23 March 2014


I’m a big fan of frottage – in case you look it up I’m not referring to the slightly rude definition!

No, what I am referring to is one of my favourite paint effect techniques that brings a bolder and more distinctive ageing process to any surface – in an instant!

Here is an example I created on a big table currently sitting in my Oxford shop. It is simply painted with three Chalk Paint® colours: Aubusson Blue, Scandinavian Pink and Cream. 

You often see ‘the look’ in Swedish county house rooms, I think partly because of the old textured paints they have long used over all those wooden interiors, and partly in the way it is allowed to peel off over time. Here’s a fantastic frottaged door I recently snapped in Sweden while researching material for a new book:

There’s the rub
Actually the term frottage is French for ‘rubbing’. Quite simply you apply a second colour of thin, diluted paint to cover a dry base colour. Before that add-on colour is dry, you lay newspaper or plain absorbent paper over the paint and rub it down with your hands, then lift it off. Et voilá. The effect is to remove paint unevenly.

I’ve been using this technique and variations of it to achieve this look for 25 years. Below is a recent step-by-step example I applied to a door I’d already painted using Chalk Paint® in Duck Egg Blue.

1. Use two colours from the Chalk Paint® range that are close in tone. For the door shown below, I used Chateau Grey over Duck Egg Blue. After the first coat of paint is dry (or if you are applying to an old painted surface), dilute your second paint colour with water so it drips a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Use an oval brush (like my Pure Bristle Brushes) to paint a section quickly that is the size of your paper.

3. Lightly crinkle or crush your paper a bit on a flat surface first and then re-flatten it to get creases. Now again quickly press the flattened sheet of paper over the just-painted area and rub it all over with your hands.

 4. Peel away the paper carefully and you will see uneven and blotchy paint, some flat bits, some textured and some stripped back to the first paint.

5. Repeat the process 2-3-4, over the rest of the surface and then, when it’s all dry, add clear wax. 

For an effect that utilizes an old, crumpled piece of newspaper to get that uneven,“several-layers” look, ‘frottage’ ain’t bad! Try it yourself.

Yours, Annie

*Top 2 photographs by Christopher Drake. Last 4 images from my recent book, 'Colour Recipes for Painted Furniture and more', published by CICO, photography by Christopher Drake.

12 March 2014

Amsterdam: X-rated? No underrated

I’ve just had a quickie in Amsterdam to do with a new publishing project. This week I went over to research and photograph loft interiors for a chapter in my new book (getting very excited about that and will post more on it later). Anyway, Amsterdam is the pièce de résistance when it comes to converted warehouse living (okay there is NYC too, but they’re not 17th century!).

Gables galore
Many of the lofts, though now thoroughly modern inside, date back 400 years when the bustling city was home to the Dutch East India Company and was quite simply the financial centre of the world (it had the first stock exchange building). From these buildings, the fabulous wealthy trade in spices and most of what is now Indonesia was controlled. Something of that sense of power and control remains on the waterfronts of the city. When I’m there, walking along the canals, I can’t help thinking Amsterdam really is an extraordinary place – a very personal, small spaced, intimate city, with everyone on their bikes. All quite tight and regimented in some parts and very loose in others. What a city . . . very underrated and incredibly beautiful.


Where it all started
Of course, I’ve been to Amsterdam and Holland many, many times. I’ve been selling my paint, Chalk Paint®, there since the early 1990s. In fact, Holland is the country where I first got the inkling that I might really be able to turn my dream of developing my own paint into reality. 

Back in the 1980s, I travelled to Utrecht to do a couple of workshops on decoupage and other techniques (helped by a Dutch contact and Dutch shop who were keen on old paints). We were staying in the hotel across the road and bizarrely David Bowie was staying there too. (I say “bizarrely” because I had met him when I was in my band The Moodies in my rock-playing days. . .). But that’s another post!

One of the attendees on the course was from Belgium. He picked up on my comment that I would love to do my own paint and said he knew of a factory that could help me. So I went out to this factory in Belgium and the rest is paint history. . .

It’s amazing that Holland, which isn’t a big country, has such a fantastic art and painting heritage and, I’m delighted to say, over 30 Annie Sloan Stockists! Paulien at Heart and Home Interiors in Moordrecht does a fantastic job as my European distributor, and the Dutch publisher of The Annie Sloan Work Book. So to my stockists in the Netherlands: Dank u wel’!

Yours, Annie