Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fun (Cheap!) Custom Wall Art Tutorial

Somewhere in between painting a whole house and trying to finish up the school year, I got this idea for some fun wall art for our new house.  And when the inspiration strikes, sometimes you just gotta go with it.  So after a couple runs to Joann's, Walmart, and several late nights, I've managed to complete the project!  The basic idea was for some kind of large-ish wall art display to go behind our couch in the new living room.  I wanted it to be something displaying the kids, but not come off looking like the "shrine of boys".  I love the retro look of silhouette portraits, but wanted something a little more casual and fun, so I came up with the idea of using a picture of the "whole" kid (not just head and shoulders) and mix-and-matching some colorful papers.  Here is the super cute end result:
notice my big toe...proof that I have indeed been painting!
The best thing about this project is that it hardly costs anything more than the cost of the frames, especially if you're into scrapbooking or papercrafting and already have some cardstock on hand.  It's really simple's how!

1.  Take a picture of your child standing more or less directly facing you.  Take a bunch of shots of them doing different poses, jumping, etc.  It's sort of nice actually taking their picture without having to make sure they're smiling nice or their clothes aren't dirty!  All you're looking for is a good profile.  Make sure you can see both arms and don't want them looking like an amputee in the silhouette:)

2.  Load your pics on your computer and choose your favorite pose.  Copy and paste it into a Word document and adjust the size until the figure (not the whole picture) is about 5"x7".  Then I adjusted the contrast of the photo just a little higher so it would be easier to see a nice crisp edge to cut along.  Print the photo (black and white is fine) onto cardstock.

3.  Carefully cut out the figure, making sure not to cut off any cute little details like a little bit of hair sticking up (see below).  I used regular scissors for this, but an exacto knife sure would have been a brilliant idea.

4.  Select your coordinating cardstocks.  Try to choose patterns that aren't too busy, so the silhouettes stand out clearly against the background.  I used several designs from the "Tahiti Beach" Stack from Joann's.  Originally I was going to use more "traditional" patterns, but you'd be surprised how hard it is to find papers that aren't totally feminine!  I loved lots of them, but just didn't feel right mounting my tough little guys on pick florals.  And deep down I think I'm part beach bum at heart.  After all, when I was 4 I said I wanted to be a surfer when I grew up.  Try as I might to stick with timeless, traditional home decor, I just can't do it.  I always seem to gravitate back to more modern, colorful stuff...

5.  Put a few pieces of scotch tape on the back of your printed picture and tape it onto the back of the cardstock.  Carefully trace around it--I found a mechanical pencil worked great here!  Remove your printed image and carefully cut out your figure (once again, a "real" crafter would have used an exacto knife...)

6.  Trim your background sheet of cardstock to 8"x10" with a large paper cutter.

7.  Stick double-sided foam tape on the trunk and appendages of your figure.  I opted for foam tape to give it a little pop from the background.  

8.  Stick your silhouette on your background and toss it in the frame of your choice and...voila!  Artsy fun for your living room, kids' rooms, or wherever!  These frames are 11"x14" with an 8"x10" matted opening, for $13.96 at WalMart.

Please let me know if you try this or some variation of it...I'd love to see pictures of your ideas!  And once we move in I'll show you how they look on the wall, too!

And a little's some music suggestions to accompany this particular crafting project:)

Have fun!!!

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