Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Personal Gift - Wooden Silhouette Art

I saw this really cool painted sign in a FrogTape advertisement in a "This Old House" magazine.  I instantly wanted to try to recreate one for myself.  Instead of making a sign, though, I decided to create silhouette art of my children and niece for my mom for Mother's Day.  I think the artwork turned out really well and my mom loved the sentimental gift!

The Sign That Inspired My Silhouette Art!

FrogTape Ad from "This Old House"

My Completed Silhouette Art


How to Make Wooden Silhouette Art


Step 1: Cut, Sand, and Stain Wood

Get a piece of wood at a hardware store or use an old piece that you might have lying around. I used a piece of pine that I purchased from Home Depot. I figured out how big I wanted each silhouette to be, then I cut the piece of wood to a size that would look good with my three silhouettes.
After cutting the wood, I sanded the surface of the board and the edges using an orbital sander with fine sand paper. Be careful not to use a sandpaper with a large grit because it will leave scratches on the wood that will show up after applying the stain.

Step 2: Create the Silhouettes

I took profile pictures of my children and my niece.  As you can see, the quality of these pictures is not really important.  If you can have the subject in front of a solid background that makes creating the silhouette easier.  After taking the profile pictures, use Photoshop to create a silhouette.  Once the silhouette is created and sized appropriately, print it out on card stock and cut it out.  If you do not have Photoshop you could simply enlarge the picture so that each head (or whatever you are using for the silhouette) is the size that you would like it to be on the completed board.  Have the picture printed and carefully cut the profile out.
Originally, I also created the names on Photoshop.  But when I printed them on card stock and attempted to cut them they were really small, and I thought the letters might lose some of their smoothness as I attempted to cut them twice (you will be cutting vinyl in step 3).  I then decided to create the names by cutting vinyl letters with my Cricut machine.

Pictures of the Silhouettes I Created


After the Silhouettes Were Printed on Card stock and Cut

Step 3: Trace the Silhouette on Vinyl and Cut

Place the card stock silhouettes on a piece of contact paper or vinyl and trace the outline carefully.  Then cut the contact paper very precisely; the way that you cut it will be exactly how the final product will look.  At this point you will also need to cut the names and ages out of the vinyl by hand or with a cutting machine, like the Cricut.

Step 4: Stick the Vinyl on the Board

In this step you will need to remove the backing from the contact paper and attach the vinyl to the board.  Make sure that the stain is completely dry before completing this step.  After attaching the silhouettes, names, and ages to the board, use the edge of a ruler to smooth any bubbles and to make sure that all of the edges are stuck tightly to the board. 

In the picture above the silhouettes are cut out of contact paper and the names and ages are cut out of red vinyl that I use for my Cricut machine (in case you were wondering why the colors are different!).

Step 5: Apply Clear Coat to Seal Vinyl


Get a small can of a Clear Protector from a hardware store.  Using a foam brush apply a coat of the Clear Protector over all of the edges of the vinyl.  This will create a seal so that paint will not seep under the vinyl. 

Step 6: Paint the Board

Using a foam roller and foam brush (these will not show brush strokes) paint the entire board.  If you chose not to paint the back of the board you might want to use FrogTape so that you don't have to worry about paint from the edges running onto the back.
Allow the paint to dry completely before moving on top step 7.

Step 7: Tape the Chevron Pattern, Paint, and Remove Tape

After the paint has dried completely, apply FrogTape in a Chevron (zigzag) pattern.  In order to tape my board I did a lot of measuring and marking with a pencil so that I made sure my tape was applied evenly.  Immediately after taping, paint the board with a different color paint.  After the paint has been applied, carefully remove the tape.  You will then have something that looks similar to the picture below. 

You will notice in this picture that when I removed the tape a little bit of my white paint pulled off as well.  I had to lightly sand that area then reapply white paint.  This happened because I did not allow the white paint to cure before applying the FrogTape.

Step 8: Remove the Vinyl

This step is very tedious because you must cut around the vinyl using a Xacto knife to break the seal that was created from the Clear Protector.  Do this step very slowly and carefully so that you do not peel off any of the paint.  After removing all of the vinyl your artwork should look similar to the picture above.

Step 9: Distress, if Desired

If you like a more rustic look, you have the option to distress the edges of the board.  To distress the board, use a fine grit sandpaper and an orbital sander.  If you attempt to sand the surface of the board, be very careful around the silhouette as the paint might pull away from the board.  Good luck!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Generations Photographs

"Modern Family" Like Picture
Great-Grandmother and Child Picture
4 Generations Hands Picture

How wonderful is it to be able to capture four generations in one memorable photograph?  It's truly priceless!  There are several ways to photograph multiple generations in unique ways.  Here are a few ideas...

"Modern Family" Like Picture

If you watch the TV show, "Modern Family", then you know how cool those pictures inside of pictures are!  We created a "Modern Family" like generational picture, which included my grandma, my mom, my daughter, and I.  This "Modern Family" like picture is easy to create if you follow the steps below.

Step 1: Coordinate Outfits

Select an outfit for each person in the the picture that will go together.  You are not going to see a lot of the outfit, but it is still important to avoid prints that are too bold or colors that clash.  Keep it simple and remember the background that you will be standing in front of. 

Step 2: Pick a Background

Every picture will need to be taken in front of this same background.  We chose to take the pictures in front of a white barn at my parents' house.  Looking back on it, we could have picked a better location since my grandmother's hair is white too.  She was the last to be photographed, so we didn't take the time to go back to re-do everyone elses' pictures. 

Step 3: Photograph the Youngest Generation First

Take a close portrait-style photo of the family member that is the youngest.  Keep in mind that this picture will be the smallest one at the end, that is why it should be a close-up.

Step 4: Print and Frame the Picture

Print the picture of the youngest family member in size 8 x 10 at the smallest.  The print needs to be this big so that it will show up in all of the other pictures.  Frame the picture.

Step 5: Photograph, Print, and Frame the Next Family Member

Photograph the next youngest family member holding the picture taken during the previous step.  Once again, take a close up in front of the same background, but do not cut off any of the framed picture.  Make sure that your fingers are not too far around the front of the frame.
Print this new picture in an 8 x 10 size and place it in the original frame.  You should now have a picture of the first two generations.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 with all other Generations 

Photograph, print, and frame the subsequent generations until you reach the oldest, as shown below.

Step 7: Frame the Final Photograph

Once it is framed the "Modern Family" like photo looks great and is something to cherish forever.  Check out my family's final photo below.

Four Generation's Hands Photograph

We decided to capture my grandmother's, my mom's, my daughter's, and my hands in this photograph.  It turned out really well and makes me smile, especially when I see the sweet tiny hand on top.  In order to take the four generations hands photograph, start with the oldest member of the family and layer the hands (facing opposite directions) on top of each other until you get to the youngest.  Before taking this photograph, it is best to lay out a black or dark colored blanket on which everyone can place their hands.  This will create a nice and even backdrop.


Great Grandmother and Child Holding Hands Photograph

We also decided to take a picture of my Grandma holding hands with my daughter.  My grandma happened to be wearing black pants so we had her sit down and take hold of my daughter's two hands.  We had my grandma place her two thumbs over the tips of my daughter's fingers to create the symmetrical look.  This picture makes me think about my grandma holding my mom's hands like that when she was little, and mine when I was small, and now my daughter's.  We have been fortunate to have those strong, hardworking, weathered hands help us all along the way.  I will enjoy sharing this picture with my daughter when she is old enough to appreciate it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Rustic Handmade Picture Frame

I love to try to recreate cool picture frames that I see in stores.  I saw a picture frame similar to this one in a store called Urban Cottage in a shopping area called Scarborough Faire in Duck, NC.  I thought it would be a great way to display some pictures of my babies!  This picture frame looks unique and classy, and no one will ever guess you made it yourself!  It reminds me of the unique upscale types of items that you would get from a specialty store.

Here's How to Make the Frame:

Step 1: Get Two Boards, Paint, then Distress

Make sure that your boards are cut to the same length and width.  The boards that I used are 16 1/2" long, 5 1/2" wide, and 1 1/2" deep.  This size works well when using two 5x7 pictures. The boards that I used are actually from a shelf that was removed. I try to use scraps that I have laying around to save a buck.  :)  They were stained a dark color and have dents and look a little rough, but I think that is what gives them a rustic, country look.  I slapped a coat of white gloss paint (the same one used on the baseboards in my house) on the boards to even out the color.  Then I heavily distressed them using an orbital sander.  You can notice the distressing in the picture above.

Step 2: Connect the Two Boards Using Brackets and Attach Hanging Fixture

In order to complete this step you will need to have two flat brackets and one picture hanging hook. Flip the boards over so that you are looking at the back side. Lay the two brackets on the board in the proper position (behind the two pictures you will be putting on the front) and trace a line around them. Also, trace around the picture hanging hook. Make sure that the hook is centered and that the top of it is about 1" from the top of the board. 
Using a circular hole bit on a cordless drill, drill the wood so that the brackets and the hanging hook will be flush with the boards.    This is especially important if you want the picture to hang flat on the wall.  Drill an area that is slightly larger than the area that you traced.  If you are using thinner boards than the one that I used (1 1/2") you might not be able to sink the hook far enough to make the frame hang flush against the wall, which is okay.
Next, you will need to screw the brackets and the hook into the wood.  Before you do that position the boards so that there is a slight gap between them.  You can even out the space by inserting something like a thin coaster into the gap, as shown above.
Once attached the two boards should look similar to the picture above from the front.

Step 3: Prepare Two Background Boards

Cut two thin pieces of particle board to a size that is slightly larger than your pictures.  This type of wood can be purchased at a craft store, like Michaels.  The pictures I used are 5x7 so the background boards are 5 3/4" x 7 3/4".  They are about 3/16" thick   Paint the boards a color that will look good in your house and compliment the pictures nicely.  I chose to paint my boards dark brown.

Step 4:  Get Two Pieces of Glass

The two pieces of glass should be the same size as your background boards prepared in step 3.  You can have the glass cut at a local glass shop for just a couple of dollars.

Step 5:  Attach Mounting Brackets

Lay the two attached boards face up.  Lay the background boards and glass in the proper spot on the boards.  (Note - you might need to bend the curved part of the mounting bracket so that the glass and background board will have enough room to slide in the mounting bracket.  To do this cover the bracket with a cloth then bend carefully with a needle nose pliers.)  Then slide the four mounting brackets (pictured above) on the boards behind the background boards and glass.  Be sure to center the brackets from the top to the bottom of the boards.  Carefully remove the background boards and glass without moving the mounting brackets.  Trace around the mounting brackets with a pencil.  Using a chisel, notch out an area where the rectangular portion of the mounting bracket will sit.  This allows the mounting bracket to sink down into the boards so that the background boards will sit level.  After chiseling the first area, screw the mounting bracket into the boards.  Before chiseling again, re-measure to make sure that the position of the 2nd mounting bracket is still at the same spot.  Repeat this process to attach all four mounting brackets.     

Step 6: Assemble the Frame

The last step is to put it all together.  Double stick tape the pictures onto the background boards then lay the glass on top.  Carefully slide the assembled backgrounds and pictures into the mounting brackets.  Hang the frame on the wall and admire your hard work and fantastic creation!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Silhouette Art by Le Papier Studio

A friend of mine gave me a really cool silhouette print for a baby shower gift.  She got the print from Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio.  Since then I have also purchased some additional silhouettes from Le Papier Studio.  Vana Chupp does a variety of beautiful custom creations, which make great keepsakes for you or gifts for others.  Check out my silhouette art below!

Maternity Silhouette #1

My mom is always taking crazy pictures, so when she asked me to bare my baby bump and have my husband kiss my belly for a photo, I didn't think a thing of it.  Little did I know that a friend of mine was planning to use this photo to have a silhouette created as a gift for my baby shower.  My friend's requirements (which my mom knew about), were that I wear tight fitting clothes, put my hair in a pony tail, and take the picture as a profile.  These are the things that make for a good silhouette.  As you can see the original picture is nothing special, but when it is turned into a silhouette on a cute background it makes a lovely piece of art! 

After my mom took the original picture, my friend sent it to Vana Chupp at Le Papier Studio.  She converted the image into a silhouette and put it on a nice background.  The writing at the bottom of the print says, "Chris, Maggie, and Baby Guttridge."  My friend then framed the picture and gave it to me at my baby shower.  The frame now hangs in my daughter's room.

Child's Silhouette

I loved my framed art silhouette so much that I decided to have something made for my mom for mother's day.  I chose to get a vinyl decal, also from Le Papier Studio.   When doing silhouettes of children there are two main options that work well.  You can do a profile of the face alone or a silhouette of the whole body.  If doing a silhouette of the whole body, it is best to get a profile of the face so that you can see the child's small features.  The difficult part is trying to have the child interact with some type of prop while also trying to take a picture.  (It might take several tries and some assistants!)  Some ideas for props include having the child blowing bubbles, pulling a wagon, flying a kite, walking a dog, holding balloons, or many other great ideas.  It is a good idea to have little girls wear a tutu or a skirt so that you can tell that they are little girls.  It is also possible to have the outline of a bow or ribbon in the little girl's hair that is a color of your choice.  Specify that when you place the order for the silhouette.
I chose white vinyl for my decal, but there are many different options.  The one I got is size 16" x 20", but there are several different sizes to choose from.  As part of the decal, I also got my daughter's name and age below the silhouette.  The decal is very easy to apply.

Maternity Silhouette #2 

When I was pregnant with my second child I decided to have another silhouette of our family to place in the new baby's room.  For this silhouette, I tried to figure out a way to position us so that the picture would be about the new baby, but also so that we all would show up in the silhouette.  We came up with the picture shown above: man and woman kissing and child kissing the baby bump.  I made sure that my daughter was wearing a skirt so that you could tell that she is a little girl.  I also wore a skirt because I think they look cute in silhouettes.  I wore my hair in a pony tail and wore a tight fitting shirt to show off my belly.  Once again, the quality of the picture isn't that great, but the finished art turned out to be really cute.  I chose not to find out my baby's gender, so I waited until after my son was born to have the silhouette printed.  After he was born I decided on the colors for his room then had the silhouette printed in colors that would look good with his decor.  The bottom of this art says, "Chris, Maggie, Myla, and Baby."
Silhouette Art is a great way to decorate and is a nice alternative to photographs.  Have fun trying one of your own!