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two projects finished so far ahead of schedule i don’t have to freak out, stay up late, or bring to the event still sticky from gluing at the last minute? i’m on a roll! don’t get used to it folks, this is most likely a fluke…

i think i am just so super excited about baby archer’s 1st birthday, and giving her awesome gifts that i couldn’t help myself any longer and dove into creating right away πŸ™‚

well, i asked ashlee if she wanted me to buy archer something, or make her something…and since crafty friends are in short supply, she said she wanted me to make something. (one day when i get motivated, and also when i can find them, i will upload pics of the present i made ashlee for her baby shower.)

since archer is only one and clearly doesn’t NEED anything, i asked what ashlee and tyler wanted for archer’s room, and she said they wanted an alphabet canvas. {lightbulb!} a while ago, when ashlee and i first reconnected after our long time apart, she asked me about some alphabet canvases i had posted on my etsy account, which i still have available by the way:

well, these were a *you know what* to make because they are the true definition of “mixed media” and had a ton of layers and elements to them and i wasn’t too excited about recreating them. i could’ve just gifted one of these already made alphabets, but then this blog post wouldn’t exist now would it? πŸ˜‰ plus, neither of these match the color scheme or “feel” of archer’s room, and i wanted to make it special and personal for the little cutie patootie.

so, speaking of color schemes, before i even started on this grandioso project, i started with a palette of course. (you don’t have to do this. the example we will be using has a variety of colors. the majority of the projects i will demonstrate leave a lot of room for artist’s choice…never feel obligated to copy me exactly, i’m simply providing a loose, easy guideline for you to follow and tweak to suit your wants and needs.)

yeah, something like that. it’s called “island play,” ahhhh. then a good old google search of “alphabet canvas” for inspiration and of course i pinned my top three favorite choices. the only problem is, ashlee is an avid follower of mine on pinterest, and quickly repinned all three of them as well…so the element of surprise went out the window, but oh well c’est la vie.

here is the “winner” that will be featured in this edition of diy art with christina (sorry it’s late and i’m a little goofy)

as you can see, i had my work cut out for me. it seems very overwhelming at the beginning, but i literally took it step by step, square by square until it was done…and here’s how i did it…

sorry i didn’t get a picture of the plain light blue canvas, but after my last post, i think we have mastered a base coat πŸ˜‰

first i gathered colored cardstock and patterned scrapbook paper in the colors of my palette (lime green, light blue, true blue, teal, grey, and i later added dark grey)

**disclaimer…please remember that i’m a reader/writer/artsy person, not a science/mathy person…this next step involves very shotty measuring techniques…attempt at your own risk**

first, i had to decide how many squares i wanted running across, and down the canvas. the example i used had 8 across, by 7 down, so that’s what i went with as well. 56 squares total…wow, i guess i can do a little math πŸ˜‰ lol. thenΒ i ROUGHLY (understatement of the year) measured the canvas to figure out how large these squares (which in fact are rectangles) should be. i believe they ended up being about 2 inches long by 1.75 inches tall, i don’t have my cheat sheet in front of me.

ok, here comes the advanced math portion of this post…again you’ll have to bear with me because i don’t have the chicken scratch to refer to; therefore, i am doing all of these crappy calculations again as i type πŸ™‚ have i mentioned how much i have started to love blogging? πŸ™‚

ok, so we already established that there are 56 squares, but we know that 26 of them have to have a letter of the alphabet on them. that leaves 30 that we are free to do whatever we choose with. now i am very ocd, so i broke those 26 lettered squares and 30 free squares into color categories. i decided that the squares that would have a letter on them should be a solid color, with a plain grey letter on it, so it would “pop” and not get lost in the details. 26 squares broken down into green, light blue, and teal = approximately 8 squares per color. i used dark grey for the remainder. the free squares were much easier, because 30 is evenly divisible by 3 color groupings. (pst, the answer is 10) these squares would be made from patterned papers and be embellished, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

after i cut the squares, i loosely placed a row across and a column down to make sure my make shift measuring system would actually work out…

lo and behold…it actually did! ok, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now, you weren’t THAT surprised were you?

now, the next steps aren’t in the best of order, but after all of the excitement from laying out squares, i just had to switch to something a little calmer to bring my heart rate back down. next, i worked on the letters. i do own a cricut, but i am not as in love with it as some people are, so i decided to go “old school” and use good old fashioned stencils to cut out my own letters.

a trick of the trade i’d like to share is to flip your stencil over and trace your image backwards…yes, backwards. this way, when you cut it out, you can turn it over and glue the side with the pencil line down. you won’t have to cut perfectly on the lines or mess with erasing.

if i only teach you one thing throughout the life of this blog, i would like to inform you of an amazing product, and that is cutter bee scissors

see how sharp those points are? these scissors are amazing and get into little tiny corners and pivot easily and really aren’t that expensive, especially with a coupon and i just can’t say enough great things about them…but they are a must for anyone that sees a future in this sort of thing! πŸ™‚

alright, so i’m not saying that this next step will be

but it is necessary, so cut out all of your letters! then you can start arranging your squares and letters on the canvas. again, i used the example to decide where the letters should go, and then just tried to fill in the gaps by alternating the colors.

as you can see, my oh so accurate math has left quite a few wholes in the larger picture…no actually i just hadn’t decided on 10 patterned papers of each color grouping yet, and had to revert to the pads to choose some more.

next, the fun, yet sometimes challenging and frustrating part…the embellishments! luckily i am a collager/papercrafter and already have an amazing stash at my fingertips…if you don’t, michael’s and joann’s have little kits, stickers, etc. available. i wanted my details to “match” the theme of the rest of the canvas. however, as i mentioned before feel free to do whatever you want. your objects don’t have to match, they can simple “coordinate” or they can even contrast…it’s really up to you…and i’m still waiting for someone to reply with their take on one of my projects…i’d really love to see what you all can do!

this is just a small example of what years of over spending, collecting, ahem hoarding ahem can amount to πŸ™‚ lol. i have tickets, tags, postage stamps, page borders, and other frilly little thingamabobs and whatchamacallits. you name it, i’ve probably got it. so it was pretty quick, easy, and exciting to pick through the goods and select a few for the birthday girl.

after you’ve selected your embellishments it’s up to you to place them in an aesthetically pleasing way. trust me there was A LOT of rearranging going on based on background color, size of item, etc. you don’t want your collage items to clash with what’s going on around them, but rather “enhance” them. the example i used literally filled every square to the brim with a design…i on the other hand am more often than not accused of adding “too much” detail and going over the top (wait, me? over the top? nooooo! lol) therefore, i decided to keep this sweet and simple, and didn’t feel the need to put something on every square, but instead left a few empty to draw the focus and attention to other portions of the layout. here’s just one photo of the scrambling process

once i got everything pretty much situated how i wanted, i knew i needed to add just a few more tiny details to the squares to make them a little more exciting, and to try to tie everything together. i am a big fan of the “stitched” look, so i took some gel pens, and drew dashed lines either around the border of the square, the letter, or the picture…trying to evenly distribute this idea throughout the overall image.

after i had all the squares finalized, i mentally prepared myself for the most annoying part…gluing. i just use a simple glue stick. the hard part is making sure the gross residue leftover from the last thing you glued, doesn’t find it’s way to the front of the next square. this step took several sessions, but i just couldn’t bring myself to glue 56 squares all at once. i think the first night i only did a row across the top, and a column down the left hand side. this was also a good way to set the parameters for the rest of the squares. i tried to keep them about 1/4 an inch apart, give or take, but obviously you know how i do math, and some artistic liberties had to be taken in a few spots πŸ™‚

ok, i guess the gluing isn’t THAT bad…it’s just very icky and time consuming. however, if you do it while your significant other is watching sports, or playing video games, or doing something else you are just not at all interested in, it becomes much more rewarding πŸ™‚ i actually finished it while watching sixteen candles for the first time ever. here is the finished product:

again, not the exact same as the example i started with, heck it’s not even really that similar…but my goal was to create an alphabet canvas, to match the room and personality of archer, and i think i achieved that. the following are just some close ups…

i know i didn’t put a final clear coat of sealer on the last canvas i posted about, but i definitely will on this one. the papers don’t like to stick to the canvas very well, so if any corners are sticking up, i will slip some of the sealant under those to make sure everything lays flat. although you may be worried about things falling off, remember this will be hanging on a wall undisturbed, so it’s really ok πŸ™‚

**end of tutorial, now onto other birthday stuff**

so, i guess the new thing companies are offering are monthly packages sent to your door, filled with 4 or 5 small samples of products. a good friend at work was telling me how she recently found birchbox which sends beauty samples like nail polish, night cream, etc. well, i stumbled upon one called bluum (http://www.bluum.com/) which offers, “deluxe wellness samples to pamper moms and babies.” the contents of the box are kept secret until everyone has received theirs. ashlee is very eco-friendly, so i figured items like organic shampoo and organic fruit snacks would be something right up her and archer’s alley. here is a sample of a previous box

i got the girls a three month subscription so they can test it out and see how they like it.

and finally, i wanted to get archer a cute outfit, because she’s a little fashionista, and i’m hoping tyler doesn’t kill me for getting his daughter this. i wanted to find something cute with a rainbow, because after all, that is the theme of her party, but i must say i was disappointed when i couldn’t find anything. i did, however, find this amazing neon green tulle skirt and a cute shirt that says, “i’m happy rain or shine” with super cute umbrellas and parasols on it. and hey, you can’t make a rainbow without a little sun and rain right? ok yeah, that’s a stretch, but it works πŸ™‚ and archer is a very happy little girl, so i think this will “fit” her perfectly. (you can tell i have been working on this post too long, because my jokes keep getting cornier as we get closer to the end, lol). the shirt says it’s for 24 months, which is literally twice her age, but it doesn’t look huge, and i figure she can tuck it into the skirt. what’s the word for when fabric is bunched up around elastic? i thought it was roused, but i guess that’s not it?? i got a gift receipt just in case!

ok, that’s more than enough for now folks. once i wrap these presents up super cute and rainbow-ish i will post more pics. and of course once we’re at the party celebrating, we will post more pics too πŸ™‚

stay tuned, because on thursday night i have to make the infamous rainbow swirl sprinkle cookies…dun dun dunnnn

until then, christina