Sincerely, Stasia

Living and learning on a teacher's salary.

The Great Pinterest Living Room Wall Part I – Photo Canvases August 16, 2012

Filed under: DIY,Home,Pinterest — sincerelystasia @ 6:30 pm
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Ciao, friends! My last post, “Let Me Tell You a Love Story…” was a bit outside the lines for me. I have to start by thanking everyone for the emails and messages I received. I’m glad you were all so touched by the story – I’m visiting Nana for lunch tomorrow and I know she’ll be delighted when I share your kind words.

Now. Enough about my personal life and back to normal. I have a huge blank space over my couch and it’s been driving me crazy. I’ve bought sets of frames, individual frames and so on, but nothing ever went up because I’m incredibly indecisive. Considering the Pinterest tear I’ve been on for the past few weeks, I found a few projects I really liked and decided to combine and display them together. Excellent way to start moving pins from “must do” to “look what I didn’t screw up too badly!”

To complete the wall, there were three projects. One was easy and one was ridiculously easy. The last took a hell of a lot of time, was labor intensive, frustrating, and completely worth it. I’m so excited about how it came out that I’m starting with that one!

Because I was apparently a wannabe photographer with ADHD on last week’s vacation to Italy, I took over 600 pictures. I know. Ridiculous. I was dying to get some of those pictures up as soon as possible and I had six blank 5×7 canvases to fill for the wall, so this was perfect timing. I found the idea for this project on Pinterest, mainly from this blog post from A Bolt in the Blue. It’s a great blog with some fantastic DIY projects. Of course I completely butchered what she did and I’m a little OCD from time to time, so I had to improvise a bit.

Straight to the Point: Photo Canvases


  • Painter’s canvases
  • Paintbrush
  • Laser-copied photographs
  • Heavy Gel Medium, Gloss (found near the acrylic paint at the craft store – I linked the one I used)
  • Spray bottle of water

The pictures I chose are on the right (already laser copied): The Colosseum, an archway in the Roman ruins, a pedestrian street in OrvietoTrevi Fountain, and two beautiful basilicas from my favorite city in Italy, Florence: The Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) and Basilica di Santa Croce. I am not ashamed about how much I love these photos. I’m clearly no professional, but not bad for a crappy old Canon and an iPhone (once I dropped the Canon after several gin and tonics during a very late night with my friends at a perfect little outdoor spot at Trastavere… Oops)!

First I altered the photos using iPhoto so they had a similar color scheme, using an antique finish and a fade. I also made sure that I horizontally flipped the photos – This is important or your final product will be a mirror image of the real picture. Then, I had them printed at Staples because I don’t have access to a color laser printer. I had extra copies of each picture made because, let’s face it, I love screwing up projects. Still, it was cheap.

I cut a small frame around each picture so I wouldn’t accidentally leave myself with wobbly lined photos. I would later find this would not have been an issue.

Next I painted the gel medium onto the canvas and placed the pictures facedown. I carefully used the edge of a closed pair of scissors to smooth it out. Once all six were finished, I called it a night so they could set up. I didn’t want to take any chances by not letting them sit long enough, because canvases aren’t too cheap and I didn’t want to have to go pick up six more.

The next day, I was like a kid on Christmas morning with how eager I was to peel the paper off and see how I had done. I’ll go through the process of what I did with each photo, focusing on the Orvieto street scene.

First, I sprayed the paper until it was completely soaked, and I’m talking completely drenched with a pool of water on top that would drip on the floor if I tilted the canvas. I let it sit for a moment or two, then spread the water around and rubbed it into the edges, since that was where I would be starting.

Then I peeled off what I could before using my fingers to rub away as much paper as possible. This part was essentially like peeling off a price tag from a picture frame/vase/CD from The Wall way back in the day, which is a job I absolutely hate doing. However in this instance it was kind of cool, because I slowly started to see the image appear. That’s when I got excited that maybe this was actually going to work.

Now the instructions said to let it dry and you would see a film covering the photo. Check. Then it says to wet your fingers and rub the film off. Check. Or, so I thought. There was still a film on the photos when they dried, but I thought this might disappear when I painted the gel over for the final coat. Nope… It was still paper – And a lot of it. So unfortunately, my photo of the Duomo (possibly my favorite one) was the disaster of the day. Shopping list: one more 5×7 canvas.

This is where I exercised some patience. Don’t be fooled – The picture will look great when wet, but you need to see how it dries to find out if there’s paper left. I followed the procedure of spraying the photo with water and rubbing off excess paper, using a paper towel and a dry paintbrush to gently wipe away the bits of paper while they were wet so they wouldn’t stick, then letting it dry. I repeated this about five or six times. It got frustrating after a while, but I’m glad I did it.  I found that if I concentrated on one area for too long, the photo would wear away and look chipped or scratched. Normally this would have driven me crazy, but I loved how it looked! I ended up intentionally wearing away some of each picture to get a similar weathered look, especially around the edges (hence the reason wobbly photo edges are no problem).

When the photo is clear enough for you, paint another thin coat of the gel medium over it as a seal. This entire process was definitely laborious and time consuming, but I absolutely love how my canvases came out! The finished product of the Orvieto street scene is on the right. I love that it looks a hundred years old but was taken a week ago today!

Monday (hopefully) I’ll be posting the rest of the Great Pinterest Living Room Wall. I know, I know… Just try to contain your excitement! Until then, take a look at all of my finished canvases below (minus the Duomo, which is currently getting a second lease on life and setting on a brand new canvas) – I love them! They have a great distressed, found-in-great-grandma’s-attic look that I’m obsessing over. Hope you like them, too!

Sincerely, Stasia


Pinteresting Part II August 11, 2012

Filed under: DIY,Home — sincerelystasia @ 8:58 pm
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Ciao, friends! I just got back from an amazing trip to Italy this afternoon. I had the pleasure of staying in Rome and visiting Tuscany vineyards, Tivoli, Florence, Vatican City, and Orvieto. Unfortunately my grandfather passed away the week before I left (there will be more about him soon) and I’ve been spending a few nights a week in PT for a herniated disc. With all that in mind, I have several unfinished projects lying around my place.

So to ease my way back into my Pinteresting, and because I’m still on Rome time (so while it’s 6:30p here, my body thinks it’s past midnight and is begging for sleep), I finished the project that required the least amount of work. I found this project here, a fabulous blog with tons of DIY projects. Check it out asap! The problem is, Rachel Mahan of 52 Projects is actually talented while I’m clumsy and not the slightest bit artistic. That being said, I’m still proud anything I create and I’ll proudly display my beautiful disasters despite their numerous imperfections.

Straight to the point: To complete this project my own destined for disaster way, I picked up clear vases of varied sizes at one of my favorite new hangouts, Michael’s. Despite the fact that I keep notes for upcoming projects in my always present iPhone, I still forgot to get twine. Left to improvise I realized that, because I’m a teacher, I always have rubber bands. First I set the rubber bands around the vases, using bands with varying widths. I’ll get to the problem this caused later. You may notice that the middle-sized vase is smaller in the before pics than the afters. Yup – I dropped it. 5 years playing catcher in softball and I can’t keep my hands on a vase with rubber grips. Luckily I always get at least one more than I need – That way I can use it for something else if I magically avoid the inevitable.

To help the spray paint stick to the glass, I first treated the vases with a spray-on primer. Once that was set and dried, I sprayed a few coats of white spray paint on each vase. This was more than likely a huge issue when it came to the problem with the rubber bands. If you try this, I recommend using only one coat – Just cover as much as possible.

I intended on letting the paint dry overnight. Instead, the vases waited patiently for several weeks as I lost my grandfather the day after I started the project and that was followed by my vacation. When I came home, I took to the vases with a pair of scissors to cut off the rubber bands – If they weren’t dry and ready by then, I’d have bigger crafting problems than I’d expected. What I hadn’t anticipated, and why my project ended with much less beautiful vases than Rachel’s, was the paint clinging in some places to the rubber and peeling off in chunks. This was most likely amplified by the thickness of the paint. Less really is more – I should’ve stuck with one solid coat.

Since I’m pretty used to screwing up my DIY projects, I simply turned the vases so you can’t see the missing chunks and love them with all of their imperfections. Now the next thing I hadn’t anticipated was the difficulty I’d have lighting the votives I placed inside. The larger of the two vases were fairly simple using a long lighter. However, the thinnest vase was a bit bratty. The lighter refused to light at any angle when placed by the candle at the bottom of the vase. If I lit the lighter before putting it in the vase, it went out by the time it got to the wick but not before sending up a nice little fireball that burned my fingers.

To solve that problem, I’ve decided to use those little battery-powered votives. I find them to be a little cheesy when placed out in the open, but I think the painted sections of the vase will hide them just enough, and I love the way these vases look when lit.

The moral of the story is this: If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably get fairly frustrated when you finally try a DIY you swooned over done by one of your favorite bloggers. But, imperfections can remind you that (as the name implies) you really did do it yourself. Now go screw up a project and proudly display it in your home.

Sincerely, Stasia


Baby Steps to My Pinterest Projects July 23, 2012

Filed under: DIY,Home — sincerelystasia @ 11:39 pm
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Those of you who follow me on Pinterest know I’m all over it. I have just about a million [actual count] recipes and projects to try. As I get around to them, I’ll show you how I did. I refer to it often, but my St. Patrick’s Day fire extinguisher experiment lets you know I’ll be honest about how I do. No sugar coating here – Not my style. After a 30-minute dash through Michael’s, where I was like a kid in a candy store, I had the supplies I needed for a handful of Pinterest projects to get started. I decided to start with baby steps and work my way up.

First I went with a really simple project. Really more of a purchase-and-put-together, but I still did it so I’m counting it. Kind of like when I add things to my to-do list that I’ve already done just so I can cross them off. You’ve seen me go through messy drawers and cabinets and purge. We’ve also discussed my obsession with Sephora. Here I’m combining the two. I like to be organized, which is much easier for me at school than it is at home, as evidenced by the way I keep my makeup brushes (left).

Clearly that is not an effective, sanitary, or aesthetically acceptable way to store them. Considering those brushes are not exactly cheap, I thought it might be a good idea to take better care of them. I should also be cleaning my brushes more regularly, and this has been helping. Straight to the point: For this ridiculously simple project, I bought two bags of glass beads, a plain glass container, and voila. My brushes are now in a pretty display and always within reach. And, it’s easy for me to clean them on a daily basis and then stand them up to dry. Perfect! Looks a little bit better, too, huh?


Once this was finished I decided to try something a little more difficult. I found the idea for painted vases here. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Swedish. Fortunately, I didn’t really need to. Straight to the point: First, I picked up a few plain glass vases and painstakingly removed the incredibly annoying price tags and glue that was left behind. Then I poured a bit of acrylic paint into the bottom of the vase (starting with the smallest one instead of jumping into the bigger ones) and slowly turned the vase, letting the paint leave a trail. This took a lot longer than I expected and got a bit frustrating at times when the paint wouldn’t cooperate or I was left with bubbles I had to remove. But, there’s worse things than practicing patience. I had to strategically drop more paint in depending on which areas I needed filled in, and the large bubble vase took just about forever, but overall it went well.

So there you have it – My first two Pinterest projects, completed. Not too exciting, I know, but it’s a step in the right direction. Now just to tackle the hundreds thousands? of pins I have left…

Sincerely, Stasia


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