Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Colorful Vintage Keys

I recently put together a more colorful version of my Vintage Keys illustration.  I thought it made for a fun alternative.  The new version of this design can also be found right here in my Society6 shop.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fox In The Leaves

This weekend, I finished putting together a new piece of autumn inspired art.  Autumn is my favorite season - the smells, the food, the colors!  I love everything about this time of year.  This illustration is a sort of seasonal companion piece to Rabbits In The Garden.  

The illustration is available for sale through my Society6 shop.  I think that it looks especially nice on the tote bags and pillows.  Speaking of tote bags, the design style for the printing of the bags has been upgraded so that the print now fills the whole side of the bag instead of printing on the off-white canvas color like before.  I think the change is a big upgrade and love how it looks.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wall Art with Vintage Rulers

From the fall of 2008 through the spring of 2009, I was in a program at the Rochester Institute of Technology to get my Masters degree for art education.  It was an intense nine months (yes, a complete Masters program in nine months!), full of classes, classroom observations, and student teaching, but all worth it.  During that time, I purchased a Keep Calm and Carry On poster off of Etsy and hung it in my room.  It was my grad school motto, my daily pep talk that I saw every morning before I went to class or student teaching.

At that time, in 2008, the Keep Calm poster was not widely known around here.  In 2013, though, the poster has officially become "a thing".  It's been spoofed a million times over and you can find it in stores like Barnes & Noble, plastered all over merchandise.  

When my husband and I first moved in to our apartment in 2009, we hung my grad school poster over the fireplace mantle.  Lately, I've been wanting to replace it with something, but could never find a piece of art that was interesting enough and still went along with our collection of letters and vintage cameras.

Then yesterday morning I had a brainstorm with my morning coffee!  As usual, I was browsing Pinterest while enjoying my coffee.  I was looking through a collection of patterns I had pinned for ideas for another project when a lightbulb went off - herringbone! I always love herringbone patterns, whether it's for brick sidewalks, wood floors, or tiles, so I thought why not try that with those old rulers I'd been saving?

You see, when you're an art teacher and an artist, people tend to offer you random things and ask if you could use them or want them to make something out of.  I usually say yes, knowing that I could use whatever it is for either my students and classroom or a project of my own at some point.  That's how I came in to possession of over eighty vintage wooden rulers.  I've been holding on to them for years, looking for something to use them for.  I have more than enough rulers in my classroom, so I had been saving the rulers to use for a project of my own.  Originally I had been thinking I might make a wreath out of them, but after seeing those pattern photos I'd saved on Pinterest I instantly knew that I wanted to use the rulers to make some new wall art to replace my Keep Calm poster.  

I went out and bought an 18"x24" canvas and a small hacksaw.  My plan was to use the rulers to create a pattern on top of the canvas, attaching them to the canvas with a hot glue gun.  I wasn't sure exactly what angle to start the pattern at, but I knew I wanted to make the rulers smaller.  I separated out a bunch of rulers (I wound up using 37 by the end of this) and cut them in half to make 6" segments.  I also went through the rulers and used a small pair of pliers to pull out any metal edges before I started cutting them, so that the metal wouldn't snag on the saw when I cut the rulers.  

I bought the hacksaw and a pack of replacement blades at Home Depot.  The saw itself was less than $5, and I wound up not needing the replacement blades.  Sawing through the rulers got a little tedious, but if you have access to a power saw then this step could go much quicker.  The cuts were straight cuts at around 6 inches, so I didn't have to measure out any angles or anything. I put a trash can under the table edge while cutting the rulers to help catch sawdust and wood fragments.  I used a pair of scissors to trim off any stray wood edges after cutting - the wood was generally soft and thin enough where the scissors cleaned up the edges just fine.

Once I had my pieces cut, it was time to figure out where on the canvas I wanted to start the pattern.  Since I was making this up as I went along, I wanted to make sure I had a pattern completely figured out so that I wouldn't have to make more ruler cuts than I needed.  I spent a little bit of time using the 6" ruler pieces and the full 12" rulers to plan out different arrangements on top of the 18"x24" canvas.

I finally decided on the arrangement you can see in the photo below.  I also had some almond colored spray paint leftover from another project, so before I started gluing the rulers down I took the canvas outside and spray-painted the top and the edges.  I didn't want any of the white gessoed surface of the canvas showing through between any gaps in the rulers, or along the outside edges since I wasn't planning on framing it.  The almond color was a safe enough neutral that blended nicely with the colors of the wooden rulers.

Now that I had the pattern figured out and the canvas painted, I plugged in my hot glue gun and started gluing down the 6" rulers, working out from the bottom left corner and then rotating the canvas to reach the other side.  As I got near the edges, I had to make some new cuts to make all of the pieces fit in to the shorter or more narrow areas.  I generally tried to glue the rulers so the fresh cut sides went towards the inside of the canvas and the naturally worn edges faced the outside edge of the canvas.  It made for a cleaner look to have the naturally aged edges of the rulers exposed.

Approximately three and a half hours after starting to cut the first ruler (I watched a few TV shows on Hulu while gluing pieces down), the new wall art was finished! Tada!  That might seem like a lot of time, but for an afternoon DIY that included all of my trial and error time figuring out a pattern, I thought that was a worthy time investment for my new living room art.  

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and think it looks great on the wall.  The cost to make this was extremely low, too.  I already had the rulers, spray paint, glue gun and glue sticks.  I spent $8.09 (used a 50% off coupon) at Michael's on a two pack of 18"x24" canvas (so approximately $4 for one canvas) and $12.48 at Home Depot for the saw and replacement blades, of which I wound up not using the replacement blades and can use the saw for future projects.  Between the Mouse sander this summer, and the saw this weekend, my collection of tools is slowly growing!  

Not too shabby for a weekend project!  

  • 18"x24" canvas
  • almond spray paint for the background (optional)
  • 37 12" wooden rulers, cut in half to 6" segments
  • hot glue gun with replacement hot glue sticks
  • small hacksaw
  • scissors
  • small pliers (for pulling metal edge out of rulers)
  • pencil for marking cuts on the rulers