The tale of two chairs

As mentioned in my last post, fuelled by a heady combination of Pinterest and ‘Fill Your House For Free‘, I’ve taken to upcycling in rather a manic way. Why upcycling? Isn’t it just a fashionable pursuit for the privileged with too much time on their hands? Well, maybe. Though being a full time carer of a small child, I’d dispute having too much time on my hands…

But I also rather believe in conscious consumption (I blogged about it here). I worry about our disposable society and what kind of environment the Tiny Overlord will inherit. And well, I just like old things, I love things with quirk and charm and character. I love things that are unique and if I can achieve some of those things through a good old bit of re-loving, then that’s just fine with me.

school chairs Made in Britain

The chairs came from a playgroup, via a reclamation yard in sunny Margate for a whole Four British Pounds (tip: avoid the ridiculously overpriced ‘vintage’ shops in the Old Town and head up the hill past the Shell Grotto to the real thing).

Covered in rust and grime, but proudly Made in Britain, I bequeathed them a stay of execution from the scrap heap and after lugging them home on the train (that lovely parquet floor above is in Ramsgate station), set about transforming them for the Tiny Overlord.

Chair makeover in progress Chair makeover in progress

It took me HOURS to sand all the flaking plastic paint and rust off the metal legs. It took me ages to scrub the plastic clean with sugar soap, so they could be primed and painted. But, after a lot of hard work, a couple of emergency trips to Wilkos for more cans of paint and a lot of cursing, they were transformed in to my primary coloured dream.

Yellow upcycled school chairs Play area

Can I be honest with you? Was it worth it? In principle, yes. These perfectly useable chairs have been saved from landfill and given a new lease of life and I love the colour of them. But, to get this finish on them took two cans of Plasticote paint (not including a coat of primer and lacquer) and two cans of spray Hammerite on the legs. That’s not only a huge amount of money to spend on £4 chairs, that’s an awful lot of VOCs released in to the atmosphere! Someone with more knowledge on these matters than I will have tell me if they really have better environmental value than new chairs.

Even though I have upcycled furniture many times before with a brush, I found the spray paint very hard to handle. I wasted loads of it spraying the thin chair legs. It didn’t dry in the time stated on the the can, the paint is uneven from where they were knocked over on to the grass by rampaging cats (that never happens to Kirstie Allsop…) and one chair has an amazing imprint of my finger prints for prosperity from where I had to pick it up, wet. Which is useful as a crime deterrent as there is absolutely no mistaking they are mine, but it wasn’t exactly the Pinterest perfect polished finish I was hoping for.

However, despite the resulting costs and imperfections, we really do love them. And paired with a slightly less ethical table from IKEA (I had planned to upcycle a table but this one was just too perfect. And it cost a lot less than all that spray paint…), we think they make the perfect pieces for the Tiny Overlord’s play area. And that’s really all that matters. Quirky, colourful and uniquely ours.

Thanet

The late Summer is my favourite time of year, possibly, selfishly, because it coincides with my birthday. I prefer to spend as much time as possible by the seaside, but, living in the Thames Valley, our time on the coast is rare. This year my main present request was a day with just my Aussie, so we dropped the Tiny Overlord off with his East Kent dwelling grandparents and got the train to the Isle of Thanet.

First stop Broadstairs:

Broadstairs beach.

The Chapel, Broadstairs.

seagull.

Beautiful Broadstairs, with your picturesque sandy cove, your multitude of charity shops and your plethora of tasty treats. You are a fine sight for baby-weary eyes. We pottered in the sand, watched some paddle-boarding while sipping fortifying Bloody Marys in independent restaurant Wyatt & Jones (we will be back to try the cooked brunches, they looked amazing) and had a cheeky half in the amazing secondhand bookshop cum pub – The Chapel. But baby-free days are short, so we jumped back on the train…

Next stop Margate:

Dreamland Margate.

Kentish cider.

photo 5

Personally, my heart lies with a bit of faded seaside glory and from what I had been told Margate, one of the original Victorian Seaside towns, was pretty faded. We made stops at the wonderful Turner Contemporary Gallery (I even took part in the regular craft club). Took in the rather bewildering senses overload of cupcake and vintage fuelled gentrification in the old town, but found solace in the Greedy Cow and the Lifeboat. We also went to the famous weird and wonderful Shell Grotto (go, go, go!) and snaffled some real bargains for the Tiny Overlord in a reclamation yard. More on them in another post…

One of the things that got us really rather giddy was the Expo by the Dreamland Trust, a group trying to restore Margate’s rather infamous amusement park. The Aussie (who, despite the nickname, grew up in East Kent) loved the childhood nostalgia and memories of misspent youth. I (being from the other side of the Thames Estuary) admire the community tenacity that fuels such an ambitious project, when the town has clearly been through such a rough time. ‘Green shoots’, someone described Margate’s revival as, let’s hope they grow.

We keep being drawn to East Kent and our day in characterful Thanet has just fuelled my fascination with this piece of coast.

In Search of Big Skies…

Another new blog, really Roo? Well, yes.

Picture of new web page

Yes, I need to charge my iPad. But for those unfamiliar with my online story, I’ll give you a quick recap to explain how we got here to my latest blogosphere incarnation. Back in 2008, I made some tentative steps in to the world of fashion blogging. I love my clothes, I love vintage and I love a budget busting bargain. However, I HATE having my photo taken, I hate having to look at my photo even more. So my career as a style blogger was limited, I prefer writing personal posts. Which also included posts about some of my crafty creations.

One day I found myself described online as a craft blogger, I even got invited to a craft launch event. So, in a panic, I created a craft blog – and Little Stitch was born. But I was never that comfortable with the name – maybe a little twee? Maybe a little limiting? Maybe a little bit too much like everything else? I just wasn’t happy with it.

For a very long time my various online bios have simply said ‘continually searching for big skies’. Because I am. Literally and metaphorically. So here we are. A new blog, a new name and a new look. Maybe this will be my permanent internet home or maybe I’ll just keep wandering from URL to URL like an online Littlest Hobo… Either way, I hope both you and I enjoy.