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  Much of what is in them is now so outdated that it is impossible to use.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


  1. Love the idea of cleaning my wallpaper with bread and think I may just give it a try some time and bet it works a treat! Not sure about the age thing though as modern commercial bread seems to last months without going mouldy, so may have to actually make my own loaf to use. Such fun!!

  2. The bread definitely works and it works for almost any paper products ...but I think I confused. Most modern supermarket sliced bread is too wet, even after 4 days I would think. But then again Baker's bread might be too dried up after 4 days. You kind of want vaguely squidgy but not squadgy :)

  3. I just love books like these. I have great respect for those we went before us.

    I smell a new weekly series brewing here! Can't wait!

  4. Ah, like you I have been caught with a feeling of not being 100%. Very annoying and frustrating, 'specially as I have a ton to do. Its all stopped for a week or so, a week that will get added onto the estimated end time *sigh*, never mind.
    I love the book you found, I really love this quote from it! "useful in every household, it matters not whether cottage or castle" puts things in perspective when you feel you have a daunting task ahead!
    Hope you are feeling better and you have shrugged off the 'piquey' feeling?

    Caz xx

  5. Hi Caz it's my birthday today so I can't feel peaky :) Actually, much improved thank goodness as we have a class running on Sunday. Like you I am looking at my end date on everything shifting...or else double work, working nights all this week...that might be a goer. I am hoping to get vast amounts of energy between now and Monday