This is for all you baby makers out there…well, even if you are not in that category, you could still use this idea for artwork for any room in your home. We just so happened to put it in Oliver’s nursery because he had a big ole blank spot on the wall and it was the first thing you noticed when you walked in his room. It drove me nuts because all you really want before you have a baby is for everything in their room to be “done”. Well, I have to say that this spot did not get filled before he was born, it wasn’t even filled by the time he was 6 months…I know, I know…my child lived for months (10 to be exact) before we got something hung up! The horror, right?!?! (I’m totally kidding for those of you who don’t know me all that well…you can learn more here).
One day while I was browsing online I finally found the perfect piece for his room from here. It is by Sugarboo Designs whose prints I love. It was exactly the type of simple values that I want to stress to my boys.
And what made this print even better was the fact that it could grow with him. It wasn’t some nursery print that I would have to get rid of once he became ready for a little bit more of a big boy room. Don’t worry, I know at some point he will think it’s “uncool” and when that time comes it can still easily venture out into the rest of our house and find a cozy spot to fill. Plus it was very subway artish which I am seeing everywhere, but with a slightly different look. But, the price, oooooh the price…$280 bones?!? That was a bit steep for us. But, I had to have it…I had been looking for months for something really special and this was the first thing I had seen that sent my heart a pitter patter. So my little wheels got to spinning.
I had remembered reading about this amazing woman doing this and I thought with all the subway art tutorials that were going around, that I could create a “knock off” version of the Sugarboo Design print.
So, once again, I don’t have a ton of pictures of the process because I wasn’t planning on doing a blog post about it…but I did take a few, thinking that I may need to remember the technique in case I wanted to do another one. So here are the items you will need to recreate this look: (I’d imagine you can easily pull this off for less than $30)
- an art canvas (you can pick the size)
- pages from a phone book, newspaper or novel
- Mod Podge (I used the one in a matte finish…I love this stuff and there is a really cool blog about the stuff that you can check out here)
- acrylic paints in colors of your choice…I used white, gray, navy, & blue
- a little spray bottle (I got one from the Dollar Store)
- a frame of your choice
So, I started just like Ashley said here and tore strips out of phone book pages and glued them down to the canvas using Mod Podge. I applied the glue with a foam brush and more or less just worked section by section. I painted the glue directly on the canvas, set my strip down right on top of the wet glue and smoothed out the air bubbles with my brush as I worked. You will get some unevenness with the paper, but that is ok. The glue will go on white but then dries clear so don’t worry about the color. I ended up covering all the sides of the canvas in paper not realizing that once it got framed, no one would see them. Yep, if I can do this, anyone can. Seriously. That would be what my mom would call a “Dale” moment. Again, if you didn’t read the about me section, this would be a reference to the not so smart chipmunk. My mom and I, we go head to head with these Dale moments. My sister, brother and Dad, not so much…but when they do have a Dale moment, we never let them forget it…Hey Sarah, don’t you wish you could have been alive in the 70’s? I had to throw that in…Sarrraaaah.
Once your Mod Podge is dry, just take your white acrylic paint and paint over the whole thing. Next comes the fun part… you can create whatever kind of background you want. I kind of wanted subtle hints of blue, white and gray. So, I took some sky blue acrylic paint and watered it down. Starting at the top of the piece, I painted it on and then took a paper towel and wiped it off. You can play around to get the color you want, but I treated it almost like a glaze. If you want more color, use less water or let it dry longer before blotting it with your paper towel. I left the middle of the piece white and at the bottom of the piece I did the same thing that I had done at the top but in a navy. I was just playing around and took some of the watered down navy paint and placed a small vertical line at top of the canvas and then spritzed it with some water out of the spray bottle. I only spritzed it a couple of times, enough to get it to kind of fade and run down your painting. You can move the canvas while you’re spraying to get the drips the way you want them. All of mine were vertical some starting at the top and others beginning at the bottom and fading to the middle. Play around with it and have fun. Kids would probably love to help with this part, too. I promise you cannot screw it up and if you do, you can always go back over it with the white paint and start again.
Then, you have to figure out what kind of statement you want to go with. It could be a verse from a song, a favorite poem, something you and your family come up with, whatever! Once you know what you want to say, you need to calculate your spacing and size of your letters. I am fairly anal so once I figured out the size I wanted my letters to be, I had to print them all out and place them on the canvas…I used my silhouette, but you could buy a stencil or even use those foam letter stickers they sell in craft stores. That would make some cute kid art, too.
And you are probably wondering what those black lines are across my canvas. That would be thread…that I taped to the sides of the canvas to mark my lines. I needed something as a guide so I could keep my lines straight! I cannot free hand things people…another lil fact about me…I have THE WORST handwriting in the world. It is terrible. It looks like a 7th grade boys handwriting…not good, especially for something you want to hang on the wall.
So, once you get your lettering all straight, you can be like me and trace around each letter. This is not for the faint of heart…it is tedious and may take you a few hours. Once all the letters are traced in pencil (I knew I was painting my letters black and that it would cover up the pencil lines) you can start to fill them in with paint. Again…very time consuming, but so worth it in the end. Now, I am sure there are many of you out there with bigger brains than me that can think of 15 different ways I could have done this easier, faster, & without suffering the world’s worst cramp in my hand from holding a pencil and a paintbrush. But, my little brain just went with this…
Once everything is dry, remove your thread and get your mouse sander ready! I suppose if you don’t have a mouse sander, you could sand it by hand with just some fine sand paper, but my advice to you is to go out a purchase a lil mouse sander…you will love it. A purchase you will not regret.
I will say, I was extremely nervous to sand this piece. I was afraid it would rip off all the paper and all of my hard work with it. Just use fine sand paper (220 grit) and be gentle. I started in the corner and built up my confidence before moving into the heart of the painting. And I am happy to say the sanding only enhanced the piece. It did take off some of the paper that had bubbled up, but not so much that you couldn’t read the print. It created such a neat texture and from far away, it just looks vintagey and wonderful. But, when you get close, you can see all of the detail and the wonderful layers. In some spots, you can even see a hint of the small print of the phone book pages…which I love.
And there you have it! Stick it in your frame and hang it on your wall! Your special piece for easily less than $30! I bought the frame at Hobby Lobby when they were running a 50% off frames sale and used my 40% off coupon for the art canvas. I already had the acrylic paints & the Mod Podge, but they are pretty inexpensive if you have to purchase them. So, this little baby saved us 250 buckaroos. And that makes one happy husband!
And please don’t pay attention to the uneven hanging job Sam (sorry for calling you out, babe) did for the airplane prints. I’m sure he was in a bit of a hurry with all my nesting craziness. Oh, and ignore the chew marks, too. Apparently Oliver is a little beaver, too.
*Now you will have to forgive me for some of the pictures…they were taken on a gloomy day and it was kind of late in the afternoon. I was running around the house opening all the blinds and the little voice in my head sounded like a producer on a set screaming…”we’re losing light, people! C’mon!” Ok, I don’t know if they really do that…but I had the dogs chasing me around and Henry kept shouting, “Mama’s losing light, Aber!” I don’t know much about photography, but I do know that you want to try to do everything in your power to avoid using the flash. Hey, that’s an idea for you, Sam…if you are reading…maybe photography classes for Christmas? Hint hint…you know Christmas is less than 67 days away…AHHHH! So much to do before then! Are you ready???