27 November 2015

Getting to grips with Decoupage

I've been playing around with decoupage a lot in my studio recently. It is so adaptable – you can use it in any number of ways to create any number of styles! With its roots in Siberia and the Far East, it was in eighteenth century Italy that decoupage became popular in the mainstream for use on furniture in a bid to imitate the beautiful lacquerware from Asia.

The idea is to ‘seal in’ pictures or motifs, which traditionally would involve applying 30-40 layers of varnish before sanding off for a smooth finish. My all-in-one Decoupage Glue and Varnish makes the whole process so simple. It is water based, matt and – most importantly – quick drying, which means that building up the necessary layers for a smooth finish needn’t take an age!

Apply it generously to your piece – make sure you paint enough on so that it will stay wet, that’s really important! Start at the top of each paper cut out and apply carefully. Once you’re happy that it’s straight, brush the my Decoupage Glue and Varnish over the paper. One coat should fix it in place, and, when its dry, sand it back a little before adding more layers until your surface is smooth. Finish off with Clear Soft Wax and voila!

For a very grand take on decoupage, I must share the picture above from Tea and Roses, my Stockists based in Shropshire, UK. Isn’t it stunning? Clever Deborah painted the whole piece in a thick coat of  Chalk Paint® in Graphite before applying the paper butterflies using my Decoupage Glue and Varnish, and created that wonderful rich patina using Craqueleur and Dark Wax. As a finishing touch Deborah gilded the edges using my Gold Size and Brass Leaf, which brings it all together beautifully.

My Stockist Ivory & Pitch’s beautiful chest of drawers (below on the left) is an homage to the brilliant Swedish artist and designer Josef Frank. I adore Frank's botanical work, and their take on his style is fresh and summery. They also used Graphite to paint the piece, but mixed with a hint of Barcelona Orange to soften the colour.


For a more contemporary example, my Stockists Becky and Jenny who run Fig and Frolic in Iowa, USA have used typography to transform their chest of drawers. I think this would work really well in a Warehouse setting (see my book Room Recipes for Style and Colour for some other great ideas on this stripped back, rough-luxe look).

And decoupage isn’t just for furniture – my first Painter in Residence, Janice Issitt transformed her bathroom by decoupaging the walls, and then picked out the key colours from her paper cut outs with my paint, Chalk Paint® (shown below left). You can read more on that project in this earlier post.

Years ago my neighbour in France, Marie Gaillard gave me an old sideboard (shown above right). I painted and decorated for my house in Normandy, and it can be seen in an old book of mine called Annie Sloan's Decoupage.  I originally painted it Aubusson Blue over a base of Barcelona Orange, but recently added more Barcelona Orange and some Olive to draw out the colours from the brightly coloured wrapping paper that I'd cut into a shape resembling a plant in a pot – applied with my Decoupage Glue and Varnish. I’ll use anything that catches my eye!

Do upload any pictures of your own decoupage projects to my Facebook Page and share the inspiration!

Yours, Annie

19 November 2015

How to stencil a chair with Chalk Paint®

I have been dying to show you my new video tutorial about stencilling. My stencil designs and the way I work with them is quite free and, I hope, liberating!

In this two-part tutorial, I combine two of my stencils in random overlapping patterns to transform an old dining chair. It’s a fairly standard splat back chair with a good central panel for stencilling on. I love playing around with my stencils and I want to point out that just because you’re using a stencil with a particular design, it doesn’t have to inhibit your own creativity – mix them up, take the elements you like or those which are right for a particular piece from each, and see what you come up with. It's all about overlaying different patterns to come up with something unique.

For this particular project, I’m using my Lavender stencil and overlapping it with my Classical Bird – an idea inspired by one of my Stockists which I liked so much I had to try out for myself!

Before I even get started on a project, I like to sketch out the look I’m going for. For this tutorial, I decided to use Duck Egg Blue from the Chalk Paint® palette as my base colour. Although it can be tempting to stencil against a white background, it can be quite stark and using a mid-tone, fairly neutral colour will make the pattern sing out, especially if you’re using Old White in the pattern, as I do in this piece.

First, I paint the chair. You’ll see I tip it upside down whilst I’m painting it, as this makes the job so much easier. I’m using the larger of my Pure Bristle Brushes to apply the Duck Egg Blue, and this helps bring out the texture of the wood.

Once the first coat is dry, I can start stencilling. I already have a good idea of where I want the pattern to be, so I rely on my judgement when it comes to positioning the stencil.

Using sponge rollers makes overlapping stencil patterns a quick and very straightforward process. (For smaller, more detailed designs, I’ll use my Stencil Brush to stipple the pattern on). I’ve just brought out two sizes of Sponge Roller and I use both in the video. Don’t overload the roller with paint, and be gentle but firm. Remember, if the finish is denser in some areas and lighter in others that can work very well.

Although I’ve a good idea of what I want to achieve, I don’t always end up following my sketch in every detail. Random can be good sometimes, go with the flow and enjoy seeing where you may end up. Once I’m happy with the design, I add my Clear Wax and that’s really all there is to it!

I've shared Part 1 of my tutorial above, you can find Part 2 on my YouTube channel.

Also - I must tell you – I’m very excited because tomorrow I’ll be doing a demonstration with Kirstie Allsopp again, at the Handmade Christmas Fair in Manchester. She’s going to be joining me at my stand where I'll be teaching how to create a very special Christmas table runner with stencils and stamps (so easy and quick and no sewing involved!). I’ll be sharing pictures and tips in a few weeks, so watch this space!

Yours, Annie

13 November 2015

Introducing the Annie Sloan Mini Project Pack

I’m so excited to introduce my new Mini Project Pack – I’ve been working on this for quite some time. Each Pack includes two 100ml small project pots of Chalk Paint®, a 120ml tin of both Clear Wax and Dark Wax, and one of my small Pure Bristle Brushes – everything you need to create something totally you. And the beauty of them is that you get to choose your own colours, so if you’re buying one as a gift, you can make it personal and just right for the lucky recipient. A 100ml pot of my paint will cover around one square metre, so there’s enough in each pack to transform a bedside table, for example, or a favourite chair. Or you may prefer to do several smaller items – perhaps a group of picture frames or candle holders?

In this image above, we’ve shown the Pack with my Provence and Arles colours – perfect for creating the modern retro look which is so popular at the moment (see the Heals table below). These colours lend themselves so well to that smooth, contemporary aesthetic. Scandi-philes out there may like combining Country Grey with Louis Blue (see my Swedish inspired chair below). These cool, airy shades are perfect for recreating the light, classic Swedish look which I adore. I also love combining the vibrancy of Barcelona Orange with Château Grey, to bring out those warm green tones. Or, a flash of Emperor's Silk against a more austere colour, like Duck Egg Blue. You can see all the colours in the Chalk Paint® range online but I always recommend seeing them in store or ordering a Colour Card to get a truer reflection of my colours. Colours will always vary from screen to screen.

With the Mini Project Pack, you can use the colours in layers and then sand back for an authentic distressed look. Of course, you don’t have to use both colours on one piece. Just one colour will create a really strong look – or mix two colours together to make your own distinct shade. Do have a look on my YouTube Channel for my Tutorial on mixing paint. In the video, I’m mixing colours for a mid-Century modern chest of drawers, which I wanted to match perfectly to a particular vase, but there are plenty of other videos on there, which feature a whole range of styles.

The Clear Wax will give a wonderful velvety finish (and help protect the finished piece from the vicissitudes of everyday life). This is also where my Dark Wax comes into its own. Work some over the top of the Clear Wax to bring out texture and don’t be scared of it! Yes, it looks dark at first, but experiment with it – work it in for real depth and wipe back the excess with Clear Wax.

You can use the Pure Bristle Brush to apply both the paint and the waxes. Just be sure to wash your brush out in warm water and hang to dry from its handle.

So once you've had a go with one of my new Mini Project Packs, please share your projects me online – upload them to the Made It My Own gallery or tag @anniesloanhome Instagram or Twitter. I can’t wait to see what you create!

Yours, Annie

11 November 2015

Tim Gould's dream cupboard

For his second Painters in Residence project, Tim Gould was inspired by Mexican art to transform a kitchen cabinet into a bold statement piece using Chalk Paint®.

Tim started by creating a neutral background using Country Grey and Paris Grey, and then highlighted the doors and panels with French Linen. Using Graphite – a soft black from the Chalk Paint® palette – he painted the frames around the doors to create a border. Then, with a small artists brush, Tim softened the edges of the frames by applying small dots of lighter colours that were also used on different areas of the cupboard.

Tim created his illustrations on Adobe Illustrator and printed them on to vinyl to use as stencils. He painted these in with Barcelona Orange, Antibes Green, Provence, English Yellow, Emile and other bright colours from my colour palette. He outlined each image in Graphite and then hand-painted dots and other embellishments to pull everything together.

Finally, Tim painted inside the left-hand cupboard in Graphite, and inside the right in Pure, adding a cartoon image with typography in each. I love how the result reflects Tim's distinctive wit and personality.

Yours, Annie

Follow Tim on InstagramFacebook, and his website: http://www.objectables.co.uk/

And remember to follow #PaintersInResidence on Instagram and Facebook, as well as my Painters in Residence board on Pinterest.

6 November 2015

A flying visit to New York

Me next to a Damien Hirst painting in my hotel!
My Stockists are the most important people to me and to my business. It’s all about them. I am their ambassador – and they are certainly mine! Recently I spent five days in New York and was thrilled to meet up with so many great Stockists, many of whom have become firm friends over the years. And, staying in downtown Manhattan, I was able to slip away and do another thing I really love, taking pictures of New York’s fantastic buildings to play around with on Instagram. From graphite grey modern towers to these ornate and intricate brownstones near Gramercy Park. I was also extremely taken by this fire truck with its explosive and vibrant colours.

I loved the colours of this fire truck!
I arrived on Sunday, and Monday morning was spent filming a pilot for The Design Network (an online community and video network) - I’m dying to share some of the footage, but I’m not allowed to yet! There was me and three of my Stockists: Liz Western Brantley (Liz Douglas Designs) who set the whole thing up; Justin Power (Pioneer Goods) and Suite Pieces’ Amanda Peppard. 
From R-L Amanda Peppard, Me, Justin Power, and Lizzy (my daughter-in-law)
After a fabulous, creative morning I was lucky enough to have a very sociable afternoon! We took over well known French Style, New York cafe, Pigalle, just off Broadway, for a giant tea party. I was absolutely delighted, and honoured, to meet over 40 stockists from the New York area – well, broadly speaking. In fact, they came from Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Virginia and even Minnesota. I got the chance to chat with everyone – old friends, stockists of many years standing, and it was a chance to meet some of my newer stockists, which is always exciting. 

Verdigreen Home, in the East Village
Me, Azie & Chettie from Verdigreen Home
On Tuesday morning I went to meet with various magazines, and in the afternoon I visited another Stockist, Verdigreen Home in the East Village. The owner, Azie Shelhorse, came to Oxford for training over the summer, so it was wonderful to have the chance to go to her adorable shop and meet her assistants and, of course, her very lovely customers. One of my very favourite things, which I really, really love, is visiting their shops, and seeing how they present my products, it’s a constant source of inspiration.

Mary Anne and I back in the 70s (and that's Rod in the background)!
In the evening it felt like I’d travelled back in time – one of my oldest friends, Mary Anne, was with me in my band, The Moodies. She lives in NY and is helping a friend who is writing his thesis on the correlation between art schools and the music of the 70s/80s. He seemed to know more about that time than I did! And even mentioned that a Moodies film was shown as part of an exhibition at Tate Liverpool a couple of years ago – I’d love to have seen that.

I was flying out on Thursday, but before I left, I had time to pop over to Greenpoint (it’s the new Williamsburg – where all the hipsters hang out!) in Brooklyn and catch up with Amanda Peppard and her girls at Suite Pieces – what a cool place. We chatted over pizza, which rather completed my New York experience for 2015.
Me, Amanda Peppard & her team from the 3 Suite Pieces shops

Yours, Annie