I dont know whether its me getting meaner or prices going up but my latest moan is about the cost of lamps. I did manage to find some in Homebase for £8 which is pretty reasonable but some of them seem very expensive. ( I suspect I am getting meaner)..It could just be that I have got into the habit of thinking carefully about value for money.
Anyway, I mainly live on my pension. If I can save money in one area it gives me more to spend on things like travel
Here’s a lamp I picked up for £1 50 at a car boot. I was mildly surprised to find that it worked just fine. As you can see the shade was broken, and the base was a bit boring. I just don’t like bog standard things that have no individuality. Here’s is the same lamp after I had set my hands on it. Again, its quite difficult to pick up detail when the light is on, but it projects patterns onto the walls. Now some people may prefer the original but if I had to stare at that regularly I would die of boredom. Now I am starting to think of it, I have very few things in my home which are off the peg. I just don’t like the fact that there are thousands of the same item in homes up and down the country, and I hate the way we just throw things away. I must be because I grew up during post War rationing. I painted the base in Annie Sloane’s Chalk paint, Old White, and crackled it with a hair dryer. The lamp shade base was cannibalised and covered in strips of sequined voile left over when I had to cut my curtains down, and I added some remnants of ribbon to give it a bit more colour. Everything was left over from previous projects. The total cost less than £2 50.
You may have seen a post I put up earlier where I did up an old needlework box. I think I mentioned that it was covered in the ubiquitous 1940s varnish and that it was a nightmare to prepare. Here’s my second attempt at doing up an old piece of furniture which was covered in the ‘ubiquitous 1940s varnish’ and I have to say it was only slightly easier. However I have learned a lot doing it so will share the trauma with you.
I decided to cover this with Annie Sloane’s Chalk Paint, choosing Old White and Louis Blue. The choice of blue was forced on me when I realised that I couldn’t fit the tesserae on the side without cutting them. By the time I reached that stage I had already lost the will to live, so painted it instead.
I will summarise. ….
1. I washed it down and didn’t sand it this time. Instead contacted Annie Sloane’s shop and asked about bleed through. They recommended I used a knotting solution. I went out and got it to find this……just take a look at the size of the brush! Undeterred I plodded on putting it over the surface. 2. I decided to start painting. It was very hot and the paint was very thick and hard to paint. This was mistake Number 1. I hadn’t used Chalk Paint before so it took me a while to twig that I should water it down. Up until that point is was FAR to thick – causing me difficulty getting a flat surface. I had to sand down and even then it wasn’t really as flat as it should be. 3. I decided to use up some mosaics I had upstairs and of course chose to line them up by eye, as I didn’t want it too mechanical looking and I needed to adjust the tesserae to the size of the top. This was mistake Number 2. This took AGES. The problem was getting the spaces even, if I adjusted one spot then another would look wrongly placed. I can’t tell you how many times I had to keep redoing it. Even when I thought I had finished and started to grout I realised that it was not sufficiently balanced and had to remove some tiles and move them slightly. While I was doing this I consoled myself that Roman mosaics often seem quite irregular when you look at them, and anyone looking at the Colosseum will tell you that their brickwork often left a lot to be desired. ( We are not talking Egypt here in terms of precision. Of course they covered it in concrete I suppose)
Just look at how wobbly the lines are! Shocking!
Anyway, eventually it was done, which was when I realised I couldn’t do the side panels without cutting the tiles………………
What I have learnt ( the hard way)…………….
NEVER use Chalk Paint outside on a boiling hot day without watering it down.
In future use a ruler when doing the mosaics! I usually do things freeform, the discipline of regularity is much harder than I thought! In the end I gave up!
Now, I have since spoken to a woman who runs a shop selling Annie Sloane’s paint. Her secret, when facing the ‘ubiquitous brown varnish’ is to prepare the surface with car paint primer! Bearing in mind it could be sprayed on I am going to give it a try! At the moment I never want to see another piece of brown varnished furniture ever again! However I have got several large pieces I really need to do! I console myself that old furniture is almost always very well built…………….
A bit of topic but I just had to share this for my American friends Hope you can see it because sometimes you can’t see the Beeb abroad. He has my sympathy! I am sure it sounded like a good idea at the time!
After the success of my last old Ikea lamp I thought I would try another. I chose this Autumn themed one because I liked the colours. The strange strobbing effect is caused by the lightbulb and doesn’t show up in real life. In real life fewer imperfections show, thankfully. I still need to tidy up the edges. Now you realise what this means don’t you? As I have a winter scene and now an Autumn one, I need a Spring and Summer to make a set! But I don’t have any more lamps, and find the price of them shocking. (Rather like pots!) So, the hunt is on to find another lamp at a car boot or Jumble sale. My experience is when you are looking for something you never find it………….
As I have some leftover paint in Annie Sloanes tester pots I thought I would have a bash at painting some outdoor pots. I also thought it would be a good chance to try making my own chalk paint as well for comparison, to see how it stands up. I went to B and Q and they wanted ridiculous amounts for the most basic pots, including over £20 for a larger plastic one! Ceramic ones were often £30 or £40 each, or even more! Can you imagine, if you have a reasonable sized garden you could end up with several hundred pounds worth of pots sitting outside! It wasnt even a fancy plastic one either! I am not paying that! I stomped off to the recycling dump to drop off some stuff and bought this lot of old pots for £3. Now thats a little more like it! I phoned up the shop I get Annie Sloanes paint from to cross check that it was true you didn’t have to seal them for outside. This goes totally against the grain bearing in mind our climate. I have got to know the woman who owns the shop and she told me that she had cross checked this with Annie herself, because it does seem unbelievable. Apparently you should NOT seal it after painting but buff it up and it should be fine against the elements. I thought about this afterwards. If the basic ingredient is Plaster of Paris that does seem correct, after all, they dont varnish your arm after putting a plaster cast on do they! I need to get my skates on planting these pots with Spring bulbs and will give you an update on how they come out.
Isn’t it funny how we have certain scenes which attract us? I particularly like snow scenes and any sea images. This is an old plain Ikea glass lamp I bought a few years back -when I found a napkin with a snow scene I just had to think of somewhere to put it and this lamp has an uneven surface which reminded me of an ice cube. I must admit trying to attach 1 ply tissue onto glass is not exactly easy and at the moment I am alternating between trying to paste the glass directly or pasting the reverse of the tissue on a piece of cling film and then using that to transport it to the item an to provide a surface to smooth down. You may recall I have not done decoupage for over twenty years and so techniques like using napkins is completely new to me. What is exercising my mind at the moment is how to protect the decoupage after it has been attached. I have wrap around varnish but am not sure if it will leave a residue on the glass. I will have to think about it and have tried it anyway. In the meantime I like the snow effect on a light. I have covered all four sides. I have another Ikea glass light I was thinking of using stained glass offcuts on. I will have to think about that as well……I am conscious of the fact I still havent found the green wool…………. In the meantime I am sure there are people out there who a great experts on this, please remember I am not!
Following on from the rediscovery of decoupage, I decided to have a bash at a tray. This is all the more surprising because I never use trays, I am rarely that organised. I am sure it is a matter of habit…I just carry the plate along moaning that its hot! Undaunted by this fact I still got one, specifically because it had a flat surface and was in a charity shop! The paint is Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in English Yellow and the image is from http://thegraphicsfairy.com/. I would have liked the image to have been larger but I can only do something up to A4 size! I gather you can do larger images in sections but that seems a mile away in terms of my current capacity right now. I used Polyvine Dead Flat Wax Finish varnish to seal it. I suppose this means I will have to try using a tray, I did have the novelty of carrying a plate back from the garden with it, it felt most odd and rather superflous! As you can see Annie Slaon’s paint is flavour of the month at the moment. I have been watching US Videos where people complain about how expensive it is, someone was saying it $40 a pot? Of course it is imported, over here its £18 95 a tin ( around $31), although I find it economical in terms of coverage. I havent tried making my own yet. Incidently this colour was very fashionable when it first came out in the 18th century, you can see it at Brighton Pavilion (see 2nd pic)- the favourite retreat of the Prince Regent. A hugely unpopular man. If anyone is interested in the use of synthetic yellow in the Royal Pavilion at Brighton a good description of their use can be found here….http://www.scholarshome.org.uk/mdb3/royal/paper4.htm
At this stage you may note that I have not posted up any more of my Woodland Wreath. There is a simple reason for that, I can’t find the green I was using for the acorn cups……I will probably find it in the car or something. Its possible that Bella, my cat, has gone off with it. Like all cats she never plays with the toys I get her, she much prefers my wool. If and when I find the green I can attach the next stage of leaves and move on!