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Furniture Painting with the Mercantile Adventurers

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Finding my inner Picasso

I don’t get to see my mum very often these days – it’s almost impossible to find a time when we’re both free, and she hates it. I don’t even think she’d be satisfied if we saw each other every day. So this December, I decided to get her something a little different for Christmas – some much coveted mother-daughter bonding time. I basically told her that I would pay for us to go away for the weekend, she just had to pick where.

I was expecting maybe a spa weekend, or a night in the Cotswolds, but after months of pestering her to pick something, she finally sent me a link to this little Furniture Painting workshop that a friend had recommended. You see, my mum wants to paint all of the furniture in her bedroom, so instead of a nice relaxing weekend away, she decided she’d prefer to be doing something useful – typical Diane.

I booked us a couple of places on the course, waited for Saturday to roll around, then we made our way to West Sussex for a morning of arts and crafts. The workshop itself was held in a little blue shop called The Mercantile Adventurers, on the corner of Cyprus road in Burgess Hill. It was easy enough to find and had its own little car park, so we parked out back, and unpacked the furniture they asked us to bring along – the furniture we’d be painting ourselves later in the day.

It was a beautifully quirky little place. I was expecting some sort of furniture shop, but it was more like an emporium combining lots of smaller ventures; a little café with baked goods and hot drinks, a hairdresser’s, a children’s clothing and book store filled with colourful garments, and a furniture store with beautiful trinkets. Then there were other smaller sections throughout the store displaying everything from bespoke wrapping paper to jewellery. Finally, there was a workbench for painting and upholstery, which is where we’d be spending the afternoon.

We were greeted by Lorna who part owned The Mercantile, and ran the workshop. She offered us a hot drink from the café and started talking us through what to expect from the course – then the painting began. We each picked up a piece of plywood and tested out various types of paint whilst Lorna gave us tips for just about everything, from minimising brush strokes, to hiding knots in the wood. She even showed us how to preserve our paint brushes and rollers so they wouldn’t dry out in between use. It’s been a long time since I painted anything, so I’m not going to admit to being very good.

We tried different types of varnish to determine which finish we liked best, then were finally sent on our way to paint the furniture that we’d brought with us – my mum’s chest of drawers and a folding chair. It was surprisingly soothing. I stood there painting, and completely zoned out from the rest of the room. The next thing I knew, an hour had passed, and nearly everyone else had finished while I had barely started. My mum looked over at me with one of those sympathetic looks only a mother could give her child for ‘doing their best’ whilst loving life because her drawers looked amazing – they were almost unrecognisable.

We must have been that for about 4 hours in total, but it felt like no time at all, and my mum was beaming at her chest of drawers all the way home – it was pretty priceless. Now I just need to decide which workshop to take her to on her birthday. What do you think – Chair Upholstery or Make your own Coat Rack.

The Mercantile Adventurers | Before
The Mercantile Adventurers | After
The Mercantile Adventurers | Corner
The Mercantile Adventurers | Cupcake
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