Tag Archive | Rocket

Embellish, Embellish

Ever since I did my first shabby chic furniture course at the Vintage Dove, I have been keen to do the advanced class which goes into decorative techniques rather than just the painting.  Many times I had been signed up, only to hear the course was cancelled due to lack of interest.  Finally I got on the advanced course at Paloma in Rochester last October.  Rochester as I have mentioned before is my favourite place and what makes it so are Kiss Kiss Heart, Rocket and Paloma – three shops all run by the same people.  Ruth at Paloma, is trained by Annie Sloan and runs the courses at Rocket in Rochester.  Annie Sloan brought out a range of chalk paints in 1990 and has gone on to write many books on decorative techniques.  The Telegraph describes her as one of ‘Britain’s most influential female designers’.

We started with a blank plank of wood and painted a third of it in a colour of our choice, I chose Old Violet, and the rest white.

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The first technique we were shown was gilding.  We painted Gold Size onto the coloured part of the board.  I chose to create letters and hearts with it but we could have just covered the whole section in it.  We could then try gold, copper or silver transfers or leaf.  I used the silver transfers for my letters and hearts and then added more gold size to form a border and applied copper leaf to this.  I found the transfers much easier to use although the leaf gave a better vintage effect.

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The next technique was decoupage.  This was the technique I was most interested in and why I was so keen to take the course.  Decoupage involves cutting out medium (usually paper) and pasting onto an object before covering with a lacquer or varnish and the name comes from the French word, decouper which means to cut out.  It is thought that the craft originated in East Siberia where tombs were decorated with cut out felt.

Annie Sloan Decoupage is a water based glue and varnish.  We painted it onto the wood in the area we wished to apply the image to.  We cut our image out from wrapping paper and then pressed it onto the wood.  We then built up layers as a varnish over the top.  It needs about 5 coats to properly seal it and you need to allow 20-30mins between each coat.  You can get images from anything to use for decoupage – old pages from books or cards for example.  Ruth also showed us an option with napkins though which was very effective.

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Image transfer is another popular technique and there are some great websites out there to download images from, particularly ‘The Graphics Fairy’.  Images need to be printed out on a laser jet printer rather than an ink jet as the ink needs to resist water. The front of the image is painted with Decoupage medium and then placed face down on the board.  Once the glue has dried, use a sponge to put a small amount of water over the back of the image and then rub away the paper with your finger.  Remember that if you are image transferring text – it will need to be in reverse to start with in order for it to come out the correct way around.

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Stencilling was the fourth technique we were shown.  Paint can be put on with a roller or a stipple brush and you can also mix paints as I did.

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Finally we were shown the craqueleur effect.  Annie Sloan Craqueleur is a two-step process.  Once you have covered the area with step one and allowed it to dry; you then paint over step one with step two.  You can vary the size of the cracks according to how thick you put step two on – the thicker it is, the bigger the cracks.  To really enhance the craqueleur effect you can then apply dark wax over the top.

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This course cost £75 and was great value and a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning, I highly recommend it and it inspired me to transform some more furniture using shabby chic techniques.

My mum gave me an old pine dresser which had seen better days.  I transformed the top half and then fixed it to the wall as a shelving unit to display some of my china.  I began by sugar soaping the dresser to ensure any dust or dirt was removed.  I then painted two coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Paris Grey.  To make the piece more interesting and add a further vintage angle to it, I purchased a chic moulding from The Vintage Dove, Rainham and glued it to the top part of the dresser after the first coat of paint and then covered it on the second.  Finally I had a mirror cut to fit between the middle shelves.  The unit was finished off by applying clear wax.

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Over the Christmas break, I decided to transform a plain white Ikea chair using Decoupage.  I purchased a book of old maps in a little shop in Holt, Norfolk.  To enhance the effect I also used some vintage map stickers which I purchased in Paloma, Rochester.

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The old saying ‘one persons junk is another ones treasure’ really is so true.  There are no end to the transformations you can perform on furniture and it is a great way to make your home furnishings truly unique.  So what you waiting for – get yourself on a course and then let your imagination run wild.

 

 

 

A High brow Saturday

In June my friend and I visited the Good Ship Benefit, the new facelift given to HS Hispaniola until 31st August 2016; a permanently docked boat on the River Thames close to Embankment tube station, with a lovely view of the London Eye whilst relaxing on the Hoola decks.

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As we stepped on the boat we were directed to the brow lounge. The room is an explosion of pink and the ultimate girly boudoir; the back of the sofas even have a makeup clad eye on them. The pillars and carpet were black glitter and there were also novelty bunny chairs. The bar was in the style of a beauty box.

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We made ourselves comfortable and our illusionary afternoon tea was served along with a glass of fizz. Now I guess I should have guessed from the name of the tea that this would be no conventional afternoon tea, but I didn’t and I must say that this was one afternoon tea which didn’t meet my expectations. Things started well for my sweet tooth when what looked like sandwiches were actually cakes. The problem was that this also worked the other way round with items that looked like cakes being savoury.  This to me was just plain weird – your eyes are telling you sweet whilst your tongue is shouting savoury!

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Following the tea I was looking forward to having my brows shaped; this being the year of the brow and Benefit having long lead the way with brows, opening their first Brow Bar in 2003 at Macy’s in San Francisco. I was only then told that we should have booked an appointment and that there were none left today due to a hen party.  This was in no way clear on the website so I made my feelings known and a kind assistant called Alison agreed to do them in the end as long as I wasn’t expecting a full make over.  What a difference well defined brows make to your face! She used BROWVO! conditioning eyebrow primer which enhances the thickness and fullness of the brow, which I need given previous over plucking, as well as extending the wear of other brow products.  She then used precisely, my brow eyebrow pencil in shade 02 to define the brows.

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Look at the difference – one brow before and one after!

I always associate the Benefit brand with 1950’s glamour and so for the occasion I wore a turquoise polka dot circle skirt with a petticoat underneath both from Rocket in Rochester and a plain white vest top from Oasis.  I matched this with some old silver sandals from Faith which resemble ballroom dancing shoes.  I accessorised with a long heart necklace from Queen Bee in Canterbury and a stunning mint clutch shaped like a book from Aldo.

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We were given a tour of the boat which also has a restaurant called Lashitude, decorated in black and orange in homage to Benefit mascara; The Pinkton Parlour – a beautiful pink cocktail bar and the Porefessional vault – an accolade to their wonderful pore disguising product.  Disappointingly though we were not able to see the vault as it was booked for a private party.  There is of course also a shop where you can indulge in purchasing all of their great products.

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It was a shame we couldn’t see the ship in its entirity and it also rained which meant cocktails on the decks was not possible.  I did feel a little disappointed with the day especially being that I have been a fan of Benefit make up for some years.

Benefit cosmetics were founded in 1976 by twin sisters in San Francisco.  They began with a beauty boutique specialising in products to solve beauty dilemmas and then went on to expand into department stores.  Benefit went international in 1997 and now sells at 2000 counters in 30 countries.

Live by the Benefesto; ‘We believe in WHISTLING WHILE YOU WORK IT…and faking it ‘til you make it.We believe in FAST & FABULOUS BEAUTY solutions…and that glamour is GRABBING LIFE BY THE GIGGLES and not letting go. We believe if at first you don’t succeed, APPLY MORE LIPSTICK…that SEXY gets you everywhere…and if you can’t be good, BE GORGEOUS.’

Until next time…..

A Mother’s Day treat for Mother and Daughter

Mother’s day – just another over commercialised day like Valentines?  Maybe, but I wonder how many people know the true meaning of Mothering Sunday in the UK?  It was in fact a Christian religious day which fell on the 4th Sunday of Lent and was when parishioners returned to their mother church i.e. the one they were baptised at.  The American mother’s day which is celebrated in May, was created by Anna Jarvis who wanted to honour the peace activist work that her mother had done before she died as well as honouring all mothers, reasoning that they generally do more for us than anyone else.  Although the founder of it, she actually protested against the commercialisation of the day, suggesting that sentiment should be shown in hand written letters not through purchasing cards and gifts.  Since World War II, when American soldiers came over to the UK, the day here is now more like the American one when people treat their mothers to cards, flowers and gifts but still remains on the 4th Sunday of lent.

I decided to celebrate it a few days early this year with Mum.  I have long enjoyed scouring the variety of kitsch shops that Rochester has to offer so jumped at the chance of being invited, with a guest, to attend an evening at the shop Pink Flamingo to celebrate their 5th birthday.  Pink Flamingo also has another branch in Whitstable and is a ladies clothes, shoes and accessories shop.

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For the occasion I decided to embrace the Americana look seen at London Fashion Weekend and wore my nautical stripe blue, ¾ length sleeve dress by Winser with a denim jacket from Oasis.  I then added a pop of red with my LK Bennett wedge sandals and Floozie heart shaped bag.  I also added a scarf tied to the bag to give a unique twist, seen by Elie Saab; the scarf was une souvenir de Paris and features the Eiffel Tower.  I did my hair in what the industry is calling the grown up bunches as seen at Marni.  These are simple to create but look like you have really made the effort.  Divide the hair in a centre parting and then leave a small strand from each half loose whilst tying the rest in normal bunches.  Then wrap the left over strand around the band to hide it and pin with a kirby grip.  I swept a turquoise blue eye shadow from an old Virgin Vie palette over my lids to create the ocean eyes seen by Diane Von Furstenberg this season.

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On arrival in Rochester Mum and I treated ourselves to a coffee and cake in Fleur de Thé.  This is a beautiful tea room, where all the shabby chic decorative items are also for sale along with refreshments.  I had a slice of their Oreo cake and it really was a huge portion that although nice, left me feeling quite sick.

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Next stop was Rocket, a shop that specialises in vintage design clothing and I bought a lovely 1950’s style turquoise skirt with white polka dots on.  I’m thinking I might purchase one of the taffeta underskirts to really set this off.

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We browsed Kiss Kiss Heart, owned by the same people as Rocket but with a greater emphasis on the homeware than the clothes and I liked so many things in there especially a floral Fiorelli bag; but settled for a butterfly shaped ceramic dish.

By then it was getting on for 5pm so we made our way up the high street to Pink Flamingo.  On arrival we were treated to a glass of pink fizz and there were some cupcakes decorated with pink flamingos and a variety of sweets on offer.

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Pink Flamingo stocks Great Plains London, Cath Kidston and Irregular Choice, amongst other brands.  Irregular Choice shoes were created by British born designer, Dan Sullivan in 1999.  His vision was to create truly unique shoes rather than the neutral and black shoes that dominated the market.  His designs are influenced by his punk rock era upbringing on the Kings Road coupled with his extensive travel around the world.

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On this special open evening, there was 20% off anything purchased and a chance to win either a pair of Irregular Choice shoes or a Cath Kidston bag.  Unfortunately I wasn’t the lucky winner of either.

I tried on various pairs of Irregular Choice shoes, feeling that there should be a bit of this originality in my shoe collection however in the end I didn’t think I would be brave enough or quirky enough to pull them off.  I may pluck up the courage at a future date as each shoe truly is a work of art in its own right.

 

Mum bought a pair of sandals by Lunar which I had also had my eye on and I bought a Great Plains mint coloured top.

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Together we spent over £30 and so received a free goodie bag.  The goodie bag contained some Tamaris lip balm and hand cream, some shoe horns and a bracelet.

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All shopped out, I then treated Mum to a meal and Prosecco at Pizza Express.  My Mum really is my best friend and I love that I can talk to her about anything and she listens and advises without judgement.  I can always rely on her to be honest with me, even if it’s not always what I want to hear.  However many times we mess up, we can always rely on our mothers to love and forgive us. Commercialised or not, I think it is only right that we celebrate all our mothers do for us – not just on this one day but throughout the year.

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Let me know what you did with your Mum on her special day.

An Oriental Affair

As the taxi wound its way up the wide sweeping driveway and South Lodge came into view, it was clear that this was going to be a wedding of grandeur. South Lodge in Horsham is an impressive country house, which development started on in 1883 with final substantial additions made in 1911. It was used as a hospital during the Second World War and opened as a hotel in 1985.

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The wedding was of an old friend of mine to his fiancé who is originally from Hong Kong. This was part one of their celebrations with the ‘away fixture’ as they are affectionately calling it, a Chinese banquet in Hong Kong, at the end of October which we are also attending so look out for a future blog post!

Inevitably as happens at these sorts of events where small talk is a plenty between strangers, the question came up of how I knew my friend. This is always an awkward one as we actually met on Facebook, when we were both single, but when we met up it became clear there was nothing remotely in the way of a spark between us, but we got on and so became firm friends.

For this special day I chose to wear a 1950’s inspired halterneck circle dress, in a red rose print design from Rocket in Rochester. My shoes were my red Sarah Jessica Parker designed heels which I bought some time back but had yet to wear. The outfit was completed with a red envelope clutch bag from Dorothy Perkins.

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The ceremony was outside and it was thankfully a beautiful bright sunny September day, albeit a bit on the breezy side. We sat on rows of white chairs that were decorated with colourful pompoms, with a red carpet inbetween, leading to the stunning gazebo at the front. My friend looked the happiest I have ever seen him as he waited for his bride to appear. His suit was accented by a deep purple cravat and cummerbund, to correspond with the colour theme of the day.

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We all turned to see the stunning bride in her gorgeous white dress, walk down the steps from the lodge and along to the gazebo. She had 7 bridesmaids which were a vision in their purple dresses.

The ceremony itself seemed quite short but I guess that is because I am used to church weddings. Whilst they signed the register, my friend’s sister played ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri on the piano.

There was then a drinks reception where the champagne flowed freely and there were a number of tasty canapes. Photos were taken whilst we all relaxed and got to know each other. There was an interesting take on the group photo-the photographer laid a rope out in a heart shape and got us to stand around the edge. He then removed it and took the picture – I always had wondered how they do these funky group shots and now I know!

Soon we were welcomed by the toastmaster inside from the gardens, to find our name on the ornate table plan that was a world map, with the tables named after places the couple had visited. It was also decorated in purple and with butterflies – themes that ran through the whole day.  The travel theme was also incorporated in the guest book which had a watermark of world map on each page. We then entered a large medieval style room. Round tables were adorned with silver candelabra that had real candles and ivy wrapped around them. There was some debate on our table as to whether or not the candles were real but this soon became obvious when the wax started to drip down. The bride changed into a beautiful traditional gown for the meal, which her mother had worn for her wedding.

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The favours were in red and gold silk bags and were Jasmin flowering tea. Yunnan in China is where flowering teas come from but it is unclear as to whether these are an ancient idea or a modern phenomenon. They are essentially dried tea leaves with a dried flower in the middle. When boiling water is poured on the bulb, the leaves open up, revealing the flower.

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Following the meal, sweets were brought round with the tea and coffee including macaroons with the couples initials piped on the top. We then retired to the bar and games room whilst they cleared the tables to make way for the dance floor. There was a sweet table, with paper bags that were personalised with the couple’s names in purple text. We browsed the stunning pre wedding photo books – a custom of Asian weddings since the late 1990’s.

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Once the room had been transformed, with a black and white checkered dance floor we entered for the cake cutting – the cake was also decorated in purple and butterflies. Following that was their first dance, which was to ‘Fly me to the Moon’. The bride and her bridesmaids who all met at dance class then treated us to a magnificent display of dance.

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It was then time for what I had been waiting for – the mixologist! The names of the cocktails were personalised to the couple.  The barman would make any cocktail you wanted. Particularly spectacular was the one he set light to. A few cocktails later and a box of props came out which made for some instagram worthy photos.

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It was a day to remember; I wish the couple many happy years together and look forward to part two in Hong Kong. It is wonderful to see a couple that compliment each other so well.

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