How did I get into Antiques and Up-Cycling?
By Pamela Carvell, Quirky Antiques
During my teens I lived in the mediaeval town of Warwick. At that time it was full of antique shops, and those sort of permanent antique markets, where many different dealers take a space. Strangely, I have always loved the modern look, which I suspect I get from my parents, as they were very much into GPlan and Ercol and Danish teak furniture.
Because the town had so many antique shops and anywhere else was a bus ride away, they were the shops I ended up browsing in at the weekends. I was most taken with the antique jewellery, if truth be told, though it was all well and truly out of my price range. I can’t actually remember the first antique I bought, but there are a couple of pieces of furniture that I have owned since my teens and that have travelled the length and breadth of the country with me, every time I have moved house. They have also received different ‘treatments’ over time, so that they look modern. The antique chest pictured here, is lined with an 1871 newspaper, and when I bought it I had to treat it for woodworm before my parents would even let it in the house! It currently has a padded seat on the top, covered in a fab bright fabric I bought last summer at a Spanish market. That is part of the fun of buying a quality piece of furniture and re-inventing it / up-cycling it every few years.
I also love Art Deco, and own an Art Deco three-tier table which I initially painted with black laquer and polished the mahogany. A few years later I up-cycled it and painted it in yellow and gold, which was very fashionable at the time. It currently sits in my bedroom and is painted in a soft chalky green and blue.
Something else I have owned for a long time is a pair of Art Deco birds made from horns. They were bought in a junk shop in Manchester for 50pence a very long time ago.
No-one ever taught me how to up-cycle, although I am going on an Upholstery course in a few months time. I would go and chat to the local antiques dealers, because I always wanted to retain the integrity of the piece, and ask their advice. And I would visit the old-fashioned local ironmongers, who would sell me the right materials for the job. Obviously, it is much easier now. All the big DIY chains sell chalky paints, so you don’t even need to sand or undercoat a piece of furniture. Although personally I prefer to lightly sand (or clean with steel wool) and undercoat, as it produces a more durable surface. I am also a fan of a top coat of varnish. The modern matt ones are not visible, and yet they produce a more durable finish than simply waxing.
Up-cycling is very in fashion right now, and the shabby-chic look is still very popular. But my aspiration is always about how I can take a solid piece of well-made furniture and up-cycle it so it will look great in a modern home. I sell up-cycled furniture, for collection in the North East, from my Facebook Shop
Written by Pamela Carvell, Quirky Antiques.