First mini course at Brush!

Yesterday three Portuguese women came for a mini course at my store.  (The Portuguese part is not really important….I just put it out there because I am Canadian, I live in Poland and just had a class with three Portuguese women…small world!!)

Anyway, I had flyers delivered around my part of Warsaw shortly after my store opened.  About two weeks from that point two women came to ask if I would be interested in teaching them how to paint in French country style.

Of course!!!

So we finally got together yesterday for about three hours and I explained to them a very basic technique with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint- a simple distressing and waxing method.

We started out with this:

It is just a regular pine box.  Simple and unfinished.

I stained it before hand so that there was dark wood under the paint.

These women have never painted before and they had loads of fun doing it.

This is after the first coat – we are attempting to speed up the drying process with the dryers.

This is after two coats and before sanding.

All of the ladies picked either Old White or White Linen.  Once the boxes were dry we started the waxing then sanding.

(sorry, no photos of that)

But this is how they turned out:

A basic French country finish.  Paint and distressing with light and dark wax.

Very easy and the best part is that the ladies were thrilled with their work.

Foi um dia divertido!!


How to paint with Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint….and a donation for the Christmas bazaar.

It seems as though many many people would love to use this paint (with good reason!)  but there are also many that are not sure how to use it.  This is how to do it:

The first step is deciding on the colour.  This is the hardest part.  There are so many beautiful colours to choose from.  My personal favourites are Country Grey, Amsterdam Green, Old Linen….actually I love them all!

After this decision has been made- give the can a good shaking.  Turn it upside down and all around making sure that the paint is thoroughly mixed.  This paint has organic materials in it and settling occurs- so shake it well.

Next step:  paint directly on the surface!  seriously!  This includes old paints, varnishes and lacquers as well as old waxes.  Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint will adhere to many surfaces including metal, concrete, bricks and melamine.  If in doubt do a test spot on your surface to see if it sticks.

This is after one coat.

This is after two coats.

The first coat is White Linen and the second coat is Old Linen.

I want to create a layered paint effect and a heavy distressing.

So after the paint has dried the next step is to wax it.  You read this right- apply a thin layer of clear wax.

Once the wax has dried sand lightly with a fine grit sand paper.  120 grit is about right.  What will happen is that the wax where you are distressing will kind of ball up and roll off.  The finish becomes distressed but also very smooth to the touch.

Next add a second layer of thin wax.  This is where the darker wax can be used to give the furniture a more aged effect in certain spots.  Then buff to the desired shine.

This piece that I am working on is a donation from me to my daughters’ school Christmas bazaar.  There will be an auction and the money goes to an orphanage in Poland.

This is the before:

This is the after:

I am kind of on the fence about it.  I think it is much better than the before but I am not certain.  I actually think that had I painted the stripes horizontally it would work better for me but I do think that the people in the auction will like it.  So, my fingers are crossed.

Stockings and more stockings….tutorial!

I have been sewing like a crazy lady in order to get ready for the Christmas bazaar at my girls’ school.  I have done these the past few years  and they always sell out!  Horray for the orphanage that the money is given to!!

First things first.  Decide on the materials.  Each year I have done a different style.  The first year I did a kind of glam style – shiney materials and fancy trims.  Sorry no photos- this was long before the idea of a store and blog ever entered my mind!

The next year I cut up Polish grains sacks that are made from beautiful linen and had more of a neutral theme.  This is what I am doing again plus this year I have added more linens and a few other recycled Christmas fabrics that I have found on

So after the fabric has been decided then you need a  pattern.  This could easily be drawn by hand–I found this one – I like that it is big and very simple to sew.  Print out the pages and tape them together.

Place and pin onto fabric and then add 1cm seam allowance to the size of the pattern.  (I am in metric- so those on the Imperial system add the 5/8 standard seam allowance.)

Then with right sides together sew the stockings together leaving a 1 cm seam.

For each stocking you will need to cut four pieces so that you have an inside stocking and an outside stocking.  This is where I add contrasting or complimentary fabrics.


So then after you have sewn the stockings together turn one right side out and iron flat.  Turn the top hem inside by 1 cm and iron flat also.  The inside stocking will NOT be turned right side out  but turn the hem down by 1cm towards the outside.

With me so far?

So then put the inside stocking on to your hand and put it into the outside stocking.  Align the seams up, adjust the sewing machine to be able to sew the top then sew the inside and outside stocking together at the top where the two stocking meet. About 1/2 of a cm is only needed for the top seam.

Fold the top down to create a cuff with the contrasting fabric and then press again.  On the cuff you can add trims or other decorative elements- this year I have added a few roses.

Next a loop is usually necessary to hang somewhere.  I take a long strip of fabric that is about 6cm wide- just under 2 1/2 inches.

I fold it in half and iron then fold both sides into the centre to create a strip- then sew it into place.

I usually do the strips in one long piece then cut to smaller sizes.

So then I hand sew into place and add a piece of string or ribbon.

And there you have it.

Much better than store bought.  Having an inside and outside stocking with a cuff is a really nice detail and gives more of a quality feeling to it.

Here are some of the fabrics I am using this year.

It feels as though I have done a 100 of these this year…I am probably closer to 50 – I don’t mind as the money goes for a very good cause.

If there are any questions- please ask, I have been sewing since I was about 12 -it comes second nature to me so I may have left out steps that perhaps a beginner sewer may not know.  This is not a difficult project at all and can be done in a short amount of time.

Now if it would just snow….. 🙂


Busy and busting at the seams!

It has been a while since an update.  I am pretty busy with a few things.  Painting furniture for a few clients and trying to organize items to sell at my daughters’ school for the annual Christmas bazaar.

I am going to brag here and say that we make the most money each year.  The bazaar is a charity event where all the money goes to a local orphanage for much needed items and building improvements.

Typically the parents sell sweets and stuff but I make hand made stockings (I will do a tutorial for this) and a few other decorative items.  We have done this for the past few years with great success.

So besides sewing up a storm at home I am painting at the store which is full of furniture.  I have a client that commissioned a massive buffet to be painted duck egg blue and old white.  She really liked the one I did previously and actually wanted to buy it but somebody else scooped it up before her!

So the painting is done- and this huge thing is in the middle of my store waiting to go to its new home in the country.

Here is the beast- it is so big I can’t even get one full shot of it.

It has lovely details on it.  Lots of carvings and cabriole legs and the thing is solid- as my Nana used to say  “heavy as a dead priest”

Duck egg blue is the main colour with Old White on the details.   It was then waxed, distressed then waxed again with clear and dark wax.

The carved back detail.

I found this really cute Amy Butler wallpaper at my local diy store so I scooped up a few rolls for the drawers and shelves.

I am so glad this piece is done- it was really big to work on.  I couldn’t put it on a table so it was difficult to paint some parts of it.  Now fingers crossed my client likes it!!

Side table for the tween

When we moved into our new house I did a lot of scrambling trying to buy furniture for my daughters’ rooms.  The two of them had shared a room in our old house and to say it was cramped is an understatement.  They had bunk beds which took up a lot of the space….and there was not much else.

So I bought some furniture, that looking back, probably wasn’t the best choice.  Fast forward a year and I have my own store with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint- perfect. It couldn’t be easier and cheaper to update a few things.

So my eldest has this side table:

This table in the photo is actually oak- she has the same one but in mahogany.  The carvings are quite clear in this photo- in the mahogany they are not as visable.

She didn’t like it at all- I think more than anything she wanted to paint it.  Well, she is twelve and I was painting stuff when I was her age too- so why not?

So they got down to it.

Very serious work.

So they painted two coats of ASCP in Versailles.  This was Saturday.

Today I waxed and distressed.  Then I added a second layer of wax mixed with a touch of Country Grey.  This is a technique I learned at Annie Sloan’s shop in Oxford.

After the first waxing which revealed the mahogany- to my eye the contrast between the paint and dark wood seemed a bit artificial to me- so I added the Country Grey to the wax which softened the contrast.

I think it looks pretty good.

It really does have a lot of nice carving details in it which are now visible with the paint and wax technique.

Now I wonder if the girls have the painting bug?


This past week has been a holiday for my girls.  November 1st is “the day of the dead” which means that everybody returns to their home town to celebrate the passing of their loved ones.

The cemeteries are lit up with candles- it is really quite beautiful.

We went to the mountains in the south of Poland.  Also quite lovely.  Zakopane and the region is famous for its highlanders, oscypek (cheese) and electric tea.  The architecture is quite different from the rest of Poland- the roofs are pointed to accommodate the amount of snow here and they are a typical mountain style with wood exteriors.

Needless to say, I didn’t do any work, but funnily enough I still managed to sell three cans of paint and three tins of wax.

The next two months will be busy- I have furniture to paint and then I need to make a few items for christmas.

Here are a few pictures of Zakopane- we had great weather- 13/14 celcius and not a cloud in the sky.

There were a surprising amount of tourists for this time of year.  Many Hungarians, Italians, English and Germans enjoying the weather.

The above photo is the “catwalk”, it has changed a lot since I was here seven years ago.

Typical highlander/mountain architecture.  The first house is on the top of a hill and surrounded by sheep.  The second is a brand new villa under construction at the base of the ski hill.

Many buildings, including shops had decorative carvings on the facade.  So lovely.

I imagine the area is quite breath taking with the snow even when there is no snow it is still nice.

These are only a few of the market stalls with the highlander cheese.  Also for sale are wool items like sweaters and slippers and clothes made from material that has the highland pattern on it.


This region of Poland is very colourful and distinct- and you will never forget the cheese!