Thursday, February 26, 2009

Simple silhouettes

I don't know about you, but I've been seeing a lot of silhouette art around lately. A LOT. It's very eye-catching and I've wanted to give it a try for some time. I found this image in a Pottery Barn Kids catalog and it really has some cute ideas for what you can do with silhouettes.

Luckily I tore it out of the magazine and pinned it to my bulletin board, because now I can't find this image on their website.

Anyway, here are a few more pieces that I found inspirational:

Totally smitten with this trio of children's silhouettes from this talented gal on Etsy.

Also loving her alphabet silhouette prints.

And here's a link to an adorable nursery art project that I'm definitely going to try out.

Love these silhouette sewing projects from Martha.

I could fill this entire post with inspirational sihouette images, but if you want to find your own I suggest just doing a search on Etsy for "silhouette" and be prepared to squeal!

So the other day I decided to give this artform a try. I found a photo of my kids that I thought might work and started experimenting. Here's what I came up with.

TWO silhouettes and only cutting ONCE! Wanna know how I did it? Okay, I'll show ya. (Keep in mind that there are PLENTY of paper silhouette tutorials out there, but I think this method is the least time-consuming because it doesn't involve any tracing and you only cut the paper one time to produce two silhouettes.)

Here's what you'll need:
digital camera
photo editing program (like Photoshop)
cardstock (whatever color & texture you want)
Xacto knife
cutting mat (or something to protect your cutting surface)
archival glue stick
background cardstock (again, whatever you like)

First find or take a photo of whoever or whatever you want. I chose to do my son in profile for a classic silhouette portrait.

Next, upload the image to a photo editing program. (I used Adobe Photoshop.) Begin erasing the background, coming as close to the edges of your subject as possible without getting rid of any details. I purposely erased Hakan's monstrous bedhead, but you get to decide what to keep and what to erase.

When you've gotten most of the background erased, it should look like this.

Next, change your image to "grayscale" or black and white.
Then flip the image horizontally, making it face the opposite direction that you want your final product to face. (I want my final silhouette to face the right, so I flipped the image to face left. I'll explain why later.)

Adjust your image size to whatever you want. I'm planning on putting this in an 8x10 frame with a matte for a 5x7, so I made my image about 4x6.

Print onto cardstock. (I chose a textured white cardstock, but feel free to use one that's smooth, colored, or even something that has a print.)

Take a close look at your printed image. If there are any areas where you have a hard time distinguishing your subject from the background, use a pencil to draw in a defining line. The shine of the pencil will be visible without being permanent or bleeding through your paper.

Using a very sharp Xacto knife, begin cutting around your subject.

When you're finished cutting, flip your two pieces over and tada! TWO silhouettes. (This is why you reverse your image before you print it. Once you turn the papers over your silhouettes will be facing the right direction. And the reason I erased the background was a.) to save my precious printer ink and b.) so you don't have a big grey square on the back of your paper that may show through if the areas are really dark.)

Now the hard part- choosing how to display your beautiful silhouettes! The possibilities are endless.

Here's the full sheet of paper with black cardstock behind, which creates a traditional looking silhouette portrait.

Or you could choose something a little more fun and colorful like this one.

Then of course you've got the piece that you cut out, which can also be mounted on whatever you want!

Whatever you choose to do with your cut pieces, a simple glue stick is all you need to adhere your image to its backing, though an archival adhesive is probably best.

So go nuts! I know I'm going to. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a little embroidery

I stitched up this cute little fella while on a car ride across the state earlier this month. Definitely helped keep my mind off the fact that I had to sit for 5 hours in my 8th month of pregnancy. He is a design by Andrea Zuill (who also designed the elephant in this post) and is offered on her blog as a free embroidery pattern.

I love that little face!

I've gotten much better at ironing out my finished pieces, no? :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baby's box

As I'm counting down the final weeks of my pregnancy, it's no surprise that I've got baby crafts on the brain. This weekend I noticed a memory box that I made for my son shortly after he was born. It sits on a shelf in his room and I see it everyday, but for some reason it caught my eye, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's so simple, yet very sweet and functional.

All this project takes is a wooden box (found at a craft store), acrylic paint, some decorative paper, Modge Podge (decoupage medium), and a couple of sponge brushes.

The first step is to paint your box, inside and out. Easy! Then you get to decide what will go on the box. I chose to decorate the top and sides with various cute animals cut from scrapbooking paper, but this is really where you could let your imagination run wild. Decorate with anything you find appealing- don't limit yourself to what immediately comes to mind when you think "baby".

I took some inspiration from a onesie my son had and duplicated a couple of the animals it had on it. The other animals came from somewhere online, though now I'm not sure where.

Cut out your paper images (if that's what you decide to do) and "paint" the area you'll be adhering them to with some of the Modge Podge using a sponge brush. Apply the paper pieces, carefully working out any air bubbles as you go. Then put on another coat or two of Modge Podge all over so everything is sealed and has a uniform sheen. I used a tiny hole punch and black paper to make the eyes on each animal and also chose to outline everything with a very fine Sharpie marker (this proved trickier than I expected, so go slow and try to be very steady if you do this). For his name on top I just used a die cut machine at my local craft store to punch them out for me.

Now for the fun part- filling it! I can't stand to throw away things that are from my children's earliest days, so this box became the safe and pretty way for me to store all of Hakan's little newborn treasures.
Inside you'll find a card I made of his footprints on his one week birthday, our hospital bracelets, his hospital crib cards, the newspaper clipping announcing his birth, onesie-shaped congratulations card from the ladies at church, sweet socks that he wore for his blessing, first and last binkies, one of the first pairs of felt shoes I attempted to make... ...teeny tiny hospital cap and another made by great-grandma, his hospital shirt, the tiniest newborn diaper, sonogram prints, bib from the university Hubby and I attended, and one of the birth announcements that I made.
This box contains items that I'll treasure forever, and maybe someday (if I can stand to part with it) will be able to give to Hakan when he's grown.

I really want to make another of these boxes for our newest addition. This time I'm thinking I'll go with a woodland animals theme... owl, hedgehog, squirrel, bird, deer...

Can't wait to get started!

(P.S. Even if you don't have a baby in your house to make one of these for, it would make an awesome gift for someone who's expecting or recently given birth!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day projects

My 5-year-old daughter loves to do "projects", and it's usually up to me to come up with them for her. She's very much an artist and loves to draw, write, color and paint. Recently, though, when she came to me for a project, I decided to see how she'd do with stitching. So I grabbed a scrap of canvas, a 5" embroidery hoop and some red floss. I drew a heart in the middle and then showed her how to do a basic running stitch. And off she went! She really loved it. She even woke up early from her nap that day because she was so excited to keep working on her "stitching". She only poked herself once or twice, and once she'd finished with the red outer heart she decided she wanted to add another heart inside that... and then another... and then a button! It took her a few days to finish, but once she was done she gave it to me and said I could do whatever I wanted with it.

This morning I decided to turn it into a doorknob hanger. I cut the canvas into a circle, then another from some scrap polka dot fabric. I stitched some jumbo ric rac to the edge of the canvas then sandwiched that between the two circles and sewed them together, leaving a hole for turning. After stuffing some poly fill and a little dried lavender inside I added a scrap of ribbon that matched beautifully and sewed it closed by hand. It would've been nice if I could've thought of something useful to turn her first project into, but she's pleased with what I came up with, and so am I.

This next project was done in a hurry Saturday evening before we had to go out of town at the last minute for 4 days. I was to host a preschool Valentine's Day party on Thursday but we wouldn't be getting home until Wednesday afternoon, leaving me very little time for decorating. I'd seen this idea and thought it was lovely, but didn't want to take the time to paint. So out came the felt and in an hour or so I'd made several garlands of hearts to hang around my dining room. Super duper easy, just a little time consuming with the cutting. But even that went pretty quick because all I did was cut 4" strips of felt, iron them in half and then cut half-heart shapes along the fold all along the length of the strip. I then had to iron the hearts flat, but sewing them together was a breeze. You just want to try and keep some tension on the thread when you're between hearts by pulling it gently up and away behind your machine until you've fed the next heart in to be stitched. (Did that make any sense?) Anyway, I like the effect and it didn't cost me a thing. (Too bad the photos are awful. Sorry.)

If you do this project, try different positions of the hearts along the string- all right side up; all sideways; alternating right side up and upside down; etc. I also think using white or cream would be really pretty.

Have fun and have a great Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Some things I've been doing

It's been a while since my last post, so I feel I should explain myself. My absence is mostly due to my recent lack of access to a camera lately. Mine quit on me a few weeks ago, so lately I've been depending on my husband's work camera being around and handy when I need it. More often than not, though, it's at work. Go figure.

Anyway, here are a few little projects that I've done recently and wanted to share.

These two pieces of embroidery were basically copied from a pattern found in one of my old McCall's Needleworks & Crafts magazines. Remember this post? I customized the designs a bit to suit my taste, but I basically just free handed the images onto my fabric with a water soluble marker, then went to town. The fabric I used was actually some thrifted napkins that I'd picked up but wasn't sure how I was going to use them. Turns out they were the perfect size and shape to cover some pillows for our guest room daybed.
I just sewed two of the napkins together very close to the edges, then added some twill tape for ties to keep them closed. I was disappointed to realize when I got home from buying the twill tape that it was polyester, not cotton, but decided to use it anyway. After all, how could I possibly wait to make another trip to the fabric store to see my pillow covers complete??
I love the combination of cream, linen and white on these covers. It makes them look so fresh.

I stitched up this little birdy one night while I was watching TV. I think I'll hang him in the guest room, too.
Another good TV watching stitchery for Baby. This is from Andrea Zuill's blog and is her Free Embroidery Pattern for February. Isn't it super cute? (I really gotta figure out how to press my finished pieces better. How on earth do I get those darn wrinkles out??)
And this little dude is a door stopper made using this tutorial. It's not the cutest fabric, but I wanted something that would be sturdy and not too noticeable sitting on my floor. This should come in handy, though. The door leading to our garage has self-closing hinges, so bringing in groceries is kind of a pain when the door constantly shuts itself, and I'm always a little worried that it might slam on little fingers. I wish I'd made this a bit bigger because I have to kind of wedge it under the door to keep it open, but it's better than nothing!