Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Streets of Life

Ever since I came across this piece of wall decor from Pottery Barn I've wanted to make my own (since I don't want to dish out the big bucks for it). But I want it to be huge, like at least 36" x 48" huge. So, I decided to test out a smaller different version.

Now, I'm not quite sure if I came up with this idea all on my own or came across it on one of the many crafty, creative blogs I check out. Either way, I'm quite proud of it! The finished project isn't what I imagined in my head, but how often are ideas implemented exactly they way you first dream up? (Especially when I couldn't describe or draw out what was in my head!)

After a few months of mulling the project over in my head, I finally decided it was time to get down to it! I described what I could to Jesse. I wanted a sign that has the streets that we have lived on filling up the entire canvas, different sizes and directions. He was quite willing to help me out with the project. That got me even more excited. It was off to Hobby Lobby to buy the supplies we didn't have on hand (the canvas and proper paint colors).

As we were in bed one night, trying to get to sleep, we started chatting about it. We listed out the streets to use and then Jesse came up with a brilliant idea. In fact, it is now my favorite part. He said, "What if we try to make the streets into a map?" I was so excited and instantly hoped that the street names and directions of the streets would work well together.

Jesse got a pencil and paper and started testing it out. It worked out pretty easy for us since all but one of the streets (actually a dorm I lived in) are in the same town!

So the design/layout was all in Jesse's hands. I left it up to him to figure out the font and sizes of the words. He made this template in Photoshop and then I printed the words out.

Next I cut out around the words and placed them on the 16" x 20" canvas (just to be sure they fit!). I still didn't have a plan as to how I was going to get the words onto the canvas...I was just going with the flow!

Then it was time to start painting the background. We knew we didn't want it to be a solid color so I took a wide sponge 'brush' and just went crazy slapping paint around in all different directions. I also threw down a few globs of paint on the canvas to give it a bit of texture.

I let it dry overnight and then came back the next day to 'fill in' all the rest so it didn't have too much white spots and let it dry overnight (okay a few more days went by) again.

While paint was drying (or just hanging out waiting for more paint) I figured out how we would get the letters onto the canvas. I used an X-acto knife to cut out all of the letters so I had a stencil. If I were to do this again, I would use cardstock or anything thicker than paper so that the stencil would be more sturdy when painting over it. This did take quite a bit of time, but thanks to my experience at my aunt and uncle's sign shop, I was quite the pro! ;) I'm sure there are plenty of better ways out there but I couldn't come up with anything else that was free and I was so darn excited to complete our piece of art!

We placed the stencils on the canvas, stuck them down with some tape, and started dabbing paint!

This last part was the most difficult for me. It was soooooo hard to wait for the paint to dry before pulling up the paper, but Jesse restrained me. When I took the paper off, we were so happy with the end result. The letters aren't perfect, which ended up being exactly what we wanted. Makes sense now that I think about it. We didn't want the background to be solid and perfect, so why would we want the words to be that way too?

We hung the street art up in our kitchen tonight and I absolutely love it. It represents where we have been and each street name brings back all kinds of memories. And knowing there is never going to be anything exactly like it make me smile. Now it is time to tackle the huge number art canvas!


  1. hi there!
    NICE WORK!!!!!
    Stopping by from Trendy Treehouse!
    Please stop by and say hi!


  2. Very Cute!!
    I love this idea!

  3. Love it! If you didn't want to do the paint on the letters, you could use letter rub ons. I've never actually tried them on canvas and they'd probably be a little more perfect than you'd want for this, but an idea.

    And you've lived on way more streets than I have!

  4. I love this! I'd like to invite you to post it on Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage. The link will be up all week, I hope you can join in. Have a nice week, Mary :O)