I became a furniture painter to heal

I joined Big Blue Trunk nearly two months ago as its Furniture Painting Manager, after experiencing a traumatic loss at the start of the year. 

I am a writer and I have always turned to the written word to make sense of the world. But for the first time in my life, even after writing about the experience, I felt unmoored. I often felt like my body was in one place and my mind in another. My heart struggled to bring all of me back together and to hold me in one, safe space.

For months, I redecorated or spent everyday sprucing up parts of my home. I walked or jogged. I did arts and crafts with my 4-year old. I cooked. I could not sit still because in the stillness, the pain I’d pushed in surfaced all too clearly.
But the restlessness wasn’t healthy either. I realised I needed to do something with my hands

I needed rituals and tasks that were paradoxically complex and simple; mundane yet aesthetically pleasing. I needed to keep learning, but lean back on what I knew, or could surmise intuitively.

That’s when I chanced upon the rich hues and bright colours of Big Blue Trunk at Cluny Court and before I knew it, there I was, prepping a piece of furniture for a makeover.

Vinita painting a piece of furniture at Big Blue Trunk

That first piece, and the pieces that came thereafter, became the basis of a new ritual in my life. I come to the store, don my apron, pick up my clean washcloths and try to understand what is in front of me. What has happened here? Does this piece have finishes like shellac, varnish or lacquer? Will the tannins of the wood bleed through if I just go ahead and apply the first coat of Chalk Paint®? Does this piece need a radical rebirth, or does its owner merely want to touch it up so it can gleam in its home instead of looking like a forgotten shadow of itself?

And then, as most of you would know, the work begins. That work involves wiping and cleaning the furniture to remove all the dust, dirt and debris that has accumulated over months or years. Then the piece might need sanding or priming. And then it needs to be painted and waxed or lacquered. For a while, everything else recedes into the background. There is just you and that piece of furniture, which you can see transformed in your mind.

I’m not alone in feeling that this work is ritually healing.

Tola Adefioye, a biomedical scientist and founder of Old Old Wood, describes how restoring is a “form of therapy”. He adds, “...wood always reinvents itself. For what I was going through at the time, I needed to reinvent myself - my studio was my safe space.”

With the pandemic now raging for nearly two years, many of us have had to shelter in place. We haven’t traveled. Reinventing our home without literally overhauling it, has been a big part of how we’ve all survived and even thrived at this time.

But the road to painting as therapy isn’t clear-cut. It begins with apprehension. I’ve heard many of you say:
“I’ve never done this before.”
“I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been watching lots of videos!”
“I’m going to try and see what happens. You might see me again, a lot.”
“Do I need that? I’m not sure what I need. I’ll see how this goes.”

Less than a week goes by and many of you return. But now, you’ve changed imperceptibly. Most of you have this brightness in your eyes and we can even catch a smile veiled by the mask. You show us “before” and “after” photos. Solid wood antiques, worn out Ikea side cabinets, or simple and functional contemporary pieces have been transformed. 

Your pieces are dressed in Chateau Grey or Aubusson Blue. Some of you take a leap and go with Emperor’s Silk (that red!) or Tilton. Now you’re back and you want to venture further out into unknown territory. What about the ombre technique, a wash, or gilding with metal leaf? 

That’s when I started hearing the word I’d been saying to myself over the preceding months.

It’s “therapeutic”.

And much of this has to do with the fact that we can begin our projects without feeling as if our lives depend upon us getting this right from the get-go. It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes can be undone. It’s okay to begin with one idea and find that you’ve ended up elsewhere by the end. That means even you can surprise yourself. It’s okay if your painting project hasn’t changed lives, built empires or companies. It has changed you and your family. It has changed what home feels like. All radical transformations begin with seemingly insignificant, small steps.

Plenty of experts have written on how the very steps involved in creative work are cognitively and emotionally positive. You go from “preparation, incubation, illumination to verification.” 

Translated: you prep your piece; you save several ideas on what you’d like to do; you get an “aha” moment on what’s going to work; you get it done and you’re absolutely overjoyed!

Not all of you are going to venture into chalk painting your furniture because you’re looking for a way to feel centred, grounded and calm. Sometimes you simply need to fix up some pieces and do up your home. But I have no doubt that most of you will emerge from the experience of painting furniture feeling a sense of transformation that can only be described as healing. 

So keep experimenting, taking little steps into the unknown and share your adventures with us so that our little community of furniture painters can grow.

- Vinita Ramani
Mom, published author and furniture painting artist-in-training 

September 21, 2021 — Deepti Chadda

Chalk Paint® Adventures

Singapore is slowly opening up again, and we’ve been experiencing some stormy weather (and flooding!). There isn’t a better time to stay in, turn on some music, pick up your brushes and get started on those furniture upcycling projects you’ve been holding off.

I’ve begun painting some pieces right here at the Big Blue Trunk store and I’ve been eying  several old pieces of furniture at home that desperately need a makeover. Here’s a little run-down of how that’s been going. If any of this makes you laugh and inspires you, head over to the store, chat with us, pick up some paints to see what you can do as well! 

Chalk Painting is a workout!
Your local gym was open. Then it closed. Now it’s open again, but you’ve gotten a bit too disoriented from all the changes to schedule in a regular workout. Nevermind. Grab a worn piece of furniture in your house and Chalk Paint® it. By the end, even a little stool will have you bending, flexing and arching, getting into positions your yoga teacher or gym coach would be proud of. Also: you'll get wrists strong enough to win the gold medal in badminton at the next Olympics!

Every piece is art
Annie Sloan reminds us that you're not supposed to feel inhibited or second-guess your strokes. Be bold, particularly when you’re applying that first coat on a dull, worn piece of furniture. The paint allows textures and character to emerge and this is your unique signature. Of course, there are established techniques to follow (two-colour distress, textured effect, washed look) and you can find plenty of videos online to find the finish you’re looking for.

Nooks and crannies are tricky
Big, bold strokes are fine, but it's getting into those nooks you want to practice. Every piece of furniture has it (where there's a hinge, a joint, a bolt, there's little nooks). Before diving in, I learned that it's good to step back and look at a piece - even a modest little stool. Figure out where you want to start first so you can still have a spot to hold as you work on covering the entire piece. Perhaps you'll want to do the underside of the stool and all the legs, leaving one to hold onto, so that you can work last on the base/top. Handles of drawers need to be removed and you’ll want to make sure you cover every bit, including the parts where the bolt/screw goes in. Brushes are everything! The Annie Sloan brushes are high quality, hardy, do not leave behind stray hairs on your pieces and there are all kinds and sizes to cover every bit of your piece. 

Getting more texture with just one paint
Annie suggests starting a second coat when the first isn't quite dry if you want more texture and to show brush strokes. Keeping the paint thick also helps with getting a textured finish. I tried this with Louis Blue on a dinky little stool I had at home and liked the effect. I ended up with three layers: the original wood, the first coat of Louis Blue and the second coat which came in more white. You’ll want to go for a nice creamy, flowing consistency.

Everything can be upcycled, but some projects are harder than others
I was starting work on upcycling a chest of drawers for a customer’s nursery with Chalk Paint®. The drawers had been painted with some kind of commercial paint that had a lacquered appearance. So far, nothing to worry about. The fantastic thing about using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is that you don’t have to sand and prime your pieces before you dive in. 

But in this instance, we were in for a surprise. We saw some parts had chipped off and decided these could be lightly sanded to remove bumps and flaky edges, before we started painting the piece. We found a bit of paint peeling and just tugged at it (I bet you’re thinking of peeling cuticles and sunburnt skin now). To our horror, the paint came off like black scotch tape, and gave way to a peeling marathon! So we carefully examined the whole piece and peeled anything that yielded to a tug or light prodding. What we were left with was a beautiful untreated pine wood piece. We removed the handles and now, the piece was ready for its makeover. 

I felt that inexplicable emotion that so many furniture painting artists speak about, when they look at a piece and let it speak to them. In this instance, I could almost hear the pine chest of drawers say, Ahhh, I’m free! This is my skin and I’m beautiful. The intimacy matters because you’re going to spend some time with a piece of furniture you’re working on and the more you see it as alive, the more inspired you feel, as you strip it back, dress  it up and accessorise it (with stencilling? metal gold leaf? Perhaps a two-colour distress finish?). Ah, so many options!

Departing from the usual approach, we had to sand the piece down to make sure there weren’t any bits of peeling paint left sticking to the wood. This exposed kinks, grooves and little holes (character!). After that, we applied two coats of primer (at least an hour apart), to ensure we had an even surface to work on and prevent bleeding of the pine wood. In 95% of cases, you wouldn’t need to sand or prime your furniture when using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, so this was quite an exception!

And now the piece was ready for its new look! Our customer wanted a Svenska Blue with a White Wax finish for her nursery, to go with a beautiful rug she had purchased. I realised this would create a lovely modern farmhouse look, which is still very much in vogue in 2021. 

Two coats of Svenska Blue later, we were ready to apply White Wax. Waxing feels deceptively simple. If you apply too much, it feels like you should go easy. If you apply too little, you need to be a bit more liberal. But the wonderful thing is, you needn’t panic. When we started waxing, I was a little conservative and applied less than needed and focused a little too much on the large surfaces (top of chest of drawers and the sides). I rubbed it using circular motions and medium pressure, and did the gentle sweep and wipe with a white cotton cloth. A day later, I realised the grooves in the drawers weren’t fully waxed. Not an issue! I got back in there with my wax brush, and went for those ridges and grooves. The White Wax lightens and brightens any colour, and brings out the brush strokes in the paint so beautifully. A short while later, all done!  

Hardware Love
Ah but not quite! Don’t forget the hardware: handles, hinges, bolts, knobs and bail pulls. Sometimes these are made of solid brass, porcelain or antique copper and our customers want them to be left alone because they’re already beautiful and complement the finish we’ve created perfectly. In other instances, they need a makeover as well. For our Svenska Blue chest of drawers, the metal drawer handles were going to be painted Aubusson Blue and finished with several coats of Lacquer. Lacquering is a must when you’re dealing with high-touch surfaces like handles/knobs. And yes, you can paint metal with Chalk Paint®.

Et voilà! We are done.

We installed the drawer handles after everything had dried nicely overnight. It was so wonderful to see this piece with a whole new look, and to have given it a new lease of life! We hope our customer smiles everytime she uses this beautiful new chest of drawers in her nursery!  

- Written by Vinita Ramani
August 27, 2021 — Deepti Chadda

Life is tricky baby, stay in your magic!

International artist Mishell Leong is collaborating with Big Blue Trunk to showcase her bold, vibrant use of colours in life size proportions for the first time in Singapore. Mishell will create a unique wall installation featuring the multi-faceted and diverse application of the world renowned Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® products, with the theme of “bold, strong, feminine”. 

The wall installation will feature right in the storefront of Big Blue Trunk’s new shop at Cluny Court (unit 02-14), Singapore bringing a unique and colourful vibe to the Big Blue Trunk experience. Deepti, the Founder of Big Blue Trunk will bring her expertise of using Annie Sloan products to create a range of beautiful finishes on the mural. The project will begin from 25th September until 1st October 2020 – just in time for the new store’s opening scheduled for 2nd October 2020.  

Mishell, a life expressionist and self-taught artist, is known for her bold use of colours and textures. She believes she is liberated from the constraints of traditional techniques and preconceptions of what and how art should be. Her simple brushstrokes have created diverse collections including Happiness, Botanicals, Watercolours and Sensual Art. The opening night of Mishell’s recent solo exhibition at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, was sold out with a long waitlist, patronised by art collectors from around the world. 

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
– C.S. Lewis.

Mishell and Deepti are both passionate about women empowerment and conceptualised this wall mural to reflect their love for everything bold, vibrant, strong and free. Trained by Annie Sloan herself, Deepti is the Founder of Big Blue Trunk and specialises in transforming furniture and spaces with decorative painting techniques. A stand-out feature of the new retail experience, this mural brings to life Big Blue Trunk’s mission of Make Everyday Beautiful.  

“To be able to take my work to such a scale with Deepti is a real honour. I have always been a fan of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint® and Annie Sloan herself is such an inspiration for me – so this is a real privilege. I cannot wait to see the colours come to life on the wall.” - Mishell

“Creating a life-size wall mural using our products has been a dream of mine, and I’m delighted that we are bringing it to life with Mishell, whose work we love and admire. Featuring a diverse range of painting techniques, the mural will be bold and vibrant, with our favourite message - Life is tricky baby, stay in your magic! A one-of-a-kind installation in Singapore, we can’t wait for our customers to discover a whole new retail experience at Big Blue Trunk!” - Deepti

We will share our creative journey on social media or you can stop by 02-14 at Cluny Court to say hi! (Don’t forget to bring us coffee or champagne!)

To discover more about Mishell Leong’s art:
Visit her website on: www.mishellleong.com
Facebook @MilcbyMishell for her family oriented artworks
Instagram @Mishellleongart for her art journey

To find our more about Big Blue Trunk:
Visit www.bigbluetrunk.sg 
Facebook @bigbluetrunksg
Instagram @bigbluetrunk


September 24, 2020 — Deepti Chadda

Stay Home & DIY (Part 2)

As you #stayhome safe and healthy, allow your imagination to run wild - with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®  

We are sharing our favourite Chalk Paint® DIY projects that are perfect for everyone - ages 3 to 99! Each of these makes for a fun activity with the kids, a weekend family bonding project or a relaxing creative outlet just for you. 

We hope you enjoy the read and that you try your hand at some of these projects in the coming weeks. 



Did you know that you can use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® to dye fabric? Well, now you do - Shibori with Chalk Paint is one of our most favourite activities. It's free-flowing, creative, easy and fun. My 3 year old daughter and I pulled out a couple of her old white tops that had greyed from washing and use, dip dip dipped in Chalk Paint dye and ta-da - as good as new!

If you don't have an old top or t-shirt to try it on, don't fret - you can use it on napkins, pillowcases or any scrap fabric to make into a scarf. 

Our tip - Use a natural fabric like cotton or linen, and always remember to heat set the paint after dyeing, either with a hot iron or pop it into the tumble-dryer. 

What You’ll Need 

  • White or any other light coloured fabric
  • 120ml Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in your colours of choice 
  • A couple of large bowls or pails filled with 1L of water
  • Spoons to mix the dye
  • Rubber bands
  • 2 MDF or Cardboard square templates 2"x 2"
  • Hair dryer
  • Optional - small items such as seeds, coins or lego bricks to create patterns


    1. Accordion fold the fabric 
    2. Place the MDF/cardboard square templates on either side of the folded fabric
    3. Securely tie rubber bands at intervals - either in a geometric pattern or random
    4. Mix your dyes by using the ratio 1L water to 1 Tablespoon paint
    5. Stir the dye well to make sure all the paint has dissolved in the water
    6. Immediately dip your fabric into the dye for a few seconds - for example opposite sides of the squares can be different colours, or you can to all in one colour
    7. One you have dipped the fabric as you like, blow dry the square as it is without opening
    8. In a couple of minutes, undo the rubber bands, remove templates and surprise yourself with a beautiful creation!
    9. Leave to dry and then iron on high heat or pop in the tumble dryer before hand-washing

    You can experiment with the folds and the shapes of the cardboard/MDF templates - diamonds, triangles. Or use just the rubber bands at different points of the fabric, as well as tie in the small items such as coins to create patterns. Head over to our Instagram stories to see how much fun we had with Shibori!



    The one thing we have in plenty during these Lockdown times are empty wine bottles - am I right? God knows we need it, what with homeschooling, trying to work from home, making sure the kids don't go hungry or kill each other. I know these are difficult days, but w(h)ine no more! Here's a fun, easy and beautiful DIY project for you. Go on, try it - might keep the kids busy for a bit and give you some down time to actually enjoy that wine too.

    What You’ll Need 


      1. Clean your bottles - wash, dry and wipe down with alcohol before painting (we know its tempting, but don't drink the alcohol)
      2. Apply a base coat of Old White Chalk Paint with the Chalk Paint Brush on your bottle and leave it to dry
      3. Mix a smidge of the selected Chalk Paint colour into the Pearlescent Glaze. Remember to use only small amounts of Chalk Paint in order to retain the shimmery translucent finish of the Glaze.
      4. The image above from left to right has Old White, Florence, Aubusson Blue, Antibes Green and English Yellow, to create these soft and pretty shimmering shades. 
      5. Apply one or two coats of the mixed shades and leave to dry. 
      6. Pearlescent Glaze is a durable finish in itself, so no further finish is required to seal these. 
      7. Use these as decor, as candles holders or for flowers. 

      Watch this video to see how to mix Chalk Paint colours into Pearlescent Glaze to create shimmery hues. 



      That's right - you can use chalk to doodle on Chalk Painted surfaces from walls to table-tops to fridge doors. And your Chalkboard surface doesn't have to be black! Any of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colours can be used to create a Chalkboard surface. Create a mood wall for your little one like our customer did in the image above, a vision board on top of your desk or a Chalkboard table top for hours of doodling fun. 

      What You’ll Need 


        1. Dilute the paint slightly with some water and mix well
        2. Apply 2 - 3 thin coats on the area that you want to make a Chalk Board surface. Give 30 minutes drying time between each coat.
        3. Allow it to rest for a couple of days
        4. Start doodling away with regular Chalk
        5. Watch this video before you start on your project

        Our tip is to only use a dry cloth to wipe off your chalk doodles for the first week, after which you can start using a damp cloth. Do not use a wet cloth to wipe, as you may end up taking off some paint.  

        We'll share 3 DIY projects each week until the end of May. We hope you try some of these - nothing like some painting to brighten up your days!






        May 19, 2020 — Big Blue

        Stay Home & DIY (Part 1)

        As you #stayhome safe and healthy, allow your imagination to run wild - with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®

        We are sharing a few Chalk Paint® DIY projects that are perfect for everyone - ages 3 to 99! Each of these makes for a fun activity with the kids, a weekend family bonding project or a relaxing creative outlet just for you. 

        We hope you enjoy the read and that you try your hand at some of these projects in the coming weeks. 



        We love painting pots - fun, easy and so satisfying! A few strokes of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® will brighten up your garden or balcony. The best part is that you can paint any kind of pot - the tacky plastic kind, ceramic, terracotta, marble, clay... Chalk Paint® sticks to most surfaces with no additional prep work needed!

        Our tip - to prevent colour from fading, seal Chalk Paint® with Annie Sloan Lacquer - its water resistant and formulated with UV protection, comes in gloss and matt finishes. 

        What You’ll Need 


          1. Apply two coats of the base colour, giving half an hour drying time between each coat
          2. Create a design of your choice, either freehand or with masking tape
          3. Rinse flat brush thoroughly, until water runs clear
          4. Apply lacquer with clean flat brush
          5. Let it dry for 24 hours, place your plant in the pot and done!

          If you'd like to try a bit more of an advanced finish, grab the Annie Sloan Detail Brushes Set and try your hand at a faux inlay pattern.




          Big Blue Company & Big Blue Trunk have collaborated to bring you a fun DIY project that'll almost make you feel like you're on the beach...

          Inspired by the treasures of the sea, Big Blue Company designs and produces a range of 100% 'ingenuine' resin stone giant clams, corals and shells using a combination of 3D printing technology, an underwater camera and a healthy dose of tenacity. 

          Add into the mix a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® from Big Blue Trunk and ta-da - create a beautiful decorative piece for your home! 

          To achieve best results, we recommend using the Annie Sloan  Pure Bristle Brush which will ensure even paint coverage (even in hard-to-reach crevices!) and produce a beautiful conversation piece that reminds all that nature will heal in due time if we care for her.

          What You’ll Need 


          1. Apply two coats of Chalk Paint with half an hour drying time between each coat
          2. Allow to dry for a few hours before displaying your masterpiece



          “Who’s the fairest one of all?”

          After a Chalk Paint® makeover, don’t be surprised if it’s the mirror itself!

          Since so many of you have been asking about the multi-blue hued piece in our Cluny Court store, we thought we'll show you how to create your own. 

          What You’ll Need


            1. Select a base colour and apply two coats of paint, allowing half an hour drying time between each coat 
            2. Once the base coats have dried, lightly dip your brush in a second colour, wipe off excess on a paper towel and then use quick light strokes to dry brush the paint all over the frame (make sure your brush is dry and doesn't have too much paint on it)
            3. Repeat the same process with the other colours, to achieve a layered soft finish
            4. Seal the paint with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Wax


          • For best results, choose colours from the same family or complementary colours, e.g. blues and yellows

          We'll share 3 DIY projects each week until the end of May. We hope you try some of these - nothing like some painting to brighten up your days!



          May 09, 2020 — Deepti Chadda

          Chalk Paint® is 30 - Happy Birthday!

          This year is Chalk Paint®’s 30th Birthday! She doesn’t look a day older than 21 now, does she? Unless of course, you’re going for the aged effect - two-colour distress, a bit of Dark Chalk Paint® Wax, immediate antiquity. 

          While it doesn’t quite feel like the time to throw a party, it IS a very special occasion - 30 years of DIY magic with Chalk Paint®! To celebrate Annie Sloan has TWO exciting new additions to the Chalk Paint® family. We thought perhaps we could bring you some cheer by unveiling these fun and beautiful products to take your painting to the next level.

          30th anniversaries are usually celebrated with the gift of pearl, hence this divine pearly birthday cake that was devoured by the team at Annie Sloan HQ in Oxford. It’s also a clue as to the first new product release we’re sharing with you - any guesses?

          It’s Annie Sloan’s new
          Pearlescent Glaze, a water-based light-reflecting decorative finish suitable for use on both painted or unpainted indoor furniture, walls and floors. Sublimely subtle yet rewardingly radiant. The light reflecting particles in this lacquer-like finish give a true mother-of-pearl look, can be mixed with Chalk Paint® brights to create a stunning rainbow of pearly pastels, and will elevate detail work to another dimension. It can be used in so many different ways. Apply over Chalk Paint® for a more intense opalescence, this will work best over lighter colours such as Old White. You can also mix Pearlescent Glaze with very small additions of Chalk Paint® to create gently shimmering, translucent shades.

          For more technical information click here to view the Fact Sheet.

          These beautiful pastel metallic bottles were one of the first Pearlescent Glaze projects Annie Sloan tried and aren't they lovely? From left to right she mixed Pearlescent Glaze with Chalk Paint® in Old White, Florence, Aubusson Blue, Antibes Green, and English Yellow.


          The second new product release is The Colourist Issue 4, Annie Sloan’s unique Bookazine. It is a collectable, bi-annual publication featuring 132 carefully curated pages bound in a covetable cover.

          Issue 4 of The Colourist celebrates the 30th anniversary of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Focussing on a neutral palette of Old White and Graphite with a splash of Lem Lem, this edition also features the Pearlescent Glaze.

          In these glossy pages you’ll find an antiques feast in Round Top, Texas; home tours courtesy of the brilliantly eclectic Ildiko Horvath; the amazing space-saving hulls of Trudy Ooyman’s Dutch barge; and the treasure trove of artistry which is Farleys House. Not to mention this season’s must-have Toile patterns and how to use them, as well as a free pull out of Annie’s specially designed Oxford Toile; the career-changing women who took their creative licence-to-kill-business seriously later in life - and how it paid off; the best ways to use whites in your home and with what colour. Last but not least, the beloved step-by-step pages at the back, guaranteed to inspire painters the world over.

          To discover more about The Colourist click here. Annie’s so confident you’ll love it, she’s sharing this sneak sampler, enabling you to have a flick through pages from the current edition!

          We’re delighted to say that the  Pearlescent Glaze and The Colourist Issue 4 are now in stock and available to order online. We deliver island-wide at $10 and orders above $250 receive free shipping. Order online and receive your DIY supplies at your doorstep.

          Stay home, stay safe everyone and let's continue to #makeverydaybeautiful
          April 10, 2020 — Deepti Chadda
          Padhchinh - Every Footprint Tells a Story

          Padhchinh - Every Footprint Tells a Story

          It was sometime last year when a friend told me about an artist and wildlife conservationist in Singapore who found a way to combine her two passions to create something beautiful and meaningful. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure to meet with Alpana Ahuja several times and hear about her unique and fascinating work, which lies at the intersection of art and wildlife conservation. Her art has been collected by the likes of Justin Trudeau and Pharrell Williams and has helped raise large amounts of funds for wildlife conservation in India and Singapore.

          I’m excited and honoured to share more about Big Blue Trunk’s collaboration with Alpana Ahuja.

          (Picture by David Stewart)

          At the intersection of art and wildlife conservation. 

          As an artist, for many years Alpana had painted Lord Ganesha (Indian elephant-headed God, the remover of obstacles), until she discovered the joy of painting actual elephants. It started with a calendar she was creating for Wildlife SOS, and it never stopped. As she spent time with the elephants, she began to learn more about their kind and sensitive hearts, gentle natures and their vast knowledge of the earth. She loved the diversity with which she could characterise them in her art - in bright bold colours or monotones, zoomed into the face or as a large herd, at the forefront or in the background of a painting… she had found her one true muse!

          Elephants as co-creators of Art

          Alpana felt her connection with these fascinating creatures grow over the years. She was taken by their intelligence, emotional sensitivity and her heart hurt for all the abuse they experienced at human hands. As part of her fundraising efforts, she decided to involve elephants as co-creators in her art - thus emerged a unique collection called “Padhchinh” or “Footprints” in Sanskrit. Elephant footprints are special and tell each tell an individual story. Alpana observed that newly rescued elephants who have just been brought into the Elephant Sanctuary will have smooth pads that are worn out by walking on tarred roads, while those that have spent time at the sanctuary will begin to redevelop natural crevices and grips on their foot pads. 

          These footprints symbolise the elephants walking away from a miserable existence towards a better future. 

          A couple of times a year, Alpana visits the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre in Mathura, India and co-creates art with the rescued elephants - their unique footprints on her canvases. Her favourite co-artist is Phoolkali, blind in one eye from abuse before she was rescued and brought to the sanctuary, she is calm, gentle and patient by nature. She enjoys working with Alpana and gives her almost perfect footprints each time. As all the elephants at the Sanctuary are used to being checked by veterinarians for foot problems regularly, lifting their foot is quite a regular activity for them. For Alpana, these footprints symbolise the elephants walking away from a miserable existence towards a better future. 

          Her newest Padhchinh Collection has been created with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

          For several years now, Alpana has been searching for a natural non-toxic paint to use in her Padchinh Collection, one that isn’t harmful to the elephants or the earth as it’s washed off. And that’s how she found us! Her newest Padhchinh Collection has been created with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that’s odourless, non-toxic and low on VOCs, completely safe for babies, pregnant women and animals alike. We are delighted that her experiment with using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was successful and are excited about a long-lasting collaboration with her. All proceeds from the sale of her Padhchinh collection will go directly to Wildlife SOS towards the rehabilitation of rescued elephants. 

          The famous Raju and sweet Kalpana

          For her most recent collection, Alpana worked with 2 elephants - the famous Raju and sweet Kalpana. She says “Raju was very cooperative and gave us some beautiful footprints. Kalpana and Holly, the inseparable duo, were well, inseparable. Holly didn’t like lifting her foot, so we left her alone. Kalpana was happy to do some foot lifting in exchange for treats. But she got bored quickly so back we went to Raju to finish the lot. We also had to contend with a litter of 8 pups running around fearlessly. Hence my art had to dry on a cart! Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paints was a great experience. I was happy that my paint run-offs didn’t pollute the earth at the Elephant Care and Conservation Centre. Being mindful of our daily actions is important for the future of our planet.”

          You can support the cause by:

          1. Purchasing unique art from the Padhchinh Collection online or in-store at Big Blue Trunk

          2. Attending our “Meet the Artist” event with Alpana on February 22 at 5:00PM at our Studio

          3. Contributing directly to Wildlife SOS

          Also read - Alpana Ahuja, 57, Artist and Elephant Whisperer by the Ageist

          January 31, 2020 — Deepti Chadda
          Let's have some Upcycling Fun!  - in collaboration with EtonHouse International School

          Let's have some Upcycling Fun! - in collaboration with EtonHouse International School

          For Big Blue Trunk, 2019 was a year of fun collaborations - working with other creatives, influencers and businesses to make beautiful outcomes together with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. We loved each and every collaboration, but our most favourite one of all came right at the end of the year and by chance, with EtonHouse International School Sentosa. The project we worked on together strengthened two beliefs that shape a lot of what we do at Big Blue Trunk - 

          • That Annie Sloan Chalk Paint can indeed be used by anyone and everyone to get creative 
          • And that every child IS an artist

          So to get to the details - I had a brief chat with the lovely Principal of EtonHouse Sentosa, sharing my story and passion for upcycling and interiors. A few weeks later, I received an email from her outlining all the different ways EtonHouse would like to work with Big Blue Trunk. I was amazed at the detail with which the teaching team had thought through the opportunities to collaborate, and their openness to trying something new and different - Upcycling!

          At the end of each year, EtonHouse hosts a Charity Dinner organised by the students from Year 1 - 4 which includes an auction for charity. For 2019, the school decided to include an Art Upcycling Auction as part of this Dinner. The children were going to select items to upcycle, learn the upcycling process with Chalk Paint, get creative and paint their items into beautiful works of art, which would then be auctioned at the dinner for charity.


          I happened to mention Hock Siong (love them!) during my chat with the Principal, and ofcourse the children found beautiful old items at Hock Siong that they could transform into something new and colourful. They picked a diverse mix of items to upcycle - a mirror, magazine rack, metal serving platter, glass plate, candlestick holders, a vase to name a few. 

          Next, I packed a suitcase full of paint, wax and brushes and set off to spend a morning at EtonHouse teaching children from ages 6 - 11 about Upcycling. And what a fun morning it was! Although I must say, my respect and admiration for the teaching staff went up significantly by the time I was done :D I was amazed at the knowledge the children had about upcycling, their enthusiasm to try, and curiosity to ask so many questions about the paint and their projects. We spoke about what Upcycling means and how it helps with the environment. I introduced them to the wonderful world of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and demonstrated how to use the products to transform a little step stool. Later, they all got to try their hand at painting, and were super excited about getting started on their own pieces!

          The children spent the next few sessions in their groups - designing their piece, choosing colours, patterns and drawing them out, all with guidance from their wonderful Art teacher. Each group had to agree on the design, before they could put together a list of items they needed to upcycle the piece. Soon I received a lengthy “Shopping List” that had everything the children needed for their projects - paint, wax, brushes, stencils! We had the entire lot sent over to school, and the next update I received had pictures of the thoughtfully designed, colourful and absolutely beautiful finished pieces. Each piece came with a name, story and a design background.
          To give you an idea - the vase was called “This is not a vessel”, the glass plate “The bubble plate changes its dress” and the lamp base was called “the red lighthouse”.

          What stood out for me was:

          • How much FUN the children seem to have had with their projects
          • The fantastic TEAMWORK they had to develop to negotiate and agree on everything from which piece to pick to what colours to choose for their piece and how they would split responsibilities for the project
          • The power of CREATIVITY they experienced from being able to completely transform old items into masterpieces of their own beautiful minds and hearts. 
          • Their interest and enthusiasm for UPCYCLING - recycling old used items rather than buying brand new

          THANK YOU, EtonHouse Sentosa and to all the children, teaching staff and parents who participated in this Upcycling Project. We hope to collaborate with you to create many more such immersive learning experiences for the children! 

          For those interested, we are able to customise Upcycling related learning programs for schools or corporates, that are hands-on, fun, creative and great for the environment. Write to us at hello@bigbluetrunk.sg for more details. 


          January 12, 2020 — Deepti Chadda

          15 Interior Styling Tips for the Creative Soul

          Make it YOU

          Find your unique style, and let your space tell your story! Your home is a reflection of who you are, where you’ve come from and what you love. Make it your happy place by consciously choosing what you put in it. I love telling my story through the way I style my home - pieces of art from my travels around the world, a beautiful hand-woven throw from my home country, a hand-painted piece of furniture, a rug that reminds me of the ocean, bright coffee table books about things I love… be authentic in the way you design your home, and it’ll always be beautiful!

          If you’d like to make your home personal and beautiful in simple ways, Big Blue Trunk offers different levels of space styling services to help with just that. 

          Don’t be afraid of colour

          Gone are the days of soft beiges and dull greys… the last year has seen design take a turn towards the bold and bright - colour blocking, neon pops and dramatic colour surprises are trending everywhere. Don’t be afraid to add colour to your interiors, whether in the form of art, painted furniture, a feature wall, rugs, accessories or any other way. White walls and floors provide the perfect backdrop for coloured pieces to make an impression. 

          Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® lets you do just that! What makes the paint unique is its ability to go over any surface – old and new wood, metal, plastic, cement, bricks, leather, fabric, etc. – all with no preparation needed. It’s never been easier to add colour to your home! Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® range is available to purchase at Big Blue Trunk.


          Mix it up!

          A cocktail of bold colours, pattern on pattern and rich textures are going mainstream - eclectic interiors are replacing the ‘matchy-matchy’ concept that dominated the previous decade. We’re seeing a more daring design style of juxtapositions such as modern interiors with a vintage statement piece, or calm cool colours with a pop of neon. A mix of trends from different design styles and eras is giving spaces an interesting and fun twist. So, be brave - get that white & pink Beni Ouarain Moroccan rug, a marble coffee table with rose gold legs and that deep blue velvet couch. Have fun with your home and mix it up a bit!

          (Image from @house_of_chester)


          Learn from Nature

          Nature will never go out of style! Bringing the green indoors is a beautiful way to decorate any space. Hanging gardens, terrariums, green walls and potted plants instantly make a space come alive. However, our little plant friends do require daily care and take time and attention to maintain. A less fussy way of going green is bringing in botanical prints - in the form of artwork, soft furnishings, botanical themed furniture or wallpaper. These transform your space instantly and are so easy to do!

          Try Lucy Tiffney Wallpaper. An award winning Design Studio established in 2016, the brand has evolved from an ambition to make unique, fresh, colourful and happy designs for everyone. Lucy’s original, large scale, bold murals and beautiful wallpapers showcase her signature hand painterly style and unique  interpretation of the natural world. Big Blue Trunk is proud to present Lucy's Wallpaper Collection for the first time in Asia. Lucy Tiffney Wallpaper range is available to purchase at Big Blue Trunk.


          Upcycle it

          Do you have a well-loved piece of furniture that doesn't fit with your decor anymore and needs a facelift? Or a precious antique piece that’s too dark for our tropical climate and could do with a makeover?  Don’t throw it out - upcycle it! A little bit of paint and some love can transform old and used furniture and ornaments into beautiful pieces that fit the style of your home. Upcycling is a great way to revitalise old pieces and at the same time add a personal unique touch to your home.

          Big Blue Trunk offers a range of creative workshops that teach how to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® and Wax to upcycle furniture & decorative objects. These workshops are designed to be fun & relaxing for everyone, irrespective of artistic experience. Stop by the Studio for some colour inspiration - discover your style, upcycle and feel good about your home!
          Creative Workshops Menu hosted at Big Blue Trunk.


          Bling it on with Metallic Accents

          Lovin’ the rose gold, but don’t know how to bring it home without risking tackiness? Don’t stress, metallic accents are all the rage, Pantone even highlighted it as an up-and-coming trend last year. Bling it on yes, but be sparing in how you use metallics - light fixtures, metallic highlights on art, shimmering fabrics, small ornaments are all easy and delicate ways of adding a bit of sparkle to any room. Hand-painted metallic shimmer on furniture, fabric or ornaments instantly add an artistic flair to any room. And you don’t have to stick to one metallic tone for a room - rose gold, copper, gold and silver - mix them up if you’d like!

          Add a metallic touch to your furniture, art or ornaments with Annie Sloan Gilding Waxes available in warm gold, bright gold, copper, dark silver and bright silver. Apply to ornate carvings to enhance texture and detailing, apply on fabric or canvas, or use with Annie Sloan Stencils to create gilded shapes, lines and designs. Metallic Gilding Waxes by Annie Sloan available at Big Blue Trunk.


          Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

          Mirrors are a beautiful, eclectic and easy way to spruce up any space. They make your space seem brighter and lighter, and take the glamour quotient up a notch. The great thing about mirrors is that they come in so many shapes, finishes, frames and sizes that they are fun to play with - I’m currently loving foxed, mottled and antiqued mirrors with all their mystery and intrigue. The other thing with mirrors is that they don’t always need to be practical - if you love it, get it!


          There are a range of mirrors available at Big Blue Trunk including some carved beauties. Big Blue Trunk is also able to repaint old mirrors to give them a different finish or look. Visit Big Blue Trunk at Cluny Court to see more.


          Create a Gallery Wall

          Let your home tell your story through a uniquely personal set of art that you curate! A gallery wall is today’s feature wall, but much more fun, individual and easy to do. Every gallery wall is different because its a personal selection of art, memorable events, travels, and relationships. It tells a story - where you come from, what you value, your passions, who inspires you…. A wall that will always bring a smile to your face.

          First step is to choose the wall you’ll feature, then start collecting art that you love - it can be anything from original artwork, art prints, to macrame plant hangers, fabric hoop art, neon signs, postcards, inspirational quotes, mirrors, clocks and the list is endless. Once you’ve got a good selection of pieces, plan the layout and do a mock up if possible. Happy with the way it’s looking? Go ahead and put it up on your wall!

          Big Blue Trunk has a range of original artwork and art prints that you can choose from for your gallery wall. Featured artists and brands include Sister Zozo, Natasha Barnes, House of Neon, Rainbow Carousel, Jane Foster Designs, Meri Meri and Rifle Paper Co. Visit the Big Blue Trunk website or Studio to browse the range.

          (Image of a gallery wall by @projecthomedesign featuring @houseonneon art print)

          Add a Touch of Whimsy

          Whimsical styling is all about adding a touch of the unexpected to your decor - clever and creative ideas that bring a fun and joyous element to a space. Throw caution to the wind for a moment and let your inner child free! Think about how you’d like to make your home feel more playful and adventurous? After all, who likes to live in a space that reminds them of a hotel room! Start by collecting things that make you smile or objects that bring happy memories - a pink flamingo head, bird cages filled with twinkling lights, a spruced up vintage typewriter, juju hats… figure out how you will place these objects in the room, keeping in mind the functional design and shape of the space.

          Big Blue Trunk has a fun collection of antique wooden birdcages in a variety of sizes and shapes, and takes custom orders to paint them in any colour and finish. The painted piece comes with a set of twinkling fairy lights on copper wire. Place it on your bedside table, hang it up in your balcony or in the corner of your entryway to add a whimsy and magical element to your space. Visit the Big Blue Trunk Studio to browse the range.

          Dress those floors

          A rug brings it all together - it can dramatically change the look and feel of a room.  Use a rug as an anchor point in your space to tie in your furniture, art and lighting. Scale, size, colour and texture are the four things to consider when selecting a rug. For a grand effect, go for a wall to wall rug and place all your furniture on top of it. For a more eclectic look, layer your rugs and use different shapes and sizes. A rug is a great way to introduce texture and colour to your space. The most important tip I have is to treat your rug as an investment - be practical, get a rug that’s high quality and fits your needs, something that will last you for years to come.

          Try Doing-It-Yourself 

          Floors, walls, doors, furniture, fabric, windows - transform anything with some paint and a stencil! Tired of looking at your plain old bathroom tiles? Or have a balcony wall you’d like to make more interesting? Try stenciling! Its a quick, easy and affordable way to transform any space. All you need is a stencil, paint and a brush or roller. Doing-It-Yourself makes it unique and personal - maybe a weekend family project?

          Royal Design Studio Stencils has been a leading designer of stencils since 1994. All their stencils are reusable, cut from the highest quality durable mylar plastic, and allow you to create custom designs for any surface including floors, walls, doors, etc. Their products are designed and manufactured in San Diego, USA. Big Blue Trunk stocks Royal Design Studio stencils online and in store.

          The Magic of Light

          Lighting is everything! It is THE most impactful element in any space and can immediately set the mood - from depressing and dark or harsh and bright, to soft and beautiful. To start off, take advantage of whatever natural light you have in your space. Instead of heavy curtains, go for thin gauzy materials that allow filtered light into your room even when drawn. Next, add as much soft lighting as you can - table lamps, candle votives, lanterns, bird cages with fairy lights, neon light signs….not only do these balance out ceiling lights, but they also add a softer more romantic touch to a room. And finally, if you’re a bit eclectic like me - use your lighting fixtures to make a statement as art pieces, or to add that metallic shine to your space!


          The Power of Negative Space

          A fermata in music, the lull before a storm, an eloquent pause in a speech - an absence can make a lasting impression. The concept of negative space in interior design is just that, it is breathing space. It frames the objects you use to decorate your room, and gives them the space to shine. So, resist the urge to fill each and every wall and surface of your space. Embrace blankness and allow it to frame the objects that you want eyes to focus on. Take a step back and view your room from where it’s most frequently looked at - then start an elimination exercise. Move things around, or remove something that isn’t really needed and see if it helps you achieve a more harmonious visual effect. Sometimes it’s not about what you include, but what you choose to leave out.

          Be patient

          A beautifully styled home is always a work in progress - it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes planning, effort and ongoing upgrades. As your story evolves and your family changes, so does the way your home is styled. I’m constantly making improvements to our home and I always have a list of at least 10 things I need to work on for different spaces. It takes time, and that’s OK! Have fun with your home, move things around, experiment! It’s as much about the process as the end result.

          Make it Beautiful and functional

          Often when we have visitors they ask - how do you keep your home looking so beautiful especially with a toddler running around? Yes, my toddler throws all the cushions on the carpet to make a house, she drops food everywhere and wipes her chocolatey fingers on my upholstery - and that’s OK! Things can be cleaned, fixed and replaced. Make your home beautiful as well as practical and easy to live in. Ideally, if you choose everything you own with care and love, to make sure they are pretty and functional then styling your home becomes a whole lot easier. But always remember, you own the things, the things don’t own you!

          By Deepti Chadda
          - Creative Director at Big Blue Trunk






          March 29, 2019 — Cross Sell Collaborator

          Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® Coverage Guide

          February 21, 2019 — Cross Sell Collaborator

          Getting Box-y with Botanicals

          I distinctly remember how earlier this year, when I opened The Colourist Bookazine by Annie Sloan, my eyes lit up with joy. It was a world full of colour and design inspiration, featuring the artistic work of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint enthusiasts from around the world. Each page was gorgeous - from Yinka Ilori to Cressida Bell - and in the midst of these colour wizards, I found Lucy Tiffney’s work. Lucy Tiffney is an artist who paints botanical motifs in vibrant colours over pastel or muted backgrounds. Her art is mostly featured in homes as wall murals, wall paper and more recently wall art (Big Blue Trunk has a Lucy Tiffney feature wall too, if you want to have a look!)

          As an admirer of Henri Matisse and Fauvist influencers, Lucy is a longterm colour enthusiast who loves finding unusual colour combinations, juxtapositions and proportions. Her designs can bring the joy of bold and vivid colours, and the freshness of botanical patterns into any home. As soon as I set my eyes on Lucy’s work, I felt a spark of inspiration. 

          And so, with help from the step by step guide in The Colourist, I embarked on my first project ever with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: up-cycling an old wine crate in Lucy Tiffney style. I chose Rodmell as the base colour - a deep enthralling purple, with a distinct air of quiet sophistication (Rodmell is a limited edition colour released by Annie Sloan in collaboration with the Charleston Farmhouse & Bloomsbury Group of artists). From there, I decided pick more vivid shades for the botanical motifs to achieve a playful contrast.

          For the botanical accents, I used the following colours in different combinations - Scandinavian Pink, Old Ochre, Paris Grey, Provence, Emperor’s Silk, English Yellow, Lem Lem and Firle (all of these colours are available at Big Blue Trunk here). I used Annie Sloan Detail Brushes and a spattering of other interesting tools like fingertips and pencil tips to paint the botanical patterns. Once painted, I sealed the paint with Clear Wax to protect the paint and give it a velvety matte finish. Here is the final look!

          What would you like to know next? What is Fauvism, the artistic movement, or how to decide which colours to pick for a piece? Please leave your comments for us so that we can follow up with the most relevant article next.

          We are delighted to announce the addition of the Bold Botanicals WorkshopInspired by artist Lucy Tiffney’s unique style of painting bright botanicals, in this 3 hour workshop you will learn to paint your very own custom wine crate in a bold botanical style. Click here for more details.

          For custom furniture painting projects, please get in touch with us hello@bigbluetrunk.sg. 

          (Some images used are from Lucy Tiffney's website)

          Artist and blog post contributor - Damini Roy

          February 16, 2019 — Cross Sell Collaborator

          Big Blue Chest by Sister Zozo

          As Lisa Rickert, CEO Unfolded once said "Chalk Paint® -  a paint so good, a community formed around it." And its true, right here in Singapore we have a vibrant and creative community of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® users. Everyone from artists to DIYers, mums, professionals, interior designers and students use Chalk Paint® to create beautiful things. At Big Blue Trunk, we are always making an effort to build this community and showcase the amazing art that emerges from it. 

          As part of this effort we are extremely excited to announce our first Artist Collaboration with Singapore based artist, Sister Zozo. Presenting the Big Blue Chest - a fluid dance of colour in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, with Sister Zozo's bold, expressive and spontaneous style.

          Sister Zozo is a Colourful Brouhaha. Free of boundaries and labels, she's a citizen of the world with a harbour in Singapore. A creative thinker, professional artist and mum, her style is bold and imaginative, inspired by her life and surroundings.

          Sister Zozo shares her thoughts on the Making of the Big Blue Chest

          "When I think about  Annie Sloan, I think about inspiration by colour, when colour is used as a starting point for expression. So when I was invited to create something unique with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®, I jumped at the opportunity. 

          To begin with I had to choose my object - I chose a large wooden chest of drawers. 

          I saw beautiful designs that people came up with using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®: delicate gradients, wonderful ageing effects, calming pastel pieces. But I needed to come up with something completely new, something only I could create.

          Concept: I knew I would place the chest in our living room, in a space where my toddler son plays often. And my son's energy set the mood for the piece. I wanted it to be something spontaneous, like dancing, or speaking, or play - true elementary forms of expression. It had to be full of vivacity, imaginativeness and play.

          Colours: Right now I’m living my “blue period”, so I knew the Chest would be blue. The colour palette I chose was inspired by pansies. I selected the rich Napoleonic Blue for my base. The colours I used for the design were Old White, Old Violet, Loius Blue, Antoinette and English Yellow.

          Artwork: I came up with the idea of one continuous line that defines the main artwork. I didn’t sketch anything, I didn’t really plan it. I just took a deep breathe and gave it a go. And here it is! 

          I am very happy with the result. It’s not just a chest of drawers any more. It’s a statement, it has loud character, it’s a celebration of play, imagination and vivacity. I’m already brewing ideas for the next fun expression."

          Watch the Making of the Big Blue Chest

          Follow her on Instagram @sister.zozo

          To buy Sister Zozo's Art visit our Studio at 02-27 Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road or online at www.bigbluetrunk.sg. 

          June 06, 2018 — Deepti Chadda