Archive for the ‘Crafty’ Category

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

I bought this huge canvas at A.C. Moore a few months ago. They were running an great sale on canvases – I think I bought it for less than $20 – and I’ve been looking for something large to hang over the fireplace basically since the day we moved in 6 years ago. I’ve hung collections of things, put giant vases on the mantel, made banners and art before but nothing has ever really filled the space the way I wanted. I knew a 3×4 canvas would finally be the right size but it’s been sitting in my basement for weeks now while I brainstormed what exactly I should do with it. I am decidedly NOT an artist, and although I found some cool DIY art on Pinterest I wasn’t in love with any of the ideas (and wasn’t confident in my ability to¬†execute them).

DIY Giant Silhouette

While I was talking with my IBFF (internet best friend forever) Amy, she suggested doing silhouettes of the kids. She actually made one and blogged it almost two years ago (and shouts me out in the post, because seriously IBFF!) so I used the same basic idea – took a picture of the kids’ profiles in front of a window, printed them and cut the shape out carefully. But because I wanted to make GIANT painted silhouettes I had to figure out the rest on my own.

Supplies:

Canvas
Spray paint
Craft paint
Paint brushes (at least 1 small and 1 large)
Cardstock
Printer
Scissors/craft knife
Box
Pen
Clothespin/tape/paperclip/whatever you need to get the angles right
Smartphone with flashlight app (or a very strong flashlight)

Instructions:

I took my canvas outside to paint it, which wasn’t the best choice because it was pretty windy and I ended up with spray paint on my back door. Eh, not the first time.

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

Ignore the tree shaddows

I picked blue for my background colors since I was hanging it in a blue room but any colors would work. In a kid’s room a whole rainbow would be really fun. If you were just doing 1 silhouette instead of two you could do it vertically.

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

 

From top to bottom: white base paint for a picture frame, kitchen stool, nursery project, picture frame, kid-size cabinet, and failed lamp shade project. All found in my basement with enough left for this project.

I lined them up from darkest to lightest and worked from the outside in on the canvas. Then I went back and used the white to lighten anywhere it felt REALLY uneven. This is what it looked like in the bright outside light:

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

I’m not going to win any painting contests but I like it (and E was surprised I had made it myself – he thought it was actual art). I let the spray paint dry for a few hours – there wasn’t a lot of paint so it didn’t take long – while I talked the kids into posing for their profile photos. They were both in cooperative moods so it didn’t take long.

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

Try to get a picture where your kid’s nose DOESN’T blend into the background. It still worked fine.

To make the cutting edges more distinct I lowered the blacks slider and converted the pictures to black and white in Lightroom (totally optional). Then I printed them out on cardstock (I happened to have brown, but the color doesn’t matter) and cut out just the silhouettes as closely and cleanly as possible.

painted silhouette artwork-6

Then came the hardest part: figuring out how to get that cut-out silhouette big enough to trace onto the canvas.

My first thought was I’d just hold one up next to a lamp and trace the shadow, sort of like a super-simple version of a projector. Unfortunately, a regular light bulb doesn’t direct the light strongly enough to make a crisp shadow. I tried to make a DIY projector with a cardboard box taped over the lamp but it still wasn’t clear enough.

I tried asking the internet and my husband and they both suggested I find an overhead projector so I called the library and after a lot of shuffling departments and waiting on hold they said yes they DID still have a projector and if I wanted to bring my canvas in they could set me up in one of the conference rooms on Wednesday. That would have been a good option if I hadn’t figured out an at-home solution. I got impatient waiting for Wednesday and during a little more Googling I found a tip that the flashlight app on a smartphone makes a really bright, direct light.

So I made this:

DIY Shadow Projector

That’s my iPhone with the flashlight app turned on, propped up against a book inside an empty box, with the silhouette clipped to the end with a clothespin. I set it on the coffee table and pulled it back until it the shadow was the right size on the canvas. You definitely need a dark room to make it work right, but luckily the sun goes down around 8 pm (I think it’s called “night”?) so I didn’t have to move the canvas.

DIY Shadow Projector

I traced it with a regular ballpoint pen, being careful not to move the canvas. I should have used a level and a measuring tape to space the two silhouettes exactly right, but I just guessed based on the color stripes on the canvas. Then I switched out Caroline’s silhouette for Evan’s, moved the canvas (it seemed easier than moving the light projector set up) and traced Evan’s. I adjusted the distance a little to make his silhouette slightly bigger than Caroline’s but not so much the finished product would look unbalanced.

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

I used black craft paint to fill in the silhouette shapes. I used a medium brush to do the major edges and a tiny brush to do things like their bangs and Caroline’s eyelashes. I filled everything in with a medium sized brush and went back over the edges to make sure they were colored in fully. I messed up both their noses a tiny bit and noses are very important in making a silhouette that looks like your child, so be extra careful. I did NOT wait long enough for it to dry before I propped it up on the mantel, so I got a black paint drip on Evan’s side. Luckily the cheap craft store brand of paint was easy to peel off the spray painted canvas so I fixed it. The other option would have been taping up the silhouette and spray painting over the mistake.

The last step was finally taking down the train station banner from Evan’s birthday party and putting a nail in the wall to hang it up!

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

Aaaand then take some pictures. I’m happy with how it turned out. High fives for easy, inexpensive artwork!

DIY Giant Painted Silhouette Canvas

Ta-da! I’m so excited to finally have something to fill that space after six years. Total cost: $25 for the canvas sinceI had everything else on hand and approximately 45 minutes worth of total work. Let me know if you try something similar, I’d love to see your spin on it!

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Stuff I Saw On The Internet And Actually Tried With My Own Hands

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

My computer is working, for now. But strangely enough, without a screen to stare at all day I was actually productive. I sewed not one, but TWO separate articles of clothing for Caroline – one of which I’ve had bookmarked since before she was even born. All that productivity gave me a raging migraine though (or maybe it was detoxing from a weekend full of cupcakes) so today I’m just going to bask in the glory of yesterday’s projects.

First, I hung up this play thet I made for the kids and it’s their new favorite hide out:

easy no sew play tent

I got the idea here, the embroidery hoop at Joann’s and 4 packs of sheer curtains from Target.

Then I sewed this out of some fabric I bought for $2 a yard:

pillowcase dress

The tutorial is from my friend Jill at Baby Rabies and even though it’s really simple I suspect I messed up the finishing around the armholes.

pillowcase dress

Caroline was too busy eating cheese to notice it wasn’t perfect though, and I am too in love with the print to care.

And finally, I whipped up a little circle skirt:

circle skirt

I used Chelsey’s tutorial here (with inspiration by Dana Made It). This was my least successful sewing project, but only because I misjudged Caroline’s waist measurement. I swear I measured it at least 4 times but forgot that even though her BELLY is 20 inches around, she wears her clothes lower, where she’s only 18 inches around. Throw in my last-minute modification to hide the elastic instead of having it exposed and this skirt is definitely too big. Eh, nothing a safety pin can’t fix now and it will fit for a long time to come.

It turns out I’m NOT terrible with my sewing machine if I practice often enough. My new plan is to sew something at least once a month so I don’t lose the little skill I’ve gained. FABRIC STORE, HERE I COME.

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My Sewing Machine Is Trying To Kill Me

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

I decided Caroline should be Tinkerbell for Halloween because, hello, the child practically IS a magical pixie.

caroline pixie fairy wings

Shut up.

And in typical Suzanne-fashion I also decided I should MAKE her a Tinkerbell costume. Because this one with the light up wings from the Disney store is too gaudy (it’s not) and this one in the baby-size isn’t pretty enough (it is) and this one is too yellow and the wings on this one aren’t cute enough and GOSH, if I’m going to end up spending $30 on a costume I might as well just sew it myself! That will be cheaper, easier AND cuter! I’ll just check Pinterest for a pattern.

Go ahead and punch me in the face now, since anyone with half a brain can tell you “I’ll just do that thing I saw on Pinterest” NEVER ENDS WELL.

I started with this pattern from Make It Love It and…improvised. I might rock a party or a bake sale or a set of knitting needles but I am TERRIFIED of my sewing machine. Luckily, I’ve never let being terrible at something stop me from trying again. I’m slightly oblivious and stupid that way.

So instead of writing the blog post I was planning to write yesterday or working on the sponsored post I have due Wednesday or making a healthy family dinner for my kids or doing the breakfast dishes or any of the other things that actually need to get done I dragged Evan and Caroline to the craft store where I spent $65 on supplies and then wasted 4 hours attempting to sewing a green leotard I probably could have ordered from China for $12.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I spent like $40 on fabric (it was on sale!) and $15 on the CUTEST Tinkerbell-green wings and headband and wand they were selling in the pre-made costume section and another $10 on random craft supplies because that’s what happens when you go to Joann’s with a bunch of coupons.

The good news is Caroline is SUPER excited about her costume. I had her try on Attempt #2 and she refused to take it off. After I put the kids to bed I got Attempt #3 sewed and hemmed (note to self: YOU ARE TERRIBLE AT SEWING. Next time pick something easier to work with that lycra) and the ruffled sleeves done. Then my machine started jamming and I almost went blind with rage so I’m giving myself a break before I attempt the 3 layer petal skirt. Maybe I’ll make the sparkly green tutu tonight (at least I know the tutu doesn’t involve any sewing!!) and try the skirt again tomorrow.

Second-worst case scenario is I throw the whole mess in a box and mail it to my mom to fix. Truly worst-case scenario is I throw the whole thing in the trash and just order that dress from the Disney Store. Although those shoes are super cute.

————————————UPDATE————————————

BOOM.

Caroline tinkerbell halloween costume

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Mormor’s Birthday Present

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

The kids call my mom “Mormor”, which is Swedish for Grandma. It’s hard to find stuff that actually SAYS Mormor on it (I can only get her so many mugs from the Scandinavian store) so we have to get creative. Take one craft apron, a cute saying, some fabric markers and a couple of willing coloring assistants and you’ve got a special birthday present for Mormor!

mormor never runs out of cookies or hugs

I set up the text on the computer and printed it on regular paper.

mormor never runs out of cookies or hugs

Then I used my window as a make-shift light box to trace the letters with a fabric pen. If you had better handwriting than me you could just write on the apron and/or make it look neater when you traced.

mormor never runs out of cookies or hugs

A couple of simple heart cut-outs worked as stencils.

mormor never runs out of cookies or hugs

My assistants needed a little help coloring around the edges so they didn’t go under the paper and to make sure the shape was clearly visible but they loved using ALL the colors.

mormor never runs out of cookies or hugs

And voila! A simple, one-of-a-kind present for Mormor’s birthday. I wrote “Happy Birthday” and “July 2012″ on the sides near the ties so she’d always remember the date and occasion. It would be an a great gift for Mother’s Day too – maybe with these potholders as a set? (Those are what I DID give the grandmas for Mother’s Day!)

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How To Make Robot Shaped Crayons

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

This is an easy tutorial for robot shaped crayons only because we were having a robot-themed birthday. It’s really for any kind of shaped crayons – the possibilities are endless. All you need is a few boxes of regular crayons, a silicone mold and an oven.

Step 1: Peel all the wrappers off the crayons. It’s tedious, but put on a movie, grab a glass of wine and get to work.

Step 2: Break the crayons into pieces. For the 1 inch molds we broke each crayon into 3 or 4 pieces.

Step 3: Put broken pieces directly into the silicone mold.

Step 4: Put the mold in an oven or toaster oven set at 350 degrees for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the wax has melted.

Step 5: Carefully transfer the mold to a shallow dish filled with ice water. Once the wax cools and hardens, pop out the crayons and repeat!

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

Lots of colors! Erin made a whole rainbow – each kid got at least 8 crayons.

Tips:

  • We were looking for a way to melt the wax to pour into the molds when I suggested just melting the wax IN the mold. It worked perfectly, and all the details on the crayons showed up really well.
  • This is the silicone robot mold we used for the crayons. It’s technically for chocolate, but any silicone mold would work for crayons.
  • Wax DOES burn, so keep an eye on your crayons and don’t try to rush them by turning the oven up too high.
  • If you set your mold on a piece of tin foil (see below) the foil cools almost instantly and it’s easy to transfer to the cold water without tipping or sloshing the wax.
  • We only filled the molds about half way – it kept the crayons easy for little hands to grab.

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

how to make robot shaped crayons in a silicone mold

Crayons in action!

Robot birthday post coming soon!

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