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A Spring Party of Stripes

A Spring Party
of Stripes

"MORE IS MORE! I piled on the stripes, layered pattern on pattern and carefully potted all my favourite plants and bulbs to create a joyful hand-made display of Spring splendour!"
Julie Smith, Style Director

As our Spring Party approached, the preparations heated up! All manner of fancy planning ensued with a particular focus around our latest obsession: the bold yellow stripe! This time we utilised British Designer Fabric Company, Romo's Kemble Eston, in Sunflower, which formed the jolly tablecloth backdrop. We added extra joy with matching oversized napkins, stitched simply using an overlocked edge by our whizzy machinist Debbie, based right here in our Melbourne, Derbyshire workshop. Not content with folding the napkin, Julie was inspired by a flouncy pinched in look, finished by loose threads in a mix of wool, raffia and twine, recycled from various craft projects.

The tables were piled with plants and pots of varying size and description. Some were earthy and raw, others hand painted in stripes with tones of terracota, sunshine yellow and sap green pulling everything together. The plan for later is to plant into a permanent spot so they can bloom forever at Smith cottage, the owner's home.

Place settings were created on thick knobbly watercolour paper by hand, using painterly illustrations and handwritten script, most people took their own names home as a souvenir.

How to add style and charm to a plain old plant pot by Julie Smith

Pot Staining:

Start with simple cheap terracota plant pots. I used Raw Umber Oil Paint first followed White Chalk Spray rubbing each layer on with an old cloth, using plenty of gusto and then rubbing off again to reveal some of the terracota beneath. To age the pots further and add character, chip away at the pots with an old spoon to bash up a bit.

Bulbs are nice and cheap and plentiful too, mine were from home bargains, 6 for £3! Use one per pot as each bulb has a few flower heads. a trick I use to finish off is rich earthy green moss which I order from Amazon in bags.

Pot Painting:

Either on aged pots as above or on the natural terracotta base, free style chunky stripes around the pot with a medium sized paintbrush and some oil or acrylic paint. Keep the colour palette minimalistic and for our Spring look I used the classic Spring shades of nature. You can even paint the insides in a contrast colour, just have fun and don't overthink!

The Art of Arranging:

Dot around in sets of varying sizes. I'm passionate about the irregularity that mixing shapes creates, keep arrangements in pairs or 3's or 5's with mini single ones looking cute to join together. Also place on window sills or nearby counter tops to spread the love!

Designer place settings by Michelle White

The Basics:

Use thick and textured watercolour paper, you can buy in pads from your favourite online art shop or Hobbycraft, cold pressed or embossed and knotty varieties have plenty of texture which makes a good base. Our palette begins with yellow and we used a creamy Little Green shade which resembled custard, called Yellow-Pink. Using a rounded medium paint brush dilute a touch of this with some clean water and wash onto the paper in a rectangle shape at the chosen size of the place card. I like to leave a white border so create the shape within the outer edge.

Next with a very thin paint brush decorate the edges, I used a bow design which is on trend at the moment and particularly whimsical and fitted the theme, the paint needed diluting with my paint brush re dipping itself into water frequently. You could paint spots simply over the background or tiny flowers around the edge too! I used a secondary colour which was a reddish terracota to pick up on the plant pots.

The names are tricky when added in paint so instead Julie handwrote these using a Windsor and Newton Pro Brush Marker in a matching deep earthy red shade.

The Agenda for the evening was hand painted in co-ordinating colour, featuring cocktails and running order of the evening. It combined cut out elements illustrated separately and combined onto a pin board, displayed simply on an easel.