Stencil, Stencil, Stencil.

The human race have been using stencils for thousands of years. There is evidence of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all having used stencils. In fact, stencils have been used by many cultures around the world, throughout history to create decorative imagery.

One of the things I battle with when I tell people that I design stencils and use them on my painted furniture, is the perception of what stencilled furniture looks like. I know they are thinking about the stencil overload of the ‘8os and ’90s.

The blog Apartment Therapy recently posted one of my ‘before and after’ projects, which proved to be quite contentious. There were over 60 comments about the piece which debated the rights and wrongs of painting wooden furniture. There were a couple of comments in particular which referred to the use of stencils and the expectation of what that would look like. You can read the comments here .

 There are many people out there doing really beautiful things with stencils and not just on furniture. There are gorgeous things happening on floors and walls and fabric too. I for one am going to continue with my mission to change the way people think about stencilling. post

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Oberoi Stencilled Chest

This wooden chest is made out of really solid pine, but it was painted in a very shiny, very yellow varnish and I wanted to give it a more sophisticated look.

I painted two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Graphite to begin with and then gave the whole piece a coat of clear wax followed by a coat of dark wax. The Graphite colour becomes really deep and rich when coated with the dark wax. For this project, I tried something a little different for the stencilling by using a pearlised white paint. It has a lovely subtle shimmer and translucence.

As usual, the stencil layout wasn’t planned in advance. I began with the outside border on the top and then gradually built the design up around it. To my credit, I managed to leave some of the surface plain. I really lose myself in the process of stencilling and sometimes I just need to stop but I’m having such a nice time that I just carry on!!

I even managed to leave the interior unpainted, but I did add the Jaipur Stencil as a little surprise!

This piece is called Oberoi Stencilled Chest, because when I travelled regularly to India, I used to stayed in the Oberoi Hotel. It was full of beautiful pieces of decorative furniture which have obviously inspired me.

This is the finished piece, you can find it here.

trunkblack trunktrunk 5trunk8trunk interiortrunk 8

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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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