This week’s project: a slate cheese board made from one of the ancient roof tiles which I found tucked away in the shed at the bottom of the garden.  This shed, which looks as if it would fall down if someone so much as coughed loudly in its presence, contains a myriad of dusty and (to me) beautiful abandoned garden bits and bobs left by previous owners.  A mountain of tiny, hand-formed terracotta plant pots are ready to be transformed into summer candles (on my long list of things to do…), but it was the slate tiles that caught my eye this time.

Taking the filthy and unpromising specimens below, the first step was to give each a long, hard scrub before coating with a durable matt varnish to bring out the original depth of colour.  Actually, I’ve abbreviated the process somewhat; the first step was to pick up a slate tile, carry it halfway in doors before dropping it, shrieking, onto the lawn as a generation of arachnids large and small leapt off the tile and scurried hastily back to the security of the shed. Having recovered from the mild hysteria this provoked, I carefully checked that no-one had observed me before casually retrieving the tile and continuing with the stages described above.

I used two cupboard handles shaped like chillies to attach to either end for carrying – I’d found these a year ago in a sale bin at the local DIY store and finally they’ve found a natural home.  I used epoxy resin to attach them securely, though those more savvy with drill-bits might want to have a go at doing this properly and making holes in the slate itself; mine looked a bit fragile to take it.  Now for the fun bit of accessorising the new cheeseboard; these decorative parchment leaves look great against the black, and a simple white pastel pencil works well on the slate, and is erased with one wipe of a wet cloth.  I’ll also be using it for tapas, with perhaps a trio of white bowls for contrast.

This project would be even easier with new slate tiles if you happen to come across them or have neighbours who are in the process of repairing their roof; a word of caution however – it was only when I whipped this out at dinner with much fanfare and self-congratulation that I noticed my husband peering at it a bit too closely. ‘Would that be one of the handful of original tiles I’d set aside to repair the annexe roof?’ he queried, in the kind of voice that tells you we both know the answer already.  Oops. So check that the roof slate is spare before coming over all artistic, would be my advice.  Still, it looks great

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