Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Put A Freakin' BIRD On It!

The first project I made this week on is a variation of this wall art project that my roommate
Nina found online. She sent it to me because we both love the 'Put a Bird on It' sketch from Portlandia. We now laugh when we see anything with a bird on it — usually in a very judgmental way. "Ha Ha! Look at those hipsters and their birds!" we always say.* (*we don't really say this) This time, though, I took a look at the project and said, "I want to make that!"

I'm not making the same exact project, however. While I'm using a similar background for my project, the images will be completely different. Instead of birds on branches, I decided to make stylized silhouettes of a squirrel and an owl.

Here's what you need to make this project:
  1. Two blank canvases (I get mine from Dick Blick.) — The two I used are both 20' x 20'.
  2. Paper — I used the pages of an old thesaurus, but you can use anything you want as long as you can collage it.
  3. White glue — The best glues I've used for projects like this are Plaid Mod Podge and good, ol' Elmer's Glue-All. For this project I used Mod Podge.
  4. Various collage supplies — a 1-1/2" chip brush, a popsicle stick for crafting, a container to hold the adhesive mixture.
  5. Drawing supplies — pencils, black markers, erasers, sketchbook, etc.
  6. Cutting supplies — scissors, X-Acto knife, cutting mat
  7. Other supplies — tracing paper, cardboard, latex/non-latex gloves,

Here's what I did:

First, I ripped all of the pages out of an old thesaurus I found at the NYC Strand Bookstore for a whopping $.48.

Next, I laid my two canvasses on the kitchen counter, using an extra-large, clear recycling bag to protect the surface. Note: the adhesive mixture will cause the canvasses to stick to the work surface, but the plastic of the recycling bag will peel easily away from the canvasses and will not damage the collage work.

I mixed one part Mod Podge with one part water to create the collage adhesive mixture. I know the original craft article suggests a mixture of two parts water and one part glue, but I quickly found out that, with that mixture ratio, the paper didn't wrap around the edges of the canvas very well.

SUPER CRAFTER TIP: Use warm water for your adhesive mixture. It mixes better and faster with the glue, and it makes the paper more pliable. =)

Next, I took the chip brush and dipped it in the adhesive mixture and spread it over a section of the canvas edge. Then I spread some over the back of one of thesaurus pages. I placed the thesaurus page on the edge of the canvas with half of the page hanging off of the side. I then dipped the brush in the adhesive mixture again and spread it over the top of the page and continued to spread until the page wrapped around to the back of the canvas. I repeated this until the entire canvas edge is covered.


Once the edge of the canvas was covered, I continued the process with the rest of the canvas until it was completely covered. You can arrange the pages anyway you want, but I went with an all askew look for mine.

SUPER CRAFTER TIP: Once you're done with attaching all of the collage pages, add additional coats of the adhesive mixture to help firmly secure the pages and to give the collages a nice, glossy glow.

I let the canvases dry overnight.


While I was waiting for the canvases to dry I worked on the silhouettes. I decided to go with an owl and a squirrel, but because the size of my canvases are so large I knew that I wouldn't be able to print out a photo large enough to create a silhouette. Also, I wanted to have a more stylized look to my silhouettes, so I decided to find photos for reference online and then sketch out what I wanted.


I then use tracing paper to transfer the sketch from the sketch pad to some cardboard. Once the sketch was transferred I cut the silhouette out of the cardboard to create a stencil.


I also made a stencil of some leaves in three different sizes.


Next, I went to bed, slept for about six to eight hours, got up, and had a bowl of granola cereal with some almonds and raisins.

By the time I finished my cereal the canvases were dry and ready to be drawn on.

I determined the center of the canvas and placed the center of the stencil on the canvas center (this was done by eyeballing, no complicated marks or arithmetic.) Then I traced the stencil with a pencil.

I then used a Sanford King Size maker to fill in the penciled stencil. Once the first layer was dry, I filled in again with the marker to make sure that the color was solid and even.

Once both stencils were done, I laid out the borders for the leaves.

You can barely see it, but that is a pencil line beneath the owl's tail.

Next I placed the leaf stencil in random directions along the border.

I outline the leaves...

and then filled them in.


And here is the squirrel canvas with the completed leaf border!



SUPER CRAFTER TIP: It looks really cool to wrap the leaves over the edge of the canvas.

WELL! There's the first stay-cation summer project. I'll post another photo of them when I hang them in the hallway. Don't be afraid to try it yourself and if you have any question, hints, or tips, please do not hesitate to post them in the comments below.

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