Posted in Blog, DIY Hints & Tips, House Renovation, Tools & Materials, TUTORIALS

Our Old Flagstones get a New Home

…. from a pile of slabs……. to a classy stone floor ….here’s how…

opus romain patternslabs laid out in the courtyard
We laid these flagstones in an “Opus Romain” pattern — laying the flags in regular rows,  but varying the row-width across adjacent rows.

You need to decide beforehand on which widths you are going to use. Commercially available flooring in this pattern usually come in 3 widths; for example, 60cm, 45cm and 30cm. The lengths of the individual slabs will vary so that each width will have say a couple of rectangular sizes and maybe a square size.

“Sounds complicated?” “Not really, once you see a picture or two of how the pattern works, it all pretty obvious.”

Opus Romain stone flooring

…….so onto a few ‘Tips & Tricks’…….

  • Sizing  the Flagstones : This is perhaps the trickiest part of the job! There are no hard and fast rules—you need to assess what you have to work with and try and work out the best width options to choose—to achieve a pleasing pattern without undue waste.
  • Essential Tools — Angle Grinder (preferably with a diamond/carbide disc), club hammer and bolster cold chisel, eye protectors, ear protectors and face mask, tape measure, T-square and marking chalk or pencil.
  • Cutting stone with the grinder – make the straight cuts with the grinder steadily and evenly, letting the machine cut gradually to its maximum depth, around a few cms or so. It isn’t necessary to cut a stone “all-the-way-through.” Then with the bolster chisel inserted around the middle of the cut, give it a few sharp blows with the club hammer—and it should split away cleanly and easily.
  • As you can see in one of the images above, I’ve angled the grinder slightly “off-vertical” — undercutting the edge. This is a little trick to make it easier to lay the cut edges of the flags closer to each other, avoiding the chances of odd lumpy bits left after breaking stopping the close fitting of two adjacent flags.
  • Then carefully and gently tap along the top of the cut edges with the club hammer, chipping little fragments away to leave a more natural looking stone
  • Finally, should it be necessary to remove some stone from the underside of a particularly thick slab, make a series of close parallel cuts, and repeat again at 90°, and then chip these away carefully with the hammer and chisel. (A great way, incidentally, to make your own stone dice!).

"Opus Romain" style of laying paving
You may then decide whether to grout the spaces between the stone with a lime mortar — or simply brush in some sand or fine gravel. Depends on what look you’re after.

And if the floor is exposed to light and rain, then you’ll need to weed the cracks from time to time if they haven’t been grouted.

So give it a try and “Bonne Chance!”

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!, MACKENZIE FRAMES, Wedding Table Decor

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

Whenever I see the new weekly photo challenge theme from the daily post, it always takes me a couple of days to reflect. This week the theme is Purple. I love color, if I have  a special project on the go, I start dreaming in the stuff!

PURPLE – yes – what have we here lying on the studio worktop:

So here is a sneak peak of work in progress for some new Wedding Table Numbers I am working on for next spring. As you can see, purple is one of the dominant colors I am using,  along with deep cerise pink and black. Such deep, rich colors. I just love working with them!

Well, still along way to go on these new designs. As soon as they are all finished and ship shape – I will let you see them in all their glory!

My 2012 Wedding Framed Table Numbers are in our Etsy shop if you want to see them.

Posted in Blog, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!, MACKENZIE FRAMES, Wall Displays

Work In Progress – Hand Painted Frames For A Collection Of Mirrors

The summer season of craft shows is upon us, and although I don’t do many of them these days, whenever the ladies of Varen phone me  to participate in their annual summer craft show – I usually say yes.

hand painted mirror frames

Varen (zip code – 82330) is a very pleasant village near St. Antonin Noble Val, in the Tarn-et-Garonne about 15 minutes drive from where I live here in the Midi-Pyrenees region of South West France. The good ladies of Varen, take it upon themselves to manage ‘La Shoppe’ every summer in the hope of luring tourists and locals alike into their little stone clad den below the ‘mairie’ (the mayor’s office) which is full of hand made delights from local artisans.

hand painted mirror frames 1

The theme this year is ‘Reverie’ – a very subjective word  that summons different things to different people. Well, to my mind, in the realm of interior decor, this means ‘The House of my Dreams’ and as Marie-Claude (chief lady in charge) specifically asked me to provide some of my Hand Painted Framed Mirrors, this is what I had in mind.

Hand Painted Mirror Frames 03

I hope there are a few people passing through Varen this summer who have the same taste in colors and framed mirrors as I have!

Hand painted Mirror Frames 05

So I thought you would like to see the ‘Work In Progress’ of the hand painted frames at the moment. As you see, my color theme is very neutral – white, taupe and beige. A variety of sizes and styles from my ‘odd box’ of moldings that we seem to collect over the years in our Framing Workshop. Any one who has been following my blog here only has to to go to the DIY Tutorials to see that I love ‘Up-cycling’ old frames to make them into objects of desire once again!

Small White Mirror Frames 06

Well, Martin has just cut the individual pieces of mirror for each frame. He still needs to cut the backing boards and then I can finish the transformation of these frames into the mirrors of your dreams.

When they are ready, I’ll give you an update. And if you are on holiday here in our corner of South West France this summer, perhaps you can come and visit Varen and have a little peak into ‘La Shoppe’!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!

The Color White Series – Snow White

The Color White Snow White

The Color White Series

What comes to mind when you think of the color white – Crisp Clean Fresh Snow or Yummy Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream perhaps?

No? How about these wonderful names to describe the color SNOW WHITE:

The breast of the Black Headed Gull.

Snow Drop.

Calc Sinter.

Carara Marble.

This is the description given to the ‘Snow White’ color in Werner’s ‘NOMENCLATURE OF COLOURS’ published 1821 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Such a fascinating book from the 19th century that was brought to life again by the Canadian artist and photographer ARNAUD MAGGS whose work was introduced to me by some friends who live near us here in France . I believe that Arnaud Maggs spends quite some time in this area of South West France – hey they know him!

You can find out more about Arnaud maggs and his work here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/arnaud-maggs-wins-scotiabank-photography-award/article4105732/

I have to admit, Werner’s work is a little bit whimsical by today’s standards of scientific thought and process, but It is a very good example ( and great excuse) to show you that there are a multitude of white shades. So let’s start having a look at a few of them with the help of Mr. Werner and a few very talented photographers that I have found on the world wide web!

I just couldn’t resist this beautiful photograph of a Black Headed Gull. Not sure I could keep my nerve if I saw this coming towards me – but well done Chistopher Hoyle for doing just that when out on a photographic walk in the Lake District, England. Have a look at his Flickr photo stream for more of his fabulous photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherhoyle/with/4604053682/#photo_4604053682

Many thanks for the other inspirational photos I have used in the photo montage above to demonstrate the multiple shades of white.

Ther Carara Marble Statue can be seen here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/52219527@N00/3588841240/

The Mineral – Calc Sinter:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakayoshi/5778173102/

The lovely photo of the delicate Snow Drop:
http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2008/03/16/snowdrops-when-does-a-bud-become-a-bloom/

Werner Shades of White

Goodness me – Werner has listed 8 names for the COLOR WHITE! This is going to be fun finding the relevant photos – for instance – Number 7 is ‘SKIMMED MILK WHITE’ – I have to find the White of the Human Eyeballs.

So if anyone out there has taken or found any photos that you think will fit Werner’s descriptions of the color white – DO GET IN TOUCH and we can carry on with our interpretation of his collection!

Posted in Blog, Framed Images, Inspirations, Let's Be Creative!, Wall Displays

Shabby White Frames and Vintage Lithographs – the Perfect Combination

Well creative people – what did you do with your shabby chic up-cycled frames that I hope you made after following my three part blog post last year? My frames were hanging about the workshop for months waitng patiently for me to find the right images. AT LAST – I found the perfect solution!

The images are from a 19th century book of  lithographs. The book was too damaged to keep as a whole, and I bought it with wall art in mind – the book may be damaged, but the images were hiding there ready to see the light of day.

My plan is to a grouping of these shabby white frames and their lithographs ready for a wall hanging. What a difference to see these bits of Victoriana in nice light pale frames, such a difference to the thin black narrow frames that you normally see these black and white images in. Up-cycling is the name of the game in today’s modern interior decor.

Here are a few more of my Shabby Chic DIY Frames that have received the same treatment. Now, Which wall to use?

Posted in DIY Hints & Tips, MACKENZIE FRAMES, Photo Frames

DIY How to Hang a Picture Frame

Frame Hanging Hints – Let’s Be Crafty!

Most of the photo frames we sell come complete with a “standing back with strut” ( for standing horizontally and/or vertically) and a zip-lock sachet containing screw-eyes and cord if you prefer to wall hang the frame. We recommend making a small hole with a fine pointed bradawl * into the back of the wooden frame moulding to take the screw eye – you should then have no difficulty screwing the fixing into the frame.  Place the two screw-eyes opposite each other, and about one-third (of the total height of the

frame) down from the top of the frame.
On small to medium sized frames one wall fixing is sufficient and the cord may be tied to come tight centre top and a couple of inches below the top edge of the frame.
However, on larger frames, it is worth considering using two wall fixings and tying the cord to form a “roof” shape ( see image B) . The frame will hang closer to the wall and not lean outwards from the top, and in addition, will remain more stable  — there is always a tendency for single-point hung frames to “swing” off vertical from time to time which can be annoying. Here are a few images by way of illustration.

*And when the bradawl has mysteriously disappeared ( malappropriated by your eight yr old to help thread together his string of decaying newts ) then the fine point of the scissors or a skewer can suffice – but please be careful – don’t force it – only a small hole is necessary – just enough to locate the tip of the screw-eye – the thread should then wind into the wood easily enough.

Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

Deluxe Red Hand Painted Photo Frames Ready for Etsy

Well, just spent the afternoon photographing the Red Frames Hand-Made-By-Me. Why? You did that a few weeks ago! Well, since then, I have done a complete set of a deluxe Red Range of the hand painted frames that I am going to post in our Etsy Shop. These frames are all covered on the backs and struts with our textured black paper so they look just as good on the back as they do from the front, include glass and a neat paper insert, giving the frames a smart deluxe feel that makes them an ideal  gift for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries  or just a treat for yourself!

Here are a few of the photos that I will be posting on Etsy tomorrow:

Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

Pages From My Sketch Book

Thought you might like to see a few pages of my color doodles which I use to work out new color ways for my frames, but they could be used for all sorts of projects, from a new painting to restoring an old piece of furniture that you have found in the local ‘brocante’ (garage sale, car boot etc.)swatchbook09


Posted in Color Shape Space, Let's Be Creative!

The Colors I Used For My Red Frames

For true feelings of depth and quality in any form of art from painting a masterpiece to a picture frame, it is essential to create layers of color. You may not see them all in the finished work – BUT – they are there and it does make the difference to the feel and quality of the piece.