Late to the “red truck” party

Last year around the end of November, when I normally get my Christmas decorating done, I pulled out this seasonal dish towel and thought it would be a great thing to paint on one of the square canvases I had in my closet. So I photocopied the towel and then set it aside and did nothing that year. Then this year, I was cleaning up my desk and found the copy and I thought “I should really paint this, it’s cute!” And I’m only a zillion years late to the red truck party!

Have you noticed all the holiday things with red trucks? Once you start looking, it seems that they’re everywhere! Put “red truck” in the search field of Pinterest and wow. Just wow. I am a little surprised I didn’t see toilet tissue with red trucks, but I digress.

Photo collage of a seasonal dishtowel with a red truck design, and photocopies of the image used to enlarge it.

I had to enlarge the photocopy 300% to have it fit nicely on the square canvas, which was about 18″ square. (I’m sitting in my family room, writing this blog post, and I cannot be bothered to get up and measure the painting 😆) It was a little fiddly to enlarge the image on my outdated desktop printer/scanner. But I managed to get all of the image and then used my portable light table to line up the images and tape them together.

Photo collage of the image enlarged 300%

Next, I painted the blank canvas with some golden yellow chalk paint with a little brown acrylic paint mixed in. This would not be the actual background color. This was just an undercoat.

Photo collage showing the golden yellow color being painted on the canvas.

When that was all dry, I painting over the entire canvas with flat house paint I had in the basement. It is Antique White. When that top coat dried, I used some sandpaper to distress the white finish and have some of the golden yellow base coat show through.

Next, I used the “old school” transfer method I talked about in this blog post to transfer the image onto the newly painted canvas. This took some time. And during this process, it became evident that the image had become slightly distorted due to the enlarging process. I had to cut and re-tape some portions of the image to straighten them.

Photo collage showing how I transfer the design to the canvas.
In this photo collage, you can see how the white over the golden yellow turned out on the canvas.

At this point in the project, I got pretty geeked about this whole thing. I couldn’t wait to start painting.

Photo of pencil outlines of the design on the canvas.
I really wanted to get painting!
Photo showing the letter painting process on the canvas.
Instead of using a true black paint, I chose a craft paint color called Warm Black.
Photo of the red truck, all painted.
It’s all downhill from here! The truck got a little distorted in the enlarging process but I think I made it work ok.

At this point, I should tell you that I was using the black and white copy of the dishtowel to go by. I completely forgot to look at the actual dishtowel, which was in color, and could have helped me. I was looking at examples of red truck designs with these tree farm type phrases on them to get ideas for the colors for the lettering. I decided to go with this scheme shown in photo below, and then I made the colossal mistake of asking my family what they thought.

Photo of the finished canvas, but with some questionable color choice
I was pretty happy with it! For a while…

Two of the four members of my household chimed in with their opinions, which I supposed I did ask for in a round about way. In the end, I decided to tone things down a bit by changing the Farm Fresh phrase to the Warm Black color rather than the green. I’m glad I did.

Photo of the finished Farm Fresh Christmas tree sign.
Yay!

I’m really glad I did this project this year. I see things like this in the store and what keeps me from making the purchase is knowing I can make the thing myself, and usually without buying extra materials. I had the blank canvases from when I thought I was going to paint more. I always have some paint on hand. Most importantly, I usually have the time. And if I don’t have the time, I make it, simply by not cleaning my house or not doing laundry for a few days! It’s pretty straightforward. Listen family, do you want home decor or do you want clean underwear?

(Don’t answer that…)

Thanks so much for stopping by! We are getting closer to Christmas and I have been so busy with projects, but it really makes me happy. 😀 I hope you’re doing well and feeling happy, too.

Jenny

“Wood” ya call me crazy?

I’m not sure how it is where you live, but where I live, in Minnesota, you almost cannot find a winter planter without birch logs in it. Birch trees are plentiful in Minnesota, and truth be told, I have always loved the look of a birch tree or birch bark anything. In fact, I still have a mug I bought probably 30 years ago at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. I used to drink my coffee out of it, but it isn’t the greatest drinking mug, as the lip of it isn’t quite right. It makes a great holder for my crochet hooks, though.

Anyhow, I have admired the winter planters from my neighbors’ front porches, to the local shops in my town. There’s something about the white logs against darker tones of greens, golds and reds. It’s so festive yet natural! But because I’m a bit of a cheapskate, I have refused to purchase birch logs for my own planters. You might even say I grew to hate the sight of them, because they are literally everywhere and I just couldn’t make the purchase. So I had an idea.

On the surface, my idea sounds kind of dumb, I admit it. But many times, I go with a dumb idea, and am surprised with either how good the idea was, or just how ridiculous! And I’m sure I looked, um, interesting as I dragged a huge fallen branch I found on the middle school field to my back yard where I hacked it up into manageable “planter” sized logs. I couldn’t tell you what type of tree it was, but it was not birch, maple or oak.

Photo of cut branches
Logs!

I knew I wanted to paint these logs and turn them into “birch”, but I didn’t have that amount of white craft paint, and I wasn’t ready to buy more, so I rummaged through the storage area of my basement where I knew many cans of house paint were left for us. I used interior latex flat paint in Antique White to put a nice base coat of white on the logs, then I used some craft paints in gold and brown and black to “birchify” them. I used Google to find images of birch logs as my guide, as I transformed these basic branches into something I can hopefully reuse for a few years.

Photo of branches painted white
Antique White latex paint
Photo of one branch painted to resemble a birch log
This log-painting adventure is quite therapeutic!
Photo of several branches painted to resemble birch logs
They might be a bit too gold here.
Another photo of logs painted to resemble birch logs
Yep, I need to tone down that gold color.

I found the best way to get the black marks was to use a piece of stiff cardboard and dip the edge in my black paint, then “imprint” the black onto the log, while turning the log so the straight cardboard could make a mark on a round surface. Then I found that tapping the cardboard on the log in areas gave me some dot-dash patterns that make the logs look realistic. I also found I went a little heavy on the gold and toned it down in some areas.

I ended up with six good logs, three for each planter on my front porch. I think they look nice! I’m happy with them, and I will store them in the garage or basement in the off-season and bring them out next year. Since I painted these “free” logs with supplies I had on hand, my investment was my time, and not my money. The birch logs sell for about $4.99 each. That would’ve been $30 for my two planters. Instead, I purchased these pre-bundled greenery packs at Home Depot for my planters. Last year, I literally went around my yard and trimmed pieces off some evergreens and also some arborvitae.

Photo of a Christmas planter with greenery, pine cones, red berries and my painted birch logs.
Ta-da!! One of my two finished planters.

Thanks for stopping by! I have another big project to write about so stay tuned! For now, I have to get to bed. I am making all my Christmas cards by hand this year, so I plan on getting an early start tomorrow.

Jenny

Some Christmas Crafting!

(I get no revenue from any products I mention. I simply mention products and stores to let you know where I got something and what it is.)

Hello again! This might be a record, me writing another post in less than three months from the last time…

So, I had this nice board laying around for literally 4 or 5 years. It was on clearance from some store, likely Joann’s or Michaels. It’s a nice piece of pine, super smooth, three feet by six inches. And for some reason, my younger son used it to write (in black marker) that “Targets were 3 shillings.” Confused yet?

It’s because back in Illinois in middle school, his grade had this Patriot’s Day or something where the kids had jobs back in colonial times, and they had to dress up and stuff. Jack dressed up in this outfit I transformed for him, and we made some fake foam core board rifles that were also for “sale” at his stall. All I remember from this exercise was I did most of the work, the fake rifles were cool as heck, and he came down with the stomach flu the next day. Ah, memories…

But I digress. I kept this board, and just the other day, I saw it in the storage area of my basement and decided it was the perfect size and dimension for some sort of sign for the space above my kitchen windows. I was going to have it say “Many have eaten here, few have died” but that seemed too wordy and a lot of work. See, I don’t have a Cricut machine or some other device to cut vinyl lettering. That would be neat, but I like to do things old school, cuz I’m old-fashioned or something.

So I started by laying on the floor of my craft room and sketching things out in pencil on the board. But then I started thinking about the edge instead and grabbed some supplies I already had to start laying out ideas for a fun border. I’m sure somewhere in the back of my brain I was thinking about what this sign would say. I thought I wanted something for the holidays.

Photo of wood and possible edging

I could picture in my head how cute this would look with lime green beads and the fuzzy pom-poms that have just a bit of sparkle to them. Next, I found an example of lettering that I had in mind and set out to sketch some letters on graph paper. Whenever I had a repeat letter, I used my light table to trace the one I already had for consistency.

Photo of wood with sketched out letters on paper
I really struggled with that “S”
Photo of my marker sketch of how I thought the final project should turn out
This is what I had in mind for the lettering and the edging.

Next, I painted the wood with two or three coats of red craft paint. While that was drying, I had two important jobs to do. One, I had to paint the beads. I had just the right amount of beads, too. I wanted to use things I already had instead of needing to purchase any supplies. The second job was to liberally apply pencil on the backs of each letter for the purpose of transferring the outline of each letter onto the board once the red paint was dry.

Photo collage of the process of painting wooden beads.
As you can see, I changed my mind about the lime green, and made a new green by mixing my lime craft paint with a more standard green.

When the red paint was thoroughly dry and I was happy with the coverage of the “18” that my son had drawn on (the other side says Targets 3 shillings and some scribbles…), it was time to transfer the lettering onto the red painted board, the old school way. I found I needed to press pretty hard to get the pencil markings to transfer onto red paint. It worked great!

Photo of transferring lettering onto red painted board
Old school method! Still works great.

Now it was time to paint the letters white. I used a tube of artists’ acrylic paint to get the maximum coverage. I didn’t have a fresh container of white craft paint and I worried I would run out. The acrylic paint was thick, but I soon got used to it and filled in the letters. The good thing about the lettering style I chose is that I knew a black paint pen was going to be used to outline all the letters, so my painting didn’t have to be spot-on perfect on the very edges of each letter.

Photo of sign with letters painting, showing one coat of paint vs two coats.
The “S” was slightly improved.

It took two coats, even though I could’ve gotten away with one. Next, it was time to use the black paint pen (Sharpie brand) and outline each letter as well as add the drop shadow. This part made me kind of nervous because paint pens generally have oil-based paint in them and I knew a boo-boo could cause a big problem for me.

Photo of me using a black paint pen to outline each painted letter.
Paint pens can sometimes malfunction and release a blob of paint. I was nervous but I just kept at it, and it did not happen…this time….
Starting to look like a Netflix sign, according to my older son! Also, can you see the slight sparkle of the white pom-poms? Fun, aren’t they?

When all my beads were nice and green and had two coats of glossy Mod Podge on them, I knew I could start gluing them and the pom-poms to the edge of the board. I want to note here that I’m totally aware that these beads can easily pop off since hot glue isn’t as strong as maybe an E-6000 or superglue, but since the sign is for my house, and I know I have to carefully store it in the off-season, I was willing to take that risk. However, I laid my beads and pom-poms out a little differently and went too fast, gluing all the pom-poms on, when I realized I was short two beads. And I looked and had no more of that size. That’s when my air-dry clay came to the rescue!

My skin is so dry and gross.

I had most of the sign completed and just needed one night for the clay beads to dry. The next morning, I was able to match the green paint color, paint the beads and give them two coats of Mod Podge. I thought about coating the entire board in the Mod Podge, but decided against it. I like how the red and white is a matte finish, and the beads and black paint pen have a slight sheen.

All finished!!

I think the sign turned out super cute, and I have yet to install it above my kitchen window. I will do that right after Thanksgiving, when I get the rest of my Christmas decor up.

I also finished up a project I started last month, which is this puffy coffee filter wreath!

I found a few different tutorials online and only needed to glance at those to determine how I was going to make this. I purchased a foam wreath form, using a coupon from Joann’s, and I purchased 300 white coffee filters from the grocery store. I have a lot of glue sticks for my gun. I had this about half done last month and got bored (typical me) but today I decided it’s getting done! And it did. And I love it!! The neat thing about this wreath is that it can be used all year round. It’s easy to use a different hanging ribbon. Some people have dyed their coffee filters first, but I was in the mood for a stark wreath.

Much fluff

Well, thanks for hanging in there for my latest crafty adventure. I had a ton of fun doing these projects, and I hope it inspired you to get crafty! Who knows, you might have a blank board laying around and some good ideas rolling around your head!

Jenny