Do you fancy a ‘She Shed’?

© www.awoodenhouse.comI have been reading some fun articles over the weekend about the rise of the She Shed, as opposed to the Man Cave. I think both ideas are great if you have the room. It’s always fun to have somewhere that you can disappear into and put a note saying ‘go away’ on the door. It reminds me of the go away type notes I used to stick on my bedroom door as a child, the only trouble was I shared the bedroom with my sister and she kept spoiling things by coming in (I suspect deliberately) good thing we love each other and get on so well now!

You could convert your she shed into a beautiful lacy tearoom, a bright, neon 1950s style hideaway or how about a well organised craft room with spaces for all your bits and pieces? I saw some © www.housetohomelovely conservatory style sheds at the bottom of the gardens along a canal in Amsterdam that ladies used to meet in and take tea. That idea really appeals to me, which is why I love this white lacy she shed. I suspect I would never get around to converting the shed we already have in the garden and then I would have a homeless mower and strimmer etc. so that might not work. Maybe one has to buy a new shed…

I did write a blog last year about making a sign for ‘Dad’s Shed‘, but of course you could just as easily make a sign for ‘Mum’s Shed’ or ‘Granny’s Shed’ using those design ideas and our MDF plaque.

It would be a lovely fantasy world to inhabit though wouldn’t it? Try putting ‘She Shed’ into Google and you will see more than these pictures to gaze at and wonder if it is for you or not!

©www.bhg.comWhat kind of She Shed would you construct?



A step in the right direction!

Top to bottom: The gradual build up of the paint effect on the steps.The paint effects course I recently went on with my partner in crime writing, Julia, has come in unexpectedly handy! Rather than a nice coat of wax on a wardrobe or a bit of light distressing on a dresser, Julia decided to ‘go for it’ on a grand scale and create a paint finish on her front doorsteps. I’ll let her explain…

It all started when my Other Half (OH) decided to replace our steep, crumbling and positively lethal steps up to the front door with nice new, wide concrete steps. Fine, I said – although secretly wishing for granite – but needs must and he was keen to get on with it… Eventually, we were the proud owners of three drab, hard edged, business-like concrete steps up to our nice old house. They looked awful! If Prince Charles had dropped by he would have described them as a “carbuncle on the face of an old friend”… or whatever it was he once said that got him into hot water.

I decided to make the best of it and, with the OH’s blessing, bought masonry paint in different colours. I bought one big tin of a sort of stone colour and then small sample pots of various different colours including black, terracotta, ochre and white. My aim was to try and dull down the steps and make them blend in better with the granite that is everywhere here on Dartmoor from the cobbles in the yard to the walls all around the house and garden. 

Having slapped on two coats on the base colour and let it dry, I got down on hands and knees and started stippling with a stencil brush. I covered about one square foot in an hour – this was not going to work. Then I tried a hard roller to skim over the top of the rough concrete surface – better, but not ideal. I then tried crumpled up newspaper – messy, a scrunched up plastic carrier bag ­– OK but very slippery.

By lunchtime, I was suffering from sore knees, backache and arm ache, so I decided to throw in the sponge – a nice big bit of natural sponge that I had forgotten I owned! Ideal! I was able to dab on the different shades in a random pattern and splodge away to my heart’s delight. The soft sponge got into the dips and bumps and the irregular texture of the natural sponge meant nothing looked regimented and regular.

It was almost dark when I finished, but I was pretty happy with the result. By the time it has weathered and got mucky and a bit of moss growing on it, I think it won’t look too bad. 

As you can tell, this isn’t one of Joanna’s master classes in crafting, but it does hopefully show a few things:

  1. Don’t be frightened to ‘have a go’
  2. Improvise – if your initial idea doesn’t work, try something else
  3. Make sure you use the right paint for the job – this had to be masonry paint to be durable
  4. Experiment – if you discover a good technique, try it on something else.
  5. Don’t be afraid to think big
  6. If all else fails – just paint over it and forget you ever started!

Dad’s Shed!

Sheds are wonderful things – you can make a little craft haven, leave a pile of junk in them, turn them into private pubs or just keep nice organised gardening tools in them. There was a great programme on recently called “Shed of the Year” and I watched it avidly, such a diverse collection of eccentric shed owners that loved their sheds and had a passion in their lives.

This plaque was made as a sample for us by Jo Channon and has a great combination of techniques. The plain MDF plaque is from our website. Then it was crackle finished (again from the website) and the pansies were added by doing some napkin decoupage, peel the top tissue layer from 3 ply napkins and it’s amazing what you can create.

Then lots of antiquing – you can use inkpads or coloured wax, the choice is yours. Finally add some 3D decoupage from the Jane Shasky decoupage pack and some bakers twine and garden string. The letters can be die cut and varnished – bought as stickers/peeloffs or whatever appeals to you most

This makes a fabulous man’s present – but by altering the words you could easily create a super gift for a gardener, or something equally lovely for a crafter.


Fabulous day getting messy!

I have just come back from the most amazing day using Autentico paints at a gorgeous little shop in Exeter called Pepper White Vintage. Anyone who lives locally – what a brilliant place and I hugely recommend the course.

I have dozens of projects waiting at home for paint upgrades and now, after this course, I have remembered how to do it! I have tackled a mass of paint finishes, and even written a book on stencilling, so I am far from a beginner – but embarrassingly that was in the late 80s and early 90s, wow where did that time go – that’s over 20 years ago… help!

So, I decided to go on a ‘refresher course’ as the kind of paints made by Autentico are all new to me and they give the most delicious flat chalk finish and can then be waxed or varnished or whatever you like.

Partner in crime writing, Julia, came with me and we have lots of plans for before and after shots for this blog. We also plan to have the occasional day out together at some local auctions and household clearance places to ferret out bits of old furniture for further projects. That sounds fun in itself, but to be able to play with the paints will be an added bonus!

I have a stencil range due out very shortly (next week hopefully) but this course gave me tons of ideas that could translate to cardmaking or indeed furniture painting. Just as decoupage (the 3D version) is an everyday thing for us paper crafters, so the flat decoupage looks amazing on cupboard knobs, frames and trays. There are so many techniques that cross over the two worlds or help them meet in the middle!

I had to take a photo of this desk, displayed in the shop, that has a wonderful raised handwriting effect on the cupboard and drawers – isn’t it just gorgeous! Watch this space for my next few projects….

You can follow Vintage Pepper White on Facebook or visit their website for more information.




Meet artist Jane Shasky

You’ll know their names and their wonderful designs, but what do you know about their backgrounds and sources of inspiration? Joanna has been chatting to some of the top artists whose original stunning artwork is transformed into craft products and featured on her website.

In this blog Joanna talks to hugely talented artist, Jane Shasky, whose designs you will all know well. 

1. Where do you get your ideas from – what inspires you?

In one word, NATURE! Just about everything I paint and create comes from the endless wonders I see in nature. From minute details in the tiniest of flowers, colourful birds singing in my backyard, to the magic of a sunset over the water, it all inspires me. And these days, my sweet little granddaughter, Codie Jane, absolutely lights up my life. She just turned a year old and is quite possibly THE cutest baby in the world (next to Joanna’s granddaughter, of course!)

2. What do you enjoy most about your career?

I’m so incredibly fortunate to be able to paint what I truly love….flowers, birds, butterflies and plants. I often include inspirational quotes in my own calligraphy. Adding treasured vintage items that I’ve collected over the years from antique shops and estate sales, weathered wood planters and bird houses, rusty old watering cans, clay pots covered in moss – it all brings life and character to my paintings.

Jane with her adorable granddaughter Codie Jane.3. What do you like the least?

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so I work through a lot of weekends. I’m very fortunate to have a great agent who handles all the business details, which leaves me to be creative most of the time. And, since I work alone from my home, I miss connecting with other artist friends, so Facebook is great for that.

4. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Definitely a morning person! I tend to lose my creativity late in the evening, so I use that time for chores and just relaxing.

5. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

That’s a hard one. I’m so happy with my life now and believe that I wouldn’t be where I am today without going (growing) through some really tough times. I have two beautiful daughters, both married to wonderful young men, and they are my best friends. So, I guess I really wouldn’t change a thing.

6. What is your favourite childhood memory?

I remember visiting my great grandmother at her farm on the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, and helping her in the garden. Her yard was filled with peonies, which is one of my most favorite flowers to this day.

7. If you had to choose just one of your designs as your absolute favourite, what would it be?

I’m not sure I could choose just one! I have several paintings that I love, but one design that I did recently has special meaning. It’s of a beautiful pink peony, with the quote “every flower is a prayer”. My mom gave me the baby book that she made for me when I was growing up just before my grand daughter was born. Pasted on the page titled “Artist” was a little card that I made when I was six years old. I had drawn small flowers across the bottom of the inside and wrote those words. It’s the earliest piece of my ‘artwork’ I’d ever seen and is really special to me.

8. Who is your favourite artist?

My most favorite artist in the whole world is Marjolein Bastin from Holland. I’m inspired beyond words by her beautiful art of nature. I’ve collected her work for the past 20 years and four years ago I had the honor of meeting her in Atlanta. She is such a gracious, lovely person and it was truly a dream of a lifetime for me.

9. What was the last gift you gave someone?

Just today I gave a good friend a beautiful rock that I found while hiking at Dungeness Spit in Washington State a few days ago. There are millions of rocks covering that beach, but this one caught my eye. It was swirled with orange and green, and was lit up in the sun. I find so much joy in simple treasures.

10. Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with us?

At the moment, I’m working on paintings and designs for my 2016 “Botanical Inspiration” calendar for LANG, which is a wonderful project. I’m also planning to sell prints of my artwork on my website sometime in the near future.

You can see Jane’s work on her website, and she’d love you to follow her on Facebook too!