Saturday, 26 March 2011

If I post it here I will HAVE to do it

OK, so I have another monkey on my back...calling it a monkey makes it sound horrible and it's not, it's a fabulous project but it just seems to be one of those projects that gets stalled at every turn. I won't bore you will all the stupid things that have gone wrong so far but suffice to say if you decide to do an exterior mural and using external ply....make sure it doesn't have any flaws in it BEFORE you start.
So what is the project...well here is the customer's site  -

She had to block up the window to accomodate some internal alterations she had done and it has left a dull area. 
She asked me to come up with ideas of a new window with a view inside that was catching a glance of something you weren't meant to see...a romantic moment.
Like this  -

The wonders of Photoshop!!, I was able to take all the elements that she wanted and combine them in a computer image. The final piece will have the couple painted as if it is was the client and her partner, better start brushing up my porttraiture skills eh?
To give an idea of how it will look -

Nowwww.......all I have to do is bloomin get on with it. With feeling ill all last week it has dragged on and I really want to get my teeth into it. So nag me guys...really nag me. I have tons to do on various different sites this week but I want to be in the studio at night time working away...worse things to work on for sure!

Cait Whitson
Carte Blanche Decorative Painters

Friday, 25 March 2011


I've really not been feeling well at all....a bit peaky, and I wondered do you spell that piquey? anyway you know what I mean, a bit off colour, and I've been feeling a bit peaky for days. And every day has slipped by and I've not  achieved what I set out to achieve. Very frustrating. So I made a list of all the things I meant to do over the past wee while.....and here I am doing one of them, which was to write a post about old fashioned recipes or receipts as they were once called. If you are hoping for cakes and buns...or spring stews and salads you will be sorely disappointed as ...yup these are recipes that have sprung from paint recipe books......what else?

I collect old books on painting and decorating, graining and marbling, sign writing etc.  Much of what is in them is now so outdated that it is impossible to use. The use of lead paints is restricted, many of the paint ingredients are impossible to buy now; I can't imagine asking a painter to use ammonia or caustic these days, I think most would blanche and these are the most innocuous compared with many of the nasties painters used at one time. Almost all dangerous and unhealthy practices and products have disappeared thank goodness. Products required for painting and decorating trade come out of convenient ready mixed pots and we expect them to work straight from the tin. This in some ways is wonderful, but we have lost something very important, we've lost the ability to make our own materials. I have been lucky to end up in a part of the trade that does still sometimes mix up potions so our studio occasionally smells of weird and wonderful rabbit skin glue or linseed oil, as we mix up a distemper or gesso or a scumble.

Here is a delight  of a book:

In the above book Mr Horace Lingard writes at some point in the early 1920's : "This work is written by a practical man with a lifetime's experience on PLAIN AND HIGH CLASS DECORATIVE PAINTING useful in every household, it matters not whether cottage or castle"
I'll scour these books for gems of recipes or tips about techniques that are invaluable to a painter, there are also odd things that are invaluable to the householder, "useful in every household, it matters not whether cottage or castle" and let's face it we are the same in the home, we expect everything to come out of a bottle or a pot and work instantly but isn't it lovely to make something ourselves - just like home baking, growing your own vegetables or making your own clothes.

So from "Hints and Tips by a Practical Man for Impractical People" - and I have used all of these and they work.
Reviver For Dull Furniture
First remove all dust and dirt out of the corners and crevices, then apply the following mixture with a soft rag: - Methylated Spirits, one and a half parts; raw linseed oil, one part; best malt vinegar, one part. Shake, and rub it well into the furniture, polishing off with a soft duster. Should the surface look streaky after polishing, wash it with a washleather and clean cold water, and polish up as you would a window.
This polish if used correctly will leave a bright and clean look on furniture.

Remove Oil-Marks on Wall Papers
Old grease marks wall papers, where persons have rested their heads can be removed with a paste of cold water and fullers earth, or pipe clay and water. Next day brush it off and the stain unless very old, will have disappeared. If old, renew the process.

To Clean Wall Paper *
First blow off all the dust with a pair of bellows, divide a white loaf of 4 days old into six parts, Then take the crust into the hand, beginning at the top of the paper, wipe it down carefully in the lightest manner with the crumb until the paper is clean
*this refers to cleaning what I would call a foundation paper and others call pulp papers, the soft traditional British non-vinyl papers - vinyl papers can just be washed. Also this refers to a 4 day old loaf from years ago, not the very moist white sliced loaf we might buy from a supermarket but the bread from a baker - you would probably not want to leave a modern loaf for 4 days though. Test this first, too moist and it can pull at the paper.

Finally I thought you  really OUGHT to have this ....just in case. This is not one I have tried but we should I think all have a test for

Arsenic in Wall Papers
It is important to use wall papers that do not contain arsenic and the method of testing is as follows: - take a small piece of the paper and set it on fire, and if it contains arsenic, a smell of garlic will be noticed. Be careful not to inhale the smoke.

Thank goodness we now all know that...we can sleep sound in our beds because as Napoleon found out to his detriment, arsenic in your wallpaper can DEFINITELY leave you feeling more than a bit peaky.

Cait Whitson
Carte Blanche Decorative Painters

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Shabby Chic Class - the Annie Sloan Paint Experience

We had to postpone our recent Shabby Chic painting class because we were worried that the predicted snow would endanger people travelling big distances. Sadly not everyone can make the new date of Sunday the 27th March 2011, so we have some spaces next Sunday. Why not join us - you can buy a class place on any of the classes by going to our on-line shop and buying here SHOP or you can call me and book over the phone - 07771663015
To help you decide whether this class is for you I thought I would let you see what it's all about.

The Shabby Chic Class teaches you how to paint furniture with quick and easy techniques that make the whole process pleasureable and using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint means none of the nasty stripping and sanding that we all hate. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint can be used over varnish, wax, melamine, old paint, french polish and many other usually difficult to paint surfaces.
We do cover preparation and use of other paints so if you have a can of Farrow and Ball you are desperate to use we will certainly give you all the hints and tips to help you do so.

Shiny Bright and Clean

We start at 10.30 am with a cup of coffee and some introductions  in a clean studio but before long we are grabbing paint brushes and paint and getting messy
Waxing a Sample

Tinting the Decoupage
We produce a series of samples through the day that will help to create fabulous finishes at home. Here are some of the completed finishes


We have a few examples of finished pieces to share and give ideas. We have a library of books for you to browse at lunch time and get ideas from and Gibson and I are on hand to give tips

A few examples and ideas
Lunch is a deli spread of delicious cured meats, cheeses, salads and fruit and fresh bread from our local award winning bakery Sugar and Spice in Auchterarder.

It's often a race against time to get finished for 4.30pm but we usually make it. Then you have a chance to buy paints and waxes, varnishes and brushes. If you have to rush away we now have our online shop so we can ship things to you but if want to save the postage costs allow a little time to pick your paints either at lunchtime or at the end of the day.

Then I just look forward to hearing success stories and receiving pictures of the pretty things you all create. Like Val's projects here that she sent me pictures of this week -

She has done wonderful things since her class and revamped lots of pieces that would have been destined for the dump as well as completing a number of commissions for family and friends. She like so many is a bit addicted to painting now!

So if you would like to turn trash into treasure or personalise some of the pieces that lie in your garage waiting for a new lease of life...even if you would like to start a small business painting pieces of furniture come and join us and learn how!

Cait Whitson
Carte Blanche Decorative Painters

Sunday, 13 March 2011


I thought I'd bring some news of latest projects. As you know I was off in Aberdeenshire transforming 2 rooms. I spent about 10 days up there with Gibson coming up at the weekends. Gosh it was quite hard work. I was staying with my parents who live in the Courtyard House of The Burn near Edzell.

The Courtyard House
The Burn House

Mum and Dad were wonderful at letting me a just be .....I had so much on my plate I just worked and worked. I was getting up nice and early to work on things for the website. Lots of pricing work to be done too as we've had a record month for enquiries and then about 8.30 I was heading up to Aberdeen.

Some months back we were contacted by this client in Aberdeen to give their main reception rooms a facelift. They had already had a paint effect but it was fairly dated having been done about 10 years ago. They had seen a fabulous finish that they liked in a friend's house in Portugal and had asked the friend what it was and had been told they weren't sure but it was Italian and expensive.
So began their search and after some heavy Googling had come up with Oikos Ottocento which is a product that we are trained to apply, working with the importers/distributors Leslie and Dave at Bluebell .
The client initially sent us images and sizes so we could give them an outline cost - here is the "before"

Sitting Room

The client was happy with the initial costs so we arranged a site meeting to choose colours. As well as applying the Ottocento to 2 feature walls they asked us to redecorate the whole space so I did my usual colour consultancy and produced a scheme.

Colour Scheme
Ottocento is a suede-like metallic finish apply with a trowel and is very pretty, we custom mixed a colour to suit the scheme. I combined it with Paint and Paper Library's Suede II in Flat Acrylic for the walls, Farrow and Ball's Pointing in Estate Emulsion and Farrow and Ball's Smoked Trout in Estate Eggshell for the woodwork. I thought that it would be rather nice to swap in a dark trim colour since the skirtings were only narrow, this would tie the feature walls in with the rest of the room

Clients seemed thrilled with the idea but you never rest till the work is complete. They were thrilled and because of that so are we. Here are some pics of the new look. I am hoping the client will send me some pictures of the rooms finished with all the furniture back in place

Looking into the Sitting Room
Looking down the wall at the texture
So what else is happening? Lots of straight forward painting and decorating being done alongside our fancy stuff and one of our favourite customers required repairs to a wall...a lovely allover stencilled wall that had been damaged by a was the first room in Scotland that we applied an American metallic plaster finish to called Lustre Stone...and used a wonderful all over stencil from Wallovers
We stripped relined the wall stencilled with two colours of very pretty metallics and then glazed over the can't tell it was ever damaged.
Pretty allover stencil, grained skirtings and metallic red plaster finish

I was in working at another long term client who we've done lots of fun projects for The Bathroom Company in Perth. They have just jooshed up their website to match their stunning showroom. The showroom is in the running for 2 national awards
The Bathroom Company is delighted to be the only Scottish bathroom showroom to be a finalist in the KBB2011 Industry Awards. Even more exciting they’re the only company in the UK to be shortlisted for both these awards.
  • Master Retailer Award for Bathrooms - Looking for the best all-round bathroom retailer
  • Showroom Award for Bathrooms - Providing the perfect showroom setting for bathroom sales
We are proud to have been able to help them add a few finishing touches to their showroom. This week I was adding a stencilled metallic foil design to the bath in this lovely set
Just finished bath design
We've already done this one time already....but it sold straight off the showroom floor.

Final project we are tackling just now is an exterior mural and I will bring you the concepts for this in my next post

Cait Whitson
Carte Blanche Decorative Painters

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What's Happenin'? Loads and Loads

I haven't been here for an age......I feel like the blog is almost human. I feel guilty if I neglect it, don't pay it attention but I have been working away from home and working hard on getting something long overdue live on the guessed it ...we have a NEW WEBSITE!!!!! check it out

I know some of you are saying "about bloomin time too!", how long have I been saying it was on its' way; how long have I been promising it was being worked on. Well, after a lot of hard work on the part of designer Evie Milo of Eskymo and her assistant Linda  we have a website we are really proud of. There are still a lot of tweaks to be done and I feel like I gave birth.....I have no idea how Evie does this for a living. Suffice to say she is very good at it.

We have a shop and while not everything is in there yet,  you can book classes and buy the Annie Sloan Paint...which as you all know is without doubt the best paint in the world. The waxes and varnishes should be on there this week. This is the paint that you can use over wax and varnish and melamine and other paint with no stripping and very little preparation.

Annie Sloan Paint

I am going to dash off this short post and bring you more news of our projects tonight and tomorrow....I have so much to tell you all.

Cait Whitson
Carte Blanche Decorative Painters