String Art – a “How [not] To”

Here lately, I’ve been doing this thing on Fridays that I call “a craft + a craft”, where I do a craft while drinking a craft beer. As evidenced here: a cuff bracelet + a Dogfishhead 60 Minute IPA.

a craft + a craft

It’s a nice little way to unwind from the work week.  Recently it inspired a friend of mine to post a craft + a craft of her own: string art and a Goose Island Bourbon County stout.  Which in turn inspired me to do some string art of my own.  Ah the circle of life.  Or something like that.

Anyway if you’re on pinterest you’ve seen, like, a fazillon string art pins.  I feel like maybe its a diy blogger hazing technique right of passage to make one of these bad boys.  So here’s the story of the first (and likely last) time I made string art.

diy string art

Supplies

  • scrap pine wood
  • wood stain (I used Varathane American Walnut)
  • cloth to apply stain (old, clean socks work wonders)
  • paint (I used latex, but acrylic would work too)
  • sponge craft paint brush
  • hammer
  • like, three 2 oz boxes of wire nails (I used size 1 x 17 which refers to the length in inches x gauge)
  • embroidery floss
  • Alene’s fabric fusion glue

Oh, I know I say this a lot, but one thing you really need for this project is patience.  I am super happy with my string art, but it took several days to finish.  I really didn’t consider how long it would take to hammer 321 (yeah, that many) nails into a board, close together, in a specific design.  It’s tedious work and can be really tiring on the eyes.  And I happened to make a grand total of seven tiny-huge mistakes while making this dern thing.

huge mistake

That being said, if you wanna know how it’s done, read on friend.

First, I took a scrap piece of wood I had and stained it.  Incorrectly (mistake number one).  You know how the can says shake well?  Do that.  Or you’ll end up with this.

diy string art

diy string art

I tightend the lid back on the stain and shook the heck out of it.  Then opened her back up and stained the board correctly.

diy string art

If you’ve never stained wood before, trust me, it’s easy.  Make sure you read and follow all instructions (including the ones for safety) but the gist of it is that you liberally apply stain to your wood, let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate and then wipe off the excess.

diy string art

The next thing I did was to paint the sides so they didn’t look sloppy with stain.

diy string art

diy string art

I also painted the back.  I know no one is going to see it, but if it were left unfinished, I would know and it would undoubtedly drive me nuts.

diy string art

I used latex paint leftover from my stripey art (Valspar Delightful Moon if you’re curious) and did it standing in my living room (mistake number two).  When it dropped onto my couch and got wet paint on two of the cushions, naturally I started spewing four letter words and skittering around my kitchen in a panic.  The fella hooked me up with a wet rag and I think we got all the paint up.  The fella is pretty cool under pressure.

diy string art

A couple of days later, the paint was dried and I was emotionally prepared to come back to this project – or so I thought.  I used regular computer paper as my template and a yard stick as a guide to be sure everything was level.

diy string art

I chose the phrase “BE BOLD” because evidently, I like my wall art to be bossy…

dream BIG

Media Stand Entertainment Center DIY

SI. OUI. YES.

diy rustic wood sign

carpe diem

DIY Floating Glass Frames and Smart Phone Art

I taped the template to the board and got to work with my nails.  I worked from each letter’s corners inward so I could be sure everything was spaced evenly.  Did that even make sense?  Here, look at this picture.

diy string art

I did that for like an hour plus.  Until I got to this point and ran out of nails.  Always make sure you have enough nails (mistake number three).  It looked like I had so mannnny when they were in the box, y’all.

diy string art

I went to the hardware store to get more, without bringing one of them with me to compare (mistake number four).  I grabbed a few boxes of 1 x 17 wire brads and made my way home.  But I didn’t need wire brads.  I needed wire nails.  And the difference between the brads and the nails is that the head of the brad is much smaller than that of the nail, meaning what I bought didn’t match what I had already used.  More four letter words.

Does it get easier?  I wish the answer were yes.  Once the brads had been exchanged for nails I kept hammering away.  I hammered in the mornin’.  I hammered in the evenin’.  All over thi… sorry I’m getting off track and realize that my Mom is probably the only person reading this who will appreciate those last few sentences.

After all the words were nailed in I carefully ripped my paper template away from the nails.

diy string art

diy string art

There were still a few scraps stuck to the nails, but they came up easily with tweezers.

diy string art

It was at this point that I realized that I hadn’t yet attached my saw-tooth hanging brackets to the back (yes, mistake number five).  So I clenched my teeth, flipped the board over in my lap and hammered in the brackets while the words BE BOLD dug into my thighs.

diy string art

I used two brackets, one for each corner, since I noticed way too late (mistake number six) that my board was slightly bowed in the center.

I flipped it back over and got started on the border nails.  I used washi tape as a guide to make sure my line was straight.  I again used the technique of starting in the corners and moving to the center.

diy string art

Then the labor was over!!!  Lies.  But this last part goes fast, I promise.

I used five different colors of embroidery floss and decided to go in rainbow order.  I tried to keep a sunburst pattern going the whole time and each time I finished with a color, I tied the string off and then dabbed fabric fusion glue on it to make it extra secure.

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

diy string art

Oh and the seventh and final mistake?  I missed a spot and had to tie an extra bit of orange on.

diy string art

All in all, I LOVE my string art.  It looks super cute.  But will I be trying it again any time soon?  Hell no, that’s what Etsy is for.

diy string art

Did I convince you never to make your own string art?  Or maybe you’re ready to take it on and prove me useless in this avenue of crafting?  Do tell…

DIY Coasters and Rent House Hunt Musings

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted…  All kinds of interesting (to me) things happening at jhbhq.

My efforts last week were focused on the fella, who had a little visit to the hospital after suffering severe dehydration on a particularly tough day at work.

He spent a few days there, and as soon as he got well enough to be out and about, we were on the search for a rent house.  So far, not so great.  We’ve seen some really cute houses but there’s always some sort of deal breaker… Like this house, a 3 / 2 at an affordable price (with a pool!!!) that had updates and was super cute… with a great little breakfast nook…

rent house breakfast nook

lots of natural light… and no stove top…  yeah, seriously.

sans stove

See that vent hood with a counter underneath it?  Weird, right?  So… No go.

Then there was this really cute house with foundation issues and horrendous carpet.  Also a 3 / 2.  I didn’t get pictures of anything here except for the chandelier in the outdoor workshop.  Maybe a fancy meth lab?

workshop chandy

We saw one that was pretty promising (designer paint colors, tile flooring throughout etc).  But it’s a 2 bedroom, the second of which is 10 x 10.  Yeah.  I don’t think we fit in there.  Sad face.

All of the others that we have seen have had various benefits and drawbacks but we just haven’t found “the one” yet.  No matter.  There’s time yet.  For now I’m in with a fun little craft.

After I made our headboard I was on a pattern kick in the bedroom and decided to make some coasters.  This little lady needs a cool glass of water at her bedside, and she shant be getting water spots on the nightstands she worked so diligently to make.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Supplies:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Felt
  • Hot glue gun and accompanying glue sticks
  • Sharpie
  • Acrylic spray (I used this)
  • Liquid gold leaf

diy ceramic tile coasters diy ceramic tile coasters

I’ve actually used pretty much this same method several times before – Shannon even wrote about some that I made on her blog a couple of years ago before I started my little corner of the internets.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Here’s the quick and dirty…

I started by cutting felt slightly smaller than my tile to protect my tables from being scratched.  I used hot glue to stick ‘em to the underside of the tiles.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Then, a little liquid leaf on the edges.  Fancy.

diy ceramic tile coasters

The original plan was for me to paint the design on top of the tile but evidently the liquid variety of gold leaf doesn’t like to adhere to glossy, non-porous ceramic tile.  Meh.  Metallic gold Sharpie to the rescue!  I just free handed a chevron / herringbone esque design.

diy ceramic tile coasters

Then, two coats of my acrylic water resistant spray and these bad boys were ready to protect my nightstands from their nemesis – condensation.

diy ceramic tile coasters

diy ceramic tile coasters

Since you’re wondering, I totally never ALWAYS drink water from stemless wine glasses.  Pure class.

Anyone else making crafty creations?  Or maybe you’ve got some strange house hunt stories of your own?  Do tell…

How to Sew a Pillow Cover

There are all kinds of tutorials available in multiple media on how to sew pillow covers.  I know I’m not re-inventing the wheel here but if this tutorial helps just one person I’ll be satisfied.  This is how I sew pillow covers.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Alternate title for this post:  That time I made a west elm knock off.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

As I mentioned in my post about my fancy-pants new headboard, I ended up having enough leftover material to make a toss pillow.  And I just so happened to have an INNER 16″ x 26″ insert from IKEA that was desperate to be opened and swaddled in canvas.  What, too dramatic?

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Recently I pinned this pillow from my beloved west elm with the caption “Probably pretty easy to diy this one!”…  I was right.

First off, when you make a pillow cover for an insert (not just plain stuffing), always measure your pillow seam to seam.  This pillow was not 16″ x 26″ as advertised, but actually 15″ x 25″.  I would have been super disappointed if I made my pillow cover based on incorrect measurements!

The type of cover I make is generally referred to as an envelope pillow sham or envelope closure.  This method calls for zero zippers, which means I don’t have to switch out feet on my sewing machine, which makes for a fast, easy process and a happy Jamie.  Basically, the back folds onto itself like an envelope.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

The fabric for your front piece should be 1″ longer and wider than your pillow, so I went with 16″ x 26″ (remember my pillow was smaller than advertised – silly IKEA).

The back is made of two pieces, and one overlaps the other.  For this to work, they each need to be 1″ wider than your width (again 16″ in my case) half of the length of your front piece plus five inches.  Let me explain as it relates to my pillow.  My pillow was 25″ long and 15″ wide so my front piece was 26″ and 16″ wide.  26″ long divided in half is 13″.  Plus five inches is 18″.  So each of my back pieces were each 16″ wide and 18″ long.

Here’s a not at all to scale rendering of what I’m trying to say.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

To hem the edges that make up the envelope fold, I use my tried and true method of using a hem ruler to measure a 1″ fold, iron, and fold it within itself to result in a 1/2″ fold.  Then one quick stitch down the center of each fold.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

 

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

For my front, to recreate the look of this pillow, I used my Valspar Perfect Storm paint sample (also used on my headboard and some wall art) and a small watercolor brush.  I used a ruler for the middle row of dots to line everything up but after that I just free handed 16 rows on either side of the middle row.  It didn’t take long at all to dry, maybe 10 minutes after the last row was dotted, it was dried.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

So I laid the back pieces on the front piece, right sides in, with my hems in the center, one overlapping the other.  I don’t think you’re allowed to put that many commas in a sentence but it just happened.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

I sewed all the way around my fabric pieces, the stitch 3/4″ from the edge of the fabric.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Then I flipped the pillow cover right-sides out, stuffed my insert in there and it was done.

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Cute, right?

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

easy diy envelope pillow cover / west elm inspired pillow

Please ‘scuse the bad lighting in the above pics…

Do you prefer envelope closures or zipper closures on your pillows?  Or do you prefer to buy pillows and not think twice about it?  Do tell…

Painting on Plastic – A How To

Painting on plastic can be an intimidating task, but let me assure you, friend, YOU CAN DO IT!  Check it…

how to paint plastic

I was commissioned for this project by one of my favorite coworkers, Big Mama.  Big Mama takes real good care of all of the fine folks at my 9-5, including yours truly.  She makes sure we all have our allergy meds and that our parties are planned and that we have lunch or snacks or sodas or whatever the heck else our little hearts desire.  So when she told me she was redoing her bathroom and couldn’t find a mirror in the right color, I was all over helping her.

I’ve actually done some curtains for her before (using this method) so she took no issue with having me customize something for her home.  We discussed a few different options online and different stores she could visit and then she returned to me with a nice, simple mirror from Martha’s line and a swatch of the color she wanted it to be.

how to paint plastic

Problem was, none of the spray paints capable of adhering to plastic were remotely close in color to what she wanted.  That’s okay though, because it gave me the perfect opportunity to show you how easy it is to paint plastic with latex!

Supplies:

  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Zinsser B-I-N oil base primer
  • Latex paint
  • Floetrol
  • Frog tape
  • High quality paint brushes (one for oil based paints and one for latex)
  • Newspaper or dropcloth
  • Mineral spirits (for primer brush cleanup)

First things first – if there is any area of the plastic item that you don’t want painted, you’ll need to tape it off.  In my case, that was the mirror.

how to paint plastic

how to paint plastic

To secure the tape edge and prevent bleed through, I used a plastic putty knife and gently pressed all the way down the length of the tape.

Then I took fine grit (220) sand paper and lightly scuffed the plastic frame.  You don’t have to go wild with it, just enough to remove that smooth sheen.  Make sure you wipe your sanding dust off with a damp cloth.

how to paint plastic

Zinsser B-I-N oil based primer is incredible.  It will stick to anything.  Just make sure you use a good brush for oil based paints (I prefer Blue Hawk).

FYI – as with all my posts thus far, this is not sponsored.  I’m just showing some love to brands that work well for me.

It was a bit of a pain to paint white primer on a white mirror, so if your plastic surface is white, you may want to consider tinting your primer.

Once your primer dries – it’s time to paint!  Cutting latex paint with Floetrol lengthens dry time and reduces brush strokes.  Sometimes I don’t mind brush strokes.  It can enhance the look of certain pieces.  But brush strokes weren’t going to do this mirror any favors.  A couple of ounces of Floetrol was enough for my paint sample.

I just poured it directly in the little pot, screwed the lid back on tight and shook it like crazy for several minutes.

When you paint a dark color over top of white, the first couple of coats are going to scare you.  They’re going to look uneven and patchy and you’re going to want to crawl in a hole.

how to paint plastic

Push through these feelings, friend.  I promise you, it gets better.

My first couple of coats look especially bad here because for some bonehead reason I painted the latex on with a brush and then went over it with a foam roller.

how to paint plastic

how to paint plastic

I was trying to flatten the brushstrokes as best I could but this method is really only suitable for flat surfaces.  Plus the Floetrol does a good job of eliminating brush marks anyway.  So after the second coat I abandoned this method and just went with my trusty paint brush.

Four coats did the trick for this mirror and I waited an entire day between each coat.

how to paint plastic how to paint plastic

I scored the crease between the tape and the frame with an X-ACTO knife to make sure the tape came up clean.  When I pulled the tape away there was a tiny bit of bleed through, but I pulled that up with a steady hand and my X-ACTO.

Four coats did the trick for this mirror and I waited an entire day between each coat.  

I don’t have an after pic in it’s permanent home in Big Mama’s bathroom (yet) but I hope to update this post with one if I can get her to take one for me.  I do have this staged pic – don’t get me started on how difficult it is to photograph a mirror in a badly lit condo.

how to paint plastic

I hope this post gave you the confidence you need to tackle a plastic painting project!  Have you painted on plastic before?  Got any insider tips or tricks?  Do tell…

DIY Canvas Drop Cloth Textile Headboard

Geez that title is a mouthful!  But it’s a big title for a big project that I’m pretty pumped about sharing fuh reals.

I’ve actually been thinking about doing this ever since I hung some DIY’d frames that I wasn’t sure about from minute one.  I even mentioned how I felt in the end of my post about them.  Just.  Meh.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

I don’t know why I waited so long to do this, because once I bought the supplies, I knocked ‘er out in a couple of sessions over a weekend.  By myself.  While I was getting over a combo sinus + upper respiratory infection.  And it only cost me $29.11.  No, seriously, look:

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Ipso facto – an able bodied novice with a few bucks and smidge of determination can totally tackle this, and they too will be left with a really cool, unique and bold headboard!  You ready?

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Supplies:

  • Curtain or textile
  • 48″ long x 1″ diameter wooden dowel
  • 2 traverse rod brackets (I used these)
  • sample size latex paint
  • craft paint brushes
  • newspaper (I’ll explain)
  • cardstock (if you’re making a template for your pattern)
  • scissors
  • drill and screwdriver
  • level (my laser level was really helpful)
  • wee bits of patience

Click here to see how I made my curtain out of a $10 drop cloth!

Now for the pattern.

I already have a couple of patterns happening in the room so this took some careful thought.  My duvet is this beaut from west elm and my rug is this little guy from IKEA.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

I read this post once about mixing patterns – I wish I could find it or remember where I saw it – but it gave great advice.  It said to make sure your mixed patterns are three different sizes – small, medium and large.  My duvet is my medium.  The ikat design resembles Spanish tiles and each little chunk of the pattern is about 6″ wide.

My striped rug would be my small.  I guess because some of the irregular stripes are skinny?  I don’t know, I never said I was an expert.

Anyway, my textile headboard was to be my large pattern.  Which is good because I kind of already had a design in mind, and it ended up fitting right in with the duvet.  If you follow me on pinterest, you may have seen my recent Endless Circle pattern pins (here, here, here).  I was inspired by the pattern on the wood headboard in west elm’s picture of my duvet (check it out here).

If you don’t care about how I made my pattern because you want to make your own, skip on ahead a few pictures / sentences.

To recreate the endless circle look, but with dots instead of a solid line, I needed a template.  I used a math compass on card stock to create a 10″ diameter circle (referred to as a “pie” henceforth) and cut it out.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Then I drew a line through the middle of it, and a line perpendicular to that.  Then I sliced each of my four pie slices in half with two more lines.  And then each of them in half again with four more.  And then in half again with eight more lines.  So I ended up with 32 slices of pie.  Make sense?

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

The plan was to put a dot next to the end of each line around my pie.

I started with the center of my pie at the very top of my canvas in the middle of the width.  I used a craft sponge pouncer dipped in latex paint to make my dots.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Here’s where the newspaper comes in.  Friends, when I decided to paint on a drop cloth, I didn’t think I’d need to protect my work surface.  Isn’t that what a drop cloth is designed to do?!  Well after my first row of circles I noticed that my paint was bleeding through onto the dining table!  EEEP!  It was at that point that I taped some newspaper down underneath the drop cloth, which did a dandy job of protecting my table from bleed through.  I then continued to paint my dotted circles using my template and following a right to left horizontal path.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

The paint is the same blue I used for my striped wall art (Valspar Perfect Storm).  It kind of has greenish undertones but the canvas seems to neutralize that.

When I completed my circle pattern, I staggered the template to create a lattice look.  I can’t think of a better way to describe this process so here are some fun visuals.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Once my painted pattern was dry, It was time to hang this bad boy up!  I used these traverse rod brackets from allen + roth.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

My handy laser level made it easy for me to be sure that my brackets were perfectly vertical.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

I marked where the screws would go, drilled pilot holes and put in the anchors for the screws.  And because I like to keep it real, this is what our bed looked like after that part of the process (sorry, babe).

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Don’t worry I washed the sheets immediately after.  Anyway all that was left to do was hang the canvas up and revel at my new headboard!

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

Much better than the “before” if you ask me.  And I even had enough canvas fabric leftovers to make that toss pillow – I’ll be back with the quick how-to for that soon!

I will say this massive textile kind of makes that wall to the left look bleak and empty, but because we’re moving soon, I don’t know if I want to spend a ton of time hanging things on the walls.  I need that thought to marinate for a minute.

diy canvas drop cloth textile headboard

 

Other DIY’d items seen in this post: bench / mid century nightstands

What do you guys think about my “headboard” – love it, hate it?  Do you have a formula for mixing patterns?  Do tell…