Rubbing shoulders with Annie Sloan

 

me and annie sloan2Of course interviewing a celebrity can be intimidating. Lucky for me I was too busy with my daughter’s sixth birthday party mermaid extravaganza to obsess about the upcoming interview until the night before. By obscess I mostly mean, worry about important things like:

  1. What am I going to wear?
  2. How much sleep I will loose by getting up early to drive across the country (yes you can drive accross the whole country by mid-morning)?
  3. What’s the best lunch restaurant in Neuchâtel to eat with your 6 year old daughter?

Annie Sloan is best know for her boutique brand of chalk paint. I knew I didn’t want to write another post about how chalk paint sticks to any surface or a tutorial on waxing. What I really wanted to know from this successful woman, had more to do with the idea that she raised three children AND created a successful career simultaneously. I wanted to know how she created a word-of-mouth sensation without much of a marketing budget and how she became a Pinterest sensation. I wanted to know why bloggers (like me) evangelize ASCP (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint) without any compensation at all- not even in the form of free products.

neuchatel prominade2

Scenic Promenade on the shores of Nuechâtel.

Neuchatel is a charming city on the shores of the beautiful turquoise lake in the French region on the far west of Switzerland. Coco and I got up rather early and headed off for the long drive and a girls day out. I had lined up a sitter for the demonstration and interview, (which ultimately fell through-but thank heavens for iPads).

Victoria Sparkes is the owner of  Bateau Rouge, she is also my art dealer. And now you know how I managed to score an interview with Annie Sloan. Bateau Rouge is a small gift shop and creative studio on Promenade Noire number 8, one of the main streets in Neuchâtel. The chalkboard sign in front, alerts you to specials and treasures inside.

outsideinside

shop treasure

The shelves are full of colorful paints, knobs and artwork to beautify your surroundings. My little birds are perched all over the store.

my little birds smaller

The real feature that day, was a stencil demonstration by none-other than Annie Sloan herself.

annie demo & ASCP

I was surprised at how unpretentious and relaxed she was. I didn’t know what to expect exactly: a bigger entourage, a large colorful hat embellished with feathers – she is British after all -and an artist. In reality- Annie Sloan was quite normal. The news crews from Neuchâtel were on hand to document the entire process and add to the excitement.

tv crews there too

Stenciling as you may remember, is nothing new. It’s making a re-entrants onto the craft market with sophisticated laser cut patterns for all types of decor. Annie Sloan carries a line of stencils as well as, fabrics and of course her paint products. She showed us how easy it is to use them and how flexible they are in achieving a customized work of art. She answered lots of questions including several regarding painting fabric with chalk paint.


She is so honest & down-to-earth she even told a story of how one of her favorite linen jackets had faded and rather than tossing it out, she dyed it using black Annie Sloan chalk paint. She then reached for it and showed us that it was the jacket she had brought along for the day – a little eccentric perhaps, but the jacket was indeed very black and a perfect way to demonstrate that the products do work.


After autographs and photos and fielding lots of questions, she took a few moments and we sat down in a sunlit corner of the shop. She shared with me her journey as an artist and as an educator and how merging the two careers have become a satisfying business and brand. She told me that her desire to practice her art and decorate her surroundings led to creating ASCP- which properties of adhesion, mixability, ease of use, and a beautiful color pallets made it a welcomed solution for DIY’ers decorative needs, and filled a nitch in the marketplace. She told me about writing her first book 27 years ago when her oldest son was just a toddler. While raising 3 boys she managed to continue writing books~ 24 more, as well as working as an artist.

She shared with me that serendipitously her husband an IT professional and a left brain balance to her right brain creativity -built her a website very early on. That internet presence combined with her own early adaptation to Facebook and Twitter are important contributors to her success. Social media has indeed played a large part in her ability to market her brand at a very low cost. It’s hard to search Pinterest for more than a few minutes without running a crossed a mention of Annie Sloan chalk paint. She attributes luck too much of this success and claims that a great product sells itself. She says that by continuing to fill niches in the market with her products she can continue to grow her business and remain successful in spite of lower cost competitors. For anybody that has used her product, we all know that it’s hard to beat. Brand loyalty among her users is significant-I believe it’s because her brand is dependable. When you invested so much time and money into a piece of furniture or cabinetry (or just about anything you want to craft by hand), it provides a lot of peace-of-mind knowing what outcome to expect. And while her products are not inexpensive, they really do work. Thats the reason why bloggers like me, want to shout from the rooftops and tell every one about ASCP.

Annie credits her distribution channel of stockist as another strategy of success. By selling paint through experienced stockist, she is able to provide customers with necessary support. In addition to their stockist, customers can reach Annie Sloan and her team via Facebook and other social media any time of day. She is very quick to answer questions and assist customers through social media. I left Bateau Rouge feeling inspired by a strong woman with a vision, and a disire to share her talent and passions. And because of that desire, she has become incredibly successful along the way. I’d interview celebrities like this everyday if I could. Now Annie, could you just invent something that makes dinner and runs errands so I have more time to paint?! Special thanks to Victoria Sparkes at batue rouge and Annie Sloan and her team for making days like this possible.

match icecream 2

***On a side note: when ever possible, match your gelato to your outfit . 

Last Minute Mothers Day Gift Idea- repost

2mothers-day-all-in-one-1024x778This idea was originally posted in may 2013, not long after we moved to Switzerland. We had such fun doing this photoshoot in front of our apartment (and in front what seems like 1/2 the village). I remember thinking “if they thought we were strange before, what on earth must they think of us now?”. So I am reposting this idea because it deserves a few more views and because I LOVE it so much!

If you waited till the last minute, gather up the family and use your iPhone to take some photos, send them digitally and let the mothers in your life de-scramble the message?

Happy Mothersday!

New Years Gingerbread houses

cover shot

As a child I was enchanted by gingerbread houses. I don’t remember ever making one.
I even have a Pinterest board of beautiful candy crusted gingerbread houses that I admire.

Many years ago I swore I’d never do this with my kids again.
I decided it’s a non-kid project.
Some how I found myself unable to resist the lure of gingerbread kits at a shockingly fantastic bargin again ( thank you ikea) because it was on sale after Christmas. Of course the candy (which I also bought at IKEA) probably cost $20!

pepparkaka-hus-gingerbread-house__0137263_PE295266_S4

We tried again for New Year’s Eve and I watched my son suspiciously have accident after accident that caused pieces to break, after each time he would say ” oh that’s okay, I really just want to eat it”. (He’s pretty transparent).

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Determined to have a result that reflected some representation of all my effort, I sawed pieces on to new shapes and created a cute cottage and shed.

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My daughter, on the other hand, may have provided me with the hope I need to continue this tradition forever. She picked up the tweezers and patiently placed sprinkled by sprinkle into the window box ” planting colored flowers”. I admit it, it was a proud moment for me, just imagine what she will be able to do in a few years. I like to think that it’s good practice for surgical skills. A doctor in the making.

Painted Bird Series

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There are so many things I need to catch up with you about but this by far the prettiest! I am posting 7 of my new acylic paintings. My sweet little birds are 6×6 inches and look especially beautiful in groups! I am pricing them at $50 each plus shipping from the states through end of November- just in time for Christmas! I will be posting some more “wintery” selections later so check back often! TO order email me! Or comment on Facebook.

robin forward on aquaRobin on Aquamarine

lavander crested aquabird on peachLavender Crest on Peach

yellow bird on blueBig Bird on Blue

bluebird on greenBlue Bird on Green

hummingbird on peachHummingbird on Peach

hot pink black birdMagpie on HotPink

robin looks left on blueRobin Looking to the Left

Why are Kids Crafts so Intimidating & Why You Should Conquer Your Fears

 

nutella strawberry sandwich

Strawberry Nutella sandwiches with strawberry smoothies are the perfect healthy lunch to inspire killer Valentine masterpieces!

Kids crafts intimidating you ask?

1. Once, after a few hours of Easter egg dying with the children, my wise friend gently reminded me that the experience was about the process not the outcome. Being a artsy-crafty-perfectionist I struggle with kids crafts because I think I focus too much on the outcome- trying to teach them how to do it right, not exercising enough restraint to allow them the creative experimentation. I want to raise creative children but I am a bit of a control freak- its hard.

2. I don’t like messes- which pretty much makes me unfit for motherhood. Enough said.

heart toilet roll craft

Spartacus worked on Saturday in an effort to try and recover some of our losses due to the new found ski hobby that seems to have been contracted by everyone in the family but me. I stayed home all morning making valentines to send to grandparents and cousins back in the states. Of course they will never arrive on time but getting anything in the mailbox besides bills is a welcome surprise- no matter when it comes.

glitter paperI reached for the holy trinity of mess making, paint, glitter, and glue. I also gathered up a few weeks worth of spiel gruppe crafts and began deconstructing them into pieces that can act as Valentine embellishments. This offers a win-win solution for me because Coco begs not to part with a single sheet of paper unless she believes them to be gifted away to her admirers. And so I will send happy Valentine salutations embellished with original artwork. Axel spent some time creating multi-colored glitter layered cards as well as hysterical potty-talk-filled-mad-lib-Valentines.

sophia makes crafts 2

You may have notice that both the kids are wearing plastic long sleeve smocks and we have matching plastic craft tablecloth- thank you Santa Clause. I am still cleaning up glitter, but I feel like mother of the year! The kids love days like this, and I remember my own mother spending many days crafting, painting, and cooking with us so I know these days are worth the work.

valentine cardsLook at these sparkly treasures, I think they look adorable even if they aren’t my designs. Happy Valentines week- Enjoy The Process!

 

Free Printable Gift Certificate

Christmas Gift CertificateI am excited to share a Free PDF Printable inspired my Mrs. Claus Affair Gift card project. When I started searching for a quick but cute printable gift certificate I found nothing!!! I decided I better start searching for something I could use to make one; I found these chalkboard printables at Lia Griffith “hand craft your life”. I immediately started pinning all the coordinating designs- and you can too. In the mean time I used my mad Photoshop skills to make up a gift certificate. I’m the type of girl who loves to get a pretty gift certificate for a back rub or an offer for a job I really hate (like scrubbing the bathtub) so I wonder how many of you can print this out and use it for your loved ones Christmas Gifts? Just share your ideas here in the comments or on my moxiblog Facebook page.

PDF DOWNLOAD: Christmas Gift Certificate Printable

If your graphic savvy you know what to do. For the rest,  place this in your Word document as a background, size it for your project and type your to, from’s, and for’s over the top by making your font white. You could also print them blank and use a white pen for your copy.

Annie Sloan Chair Class at Bateau Rouge

before-after.moxiblog.comOn Saturday I attended my long anticipated chair class. Knowing I had to leave the house early in the morning I hardly got any sleep the night before (don’t you hate it when you have a morning flight?!-)

rainbows always look better in person

The sunrise and early morning rainbow were my reward for an early start and good omen for the spectacular day that lay ahead! The directions for Bateau Rouge are a little tricky with a GPS. I was looking for a business or a warehouse, but was so surprised when I ended up at Vikki’s home. She lives in a beautiful OLD gated estate  just outside of Neuchatel. Her office, studio, and shop are all in the basement level of her stunning home- what a perfect way to live I thought, as I gazed over the garden and swimming pool.

Jessicas pillows stunning!

Here is a photo of Vikki’s sofa, don’t you just love those vintage french pillow? Get them Here!

When we arrived we chatted over a tea and all got to know each other a little while everyone trickled in. I suggest if you are going to host a class of any-kind, be sure to invite Jill from Rheinfelden- she bakes the best cookies!

tryptic- get startedEveryone put on old paint shirts and got down to business. First we were supposed to remove old upholstery before we arrived. Next pick our fabric and paint (this was the best part!) and then the real work began.

Jens chair in progressPainting a few coats before lunch while chatting-mostly about thriving in an expat life. Paint, Cookies, Advice…. could I ask for more?!

lovely lunch

dining room

Why yes, lunch! Our host/instructor Vicki prepared the worlds BEST (I’m not exaggerating- if I can procure the recipe I will share it) Veggie Lasagna. Having lunch with these amazing and inspiring ladies was such a treat. After apple crisp and chantilly cream served out of a tall crystal bowl, we marched back to the studio for the marathon finish.

table mate Isabells beautiful chair

This is Isabell, she is french, and she made a real french chair with a real vintage tar stamped grain sack! Tres magnifique!

as far as I got in chair class

My chair was overly ambitious for this class and for a single day. I was there until nearly 8pm, but I got the base done. My trim is on order so once I get that in the mail I will glue it on, I don’t think you can really tell from these photos.

chair after

Monday I spent the entire day making one blasted cushion!!! Don’t look too closely- its far from perfect! Piping AND a zipper?! This was a 10-piece pattern with no directions that I figured out by taking the cushion apart with a ripper. I am soooo proud of myself! I am however, dreading making one for the matching chair.

Is there such a thing as color regret? I am still a little unsure. I love the color, but don’t know about it for this chair. It certainly isn’t boring or dreary. What do you think? It would look great on a big Charleston Porch! If you are looking for a fun day, and a class on Annie Sloan Painting and fabrics, why not come on over to Switzerland and visit Vikki at Bateau Rouge.

 

Websters Chalk Paint Powder GIVEAWAY day 4

shoe cabinet finished2.moxiblog.com

I hate that I got the first coat of paint on the cabinet before taking a photo. I quickly snapped a shot so you could at least see what it looks like with one coat. I mentioned in previous post, that I thought one of the downsides to the product was the coverage. I also think that it might be the Swiss paint I am using. This photo clearly shows you the coverage of one coat, so if your first coat looks about this transparent, let me know.

Then this morning I strolled through the thrift shop and there was an exact match for sale at 30 chf! Score- I snapped a shot.

one coat

I think the Websters product is perfect for heavily distressed pieces because, if the paint scratches then it is less noticeable. It also works good on dressers or cupbords, things that might get less use than say, chairs or kitchen cabinets. I think all the carving details also make this piece a great candidate for dark wax and heavy distressing because it really makes all that carving and detail stand out. Today you have another chance to win a sample of Websters Chalk Paint powder. Today’s shoe cabinet I heavily distressed and even used dark wax on it to give it an old antique patina. Tutorials on wax technique can be found here at Blue Egg Brown Nest.  Because of one of your great questions and comments this week, I learned that technique glazes, like Ralph Laurens “tea stained”, work really well to seal the piece and give it some “age”.

shoe cabinet open.moxiblog.com

  • I loved this piece because of the cool swinging door storage.
  • I loved this piece because it was FREE!
  • I love this piece because it is only 13.5 inches deep, so it doesn’t take up much space in a little flat and I put it in the hall outside of our bedroom.

I did all 3 of this weeks paint project with 2 cups of Latex paint mixed with Websters Chalk Paint powder- yes that’s it! I am always amazed what a little paint will do to transform a piece of furniture into a whole new look. So what do you think, do you love the simpler painted furniture or the heavily distressed and waxed pieces better? Make sure to visit the Websters Chalk Paint Powder site and leave a comment in this post. I am selecting a new winner from each post and today is the LAST DAY! Tell me what you want to paint, give me a refinishing tip, or tell me you subscribed to the RSS feed! Friday winners will be randomly selected and I will contact you for your mailing address.
Good luck.

 

Websters Chalk Paint Powder GIVEAWAY day 3

For the 3rd day in a row I have sample packet of Websters Chalk Paint Powder up for grabs!

Make sure to visit the Websters Chalk Paint Powder site and leave a comment in this post. Tell me you subscribed to the RSS feed! Friday all weeks winners will be randomly selected and announced~ I will contact you for your mailing address.
Good luck.

bath cabinet befor.after.moxiblog.com

This project is another great example of how just a little paint and some inexpensive hardware can totally transform a piece of furniture. I think I lightened up this photo a little because it was very dark but the piece is a little brighter and more saturated in “real life”. I purchased this cast off from an expat family who were leaving Switzerland this summer. I paid less than 30chf for it. I loved the storage potential but didn’t know immediately where I would put it. Once we got it home I scooted it around a few different spots and then was delighted to find that if fit in the big empty bathroom.

bathroom~double vanity

I’m not a high-maintenance, loads-of-cosmetics, type-of-girl, so I didn’t consider the need for more bathroom storage, however the space presented itself and I use the cabinet to store paint supplies, craft supplies and office supplies. This bathroom is home to the tub so lots of moisture from showers and condensation aren’t an issue.

bathroom~tub room2

The bathroom is completely white and grey, modern, clean but sterile. I love the pop of color (my favorite)
that the aquamarine cabinet provides.

final in bath.moxiblog.com

I still had some of the mixed Websters Chalk Paint Powder left from the 2 previous projects – yes people it really doesn’t take that much paint to make something look new, different, and incredible. I went to our local “hardware” store and bought a tiny bottle of colorant that is used with the latex product and I carefully tinted the paint until I reached the perfect shade of aquamarine. EASY-PEEZY. You can do it too! And you can get custom color mixed at almost any place in the states that sells paint.

After a few coats (chalk paint dries really fast) I was ready for new hardware. Off to Ikea to get some inexpensive knobs. I was dreaming of something like shabby chic crystal knobs, but I found these, brought them home and feel that I accidentally made the exact right choice. The modernity ties it together with the rest of the bathroom, as does the clean paint job. I took an old distressed rustic style cabinet and made it fresh, bright, and modern.

Webster Chalk paint powder day 2 GIVEAWAY!

finished dresser_1

Yesterday I featured the dresser/vanity in Coco’s room. Eventually I will get around to showing you an entire tour of our little flat, and the reason why this dresser is not distressed will seem obvious, but once I was done painting it seemed so boring. Today I want to share with you the detail painting on the dresser – the monogram. I used a little of the Webster Chalk Paint Powder mix (2 tbls. Websters Powder, 1 tbls. water mix and add to 1 cup latex paint), and added just a little red acrylic paint I had in my art box. I did a quick search for a monogram typeface on the internet and found this, you can download it for free! I went on Graphics Fairy site and found a wreath of leaves and put the image together in my graphics software. I printed it at the size I liked for the drawer.

sophias dresser transfer closeup

I colored the back of the paper with a pencil, taped it into place and started tracing.

transfer closeup-peel back.moxiblog.comYou can see from the image above how the pencil transfers onto the drawer. This transfer method is quick and easy for me, especially here in Switzerland where I am VERY limited on equipment like overhead projectors and specialty transfer paper products. It works great, is fast and cheap, but the graphite does not wipe off easily and it does show through the paint a little if you do not cover it really well. I actually prefer my overhead projector for a job like this:(.

monogram round one finishedNext with a tiny little paintbrush I began applying the color and shading and it just got more and more carried away. I wish I had a photo of the whole dresser to compare it, but I instantly knew that the design and style was just too much and too small and overworked for this utilitarian piece of furniture. SO I painted over it again and the next day I started over.

monogram round two

I increased the size of the monogram, and removed all the wreath graphics, then I printed, penciled in the backside, taped it on and traced it. After I traced I mixed more paint (there was plenty of white left) and I used my smallest detail brush to paint the monogram. I dont think you have to be artistic at all for the monogram, just trace the lines and fill it in.

final monogram detail

If you look closely you will see it’s not PERFECT, and is definitely hand painted, but when you see it as a whole it looks great. When we get ready to leave and I sell all the furniture in the flat, it will be simple to paint over or to add the new lucky child’s monogram!

Coco before and after dress.moxiblog.comer

Now for the GIVE-AWAY INFO:

Do you have an old DIY project you have been wanting to try? Not sure about a big investment in time and money? This sample will make at least 2 cups of paint and I did all of this weeks projects with just 2 cups! It goes a long way. Make sure to visit the Websters Chalk Paint Powder site and leave a comment in this post. Tell me what you want to paint, give me a refinishing tip, or tell me you subscribed to the RSS feed! Friday winners will be randomly selected and I will contact you for your mailing address.
Good luck.