Muddy gets creative: Annie Sloan workshop at Stax, Saltash
I’m a bit of a secret scavenger – I crush on retro mid century pieces and I love the idea of upcycling, but I am majorly put off by all that faff. (D.I.Y? *yawn*). There are several ‘found’ pieces cluttering up the garage crying out for 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 er watching paint dry – which is why they are still in the garage.
Enter rock and roll paint brand Annie Sloan – effortlessly cool (the end result looks dead stylish) rule breaking (being experimental is positively encouraged) and demanding only roll out of bed in yesterday’s clothes preparation – so ME (ha!).
It’s not too surprising to learn that the lady behind it, Annie Sloan, has a pretty rock and roll back-story, eventually choosing painting over rock stardom. Her first career was as a singer in an all-girl band called the Moodies, making the front page of the Sunday Times, and asked to tour with Pink Floyd and Mick Jagger!
Turning her back on all that glamour, seems she made the right decision as it turns out the whole world lusts after that vintage, lived-in furniture look. Luckily for us local reclamation yard Stax in Saltash are not only stockist but they also run Annie’s workshops attracting bods from all over the county (and over the water in Devon too!), giving customers old and new the chance to “brush up” (ha!), learn a new skill, add personality and a sense of “I made that” to their own homes.
Louisha Meyrick who runs the workshops is really engaging. We learned three great techniques (this was workshop ‘Chalk Paint TM Techniques 1’). Getting creative with chalk paint is so easy, Lou insisted, it’s *almost* impossible for anything to go wrong. She spoke to soon as I was enjoying slapping on the good stuff so much I skipped ahead and she needed to rescue me with baby wipes.
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’, Lou was my kind of cutting-corners connoisseur! She was wonderfully down-to-earth and honest. She gave loads of time saving tips – baby wipes are great for distressing (seriously, what’s in those things!?) and get your hairdryer out to speed up drying times.
The paints come in bang on trend fresh colours – I can’t chose between Florence and Old Violet– but the most coo-ed over in our group was the make-anything-chic Paris Grey. You can splosh your paint straight onto just about anything. Really! That’s any kind of wood – varnished or unvarnished – metals, leather, plastic or even the dreaded MDF and foiled particle board. You just slap it on, do your techniques and seal it with wax. Paint outside on a warm 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.
It can even be used to dye linens – look at these lovelies I found on pinterest!
Lou’s workshop included lunch (high fives!), and we tucked in to a delicious veggie lasagne and salad in the sunshine.
After inhaling mine (this slap happy painting malarkey is hungry work!), I spent the rest of my break nosing around the Stax site – it’s a treasure trove of architectural salvage, decorative pieces, glass – you name it. I came home a few hundred quid lighter, but with some awesome unique pieces.
And just in case you still need convincing, here’s my before and after piccies so you can see for yourself. Because I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, was my first piece of furniture a cute pine bedside table? No. I went for full-on ugly MDF.
I used: Olive, Emporer’s silk, Barcelona Orange and Florence, then waxed, waited a few days and buffed for a low sheen (you can see it better on the Olive in my rubbish photo, which doesn’t do it justice). It was so easy to use, I had to rein myself in a bit, even painting Muddy Child’s leather bed in olive to match, oh and his formica record player stand.
Lou’s next Chalk Paint TM Techniques 1 workshop is Saturday 6 August, and repeated the first Saturday of the month. Chalk Paint TM Techniques 2 “Style & Colour” is on Saturday 27 August.
At £65 with lunch included, its great value for money. Book yourself a place pronto.
Stax Reclamation, Avery Way, Saltash PL12 6LD T: 01752 849 111