Noteworthy Notebooks

I love an interesting notebook and own a bit of a collection. I notice the books people use in meetings and often give them as gifts. This year I am going to be giving them as stocking fillers and plan to bundle up a group of books with different designs, neatly tied together with gardeners twine.

A while ago I tried to screen print some books, but it wasn’t very successful, there was too much wastage and so I turned to my stencils. Stencilling notebooks is ridiculously easy and quick and you can buy plain notebooks very cheaply.

book bundle

If you fancy having a go, here is how:-


You will need

Plain notebooks

Piece of paper


Stencils Brush

Spray adhesive or low tack tape

Stencil paint (I have used metallic gold for a Christmassy feel)

How To

Place the plain paper underneath the front cover, in order to protect the pages inside the book.

Place the stencil in position on the cover of the notebook, using either spray adhesive or low tack tape to hold it in position. If using adhesive, spray the back of the stencil very lightly and allow to dry for a few seconds. You can play around with where to position the stencil and can use a section of a large stencil, as I have done

Dip the end of the brush in the paint and remove any excess on the lid of the pot, or onto a paper towel. It is important not overload the brush in order to prevent the paint from bleeding underneath the stencil.

Gently push the paint through the stencil using a soft circular motion.

Carefully remove the stencil.

books book 3 desk 4 book stencils book stencil 2 finished books

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A Folky Desk

Often when I find a piece of furniture I am absolutely not looking for it, I think you often find things when you are not looking for them.

I actually set out to buy food, which I did, but I also returned with a child’s vintage desk!

There is definitely a case for not painting some pieces, but this one was in a bit of a state. I deliberated over what colour to paint it and for reasons which I am not completely clear about, I decided to go with a folky feel and so it had to be red,  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Emperor’s Silk to be precise.

It was pretty dirty and so the first job was to wash it down and remove the stickers (which took an age!) I applied two coats of paint and then waxed it, before adding the stencil motif. I cut this stencil by hand in my studio a while ago, it isn’t one which I have put into production, but every time I use it, I love the results. When using a motif like this, I always measure the centre to make sure it is accurately positioned.

Here it is reinvented and ready for it’s new home.

desk wooddesk 8desk 3desk4red desk 2desk5desk7

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A Christmas Tradition.

Christmas is very much about tradition in our house.

Every year, I make a Christmas cake, which without fail leads me to complain about the state of my oven and also that I have left it so late! Our turkey is bought from a farm en route to my parents house, tied with string, wrapped in grease proof paper, with a sprig of rosemary tucked in and all neatly packaged in a plain white cardboard box. We drink (too many) Kir Royales before Christmas lunch, my mum buys little table presents, which we open after our starter and there is always a mini panic about whether anybody has bought a table present for her. On Boxing Day, we always eat cold meat, homemade chips and pickles, with the wood burning stove roaring away.

For years my Christmas season has begun with making my Christmas cards. I used to make them on the dining table, but nowadays I work in my little studio at the end of the garden, I light a scented candle and listen to the radio with a mince pie to hand. For me there is something completely absorbing and relaxing about the process of making!

A couple of years ago, I made thirty very intricate paper cut Christmas trees to stick onto my cards. On reflection, it surprises me that I ever found the time to indulge in such a time consuming activity. This year, I am making stencilled Christmas cards, which will be so much quicker.

You will need

Plain Cards.

Stencils- I have used my Christmas Tree Stencil for this project.

Stencil Brush.

Spray Adhesive or Low Tack Tape.

Paint for stencilling. (I used a metallic gold stencil paint, but Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Emperor’s Silk work well).

How To

Lightly spray the back of the stencil and place in position on the blank card (you can use tape instead of spray adhesive).

Dip the end of the stencil brush into the paint, removing the excess onto the paint pot lid or a paper towel.  The brush should have very little paint left on it in order to achieve a crisp outline and to prevent paint bleeding underneath the stencil.

Paint through the stencil using a soft circular motion. Carefully lift the stencil and repeat onto the next card.

Stencilling cards is very quick, so make sure you have space to lay the cards out to dry.

cards 1card 6cards 2card 5cards 4cards 3

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A Little Cheer On A Drizzly Day

I have a bit of a thing for glazed cabinets at the moment. I found this one when I wasn’t looking for it, as it often the case. It was one of a pair, but unfortunately the other one had already sold. It was a struggle to fit it in my car and I had to drive home with my head ever so slightly bent forward, but hey, when you find a good piece of furniture!

It was a thoroughly miserable day with little light and lots of drizzle (hence the quality of the ‘before’ picture) but I felt quite cheered by my latest purchase.

To begin with I painted it inside and out with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Paris Grey and then added a second coat to the exterior using Old White. When painting the glass surrounds, there is no need to mask it off,  as the paint wipes off easily once it is dry.

I used the new Orissa Stripe stencil inside the glazed cupboard. This stencil was inspired by a wall in a hotel where I used to stay in Delhi. I kept the brush really dry,  so that the opacity of the pattern fades in and out.  The cabinet was finished off with a coat of wax and then a little sanding on the edges.

GLAZE WOODGREY GLAZEWHITE GLAZE 2glazed cupboard interior bglazed cupboard zoom bglazed cupboard b

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I am a big fan of a little bit of mismatching. Last year when I still had the shop, I went in search of a some sets of vintage champagne glasses at an antique market. I had a conversation with a dealer about all of the odd glasses which she owned and couldn’t sell. She told me that in her house on Christmas morning she puts a selection of mismatched vintage champagne glasses on a tray and in her opinion they looked so much more interesting. Ok, now maybe she was a good saleswoman, but I think she had a point. When you think about all the lovely things which are discarded because they don’t match, because they are no longer part of a full set.

Mismatched chairs look fantastic around a dining table. I actually love a completely mismatched grouping, but here I have unified the chairs by using a cool colour palette with a soft white stencilled motif.

Each chair has been painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Aubusson, Provence and Greek Blue. Remember there is no need to prepare the surface of the wood other than wiping down to remove grease and dust.

I used the Janpath, Jodhpur and Kota stencils which work well together as they are all the same size. The stencil designs were painted with Original which is a lovely soft creamy white. You could also reverse the colour and paint the chair in Original with a coloured stencil on top. I suppose that really the point with mismatching is that the rules don’t really apply, you can do what you want!

3 chairs A 23 chairs close 2

kota jophpur janpath

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Two Day’s Work

This week I have been working on my press release. This is all very new to me and to be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing, but I suppose the most important thing is to do something!

Having written the words I started to pull some photos together and decided I need to work on a couple of new pieces which really show my stencils off. I went in search of some old chairs, but ended up buying a massive wooden chest, which stood forlornly in the corner of the shop. Aha I thought, here is my perfect blank canvas.

I painted it with a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Old White. There was quite a lot of bleed through from the old varnish but this wasn’t a problem once a coat of Paris Grey was added on top. The interior was painted with Scandinavian Pink, which is a not a colour I use very often, but it is a gorgeous colour and it has added some depth to the softness of the exterior. Before I started stencilling, I gave the whole thing a coat of clear wax.

The stencilling was heavily inspired by the beautiful bone inlay furniture I used to see in India. The craftsmanship involved in creating these beautiful pieces is amazing, each piece takes real time, care and skill.

For this chest, I used the Mini Triangles, Rajasthan and Neemrana Border stencils with the Orissa Stripe making it’s debut. I kept the stencil brush really dry with very little paint on it so that the stencilling is really soft. The lay out of the design was built up gradually and once the top and front were completed, it became apparent that I needed to continue around the sides and the back. It took me two days to complete, but I am rather pleased with it. Now, off to find those chairs!

trunk1trunk5trunk4trunk3trunk 2a c
side viewinteriorb

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A Few Mistakes

When I began working on this cupboard I didn’t really know what I was doing. Never having used Relief Stencil Paste before, this piece has been a bit of a journey of discovery. Now, I am feeling ever so slightly addicted and in need of a new project. There are so many possibilities.

I made a few mistakes on this cupboard and it has been through several transformations. At one point, it had white coving and gold hi-lights which was far too fussy, then I painted it back to grey, but the relief work didn’t really show up. Finally after some advise from my mentor I added a wash of watered down Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Old White. Eventually, I am happy with it.

While I was struggling to get this cupboard right, I happened to be listening to a programme on the radio about the importance of making mistakes. The next day I saw a quote on Pinterest which read “mistakes are proof you are trying”. So, instead of feeling frustrated about my mistakes, I have actually ended up feeling quite self righteous!Pine CupboardRelief StencillingWhite wash

grey close upgrey9You can find it here

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