November 26, 2013

How to get the French Willow Grey look using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Thanks to everyone that read my last post on How to have a great Market Stall, especially those of you that took the time to leave a comment here or on Facebook, thank you. It's a post I've been meaning to write for ages! I do have more to add to that post and will do that soon.

Tonight I'm showing you a couple of projects you've probably already spied in my market stall photos...
A trio of bar stools...
and a pair of side tables.
They started out like this...

I picked these pieces up late last week and set myself a rather mad goal to have them refinished in time to take to the market with me. 
I am nothing if not determined (my parents are smiling and nodding as they read this, lol!) and I worked hard, probably a little bit too hard, but got them done.  

I decided to try another way of getting what I call the 'french willow grey' look.  I absolutely love this look/colour - I think it works perfectly for beach house or French country style.  I've written about this before such as here (my most viewed post on my blog by seems I'm not the only one that loves this look, and I think Google is my friend on this one!) Using Annie Sloan Chalk paint to achieve this method is much easier, particularly if you want this look over your whole piece of furniture, as my other method involves stripping back your surface to bare wood first.  It is still my favourite look for table tops though, and one I've used lots!

To achieve this subtle, layered timeworn look, I painted on two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen, then did a top coat in Paris Grey (ever so slightly watered down - not really a wash, just a thin coat of paint, covering most of the base coat).   I distressed by hand, then clear waxed.  I could have added a whitewash layer, or a lightened Grey/White mix, or even liming wax, but for these pieces, I loved them like this. Dark wax applied sparingly would also add another many options, only limited by your imagination!
This would also work well to update your old yellow/brown colour basket ware into French willow grey - I'd suggest watering down both colours of paint for this, and I probably would add a whitewash layer for the top coat. I wouldn't worry about sealing with wax, these baskets are often a chalky texture.

These pieces didn't find new owners on Sunday, so they are still available for sale...please contact me if you are interested in purchasing them :)

November 25, 2013

How to have a great Market Stall

I've done a couple of market stalls this month, the most recent being yesterday, and I thought I'd show off some photos of it...lots of photos! Then lots of words at the end as I talk you through my top tips for having a market stall.
It was the first time I'd held a stall at this market, called the Artist Market in the Vines, set in the beautiful gardens of the Cassegrain Winery in Port Macquarie.
After a lot of storms lately, including one on Saturday afternoon as we were loading up the cars, we were blessed with a stunning day, thankfully!  
If you follow my Facebook page you may have seen my posts about buying a new marquee for my stall...I had been wanting a pretty white one for a while now, and decided it was time to pull the trigger...I am glad I did, although because it was such a hot sunny day, it was pretty bright in there!  I just love how all my things pop off the white backdrop, just as envisioned.  I have white walls in my studio for the same reason...I just think things look nicer with a plain backdrop!

Above: my gorgeous girl and I at the start of the day :)  The photo below was taken at my first ever market stall in February 2011...look how much closer to my shoulder height my little girl is now!

I've made up a photo portfolio of my work, showing before and after shots of some of my transformations. It is a great way to show what is possible with old furniture...people often recognise a piece that is similar to theirs, and start thinking of the possibilities...
I made myself another sign - my first one is currently hanging out at the shop in Taree. This one looks very green here, but it's not, it's white (just not as white as my bright marquee!)

My top tips for having your own market stall would be as follows:

- Present your business well with a strong branding presence. Get some business cards printed, along with swing tags (I use business cards in the same design/colour but with less info on them). Have a sign or two - I use Vistaprint for my printing needs, they are good value and the quality is great. If you make items that you could put embroidered tags on, do so. I order mine from Cash's name tapes. I also have a sticky label that I put on the underside or back of my painted pieces - it is actually an address label but it just has my business name and website printed on it.

- Be organised, like really organised. Keep to do lists for the couple of weeks leading up to your market, cross off things as you do them and add more as soon as you think of it. Have a 'master list' of things you need to do/bring/use every market.

- bring a change float, making sure you have small enough change to work with the cheapest price item you have.  I took gold coins to yesterday's market as I was selling some vintage style Xmas decorations for $2 each or 3 for $5 - but everyone that bought them did so in multiples of 3, so the gold coins weren't used, but I would rather have them and not use them, than not have the right change. Take cash for the stall fee - over and above the change float. Don't expect to pay your fee out of your sales - you might not have made enough by the time the organisers come looking for payment. That's not fair to them.

- I have a 'market box' which stays packed all the time. It contains business cards, swing tags, ribbon, scissors, sellotape, string, safety pins, pens, baby wipes, fine sandpaper, a cloth, duct tape, a folder and paper for noting sales on the day as well as contact details for leads to follow up, a receipt book, and cable ties (these are very handy for hanging things from the marquee frame).

- Price your items clearly - I use my swing tags but also for some bigger items I use a perspex photo frame with pretty paper in it that I write the details on.

- Introduce yourself - I have written up a bit of an introduction about myself and what I do, what services I offer, where else people can find my items, where I am based, and how they can contact me. This is printed on pretty paper and I display it in an A4 size perspex document display holder. This isn't going to do all the work for you though - some people won't see it or bother reading it, or would maybe just prefer to hear it from you. That's okay and you have to be prepared for a lot of talking about the same thing over and over...but if it's your passion, it should never be a chore!

- have some practised responses in regards to what people might ask and how much you want to tell them - some people seem to think it is okay to ask us little businesses what all our secrets are - my skills, knowledge and experience are based on years of hard work, lots of investment (financial and emotional), trial and error, and sheer determination. I give away plenty of information on my blog as I do love to inspire others (hence this post!) BUT some things cannot and will not be handed to just have to get in there and work it out for yourself, like I did :) This is not meant to be mean so I hope it doesn't come across this way - it is just that you wouldn't walk into KFC and ask the what the Colonel's secret recipe was don't ask us little guys what ours is. Also, with a hands-on skill, you learn it by being hands-on...and the creative side of it has to come from within, I think you either have it or you don't.

- take water, lots of it. And food - particularly if you are by yourself, you won't be able to nip away to grab something to eat, or even go to the stall neighbours are usually a friendly bunch though and it's always nice to make introduce yourself at the start of the day so they can watch out for you while you do duck to the loo ;)

- take something heavy to hold down your marquee - I use large concrete blocks which aren't the most user-friendly option when it comes to carting them about, but work quite well all the same. I don't use tent pegs because the usual market I do is on very sandy ground and they don't hold. It also gets very windy there which is a challenge!  Another nice neighbourly thing to do is rush to help pick something up if your stall neighbour has something blow over, that usually happens every market I've been to.

- display your items nicely, think about where things will go and how it will all look together. If you are selling items such as cushions, have something to display those on - luckily I've got a bookcase at the moment and they are good on there but if I didn't, I'd use a selection of cane baskets. Vintage suitcases are great for displaying your wares in too. As items sell, re-shuffle things about to fill in gaps as best you can. The cushion I had on the chair out the front of my stall yesterday sold first thing so I put another in its place, then later in the day I swapped them around again.

- be prepared to hear some comments you'd rather not. Usually along the lines of  'oh you are ruining perfectly good wooden furniture', 'I used to paint furniture', 'I could make that myself', 'wow that's expensive' etc. You have to have thick skin to put yourself out there at a market stall! Don't let it put you off though, just get out there and be awesome!

- wear something that you feel good in, and make sure it is comfortable!  It is a long day with an early start, a big job setting up, standing all day then packing up before unpacking again at home (hopefully with less than you started the day with!)

- on that note, don't be too disappointed if you don't sell much, or anything at all. You cannot tell in advance if your stuff will sell on the day - some months market day will be excellent, some not so good. Because I sell furniture, I cannot expect people to come to a market and go home with an impulse purchase of a large piece of furniture...but they may fall in love with it, go home and think about it, work out where it will fit, and make the decision to purchase a few days or weeks later. In saying that though, I did sell a dining suite by 9am at a market a couple of weeks ago, so you never can tell who is looking for what! Think of it as getting your name out really are excellent for that. If you offer a service, make sure people know that. They will go home with your card and when they are in need of your service, they'll remember that time they saw you at the market, and call :)

I think that is all I can think of for now - if I think of more I will come back and add it to the post.
I hope it has been helpful...if you do markets and can think of anything to add, please let me know in the comments! If you have been thinking about putting yourself out there and doing a stall, I'd love to hear about it!

November 21, 2013

Coffee Table turned Bench Seat

This is a project I've seen lots on the internet and wanted to try for a while.

I finally found the perfect coffee table to use as a bench...and I don't have a before photo...oops!

I'll just have to skip to the pretty shots then :)

I painted the base and legs in a custom mix of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg and Old White, then gave it a light wash using Paris Grey before distressing then sealing with clear wax.
I had an idea for the upholstered top - I wanted to give it a point of difference, so I bought some covered button kits from Spotlight, and used a combination of some of my favourite fabrics on them - six in total.
For the upholstered top I firstly measured where I wanted the buttons, and drilled holes through the tabletop for the button strings to be threaded through.  I then attached some foam rubber with spray adhesive, making a slight indent in the padding where the button holes were, then wrapped the top in wadding.  I used  a lovely linen and wool mix fabric that I have had for some time - here is the Daybed project I originally bought it for.
This upholstery job was completed by a professional.
I attached the buttons using a method I found here.

This piece (and the cushion) got snapped up at the first market I took it to :)
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