them … Using more paper more glue and some paint …

It’s a burst of creativity for the strictest beginner but also the most experienced participant and over two days you will be amazed on how much you learn and achieve…

I am just back from a trip to Hong Kong and I picked up on my way some papers in Cantonese and Arabic which should create great effects on your finished pieces…

Creating while recycling is just a great way to spend a week end! In good company at The Art Park the Art complex of The House for an Art Lover in Glasgow ! Why not join me there ?

Booking deals here


Betty X

Stencils online



Recently I delivered some of my hand cut stencils to The House for an Art Lover’s shop. This is a great property built in the 1990’s after Mackintosh’s design from the turn of the century. Located in the Belahouston Park in Glasgow South Side it has a good number of rooms recreated from the original drawings by a team of crafts people and artists.

I was commissioned to recreate the stencilling and out of the designs I used I have designed some stencils which are hand cut and offered to “stencillers to be” to help them recreating their own Mackintosh interior.

If you can visit the property its a great experience… but if you can’t you can now purchase them online from The House for an Art Lover’s online shop They come will full instructions and if you are still unsure of what to do… you can always join one of my courses I will be delighted to show you the art of stencilling… the next one is with The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society on the 16th of June.

Happy stencilling.


Betty xx

“Stencilling Mackintosh”, Glasgow roses in the Mackintosh church for the West end Festival

It was over 20 years ago that I discovered my two loves… Stencilling and a Rose but not any rose … This one comes from Glasgow and was designed at the turn of the 20th century by a talented man and his young wife. Charles and Margaret both young artists, both so talented.

Have you ever had that feeling that you have all this creativity inside you … but you can’t draw to save your life ? But then you suddenly find your technique and it’s like opening the magic door ? Suddenly everyone looks at your work and claps and you feel so immensely proud and in love with your own work ! You want to stencil this rose over the whole world … Creating a huge carpet of delicat scented stylised roses in the style of Mackintosh!

That was the 80’s and I had arrived in Glasgow from France. I found my first job with The Charles Rennie Mackintosh society in the church Mackintosh designed. I have never looked back.

I have stencilled houses and churches … Played my part in exhibitions with many museums I even stencilled my loved roses on the fire place of The House for an Art Lover in Glasgow.

Since then I have tried as much as I can to get people to share this great feeling of achievement through stencilling … You take a brush and via a template you apply a pattern on say your wall and create the most beautiful design wether you can draw or not… (Well after a few tries anyway) but off course you can go further and design your own if you are very hooked but you can also decide to only use it to decorate one room or some cards really the world is your play place once you have mastered the technique.

I am very emotional this month as I will be going back to The Mackintosh church during the West end Festival to welcome a few people who have gathered enough courage to have a go. I have no worries though I know they will achieve much after the first initial try. It will be fun and very creative. We will enjoy this great venue and we will be stencilling many roses.

If you want to have a try we have a new workshop on the 16th of June 2017 with the West End Festival. For details please click Here  !

I am hoping to find there a mix of Mackintosh enthousiast and just stencilling enthousiast. But whoever turns up we will take a good look at The Glasgow Rose that the great man and his wife Margaret favoured so much in their schemes. We will stencil it on several backgrounds using all sorts of paint. My aim for the day transforming complete novices in great specialists of the stylised rose.

I have recently come across a piece of canvas stencilled for Miss Cranston’s tea rooms at the turn of the century Glasgow one of Mackintosh design … I was completely shocked by the colours ! So bright and that what we will be using …

If you are interested to come, please book here but hurry, only 10 spaces… so see you there !


Betty xx

ps: this will run from 10am to 4pm, see the Evenbrite posting for detail on price.

Stencilling Mackintosh – a craft masterclass !

20 years after stencilling the “Iconic” fireplace in The House of an Art Lover in Glasgow I was back there this week end to run a stencilling masterclass. A group of ladies participants from all background from nursing to social working had booked up to learn to master the techniques of stencilling on wall, fabric, paper etc… some with and some without any previous experience. But beside the technical side of things they were also looking for some “magic” in the form of the venue and I wanted to make sure I would not disappoint them.

You see the world is such a small place, you meet total strangers and when you start talking to them in a friendly way you realise you have connexions with them in way you never imagined… So turns out that one of them had purchased stencils from me probably at the time The House for an Art Lover was built… One had got married at The House and was still under the magic spell, etc etc… when you start with those rapports you could go on and on. We are all related at the end…

So we started by walking in The House straight to the Music Room to have a look at the stencilling I did there many moons ago, and then the Dining Room, such a beautiful room with its blue fire place. That very image which you see again and again probably with a happy couple seating in front of it. I still remember the smell of the fresh paint when I was there stencilling it. We discussed designs, techniques, and gossip. We all think others have a more interesting life and stories to tell…

 But then back to The Art Park we started the long process of learning to dry one’s brush ! that is a two days straight of stencilling the same design on various backgrounds with different paints to get the hang of it. “Pull on your brush, dry your brush, too much paint etc. I always feel that if I say it once more someone will get up and leave in a temper” yet… its the key to success.

My participants left exhausted last night … would they come back today? 

But yes and full of expectations, it seems that a good evening relaxing had done them good because oblivious of their not so successful earlier tests which I had attached to the wall all over the room they were more than determined to succeed… and they did !

So we traced and cut and applied on a freshly emulsioned background wall and the same design came out in a variety of colours and finishes … Some liked the delicate shading and some preferred bold colours some even went the blue way…

But all turned out a beautiful and immensely satisfying result !!!

And they left with their roll of achievement under their arm ready to show it off home.

Stencilling is a great skill to have, so versatile … it opens the door to so many projects. I have no doubts that my participants today are “bushed” having worked so hard but so happy to have proven to themselves they could achieve greatness.
For myself, I am waiting for my next workshop, It’s a great feeling to bring someone by the hand all the way to this kind of achievement. Next I will be running a day workshop in the beautiful Mackintosh Queens Cross church on the Thursday 16th of June. If you want to come and learn… email me @ bettysbeautifullife@gmail.com.

Betty xx



Historic recreations – Mackintosh and others … A gallery 

Over the past 25 years I have been involved with many stencilling projects… Small or large they all taught me something ! A true craft women must do suitable homework to produce a beautiful piece of design. Here are some comments and photographs some of the stencilling recreations I have been involved in. They are not in any particular order. For some of them I had to scan some old photographs which explain the poor qualities of some of the images.

My apologies for that.

Below is a non exhaustive list in no particular order and I am still updating…

The House for an Art Lover 1996


The House for an Art Lover was designed in at the turn of the century but only built in Glasgow in the 1990’s  with no “in detail” design instructions. For sources we looked at Mackintosh s archival work of the period and picked elements in his realised commissions in Glasgow and around. Some of the roses from the HAL dining room project came from one of his schemes for The Willow Tea rooms, some of the stems from The Hill House together forming a pleasing to the eye design resembling his original watercolour.

The dining room fire place is very iconic and is probably the image that today is the most represented of HAL overall.

Below the Willow tea rooms scheme which inspired the dining room rose pattern.

There was a third scheme in the large hall… A gallery of tall trees a lovely forest which disappeared as painted over before the building was opened. It was based again on one of the Glasgow tea rooms designs this time a scheme from the Argyle street one fully documented in Mackintosh literature.


78, Derngate 1990’s

Mackintosh’ English house designed in the 1920’s for a local industrialist was recreated for the Retrospective exhibition  of his work in the Mackelland gallery in Glasgow in the 1990’s and I was commissioned to do it. Around the same time The Mackintosh interpretation Center opened in the Lighthouse and I produced a panel of the Hall/lounge Art Deco frieze for a display cabinet. We were lucky to find much archival work of this scheme in the Hunterian art gallery in the form of coloured designs and stencils. It’s a complicated stencil in several layers. It needs lined up perfectly to give justice to Mackintosh’s striking triangle based geometrical scheme. In the 78, Derngate house in Northampton the scheme has now been recreated by a local artist. Unfortunately an air brush was used for this, giving a fuzzy effect to a design which is supposed to be crisp and a lack of attention to detail has given the top of the border more squares than Mackintosh had designed… A shame ! Although most visitors would not notice the difference and the overall effect is still stunning.

78, derngate panel at The Lighthouse



78, Derngate – The centenary celebrations:

In 2017, 78 Derngate’s refurbishment by Mackintosh will be 100 years old and to celebrate the house is throwing a huge party with an exhibition from the 1st February to the 30th of April. Some talks and workshops and some stencilling recreations.

I was commissioned to recreate the 1920 scheme for the Hall Lounge, a scheme that Mackintosh designed for Candida Cottage the small property owned by Bassett Lowkes and a banner designed in 1903 for The Glasgow Willow Tea Rooms. All will be part of the 3 months exhibition in Northampton and details can be found below:

The Willow Tea Rooms Banner

Upper section of the banner, photo The Lansdowne House of Stencils 2017

The 1920 Hall Lounge scheme


Candida Cottage scheme



George Walton The Deer design : 1993 and 2015

For the 1990’s George Walton travelling exhibition in Glasgow I was commissioned to recreate a deer stencil which once  adorned one of Miss Cranston s tea room in Glasgow’s Argyle street. Walton was researched by Karen Moon and the curator of Glasgow Museum at the time Daniel Robbins has been lucky in recording the design before the building was refurbished. Around the very large exhibition room this very elegant galloping deer gradually appeared out of my brushes in pales shades of brown… A stunning design! It was heart breaking when at the end of the exhibition it was taken down … I had the pleasure to recreate this scheme with a variation of colour this time in the master bedroom of Ault Wharrie Walton’s only Scottish property in Dunblane in 2015 and three prints of the deer are also standing in the entrance hall of The Glasgow Guild in Glasgow.

the Glasgow Guild


George Walton Ault Wharrie The Rose room 2015/16

This domestic property seems to be the only house Walton built north of the border. Designed in the very first years of the 20th century for a rich client Ault Wharrie was adorned with many stencilled friezes. Time and bad wall treatments damaged in an irreparable manner some of them and I was asked to re create them from the small extracts discovered under layers of paint. The Rose room is a formidable project with a whole ceiling stencilled with a rose bush and trellis scheme for which only a small section was uncovered and a full over the picture rail rose stencilled scheme for which also only a small section was uncovered.

With the ceiling scheme I had to recreate the design (4.5m long) with only about a foot available looking at similar designs in the period literature as next to no archives were available on Ault Wharrie. Both material and techniques for Walton stencilling are described in period literature.

The dining room 2016

For this scheme of sections made of squares we had some very basic tracing of squares exposed and a black and white photograph giving an overall indication of the various sections. The archway was the challenge together with the fact the walls are irregular making the measuring tricky.

The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Galleries – Bedroom textiles, 2005:

The Mackintosh House, a recreation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald in the West end of Glasgow is located in the ground of the University of Glasgow within the Hunterian Art Galleries. In 2005 during the refurbishment of the master bedroom I was asked to re-create the little curtains which adorn the master bed. Made of linen they are stencilled with a delicate bloom of stylish Glasgow Style roses.
The linen was sourced by the curator in Place Pamela Robertson set to match exactly the original one. Pamela is very rigorous on her search for perfection. This has always been a pleasure when working on recreation with her. There are no compromise and the finished result has to be perfectly authentic. I recut the original stencils fresh out of Oiled Manilla card the modern version of the early 20th century material and used in this instance a combination of fabric/acrylic paint with a strong pigment, this is to make sure it does not fade away rapidly out of the bright light on this top floor room.
The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Galleries – Dining room wall, 2015:

 The Mackintosh House dining room, a dark brown room with wall looking like they were lined with kraft paper and a black trellis with roses at the top and silver drops had suffered some substantial damages and I was asked to “Fix” it. This demanded for the perfect match of the original wall colour (source unknown…) and the re-creation of the trellis and drop motif an area of about 4 to 5 square meters but part of a wall so the need to be completely in keeping with the original scheme.

The colour matching proved to be somehow a challenge, the light is poor in that room due to ground floor level and heavy drapes/curtains. During different times of the day the sunlight changes dramatically and affected my tries and errors when trying to emulate the original brown. However it was done, the original motif was traced and cut to be finally executed out of a mix of acrylic and wall paint.

 Pamela’s search for perfection hightligted the uneven shape of the original scheme.
The result is perfect as my piece of reconstruction can not be distinguished in the overall room.

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.


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:


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.


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…


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


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