Fun Art To Make!

I have a bit of an art addiction.  I want every room to have some!  Beyond family photos and fantastic kiddo paintings (also highly valued), I usually need for a space to have some sort of interesting art on the wall.  This can be anything from the cover of a vintage children’s book to a one-of-a-kind painted canvas, to an old recipe card– or more likely with me, a combination of all these things!

Two Mod Canvases

Two Mod Canvases

I have a hugandous fabric stash, and I’ve been working to diminish it through a myriad of stitchy projects, but there are certain fabrics in there that I love so much that I hesitate to cut them up and commit them to being a mere skirt or throw pillow.  I know its silly…  but when you’ve got your hands on four yards of gorgeous 60’s floral that you cannot just go get more of, it makes it a little tough to take the scissors to it.  However, when you’re hoarding this yardage in a laundry basket or rubbermaid bin somewhere, you aren’t exactly enjoying it there, either.  Sort of a Catch-22….

Well with this method for making wall art, you can get it out of storage and into sight!  And it doesn’t take much at all– to make the one of the size shown above, you could use less than a fat quarter’s worth of fabric that you really, really love in a way that you can see it and enjoy it on the regulars.  It really is so, so easy, and you can create something that no one else has!  I’m always looking for ways to make art that will be 100% unique to my home, and with this simple technique, there are endless possibilities.

For these two panels I used two reclaimed sheet fabrics from the late 60’s/ early 70’s that I have picked up while thrifting over the years.  They are exactly the same print, in two color schemes– one is yellow-based with green touches, and the other is bubblegum pink-based with hot pink.  The only color that they have in common (other than black and white, of course) is the is the light, tangy orange shade.  For some reason, these two prints remind me of two mod little twin girls… they’re like The Parent Trap of fabrics.

The cool thing about this is that you can choose any fabric with a print, and you’re just going to follow the lines already in the design, like a paint-by-number.  You can highlight as little or as much of the image as you want.  You could choose one significant part of the design to be the focal point, and paint out the entire area surrounding it, highlighting that chosen part.  I *would* recommend that you choose  a print that has a larger-scale pattern, and preferably something with more interest than a stripe or a dot.  You could go with cute critters for a kid’s room, remnants from Hawaiian shirts for around the tiki bar, paisleys or botanicals for… anywhere!  There are sooo many options, let’s get started!

You will need–

  • a prefab canvas (can be one with a less-than-successful painting on it, if you’d like to recycle– just be sure that your fabric is darker than the design already on the canvas, or you’ll need to paint the canvas white so it doesn’t peep through your outer fabric.)  Mine are both 11″ x 14″
  • fabric that you love and goes well in the space, a few inches longer on both sides than your canvas.
  • heavy duty staple gun and staples or duct tape
  • fabric scissors
  • mod podge (you can use the kind for fabric, but  was out, so I was just using the regular formula)
  • larger simple brush (foamies are fine) for applying the podge
  • smaller detail brushes for your painting details
  • acrylic paints in desired colors (I like the Delta Ceramcoat)
  • newspaper or plastic trash bag to protect your surface from mod podge and paint
  • cup of water for cleaning brushes
  • paper towel for blotting.
Trim Your Fabric

Trim Your Fabric

*** While everything is still dry, you will want to lay out your fabric with your canvas on it and trim it so that you have just a few inches extra on all sides.  You’re going to sort of wrap this thing like a present, and its much harder to do this snipping while everything is wet and sticky.  You’ll also want to iron it if its incredibly wrinkly, and de-fuzz it as much as possible, if you live in a house remotely like mine.  (Five pets.  Fuzz happens.)

Apply a Glob of Podge

Apply a Glob of Podge

***  I start by applying a few tablespoons (just eyeballing) of mod podge straight to the canvas.  Gloop it on there.  Distribute it all around the top of this surface, trying to get a relatively even layer– its not going to ruin your project if you don’t, its just easier in the end.  I also get all four of the skinny sides at this time, but that can be tricky, and if you’d rather not get that kind of messy, you can save that step and come back to it when everything has dried a little.

***  Once you have the canvas coated with mod podge but before it has had a chance to dry, flip your fabric onto the surface of your canvas, pretty side facing out, and gently smooth with your hands all air bubbles to the edge, just like you’re making a bed.  A potentially sticky, seepy, bed.  The reeeally great thing about using fabric instead of paper here is that you can always lift the fabric and reposition it a little bit, but paper will eventually fall apart on you.  There is also the factor that stretched canvases are made from just that– canvas, so using fabric only emulates the same folds and softness– details that you typically would get with painted canvas wall art.

Add Podge To the Top

Add Podge To the Top

***  Now you are going to do what you did before in coating the canvas.  Blob out some of the decoupage medium onto the surface of the fabric, and spread it out, saturating the fabric and working the glue into the weave, across the entire face of the canvas.  You’re going edge-to-edge, corner-to-corner, covering it completely.

Fully-Coated

Fully-Coated

***  You can opt to decoupage the four edges down at this time, which is sort of a sticky endeavor.  I opted to do it at this point in my process, as I was already coated in the mod podge , and I think it looks better when the fabric dries tight to the canvas.  Basically you’re wrapping it like a gift, but you’re somehow doing it with wet wrapping paper.  Either way, you’re going to need to let the face of it dry completely before you worry about the last step of fastening it down on the back (tape of staples) or adding your painted details, so set it aside and let it dry for a few hours.  And goodness, go wash your hands!

Staple or Tape

Staple or Tape

***  After everything has dried a good while, you’ll need to finish off the edges on the back a little bit.  You can either do this with a heavy-duty stapler, as I did (and it is sooo easy this way), or if you don’t have one of those, don’t despair, strips of duct tape will do the job just as well.  Either way, be sure to pull it snug!

It's Like a Paint-By-Number!

It’s Like a Paint-By-Number!

***  Now you can flip your canvas over, and really set about making the project yours.  Figure out how your canvas(es) are going to hang on the wall (because in the case of mine, there is no obvious upright), and what area of your print you want to highlight.  Are you going to paint it all, or just a few details?   Because my two fabrics were so matchy-matchy, I decided that I would simply add the colors that each were missing– to the pink fabric I added green and yellow, and to the yellow I added both shades of pink.  I could have filled in all of the white parts, but I decided that doing so may be a bit overkill– the negative space with the white is nice.  If you’re not sure, start small and with the few areas you know you want painted.  You can always take a break from it and come back later and decide if you want to do more.  My two examples to the right seem *sooo* easy, because there were already large, cleared areas for me to color in….  kinda like a coloring book.  I’ll admit, it was easy-peasy.  But the finished products end up looking very much like they came that way, and I’m not sure if I love that or not!  When I asked my husband, he had some difficulty figuring out which parts I had painted and which parts were like that originally.  Is that a good thing?  Faced with that question, I decided to leave the project for a day and come back to it with fresh eyes.  (There may be a later edit of this post where the canvases have changed yet again.)

To show you how you don’t have to have a big, cleared, white area for your touches of paint, I’m going to show you the wee canvas that inspired this tutorial–

My Teensy Canvas

My Teensy Canvas

I love, love, love this fabric, I don’t know why, but it really does it for me.  It may be because of the range of greens and blues are all my favorites, but there’s something more to it than that.  The vintageness.  The blooms.  Anyway.  I found this wee rectangle that was about to go into the scrap bin, and for some reason, I held it out.  The next time I went thrifting, I got one of those little prefab canvases usually sold in pairs that has a ‘painting’ of a bistro or a restaurante or whatever on the front of it.  The bistro design is not my taste at all, but for a dollar, I can always come up with a use for a little canvas.  And here it was!  My use!

I Added the Orange

I Added the Orange

The remnant of fabric and the cafe scene were perfectly sized for one another, so I gave the the canvas a coat of gesso, and then proceeded as I have instructed you above.  When I got to the point where I highlighted details in the design with my acrylics, I didn’t have a clearly designated or white area, so I just picked a type of flower shape and decided that all of those– I would paint them out orange on top of the original kelly green color.  My color choice was easy on this one, because I’m trying to use cool blues, spring greens, and pops of sweet orange throughout this house.  And since this is to hang in the foyer, I wanted that color scheme fairly immediately spelled out.

Now that I’ve done it, I think that little bit of orange (and I added the yellow at the centers of a few blooms) just sort of *makes* it.  I takes it from being a piece of fabric stretched around a canvas, to being actual art.  And it looks glooorious in its current spot in the foyer!

I’m now on the hunt for a fabric in the correct colors with birds in the design…  I want to do some more of these!  I’d love to see what you try, please log in via facebook or other easy-means and show me what you’ve made!


 


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