‘Too much of anything is bad…’

‘… but too much Champagne is just right.’ If you know who said that without using a search engine or any other kind of reference material such as, dare I suggest it, a book – and without jumping to the end of this post, excitedly alert as you will undoubtedly be to the possibility of the solution indicated by the strategically-positioned asterisk – then you get a million squillion points.

Speaking of clues, here’s one about a recent creation of mine:

If you've been reading my posts in the last few months, few and far between as they've been, you should be able to guess this one.

If you’ve been reading my posts in the last few months, few and far between as they’ve been, you should be able to guess this one.

Yes, well deduced, Sherlock: I’ve decorated another champagne bottle. You might remember that I had a go at one back in the Autumn, by way of an anniversary present for Mark. That was the first I’d done for about 15 years, and it didn’t go at all badly, if I do say so myself.

And then I got a commission – my first ever! – courtesy of my lovely sister-in-law, Liz: to decorate a bottle as an anniversary present for her other half. Was I nervous? Just a bit. After all, this was for a third party. And it was a 10th anniversary and everything. Eek!

Anyway, in for a penny, in for a pound, I thought, and accepted the commission. Liz got me the bottle nice and early, and we agreed some key features:

  • the number of years – ’10’ – should be on the front, ideally with Liz’s and Paul’s initials, too
  • Liz’s and Paul’s initials should be on the back
  • hearts were very desirable
  • stars would be good, though not essential
  • if the following could be incorporated, that would be great: the sea, art deco, West Highland Terriers (!).

I saw a picture of the bottle via email before I had it in my hands, and it looked fine. Serendipitously, being a bottle of Laurent-Perrier (Paul’s favourite), the couple’s initials were even already incorporated on the labels!

Once I had it in my hands, however, I confess to palpitations on two fronts. First, the lack of labels: the bottle I’d done for Mark had more labellage, and thus more defined (and smaller) areas to decorate; this bottle had prairie-sized spaces to shape and fill. Second, the shade of gold on the bottle: the gold on Mark’s labels was much brighter, so the glass paint outliner I had in my stash was much brighter too, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to match the more subtle, paler gold on this new bottle.

Happily, these dilemmas were overcome: the first by my just taking a deep breath and giving it a go; the second by my ordering every shade of gold outliner I could identify online and then picking the closest match. Phew!

OK, so on to some photos now. Please bear in mind that a) this was all done freehand (I have no idea how one would go about applying a pattern to work over), and b) I did my best with the lighting in these photos, but I only had one slot to take the photos before the deadline – and it was a very bright afternoon!

The bottle in all its glory.

The bottle in all its glory.

Here’s a close-up of the front:

Note the '10' and the initials 'L' (left) and 'P' (right). Also note the symmetry of the hearts: not easy, working freehand!

Note the ’10’ and the initials ‘L’ (left) and ‘P’ (right). Also note the symmetry of the hearts: not easy, working freehand!

Now round to the side:

There was quite a lot of work to do to fill gaps left by the bigger shapes.

There was quite a lot of work to do to fill gaps left by the bigger shapes.

And further round:

Bottom left, here (the 'heart flower'), you can see my nod to art deco (as per the brief) in the curved lines either side of the flower's stem.

Bottom left, here (the ‘heart flower’), you can see my nod to art deco (as per the brief) in the curved lines either side of the flower’s stem.

And the back:

Note the intertwined initials. You might also see from this photo that centring the design was a challenge - courtesy of labels that were not centred themselves! I think I fudged it fairly well...

Note the intertwined initials. You might also see from this photo that centring the design was a challenge – courtesy of labels that were not centred themselves! I think I fudged it fairly well…

And round to the other side:

Here, you can see I've made the design more or less symmetrical with the other side. Not easy when labels aren't perfectly centred, hence my addition of the year in roman numerals (centre, bottom) to 'extend' the label and ease things into place. Cunning, eh?

Here, you can see I’ve made the design more or less symmetrical with the other side. Not easy when labels aren’t perfectly centred, hence my addition of the year in roman numerals (centre, bottom) to ‘extend’ the label and ease things into place. Cunning, eh?

Nearly back at the front now:

If you think I did each of these elements once and left it at that, you're barking. Some of the elements I wiped off and redid many, many times to get the design as good as I could. The trick is to wipe off almost immediately, before anything dries!

If you think I did each of these elements once and left it at that, you’re barking. Some of the elements I wiped off and redid many, many times to get the design as good as I could. The trick is to wipe off almost immediately, before anything dries!

Here’s a close up of the year reference:

I created the space first, then added in the 'MMXVI' much later. It was a bit touch and go as to whether I'd be able to fit the letters in at all.

I created the space first, then added in the ‘MMXVI’ much later. It was a bit touch and go as to whether I’d be able to fit the letters in at all.

And here’s my representation of the sea, at the bottom edge of the bottle:

The linked waves go right round the bottom of the bottle. They weren't easy and I tried various shapes before I got this one working!

The linked waves go right round the bottom of the bottle. They weren’t easy and I tried various shapes before I got this one working!

You may have noticed that I didn’t manage to incorporate any Westies. I did have a plan for this, believe it or not – a nose and whiskers – but in the end I just couldn’t shoehorn it in to the rest of the design, sadly.

Is there anything I’d do differently? Well, I’d probably give myself even more time. I was extremely tired during the period I worked on this and it’s difficult to keep your hand steady when you’re tired. And it’s surprising how slowly it goes when you can only work in short bursts in order to allow for drying time and to avoid inadvertent smudging!

But am I pleased with how it turned out? I certainly am! More importantly, were Liz and Paul pleased? They seem to be! So all’s well that ends well – chin chin!

* Ha ha! I bet you thought the answer would be here, didn’t you?**

** OK, I relent (aren’t I kind?). It was Mark Twain, the old sage. He also said, amongst a considerable list of other truisms, ‘It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt’. If only the likes of today’s politicians would pay more heed to Mr Clemens.***

*** Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. If you know where he pinched his pseudonym from, you get another million squillion points. If you don’t, ask my dad.

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