On the fence about outdoor décor

by Meredith 17. July 2012 21:40

Surfing Pinterest inspired me to make some artwork for the backyard. Hunter had recently completed a fence project and there was some scrap lumber leftover. Stapling the wood together made some nice size canvases to play with.

The project combined two popular “pins” into one finished piece. These were how to distress painted wood and to make plant silhouette artwork. I won’t go into details describing how to do these techniques because I think the other websites do a great job but here is a brief summery of my steps:

I first painted the boards (6 total) a base color; 3 yellow & 3 green. I then coated one side of some plant cuttings with spray adhesive and arranged each onto a board. Next step was to carefully paint the board a second color using the plants like a stencil. (Note: Unlike the tutorial, I used latex paint and not spray paint because it was what I had on hand in the colors I liked.) I also added some random brush strokes of a third color just to add a bit more variation. Once the painting was done, I peeled off the plants and let the boards dry thoroughly overnight. The next day I did a little bit of paint touch up, adding highlights to some of the plant images. Then I used an electric sander to distress the boards; removing some of the layers of paint and in some places I took the paint completely off exposing plain wood. The final step of distressing/aging the wood was to lightly brush on a dark wood stain with a cloth. To protect the finished artwork I added a coat of polyurethane.

The only thing I would have done differently would be making the plants more firmly attached to the boards. It was very tedious to paint around them; often the wet brush would lift the leaves as I painted and made a mess out of the stenciled image. After applying the glue I laid a piece of cardboard on top of the plants and then stacked heavy objects on top of the cardboard (like you would do to press flowers). This worked well but I should have been more patient and left them on there for more than an hour (perhaps overnight would have been better). The more firmly the plant was adhered the easier it was to paint over them.

Overall I think the project turned out great and am really happy with how they look on the fence.

Bubble Art

by Meredith 1. June 2012 14:44

We had recently went crazy at the dollar store and bought enough bubble supplies to have a massive bubble party. The next step was to make our own bubble solution (recipe below) and create our own custom bubble wands. Now we have taken bubble blowing to the next level: art!

While surfing the web for craft ideas I found one that mixes a small amount of tempra paint into the bubble mix. Blow the bubbles so they land on the paper and when they pop they will create interesting paint designs. Added bonus is because the paint is mixed with soap clean up is super easy. Just add water and the kid is clean!

Creating the mixture was simple. I poured about 1/2 cup of bubble solution into a shallow container and mixed in ~1 tablespoon of paint (I used red, yellow and blue). Each container was given its own wand, otherwise the colors would get contaminated (Miss M did fairly well at keeping them separate). The instructions I had read said to blow the bubbles and have the kids catch them on the paper. As much as I tried I could not convince the two year old to chase the bubbles with the paper. What did work however was to stand over the paper and let the bubbles fall onto it. Once we figured out the correct angle they popped nicely and made some interesting patterns.

I think we will use the resulting art to decorate cards for all the grandmas. Maybe even a Father’s Day card too. Smile

Here is the bubble recipe that we used: 6 cups water, 1 cup Dawn dish washing soap, and 3/4 cup Karo syrup. I doubled this and mixed it in a water jug that had a tap.

Burn Up and Burn Out

by Meredith 26. December 2008 14:03

I've made two more felt sculptures (a while ago) and have finally taken some pictures. 

Dying wool is really fun and pretty easy to do. Check out this website for some simple instructions: [link]

The website is describing how to dye yarn but the same principles work for dying wool roving. What is so cool about the process is that you use cake icing dye (available at Micheal's) so the process is non-toxic and can be done with your kitchen dishes. Also there is virtually no mess because when the dying is done, nearly all color has been absorbed by the wool. 

It takes about 1hr per batch and involves very little monitoring. I didn't bother with using a thermometer, I just kept an eye on it to make sure it didn't boil. Because I planned on using the wool for felting it didn't matter to me if the wool felted a little in the dying process. If I wanted to use the wool for spinning into yarn I would need to be a bit more careful. But even with being not-so-careful, the wool still remained fairly fluffy.

I also bought a pair of hand carders so that I could do some blending of the colors. The phoenix colors are blends of the red, orange, yellow, and brown dye batches. (I'll have to take some pictures of my dyed wool collection). 

Construction was off of a wire frame and I wet and needle felted the basic form. Then I wet felted sheets of wool (~4"x8") that laid the colors out in a gradient from white to brown/black. Once the sheets were dry, I folded and needle felted the sheets onto the form. 

They are a little top heavy and there isn't really any place to pick them up besides by the beak without crushing the felt. So I picked up some decorative wood blocks from Home Depot today to make them some stands. I think that will look pretty nice. Over all I am really happy with how they turned out.

Next project I want to try to make some little fairy dragons. I've started 4 frames this time so that I will have more to play with. (I was only going to do one phoenix at first but half way through I decided I wanted to do a second... it was a PITA to make a new frame for the second that was just like the first).

Anyway, I am open to more ideas of sculptures to try out. If you think of anything I am eager to hear. 


Dragon Wands

by Meredith 4. November 2008 14:10

Inspired by ~tallydragon ([link])

I made these as role-play prizes for a LARP event.

I used wire for the frame, wet felted a base structure, and then dry felted the colored wool on. The wings are wet felted sheets that were dry felted onto the wing "bones."

About Meredith Cook

Welcome to my repository of creative expression. I'm not a happy camper unless I am making something and over the years I have dabbled in quite a few different kinds of art projects. Some projects come from taking art classes, others are completely hobby driven, and projects like home decor come from a need to customize an item and make it better or unique. The overall theme behind what I do is to learn how to manipulate objects and practice what I know about visual aesthetic and good design. Oh yeah, and to have fun.