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.
- Painter’s canvases
- 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 Orvieto, Trevi 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.
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!