Monthly Archives: May 2011

Diary genius

Hope you enjoy this guest post from Ali T on the story of his amazing revamped diary collection….

I am a sucker for nostalgia. For years I have kept shoe boxes full of old letters and photographs, and bizarre trinkets that include airline sick bags, branded bar napkins and cinema ticket stubs, hoping that they will spark fond memories whenever I come to rifle through them again. For almost ten years I have been keeping daily diaries to chronologue my day to day activity, in the hope that one day I will look back on them and remember all the amazing things that I was doing with my life; the fun I was having, the places I was going and the people that were shaping me.

To a certain extent this will be true, because I want to have interesting things to remember, and will always be sure to write significant places and events down. But because I don’t keep the kind of diary where I log my innermost thoughts and by which I can chart the development of my character, and instead keep a books full of schedules and to-do lists, most of my ‘memories’ will be of appointments, shopping lists and train booking reference numbers.

Even without the wealth of interesting anecdotes to look back on and remember the days gone by, I still keep these diaries because I am helpless without them. I have a memory like a sieve so if I want to get anything done I have to write it down. But perhaps even more than the necessity of keeping these diaries for the sake of productivity, I keep these diaries because I love making the covers. I choose not to buy the trendy moleskin books that boast an air of literary accomplishment, but instead opt for cheap primary school jotters that allow maximum creative scope. Now you might think that covering a child’s jotter would be the easiest thing in the world, but what I have learned throughout my extensive jotter-covering experience, is that if you want to create a diary of utmost quality, there are rules that must be followed and phases of completion that must each be concluded in order to provide structural and aesthetic integrity to the finished article. I have made 35 to 40 of these books in my ‘career’ and have always striven towards each outdoing the last.

The actual imagery used to cover the diary is of marginal concern in comparison to the quality of the assembly of the structure. Over the years I have honed the art of diary making. I have gradually incorporated ideas that were initially tagged on as an afterthought, hidden structural devices in the very fabric of the book, and have finished the product with an ever keener eye for quality, parallel lines and perfect right angles.

But let me not detract from how important it is for me to continually out-do myself on aesthetics, as well as on structure. Where my first diary featured a cover made from a purple striped paper bag adorned with a postcard of Donegal, my most recent diary involved the gluing of 210 individual 2nd class stamps to the front cover in nice neat rows. In the past it was easy; I just had to find a single sheet of paper to use as a cover that was slightly more bizarre than the last.

Diary covers of old have included music manuscripts, pages from the Oxford English dictionary, movie posters, my Italian lecture notes, property listings from an Edinburgh newspaper dated 1952, and the piece of crepe paper that my Dunlop Green Flash shoes came wrapped in.

But now, with the introduction of over 200 individual covering elements coming together in unison, the bar has certainly been raised! Some might say that I am a little bit OCD when it comes to my diary making. I can’t really argue with that, in fact I would probably agree. I love trying to make a more interesting and accomplished finished article. This most recent idea using stamps will be hard to trump, but I look forward to the challenge of trying.



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Type drawer twist

I found these pictures ages ago on Etsy from the seller BlueBirdHeaven, and have been keeping my eyes peeled since for a type drawer. My penchant for beautiful storage was piqued with this winning combination of vintage, practical and pretty.

I picked this one up at good old Retropolis. Its in need of a bit of TLC but has a good combination of long, wide and short compartments.

I then had a peek on t’internet for some other ideas. Turns out there is a whole host of things one can do with a type drawer….

1. Advent Calendar from Modcottage

2 & 3. Picture frame or lego storage by aliedwards

4. Ink pads from Craftystorage

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Before and Afters.. At the Souk

Had a lovely day today surrounded by inspiring, talented and eco conscious stylers at the Home Souk and Rethink, Revamp, Restyle event. I was demonstrating furniture painting techniques all day.. and transformed this dowdy little chair into a french bistro styled monsieur!

I absolutely adore french style, and especially that romantic yet battered chippy paint loved and used look.. I did a little inspiration trail into this project as people were going to be looking on..

My first go to for any styling ideas is Design Sponge.. I could get lost in their ‘Sneak Peaks’ for hours, and voila, there’s a perfectly placed Bentwood Bistro chair!

Bentwood Bistro Chair at Design Sponge

Colour inspiration came from the beautiful photography blog Paris Parfait..

I’ll do another post on my chippy paint crush another time..

So here I am sanding away..

Sand first, then paint, sand again, paint, sand again

With my little helper..

Everyone needs a little helper!

Carried away.. check out my official poster!

Sanding is key for any furniture paint job, and especially for the ‘distressed’ look. Sand all over first. I had to strip this chair initially, but I would only do this if it had a heavy gloss on it.. if you want a very smooth painted result, prime before you start. Otherwise just get the first coat on, sand again, second coat, and sand sand sand until you have the finish you want. I had a lot of questions today on the type of paint you can use. Technically ‘satinwood’ paints are designed to go on wood, but they do give a bit of a sheen. I really like  a flat powdery look for this kind of thing, so I use emulsion and then seal it with a wax or a very light coat of varnish or stain. My favourite part of todays project was that i intended to use a contrasting colour on certain parts of the chair, but I loved the original wood contrast so much, I kept it! Sometimes the items just re- invent themselves!

first coat

Wood contrast

And here’s the table I transformed at the workshops on display today at the showcase.. Will bring you a final after shot of my two chairs when they’re complete.. Don’t forget the Fashion Souk tomorrow too at the Europa! A feast of conscious style all weekend!




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Showcase – Rethink, Revamp, Restyle

Hi Blog, missing you. I’ve been enjoying the devotion of  three hours of a thursday evening to “Rethink, Revamp, Restyle” so much, I havent had time to pop in and tell you about it.

However you can catch up on all the happenings at the Europa Hotel, Belfast this Saturday from 11am – 5pm where we will be showcasing lots of the items from the workshops. You can see what I did with this little table..

The event is running alongside the fabulous Home Souk stall holders selling their bespoke home furnishing, there’s a keynote speaker on environmental living issues, and exhibits and tips on how to revamp your household items.

Salvage Sisters are proud to be one of the ‘exhibits’, I’ll be revamping this Bentwood type chair.. come, shop, play and say hi!

More details on facebook.. Dont forget the fashion Souk this sunday too!

Tuesday at 11:08am · · · Share

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A welly cool project

Footwear storage is a passion of mine. Such is the case that i recently considered purchasing a very overpriced wall mounted welly rack. Until i realised how easy it would be to make, especially with a handy construction pal, a trip to the salvage yard and a sunny saturday afternoon. My sculptor friend Ali T provided me with the base, an old warped, weathered piece of hardwood, and the dowels are a collection of old broom handles.

Mathematics being a low point for both, we spent a while figuring out how to space the 6 pairs of holes across the wood. Luckily we followed my dad’s time-honoured advice – “Measure twice, cut once”.

Once the first pole was tested for strength and length with Malkie’s big boot, we carried on with cutting each end down to size, sanding further and then hammering in.

The finished product houses 6 pairs of happy boots. It was such a successful project (unusual for me when it comes to hammers, drills etc), maybe we’ll start taking commissions…

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