Plaster Workshops

Art, Craft, DIY, Painting, plaster

Plaster Dipping and Plaster Sculptures


Over the past two weekends I have been teaching some classes for The Workshop Cabin in Bath in the wonders of plaster, (cue large amounts of hand cream as it is pretty brutal on the poor mitts).  The Workshop Cabin put on really cool workshops, ranging from painting to photography to bookbinding and many more.  Definitely check out their site for inspirational activities… I have my eye on the Pyrography workshop already.

Anyhow, over two Saturdays we built, planned, mixed, dipped, wrapped, made a mess, painted and mounted various works.  The results are pretty great and I think that the participants were pleased with their results – the sculptures were especially amazing.  An added bonus was that it was just before Valentine’s day, so the plaster flowers were put to good use as gifts for some lucky recipients.

All Photos courtesy of Heidi @ The Workshop Cabin

Everyone beavering away with their plaster

6 (1)

Plaster flowers drying

Happy Valentine pressies

Sculptures in progress

The final sculptures…


Final sculptures with bronze paint effects, and some very happy punters…eat your heart out Alberto Giacometti….!


Great ideas for decorating with maps


I saw this post on Becoration, and it has some great ideas.  Given my recent work on a map for a gallery, (picture at bottom of post), here are some things I can do with the leftover spares I have!  I love the wall map with tags….

Great ideas for decorating with maps.

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My original artwork for an exhibition at POP gallery

New cushion collection – your help needed!


Voting on cushion covers…I am personally in favour of the Palm leaves, but all of them are lovely. Vote away!

To Make A Home

I’m in the process of putting together a new collection of cushions for my Etsy shop and want to ask for your input!

It’s so much fun looking at all the choices of fabric out there, and while I have decided on some, I’m finding it hard to narrow down my final selection. I thought who better to ask than the great readers of my little blog? If you have a few minutes, thanks for looking through the fabric swatches below and voting for your favorite at the bottom. You can vote multiple times, so if you like several of these, just refresh and select again.

Don’t see something you like? Please leave a comment with your idea for a perfect cushion color or pattern. I really appreciate your help and who knows, your choice could end up on my shop come autumn!

Fabric buying

Thank you so much for your input!

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Tutorial – Plaster and Gold Leaf feathers

Craft, DIY

Plaster and gilt feather being prepared

I have had a couple of queries about my plaster and gold feathers, so I thought I would put a tutorial up about making them.  They are quite fiddly to make, but perseverance makes it possible!

They look great framed, or randomly lying about.  I balance mine on top of picture frames or keep them in pots.  They look like the most delicate matt china sculptures.



Feathers – you need quite strong  and long ones such as pigeon/pheasant/seagull types.  Strong quills and dense tight plumage are best rather than ones that have fluffy edges.  Also, if you can get pale ones go for those as a preference.  If you cannot find real ones lying around, ebay sell great feathers in the fishing section (used by people for making fishing flies, and much cheaper than buying via Haberdashery or Craft sections and suppliers).  I have tried the ones from kids craft shops that are already dyed, but the colours are usually very bright and make it a longer process to create a pure white finished article.

Plaster of Paris – I use regular art shop/craft shop plaster.  You can go for expensive fine grade versions, but you will be building up layers so the former is just as good.

Gold leaf, or gold acrylic paint or gold spray if you don’t want to try gilding.

Washing Line – You will need to hand the feather to dry, so some sort of washing line or string home-made version.

Thin Garden Wire – this is to tie onto the end of the feather where the quill is visible, sort of like a little handle.

Plastic Jug – this has to be a t least 2/3rd of the length of the feather.

A hand whisk.

Separate jug/bottle of tepid water.


Find a plastic jug that will fit your feather in lengthways once the plaster is made up.  You will also need to fit a hand whisk into it so bear that measurement in mind.

Prepare the feather by twisting the wire onto one end, bend one end of the wire into a S hook shape for hanging the feather later

Mix up the Plaster of Paris.  I do it by eye instead of measuring.  Fill up the jug by 2/3rds and start adding the plaster to the water and whisking vigorously until it is like single cream in consistency.  It starts to thicken really fast so you need to work quickly now!

Take the feather by the wire end and start rolling it around it in the plaster, tilting the jug so you cover all areas of the feather.  You will find that the natural oils in the feather try to repel the plaster, so keep going until all the feather is covered.  Gently tap the feather to remove excess and hang up to dry.  You should have time to do one more feather with this mixture.  Don’t worry if not all areas take the plaster mixture, as you will do a second coat later if it is needed.  Some feathers take one coat, others need more…. luck of the draw.

After this, the remaining plaster will be trying to thicken, so add some more tepid water and whisk, you should get it thin enough to cover a couple more feathers.

Leave the feathers to dry totally and wipe out your jug asap before the plaster sets hard, use really hot water to dissolve what is left in the jug and flush the sink thoroughly for 5 minutes with hot water to stop drains blocking.

The plaster on the feathers feels damp and cold until it is fully dried out,  I leave mine at least 6 hours or overnight to harden off.  Then I run another plaster layer again on them if they need it.  Again, let them dry totally.  They will resemble very fine matt porcelain when finished.

When dry start the gilding.  I had never done this until recently, and it is much easier than people think, and it has such an amazing lustre compared to gold paint.

I use diluted PVA as my size, about 50% water added, and brush it thinly over the area in smooth even strokes, avoiding puddles and runs, (as the leaf is wafer thin any marks underneath will be visible when finished). As the size dries it will become clear with a tacky consistency. To test if the size is ready to accept the leaf lightly press your knuckle to the surface, if it clicks when you pull it away it is ready. Do not test using your finger tip as it will leave a print that will show through the leaf, or will remove the size from that area.


The tricky bit – Gold coloured leaf is available in genuine gold and imitation leaf, the genuine leaf will be richer in colour and finish, different coloured metal leaves are also available. I use transfer leaf, (attached to tissue paper), making it easier to apply.

Once the size is tacky place the gold leaf on the object and brush it gently with a very soft brush. Lay the next sheet of leaf down so that it overlaps slightly, and repeat until the surface is covered. When applying to raised surfaces you may need to use small pieces of leaf to fill crevices first, and use a soft bristle brush to tamp the leaf into the grooves.  Wait 30 minutes and then buff with a lint free cloth.  You can apply a clear varnish if you want to, but I don’t on my feathers.

Here is a useful video showing you how to apply the leaf if you have not done it before.

Framed gilded feathers

Framed gilded feathers


Framed gilded feathers detail

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Primitive China Hutch | Antiqued Linen …


Really nice upcycle by The Curator’s Collection

The Curators Collection

This Lovely  primitive style piece is going to be used in an outdoor wedding this summer.  From what I’ve heard of the details about this wedding, it is going to be absolutely beautiful!

Earlier I had posted about a 3 tiered table, well this hutch belongs to the same wedding.

I can just imagine it under the reception tent filled with beautifully decorated sweets, cutlery, plates and napkins …

… onto the pictures

This is how it came to me.  I only have pictures of the bottom half … sorry!

1this is it now …

9I Primed the entire piece with a coat of espresso brown paint to begin with.  I then proceeded to give it 2 coats of MMS Milk paint in linen with bonding agent added.  I did not really want it to chip too much as I wanted to control the amount of distressing it would…

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Convex Mirror Collection


There is something hypnotic at looking at reflections in a convex mirror, all of the distortions are really interesting.  I also like the fact that I look like a Manga person or Dobby from Harry Potter with really huge eyes.  A similar effect can be found by looking at your reflection in a soup spoon, but I digress…


Dobby from Harry Potter

I have been collecting the mirrors for a while and waiting until I had enough to do a grouping, I saw the below picture and love them in a cluster.  Today I was in ‘Homesense’, (one of my favourite EVER stores), when I spotted a couple of different sized ones, so I snapped them up for a song.  On returning home, I decided to gather them all together and finally get them up onto a wall.

look book

Mirrors by Ochre

I decided to group them in the dining room and above the mantlepiece, which currently looks like the below.  The mirror is too low I think, and the large paper flower overwhelms the space.  I have very tall ceilings and everything looks too low in the picture.

Slate Effect fireplace

Square mirror above the fireplace

I had 5 convex mirrors to play with, so fiddled about until I liked the arrangement and then fixed simple picture pins into the walls to hang them.  This is the result in the evening light:

I think the wall looks better now, as more space is visible.  This is how it looks in the daytime:

best day 2The space around the frames makes the other ornaments on the mantlepiece stand out much better now too I think:



Inspiring colour palette


Marie Claire Maison has featured this interior shoot in April 2015 and the color palette is wow!  Although having been up in London recently, I am bit bearded-out so to speak as every man I saw had full facial hair.  I just always think of Mr Twit by Roald Dahl when confronted by facially hirsute men.

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Gardening style - Eclectic Trends

Styling: Cristina Nava | Photography:  Lorenzo Pennati 

‘The Great Wave Off Cornwall’ – Art & The Map of Cornwall exhibition


I have recently completed an art piece for an exhibition for the Cornish Gallery POP, who are running a show later this summer called Art & the Map of Cornwall. Various artists were given an old large map of Cornwall, and asked to create a new piece of work around the piece that is inspired by the county.  I am overawed to be in the company of artists such as Pure Evil, Ben Allen and Krisjana S Williams.

My piece in the show pays homage to the county via the famous Japanese ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai, and in particular, his image The Great Wave off Kanagawa. This image is so instantly recognisable that it has almost become a part of modern iconographic culture.  I have turned it into a pop art piece, with twists on the original print.

As the show is not yet launched I won’t be posting the finished work yet, so here is the original image as a teaser until the dates are announced.

Geriatric picture frame makeover…

Craft, DIY, Makeover, Upcycling

The Husband likes to attend car boot sales…  Bit too early for my own tastes, although he does bring home some nice old saws for me to upcyle now that he is trained… and I get a lie-in, a wake up coffee and the Sunday papers along with his latest proffering at a civilized hour too, so all is well.

However, yesterday he appeared with some HIDEOUS pictures!!!!!  They are nautical oil paintings in gnarly frames, but a bargain at £1 each.  He was very pleased with his purchase, and wants them up in the house somewhere, (not that we have much wall space going, and they are not really going to sit alongside the Tracey Emin or Julyan Davis pictures that well…).


So an upcycle was in order after a lengthy discussion that went somewhere along the lines of:

HUSBAND:  “Look!  These are quality!  They will look great hung up, I love them…”

WIFE:  “Over my dead body matey…”

And so on and so on.  We needed to reach some sort of compromise so I decided to at least have a go at making them look better.



The actual oil paintings are not too bad when out of the frames so I tried to find paint for the existing frames to bring out the colours in the scenes.  I found some duck egg blue and taupe chalk paint in a cupboard, (yes, it’s an Annie Sloane moment again), to compliment the tones in the oils, then applied two different shades of wax to tone down the colours, and actually they now look much better.  It took all of an hour, and equilibrium now applies to marital bliss.


1.  Remove oils from frames

2.  Sand down frames if they have any lacquer on (the inner frames did on these ones)

3.  Apply a couple of coats of Chalk Paint (although I think any paint will suffice), and find colours to bring out the tones of the painting as well as to compliment your decor scheme.

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4.  When the paint is dry, first apply a coat of clear wax.  Then add a smidgeon of darker wax straight away and blend in to create an overall darker tone/patina.  Don’t overload the rag or it will end up looking very french shabby chic as the dark wax will get stuck in any crevices.

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5.  Buff to a soft sheen.  Replace pictures in the frames and stand back to admire your amazing handiwork!

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Spice Jars Organisation


Like most people, my spice cupboard was a jumble of different sized jars, bottles and packets.  Being on my recent quest for order and function, (with a dash of style), I decided to make an assault on the offending cupboard.  I found some great printable labels online via Lia Griffith’s great website which are like chalkboard pre-printed labels.   You can download them here.  The labels come ready filled, but I had a couple of rogue items like Juniper Berries that were not available, so I used Powerpoint to add a new text box over an existing grabbed image of one of the labels.

Given that I have at least 25 different spices and herbs, I needed to find stacking and stylish containers to maximise storage. I love the little Kilner baby jars with wire clipped lids, but they are actually very small and waste a lot of space in cupboards with all the metal sticking out at angles.  So I went the trusty old Ikea route and used their jars called Ratjan, which are bargain at 4 for £1.50, and can fit in any style kitchen from retro to country cottage style.

I simply cut out the labels, used Modge Podge on both the back of the label and the front to seal it, and bingo, the most stylish spice jars ever.  I may even now plan a space where they are more visible rather than being hidden away in the cupboard as they are so pretty.  My precious Saffron is in a bottle from Marrakesh, complete with tassel to remind me of my travels.


Added August 2015:  I also recently found these free printable labels, which are editable as well and by Emily McDowell.

pantry-labels-2… lovely and also editable: