Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tutorial: Painting on Burlap

I have this habit of seeing something I like online or at a store and instead of buying it, I think "I'll just make that myself!  It'll be easier and cheaper!"  It's usually not easier or cheaper (why do I never consider the cost of my own TIME?), but sometimes it is fun and I end up with a fun gift for someone I like.  Or my mom because she loves everything I make.

This time I set my sights on a burlap wall hanging.  As with most things nowadays, Pinterest is to blame.  I sat down and finished the painting in about half an hour, and it only took that long because I got distracted several times by a rerun of Sherlock.  So, my first tip is to pick a show that is less distracting.

Here's what you need:
Burlap, fabric paint, a sponge brush, and stencils.  This was the pack of stencils that was on sale.  Also, the cheapest sponge brush.  Having dealt with both of them, I would suggest individual letter stencils and a flat, round sponge brush instead of what is pictured.  The paint worked wonderfully.

At this point I improvised because I realized that burlap has holes in it.  I also didn't consider that burlap frays (like insanely).  After I cut the piece out that I wanted to use, I cleaned up all the lovely, tiny pieces and used painters tape to attach the burlap to the table (so it wouldn't move while I painted).  I added a piece of cardboard underneath the burlap and marked the corners so my table wouldn't get marks if the paint bled through. Here's my extremely impromptu and ghetto set up:

The cardboard and corner markers were a great idea, and in this picture it looks like it was super helpful, but in real life I couldn't see any of it so I ended up just guessing anyway.

I painted my chosen phrase (suggested by Megan).  Because my stencils were on one sheet, I kept a damp cloth handy and wiped the stencil clean after each letter.  I also eyeballed all of it, so spacing and straight lines are "abstract" (which is a creative way of saying not even and not straight, but good enough to hang it on a wall).  I started with a beige color and it turned out pretty good:

I wanted it to have a little pop of color so I outlined "fierce" in gold with a small paint brush.

Fast forward six months and I was on to the next phase of this project.  This lovely piece of burlap sat on my desk, waiting to be framed in some way, for six months.  I occasionally picked it up to try to figure out how to finish it and eventually chose to use an embroidery hoop I inherited (with about 20 others in various sizes) from my Grandmother. While I liked the hoop, it was completely unfinished.  I decided to complete the look with some yarn (I also had this on hand) wrapped around the outside of the hoop (the one with the screw on it).  This time I watched CSI while I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped, which requires very little concentration and was not distracting at all.

Here's a close up of the finished look of the hoop:

It made a huge difference and I liked the look of the brown yarn with the burlap.  This would also be another opportunity to add a pop of color if you wanted something brighter.  I put everything together and trimmed around the hoop, leaving about two inches of burlap.  Then I folded the edges in and folded it in again (to make sure none of the frayed edges were exposed) and hot glued it to the inside hoop all the way around.

This is the best looking part of this process, as I got more and more concerned with burning my fingertips on hot glue and less and less concerned with how the back of this would look when no one would ever see the back of it.  Priorities.

And here's the finished product!

It's not perfect, but it was simple and quick (if you take out the distractions and six months of indecisiveness on my part). And now I have a bunch of burlap and plenty of fabric paint that, if we are being completely honest, will probably sit on a shelf in my closet for the foreseeable future. 

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