I did a lot of research online trying to find just the right rug. Of course I found several that I loved, but none that were within my price range. It was then that I started to consider making my own rug. No, I didn't intend to make the rug itself, but I thought that if I could start with an inexpensive, plain rug, maybe I could add the design I wanted myself.
Ikea came through for me on my hunt for a big, plain, inexpensive rug. On my last trip there I bought two of their ERSLEV rugs, which measure about 6'x8', are 100% cotton (washable!), and only cost $40.
I knew from the get-go that I wanted a sort of quatrefoil pattern on my rug, which seems to be a very popular design element right now. I even have a pillow and an oven mitt with similar patterns on them!
This is a photo of some fabric that I found online and used Photoshop to turn it into the design for my stencil.
Here's the finished pattern with the little gaps to serve as "connectors" for when I cut out my stencil. (Be sure you measure your rug's actual width and length to determine the best size for your stencil design.)
Michaels carries plastic stencil sheets and stencil brushes in different sizes. Print out your design, then tape your printed design underneath the stencil plastic. Cut out the image using a very sharp exacto knife, being sure to keep those "connectors" in tact. I traced the outline of my design with a fine Sharpie to be sure I stayed on the edges.
I also found that Michaels had the Fabric Medium that I needed to turn my regular acrylic paint into fabric paint.
To be honest, I used mostly latex paint and a little acrylic to concoct the color I wanted, but hopefully that doesn't matter. I'm not super worried about it since my rug won't be going through the washing machine. I just wanted my paint to be soft and pliable and not stiff and cracked when it dries.
First I practiced my technique on a scrap of fabric, which turned out pretty nice.
I measured my rug and determined where the center was and made my first quatrefoil. Since my rug had a lot more texture to it than the practice fabric, it took more effort to get the paint into all the crevices, but it still worked really well.
You stencil on fabric just like you do on anything else. Pour a little paint onto the lid of your paint container, dip in your brush to saturate (but not soak) the bristles and tap off any excess onto the lid. Pounce the brush straight up and down onto the fabric until it's filled in well. This will make sure the paint stays within your stencil and doesn't creep underneath it. Remember- pounce, don't brush! Keep the stencil in place with a couple of pieces of painter's tape on the sides, and hold the stencil flat to the fabric with your fingertips where you're working.
Be careful if you're doing an all-over design to make sure your rows stay straight. Make guide marks with a water soluble pen if you need to. My rug has an obvious horizontal weave that was easy to follow, so I used that to guide my rows.
I made one row along the horizontal center and another down the vertical center of my rug and worked outwards from there.
This much stenciling took me a couple of hours on my first day. I won't tell you that this is a quick afternoon project, but I'm convinced that the outcome is worth the time and effort.
Away you go. Stencil, and stencil, and stencil...
...and stencil some more...
...until you've covered your whole rug. Then go back with a detail brush and fill in all those connector gaps.
The bottle of fabric medium says to heat set the paint with an iron for 30 seconds, but I chose to skip that step. Honestly, I felt like I'd poured quite enough time into this rug by then, thankyouverymuch.
All-in-all, I'm happy with it. It brightens the room and is a better size than my other rug.
I wish I'd been braver and used a pretty blue color instead of my muddy gray paint. (But let's not rehash my obsession with neutrals and my risk issues.)
I should have thinned out my paint more with the fabric medium because it still ended up being a little stiff when it dried, but no biggie.
Oh, and if you do mix your own color, mix A LOT. I ran out of paint with about a handful of gaps still left to fill in and had to guess when I mixed the color again. Of course batch 2 wasn't identical to batch 1, but it was close enough.
Finally, don't bother with perfection. It won't be perfect and expecting it to be will just make you nuts. So if you take on this project, embrace it's imperfections, enjoy the process, and pat yourself on the back for making something custom on the cheap!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Tutorial: Hand Painted Rug
Ever since we moved into our current house, I've wanted a new rug for the front room. The one we have is nice and I still like it very much, but with its dark background color and the dark wood floors, it just seems to get lost. It also feels a little too traditional and fussy in there. You can see a peek of it in the photos below.