Monday, 31 December 2018

Winter break

I have not been keeping up with the website very well. The shop has been busy and the little spare time I have had, I have gone on walks...  I have upcycled so many objects that it will be good to have a proper break and hopefully get new ideas and inspiration. I post more regularly on Instagram so you might want to follow me there. My username is Dymphnaone.

I will spend some of the dark winter evenings, creating an online shop for Upstart. Initially for Katy's jewellery, which is easy to send by post worldwide.

I will gradually add work from other artists/makers. Many of my upcycled objects do not lend themselves to travel well but I will put online what I can. I will post here when the online shop goes live so watch this space.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy New Year.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018


I like searching for beautiful but unwanted chairs, small tables and mirrors. Brown furniture they call it. Often it is oak or mahogany, skillfully made, maybe somewhat damaged....

I myself like brown furniture. I grew up with it and I have quite a bit of it in my house. But I also like to make it special, colourful and loveable by those who do not care for brown furniture. I try to always have four or five chairs and small tables in the shop as well as some mirrors on the walls. I only make more when I sell a piece. I am happy to report there has been a healthy turnover.

I am learning a lot while doing this: applying fabric to intricately turned legs is not easy and the seats of these old chairs are often in a mess and need re-upholstering. When I have a little more time I shall do a post of how to do the turned legs. Just in case you are interested in having a go.

Here are some of the chairs I have been upcycling off late:

Friday, 18 May 2018

How to: Bookends

My friend Sarah gave me a pair of brass bookends and I had been eying them up for some time. How was I going to do this? It is not as if I usually have a plan before I begin. But my subconscious works on it somehow. So I started and the red beak is sort of obvious. From there it evolved. 

I have learned there has to be some symmetry but not too much so the second one is similar but not the same. This works really well if you are using up small bits of fabric leftovers as you may not have the same ones. I just use PVA glue to stick the pieces on. When all was good and dry, I brushed on an ordinary wood glue (which is water resistant) and let that dry thoroughly. Then I sand with a very fine sandpaper (140) and I finish it off by 'polishing' it  with the finest wirewool. It leaves the bookends smooth and buffed up so that it has a sheen but is not shiny.

There you go: a pair of bookends like no other!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Making, making, making

This is what I have been doing all winter, all spring (what spring?) and I have finally relaxed. I am so very lucky that people come to the shop and buy my upcycled objects, and if that is in the way of building up stock for the summer, so be it.

Several more artists/makers have joined UpstArt over the last few months and that relieves the pressure on me. So there are now lovely stained glass mermaids, boats and fish hanging in the windows thanks to Debbie Martin,

a shelving unit full of Dan Hides handsome handthrown terracotta in reds, greens and blues,

 painting, prints and cards by printmaker extraordinaire, Michele Brown,

and amazing pictures handformed from recycled aluminium by Kate Kill.

And last but not least, there are the wonderful woollen cushions by Janet Marsh who cards, spins,  and weaves the wool from her own sheep.

All in all, UpstArt is looking cheerful and colourful and I love chatting to customers and showing them how I do my upcycling. I never seem to get bored of making new things. Each object is an adventure and I am learning all the time. The chair below is my third object with turned legs and armrests and I finally got the hang of it.

And today I worked on a monstrous flower and even if I did not improve it, experience at doing such detailed work might come in handy one day when I work on a more worthy object! 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


Soon (I hope) it will be Spring, and Mother's Day is coming up. So I have been making vases, vases and more vases until I had enough to have window display full of them. All different colours, different shapes and different sizes. Some easy to do, others really difficult. And I covered an unassuming cream coloured vessel in green fabrics as a centre piece. 

Dymphna Hermans (fabric decoupage) 'Spring Planter'

And I put daffodils in them all so that, while fog, rain and wind still rule in St Just most of the time, my window is like a harbinger of spring. And the other day a woman came in and she rummaged in the window and came to me with a wooden flower I had covered in fabric the day before. She wanted it even though it had not been varnished yet. I named my price and she put down her money and said she had to have it because it made her happy just to look at it. I do not even have a photo of it!

Rowena did some feltings of flower bouquets and then had cards made. My favourite is a wild flower bouquet of spring flowers and I think every mother in the land would be happy to have one for mother's day.

Rowena Scotney (needlepunch felting) 'Wild Flower Bouquet'

Monday, 19 February 2018

Valentine's Day

I had a lot of pleasure thinking of a Valentines Day display for my shop window. It got me to make hearts with roses, shoes with red birds, sweet red vases and I covered a Polish cafe chair from the Age Concern charity shop in red fabric.

Little red vase (fabric decoupage)

An upcycled Polish Cafe chair (fabric decoupage)
Three wooden hearts (mosaic fabric decoupage)
My makers and artists joined in the fun: Alison knitted red walkers' socks, Lincoln's hot lips pottery looked wonderful, Julia made a special Valendine's soap, I displayed Katy and Jo's necklaces on red vases and so on. You get my drift. Vastly over the top, but it got quite a lot of people coming into the shop and it was such fun to do.....

UpstArt shop window


Colour and joy go together for me. Bold, strong, expressive, coloured fabrics are what I love using to create my upcycled objects.

Dymphna Hermans (mosaic fabric decoupage)

It is not surprising therefore that most of the work of the other artists on display in UpstArt Gallery (mosaics, feltings, paintings, paper collages, pottery, textiles, glasswork and cards) is also colourful and joyous.

Kate Day Dawson (Mosaic)

Deborah Martin (stained glass)

Upstart is based in St Just in Penwith, the most westerly town in the UK and is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 11am to 5pm.

I look forward to welcoming you.