Found Frame Part One: A New Classic

A while back I found this picture sitting next to a neighbour’s recycling bin on one of my early-morning dog walks. I picked it up because the frame itself was HUGE and made of solid wood (it weighed a TON) and I thought it would make a great frame for a nice mirror some time. But that will be a matter of finding a mirror to fit the frame, so that’s a post for another day. After staring at it for a while, I kind of started to like the picture that was in the frame, as well. There’s a rural Canadiana vibe to it that appeals to me.

Found Frame Part 1 1

And this wouldn’t be the first mystery painting my family has picked up and invented a story about. Unfortunately any identifying cards on the back have long since fallen off, but we have this signature to go on.

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The frame for the canvas itself had come apart and so the picture was damaged in the corner, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix myself. You can’t really screw up a painting that you found in the garbage, right?

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So I loosened the nails and popped the canvas out of the frame. The frame itself will wait for another day.

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You can see that the stretchers have come apart here (you can also see where some sort of card was taped to the inside of the canvas, probably detailing who the artist was or information about the scene painted). The wood has also warped a bit so I suspect this is an older injury.

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I did some cack-handed hammering and got a bit overzealous with the staple gun, but the frame held together after a while.

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Of course the picture itself was FILTHY. I mean I found it in the garbage. Also any painting sitting around someone’s house for any length of time is going to be covered with all sorts of grease and ick. It’s just a fact. Now if this was something done in oils or it was worth anything, I would not have dreamed of touching it. I would have taken it to a professional and they would have cleaned it with spit (literally, I’m not joking) and gotten it all up to snuff.

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But this was an acrylic painting of an unknown vintage by an unknown painter. And I found it in the garbage. So I used some Method all-purpose cleaner to get the first layer of grease off. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU PAID MONEY FOR YOUR PICTURE.

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I was hoping to remove the yellow stains on the paint itself, but then I started to realize that the painter actually meant for those to be there.

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This other greasy goo on the other hand was better off left on my cleaning cloth. I know: GROSS.

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I also deduced at one point that someone had wrapped this painting in newspaper, as this appeared after a bit of cleaning:

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I also decided to try to lighten some of the age yellowing with some lemon juice, and I think it helped a bit.

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The nice solid frame had an extra frame piece nailed to its innards and rather than build/find a new frame for my brand new free piece of art I decided to pop it out of its moorings and use it.

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It was only held in place with a few finishing nails after all, which were easy enough to remove.

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It did need a good cleaning and sanding, however.

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After that, I painted it. I decided to go with a blue frame to complement the blue in the mountains in the background and also to counteract some of the yellowing in the picture itself.

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I used some small nails to wedge the canvas back into the smaller frame.

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And I attached hanging hardware to the canvas stretchers, as they stuck out farther than the frame insert.

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Then I hung it. I am quite fond of it at this point, and it fills a lovely spot in my basement that gets a lot of light in the afternoons.

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You have to look pretty closely to see that this was the damaged corner.

 

I would normally not hang anything of value in this spot because it would fade in the sun but this was free, so I’m not concerned what happens to it.

Found Frame Part 1 27

Hakan-Themed Gel Transfer

Hakan Gel Transfer 28

I’ve been sitting on this project for what feels like FOREVER.  I made it for the Pie’s birthday and despite it being a first attempt I’m nevertheless pretty stoked about how it turned out.

I’ve seen a few blog posts on the internet where people take photos or photocopies and use a medium to transfer them to canvas or wood for a folksy sort of artistic-like thing.  And I wanted to do that.  So I did.  But a bit differently.  You’ll have to forgive the photo quality, as I did most of this at night while the Pie was out.  Playing Street Fighter.

First I took this image, which is Hakan, the Pie’s character of choice in Super Street Fighter 4.  You may remember him from a birthday cake I made a few years back.

From http://streetfighter.wikia.com/wiki/Hakan

Then I ran it through Rasterbator.  Because I like dots.

Hakan Gel Transfer 2

Then I printed it out. Trimmed it.

Hakan Gel Transfer 3

Assembled it with tape.  If I did this again I would skip the tape part and just assemble it in situ.

Hakan Gel Transfer 4

Then I cut it into four pieces and hid them in the closet where the fuse box is and worked on my canvas.

Hakan Gel Transfer 5

These are four 20″ x 16″ canvases I got at DeSerres.

Hakan Gel Transfer 1

Hakan’s colours are sort of maroon-y purple and turquoise, so I vaguely mixed some craft paint together in a dish and smeared it across the four canvases.

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I’m quite pleased with the effect.

Hakan Gel Transfer 9

Hakan Gel Transfer 10

Once it was dry I grabbed my gel medium.

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I smeared that generously across the whole surface of each canvas.

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I then used my screen printing squeegee to smooth the printout pieces face down onto the gel medium.  It’s important to note here that your image will be reversed from how you originally printed it out.

Hakan Gel Transfer 15

Then I hid it back in the fuse box closet to dry overnight.

To remove the paper, spray it with water and get it nice and soaked.  Then you can just peel off the other ply of the paper, leaving the ply with the design on it stuck to the medium.

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You can use your fingers or a soft towel.  If you pull up some of the design, don’t freak out — this is supposed to look a little weathered.

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I used a gentle scrubby for it as well.

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This takes for-freaking-EVER, FYI.  And it’s messy.  Paper bits get everywhere.  This is blurry but you can see the scrubbed side versus the non-scrubbed side.

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And then once it dries you can still see some white leftover.  So I went over mine a few times.

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Eventually I had to give up and just leave it as-is.  It’s not supposed to be perfect, in any case.

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Some of my dots are missing.

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But the rest looks pretty badass.

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Look now neat that is!  I did fill in a few spots with black craft paint where I thought it was necessary.

To get rid of some of the whiteness, I coated the whole thing with glossy polyurethane top coat a few times.

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Nice and shiny.

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The finished piece, assembled on the floor.

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Now to make it hang-able.  Gren stood watch for me while I did this in secret.

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You can get little hanging hardware kits from department stores, grocery stores, and hardware stores.  In each kit will be a bunch of these little loops with screw ends.  Measure down from the top of your canvas an equal length on both sides and screw them in.

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Then you have this wire stuff.

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Cut a length and loop it between the two screwed in hooks.

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Pull it tight and wrap the ends around the wire to keep it secure.

Hakan Gel Transfer 40

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Make sure if you’re using multiple canvases that the length of the wire and where it’s situated on the canvas are consistent across the board.

Also make sure when you’re putting in hanging hardware that you can hang the picture without the hook pushing into the surface of the canvas.

Hakan Gel Transfer 42

Team Project: Beeswax Art

Beeswax Painting

I still had a huge amount of old beeswax sitting around, leftover from way back when we made teacup candles.  Just blue, though.  Three shades of blue.

Beeswax Painting

I also had a 24″ x 24″ piece of hardboard that I bought back when I had a different sort of idea for the tree branch coat racks.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

We can’t waste these things, right?  Well, here’s what the Pie and I came up with together, and I don’t think I would have been able to do this solo. This was our initial plan. A beeswax painting of an ocean scene, a fishing boat attached to a fishing net.

Beeswax Painting

Some hemp string will stand in for rope, and this onion bag will be our net.

Beeswax Painting

But first we had to prep our “canvas”. I took the board outside and sprayed it with Gesso.

Beeswax Painting

Then we needed to prep our supplies. We took the three colours of wax, ripped up the sheets, and jammed them into 3 large canning jars.

Beeswax Painting

Then we plopped them in our canner.

Beeswax Painting

Of course, being full of wax sheets, they floated and tipped over and some of them got some water inside them (which will actually be important later on). So we had to wedge them in place with other jars filled with water and a round wire rack on top.

Beeswax Painting

We brought the water to a simmer and slowly the wax began to melt. As it opened up more space in the jars, we tore up more wax and dropped it in.

Beeswax Painting

Beeswax Painting

And while we were working on that, we also laid out our work area with lots of newspaper.  And I mean several overlapping layers.

Beeswax Painting

Finally we were ready to pour some wax. We wrapped dish towels around the jars to protect our hands.

Beeswax Painting

The initial pour was a little nerve-wracking because we didn’t know what we were doing.

Beeswax Painting

The second one was a bit better, and we started trying to move the wax around a bit before it hardened.

Beeswax Painting

Eventually we ended up with a solid layer covering all the white stuff.

Beeswax Painting

We didn’t end up liking the texture we’d put into the wax with our hands, but we did discover two interesting side effects. We discovered that when we poured the wax at the same time we got these cool marble patterns.

Beeswax Painting

And remember that water that got into the wax? Well it showed up again when we were at the bottom of the jars, and resulted in these neat bubbles.

Beeswax Painting

We decided to do a second layer of wax, now that we kind of had an idea about how this was supposed to go. While we waited for it to melt, I laid out where I thought our fishing net and line would go. It was easy to warm up the wax with a hairdryer and then simply press the net into place.

Beeswax Painting

The original plan was to make the fishing boat out of origami and then just press it into the warm wax, but we changed our minds and decided on an aluminum boat — because many of them are made out of aluminum in reality. Fortunately we had a few tin cans in the recycling and a nice pair of tin snips.

Beeswax Painting

We elevated one side of the canvas so that the wax would flow in the same direction. Gren helped.

Beeswax Painting

Then we poured, using lighter wax up where the sky would be and darker wax in the deeper part of the ocean. We poured some over the net as well to make it look partially submerged.

Beeswax Painting

A close-up of the marbling and bubbles in the boat’s “wake.” Those bubbles are full of water, not air, so we needed to pop them and dry out the water.

Beeswax Painting

While the wax was still warm, we cut it away from the stuff that spilled over the edges of the canvas using a sharp knife and a hairdryer to keep the wax pliable.

Beeswax Painting

Then I heated up a section of the wax and pressed in our little aluminum boat.

Beeswax Painting

The finished piece.

Beeswax Painting

We will be spraying it with a sealant to protect it from scratches (there is already a corgi foot print at the top of it) and then we will mail it home in time for Christmas!

Beeswax Painting

Final Voting for Canadian Blog Awards

Hi Folks,

Please take a second to vote for me and any of your other favourite Canadian bloggers at the Canadian Blog Awards site.  I made it to the final round in “Best Blog about Arts, Crafts, Cooking and other Creative Activities” and “Best Food and Drink Blog.”

You don’t have to live in Canada or be Canadian to vote, and voting ends 1 December 2012.  You can vote from any of your devices if you really want me to win.  Just click on the image below or at the right of your screen and VOTE!  Thanks!

Gren says thank you, too.

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Wee Clay Pot City

Wee Clay Pots 11

When I saw these wee things over at Say Yes to Hoboken I knew immediately who I had to make them for (but I’m not telling you: it’s a surprise).  Perfect for small plants, especially succulents, I could see these forming a little town on someone’s coffee table.

Wee Clay Pots 9

I decided to make my own template for my wee town, so that I could get some variety in the buildings I created.  Just make sure, when you are creating your pattern, that you account for the width of the base and the thickness of your sculpting medium.  It’s all about the math, b’ys.

Wee Clay Pots

For this little jobbie you need some Sculpey, a cutting tool (I used a paring knife), a smoothing tool (I used some old manicure tools), and something for rolling out the clay (I used an empty Screech bottle).  You will also need a glass dish for baking your clay, and a work surface that doesn’t stain easily.  Raw Sculpey is pretty toxic, so it’s best to work on waxed paper, parchment, or a silicone mat that you can easily wash.

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It’s a simple thing to do, but it takes some time.  First you need to condition your Sculpey by squishing it a bunch with your hands.  Then you roll it out, and cut out your shapes.

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When you press them together, make a little snake out of extra clay and use it to seal the edges — you want the wee pot to be water tight after all.

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Wee Clay Pots

My first go-round, I made my templates too big and so my little houses weren’t really all that little. You can see in the photo below how it sagged under its own weight.  Fortunate thing about Sculpey is you can just squish it all up and start again, which I did.  My new templates work on a 2″ square, and so I can make about four structures out of one pound of clay.

DSCN3619

I wanted a bit of variety to my city, so with the white Sculpy I made two regular houses, one house with a slanty roof, and a factory.

Wee Clay Pots 6

Do you see how I raised the floor of the factory on the inside so that the plant would still come out the top?  I know: clever me.

Wee Clay Pots

And the basic house:

Wee Clay Pots

With the terra cotta coloured Sculpey I made a mansion (or row housing), a city hall and a church.  The church is just the small house with a cross instead of a chimney (which baked a bit wonky), and the city hall is just a big house with a circle cut out of the taller roof to signify a town clock.

Wee Clay Pots 5

Use a smoothing tool to smooth out the edges on the outside, too, and the bottom.

DSCN3620

The next part is easy.  You preheat your oven to 275°F and pop your little structures into your glass dish (I lined mine with parchment, just because I find if the clay is right on the glass surface it tends to cook with a glossy flat edge that doesn’t jibe with the rest of the piece).  Bake for 15 minutes per every 1/4″ thickness of Sculpey.  You don’t want to overbake, but as some of my pieces were obviously thicker or thinner than that (yes, we’ve already gone over how much I suck at Sculpey), I go for a round 20 minutes and that seems to work out just fine.

Wee Clay Pots 8

Haul those out of the oven and don’t touch them until they’re cool.  Sculpey is designed to shrink less than 2% while baking so you shouldn’t have much trouble with your watertight seal, but you should check anyway.  If it’s not sealed, just add a touch more Sculpey to the hole and bake it for a few minutes.

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I didn’t have enough Sculpey left to make a whole other building, so I made this little round pot.

Wee Clay Pots 4

And then a wee man.  He’s a magician (hence the top hat and cape) and he’s sitting staring at this wee box, thinking.  So I call it Thinking, Outside the Box.  I gave him to the Pie.

Wee Clay Pots 2

And there you have it.  I don’t have any succulents on hand, so you’ll have to imagine them in these shots.  But it’s a cute little town, no?

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Wee Clay Pots 10

Crayon Rainbows, on Canvas

Crayon Art

YARRRRRRR!  We be makin’ ARRRRRRRRT t’day, matey!  It’s also International Talk Like a Pirate Day for the Pastafarian religion, and I *may* have recently watched the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies in a row.  Also, I live in Newfoundland, where people tend to talk like pirates on a daily basis.  It’s also the anniversary of the night the Pie and I went on our first date.  Eight years have gone by since that night, and so much has changed in our lives.  Crazy.  Tonight we are going to make ourselves a nice dinner and cozy up with our favourite orange, black and white wedding present, the inimitable Grenadier St. James.

Gren in Motion

In the meantime, however, why don’t you sit down and make yourself some pretty?

I saw a picture on Flickr of my cousin and his son making this particular project, and I thought it was so cool that I should try it on my own.  Then I discovered that this stuff is ALLLLL over the internet, especially Etsy, these days.  I’m no trendsetter, obviously.  Even so, I’m going to add to the plethora of posts about it, so that you can see it, Ali-style.

Crayon Art

Now, I’m being a real keener and starting my DIY Christmas gifts really, really early this year.  So I’ve pretty much taken over the dining room as my craft central, especially as now there is a large bed in my former office work space.

Crayon Art

For this project you will need some crayons (go with Crayola, it seems they melt the best), some glue (I used hot glue), a blank canvas (I used two small 5″ x 7″ ones, stacked, but you can use cardboard or wood or whatever you have on hand), and a hairdryer or other focused heat source.  I hear tell of people using paint strippers for this, but you really don’t need anything that hot.  Oh, and you’ll need newspaper or a drop cloth or something to protect the surrounding area from flying hot wax.

Crayon Art

For my first attempt at this, I thought I would go with a straight rainbow, before I got too fancy.  Plus I know someone who really loves rainbows, and this would make a nice little present.

Crayon Art

I started with the basic colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, and I laid them out on my canvas.

Crayon Art

Then I filled in the gaps with other colours in the spectrum.

Crayon Art

If Crayola has colours called things like this:

Crayon Art

Then why are they still naming colours like this?

Crayon Art

Then the question was, should I lay them out with their colour names facing up, or the Crayola logo facing up?  The Pie told me to go with the logo, because after everything is melted it will be easier to see than the smaller names.

Crayon Art

Then we glue.  I used hot glue on the crayon, and I only put it on the top half.  I wasn’t sure how it would deal with the melting wax, and I figured that most of the melting was going to go down on the lower half of the crayon.

Crayon Art

Then I used hockey tape to temporary secure my two canvases together.

Crayon Art

And I leaned it up against a shoebox (full of stuff, for weight) on top of my drop cloth and newspaper.

Crayon Art

Then I started in with the hairdryer, on its hottest and highest setting, focusing pretty closely on the bottom ends of the crayons.

Crayon Art

You can see how the wax tends to fly a bit.

Crayon Art

It took a while to get them started, but once they got going, they really got going.

Crayon Art

I liked how the wax crept around the sides of the canvas, and I wish I’d had a bigger one to work with.

Crayon Art

Let the wax cool and harden.

Crayon Art

Then you can hang it up, any which way you would like!

Crayon Art

Wee Origami Dishes

Origami Dishes

I made these little dishes out of Super Sculpey and baked them according to the directions.  I know.  I suck at sculpting.  But this was my first time using Sculpey in well over twenty years.

Origami Dishes

BUT THEN.  I thought I would use découpage techniques (which I’ve never done before) and experiment with Mod Podge (which I have never used before) and paste some torn up bits of origami paper over top, make ’em look like they’re papier mâché or something.

Origami Dishes

So it was pretty simple.  I started with laying one untorn sheet on the bottom of the dish, as a base, and then I tore up other sheets in colours I liked for the rest of it.

Origami Dishes

Some Mod Podge and a brush later, I’m sticking away.

Origami Dishes

On this one I put a cutout of a key, to imply that perhaps you could keep your keys in this dish.

Origami Dishes

Then I just coated it all with a layer of Mod Podge and let it all dry.

Origami Dishes

Tada.

Origami Dishes

Simple but fun.

Origami Dishes