It’s almost 6 weeks since I opened the shop on The Old High Street in Folkestone and I’m absolutely loving it! 

I’m new to the area so I’ve heard how amazing the place is from customers and other businesses on The Old High Street. There’s a great vibe even during this pandemic so I can only imagine just how much of a buzz there must be in normal times. 

Now that I’m settling into the new location I thought I might let you all into some plans I have to expand upon on the upcycling side of the business.  You may already be aware if you’ve tried to source paints recently there’s been a shortage in supply due to factories closing during lockdown.  That supply is slowly getting back to normal and the neutrals are now in good supply at the shop with colours arriving imminently.

Following lock down the demand for paints has seen a significant increase, more of us are finding time to indulge a creative side and upcycling an old piece of furniture is a really simple way to do this.  It can even start to earn you money if you find you become ever so slightly obsessed with the whole thing – but as obsessions go it’s pretty harmless. Your biggest problem will probably be having 3 projects lined up whilst trying to resist buying just one more piece you’ve seen at a bargain price on marketplace. 

If you are interested in upcycling and furniture painting whether as a complete beginner or a professional you might be interested to know that you will soon be able to find a vast range of products to cover just about all your needs for any project. 

I will have two paint ranges, Cornish Milk Mineral Paint and Fleur Paint.  These have been carefully selected for both eco credentials and most importantly for the high quality of finish and versatility of use. They come in standard form for application with brushes or rollers but also in spray cans and pens. I will also be stocking a choice of brushes, which include stencilling brushes, Eco Ezee brushes and Cling On brushes. You will find an extensive range of stencils – oh yes, they’re back! No longer seen as a bit naff and 90’s and they’re a game changer to an otherwise average upcycle. You don’t have to go super bold, a subtle detail inside a drawer or trailing down a table leg can be just as effective to make your piece stand out.  Mix, match and adapt to create a bespoke design that is all your own work. 

There are also plenty of drawer pulls to give that finishing touch and soon you will find all the essentials to cover any job to a professional standard. These include products such as primers and top-coats as well as other prepping tools and additives for more decorative effects.  

Here are my recommendations before you start your first project.

Essential kit:

Cleaner such as sugar soap or any similar degreasing solution

A soft cloth for cleaning

Fine grit sandpaper

Good quality paint developed for the purpose. 

Good quality brush – synthetic bristles if you want to avoid obvious brush strokes

Before you start to paint:

Find a solid but inexpensive piece of furniture for your first project.  Avoid anything that might have knots likely to bleed through or dark stained wood for the same reason.  These problems can be overcome but you might want to leave these projects until you’re more familiar with various upcycling processes. 

Thoroughly clean all surfaces, this also gives you an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the piece.

Lightly sand all surfaces to be painted.  Occasionally you can skip this part if the surface to be painted is bare wood without any sheen to the surface such as stripped pine. 

Wipe away dust with a damp cloth

The fun part!

I recommend using a mineral paint developed specifically for furniture as these have a built-in sealant that will protect your piece without the need for a clear topcoat.  Once the paint has had time to cure (usually around 7-10 days) the paint will have a tough scuff resistant and water-resistant finish. 

Decant some paint into a separate container and re-seal the packaging to keep unused paint at it’s best for the next use.

Dip your brush into the paint covering the bristles part way but not right up to the ferrule.  Wipe off excess paint on the side of the container. Work in even strokes across the piece for a flat smooth finish.  Paint can dry quite quickly especially in warm conditions so avoid going back over the same area too many times as this can cause a dragging or pilling effect. Apply quickly and confidently, mineral paint has self-levelling properties so let the paint do the work.  Leave at least an hour between coats, two coats will usually be enough. Sometimes lighter colours painted over dark wood require more. 

Stand back to admire your work! Allow paint to cure before putting into general use.  The curing time varies depending on the environment, colder climates may take longer.

If you’d like to take a workshop these are now available to book on a 1-2-1 basis (or if 2 friends are in a support bubble we can stretch to 2). Bring a small piece of furniture or part of a larger piece and get started on it under guidance to achieve the best possible, long lasting finish.  If you’ve done some upcycling already but have come up against a few problems along the way, pick my brains, there may be a simple solution.  

So I’ve banged on a lot about furniture painting and this does cover a big part of upcycling possibilities for the home.  There are however many more, for example if you fancy trying your hand at some copper pipe creations or making a lamp out of a jam jar the workshops can cover these too.  Just ask me what you’d like to make and I’ll try to accommodate.

In summary, there will still be all the lovely hand made products supplied by local makers as well as your favourite eco-friendly home and lifestyle accessories. Going forward the emphasis will increase towards the upcycled furniture, commissions, workshops and upcycling materials for beginners, professionals and everyone in between.  After all, it is called The Upcycled Trading Company.

Claire x