Sunday, February 23, 2014

oh darling, let's be adventurers canvas art [reverse stenciling technique]

Long time, no blog. 

You know, I deem myself creative and try to live my life accordingly. My lifestyle and work all focus on creativity, and I enjoy that. With that in mind, after a long work day, I lately haven't felt like I've had the energy to do a project for myself. On top of that, having a puppy who is now slowly growing into a dog, occupies a lot of my time and attention. [In fact, she's sleeping on my lap now as I type.]

After a very long but amazing work trip away, I came home craving projects. We started painting and decorating our apartment when we moved in last June, but when Sophie arrived in August, we kind of halted everything. She teethed and was potty training and we didn't want anything new. 

I am so very happy to report we bought a new rug and curtains, and I was finally inspired to create something new. 

A month or two ago Jacob stumbled upon a link on his Facebook news feed of a photoshoot featuring an older couple doing an "Up" themed shoot for their anniversary. One photo was so moving -- the older gentleman was holding a large jug of coins with the quote "oh darling, let's be adventurers" on it. 

I didn't initially know how I wanted to use that quote, but I knew I had to. Our life is more about the adventurers than about the things.

I ultimately decided on doing a piece of canvas art and I wanted to try my hand at reserve stenciling. I did it in kind of an unconventional way, but it totally worked for me. I first found this great decoupage paper with a map print from Michaels.  

The pack included 3 different map prints. The canvas I already had in my craft stash was larger than the print, but I made it work anyways. I centered the map on the canvas and applied mod podge underneath to seal it down. My paper did not lay completely flat -- there were creases. I went with that look. If that is something you want to avoid, I'd just do the mod podge in sections. Cover a small section in the mod podge, lay it down, smooth it out, and then move onto the next section and repeat.

In all the attempts of reserve stenciling I've seen, most people do it with vinyl lettering -- either bought or they use their Cricuts to create it. I did not have the Cricut option, so off to Michael's I went. I actually couldn't initially find vinyl letters. I walked up and down the aisles and instead ended up in the scrapbooking aisle full with alphabet letters. I found a few that where thicker, which I thought would be easier to pull off. A few were foam, which worked out wonderfully. 

Reverse stenciling works in the way that whatever you lay down first will be the print of your letters. After the map went down, I placed my phrase where I wanted it. 

I then painted two coats of brown acrylic paint. I used the brushes I had on hand, with a smaller one around the letters to get into all the nooks. When the paint was dry, I slowly started peeling up the letters. The foam style letters worked the best. They were easy to pull up and they didn't affect the paper underneath. For the cursive "bubble" letters I used, I used my craft exacto knife to begin prying the letter up, and then pulling it up the rest of the way.

I loved the look! I took a small brush to clean up the edges of the letters, which was a quick adjustment. The canvas needed something else though. Because the map paper didn't cover the entire canvas, you could see the transition from paper to canvas. I took one of the other maps and cut 2 inch strips to the top and bottom to cover that visual no-no. I think it really helped pull the look together and helped bring out the map in the letters.

I really love how it turned out! The visual aspect matches up with how the phrase makes me feel. I smile every time I look at it. We've added it to our wall, which I'm now inspired to fill up. Let the projects begin!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year in Review

Snow is falling now as I write this. The kind of snow that is light and fluffy. Sparkles as it falls. Magical snow. The snow that helps make you believe that everything can change in the turn of a day (or a year really) if you'd like it to.

This year was a good one. A lot of milestones met, dreams made, wishes granted. Here's a quick recap:

Jacob turned 24 and we did a brewery tour at Goose Island. (January 27)

I worked my first conference for work in Boca Raton. We ended all the hard work with a little Mardi Gras fun. (early February)

Jacob and I did little Valentine's Day celebrations for each other. My little Valentine's Day countdown themed gifts can be found here. (early February)

We ice skated under the Bean. (February)

We had lovey visitors who helped us celebrate our first very green St. Patty's Day in the city. (March 17)

I started my hand at running. The beginning was really rough. At least I had the views. (April)

We ate. And drank. A lot. (All. The. Time.)

We celebrated our third anniversary doing what we did the night he asked me to be mine...ride the ferris wheel on Navy Pier. (May 16)

Jacob and I moved from our first Chicago apartment into one that was dog-friendly. Good thing we have nice friends to help us! (June)

I crafted and decorated and painted a lot at the beginning of our move in. (June)

I laughed, a lot. My hair also blew around, a lot. It is the Windy City afterall. (Summer)

We had a lot of summer fun. Architectural boat ride, Cubs game, Beer Fest, seeing Russel Brand (for free!) with the Just for Laughs comedy tour. (Summer)


I celebrated my pride with my best work pal. And rocked some awesome eyes. (June)

I worked my second conference for work --- in Maui! I worked hard, saw beautiful sunsets, and experienced a lot of fun with Jacob on vacation afterwards. We crossed off "ride a helicopter" from the bucket list. (July)

I turned 25. I made a list of 25 things I wanted to do while I was 25. I'm working on it. (August 17)


We welcomed Sophie into our lives. It hasn't been the same since. (August)

I chopped off 13 inches of my hair to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. My story of the chop is here. (September)

Celebrated Oktoberfest---a few times.

I made this pumpkin loaf with cream cheese swirl and put it on the blog. This has been one of my most popular posts this year. (October)

We went to the House of Blues (yeah Mummies!) and did our first Out of the Darkness walk, which was really important to us. (October)

We took our first trip home in 6 months, with the dog tagging along. I think she enjoyed herself. (November)

We saw Wicked and Elf, enjoyed time with friends and family, and holiday tea during the Christmas season. (December)

Most importantly, there was lots and lots of love.

No matter the hardships, stressful moments, or sticky situations, I will always find the happy. May 2014 be filled with lots and lots of that. <3