Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DIY Wall Art Tutorial

Today I'm going to pretend to be a cool, crafty DIY blogger and offer you a tutorial. Mostly because I totally made that awesome piece of art up there and I'm feeling a little full of myself right now, and want to share my creative genius with the world. 

So. To make your own distressed wall art, you will need:
  • Wood. I used a pair of very old shelves that I've had in my garage forever, the hardware long since lost. Mine were each 9" x 40" (so side by side the piece is 18"x40") which was perfect to fill the huge, high-ceilinged empty spot above my mantle, but you can use whatever size you want to fit the space you need to fill. You can use old wood or new wood. Either way, you're going to beat the crap out of it before you're finished.
  • Paint. I used cheap acrylic paint. Like the kind you can get at Wal-Mart for 97 cents a bottle? That kind. Use whatever paint you like to use. Maybe spray paint would have been easier; that did occur to me somewhere around my 4th coat. Also, possibly primer would have helped.
  • Tools. Like, a hammer, some nails, or a drill and some screws or something. And a sander, or just sandpaper if you want to do this the hard way.
  • A stencil. If you're like me and have a Silhouette Cameo, then you're cool and we can be friends. And also you can cut whatever kind of stencil you want. Mine is a shape I bought from the Silhouette Store. I used my Silhouette to cut it on regular old Con-Tact paper, the kind you line shelves with. My paper is patterned just because I had some laying around but clear would work too.

    You can also buy a stencil, or cut it out with an X-Acto knife, or whatever other stuff peasants without Silhouettes do. (I'm kidding. You're not a peasant. This Silhouette is going to my head. You should get one. Or just visit my Etsy shop and order a stencil. Seriously. I would do that for you.)

UPDATE: I cannot sell THIS exact shape, because I purchased the file way back when this post was new, long before I was in the decal business, and it's for personal use only. However, I have many other birdcages (and lots of other awesome stuff!) in my Etsy shop. Most are listed as vinyl decals, but any of them can be used as a stencil just like this! 

Con-Tact paper stencil

OK. So.

Step 1. I took the two old shelves and sanded them down. They had previously been stained so I had to sand all that off. I don't have a picture of that. Sorry. I mean, it's some wood being sanded. Use your imagination.

Step 2. I painted both boards turquoise. This is the color I want the shape to turn out, and it's the first color to go on the wood. Paint the edges, too.

I white-washed over my turquoise to weather it and dull it down a little because it was a little darker than I wanted.

Like this. Except imagine the boards are still two separate pieces, and the stencil isn't there yet.
Look, I'm not really a DIY blogger, ok? I forgot to take photos.

Bonus Step: Be sure to get some paint on the garage floor, your husband will love that.

Step 3. Next I nailed the boards together on the back with some scrap MDF we had in the garage. You could use screws if you want to get fancy like that.

They didn't line up perfectly, because they're old junky boards, but that's ok. 

Step 4. Next, I applied my contact paper stencil. You use the positive image, not the negative space, if that makes any sense. Because I want to cover the part I want to keep turquoise. Press down every edge very firmly. This part is important because you don't want paint to bleed under.

Step 5. I failed to photograph this part, but the next step is important: paint over the stencil with more turquoise. This is so if you DO get any bleeding edges, the color that bleeds under is the color you want under there. It seals the edges so the next color can't get under.

Step 6. Paint the entire thing white, or whatever color you want the background to be. This took several coats, and this is the point where I kind of wished I had spray paint. Honestly though it doesn't matter if it's perfect, as you're going to distress it later anyway. Just make sure the stencil in particular is well-covered, so you have a nice contrast when you peel it off.

The stencil is still under there.
Step 7. Remove the stencil. This is the point where I may have panicked a tiny bit. I could barely see the stencil, and it's a very intricate shape, so I was concerned about getting it off. But I dove in and found an edge, and it came off pretty easily. You should do this BEFORE it completely dries, so the paint doesn't peel up with it. It's messy. You can do it.

If the paint does peel a little, you can probably touch it up. I didn't bother because the sander would take care of it anyway. It's distressed, people!

Step 8. This is the fun part. Finally, after the stencil is up and the paint is totally dry, it's time to distress the entire thing. Take your sander and go at it with some fine-grain paper, concentrating on the edges. You've got that nice turquoise layer underneath the white, so when you go over it with the sander it reveals the color, and if you sand a little deeper it reveals the wood.

I also used a hammer to mar the wood, and pressed the sander down hard in a few spots to make it look nice and beat up.


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