Glitter *may* be involved.

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I saw this little bit of neat a while back and I’ve always wanted to recreate it for someone special. But of course by recreate I mean do it in a completely different way. Nevertheless.

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What you need for this, however you decide to do it, is an artist’s canvas, some paint, some electric or battery-powered lights (LEDs are safer), a knife for cutting, a brush for painting, and some glue for, well, gluing. In this particular project, there was also glitter involved.

Lite Brite Dandelions 1

First, check and make sure your lights are working. Yes? Good.

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Now, paint your canvas however you like. I was going to do mine a nice metallic, but then I thought better of it and went with a soft matte gray instead. Because I didn’t want to distract from the glitter.

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Lite Brite Dandelions 8

As for your design, well, that’s up to you. The original idea was just sort of abstract, like fireworks. But you could do constellations (like someone’s Zodiac sign), or something more Lite-Brite-y. Or a marquee. Whatever you want. For mine, I decided on a dandelion, where each seed of my favourite flower (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I love that plucky weed) corresponded to a light.

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Here’s a quick sketch I did once I figured out my idea, just for proof of concept.

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I lightly marked out the design on the painted canvas with a pencil. I had to make sure that the design was big enough to accommodate the size of the lights I had purchased.

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Then I discovered that the ugly deflectors on my Dollarama lights weren’t glued on and I could pull them off, meaning I was just left with the pretty little diode!

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Lite Brite Dandelions 12

Then I cut out holes big enough for the lights to poke through.

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I basically just needed to poke a hole with the Xacto and twist it a bit. While I was doing this the Pie started trying to make me mess up, which I did, on the very last hole. Then he started giggling and saying he shouldn’t tease me when I have a knife in my hand. How well he knows me by now.

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Then I poked through the lights. Make sure to test them and see how they look! Of course my camera plus low light equals blurry photo, but you get the idea.

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Then, if you want, you can secure them in place with a bit of hot glue around the back, but I’ll do that later. I don’t want the lights to get all glittered up.

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Now, for the front, I had to fill in the rest of my design. With glitter. I used regular school glue to fill in the parts of the dandelion seeds and stalk.

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Then dusted them with appropriately-coloured glitter.

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Then let it dry.

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You can dust away loose glitter with a soft fluffy brush and some compressed air. I did most of this outside.

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And sealed up my glitter again. Yes, I have a jar full of jars of glitter. That stuff is dangerous.

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The seeds took forever because I did the little actual seed part first.

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By the time I was done with all the white fluffy bits I was so done with glitter in general.

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Here it is after I went at it with compressed air for a bit. It seems to work best on the superfine metallic powder.

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It looks pretty good just on its own.

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Then I added back in the lights and secured each with a drop of hot glue. This is where I discovered that if you don’t use glue sticks for a while they yellow. Fortunately you can’t see this on the front.

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I also secured all the loose wires and the battery casings. It doesn’t look pretty but you can’t see it so who cares?

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I like it. I like that it looks neat during the day, with the contrast in gray and glitter, and then when you turn it on at night the light sparkles off everything but the background (except for the few stray bits of glitter embedded in the canvas). I also like how the seeds kind of look like dragonflies. NEAT!

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Lite Brite Dandelions 47

Best of Friends.

Okay, so the thing I made for the Pie’s birthday, remember that? Well if it wasn’t quite your style, maybe this one, using the same technique, will be more to your liking.

Cait’s dog, Ruby, is very sweet, but, being a dachshund, she doesn’t really get along with most other dogs.  When Cait became  mom to an anxious golden retriever named Cooper, we all held our breath to see what would happen.  It turns out we needn’t have worried.  Ruby enjoys having a big brother to boss around and take care of, and Cooper’s anxiety is so much less with a constant companion. I took this super cute photo of the two of them at a cottage last summer (for the microsecond they actually sat still).  They are the best of friends.

Cottage Life

Now, Cait’s birthday is only four days after the Pie’s, so, working on the success of the Pie’s gel transfer painting, I decided to do something along the same lines.  I messed this up before I got it right, so I’ll show you what I did.

First, I had to alter the photo to make it fit on the 16″ x 20″ canvas, and change the colours a bit in the photo to make sure both dogs stood out.  It’s hard when you have a dog with a black face and another  with an almost white face to make sure they both show up.  So I put a vintage filter on the photo, put a light vignette at the edges, and boosted the contrast a little.  These things tend to work better with high-contrast pictures.  Then I flipped it horizontally so it would come out facing the right way.

*RoobyCooper - FINAL

I had the picture printed out at Staples, and because it was so big it came out on their high gloss poster paper. My first mistake.

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Best Friends 3

I couldn’t find my sponge brush, so I just used a regular plastic bristle paint brush to smear on the gloss gel medium.  My second mistake.

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Then I used my squeegee to smooth the photo face-down onto the gel medium-ed canvas.  The centre of the canvas was pretty flexible, so I should have put something underneath to support it as I pushed around on top.  My third mistake.

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You’re supposed to leave it to dry overnight, but after an hour I could see that the thing wasn’t working.  The poster paper was too thick to conform to the huge grooves in the gel medium left by my paintbrush, and there were giant streaks everywhere.  Because there was no support in the centre of the picture when I pushed down with the squeegee, there were whole spaces where the medium hadn’t adhered at all to the photo.

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Part of Ruby’s face was completely missing.

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No worries.  I can fix this.  I scraped off the parts of the gel medium that were still wet and left the thing to dry completely.  Then I covered the thing completely in a few coats of antique white craft paint.

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It left a bit of a texture, but nothing that couldn’t be smoothed over with a new batch of medium and some careful application.

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To get the picture printed on thinner paper (the regular 25lb stuff that comes out of photocopiers), I had to split the photo in half, so each part measured 10″ x 16″ and would fit nicely on a tabloid (11″ x 17″) piece of paper. You need a photocopier or laser printer for this job, as the ink in an inkjet goes through too many layers of the paper and will not work.

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Here I am trimming the white edges off the paper.  My paper cutter is really nice, but it isn’t big enough to do the long edge of the 17″ sheet.  I managed, but it was dicey.

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This time I put some books under the centre of the canvas to hold it up.

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I used a sponge brush AND the squeegee to get the medium evenly across the whole thing.

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I did my best to line up the photos as closely as I could, though it wasn’t perfect.  I was very careful with the squeegee when pressing it down not to press too hard in any one area.  I examined it minutely for bubbles and pushed out any that I found.  Then I left it the hell alone overnight.

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The next day I had roofers come to fix our leak so I hid out in the kitchen while chaos reigned.

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I used my handy spray bottle full of water to wet the paper.

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Then I began to rub off the wet layers of paper.  I used just my fingers, because I didn’t want to rub too hard on the dogs’ faces and accidentally remove the colour.

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I ended up wetting it and rubbing it at least three times before I was happy with how much white paper I took off.

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It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s supposed to be, so it looks good with the vintage cast of the photo.

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Even the dividing line turned out mostly okay.

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Because there is a big chunk of empty deck space in the centre of the photo, I wanted to put in Ruby and Cooper’s initials, to make it extra cute.

I freehanded the letters onto some card stock.

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I then painted the card stock.  With glitter craft paint.  Just to be ridiculous.

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When those were dry I glued them to the canvas with Mod Podge and left that overnight.

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I then painted it with two coats of gloss polyurethane to seal it.

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And added picture hanging hardware, same way I did for the Pie’s present. So shiny …

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And there it is!

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Hakan-Themed Gel Transfer

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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.

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Then I printed it out. Trimmed it.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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