Reader Vote: What looks best?

When this little blog started there was a corner of my living room that I am ashamed to say it looked this:

Now I am pleased to say it looks like this:

It’s not fabulous (yet!), but this little corner has definitely (finally!) graduated out of eyesore category. We’ve painted and paired down and cleaned up. We’ve also pulled some furniture switcheroos  (That dresser lived in our bedroom until last Saturday.)  It’s time to add a little pizzazz!. A little art to fill the space above the electronics. Nothing too flashy, after all, it can’t compete with the TV  or the new gallery on the staircase (will be posting about that soon!)

Another current. Full frontal this time.

Now here’s where I need your help. I’ve scoured the web for inspiration. And I’ve got a bunch of ideas. Problem is, I’m having trouble picking a direction. I played around in Photoshop to see what looks best. (Please excuse my mediocre Photoshop skills.) What do you think?

Option 1: Graphic Art

I love the idea of a pretty little message to remind me of the little things that are really important. This one comes from http://www.behance.net/gallery/MACHEETE-Posters/4664583

Option 2: Abstract Art

I’m not sure, but I think the abstract art might be my favorite. A pop of color. This brilliant piece was found at http://zacharybrown.wordpress.com/category/abstract-paintings/18-x-24/#

Option 3: Wood Poster

I like this option because of the amazing texture combined with the personalized silhouettes. This idea comes from http://www.infarrantlycreative.net/2012/03/pallet-art-silhouette.html, along with a tutorial!

So, tell me, which one, if any, makes your spine tingle?

Option 1: Graphic Art.

Option 2: Abstract Art

Option 3: Wood Poster

Feel free to offer any other suggestions too! And thanks for your help! I can’t wait to see the results!

Paper Mache Safari {My DIY Zebra Head}

I spotted this image a couple weeks ago.

And, instantly, I fell head over heels in love. It would be perfect for the munchkin’s room! It’s by Dwell Studios,. You can purchase it on their website. Unfortunately for me, they sell it for a whopping 76 buckeroos. Don’t get me wrong- I think that’s a fair price for such a delight, but I don’t have that kind of money budgeted to spend on faux taxidermy.  Despite the price, I couldn’t get this little guy out of my head. It has been forever since I’ve done anything so thoroughly creative, and the idea of attempting it myself was a little intimidating  But I got over it.

And here’s what I came up with….

Dum- de- dum-dum….

So what do you think? It’s far from perfect, but I think it’s awesome. So awesome, that I kind of want to make more, like a lot more, like a different animal for each room in the house. (Can you imagine a ducky head for the bathroom? Intense!)

But back to this one. Here’s how I did it:

Step 1. I formed a zebra-head-like shape from gridded wire and garden wire (both found in the garden section an Lowes). Some people preferred to use chicken wire. I choose to use the gridded wire partly because it is sturdier, but mostly because I already had it on hand. This step takes some serious patience. It took me about to weeks to form a zebra-head-like shape that I was mildly happy with. And make sure that you wear some heavy gloves, that wire is painfully sharp.

Step 2. Duct tape. This was mostly a safely precaution. I didn’t want those sharp wire ends to have a chance to cut my almost two year old’s hands. As for how much tape- I just kept layering until the whole thing felt smooth.

Step 3. Modge Podge and Newspaper. My muse was covered with French text. As hard as I looked, couldn’t find a foreign newspaper in anywhere in Baton Rouge. I even looked for foreign books at Goodwill. Nothing. So I had to settle with two copies of the USA Today. I cut them into strips and got to glueing. I used a foam brush to apply the glue. It was the first time I’d ever used Modge Podge. And I’ve jumped on that gravy train! Love it. I only wish I’d had more experience with it. If I ever decide to paper mache a giraffe head, I’ll definitely put of couple coats of Modge Podge on before applying paint. (I only applied one coat.)

Step 4. Paint. I used ‘Carnival Pink’ by Americana craft paint. (Although, if I ever do if again, I’ll probably use something thicker. The craft paint took 5 coats for good coverage)I tried to draw the stripes on with pencil, but it was a fail because I couldn’t see them. So I took my paint brush and winged it. I tried my best to create equal amounts of positive and negative amounts of space.

Step 5. More Modge Podge. As recommended on the bottle, I applied 5 coats, at 20 minute intervals, for a final finishing coat.

To hang it I punched a hole in the bottom. I took some wire and wrapped one end around the gridded wire on the inside and formed a loop with the other.

Then I hung it from a small nail.

Back to the eye candy…

It’s like he’s watching over Kennedy as she plays.

And I swear, when we read in the rocking chair, it’s like the zebra is paying close attention. I’m not sure if it’s a creepy or charming accident.

So what about you? How do you feel about this whole paper mache animal head trend?Love it or hate it? Have you done anything crafty lately? Are you obsessed with any animal heads?

Our World

I am so excited. So so so excited. I have been agonizing for weeks over what to by my husband for Christmas. He’s one of those that are impossible to shop for. He has may interests but they are all too specific for gifting. He doesn’t read for fun. Clothes won’t do. To be honest, I usually default to beef jerky. But not this Christmas.

This Christmas I got creative. I have seen a lot of maps on Pinterest and around the blogosphere.

Like…

vintage-framed-map-pin-board-frame-art-travel-project-how-to-diy-cheapNail Wall Art World Map, Bold and Beautiful PalettePinned Image

from http://www.younghouselove.com/2008/02/the-frame-game/http://www.etsy.com/listing/73262666/nail-wall-art-world-map-bold-and?ref=sr_gallery_15&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=map&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_page=3&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmadehttp://astepinthejourney.blogspot.com/

I love the idea of personalizing a map, showcasing our travels. Devin, however, would not be truly impressed with a simple framed map (ever the critic).

I wanted something unique, something oozing with masculinity. This is what I came up with:

I used wood planks as my ‘canvas’ and nails to outline the land masses as well as document the places we’ve been. You can’t tell from the photo, but I used shorter nails to outline the continents and longer nails on our various vacation spots.

I love it! It isn’t the world’s most practical ‘map’ (1 nail covers as entire state, or even country in some cases) but Devin and I will know what each nail means. Plus, it is truly a art piece. Even if he doesn’t like it, I do. But how could he not like it?

Here’s how I did it:

The first step was to go in search of a world map. A map of the US of A would have been much easier to find, not to mention much easier to complete this project with. But I didn’t want to send the wrong message, we will travel the world one day. So a world map it was. The map needed to have each continent in one piece. Turns out, this isn’t the easiest thing to find (and there was no time to order one online). I settled on this one from Hobby Lobby:

Next, I found some 2×6’s in the Garage (I swear our garage is a bottomless pit) and cut them down to 37 inches. I wanted to use what I had on hand, But I’d recommend using thinner wood, 1′ thickness would be better. This thing is way too heavy! Then I linned the 2×6 planks up and used a thin line of Gorilla Glue to glue them together

I then found some more scrap wood in the garage and glued two pieces vertically along the back. Then I nailed it together. Then I sanded the whole thing down. I forgot to take a picture of the back, but here is the front at this point:

Next I stained the wood. I used 1 coat of leftover ebony stain, but it came out way to dark. So I sanded it down and applied 2 coats of mahogany stain.

Now to the fun part!

Once the stain dried, I taped my map to the front of the wood planks.

And I got to a-hammering. I hammered around the perimeter of each continent. All this was done during naptime and it’s simply amazing that all the banging didn’t wake the baby up!

I was very liberal with the perimeter, the nails only loosely follow the shape of the landmass. As for small islands, I experimented a bit, but I found it best to use a single nail to represent it. If we ever travel to one of those islands, I’ll probably replace the short nail with a long one.

That’s my dog, Niki. She helped.

Canada got a little confusing up at the top. I never realized it was that segmented.

And a few day’s later, Voila! World map complete!

Then I used the long nails. Unfortunately, we haven’t been many places together, so it didn’t take long.

Then I had to pull the poster up. This was tedious work. I used an exacto knife and a pair of pliers to assist me. Although it took forever, it was kind of exciting, like opening a present…. I kept thinking, “What’s it going to look like?” and “This is going to be so awesome!”

Some of the nails came out as I tugged on the poster. I just nailed them back in. The nails that landed between the wood planks didn’t want to stay put so I applied glue to the tips.

Once the poster was off. I had to do a little stain touch up. The nails had caused the wood to split in a few areas, so I used a thin paint brush to stain those areas. After, you couldn’t tell!

Yep she’s a beauty!

 Here’s a closer view of North America:

You can see we have mostly stuck to the Southeast in our travels. (At this point, my pride demands that I mention that I have been out of the US quite a few times, just not with the hubby)

Hopefully, one day, every continent will be filled with nails.

I hope he loves it as much as I do! I can’t wait to see what he is going to say!

A quick and clean diy

Some of you may remember that a couple posts about a bathroom renovation. It’s coming along, but very slowly. It’s hard to find time to play with a nail gun when you have a 16 month old running around, not to mention the holidays and the traveling we’ve been doing. But this diy isn’t actually about that bathroom. (Although one could say it was born from it’s slow progress) It’s about our half bath, downstairs.

This bathroom is your standard tucked-under-the-stairway-5’x5′-half-bath. Very difficult to photograph.  I wish I could say that it’s current state was my handiwork, but we hired a guy to redo it back when I was working. The tile, wainscoting, sink, hardware and paint is all new. It’s probably the most complete room in our house, and probably the nicest too. Can you guess what is still missing? Art! I decided to try my hand at some graphic art. From the beginning, I knew I wanted the message “wash your hands.” It is simple and bathroom appropriate. And from the mommy standpoint, I want as many letters around Kennedy as I can get (not to mention that she should wash her hands)

I was really inspired by these:

Pinned ImagePinned ImageKids Bathroom Art, Wash Your Hands, Brush Your Teeth, Set of Two, pick custom colors, size 8x10

www.4men1lady.com

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/60648253/wash-your-hands-8-x-10-wall-art-print,

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/85419992/kids-bathroom-art-wash-your-hands-brush?ref=sr_gallery_4&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=wash+your+hands&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmade

One my first try I used Photoshop and came up with the image below. I didn’t like it.  It was slightly pixelated, the black bubbles looked kind of like ink splotches, and the graphic was too similar to one of the images I was inspired by. And the colors were just a little too jarring in print.

So, a few days later, I tried again.

This time was a success! I used Indesign, which is more appropriate for this type of art than Photoshop. I love the layout and colors (btw- I used Kuler for the color palette. Never been there? Check it out, it’s a forum for color palettes, and it has all sorts of tools for creating your own color palettes. If you have adobe products, you can download the palette right into your program. It’s awesome!)

I feel a little egotistical offering this, but here’s a link to a PDF if you want to use it yourself (or give it as a gift!)- Wash your Hands. I just ask that if you do use it, you share a photo with me!

I spray painted a thrift store frame white (it took 3 coats), and I used pink craft paint to paint the matte that came in the thrift store frame pink (also three coats.)

… And drum roll please!

Looks much better! (We also switched the light to a daylight florescent, which makes the whole room less yellowish.)  I’m contemplating whether I should hang it on the wall, or leave it leaning. For now, I’d rather not put a hole in the wall.

What do you think?

I have all kinds of ideas for other kinds little messages. Like “Put your dishes in the dishwasher” for the kitchen. Ok, that was a joke; a bad one. But seriously, this graphic art thing is so easy, and it has serious potential. What message would you frame?