Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Thumbtack Monogrammed Chevron Canvas Art

This turned out to be such a fun project, and it really wasn't difficult (although it may look like it was). I must say, I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  It is the perfect addition to a very plain room, and the best part is: if you for some reason are not a monogram lover like moi, you can customize it any way you want with the thumbtacks.   I worked on it super slowly, mainly because I have been all over the place these last couple months with graduation, and moving, etc, etc.  Anyway, if I had decided to do it all at once I probably could have gotten it done in a day or two, depending on how long it took the paint to dry.

What you need:
A canvas- This one is from Michael's, I believe it is 16x20 inches
Blue painter's tape
Paint color of your choice (mine is the flamingo pink I used for my monogrammed dish)
A paint brush or sponge (Michael's has them for super cheap)
A washable marker (for sketching the monogram)
A whole lotta thumbtacks! ( I had 300 from the dollar store, but that wasn't enough. Had to get a 2nd box, which was from WalMart and worked the same)

The first step is to tape out your zig zags on your canvas. This can be kind of tedious, especially if you are a perfectionist.  Luckily, I am not. Anyway, you want to start cutting many, many strips that are all around the same length from your painter's tape.  At first, I was trying to be perfect and measuring out all the strips to be exactly the same length.  If you want the same size 'zig zag' every time, this is the way to go.  If you don't really care that it's perfect, you can eyeball the length. You then just start to lay them out in a zig zag fashion, all the while smoothing out any ridges or bubbles in the tape.

If you want perfect lines, use this technique
 of measuring the tape every time
I did about 2 lines of zig zags with this technique when I realized it didn't have to be perfect, especially since the monogram itself was going to be the focal point.  From then on, I began to eyeball the length of the tape and didn't measure between each row of zig zags.  It wasn't perfect, but like I said, it didn't really matter to me.

As you can see, my lines are not all the same.
It's not obvious in the end though.
The bottom and top rows end up being little taped out triangles. You just need two small pieces of overlapping tape to form these triangles as shown in the picture above. As for the edges, I didn't worry about continuing the zig zag line on them, because I had decided to paint them coral from the beginning.  You can definitely continue the line if you want it to be chevron patterned on all edges.

Once it's all taped out, you can paint a coat over the canvas.  Remember when you are taping, what's white will actually be where the color is in the end, so if you want it thin, leave the space between rows thin, and vice versa if you want it thicker. 

Try not to get TOO much paint on the tape,
because it will bleed through in some places
I painted one thick coat at first, and after that dried went back in with a light second coat to get any white-ish spots.  I then let this dry FULLY before I pulled off the tape.

I was pretty satisfied with how it turned out, even when I first pulled off all of the tape.  There were definitely spots that needed touching up, but I just used a small detailing brush and guided it along the edge of any shaky looking lines.  It probably took about 15 minutes to clean up the lines to where I was satisfied with them. 

The next step was tracing out my monogram onto the canvas.  I found the easiest thing to do this with was a Crayola washable marker.  I chose to use pink.  I think you could also use chalk, or anything else that would be easy to wipe off, because trust me- you will make mistakes. I had a wet washcloth handy to wipe away any mistakes until I got it right.  I chose to do my monogram in a script font, which I can personally sketch out in about 2.5 seconds.  But if you are not familiar with how to draw your own- here is a picture of the alphabet in this font so you can figure it out on your own.  Note: My initials are CGB, but you want your last initial to be in the middle, and your first name initial on the left side with your middle name initial on the right.  So my monogram appears like this: cBg (little C, big B, little G). 

I sketched out the B first since it was the largest and in the very center of the canvas.  I also went ahead and put the thumbtacks in on the B so I knew exactly where I wanted to go with the smaller initials. 

It's very faint, but you can see the sketch of the B if you look closely

The next step is to start pushing the thumbtacks through the canvas.  You can just do this with your thumb, you don't need any type of tool.  It's relatively easy.  I also decided I wanted my thumbtacks to overlap because I liked the way that looked much better.  You can leave space between them if you prefer, and this would also save you a lot of thumbtacks.

Truckin' along on the B
After finishing the B, I went ahead and sketched the 2 letters on the side and begin to pin those as well.  They are supposed to be smaller, and almost fit into the large initials 'wings' or curls that branch out.

If you are not happy with the way a pin is laying, or the way a few pins are laying or curving or anything of that nature, it can be easily fixed.  All you have to do it pull the thumbtack out and re-pierce the canvas where you think it should lay.  I had to do this PLENTY of times throughout the process because I felt that if one was sitting wrong it stood out like a sore thumb. 

Closeup of the finished thumbtack monogram
As you can see, neither the chevron pattern or monogram itself is perfect,  but I think it turned out amazing and looks really good in my now tan room at home.  Plus it's just such an interesting piece, and something a lot of people would never have thought to do with some $1 thumbtacks :)  Here are some finished product photos of it hanging on my wall in my room: 

closeup with flash
From a different angle...

Sorry the colors are so off in some of these, I use my iPhone for pictures because my camera sucks, and it takes better quality pictures, but it's frustrating because I can never seem to get the color right! In real life the color is a really pretty coral, in most of the pictures I know it looks really bright and orangey.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful!  Like I said earlier, you definitely don't have to do a monogram, you could do words, a picture (a fleur de lis would be really cute!), or anything your mind can think of! I would love to see the results if any of you do try this at home, so link it to me in a comment if so!

I plan on getting a new camera pretty soon, so hopefully my pictures will get better in my next couple of posts.  Also, be on the lookout for an update to the very popular cobra stitch bracelet tutorial in the next week or so! 

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  1. I didnt come out nice the letters look really crooked

    1. If you have nothing nice to say, please refrain from commenting. Thanks!