Sunday, 30 September 2012

Questions Questions - Answers to the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ Questions Part 1

***Please note that we have closed comments regarding Chalk Paint. Carte Blanche are no longer stockists and the paint has changed in UK a little and we feel that we can no longer comment accurately about its performance as we could in the past. We hope that the article and comments below are useful but for technical advice we would suggest contacting your local supplier or speaking to Oxford - Annie Sloan Head Quarters***

 I get a lot of emails asking me questions about the application of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™

And when I check my website statistics I see a lot of times that people are searching  for “Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ how to use?” or “Annie Sloan paint tips” and lots of other similar questions and I thought....."but it is so easy, why would you even ask?". But I am thinking that maybe we need to do a bit more to help folks so I put all the questions I could see were asked over and over and I answered them here ...I hope I have covered most of them and if you have more....just shout and lets see if we can answer them in the comments.
These responses and answers are drawn from my own experience and are my opinions and I am always interested if people can add more from their own experience so if you have more info please feel free to comment

  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paintprime before? - No. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ will go over most surfaces without the need for a primer - varnished, waxed, prepainted, french polished surfaces are all fine...concrete, masonry, brick and most metals. Those surfaces that might need some extra help are few and far between....UPVC doesn't accept the paint easily, glass isn't great....but it will hold well for the likes of shop window display painting (not permanent).

  • Do I need two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™? - sometimes yes and sometimes no. Very often one coat will suffice but it depends on what you are painting and the look you are trying to achieve. Experiment is the a cheap length of skirting or go and scrounge some off-cuts of timber from a builder and just try it and see. It always says on hair dye products to test 24 hours before but how many of us do??? If you are brave enough to dye your hair without a test then probably painting furniture (which is not attached to your body) should be less daunting. Putting right a mistake with Chalk Paint™ is a lot easier than with hair dye so why not just see.
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint best book? - my personal view is that the best book for really understanding the paint finishes is Quick and Easy Paint Transformations - by Annie Sloan which has 50 step by step transformations of mainly old furniture but includes some other surfaces - floors, metal, new furniture, a cement pot. It is a really good basic course in a book.

Quick and Easy Paint Transformations

  • How to apply Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™? - you can apply it with brush, roller or spray although I think the best way to apply for most projects is brush. It is so easy and quick to use a brush and by the time you have go the roller and tray or set up your spray rig you an have had half of it painted. We use low pile rollers if and when we do use then (not often) and to spray we use HVLP and thin 10-20% depending on the consistency of the varies, being an artisan paint

  • How much paint should you put on brush with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint? -  this depends on the type of brush you are using and the length of the bristles, if I was using an Annie Sloan brush like this one I would put a little more than is shown in this image

I would say add a bit more than this to your brush

  • Do I need to sand Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™? - it depends on the look you want, you can use sandpaper to sand through to colours or timber beneath the topcoat and this can be done after waxing or you can just even out texture or rub through the dark antiqued paint to show some highlights. You need to play with the paint to see all that it can do

  • How to even out Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ? - OK well this pops up regularly and I am never sure what people I have 3 answers here. To even out colour, if, for instance you have applied the paint in a patchy way and not realised it till the waxing phase, add a little of the paint to the wax and blend that onto the surface; to even out brush marks if you are not happy with texture there are 2 approaches - first is to apply a thick coat first and then a very light sand when dry, then thin the second coat and apply with a quality brush and don't overwork, lay off lightly and deftly for a brush mark free finish; second is to put 2 coats of paint on and sand with fine sandpaper (220/240 grit). Dry sanding is not to be gone at like a dervish it is not a forgiving way to work (better for the less experienced to wax first and then sand if they are distressing etc) but if you want a "baby's butt smooth" - sorry about the technical terms there - finish then it is a great way to achieve. Just go canny as they say in Scotland

  • Can I use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on floor tiles/can you paint tile with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint/Can you use Annie Sloan Soft Wax  - This has to be a matter of common sense. You can paint concrete floors and you can paint slate and marble so the paint will stick to some surfaces but how hard wearing it will be on floor tiles I do not know, it all depends on how good the adhesion has been and on the top coating. If you apply 3 coats of hard-wearing polyacrylic floor varnish then it should be OK providing you have got the adhesion but if it is a high traffic area or if you have a lot of friends with high healed shoes then it will just be as hard wearing as any normal floor paint. If the varnish is broken right through to the paint beneath and then washed heavily the paint will maintain the varnish and keep it sealed. On tiles again I would use a good dollop of common sense. If the tiles are going to come into a lot of wear then...maybe not the best product but if it is an area that wipe sensibly and not have to scrub at then why not give it a try. Superslick tiles may need a primer or some heavy etching, tiles in the shower are not suitable to be painted at all. Wax is fine for wall tiles (3 coats for high traffic areas like kitchens. Wax is not right for floors.

  •  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ on brick/ Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ on brick on masonry?- yes it is fine for both if the surface is sound

  • How long should Annie Sloan Chalk Paint dry before waxing? - this depends on atmospheric conditions and also on how thickly applied it is. It can be as little as 20 minutes or as long as 2 or 3 hours. Some people say to leave it overnight and I am not sure why as there is no technical reason why it should be left that long. The paint does calcify over time, so it will get harder but if you are waxing I can't see a reason to leave it any more than ...until it is dry. 

I have a part 2 to do and this will deal with waxing questions but meantime I will leave you with this really delightful tutorial from Annie which will help the beginner get to grips with what the paint can do 

Monday, 24 September 2012

Copper Bottomed? NO Copper Topped!

Metallics are the new most fashionable finish and they are a lot of fun. Probably the colour we have used least of so far is copper in metal leaf and I have no idea why....maybe just no-one had asked for it. Recently we found ourselves using buckets of copper and what a wonderful finish it is!! My favourite is this copper dome in one of Fasque's bathrooms

Copper dome
broken copper over hot pink
And what was it made us think to even offer this look? Well next door is the most fabulous restored copper bottom bathtub.

J. Bolding and Sons Bath beautifully restored

Tony O’Donnell, managing director of Kent based bath specialists Catchpole and Rye, was stunned when he was asked to restore a 19th Century copper bath from the A-listed Fasque House near Fettercairn, where four-time prime minister William Gladstone lived.
The bath was custom made by John Bolding & Sons Ltd. in London and even in the late 1800s would have been particularly rare.

Matching mantel
 Here's a mantel we matched in broken copper again but a tighter finish than the dome....easier to show you a close up

Close Up
A great fun finish that links the with the traditional.

You can read more about the work done on the bath here

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Would you just pick a BLOOMIN Colour!!!!

Why is it so hard? Why do so many people struggle with choosing colour? Why do I hear the phrase "how many shades of cream do they need! No wonder it takes the Mrs that long to choose a colour for the walls..."
It's because most people cannot imagine how the room will look when it is done and because it is a big commitment. Paint is cheap (per sq metre/ft it is still the cheapest thing you will put in your home) but labour is expensive. Whether you are having a professional do the work or whether you are spending your hard earned holiday time doing it yourself, if you get it wrong it is either way a costly mistake. It is also always the largest area in a single material....which seems like a big thing to get wrong.

Dulux's latest advert shows us how the wrong colour can make you want to leave home ...

At Carte Blanche we offer a colour consultancy service and  the service is there to help people through the mire of colours and finishes and to save them from a million sample pots and when we first arrive a wall like this is often what we are greeted by

Thank you to FiELDy for this photo
This invariably doesn't help...and actually if you read the great blog post that I took this photo from you will see that the owner of the room found the colour a totally different being in a space painted in it.

So why get a professional to help from Carte Blanche. Well first of all we paint out all your splodges and we ban you from sample pots and then we help you define what you want. We find a starting point - some people start with a totally blank canvas but this is rare most people have chosen some items already that they have decided will go into or will remain in the room. It is then a matter of getting inside the client's head and discovering what their taste is.

Here is an example of our work. This couple came to us with the kitchen that needed updating. The kitchen was a really good quality one and it was well designed but the doors were very dated. We enlisted Andrew Fitzpatrick, our favourite cabinet maker to design, make and fit new doors and update a few of the more outdated elements like the cooker hood.

Here are the befores -

The client had Italian tiles on countertops and backsplash and really good quality terracotta tiles on the floor that they wanted to keep but it is a little dated that look...and we really needed to think of a good colour combo to make this look contemporary. Crisp off-white cabinets and ceiling and a surprising soft heathery, slightly pinky grey helps tie the warm wooden knobs and the terracotta floor looks sharp and new. It also picks up on the terracotta background that the Italian tiles have - they are glazed but you can just see the terracotta hue shining through..

I think we achieved a clean and contemporary look and the client is delighted.

If you would like us to help then give us a call 01738 587600 - we charge between £50 and £150 per room for colours, depending on how complex the scheme elements are. Some rooms might need many colours to make the best of architectural features. We produce large painted samples of the colours and suggested accent colours and guide you through choice of paint too to suit your lifestyle.

If you don't want professional help here are a few tips:
  • Start with things that are known facts...what will be in the room? Try to make sure that you have the lighting as it will be when the room is complete - lighting can totally change a colour
  • Cut your choices down to 3 colours. More than 3 colours becomes a mish-mash...and confuses the eye.
  • Paint 3 large (A2 paper size if possible, definitely no smaller than A4) samples of each colour. Apply 2 coats to each sample and paint to the very edge. 
  • One colour at a time, place one sample in a dark part of the room and one in a light and one in area where artificial light plays a large part.
  • Keep them up there so you can see them in different lights, day time, day time with artificial light and evening
  • Immediately discard one colour...this is an imperative. Choosing between 2 colours is a lot simpler
  • Put two samples of the same colour either side of the darkest corner of the room and you will see how the internal reflection will give you the colour at its most intense.
 Here are a few toys to help you understand how colour works and how it might affect your room.

Color Scheme Designer is a great toy - it's actually meant to be used for designing websites but it really helps to understand how colour works together. Here you can see a complementary colour scheme - where opposites are used together to great effect

go and  try the colour scheme designer

Another fun toy is from Crown - not that I am endorsing their paint or otherwise, but this wee tool is great for getting ideas

Crown's Colour Tools
This tool takes a photo of a fairly standard room.....there are a number covering the whole house and lets you change the colours of each of the elements of the room. . Be careful though - the colours you see on the computer screen are potentially very far from the actual paint colours. Tester pots are probably essential for most people to make a final comparison (just as the printed catalogues aren't 100% accurate to the paints)

This is my final's a biggy

Q.What happens if I get it wrong....what if after all that I don't like the colour?
A. Change your lighting before you start changing the will be amazed how a different coloured bulb can dramatically change a room.

Best of luck!! And have fun.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Benefits of Annie Sloan Soft Wax

***Please note that we have closed comments regarding Chalk Paint. Carte Blanche are no longer stockists and the paint has changed in UK a little and we feel that we can no longer comment accurately about its performance as we could in the past. We hope that the article and comments below are useful but for technical advice we would suggest contacting your local supplier or speaking to Oxford - Annie Sloan Head Quarters***

So you have completed the painting of your piece of furniture in Annie Sloan® Chalk Paint™ and you have completed it in record time because you didn't need to strip, prime or even sand it but now you need to seal it and Annie Sloan® recommend  Annie Sloan™ Soft Wax.

The wax in action in the studio
So why should you use Annie Sloan™ Soft Wax and what makes it different from just any old furniture wax? Annie chose this wax for good reasons and there are a lot of benefits to this wax that we can share with you here.

  • First of all it is soft...I know that's a bit obvious given it is called "soft wax" but Annie Sloan® Soft Wax is buttery soft and so application is easy with a brush or cloth (more on brushes below). It also means that you can get it absorbed into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Next it is compatible with the paint ....and not all topcoats are. It is part of a system. That means we can also advise you about use, troubleshoot and if you use something else we as stockists can't necessarily help.
  • It buffs to a beautiful soft lustre 
  • You can mix it with the paint to make a coloured wax (keep reading, I know it sounds bizarre)
  • and to me THIS IS THE BIGGY!!!!!!! Annie Sloan® Soft Wax has no drying accelerator. "Oh Wow" I can hear you say in a sort of underwhelmed sort of a way but wait....let me tell you why that is important. Wax dries and hardens when the solvent evaporates from the surface and most of the waxes on the market have a drying accelerator in to speed this process up. The accelerator drives the solvent off the surface so it dries almost as fast as you apply and drives it where???? STRAIGHT INTO YOUR LUNGS. Annie Sloan® Soft Wax dries and hardens naturally and the solvent evaporates probably mainly while you are off having a cup of tea. 

sit back and wait for the wax to dry
 Now, don't get me wrong, this product still has a solvent and I am not about to suggest that you climb inside a cupboard and wax it with the door closed....this would not be good. But for normal waxing this product is not going to leave you head-achy and with a lung full of solvent whereas I know from experience how horrid others can be for your health.
Because the wax dries slowly you do also need to let it dry...properly...before you buff.

Top Tips For Using Annie Sloan Soft Wax
new wax brush - call the studio 01738 587600 they are in stock now!
  1. Apply thin coats and work the wax in well. You can use a cloth or the new wax brush. The wax might look like lard but try not to dig huge lumps out and just lard it on. If you have too much on, wipe off the excess with a clean cloth 
  2. The new wax brush applies the wax evenly and especially over large areas is going to make life easier and the job quicker
  3. For kitchen units and high traffic areas apply 3 coats. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next - I would wait overnight
  4. WAIT BEFORE BUFFING!!!!!!! This will make your life so much easier. Best for buffing is an old towel and if you leave it to dry it makes it much less work. Not only that if you buff over wax that isn't dry, you may harden the top of it leaving the thin wax beneath soft. Then when you put a cup or mug on it it will break through the surface leaving rings
  5. Put Annie Sloan™ clear wax on before applying the Annie Sloan™ dark wax. Over large areas use the clear wax to control how much of the dark wax remains on the surface. This is something we cover in the classes and can be a little tricky for someone new to the process, so practice....have a sample board to hand to play with before you do your lovely furniture.

applying the dark wax
To sum up, most problems are caused by :
  • too much wax being applied
  • buffing too soon
  • rushing the process

One final tip. Every now and again the solvent from the wax sucks straight into the paint and makes it look a little patchy - bear in mind that the paint can be applied, thickly, thinly, roughly, smoothly and every hand is different. This happens for a variety of reasons - thickness of paint, texture of paint, atmospheric conditions -  and invariable frustrates folk. IT WILL GO...once the solvent evaporates completely it will be fine but this may take time. Remember that you don't buy Annie Sloan® Chalk Paint™ because you wanted it to look like Dulux and so please don't stress about it.

If you want to get rid of it now and diminish the look of patches, maybe because it is for sale, maybe because you are just like that then there is a wee technique

Making coloured wax
 See how there is a blob of wax in the surface in this picture? And then a blob of paint added in....well that makes a coloured wax. I KNOW, I KNOW this shouldn't be possible (another benefit) and believe me I have tried to work out why it works ....these days I just accept it. Anyway if you want to blend out any dark patches just use the paint you have used on the piece (this picture obviously is using a contrasting colour) and mix with the wax and work over the area. 

I hope this has demystified the wax....and also helped you understand the best ways to apply it. Happy waxing guys!!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fasque Fancy

Fasque House is where I've been hiding....well one of the places, it has been such a very busy time, we really have been dotting about all over but Fasque is where we have been doing lots of fancy stuff.

The Grand Approach to the House

This was the prime minister Gladstone's home, and the surrounding estate is fabulous. The house has been given a major makeover and is now a prestigious wedding and conference venue. While they have developed and restored a lot of the house, Heather and Doug Dick-Reid continue to open up and restore more of the house and the area pictured below hasn't been opened up for well over 50 years. This used to be the men's servants quarters and while it doesn't have the grandeur of some of the high rooms and victorian saloons and apartments it has great character and Heather and Doug wanted something really fabulous to make this space somewhere any guest would be more than delighted to stay in. Here is how I first saw the space


Heather has a great eye and is fantastically decisive (any finisher is appreciative of a swift and firm decision). She was really drawn by the new designer Italian Paint Finish Valpaint range that are exclusive in Scotland to Carte Blanche and Klondike Wall Effect was the perfect choice - it shimmers gold as the light hits it but as you move along the hallway it has a pattern and a colour and gives the space amazing atmosphere. Over and above that it is repairable, has no seams and can be easily painted out should there be significant damage by a drunken reveller.
Sample choosing for woodwork

the ceiling in Ottocento metallic suede finish - you can see the pattern and colour here

the splash of gold

dressed and ready for visitors
Just perfect
I think these are the chic-est servants quarters I ever saw....definitely not for the lower ranks. This is the very first Valpaint project in Scotland. If you would like to view the range why not pop into the studio to look at samples and catalogues

Monday, 30 January 2012

How to Use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I have been meaning to do a stage by stage; step by step Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because while I talk about it a fair bit in my blog .... have I shown you how to use it? No I haven't. Have I even explained to you why it is probably the best paint in the world? Nope....I don't think I ever did. Have I introduced you to the inventor of the paint? How remiss.....let's start there. Meet Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan is an interior designer, artist, writer and renowned decorative expert on world painting based in Oxford. You can read a lot more about her own her own blog here

And what is so special about the paint? 

Virtually NOOOOO Prep!

Truly you can just paint straight over varnish, wax, French polish, old paint and virtually any other surface you might find on old or new furniture. No Sanding? No Priming? No Fuss? Just Fun? Yes...all that is true

Obviously there are sensible things you need to do. It's best if it is clean, dust free and that the surface is sound that you will be working on - get rid of loose and flaky. Then I have a really cool person here to demonstrate the technique - Yup it's Annie herself .....


I know what you are can't be that easy, she's the person who invented the stuff....there must a secret. So if you don't believe me watch these guys......I don't know what it is about this video but I have decided these guys MUST be nice....they just look lovely and you definitely want to give them a hug by the time they finish.

So that's um....let me see.....oh yes.....paint ......then wax. Simples!

Happy Painting! Don't forget to buy your paint from us, we have paint, wax books all available - the link to our online shop is on the right hand side just click through or follow this link!!!
Thanks for making these videos peeps, you saved me a LOT of writing and picture taking and your videos are WONDERFUL!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Open Doors

I wish I could get into the habit of blogging more regularly, I am just chasing my tail to keep you all up to date with happenings in the studio......and yes we are OPEN and working effectively in the studio and we open every Saturday 10am till 5pm and we are often in the studio at other times, just ring before popping in
Our Annie Sloan Shop
First I have to tell you that we had a wonderful opening....after a huge amount of work to make the space habitable and as pretty as possibly, we literally were ready on the dot of 12pm on the 8th of January and just kept our fingers crossed. - and people appeared and more and more and all through the day people came from far and wide. We had visitors from as far away as Kincardineshire and Loch Fyne, Glasgow, East Kilbride so THANK YOU alllll for making such an effort to come and join us and travelling so far to do so - thanks to our local supporters too, who gave up part of a precious Sunday to wish us well....anyway let me give you a tour of the studio finished to this point (lots more to do).

Come on in

 We managed despite it being winter to get the lower wall that belongs to us smartened up and painted and our nasty door cleaned up.....and look you step up a colour chart, not a staircase
night time view

And at our dark winter evenings our Antibes Green door glows and invites you in

Remember that idea I had wayyyy back for a colour chart
 Regular visitors might remember me being inspired by a colour chart painted on a wall (see it again here)
Try as I might I couldn't make it look nice on the brick so we did it on sample cards which worked really well

Colour Chart

One of Gibson's stencil designs greets you

revitalised piece - the back of a wardrobe
 Gibson had picked up a great panelled piece of wood that had these lovely hooks on - it was very stained and dark but a wash of Paris Grey followed by liming wax made so chic....I just love it.

the kitchen

Love my bathroom
The loo is probably the most "finished" part of the studio Paris Grey on the back wall, I think that brick surface really suits the mattness of Chalk Paint and that old pine chest of drawers looks fabulous with Versailles and finished with clear wax. I need new flooring and to grout the tiles and we are done. 

The floor is Provence...not finished yet but looked good for the opening
So nice to be able to put our samples up and not have them get damp like in the old studio

Our teaching tables and the library corner

We did some demonstrations and these attracted a wee crowd. 

Does my bum look big in this??? There NO doubt

a quick bit of marbling
Our new class list includes a short class to teach this marble and another simple fantasy marble.

Finally the winner of the Great Paint Give-away was  Gillian Morris of Eggshell and Chalk a long time custome of Carte Blanche and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and so we were delighted she one and what made it better was that as she entered she said to Gibson "I don't know why I am bothering cos I never win anything" so it was nice for her to start the New Year off breaking that pattern.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A Great UK Paint Giveaway - Annie Sloan Paint Prize Draw

The American Annie Sloan stockists have been giving paint away in prize draws all last month and I thought it was pretty sad that no-one was giving out paint in the UK. To celebrated our new studio open day we decided we would have a prize draw. Here is the prize ....
Worth £72.79
Two litres of Chalk Paint in colours of your choice, 2 sample pots in colours of your choice, 2 waxes, a dark and a clear and Annie's lovely book "Creating the French Look".

So how do you get your name in the hat?? You can actually get your name in the hat loads of times over. For each of these things that you do you get your name in the hat once
  1. Follow this blog do you do that? Look to the right hand side and scroll down until you see the "Blog Followers" title and click the "join this site" button.
  2. "Like" our Facebook Page
  3. Follow me on Twitter - @paintycait
  4. Sign up for our newsletter -click here
  5. Forward that newsletter when you get it by clicking the "forward email" link (usually at the bottom of the newsletter)
  6. Finally come to our Open House on Sunday 8th of January between 12pm and 4pm and this is when we will make the draw at 4pm ....Unit 7, 14 Dunkeld Road, Perth PH1 5RW
 So you don't have long but you do have lots of opportunities and you could get your name in the hat 6 times improving your chances of winning this cracking prize. This is open to anyone in the UK and includes shipping to all UK Mainland areas.
So get clicking!!!, joining liking and then painting......

A 7 YR Old Can Do This & So Can You- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Let me introduce you to my niece Mathilda (known as Tildy to family).

Mathilda is 7 years old and as can be seen absolutely gorgeous (especially in her Carte Blanche apron) and of course is a genius because she is related to me but Mathilda has never painted furniture before. Last week she came with her family for lunch at the studio and while her Mum and brother, who are both fashionistas, headed off to nearby TK Maxx in search of jeans she decided to stay with me and her Dad and she said to me she would like to paint something. Well....I was busy washing up and chatting to her Dad and since I had already started this chair I literally just handed her a brush and the pot of  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Aubusson) in faith that really....nothing can go wrong.
She was struggling a little with the spindles on the back and I gave her a wee hint on how to do those (I explained that it is easiest to slap the paint brush  flat against them and then just gently brush the paint down the spindle)...then went back to chatting.....she needed a little guidance on the seat on how to just finish off the  paint, she had covered the seat but it was "lumpy" so I just showed her how to gently use the tips of the bristles to just lay off all the paint.
Now before I knew it she was telling me where I had missed on the legs and she was "touching up"....Thank goodness for Mathilda because I had missed quite a lot.

When Tildy had gone I expected to have to tidy up a bit....but do you know, a little sand and a wax and the result was fabulous.
How lovely is this chair

and chairs are hard...even for pros

The thing about Annie Sloan Paint is that even if it isn't perfect, it gives character

and here we are playing with Annie Sloan Fabrics

Now, if 7 year old Mathilda (who is gorgeous and a genius ....but still only 7) can do this......SO CAN YOU!

If you would like to see just how gorgeous this chair looks in real life then why not drop into the studio for our open day on Sunday 8th January  12-4pm for a glass of Proseco and a little smoked salmon......and a demonstration of the paint from a grown up.....but will I live up to Mathilda's prescedent??