A few years ago I painted a nest of tables which was bought by somebody living in the USA. They had to pay more for the shipping costs than they did for the actual tables! Painted black with white stencilling, I used the image of the tables on my business card. A little while ago somebody asked me if I had anything similar and as I didn’t, it struck me that I should paint another set, not exactly the same, just similar.
Yesterday I popped out for food and returned with cat food, coffee beans and a nest of mid 20th century tables. That’s not unusual for me!
After a couple of coats of paint I stencilled the tables using a different design for each one, adding lots of pattern but keeping it simple with a monochrome colour palette. Protected by a couple of coats of very matt varnish, these tables are good to go. The question is, good to go where?!
You can find the stencils here
This weekend was meant to be spent doing very little, a lie-in, a late breakfast, a walk in a wood, none of it (well actually I did manage a walk in a wood!). I envy people who can allow themselves to do nothing, it is a skill which I do not possess.
For a while now I have wanted to stencil a floor in my house and by 8.30 am on Sunday morning I found myself on my hands and knees on my toilet floor! As it is a tiny space, it seemed like a good place to begin.
The floor had already been boarded underneath the old lino and that provided the perfect base for a couple of coats of quick drying white floor paint. The border design was stencilled first using the Neemrana Border Stencil. Once completed I measured the width of the floor and marked the centre point. Beginning at the end of the floor nearest the door I positioned the Kota Stencil and then worked back towards the wall. The base of the pedestal was taped with low tack tape in order to protect it from the stencil paint and once dry it was painted with a couple of coats of matt varnish for protection.
I am very happy with my stencilled floor but it has only really whet my appetite and I think the staircase may be at risk next!
Sometimes, something happens which makes you have to adapt your original plans and in my experience that often leads to something more interesting. I teach an after school art class to children in my local area and we have two golden rules, one is that the children can never describe their work as ‘rubbish’ and the other is that they should never be afraid of making mistakes, there is a lot to be learned from mistakes.
When I bought this pair of bedside cabinets I had planned something quite different to how they turned out in the end. The drawers were stencilled using the Relief Stencil Paste followed by a coat of grey paint and lots of stencilling using the Bukhara and Lodi stencils in white to the tops and sides. In theory that should have been it, but two things happened, one was that I didn’t really like the finished design and the other was that as the cabinets are teak there was quite a lot of bleed through which I hadn’t anticipated and so patches of yellow appeared! I had made a mistake with the design and I had made a mistake in not sealing the wood before painting it.
What to do? Be bold I decided. Thankfully it was a lovely day so I was able to work in the garden, I knew it was going to be messy!
I gave the cabinets a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Aubusson which is a lovely deep teal colour. All of my stencilling had now disappeared, but once dry I heavily sanded the paint to reveal some of the stencil design beneath. The 3D stencils on the drawers were sanded more gently, just knocking off the paint on the edges.
Finally I painted on a couple of coats of matt varnish. I definitely prefer the after to the before!
Years ago I used to visit a shop in Delhi called Fab India. It is still there, but it is now a rather smart home furnishing shop. Twenty years ago, it was much more basic, but still filled with the most wonderful block printed tablecloths, tea towels and fabrics. I can’t tell you how much stuff I used to buy from that shop!
Recently I worked on another piece for Reloved Magazine and decided to return to my textile roots. Inspired by those lovely cotton tablecloths from Fab India, I used a selection of my stencil borders and motifs to create a simple, monochrome, Indian inspired pattern.
Working with Permaset screen printing ink the design was built up gradually. Normally I don’t measure spacing when stencilling, but for this project, I measured the positioning of the Jaipur stencil in advance starting from the centre point. A good trick is to photocopy the stencil motif several times and lay them out on the tablecloth to work out the exact positioning.
When stencilling fabric, it is always a good idea to place a piece of paper underneath incase the ink bleeds through. Post-It notes are great for masking off the edges of border stencils when working on corners. The ink takes a little while to dry, but once it is, rub a hot iron over it in order to fix the design and it can then be washed at 40ºC.
Normally I am quite relaxed about possessions in my home, if somebody accidentally spills a glass of red wine at a dinner party I rush for the kitchen roll and all is ok. Red wine spilt over this however……….
When you love doing something, it is a real bonus to be able to share some of your knowledge with people who have a similar interest.
I spent yesterday morning teaching a stencil workshop to seven lovely women, with the help of my teenage daughter who was earning half of an expensive jacket I had bought for her the day before!
We began the workshop by working with the Relief Stencil Paste, so that it would have time to dry before being painted. Using the Jaipur Stencil, it took a matter of minutes to create the lovely raised motifs on MDF boards.
We then covered all of the basics of stencilling, which included cutting a simple stencil from Mylar and how to stencil a border pattern around corners. The main mantra of the morning being, less is more when loading the brush with paint! Finally we ended where we had begun, applying a quick coat of paint to the relief stencilled boards. The results were fantastic.
It is lovely to see people expressing their own creativity when using the stencils, approaching it in a way which wouldn’t have occurred to me. All of the boards they created using the large stencils looked completely different to each other (and made for a great photo!)
All in all, it was a great morning and because I had bought that expensive jacket the day before, I didn’t have to wash anything up!