Blog, Meet the Maker, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker, the Queen of paint, Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan has just launched her third Bookazine , The colourist (hard copy, editorial like a magazine, no adverts like a book). Here is the interview I did with in her, in her eclectic studio and headquarters, about her life, passion and rise to fame. Annie Sloan is known for her paint company and in particular her chalk paints. She also produces at least one book a year on different aspects of painting, decorating and up-cycling furniture. Recently she added a limited edition of printed textiles to her products. 

JB Did you go to art school originally and if so where and what did you study?

AS I went to Croydon art school to begin with and then I finished at reading University, I was at art school for seven years. Stared off doing a foundation, which I actually did for two years whilst I tried to figure out what I was going to do. I wanted to do everything!! In the end I chose Fine Art because Fine Art seems to be the basis of everything.

JB Annie I met you many moons ago when we were both craft authors. Can you tell us how you made the leap from being an author to running your international paint company?

AS Yes I remember well!! I wrote books and I was also going out and painting for people who had commissioned pieces. I had a young family and I wanted to be able to have something that I was doing and making but that could be sold whilst I was still raising my children. I was looking for something, I got the idea for paint from other paints that were around at the time. People were beginning to think back to traditional paints such as milk paints. From that idea I started to think about what I could make, and one thing led to another.

JB What made you want to produce your own paint and was it difficult to find a manufacturer?

AS Once I became keen to make a paint, I happened to mention it whilst out for dinner in Utrecht. I spoke to a Belgium man who just happened to know someone who owned a paint factory and made paint.

JB You have to create a range of colours and obviously some will sell better than others, was it difficult in the beginning to know which ones would sell best?

AS I wasn’t thinking about selling to be honest, I was thinking about what colours I would want and need. Money doesn’t come first.  I was already painting furniture and I was after certain traditional colours that weren’t available. It was important to me that I could mix colours to make other colours, just like an artists paint palette.

JB Can you influence sales of certain colours by presenting a fabulous upcycled project on your web site or blog?

AS We do know that when we get something printed in a popular magazine, we often see an influx in sales of that particular product. I think that’s the same in the shop, if I painted something in Antibes, people would buy more of that colour.

JB You sell abroad do any of your suppliers hold franchises?

If so, how does this work?

AS No we don’t have any franchises at all, the reason being that we are a creative company and I feel to offer someone a franchise is too restrictive. Creative people need to be able have there own style, we just look for wonderful shops to sell the paint, run workshops and be inspiring. We love passionate people to get involved.

JB Are any members of your family involved in running the business and if so what roles do they perform?

AS My husband works with me, he is in charge of the finances. He’s the calm cool one!! My middle son Felix is the Brand Director and has a Graphic Design background, he’s very much like me but also completely different. Felix’s partner Lizzy is also involved in the business, she does the Digital Marketing but at the moment has just had her third baby so she is on maternity leave.

JB What is a typical working day like for you or is there no such thing?

AS No such thing!! Every day is different, tomorrow I am off to Venice, we make some of our woven linens , so I am off to do some colour matching there- it’s important to get these things right! Last week I was at conference in Rotterdam with our European distributors. I was painting yesterday, working on some new products which I am excited about. We are painting furniture for photo shoot in London next week. I am also doing plenty of events this year. (Handmade Fair in London September and  I also do The Country Living Fair). Things are very busy!!

JB One of the reasons I am interviewing successful women who are over forty is that they have often had to take a career break, or had to slow down to deal with child care and or aged parents. Have you ever had to deal with either of these of issues and did it impact on your creative life or business?

AS Yes and no, I didn’t really start the business until my children were a little bit older, I was 42 when I started making the paint and running the business. I wanted be a around when the kids were small so I suppose I put it hold for awhile, I always worked but was able to be there when they were ill and look after them.

JB You run creative workshops at many different events and venues. Do you enjoy doing them?

AS Yes I do! I love meeting people, I find people so interesting.

JB You collaborated with Oxfam producing a colour for them how did this come about?

AS Well it was just one of those magical things. Oxfam are based in Oxford, hence the name Oxford and Famine, and they were looking for a paint company to work with. The discovered that we were also in Oxford, it was a marriage made in heaven. They asked us if we were keen to collaborate and I didn’t even think twice about it.

JB What did it involve and did you enjoy the experience? AS It was one of the most excellent experiences of my life, so impactful. I went to Ethiopia and made a colour inspired by my travels. It makes you realise that people are people, for me it confirmed that money is not what it’s about- it’s about other things. The people there are just amazing, they do need things but they are still vibrant and positive.

JB What is the best part of your work and what is the worst part?

AS Collaborating with some amazing people and groups, it’s just so incredibly special to work with some wonderful people and places. It’s open up so many worlds for me, such as Oxfam. Worst part endless days were there are just so many meetings and I can’t get any painting done.

JB Who or what inspires you?

AS The Punk approach to life is absolutely fabulous- anyone can do anything!! You don’t have to be posh, you just have to be interesting. People inspire me, I talk to everybody and want to find out as much as I can about others.

JB How long have you been working as a professional  designer?

AS I suppose since 1975, so guess over 40 years…oh gosh!!

JB What advice would you give to any designer starting out today?

AS Don’t give up, practice and keep at it. Trust your gut. It doesn’t happen overnight. Someone once criticized me in Art school and it really had an effect on me, don’t let criticism put you off!!

Many thanks Juliet. Photography by Antonia Attwood RCA

Blog, Press Show Picks

Thinking of an interior update? Look no further than Marks & Spencers Autumn Winter 2019 range

I, like many of you, am saddened by the downward spiral that M&S seem to have got themselves into. Apart from Bra’s and pants, nothing in their fashion range has appealed to me for a long time. However they have excellent food offerings, and their interior products and furniture are stylish well made and well priced.

With the changing season as we move towards Autumn, we instinctively feel the pull towards a cosy, welcoming space to withdraw into.

Whether your interiors preferences are inspired by rich colours, warm tonal shades or restful neutrals M&S Autumn Winter collection offers simple stylish updates for any home to create that perfect retreat from the busy day.

         Contemporary designs are blended with classic influences to create a timeless collection that will give your home enduring style.

Decorative accessories and statement textiles offer an instant  interior refresh  alongside modern upholstery and furniture designed with on-the-go family living in mind.

 Seasonal colour highlights of peacock tones, sea foam and teal are paired back with an accent of warm nectarine to kick off the new season. Classics are re-imagined in casual shapes and textures, while layered textiles and metallic accessories offset easy living with a soft, modern glamour.

Decorative florals adorn plush velvets for a new take on maximalism, while delicate blush corals are paired with deep aquamarine and petrol tones for a bold yet sophisticated interior.

Underpinning the colour stories for the season, this new take on cleansing neutrals creates a stylish canvas on which to layer your favourite pieces- creating an oasis of tranquil, that will always remain timeless. Yet again it feels as if the Scandi look is a strong influence.Casual layering and relaxed textiles in calming tones of ecru and warm grey make for easy styling and create a war, serene palette for the home.

         This Autumnal story of rich mulberries spans a jewel-toned palette of deep boysenberry, rich oxblood and delicate heather.

Highlights of dark charcoal and black give this classic colour story a contemporary feel, while statement prints in casual fabrics are juxtaposed with marble and brass accents for a glamorous feminine collection of seasonal pieces.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews, Makes

With Oxfam encouraging us to buy second hand and to recycle this month, I am posting a review of the book I wrote in 2011. The Shirt Off His Back. A book full of ideas to re-love and upcycle old shirts.

by Juliet Bawden and photographed by Caroline Arber

This book review first appeared on the Sewing Directory web site and was written by Fiona Pullen

This innovative up-cycling book makes use of a material we all have around us – Men’s shirts. Those of us with men in the house will undoubtedly have, no longer, used shirts lurking at the back of wardrobes. Those who don’t have a shirt-wearing male to acquire shirts from can pick them up fairly cheap from the charity shop. Plus of course there is no reason why women’s shirts can’t be used for these projects either.


The projects in this book are cleverly catagorized by type of shirt used to make them: businessmen’s shirts, creative men’s shirts, outdoorsy men’s shirts and sporty men’s shirts. The projects include soft toys, quilted duvet cover, a beach bag, storage boxes, and a pretty peg bag and they make use of the whole of the shirt including, cuffs, collars and buttons.


The instructions for each project are set over several pages with large step by step photos to guide you as well as a photo of the finished project plus any templates you need are at the rear of the book. The book is easy to follow and would be suitable for all levels of experience.

Published by Jacqui Small

Blog, Makes

During Oxfam’s month of buying only second hand, why not up cycle an old jumper to create a new cushion? Here I show how I re-loved a giddy goat sweater to create a cushion.

Goat Jumper

I loved this “Joseph” sweater, I bought it second hand  when my daughter was a baby. I had worn it to death and washed and washed it. In the end it was so felted I got a very talented lady to knit me a new one and I made a cushion out of the original.

You will need

1 Sweater

Sewing machine

Thread

Scissors

Seam unpicker

needle and wool

Old cushion pad

Instructions

  1. Using the seam un-picker, open up the side seams.
    4 unstitch side seams.JPG
  2. Cut two rectangles from the front and the back of the sweater, and with right sides facing,  pin and then using a 1 cm seam allowance , sew them together round 3 sides. Leave what was the bottom of the sweater open, as they are neat edges.
    6 sew sides seams together .jpg
  3. Turn the cover through, insert the cushion pad, close with an over sew stitch.
    8 Put cushion pad  inside and sew open seam .jpg

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Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in the Cotswolds

A new blaze of colour in yet another new book this summer from Kaffe Fassett. I do so love this man’s eye for colour, and this book doesn’t disappoint.

Folded Ribbon

20 Designs for Patchwork and Quilting

Kaffe Fassett

“ This book is really another homage to the long, rich history of the folk art of quilts. I picked Hidcote Gardens for the location, for the photography and because it was the first British Garden to open my eyes to the English genius for creating great theatrical gardens. I hope in this humble book you get enough of an impress ion of my favourite English Garden.” Kaffe Fassett

Sunny Zig Zag

In this twenty first installment of Kaffe Fassett’s ever-popular series of patchwork and quilting books, Kaffe has chosen to show off his latest range of fabrics by revisiting many of his favourite medallion quilt blocks.

Photographed on location at the world-famous Hidcote Manor Garden in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside, these delectable quilts find their perfect setting among the brilliant flower borders, avenues of trees, and stunning architectural features that make Hidcote one of the most visited gardens in the UK.

Autumn Chintz

Medallion quilts have universal appeal and the simple framework of the medallion design makes a great vehicle for Kaffe’s eye-catching colour combinations in his brilliant range of fabric designs.

Malachite Jupiter

Assisted by his team of designers and makers, Kaffe has created an exquisite and varied range of 19 medallion designs, among them the rich Berry Ice Cream quilt, photographed in Hidcote’s world famous Red Border; the dramatic Dark Gameboard, photographed against the geometric precision of Hidcote’s famous topiary hedges; and soft Flowery Jar, its pink and blue themed design echoing the colours of the flowers in Hidcote’s early summer border.

Lavender Ice Cream

Photographed on location by Debbie Patterson

Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in the Cotswolds provides all the basic instructional text, diagrams, and templates to make the quilts, plus a section on basic patchwork techniques for less experienced quilters.

9781641550840 | PB with flaps | £25 | Taunton | distributed in the UK by GMC publications

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Pretty Pastel Style

Decorating interiors with pastel shades by Selina Lake

published by RPS £19.99

I have read and reviewed quite a few Selina Lake’s books, and I admit I love them. They all have one thing in common they are fantastically styled and beautifully shot.

I picked this book up in a thrift shop, and like her other books, this one is lovely to look at. It has been written by Joanna Simmons, a well-known interior journalist, and photographed by Catherine Gratwicke.

At the time the book was written, 2013, pastels were enjoying a comeback. We are not talking sugary pinks of little girls bedrooms but something much more subtle.

         According to the book’s blurb, In Pretty Pastel Style, Selina Lake shows you how to use this truly versatile colour palette to create beautiful spaces that are feminine without being girlie, colour-rich without being garish.

The book first walks you through the Elements of the look including, modern pastels and vintage pastels. It also shows creativity in craft projects.

Details are also shown with pretty images of cleverly juxtaposed flowers, interior accessories and textiles. Interiors are explored to including individual items of furniture and whole rooms. So having read the book, I come away not exactly raving about it. I think it has more style than substance. However, because of its beauty, it is a book that will sit on my coffee table in all its prettiness, and that I guess is what coffee table books are about!

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The web site Design*Sponge is closing 31st August

To honour a great web site here is a review of the book Design*Sponge At Home

By Grace Bonney

Published by Artisan $35

The brilliant talented and inspirational Grace Bonney is closing down her web site ‘Design*Sponge.’ She was always well ahead of the game when it came to web sites and inspiring content. With this in mind I was thrilled to come across one of her books in a charity shop, Called ‘Design*Sponge at Home’ It came out in 2011

It even has a forward by Jonathan Adler.

In the book’s introduction Grace describes how she set up her web site in 2004 not realizing what a storm would come of it. She had always believed that good design didn’t have to come with a high price tag or with a professional degree.

         Even though no one joined the discussion at first, Grace was delighted to have an outlet to express her love of design and decorating. Within weeks her blog was eliciting comments and e-mails and she felt like she was communicating with a community that she hadn’t previously known existed.

         When she was writing this book she said “Today, I wake up every morning and share news and inspiration from the design world with an audience that could fill Madison Square Garden. (How cool would it be if we could meet up every day like that?) It is quite simply a dream job.”

The first part of the book focuses on one of Grace’s favourite pastimes: sneaking a peek inside some of the most inspiring homes she has seen. Every home featured in the book is packed with ideas that anyone can copy in their own houses. In addition to practical tips on decorating and renovating, you learn about the history behind design classics such as Chesterfield sofa’s and Hudson Bay blankets.

         Inspiration and knowledge is only half the battle when it comes to designing the home of your dreams, so the second half of the book features do-it-yourself projects that have been tested by the team of editors of the book.

There are also Before and After makeovers featured with hints on how to turn a dowdy flea market dresser into a design delight, or on a larger scale, how to transform a dark hole of a kitchen into a modern chic space for cooking and entertainment.

This is the ultimate décor bible. The book includes home tours from artists and designers, clever DIY projects to help personalize your space, step-by-step tutorials on everything from hanging wallpaper to doing your own upholstery, a flower workshop with bouquets for every budget, and amazing before and after transformations.

With hundreds of inspiring tips and photo’s this is the only design book you will ever need.

Below is part of the letter that Grace Bonney has put on her web site prior to the closure of it on 31st August.

‘I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out the right way to close this beautiful, complex, and wonderfully meaningful place that I’ve had the honor of running and contributing to for the past 14 years. I’d written and re-written a letter like this dozens of times until this fall, when someone snuck into my mind and heart, and put everything I would have said onto (digital) paper. That person was Tavi Gevinson and when she closed Rookie she wrote the closing editor’s letter that I had always imagined, down to the very last word.

She talked about the changing publishing world, social media and the endless demand for more and more content (usually sponsored) that resulted in less and less support (financial and traffic) for publishers and their teams. She talked about the privilege and honor of doing what we do, and knowing the choices that would have to be made to keep things afloat would be at odds with the mission of the site (please do read her piece, she outlines the struggle of indie publishing better than anyone I’ve ever read). Most of all, she talked about starting and ending an artistic project with honesty and love at its core. And for me, that is all I have ever wanted.’

So as I finish this blog post I would like to say Thank you for all the joy Design*Sponge has given over the last few years. Juliet Bawden