UK Lifestyle and Interiors Blog

Interiors, lifestyle, arts and culture blog by award-winning writer, Nicole Mullen

Learning Annie Sloan painting techniques with Jayne Laverick of One Six One Interiors

I don’t know why they’re all different colours. When they said they were British crisps, I didn’t think they would be red and blue!” 

I’m at One Six One Interiors in Whitley Bay and owner, Jayne Laverick, is panicking about the crisps (don’t worry Jayne; they were scrummy!). The store itself is beautiful - a treasure trove of unique, ornate homewares interspersed with up-cycled furniture, and the very paints used to transform them. I’m here for the Annie Sloan Painting Techniques workshop, ran by Jayne herself, along with Jo, a fellow up-cycler and Sloan-enthusiast. I’m super-early, but am later joined by Pam, a fabulous fifty-something, and two equally lovely retirees, all eager to get started. 

Jayne starts by talking us through the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint range. For those unaware, Annie first developed Chalk Paint in 1990 in response to her need for a versatile paint that would work beautifully on furniture, without the need for priming or sanding. There are numerous shades in the Chalk Paint range, alongside a selection of waxes, finishes and tools designed to get the very best out of the paint. Jayne hands us each a plank of wood, which we will use to practice our painting techniques, and away we go! 

Annie Sloan_2.jpg

We delve straight in: picking out a brush and layering on a couple of coats of Old Violet, which is the most sumptuous shade of purple. The paint goes on like a dream; it transports me back to my days as a Fine Art student in sixth form, messing around with various paints in my sketchbook. We’re asked to paint a third of our wood panel in Old Violet, before moving on to the second technique of the evening: ombré.  

“I’ve started to ombré this chest of drawers,” Jayne tells us, bringing our attention to one of her many projects. It looks amazing - a perfect balance between classic and creative. We’re asked to choose two colours from the Chalk Paint range that we think would work well as an ombré; I choose Paris Grey, a classic light grey, and Château Grey, which has an olive tinge to it. The other ladies are more adventurous, opting for brighter and more contrasting colours.  

Jayne begins by talking us through the technique, before encouraging us to give it a whirl. I’m surprised by how easy it is to achieve a seamless finish. It’s reminded me of a project I’m dying to get my hands on at home. Namely, an antique sideboard that would benefit from a bit of ombré. I show Jayne a picture of what I’m hoping to achieve, and she’s only too happy to offer advice on how to best tackle the look I’m after. It’s this helpful and easygoing attitude that permeates the evening, only serving to bring out the best in her students. “If you get home after this workshop and think, ‘I wish I’d asked about this or that,’ pop me a call and I’ll give you a helping hand,” she assures us. 

"If you get home after this workshop and think, 'I wish I'd asked about this or that,' pop me a call and I'll give you a helping hand..."

We practice applying a wash of colour, before moving on to one of my favourite techniques of the evening: Craqueleur. Craqueleur is one of Annie’s newer product ranges, consisting of two steps to achieve an authentic cracked varnish finish. As before, Jayne talks us through each step prior to letting us loose with the brushes. Step 1 smells a little like the PVC glue I used to use as a child; it’s thick but not at all hard to work with, and Step 2 is where the magic happens. “You can apply it thinly for smaller cracks or thicker for larger ones,” Jayne tells us. We each take our turn to apply the steps before being handed a hairdryer, allowing for the wonderful, textured effect to surface.  

We dabble in some stenciling, before playing around with Annie’s gilding waxes. I add a touch of copper to my Craqueleur panel, which only serves to enhance the aged effect, contrasting splendidly with the Old Violet base colour. Last up on the agenda is the gold leaf technique. We’re each handed a lovely little wooden heart to practice on, and a sheet of gold leaf transfer. First, we apply a light wash of the Gold Size (size being the old English word for glue) before getting to grips with the gold leaf. Of all the techniques, this is the one I find the most tricky. I do not have the most nimble of fingers, and the gold leaf is fragile. I’m left feeling pretty chuffed with myself when I do actually end up with something vaguely appeasing. Jo brings up an image of a bathtub, finished entirely in copper leaf; cue an ensemble of oohs and ahhs. 

Annie Sloan_3.jpg

Cups of tea are drained, and nibbles finished, before we’re invited to browse the store armed with an exclusive 10% discount on all stock, which is valid for one night only. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I might have been the youngest there by, oh, 30 years or so but it didn’t feel too dissimilar from a night in with the girls. Paint was accidentally fired across tables; Pam and I giggled like teenagers and we chatted amongst ourselves, sharing upcoming projects, tips and tricks. The only slight negative was that the evening felt a bit like a sales pitch at times, but it certainly wasn’t off-putting. Jayne and Jo were incredibly knowledgeable about the Annie Sloan range, and shared their experience with passion and warmth. The workshop left me itching to pick up my brushes at home. My poor Other Half is already fed-up with the constant purchases, the Instagram posts and the not-so-tentative suggestions to paint / get rid of / add to this or that. After my Annie Sloan Painting Techniques Workshop, I’m afraid it’s going to get a lot worse… Sorry J. 

For more information, and to book onto the next Annie Sloan Painting Techniques Workshop, visit http://www.161interiors.com.