TPiB: 10 Things To Do With a Blank Canvas, part 1
One of my recurring programming themes is Renovate Your Room. We are actually in the midst of doing this right now as the Tween has decided that she no longer wants a princess room (sob, why do they grow up so fast?). Now we are creating a new room with a Paris/Doctor Who theme. My vision is that Doctor Who will fly in the Tardis and take a trip to Paris. But redoing a room doesn’t have to be expensive or out of a box. In fact, libraries are full of books that teach us simple, easy and often inexpensive things we can do. This makes a room personal. My current obsession is to create art projects out of blank canvases (bought in bulk when on sale). While I experiment, I thought I would share with you 10 projects that we have done to help decorate the Tween room. I am also going to be doing this as a tween/teen program later this month, so I know they all work. I am a huge fan of using either pictures (I do love my kids) or words (I do also love a good quote).
Make a Pseudo Canvas Portrait
Print any digital portrait/picture, including your favorite Instagram pictures. You can try and do this transfer process outlined here. But when I couldn’t get it to work, I simply glued my printed picture onto the canvas and decoupaged it. Turns out, it works just as well. First, I prepped my canvas by spray painting it black (any color will work). Then, I gently tore off the edges to create the older effect that I wanted. Then after I glued and allowed my picture to dry, I did some stippling of black paint (use acrylic) along the edges. Then, after again letting it dry, I did a finishing coat of Mod Podge.
Using a variety of scrapbook papers, you can make a collage of any sort. Simply glue it onto your canvas and decoupage. You are only limited by your creativity. Here I created the classic Mikey Mouse head/ears shape for my toddler’s room. You could use maps, scrap pieces of paper, postcards, etc.
|Made with PowerPoint|
For more advanced collages, there are lots of things that I envision in my head that I don’t have the actual skill to make a reality. So I often turn to Microsoft Publisher to help make it happen. Here I use a combination of clip art, word art and downloaded photos to create collages. Then I simply print and decoupage them onto canvas like I would a regular picture.
You can make a picture collage in both Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint. After you have layered your elements the way you want them, connect them together as a group (under format) and then choose “save as picture” to create a picture. You don’t have to do this if you are simply printing your picture out, but you’ll want to do that if you want to send or import the new picture into another program. You can, for example, do this and create your own postcards. It’s true.
|Made with Instagram and Over apps|
You can make your own art to decorate your library.
|Made with Instagram and Over apps|
Use pictures and combine them with your favorite quotes to decorate your home or your library. There really is no limit to what you can produce quickly and easily with the right tools (see my “see also” at the end of this post for a look at some of the tools I use).
|Grid Photo made with PhotoShake app|
In order to create these cool graph pictures that I decoupage onto canvas, I used the iPhone app Photoshake. You can create graphs of up to 20 pictures I believe. Then you simply print them, glue them onto your canvas and decoupage. You can add words to your grid picture by creating a separate picture first in something like Over (see these apps to learn more) and then using that picture as one of the pictures in your grid picture. Although this is a variation of the pseudo canvas portrait, I added it separately because it is currently my favorite thing ever. They make great gifts for friends and family members to highlight a variety of pictures of your relationship. Or to capture the different ages of a child. Or you know, a collection of flowers or whatever your thing is.
You can also create this type of a look directly onto the canvas if you size your pictures correctly. Use a 12×12 sized canvas and print out 9 of your favorite Instagram pics at size 4×4. You can now create a grid collage with 3 rows of 3 pictures. The have more information about this over at A Beautiful Mess.
One day I had a vision for a series of representational Doctor Who pieces (see above). What I wanted to do was to take icons from the series and create some representational art. If you wanted to do things like initials or common, every day objects (say hearts and stars), you could use pre-purchased stencils for this. But we had to create our own. This was a more involved project.
Step 1: Prep the Canvas
Anytime you just need a base color for your canvas, spray paint is your friend. Quick, easy, and gets the job done well. You will want to make sure you have two contrasting colors for this project. Your base coat will be the color of your canvas so you will want to make sure you paint the outside edges of the canvas as well.
Step 2: Make Your Stencils
To make the stencils, we used blue painters tape, a crafter’s cutting mat, a pencil, and an exacto knife. We overlaid strips of blue painters tape onto the craft mat to create a sheet of it that covered our canvas. We then drew an outline of the shape we wanted in pencil. Pencil was important because it erased really easily and we did have to make some adjustments. We then used our exacto knife to cut out our stencil.
Step 3: Apply Stencil and Paint
Apply your stencil to your pre-prepped canvas and spray pain in your contrasting color. You will want to make sure and cover the edges of your canvas with painters tape as well because there can be overspray and you don’t want it to get on your already primed edges.
Step 4: Seal
You can use decoupage (Mod Podge for example) or any spray sealant to help protect the longevity of your piece.
So here are some basic tips you’ll want to keep in mind:
You can use regular photographs, but they are bulkier and don’t adhere to the canvas as well. I recommend printing your pictures onto regular paper using your color printer.
Size is Everything
Make sure and keep picture and canvas sizes in mind. You can buy canvas in smaller sizes, which would work well for doing say 4 Instagram pictures. See the Shadow Relief canvases to get an idea of what I am talking about. You can buy 8 by 12 canvases, which is the size of standard printing paper. They also have 12 x 12 canvases which is the standard size of a piece of scrapbooking page. You just keep sizing in mind when creating your project. If you want to do larger projects (and they do make larger projects), you can do poster size printing at places like Staples for a fee.
Patience Really is a Virtue
Anytime you glue something down, wait until that layer dries completely before moving on to the next layer. This same rule applies to painting. It is a process, be patient (which is really hard for me).
When your project is set up the way you want it to, you are now ready to seal it with decoupage. There is spray decoupage and the liquid kind you find it jars and spread with brushes. If you use the spray kind, do it outside (when it is not windy) because it stinks and gets all over. Either way, you will want to apply multiple coats. YOU MUST LET YOUR PROJECT DRY COMPLETELY BETWEEN COATS.
In order not to make this post too long, I have divided it into two parts. You are welcome. Part 2 can be found here (after it posts).
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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