Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reclaimed wood for my reclaimed home!

I love the idea of using reclaimed wood in my house. It brings a sort of down to earth feel to an already vibrant living space, so long as I can keep my other half from cutting it up and using it for his projects. When I am able to keep a piece of wood long enough to decide what to do with it, good things happen... like the project I finished last night. 

I had recently acquired a couple pieces of wood screwed together to look like the top to an old picnic table, only smaller. I knew great things would come of it so I kept it around until I found the perfect saying to paint on it. 

I knew that since it was a weathered piece of wood I wanted to maintain the weathered look. I dry brushed lightly over the wood in a dark brown paint that I had laying around. The dry brushing allowed me to still see the knicks and scratches on the top surface while still providing a rich color that would match my inside decor.

While that paint was drying I printed out the saying I had chosen. When doing this it was important to me to choose a font that was large enough for my wood, while simultaneously conveying the message that the words would deliver. Since I was going to be using an exacto knife to etch the letters into the wood before I painted I also looked for a font that was thick and not too curvy. 

Once the paint was dry I laid out the words and taped them onto the board where I wanted them. Next I (carefully) took an exacto knife and etched each letter into the wood. This was the longest and gruesome part because my hands kept cramping up. But once they were etched it looked great!

I considered leaving the piece with just the etched saying, but after much deliberation decided that it would be too hard to read in my bedroom light. So, I got to painting.

I used a small paint brush  (for crafts) and a sample color that I didn't end up using in my house to complete the task. It took a while to finish because I am such a perfectionist but in the end it was worth it. At the last minute I also remembered that I had a stencil that had never been used that would look great in the corners of the wood.

Now, I've never used a stencil and am not the person to be taking stenciling advice from. However, I will say that I made it work. I was growing impatient and didn't want to have to put another coat on the stenciled corners so I over did it on the paint. Needless to say, the paint got underneath the stencil and the outline got blurry. So I improvised, turned my paint brush upside down and used the point to outline the stencil. This worked to my benefit and I was thrilled!

 Here is the completed project on my wall (sorry the picture quality is so bad!). I used a dot of toothpaste on the back of the wood to mark where I needed to screw it into the wall. Amy's note: This only works when you make sure your artwork is level, otherwise you end up putting a lot of unnecessary holes in your wall. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I go through a LOT of paper towels at my house....

...and I'm not sure why. Perhaps its because every time I'm at the grocery store I forget to buy napkins. Regardless, my use of paper towels has paid off in my most recent project!

I saw an idea on Pinterest (shocker, I know...) that reuses empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls to create abstract wall decor. Not only was it super cute and easy enough, but I loved the "green" aspect of it! I mean, think about it. You run out of toilet paper and what do you do with the roll before swapping it for a new one? Throw it away, most likely. But instead of doing that I collected them for a period of time (honestly though, I'm such a germaphobe that I tried to stick mostly to paper towel rolls rather than toilet paper rolls).

When I felt like I had a sufficient stack of cardboard rolls I collected all the supplies I knew I would need:
This included: 
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pen
  • Measuring Tape
  • Scissors
  • Square (yes, I know its shaped like a triangle. If you don't have a Square a ruler will also suffice)
  • Update: Finishing Nails and a Hammer 
To begin making my abstract art I took each roll, or tube, and smooshed it flat. Then, using the measuring tape and pen I measured out each roll in 1 inch pieces. I wanted them to be as equal in width as possible thinking that they would sit flatter against my wall. I could get 11 pieces out of one paper towel tube, and 4 out of one toilet paper tube. I didn't count the number of each type of rolls I used, but this project is so flexible that you can use as many or as few as you want. 

Next I used to my hot glue gun to glue together pieces of the tubes in the shapes of flowers and leaves. I did this haphazardly because I didn't have a clear vision in my mind as to what exactly I wanted. But again, that is the beauty of DIY projects- you get to decide on what looks good and what doesn't. 

After I had the pieces glued together the way I wanted them, I took my wall decor outside and spray painted it white. I thought this was going to be the easiest part of the whole project, but boy oh boy was I wrong! Maybe it was the humidity, or the spray paint I was using could have been bad. Whatever the case, all my spray paint dripped off or disappeared so I had to resort to plan B- painting each "petal/flower" by hand. :( 
It took me a good 2 or 3 hours to paint my glued together cardboard tubes once I found enough paint (I ended up using an interior latex paint in semi-gloss, but you could use craft paint, acrylic, anything I'm sure). FINALLY I was done painting! And call me Ms. Impatient because the next thing I did was went inside and got my hair dryer to hasten the drying process! I couldn't wait to see the finished product up on my wall!
Up and ready, here is the finished product:

I had my wonderful boyfriend help hold up my decor while I decided where to place tiny finishing nails. Then  I hooked my decor onto the nails and voila! I'm really happy with the finished product. I love the contrast of the white next to my "Uptown Girl" burnt orange walls. 

Amy's Notes: Be patient! If you repeat this project (and you should!), I would recommend painting the tubes before cutting them into pieces. Also, make sure your decor is completely dry before trying to hang it up. Mine is slightly larger, so I definitely needed Ben's help to get it up on the wall. But because it was still a little wet, not only did it rub off on the wall, but it also fell apart! I had to bring the hot glue gun inside to re-glue a few pieces.