Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free lighthouse stencil

In keeping with the festive season I will  be making free stencils available and thought it appropriate to start with a lighthouse. If you would like to use the stencil please print out the black and white design and follow the steps below.
One request is that if you do use the stencils please donate something, however small, to one of your local charities in the spirit of giving.

Using either masking tape or adhesive putty stick the design to the stencil material. Stick all four corners and sides as well so that the design does not move. 
You can cut either on a self-healing cutting board or on a piece of corrugated cardboard. It is essential to use some kind of protection when you cut or you will end up with a heavily scored table surface!

Hold your knife at a slight angle as this will give you a clean, bevelled edge. Start cutting your design from the centre, cutting smaller areas before larger ones as the more you cut into your material the weaker it will become. 

Cut towards you, always bearing in mind that you are using a razor sharp blade so keep extra fingers out of the way – this sounds pretty obvious but you do tend to get so involved in what you are doing that slip-ups do occur. 

Cut curves in one fluid stroke turning the stencil rather than attempting to get your arm around the corners. 
The little bits that you cut should almost pop out of the stencil or should come free with a little pressure.

Mistakes and cut bridges can be easily fixed by applying a little adhesive tape to both sides of the stencil and recutting the area.

Here the stencil has been used in shades of blue.
A more colourful version.

For a free shell stencil click here and for a free yacht stencil click here. Have Fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recycle, re-use, redesign: Show a leg!

For more chair makeovers click here

Show a leg!

This rather tired looking chair was of immense sentimental value to its owner as it was a favourite of her late mother’s but over the years it had become dirty.

Being used by her cats as a scratching post had not helped either!

Damage to the arms from being used as a scratching post by the Siamese cats!

We chose a lovely cream brocade fabric with a vine design to complement the room where it was to go. 

We decided to let the chair's rather shapely legs show rather than cover them with a skirt. The wooden legs were sanded and stained a dark brown to contrast with the fabric.

I did away with the buttoning detail as the fabric was decorative enough.

The lovely cream bocade gives a more modern look.

This lovely cream heirloom was the happy result and can now be passed on to her daughter!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taking the boring out of cupboard doors

You can alter the look of a piece of furniture just by painting a little decoration onto an otherwise bland cupboard door and many of these have panels and features that are crying out for a little embellishment.
A boring white cupboard looks fresh and pretty.

This was a plain white cupboard with a narrow, beaded panel on each door. First off, I dragged the background of the panel with a soft moss green glaze.
When this had dried, I stencilled a repeat pattern of stylised daisies on each door and finished the whole effect with a tiny daisy on each door handle.
A closer look at the stencilled door
Here is a similar idea using a lavender stencil also on a panelled door. This time I painted the beading as well to frame the design.

For lots more ideas have a look at my book on Stencils and Stencilling.

Stencils and Stencilling for great stencil ideas

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beach house garland

Summer is coming and with the festive season fast approaching I thought I would try my hand at making a holiday wreath from all my finds on the beach.
I chose shells with mother of pearl showing, kelp, tiny crabs and everlasting flowers. The "holly" is seaweed sprayed white!
Everything, apart from the ribbon and the fixing materials has been picked up and carefully selected from our coastline.

Shells, everlasting spring flowers, kelp and seaweed make a festive garland for a beach house.

To see more beach house decor ideas go to Nautical but nice


Maya @ Completely Coastal said...
Absolutely beautiful!!! Thanks for letting me know! Have a wonderful Holiday!
Anonymous said...
Love it! As an expat Cape Town girl I can appreciate summer down there:) Wish I had that wreath here, mind you!
Wendy said: Yes it looks as if summer has finally arrived. Beach weather at last!
Maya @ Completely Coastal said...
Oh, I posted your wreath on my FB page and will surely feature it on Completely Coastal too. Really (really) love it! You can join me on facebook if you wish: Completely Coastal Facebook Page.
Wendy said...
Thanks Maya, that would be great!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nautical, but nice!

Bright and shining brass starboard lantern

and the portside one too!

The latest project was to restore a pair of old ship's lanterns for use in our beach house. These solid brass navigation lights had years of verdigris, corrosion and just plain dirt on them. The plan was to use them indoors as side lights suspended from a chain.

Years of salt and grime have accumulated on this old ships lantern

The first job was to take the entire fitting apart - lots of silicone spray was used to loosen bolt and nuts and gentle persuasion separated the glass fittings and eventually we had the whole thing in pieces. Now the next hurdle was to clean all the bits. A good old fashioned way to clean brass (and copper) is to mix up a paste of vinegar, salt and flour and paint this thickly over the piece you want to clean.

Salt, vinegar and flour are all you need to clean brass

Coat the brass with the paste and let it work its magic

Leave the paste on overnight and scrub it off in warm water with a scourer and the brass should be clean. It may need another treatment and it might also take on a pinkish tinge - don't worry that is just the copper element in the brass showing up and will disappear with polishing.
Now that all the gunge is off the brass it needs to be polished. A buffing machine helps to do the hard work together with a buffing compound and will have the brass shining brightly in no time at all. If you do not have access to one of these then I am afraid it's brasso and a lot of rubbing.

Buffing the lid of the lantern

All the pieces bright and shiny and ready to be assembled.

To keep the shine on your brass spray about 3 thin coats of clear laquer on each piece making sure the laquer has dried thoroughly before applying the next coat.
Reassemble the fitting with the necessary wiring that is required to connect to the electrical outlet in your house. The port fitting has red filters and the starboard one green filters.

P.O.S.H. - port out......
........starboard home!

This is another stunning brass ship's lantern that has also been cleaned and rewired for use in our house.

Another larger brass lantern that's received the same treatment.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Limed oak chair

Remember the old oak chair that was sorely in need of a facelift?

Sadly in need of some TLC

Well, it got one!


Rather sad, hmmm? One of the feet had been colonised by nasty wood munching crawly things so I did a quick amputation and sprayed the chair thoroughly just in case!
Next a good sanding with the electric sander and by hand for the fiddly bits.
Even with the sanding, the wood looked tired so I decided to lime the oak. Of course none of the local shops had liming paste so I had to mix up my own. Luckily I had a block of beeswax handy (yes, I know its not the kind of thing you generally have lying about, but I did) so I grated some of this with a cheese grater and covered it with turpentine in a glass jar. Left overnight it all dissolves into a thick paste to which I added some artist's Titanium white oil paint. By the way, without the paint this makes a wonderful beeswax polish and you can add some essential oils such as lemon or lavender to make it fragrant.

Grating the beeswax

Now the next step in the liming process is going to seem very harsh - you take a wire brush and give all the oak a good, hard brush to open up the softer grain of the oak so that the lime paste will fill the gaps to give that lovely faded look.
Brushing open the grain  of the oak
Applying the liming wax

Apply the paste with a soft cloth and rub in until you are happy with the result. The beeswax is wonderfully nourishing for old wood which responds beautifully.
Next I needed to make a replacement foot which was attached with a dowel for extra strength.

Making a new foot
Attach the foot with a dowel

Then on to the upholstery work - all the springs needed retying, which was quite a job, and then I built up the seat and reinforced the back with webbing before giving a calico under covering.

The chair in it's lining with webbing on the back rest.

The final fabric was put in place and fixed with upholstery studs. Now, what was once only fit for the scrapheap is a comfortable, sturdy chair ready for years of use once more!

The best seat in the house and so comfy

To see another chair makeover go to From office frump to office vamp

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What to do with all those hand crocheted doilies

Here is another idea that was inspired by my visit to Italy. Have you ever seen those beautiful lace curtains at the windows of the houses in Tuscany? Usually with an old lady keeping watch on the street below or a lazy cat lying on the sill. Something like these:

Well, I thought they were lovely and longed for some too, only luggage restraints did not allow. So how about this as an alternative?
Collect a range of crocheted doilies; sizes and patterns don't really matter but keep to the same colour. Thrift and charity shops sell them for next to nothing!
Measure the window you want to screen and buy a piece of translucent fabric like voile or cheesecloth in a similar colour to that of the doilies - I used white on white and cream on cream.
Your doilies might need a wash or even a bleach if they are white and stained.
Lay out the fabric on a large table or the floor and arrange the doilies until you are satisfied with their positions. Hand tack them to the fabric quite firmly as they tend to move around when stitching.
Using a zigzag stitch, applique around each doily and then cut the fabric from the back of the doily carefully using a pair of small sharp scissors.
Hem and finish off the curtain.
What do you think? If you make some yourself do contact me to post a photo of them on the blog to inspire others!

Of course, Emma the Burmese cat does add to the final effect!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tuscany Tables

I am still working on the other oak chair and it is taking rather a long time so I thought I would brighten my blog with some tables that I painted shortly after a visit to San Gimigiano in Tuscany.
I saw the most beautiful, hand painted ceramic tables there full of bright fruit and flowers. Of course they weighed a ton and cost a fortune so I decided to paint my own using stencils that I designed and cut.

To try and capture a little of the Italian flavour I painted this one with olives and lemons with a blue border. After I had finished I did a crackle effect to try to get a little more of the 'feel' of the ceramic tables.
Here is a closer look:

The other table is painted with our lovely South African arum lilies that are flowering at the moment. I included sprigs of lavender to add a little colour and a few pretty butterflies and bees, just for fun. Again I finished off with the crackle then a coat of varnish to provide an easy to wipe surface for outside dining.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mr Dithers' chair - from office frump to office vamp!

While the next two coats of varnish were drying I cleaned and re-assembled the mechanism that rotates the chair.
(By the way - a little tip that I learned the hard way - don't be tempted to leave your varnish drying outside in the sun as every flying insect known to man will descend on it and be forever embedded. Then it will be back to stage one!)

The seat of the chair needed some reinforcing so I used hessian webbing strips to add some extra firmness before starting the process of building up the seat base. A layer of batting finishes off this process to give a comfortable yet firm seat.

The seat was then tightly covered in calico to provide a good smooth foundation for the final covering and I repeated the process with the chair back.

After all this preparation, finally the exciting part - putting on the final layer. I used a black piping round the seat base and studs at the corners to finish off. What do you think? Does it deserve a space in the office again?