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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

The first time  I painted and distressed furniture,
was about twenty-two years ago.

It was a Habitat coffee table,
with no age to it, probably 1970's.

Scruffy and way past its peak it was destined for Littlehampton tip.

  I heard there were ways to
paint and distress furniture
 to give a
more interesting aged look,
but didn't know where to start.

No PC's or Internet.

No Google to ask.

The phrase " shabby chic" in the far future.

I rang an artist friend,
"What on earth do I do next?"

"Sand it back. Paint with emulsion. Then you wax it"

"What with? Where do I go to get all this stuff?"

" Don't worry if you can't find the furniture wax,
just use brown boot polish"

My first aged and distressed piece was complete.

 I met Allie soon after.
 On the evening shift at
The Trading Post
at Body Shop HQ.

We found we had dabbled with the same crafts.

Macramé and candle making,
crochet and cards,
bags and patchwork.

You get the picture.

"Let's make some extra cash
and sell on market stalls."

We found an empty warehouse.
The remains of the 19th-century Swallow brewery.

It was a mess.
our later pop-up shop

Dirty and damp
and filled to bursting with kitchen units.
Stacked floor to the ceiling.
Left behind by a company gone into liquidation 

Together with another Body Shop friend, Zoe we moved in.

An army of  friends
 from Body Shop in Littlehampton
helped clear, paint and open in less than a week.

"Ambiance" was born.

At the opening,
we barely had any stock.

But the warehouse filled with friends
wishing us well.

That was good enough for us.

Gordon Roddick, 
head of the Body Shop, 
turned up.

We found junk items to restore and decorate and built up  
 a warehouse of interesting pieces
 ........and a loyal following.

We taught ourselves 
to paint furniture, decoupage, craquelure and gild.

Scouring books, magazines, 
anything we could lay our hands on.

We sourced new products on a limited budget and experimented.

the warehouse as it is today

I had never owned a microwave, 
didn't have a clue how they worked.

I nearly blew up

Allie's kitchen.

We had seen an article in an old book
and painted a 1930's cupboard, grey.

Afterwards, we used different coloured waxes

 to cover, and merged them all in together.

Heating them in the microwave.

The piece we were experimenting on came out beautifully......
...........but the microwave was never the same.

The warehouse, though a great space,
 was off the main street,
down a dark alley.

It  was  hard to
draw people round.

We would go into town leaflet dropping.

Handing them  to day trippers or pushing
 them through local doors.

We would go back to the warehouse.
Put the kettle on.

By the time tea was made people were coming to look.

The landlord allowed us to use
 the front of the building, (now the right side of
William Hill,) for the summer months.

One of the first pop up shops.

We went in overnight.

Zoe was doing artwork for Anita Roddick and made all our signs.

The A-boards were discarded Body Shop ones......

as was our counter.....

some of those early pieces
 I later took a shop myself.
In Nineveh House down Tarrant Street.

A converted chapel that now is home to independent retail units.

 and worked on pieces in a barn on a Binsted farm.

My photographic studio....was outside the barn doors

inside the farm studio

By then I had US trade customers visiting me.
They loved coming out to the farm.

I changed the name to Arundel Eccentrics around this time.
9 years ago Nass was made redundant.
He had been working for a top antique dealer for 15 years.

So we returned to the same warehouse.
Now empty again.
Come full circle.

Funny when you look back

I never in my wildest dreams thought my work would ever sell here

We used to go there all the time when Jay was young...that's him...the grinning boy and thats me..big specs
andthat'ss him now below on the left!

crazy hey?


Come and see what we are up to these days.

Have a great day