some jobs are fun

Less digital

Working in front of a computer screen most days, I sometimes yearn to get my hands dirty and work on something a little less digital. Something real, a bit more physical. For me, this can be pretty therapeutic. It’s also often a good way to keep my creativity stimulated.

Road trip adventures in Europe
Road trip adventures in Europe

Outside of work, I enjoy taking going on camping road trips in my vintage VW camper. This has been a great source of inspiration. It also provides some interesting opportunities for creative outworkings. One of which was with the renovation of a classic Canterbury Pitt cooker unit.

The cooker was complete but in need of light refurbishment
The cooker was complete but in need of light refurbishment

I previously had one of these vintage cooker units in an earlier camper. Having used it on previous European road trips and shows, it is IMHO, one of the best and most practical cooker units for a classic camper van. I really wanted to get one for my current camper, unfortunately, they are not something you can just buy new off the shelf!

Refresh ready

Fortunately, I got lucky. I managed to source a second-hand one that was complete, but in need of a bit of a refresh. The metal enamelled cooker is housed in a wooden cargo door-mounted unit. The cooker is housed in the top half of the unit. Under this is a storage cupboard with a single shelf for tea/coffee/food supplies, crockery, cutlery, matches, etc. It is a simple but well thought through layout for camp cooking essentials.

cup stains – signs of a well used life
cup stains – signs of a well-used life

Some parts of the wooden unit had seen better days. This didn’t daunt me, I could see the potential behind the dirt! After working through a few different grades of abrasive paper with the sander, the stains and marks mostly disappeared. It revealed a much cleaner version of the original mahogany veneer below the stains and grime.

shelf cleaned up ready for re-finishing
shelf cleaned up ready for re-finishing

Transformed

Once cleaned, it was time to apply some protective finish to the wood. Initially, I applied a few coats of Danish wood oil followed by a final coat of Beeswax to finish off the refresh…

Danish Oil and Beeswax transforms the Mahogany finish
Danish Oil and Beeswax transform the Mahogany finish

The wooden unit itself was structurally solid. I just wanted to sympathetically refresh it to enhance the lustre of the wooden grain. I took a ‘refresh rather than restore’ approach as I wanted to keep as much of its original character and patina as possible. I was not after new perfection. Small character marks are cool and part of its story and history. It’s only ever original once!

The richness and lustre of the mahogany grain revived
The richness and lustre of the mahogany grain revived

Surprise inside

The grubby interior storage area needed cleaning up and the magnolia paint-inspired colour scheme updating. Whilst I worked on this, Lorna was making a simple fun transformation with some creative interior decoupage work.

Canterbury Pitt cooker refresh finished
Canterbury Pitt cooker refresh finished

The idea was for the unit to look nice and original on first impressions from the outside, with a fun twist/surprise when you open the cupboard door to make your drink.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

No one wants to get stuck in that rut! Nice to be able to open a door and find a little surprise inside that brings a smile to your face. Even if it is just to see two cheeky monkeys smiling back at you!

decoupage interior twist inside the storage cupboard
decoupage interior twist inside the storage cupboard

Reimagined classic

To me, the pair of cheeky monkeys were a homage to the classic PG Tips advertising from back in the day (the 1970/80s!). Later reimagined through Johnny Vegas ‘Monkey’ adverts and the famous collectable figures.

Lorna disagrees! However, let it be known that she is a big fan of the PG Tips monkeys! I’ll let you decide who to believe on that one then – here’s a sneak peek inside Lorna’s studio space…

Monkey collection
Monkey collection

It was a fun project to do. Always interesting stripping things back to basics and re-imagining them to see what can be done. Sounds like a typical design brief when put in those terms. There again, most things are exactly that. Well to me at least!

Anyone for tea? Transformation complete
Anyone for tea? Transformation complete

Realism

Nice to be able to work on something a bit more tangible for a change. Too often I can work in a digital-only space where I never actually get to see or touch an end product. Here, I could get to use the product and even make a cup of tea from it!

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