Every so often I get this little niggle in my head. It’s usually after a few weeks of working and socialising (AKA normal life), when I get this creative itch that I just have to scratch. I think we are programmed to follow a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle; believing that if we are pulling our weight during the 9-5 and fitting in as many friends as possible at the weekend then we are living well. But what about ‘work hard, play hard, chill hard’?
For me, being creative is a way to wind down. I find painting, drawing (and writing!) so therapeutic, and I think we all forget to just take some time to express ourselves creatively sometimes. But it’s also really exciting; you’re not being judged, there’s no plan or need to ‘win’ or impress anyone – it’s just doing something different and toning some of the muscles in your brain that might often get ignored.
Seriousness aside, I’m a bit like a baby. Give me a paintbrush and a surface and I am in my element. The majority of the time it comes out looking absolutely nothing like what I pictured in my mind, but whatever, I have fun and it feels good. I’m also addicted to making my home look adorable, so I usually aim my efforts in that direction.
So I bought some chalk paints.
I got these 20 little tester pots from Chalk2Chic on Amazon for under £20.
My boyfriend is a typical Italian coffee-holic (not a word, don’t think there is a word, especially not for his level of obsession), and we have all these empty coffee tins that we keep meaning to use for something. I recently embarked on a serious decaf journey and I have about fifty different beverages without a suitable home, so now was definitely the time. Anyway, these tins are all metallic and the colour scheme is just so not in keeping with my kitchen, so I decided they would be the subject of my chalky impulses.
I was also getting sick of the standard brown/black plant pots on my windowsill, so, naturally, I attacked those too. But first, the coffee tins. I need to begin by saying that metal and plastic are definitely not the number one best surface for chalk paint. But if you try this, then with persistence (i.e. four coats of paint), you will get there. I went for Lavender and Aqua Blue because why not?
I apologise for the horrendous image quality (and my Tesco veg bag), it was late at night and I only at this very moment considered making a blog post about this.
Another little tip with this is to probably not paint these with the lids attached. It looks so great and cute, until you open the tin and the paint cracks and flakes off and then it looks absolutely awful. HOWEVER, I persevered. I also failed to take into account (perhaps because it was late, but probably because I’m not great at thinking things through) the fact that chalk comes off with water. So I re-did the entire thing about five times and bought some Rust-Oleum Furniture Finishing Wax on Amazon (my favourite shop) and waterproofed them to death. I applied about three coats of this, and it didn’t change the texture or colour at all when it dried but did smell really strong and I think I got a little bit high.
I also bought some Anitas silver letter stickers to finish them off.
At this point I was enamoured with chalk paint and I wanted to share this love. So I roped in my boyfriend for a wild Saturday craft night to paint a couple of our plant pots. I chose our extremely balding basil (Baldy Baz) and he chose our mini cactus-thing (the name of which I do not know) probably because it was the smallest and he was rightfully wary of what he was getting himself into.
So we settled down and got excited and then finished painting the first coat in about ten seconds. He then looked at me, all panicked, as if to say, ‘what now?!’ as he had obviously revved himself up for this and was now utterly lost. It was at this point that I had the great idea of using the hair-dryer to speed up the process. It worked an absolute treat, until about the third layer, when we cranked up the intensity and pieces of paint started flying off in every direction. It was a sight of absolute misery and despair. So we started again.
I went for Pink Red and Crème Rouge, and he chose Adriatico Blue and White Dune. He wanted a Greek-style plant pot and it worked really well.
Eventually we finished and added our first wax coat (I suggested we leave the wax as it might disturb the delicate paint work again, but he reminded me that plants need to be WATERED and this might not be the best idea. Thank God). We went to bed and applied our last coat of wax first thing in the morning, and they looked so good.
I might be slightly biased. But they’re rustic, right?! And if you compare them to the ugly black pot on the left then really, they’re absolute masterpieces. And we had so much fun doing them; it was really peaceful sitting together and painting with cups of tea and talking about everything under the sun. And it cost significantly less than a night out.
All-in-all a really fab thing to do on your own or with someone else (or with friends -haven’t tried that one yet, might bring it up in the group chat) as a different and mindful activity. The bonus point is having something lovely that you made in your home; these have really brightened up our windowsill and I’m sure it won’t be long until the rest of our plant family is chalky too.
Please ignore the state of the window – I don’t know who’s supposed to come and clean them on the outside but we’ve been here a year now and it has yet to happen.
So if you have a balding basil or a weird cactus thing, try slapping a bit of chalk paint on them on a Saturday night and see how it feels. It probably won’t be plain sailing, and you might be finding leaves and flakes of paint under the dining table for weeks, but it’ll be worth it.