The Making of a Craft Studio (VI): The Final Reveal!

A few weeks ago was moving day. With the help of hub’s brothers, all the heavy equipment was brought over from my old studio in my Mom’s basement. My craft studio is still not totally unpacked and done, but I couldn’t wait to show you the reveal. Here is what we started with in the basement….

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… and this is what the same vantage point into my new studio is like now! It’s the only expanse in the house that’s long enough to view the paint chip portrait I did of hubs. I think it’s only fitting to be displayed on the drivers side of his beloved beetle!

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Those cabinets with the VW beetle on the face started out life as temporary storage in our old kitchen. We never even got around to putting faces on the drawers! Luckily I saved them when we renovated the kitchen with the intent to repurpose them elsewhere. The transformation has made it my favourite highlight of the work we completed in my craft studio!

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The graphic is a picture of a VW beetle that hubs restored almost 30 years ago. A friend kindly helped us format and mount it on the drawer faces. Now it’s a real showstopper in my studio and amazing storage for my stash; repurposing at its finest!

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Repurposed kitchen cabinets + the old door from our cold storage room repurposed as a counter top make this storage unit a one of a kind piece!

The counter top had humble beginnings. It was also the utmost in upcycling because of its several lives before its final use!  You may remember it as the makeshift work top we fashioned out of sawhorses when we tiled the backsplash in the laundry room. It was originally the hollow core door to our cold room and we really put it through its paces when we renovated the basement. It turned out so well as a counter top that hubs even purchased another hollow core door and cut it down for the desk top right beside the storage cabinets.

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Old door from our cold room got upcycled into a countertop – but not before we used it to tile our laundry room and build the rest of the basement.

Here’s where the door was located in the basement originally. You can’t see it in the picture, but it even had a huge hole knocked into it (which I would assume the kids of the previous owners of the house did). The hole got cut off when we repurposed it.

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My studio is adjacent to our laundry room so there’s overflow from my craft room into that space too.

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Hubs just finished hanging our custom glass doors on the upper cabinets this weekend. It was so exciting to see it finally finished.

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The glass has a beautiful flowing pattern called everglade. It’s the same glass I used to create a new thermopane panel for our front door when we revamped our staircase. We cut the glass ourselves and installed it with a painted backing to match the walls. It’ll give me something pretty to look at when I’m not busy crafting – and hubs is doing the laundry!

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Speaking of pretty things to look at, I decided to display all my threads in a vintage oak glass display cabinet. I still haven’t unpacked all my fabric, so I’ll likely add some of that to the bottom shelf.

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The shelf beside the glass cabinet beautifully displays my collection of old irons and a few other vintage cast iron finds.

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I found the perfect glass jar to store my buttons on top of the glass display cabinet:

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The little card catalogue sitting on top was the very first one I ever owned. I loved it so much that I got a bit carried away and now I have three card catalogues of varying sizes. One of the larger ones is in the sewing room as you see later.

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The picture you see leaning against the wall won’t be there long; I just finished framing it for hubs’ man cave and ‘borrowed’ it, so I’ll have to sub in a different one.  I took the picture in the distillery district several years ago when I was taking a photography course.

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I have about 20 different pictures I’m in the process of framing and will likely rotate them between the man cave and my studio whenever I feel like a change. Here’s how I’ve already changed it:

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Across from the thread cabinet is an old metal sewing machine base hubs and I found on one of our antiquing excursions. Hubs  painted it and I paired it up with an old wooden board (I’m not really sure what it was in its former life, so if anyone knows, please do tell!).

For my last birthday, hubs repainted an old kerosene heater and commissioned a friend to paint a scene from our back garden around the front. I’ll be spending a lot of time in my craft studio during our long winter months, so it’s nice to have a reminder of our back garden to look forward to.

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I have a few old sewing machines to display also. I may mount them on individual shelves right above this on the wall if things aren’t getting too crowded.

Across from the laundry room is where my cutting table is located. The peg board shelf that’s leaning up against the wall was a vintage shelf upcycle project that hubs and I did a few months ago.

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I was planning on hanging the shelf above my serger, but it didn’t work out there because of the hanging pendant light. It’s a shame because now I’ll have to find another place for my upcycled clock that I found for only $1.50 and added my logo to using vinyl film.

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The perfect spot for the clock was on my pegboard shelf, but sadly I have no room to hang the shelf where it will be easy to access!

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We found the shabby chic highboy in the garbage and brought it home. It didn’t have any drawers, however it’ll be great flat storage for works-in-progress. I have a few print press letters and trinkets in the old printer drawer shown on top of it that I’ll eventually fill in as I unpack my things.

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Right beside the highboy I have an area for a desk which is simply the other hollow core door hubs cut down and painted for me (as you saw above). Underneath it, I’ve stored my air compressor.

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I’m still working on a vintage chair for the desk area. I’m also working on a drafting stool that used to belong to my uncle; I’ll use it for the cutting table. So far we’ve stripped the vinyl off the seat and painted the metal a tropical blue:

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I have plans to either upholster the seat in leather or strip off the foam and restore the wood underneath. Either way, I’ll be painting it with my birds of a feather logo (just like I did with the clock).

UPDATE – Nov 2016: The chair makeover is done! Check it out here.

When seated at my cutting table, I can see into the sewing room. I love having the feeling of open space instead of staring at a solid wall.

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The sewing room houses my card catalogue and there’s task lighting in addition to the potlights to light up the sewing and serging stations. The pendants are on a separate switch and are dimmable, but you can never have too much light in a craft studio! I was originally going to install some vintage green pendants but they weren’t wired and buying these RANARP ones from Ikea was the quick solution to getting it done fast. The beauty of it is that I can easily swap out the white shades for the green ones whenever I want to give me a winter/summer option (the shade is just held on by a clasp)!

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The card catalogue is from a local university. I’m so lucky to have it to store my smaller items.

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For larger storage, hubs built me an expanse of Ikea cabinets that runs the full length of the sewing room. If you’re interested in how I planned this storage solution, you can also see all the details of how I designed it specifically for my craft room using Ikea’s Pax Planner. Hubs also built me pocket doors to close off the sewing room which backs onto his man cave.

Above the doors is a vintage street sign we found on one of our antiquing treks while in the U.S. Where it hangs faces north and it just so happens that my MIL grew up on North street so the find was a perfect fit on so many levels – not to mention that it just looks great!

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I’m still undecided about what colour to paint the pocket doors! I’ve narrowed it down to four colours.  The orange is more ‘burnt’  than shown below and the blue is a historic colour with grey undertones. The other option is to paint them white to match the Ikea cabinets or maybe even a soft black, but those might be a bit too neutral for my taste! The colour has to work with the man cave too; any of these colours would work. Let me know which colour you’d choose in the comments section.

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I’ll likely add in a few throw rugs here and there; I might even have one custom made for the sewing room so I can freely roll the chairs around without dinging up the wood floors.

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Well, the craft studio is still a work in progress but Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was my studio! I’m sure there will be some updates down the road as I finalize my storage options and unpack the rest of my things from the move.

At least now I can move my crafting off the dining room table and restore the rest of the house back into a somewhat better state of order!

If you’re interested in how I organized the craft room once all my stuff was moved in, click on the picture below for ideas on organization (or click here). Check out my new craft blog, Birdz of a Feather Craft, while you’re at it too!

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Now to finish the man cave, which is also a work in progress, so we can finally sit back and relax a little. The basement has been almost two years-in-the-making in total between the laundry room, craft studio and man cave. Hubs deserves a long break after all the work he’s put into turning it into a finished and usable living space! It’ll be nice to do nothing but sit on the couch in the man cave and eat popcorn this winter (with a little crafting thrown in for good measure).

If you’re interested in reading previous posts in the Making of a Craft Studio series, here they are:

  1. The Making of a Craft Studio– Calling All Crafters: Help Me Decide the Best Layout for my New Studio
  2. The Making of a Craft Studio (II)– Design Your Space Using Ikea’s Pax Planner!
  3. The Making of a Craft Studio (III) – If You Build It, She Will Come!
  4. The Making of a Craft Studio (IV) – Progress Report!

 

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Hometalk HQ Challenge: Plant Basket

When the Hometalk Headquarter decor challenge was announced, I contacted Cori to find out a little bit more about their renovation and learned that the new space would be wide open. What better way to decorate a new space than with greenery? The list of benefits from office plants include increased creativity, improved productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased engagement with work, etc., so how could I NOT include a decor item incorporating a plant into my final project?

Plants that are low maintenance make great office plants, and that includes plants that require relatively low amounts of water, so succulents are a great choice as long as they’re placed in a spot with lots of natural light!

Today I’ll be showing you how to make a basket to ‘house’ a planter filled with succulents.

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This project was ‘inspired’ by the Hometalk logo, but this time I didn’t recreate it literally as I did with my previous projects.  I upcycled a leftover piece of cut MDF from some centrepieces I created for a baseball-themed Bar Mitzvah.

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It struck me that the MDF ‘baseball diamond’ was house shaped, so I used the wooden base as a starting point for my basket. I used the same base as a backer for the vinyl record art I created for my VW Bug Keyholder. I love to upcycle so I NEVER throw anything away!

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Originally, we purchased the MDF from Home Depot. I painted the MDF base Hometalk’s signature blue and then marked 1/2″ increments around the perimeter. Hubs used a drill press to drill around the edge. I used a toothpick to clear out the holes and make sure that there was no debris left for the next step.

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To complete the rest of this project you’ll need: wooden craft dowels, twine, sisal rope, white glue, a glue gun, glue sticks and beads with a large enough hole to slip over the dowels. I also wanted to incorporate some of the signature blue into the woven element so I added in a strand of turquoise using some yarn I already owned.

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The mini dowels act as the ‘ribs’ of the basket. I added a dab of glue onto the bottom of each one and hammered them into the holes with a rubber mallet so they wouldn’t split. Let it dry over night, then you’re ready to begin weaving.

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I tied a knot and attached my twine/yarn combination to the dowel in the lower left corner and then started weaving in and out around the dowels. If you don’t want to make a basket, you could also turn this piece into a desk tray to hold various items and cut the dowels off at a lower height. Below you can see I was experimenting with placing a pen holder in the centre.

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Here’s a closeup of the twine/yarn combo. I think the blue coordinates beautifully with the base and adds a nice touch of colour to the finished product.

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Once you’re back to where you started at the corner, loop back around the last dowel so you can start weaving in the opposite direction. This will leave a gap at the corner, but don’t worry about it because it will get covered up from the inside with all the ends from the weaving.

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As you weave each row, push down on the twine to ensure the rows are level. Once the dowels were almost half woven , I added in two pieces of sisal rope to act as handles.

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Before I attached them to the basket, I took some thinner sisal and wound it around the cut edges so they wouldn’t unravel.

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Then I positioned them along the side and wove them into the starter row.

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Here’s a closer look at one of the handles from the inside of the basket. It’s not necessary to hot glue it to the sides because the weaving will hold it tight.

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On subsequent rows, you’ll need to position the handles either up or down in order to weave them in and secure them into the basket. You’ll get the feel for it as you go; I’d never woven before and once you get going, it becomes intuitive.

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Since you will be doubling back at the end of each row, take the opportunity to loop around both corner posts at least once to keep them together and strengthen the corner as shown below.

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I continued weaving until I used up all the twine and didn’t have enough to complete another row. Then I knotted the twine/yarn combo around the two corner posts where I originally started. Don’t cut the tail – you’ll need it later.

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To finish off the top edge I used a much thicker sisal rope. Because I wasn’t sure how much I would need to go around the entire perimeter, I unraveled the whole skein and folded it in the half in the middle. The picture below doesn’t show the corner dowel, it only demonstrates the fold of the rope, however I actually looped it onto the same dowel I initially started with in the lower left corner of the basket.

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Starting from left to right, bring one strand around the first dowel and criss-cross the other strand right over it in the opposite direction around the same dowel as shown in the picture below. Tighten as you go to keep it consistent, but don’t pull so tight that you skew the positioning of dowels (or worse yet, break one)! This rope feature will give you a braided look along the edge.

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When the edging is complete, bring both pieces of the rope to the inside of the corner as shown five pictures below and follow the instructions under ‘finishing off the edging’ to secure it to the inside of the basket.

To finish off the top of each dowel, dab a bit of white glue onto a bead and insert it onto the top of the dowel. You can also use hot glue if you’re careful not to drip it everywhere! I bought a variety of different coloured beads from the dollar store; if you want to switch up your decor you could even forgo the glue and switch out the beads whenever the mood strikes. The weaving around the top is tight so it’s not going to go anywhere; the beads are just to give it a finished look.

As you can see below, not every dowel is exactly the same length, so just take a mini hacksaw and trim off any that are too long and protruding past the bead.

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I stopped weaving the handles in before I got to the top of the basket because I thought it might look good if they just flopped to the sides, but when I was done I changed my mind. I used the bodkin shown below and some of the turquoise yarn to secure the handles to the sides of the basket so they would stand up better.

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Once you’re done with the decorative stitching, place a dab of hot glue over the knots of the yarn on the inside of the basket to hold it securely and keep it from loosening over time.

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Finishing off the Edging

At the corner, bring the double strands of rope to the inside of the basket. Remember that tail of twine/yarn you saved from the main weaving? Use it to wrap around the two pieces of the rope to secure it all together. When you get to the end, secure the twine with a dab of hot glue underneath the rope where it can’t be seen.

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I used a clip to help secure the twine while I was determining the length to cut it and reaching for the glue gun. It acts as a second pair of hands.

Eyeball the length of the interior corner from the top of the basket to the base and apply a dab of hot glue to join the two pieces of rope near the bottom. Also apply hot glue just above where you will be cutting the rope to keep it from fraying (glue along the inside where it won’t be seen). Cut the rope even with the bottom of the basket and then secure it to the corner base with a dab of hot glue (again where it won’t be seen).

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I didn’t glue along the seam itself: I only glued the rope at the bottom as I didn’t want glue oozing out through the weave of the basket!

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Here’s how the rope looks from the inside of the basket secured to the inside corner. If you wish, you can take a pair of scissors and trim away some of the longer ‘flyaway’ strands of the sisal to tidy it up.

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I didn’t add the ‘Inspire‘ wording to the basket as shown below, but if I was using this as a desk tray I might add it in to coordinate with the earlier pieces I created for the Hometalk HQ decor challenge. Of course, the handles wouldn’t be necessary to add if you were making this as a tray.

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Here’s a look at the final basket on its own.

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I used a planter filled with succulents that I already owed to demonstrate how pretty it would be planted up.

If I had more time I would definitely make a custom hypertufa planter to mimic the shape of the inside of Hometalk’s logo – and fabricate it in white concrete! It just so happens that I have a DIY tutorial on how to construct a hypertufa planter that you can use to accessorize this basket if you want to take it that one step further.

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The possibilities are endless for this project: you could make this basket in any shape your heart desires. I already have special plans to make a thank-you gift, and for my own craft studio I’m going to weave a basket using my Birdz of a Feather logo so I can use it for thread storage. I’ll update you on both projects once they’re done.

Well, that concludes my ‘Inspire’ series for Hometalk’s HQ. It’s time for me and Hubs to turn our attention to putting the finishing touches on my craft studio. I’m looking forward to reclaiming our dining room table again and to bringing you even more projects once my new craft space is up and running!

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If you enjoyed this project, please pin and post on Facebook. To see the other projects in the ‘Inspire‘ series created just for Hometalk, click the links below.

Hometalk HQ Challenge: Inpire-Themed Office Decor

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Cubicle Wall Art – How to Print 8″ x 10″ Art Canvasses with a Printer

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Cubicle Wall Art – How to Print 8″ x 10″ Art Canvasses with a Printer!

You may remember the Inspire‘ themed office decor items I created for the Hometalk HQ DIY Challenge:

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I’m back with another project in the Inspire series, but this time it’s an idea for cubicle wall art. We spend 57% of our waking time at work, so why not surround ourselves with artwork  to make that time more enjoyable?

You can create your own one-of-a-kind creations yourself using a home printer and pre-made 8″ x 10″ canvasses. Below is some artwork I created  exclusively for Hometalk’s head quarter decor challenge, once again using the Hometalk logo.

UPDATE: It was a great honor when I was contacted by Hometalk at the beginning of October to let me know that they wanted to purchase my project for their newly renovated digs! It’s now found a new home in New York City!

I used Illustrator to design the graphic but if you’re not inclined to work with graphics programs, you can probably experiment and use the tutorial to print other wall art that you’d like to hang, such as a photograph (although I haven’t personally tried it myself).

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I purchased a 10-pack of Artists Loft Super Value Canvas from Michaels to bring my newest ‘Inspire’ creation to life.  Of course I ran out of printer ink by the time I was ready to print it so the canvas turn out less saturated than the cartoon prints that inspired this post (which you’ll see a sample of below).

The Original Project That Inspired This Post

Hubs and I don’t like to take ourselves too seriously (afterall, laughter is the best medicine!), so I was inspired to immortalize our day-to-day antics. A few years ago, I printed a series of cartoon canvasses using my own home computer and store-bought 8″ x 10″ canvasses back when Bitstrips was an app on Facebook.  Since then, I believe that Bitstrips has since been removed from Facebook, so you can’t replicate my cartoon idea.  However, you can still use this tutorial as inspiration to print your own art canvas, like I did for Hometalk’s HQ challenge. I’ve provided a step-by-step tutorial to show you how I did it!

Here’s a closeup of just one of the canvasses in my cartoon series. I added a ‘film-strip’ effect border around each of the cartoons to balance the white space around the artwork and to group them together more effectively.

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It’s fairly easy to transfer your ideas onto canvas using a home printer and artwork that has been sized to fit onto an 8″ x 10″ area. The canvasses were printed with the aid of some freezer paper to stiffen the canvas (see more about the printer below under footnote #2). Printing directly to canvas results in artwork that pops!

If you don’t have a suitable printer, you should be able to achieve a similar effect using T-shirt transfer paper. I haven’t used T-shirt transfer paper personally so you will have to experiment if that’s the method you use. One thing you will have to keep in mind if you have wording as part of your visual when using the T-shirt transfer method: you’ll need to mirror the image in a graphic program so that when you iron it onto the canvas, the printing is legible.

To start, I used Powerpoint to scale my images.

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To use the printer method that I used, you will need the following supply list:

  • 8” x 10” canvasses1
  • Reynolds Freezer Paper (generally found in the grocery store with tin foil and plastic wrap)
  • Upholstery staple puller
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Ziploc bag (to save the staples if you choose to reuse them)
  • Scissors
  • Inkjet printer 2
  • Ziploc bag (to hold the staples)

Footnotes:

Canvas. I recommend using a 50% off coupon from Michaels and buying the 10 piece Artists Loft Super Value Canvas Pack illustrated on the right. I’m not sure about the United States, but last time I checked they were selling for $16.99 in Canada (regular price).

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The Printer: The printer I use is an Epson WF-3540. It has a rear feed slot that can accommodate heavy stock. Note that the printer slot MUST measure at least 9”wide in order to be able to print directly on canvas to accommodate the canvas once it’s opened up and refolded (as you’ll see later).

The Graphics Fairy also recommends Epson printers in her post on the best printers for crafting. The reason she likes Epson printers (other than the fact that she has affiliate links on her site), is because “because many of them (although not all) come with pigment inks, that are both waterproof and fade-proof, which makes it the perfect ink for crafting!  This means your ink won’t run or bleed, even when you apply something wet over top of it, like various types of glues,  Mod Podge, etc.” I don’t have any affiliations, however I do concur that Epson inks are great! If you are buying a printer for crafting, look for an Epson that uses Dura Brite Ultra Ink (my particular printer takes a 127 cartridge).

Instructions for Canvas Prep

  1. Cut a piece of Reynolds Freezer Paper to 9” x 11.5”. This size needs to be slightly bigger than a standard 8 1/2″ by 11″ piece of paper because of the canvas; a rear printer slot should be able to accommodate this custom size.Note that you won’t be able to get two full pieces out of the width of the freezer paper because of the size (9” x 11.5”). Don’t be tempted to skimp on the size of the freezer paper (even if it’s only 1/4”) — it needs to be cut to the exact size of the folded canvas (as you’ll see further ahead) to get the best result when printing.  To make up for that ‘waste’, you’ll find that the freezer paper is reusable, so don’t toss it out after only one use.
  1. Remove all the staples from the canvas using the upholstery staple puller shown below. Set the staples aside in a Ziploc bag if you wish to reuse them.
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  1. Set aside the frame.
    Note: once the canvas is printed, pair it back together again with the same frame if you’re going to reuse the staples so you can fit them back into their original holes).Bulhead decor_021.jpg
  1. Now that the canvas is free from the frame, there will be two sets of creases all the way around the sides. Put the iron onto medium heat and iron out the canvas on the wrong side (i.e. the side without gesso) until all the creases are slightly flattened. The goal isn’t to make the creases disappear completely—it’s just to open the piece out. Do this in a well ventilated area as the fumes can be quite smelly.Bulhead decor_017.jpg
  1. With the canvas flattened and still facing wrong side up, refold the outer crease all the way around and iron it flat, as shown below. If you’re using the value pak from Michael’s and the piece doesn’t measure 9” wide by 11.5” long, then you know you’ve folded it wrong. Don’t worry if the edges don’t lie perfectly flat—the freezer paper will hold it them place in the next step. Bulhead decor_026.jpg
  2. Take the piece of freezer paper you previously cut (shiny side down/paper side up) and place over the canvas (which is still facing wrong side up with the margins folded in). The freezer paper will be the exact same size as the canvas and will effectively sandwich in the folded sides. Iron the freezer paper onto the canvas until it is well attached; keep the iron moving to prevent burning. Make sure the corners are as flat as you can get them (this could be a place where the canvas catches and jams in the printer). Let it cool slightly before placing in the printer—but not so long that it starts to curl. If that happens, iron it flat again.

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    Freezer paper is ironed onto the canvas, sandwiching in the edges. Ensure it’s well adhered everywhere – especially at the corners

Printing your Images to Canvas

I’ve included instructions that explain how I printed from my own Epson printer, but you will need to experiment with your own printer if you have a different brand or model. If you’re not careful you can jam your printer and may not be able to clear it, so DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK! 

  1. Take the canvas that is now fused to the freezer paper to your printer and feed it into the rear slot. Be sure to read your own printer instructions to determine which side needs to face up (otherwise you’ll end up printing on the freezer paper instead of the canvas and will waste the ink!). Sometimes my printer ejected it and it took several tries until it automatically fed the canvas it into the slot. This part can be finicky and requires patience until it feeds properly.  If it doesn’t take after a few tries,  it could be a matter of taking it back to the iron again to make sure the corners are flattened as much as they can be.
  2. Now at the computer, go into Print / Properties. Select ‘Rear Paper Feed Slot’ as the paper source. Below that, click on borderless (I’m not sure if it makes any difference, but this is how I printed mine). I set the paper type to card stock (because the canvas and freezer paper are thick), quality on high and selected ‘color’ as shown below. Then click ‘ok’ and it will bring you back to the main print screen.Powerpoint 10_BOF.jpg
  1. All my cartoon artwork was set up in a powerpoint file so at the main print screen, I selected “current slide” as the print range to print only one canvas at a time. However, you can use whatever graphic software you have at-hand and are familiar with (I sometimes also use illustrator and save my file as a pdf, then print from that).Powerpoint 12_bof.jpg
  1. With all the settings complete, now you can print. I only had the canvas jam once while it was printing and I was able to clear it. The trick is to make sure that the edges are as flat as you can make them and the freezer paper well-adhered everywhere so nothing catches while in the printer.
  1. Marvel at the beauty of your first canvas! Let it dry for a few minutes, then carefully peel off the freezer paper while it’s still warm. You can reuse this freezer paper again for your next canvas: I was able to get about 6 – 7 uses out of each one before I had to cut another piece.
  1. Keep the frame together with the canvas it came from; this will make reattaching the canvas easier if you decide to reuse the staples you pulled out earlier. Ideally, if you have the space, spread the canvasses out on a flat surface to dry for a day before you reattach it to the frame. If you don’t have space, you can stack them on top of each other with a piece of waxed paper in between until you’re ready to finish them.
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Hot off the press… printer

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Peel back paper after print is dry and reattach to frame

Reattaching the Canvas to the Frame

I’m pretty fanatical when it comes to reducing waste, so I saved all the staples and reused them, putting each one back in by hand. If you don’t want to take the extra time to do that, you can use a staple gun to add new staples and reattach the canvas.

If you plan to reuse the old staples to reattach the canvas to the frame, you will need:

  • Small hammer (I used the side of a nail remover as a hammer)
  • Staples that were removed
  • Needle nosed pliers (in case you need to straighten out some of the staples)
  • Printed canvasses and frames

Instructions

  1. If any of the staples are bent, straighten them with the needle nose pliers.
  2. Line up the canvas so that the holes in the canvas match the holes in the frame. That way, you can reuse the same holes.
  3. Starting in the middle of one side, put a staple through the canvas, line it up with the holes in the frame then tap it into place.
  4. Put a staple in the middle of the three remaining sides, then fold in the corners and tap in a staple to each of the four corners. Add the remaining staples all around the frame until complete.Bulhead decor_049.jpg

Hanging your Artwork on the Wall of Your Cubicle

To hang your artwork on the wall of your cubicle you can glue half of a binder clip to the back of the canvas and attach it to your cubicle with a push pin, as I showed you in the first post I did for the Inspire series of office accessories:

Collage 4_Hometalk HQ Challenge

If you’re lucky enough not to work in a cubicle and have actual wall space, use a medium size 3M Command Strip. Since the canvas is light, you only need one for each canvas, centered onto the top of each frame. Follow the instructions that came with the package.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please pin and share on Facebook.

Now that you have the basics, I hope you have as much fun creating your canvasses as I did, however if you happen to jam your printer, don’t say I didn’t warn you:)

If that scared you off, I’ll have at least one more ‘inspired’ office decor item coming up that you won’t want to miss. Until then, check out a few of my other craft ideas:

Vinyl Record Art – Creating a VW Bug Key Holder

VW Key Holder 007_BOF

Muskoka Chair Challenge at the Ontario Science Centre

SONY DSC

Paint Chip Portrait

Paint chip portrait_Birdz of a Feather

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Paint Chip Portrait

As a painter, my husband had amassed a huge collection of old paint chips and defunct paint decks. I also had a growing collection that I held onto from years of renovating and flipping houses. I was curious to see what one could do to recycle paint chips, so I did a Pinterest search and I came across a portrait of Marilyn Monroe done completely with paint chips. The light bulb went off: what better way to immortalize my husband, than with a paint chip portrait of himself!

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DISCLAIMER: as I already had scads of old paint chips, this entire project was an exercise in upcycling what I already had. I didn’t take paint chips from the paint store, so please don’t do that either 🙂

The blog associated with the Pinterest post didn’t really divulge much about how it was done so I had to make it up as I went along. With a few purchased items and a software program, such as photoshop, I knew I’d be able to figure out a method that worked! It was going to be a labour of love – extremely time consuming – but by breaking it down into smaller steps, this time-intensive project was going to be well worth it in the end.

Paint chip portrait_Birdz of a Feather

The first thing I did was to select my picture frame; it had to be large enough so that when I assembled the ‘pixelated’ portrait I’d be able to still see all the detail. I found a great frame at Ikea, sized 19 3/4″ x 27 1/2″.  As an added bonus, I was able to glue my paint chips directly to the hardboard backing, then reinsert it back into the frame to complete my project.

Stromby Frame_fin_BOF.jpg

I needed something to cut the hundreds of little pieces that make up the portrait; I found this portable plastic X-Acto paper cutter with a metal blade at the dollar store for only $3.  You can’t go wrong with a price like that; it was sharp and just the right size for storing after the project was completed. You’ll notice I made some modifications (more about that later).

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I also needed somewhere to corral all those hundreds of pieces of paint chips once they were all cut (over 800!). For that, I found this large medication organizer; the one pictured on the right is from Amazon.com, but I found mine at Walgreens when I was in the U.S.

Med container.JPG

The last thing I needed was a glue stick. Once I gathered all my materials, I was ready to start.

Photoshop

Start with a close-up picture. For demonstration purposes, I’m going to use this picture of Lady Gaga at the 73rd Golden Globe awards that I found using a Google search:

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Using Photoshop I neutralized all the background:

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I selected any apparent black pixels that were still peeking through the strands of her hair and used the paint bucket to fill them with the same colour as the background (I wasn’t too picky about capturing the lighter shades of grey):

Lady Gaga - remove black.jpg

Then I cropped the picture very close:

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Selecting Filter / Pixelate / Mosaic in Photoshop will bring up a slide adjuster you can use to adjust the size of the pixels. I played with this to get a good balance of not too many squares vs. not too much pixelation, keeping in mind the size of the frame and the need to still be able to make out the face when done! The litmus test is to look at the computer screen at a distance to see how well the squares blend.

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When I did the vertical portrait of hubs I ended up with 25 squares across the width and 33 squared in height.  By cutting each paint chip into 7/8″ squares, the final size ended up filling the dimensions of the Ikea Stromby Frame almost perfectly (I had to fill in a bit of the background colour along the right and left edges). The size of the paint chip will vary according to frame size and number of ‘pixels’ you end up with.

I numbered the bottom horizontal row and also the vertical row on the left of the portrait so I would be able to keep track of each square (I didn’t complete the numbers up the side on the example below, but you get the idea!).

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The portrait above doesn’t really look like it has much detail, but when you consider that it will be seen at a distance, all the pixels will blend and the face will be totally recognizable. I have reduced the exact same picture shown above to demonstrate this effect. As you can see, it will all come into focus; I love this picture of Lady Gaga!

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Now for the painstaking part. I took the eyedropper (circled below), clicked on the first square then opened up the colour picker to find out the RGB values.

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Open the colour picker in Photoshop to record the RGB values

Once I had the RGB values, I went to a website called EasyRGB. I entered the RGB values as shown below, selected a paint manufacturer, clicked the start button and it gave me the closest four colour matches to the RGB values I input.

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EasyRBG Website allows you to input an RGB value to find the closest paint match

Here are the four colours EasyRGB determined as the closest match to the values I input in the previous example:

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Closest colour matches to RGB

When you are colour matching, you need to keep in mind that everything is relative. You will never find a perfect match to the shade you’re trying to find.  However, once you assemble all your paint chips, you will get the necessary amount of contrast within what’s available in the particular line of paint you’ve chosen.  For example, the picture below shows a close-up of the paint chips I used to construct hub’s nose. You wouldn’t think such a wide range of contrasts would work when you’re trying to put together ‘flesh tones’, but when the portrait was complete (and mounted a good distance away from where it will be viewed) it just really worked. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t sweat the small stuff; you’re not looking for perfection with your colour matching!

Nose Closup.jpg

Close up of assembled paint chips

Since EasyRGB didn’t have all the particular brands of paint I was looking for, I also did a search online for colour-matching apps that many of the paint manufacturers now have. Some are available at a modest fee, but most are free. I was able to literally open up my picture on my IPad, enlarge it and then tap each square to find my paint match.

Once I found a match, I needed somewhere to write it down and record it. I made myself an excel spreadsheet with numbered rows and columns to correspond to those I previously added onto the pixelated portrait. I sat at my desktop computer using the Ipad to colour-match, while using my computer to record the colour in Excel. Every time I colour matched a square, I would record it on the spread sheet.

When I was ready to cut the paint chips, I was able to sort the sheet  so that I would know how many pieces of the same colour I would need to complete the portrait. The spread sheet also acted as a road map (when unsorted) to place each chip in place for assembly purposes.

Cutting

Remember the $3 paper cutter? Here’s how I adapted it to cut my paint chips:

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View is from underside of paper cutter

I laid two strips of plywood onto the back (I had to shim it to keep it level); I literally just double face taped everything onto the cutter. Then I flipped it over and added a cross piece that was perpendicular and 7/8″ away from the cutting blade (also fastened with heavy duty double face tape).  The setup is similar to having  a fence extension on a mitre saw; the strip of plywood acted as a stop edge that kept all my paint chips consistently sized to 7/8″. Once each strip was cut, I turned it 90 degrees and then cut it again for a perfect square.

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Paint chip is lined up with plywood edge to keep size consistent

I cut as many pieces of one colour as I needed and then grouped them into stacked piles beside my work space (labeled with the colour number so I could refer back to my excel sheet).

Once all my pieces were cut, I ordered them – according to my excel sheet – into rows and placed them into the medicine organizer. I had more rows than space available in the organizer so I had to double up some of the sections (I put a divider between the stacks and wrote the row number on it so I could keep track).

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Assembling the Paint Chips onto the Backer Board

Once I had all my paint chips cut and organized, I did a dry run on top of the backer board (as shown above) to make sure it would all work out in the width and length. I did a final ‘squint check’ to see if I should replace any odd looking colour chips (better to do it before it’s all glued down!). I swapped out one or two of the chips out with better colours just by eyeballing it.

Now I was ready to glue. I carefully re-stacked the paint chips and placed them back into the organizer in the same order they were removed.

Starting at the lower left edge, I  applied glue stick onto the back of the first paint chip and place it firmly onto the board. I proceeded the same way with the remainder of the row making sure each chip was tightly butted up against the other.  I knew it would just snowball if I left any gaps, so I took my time.

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Gluing down the paint chips – in progress

Whenever I took a break or got bored, I just closed the lid of the medicine organizer (and put the cap on the glue stick!) until I was ready to start up again. I appreciated having a closed container to keep the dust off because I was at it for weeks on end!

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Paint chips stored in the medicine organizer

Once everything was glued down to the backer board I simply put it back into the Stromby frame I purchased and added wire onto the back to hang (per Ikea’s assembly instructions).

All that’s left to do is hang it and enjoy.

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As you can see from the shot on the lower right shown above, it was hard to get a final picture of my husband’s portrait without window glare, but I love how it turned out! I plan to move it into my craft studio, once the basement is done.

Pictured below is how Lady Gaga’s portrait might turn out.

If this project has inspired you, please pin and post on Facebook!

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For another wall decor idea, check out Expand Your Horizons: Propel Your Bulkhead into the Spotlight.

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Follow my blog here or on Bloglovin’ to see upcoming DIY projects – both in and around the home.

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