Muddy Gets Creative: with Annie Sloan Workshop
It is just possible that you, like me, love the idea of upcycling but are put off by all that faff. (D.I.Y? *yawn*). There are several old pieces in my house that could do with a facelift (I heard that! No I’m not talking about me…) but, at the same time, the idea of sanding and priming wood is about as appealing as de-nitting the dog.
Which is why I was excited to hear that Dovetails Vintage in Sevenoaks does one of the best Annie Sloan chalk paint workshops in the South East, if not the UK peeps! Something I just had to try.
If you haven’t heard of it (although I’m sure you have) Annie Sloan paint requires NO prepping, you slap it on (apparently even an absolute novice can’t go far wrong) no need to for priming or rubbing down. Now, that’s my kind of crafting…
In short, Annie Sloan is the rock and roll brand of the paint world. It’s effortlessly cool (you don’t spend hours prettifying something yet the end result looks dead stylish) and there are no strict set of rules to follow (being experimental is positively encouraged). So it’s not too surprising to learn that the lady behind it, Annie Sloan herself, has a pretty rock and roll back-story. Basically (long story, short) she had to decide between rock stardom and painting.
Seems she made the right decision as it turns out the whole world wants that vintage, lived-in look, that the furniture world refers to as French or Swedish (okay shabby-chic if you must).The paint has soared in popularity over the last couple of years in particular. And luckily for us folk in Kent Dovetails Vintage is the biggest UK stockist with workshops attached that attract people from all over the country.
Joelle who runs the workshops was lively and engaging. Getting creative with chalk paint is so easy, Joelle insisted, it’s almost impossible for anything to go wrong. I decided not to tell her about the time I shook a 5 litre paint pot in our kitchen – upside down and with the lid not quite on. That was some clean up operation. And three hours of my life I’ll never get back.
Happily however, in next to no time, I was brandishing my brush with the best of them. And with comments like: ‘I have been known to paint something straight out of a skip without even wiping or dusting’, Joelle was my kind of cutting-corners connoisseur! She was wonderfully down-to-earth and honest. She gave loads of money-saving tips (use water to stretch your paint out so it will cover several more pieces of furniture than it says it will on the tin) and time saving tips (baby wipes are great for distressing. Er, seriously, what’s in those things!?). It was easy to see why several of the others attending the workshop had travelled from out of county. I heard that recent visitors came from Essex, Berkshire, Manchester and Norwich to name a few.
The paints which come in bang on trend colours – my favourite is the (you-can’t-go-wrong) Paris Grey – can go straight onto just about anything. That’s any kind of wood – varnished or unvarnished – metals, plastic or even the dreaded MDF. You just slap on the paint and seal it with wax (which you buff for a finished, polished look or wipe off the excess if you want matt). Paint outside on a warm, dry day it takes only 10 minutes to dry (inside it’s only half an hour to an hour). That forgotten old piece of pine furniture is transformed into a French country look classic. And just in case you still need convincing, here’s my Before and After piccies so you can see for yourself!
and (drrrum roll please…) AFTER
Now the beauty of this paint is that you could just buy the Starter Pack and get cracking. But if you have any slightly more ambitious plans in mind or fancy upcycling some stuff to sell yourself then the course will be worth every penny. Simply stick the words ‘Annie Sloan’ and ‘furniture’ into an Ebay search and dozens of creations will come up. There’s a whole army of self-taught – or probably Joelle taught – upcycling geniuses out there. And now I’ve done this course I can understand where they’re coming from – painting that’s this easy is very addictive. So if there’s any little bit of you that’s been toying with the idea of revamping something in your home, however small, you might want to pop into Dovetails. From antiques to Ikea – you’ll never look at a piece of furniture in the same way again.
Now the sight of an empty wine bottle is no longer a thing of sadness – I’m thinking quirky vase for the Muddy mantlepiece!
Workshop Part One, £65. Annie Sloan Paint Starter Kit, £29.95 (sale price)
Dovetails Vintage, Bank Street, Sevenoaks TN13 1UW, 01732 453221, dovetailsvintage.co.uk