10 December 2015

The 12 Crafts of Christmas - No.4: The tree decorations

Earlier this week I wrote about the beautiful linen table runner and napkins I created using my paint and my Stencils at Kirstie Allsop's Handmade Christmas Fair and this week I’m going to share another project I worked on at the Fair – Christmas decorations!

The kind team at Art Cuts (a wonderful family-run UK business who make a great range of craft shapes from wood) supplied their beautiful Turtle Dove cut-outs for me to use, and I transformed them using my paint, Chalk Paint®. This is something that it is lovely to do with children if you have crafty kids in your life – although the attention to detail on your design may need to be modified slightly! In fact, this is a really nice thing for the whole family to do together – including all those naysayers who insist that ‘they can’t draw’. All you need is the shapes, Chalk Paint®, a few matchsticks and cotton wool buds!

The technique I use to create the pattern is called 'sgraffito'. The word means ‘to scratch’ in Italian, and that’s exactly how it works – the pattern is ‘scratched’ into wet paint. It’s a technique which is often thought of in relation to ceramics (I’ve written before about how much I love the way in which Grayson Perry uses it), but I’ve been playing around with it for a long time – since I used it to create my logo! – and I love using it with Chalk Paint®.

For the decorations, I started by applying an all-over base colour of Old White, using a wet rag which creates a stain. I chose this technique as I only had 1 hour to complete the whole project, so I needed to make sure the paint would dry quickly! Once dry, I painted the doves in Emperor's Silk – do one of these at a time, rather than thinking of doing each stage by turn, as the paint needs to be wet for the effect to work. Using a matchstick, firmly ‘scratch’ in designs to reveal the white stain underneath (or, of course, whatever colour you have chosen for this). I then used a cotton bud to dot Old White over the surface for a bit of contrast and that folk/boho effect which I was after, but you can make any pattern that works well with your home. Simple often works really well, but please don’t let me stop you creating something as intricate as you like!

For another really cool decoration idea, here's something else I tried out at the Fair!

I invited visitors to my stand to paint a piece of dolls' house furniture which was then hanged on our gorgeous birch Christmas tree. A tremendous way to inject a whole range of colours into Christmas, and isn’t it effective?

Please keep uploading your pictures on Facebook and Instagram – I just love seeing them and follow #12CraftsofChristmas for more Craft ideas in my 12 Crafts of Christmas series.

Yours, Annie

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