Personalized Hardboard Nursery Art (A Tutorial)


While I don’t have a tiny baby of my own anymore, I still have the opportunity to make things for my baby nieces, nephews and my friend’s babies.

 


I love making elaborately layered personalized nursery art pieces…..unique to each child.


The secret is the layering of paint, buttons, brads……


…stitching, tiny bows, decoupage, stamping….


….resulting in a truly unique piece of art for a special little one!


I always start out with a ready made (and matted) frame. Custom framing can be ridiculously expensive…I once asked a store to custom cut a mat for me (JUST the mat)…and they quoted me $90! So I decided to start making my little paintings to fit frames that I could buy right off the shelf!


You’ll want to use a hardboard or Gessoboard (gesso means it is pre-primed) for your painting. It won’t warp and it doesn’t have sap or woodgrain. It is also thin enough to frame under glass. You can buy it in several sizes. For the 6×8″ frame shown above I would typically use a 5×7″ piece of Gessoboard. You want there to be a small gap between your mat and painting because the painting will be “float” float framed in the middle.


For the frame I use in this example (5×7″), I had to custom cut my board to 4×6″ so it would fit.

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Cutting a custom hardboard piece:

I use larger hardboard pieces so that I can cut several pieces out and reduce waste. First, I measure the 4×6″ shape out:


Then I attach a metal ruler using small C clamps:


I use a hand skill saw……


……to carefully cut against the ruler:


Then I use a sandpaper block to fix any edges:


Starting the design:

I started with my piece of Gessoboard. This is pre-primed…..if you are just using plain hardboard then you’ll need to prime it with Gesso first. You can even add some paint to your Gesso for your background color.


I painted my background with acrylic craft paint (mixing a little Gesso in with my paint to make it more opaque for less coats):

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The easiest way to draw a design is to print out the name and use graphite transfer paper to transfer it onto the board:

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I use a piece of tracing paper to draw in my other designs……

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…..and then transfer them with graphite transfer paper too.

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Painting and decorating the piece:

First I block in the colors…

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…..these don’t have to be perfect because I’ll be outlining and adding to them:

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I outline all my letters and designs using a black paint pen.

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This is the best paint pen I’ve found: the Zig Painty Twin…it writes very smoothly….as if I was hand painting each detailed letter:

A little trick: Once your paint pen tip starts to become rough and at its end, pull it out and stick it in the other way….you’ll get paint all over your fingers, but you’ll have a new pen!

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To make the entire design more cohesive I take a decorative stencil…….

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…….and draw it into the background in several places. Then I outline it with black paint pen too.

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I add in “faux painted” stitching around many of the designs and letters:

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I begin to decorate each of the letters slightly different….here I added some white dots to mimic stars and constellations:

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I love adding sparkle paint to some of the letters and images:


Here is what the painting looks like at this stage:

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Before adding my three dimensional details, I apply a glossy acrylic varnish coat to the painting:

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Adding three dimensional details:

To add buttons, stitching and brads I use a tiny drill bit with a regular household drill. (I use either a 3/64″ or a 1/16″…..just make sure your needle will fit through the hole.) You might want to take your drill to the hardware store with you when buying the bits….some cheaper household drills can’t grip the small bit tightly.

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I set the painting on top of a box top (from a pack of sodas or a file box) so that I don’t drill into my table…..and drill each tiny hole that I need:

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I use metallic or regular DMC thread to sew around letters or to attach buttons…..

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….and tie them off tightly in the back.

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Adding these tiny details completes the painting!

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Float framing your final piece:

I take apart my frame and add a decorative piece of paper to the cardboard backing using double sided tape:

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I add adhesive spacers to the back of the mat so that it will be raised slightly from the backing (you can find these in your scrapbooking section of your craft store):

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I use a heavy duty double stick tape on the back of the hard board…..

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…..and place it directly in the center of the mat.

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The reassembled frame and finished piece!

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Perfect for a nursery wall or a shelf!

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Variations:

You can decorate a plain white backing behind the painting with stripes:


….or checks:


Decorate a plain outer frame with hand painted polka dots……


…..or use tiny cork stamps to stamp a design….


…..or a stencil to paint flourishes:


A gift they’ll treasure forever!

Visit this tutorial for more layering techniques:

Oh the places they go!

Boo loves working on her wooden U.S. map puzzle every morning when she wakes up. She’s starting to associate the states with where family members live and what each state is known for. I think her geography skills are better than mine already. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even know all of the state capitals. I thought it would be fun to start mapping out where my handmade upcycled dresses have ended up. I asked for locations on my Facebook page and for each new city I added a little miniature upcycled dress. So here it is….around the world with Lil Blue Boo:

One day when I get time maybe I’ll look through my old shipping data to see what I need to fill in. For now it gave me some new goals: New Mexico, South Dakota, South America, Italy etc. Most importantly, I’m finally learning my geography again.

New Things for Boo

I’ve talked about this before….how Boo rarely gets store-bought items….well I’m giving in a little. I’m not a shopper, I just don’t have time for it….so when I do buy new things it’s kind of newsworthy! Here are a few of my new favorite things:

Dresses by Mary at Green Goat:
Hand dyed using low impact dyes that are better for the environment, and then screen printed using non-toxic inks. Gorgeous! Perfect for our hot desert heat. A green owl……


…..and the purple hummingbird and wildflowers:



Hand-painted shoes by Jane from Snanimals:


Boo picked out the yellow dragonfly shoes….they are a size too big but she insisted on wearing them yesterday. We also have 2 green pairs featuring a Japanese doll. I love that she can put them on by herself.


Handmade doll clothes by Mel at The Melamoose Co
These are so tiny and perfect! They go in seconds so you have to keep track of uploads through her Facebook page.

Ok…I’m done shopping for a while. Back to work :)

The Thrift Store

I love taking an entire morning to hit the local thrift stores. Sorting through the racks of color-coordinated clothes is the ultimate hunt for treasure:

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After I’ve pillaged the clothing section, I spend time browsing the other parts of the store. This entire rack was dedicated to ziplock bags of unfinished projects….I felt right at home:

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Every thrift store has a large power cord section….I should remember this the next time I lose my phone charger:

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Some thrift stores are nicer than others:

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Random rug art….this was once a great idea:

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Wedding dresses (a few were ripped so badly I immediately thought: Bridezilla):

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I always get a little sad in thrift stores…..like it’s the end of the road for some….

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….kind of like a place where really old things go to die. Depressing, right?

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I hit three thrift stores yesterday. Each one in a different part of town. I spend a lot of time observing the people shopping….but I never have the guts to ask to take their photo.

A young man whipping through the store in 3 seconds flat….obviously looking for some specific electronic.

An elderly farmer waiting in line to purchase a pair of dress pants, maybe for his grandaughter’s graduation?

A young woman browsing the 99 cent intimates rack.

It’s a scene from a John Steinbeck novel. A reminder of what’s discarded, unedited and real.

Wine Cork Mementos

I have no idea when or where this tradition started, but every time our group of friends enjoy dinner together at a restaurant…..


….everyone in attendance initials the wine corks, dates them and takes one home.


Now I have got an entire drawer full of dated wine corks…..each a reminder of a special occasion and a fun night with friends. I’m still pondering what to make with them ;)

Other uses for corks: itty, bitty stamps (see previous post)

Or maybe a cork card holder decorated using a cheese shaped stamp.

Saturday LBB Gallery Share – "Found….one Godzilla"

Every Saturday morning around 7:30am….Boo and I go to Starbucks so Mr. LBB can sleep in. The same people are there every weekend and it’s fun to see familiar faces! She wore her LBB Father’s Day dress a little early because I am WAY behind on laundry:


This sign has been up since last weekend near the entrance….not sure why no one has claimed their Godzilla yet:

I received some photos of my new “Elephant Ear” style this week! My friend Lisa took this photo and a bunch of others at the famous Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. (Click here to see the rest of her photos!)


Photos from Michelle of Smackerals….the dress on the right is one of my favorites ever!


The sleeves are silk screened “mazes” that Boo and I did one weekend for a project:

Boo in a LBB horse racerback….it got HOT this week…110 degrees one day!


Oh, and when Boo isn’t wearing something I made…..she wears Dress Me. Liesbeth makes the cutest clothes! Here is Boo’s new dress….all the way from the Netherlands!


Hope you are having a great weekend!!!

Big Blue Boo

I’m close to 6 feet tall (5’11″ and 3/4″ to be exact)….so I think this outfit qualifies as “Big” Blue Boo. I made this asymmetric tunic to wear over my grungy jean cutoffs that I live in everyday. (I need a tripod obviously so that I can take photos without using my master bath mirror!) I LOVE it and was tempted to wear it 2 days in a row….have I mentioned that my closet has been empty lately? This was an emergency outfit.


Upcycled from a variety of t-shirts and some stretchy yardage….it has a cute and funky pieced look! I’m working on a maxi dress length too. I think I’ll leave the bottoms unfinished when listing them in my store so that they can be customized for length. The tricky part is finding the right t-shirt combinations that don’t end up looking like Lil Blue Boo kiddo dresses!

A Vintage Sign using Canvas (A Tutorial)

We’ve got a big blank wall in our hallway that needed some new art work…..so I made this vintage looking sign for Mr. LBB’s birthday. His great grandfather used to own a Sinclair gas station so I thought it would be a sentimental piece as well! This tutorial uses a ready made canvas which makes the final product lightweight and much easier to hang than a heavy wood or metal sign.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com

I discovered the distressing technique I use in this tutorial on accident through page layering in my art journals…it’s an easy, fool proof way to simulate aged, peeling paint:

Note: I use this technique in these following tutorials too: Distressed Folk Art Painting and How to Fake A Landscape Painting

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
First I started with a blank 24″ x 36″ canvas (actually this was an old one that I was testing some finishes on….but same difference):

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Step 1: Preparing the canvas
I used matte medium to decoupage thin sheets of newsprint (I like to recycle old phone book pages) to my canvas.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I covered the entire canvas in overlapping pieces until the top and sides were covered.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Before all the layers dried, I used a brayer to flatten any very large air bubbles. I used wax paper in between the brayer and the canvas to keep it clean.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Step 2: Creating a Stencil
I printed out my graphic/text on regular sized paper. Then I took it to Fed Ex/Kinkos and used the large copier to enlarge it to the exact width I needed (cost about $4).

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I rolled out a large piece of contact shelving paper and I used spray adhesive……

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
…….to attach the photo copy to the top of the contact paper. (Note: Do NOT apply to the paper side of the contact paper, you will be peeling this off later.)

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Step 3: Painting
Once the paper layers were completely dry, I used white gesso to cover the canvas and make it an opaque white. This prepares the surfaces for paint. Then I covered the entire surface with white spray paint as my background color. Once the paint is dry wipe the surface clean to remove any residue that may interfere with your adhesive stencil.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Next I used small detail scissors to cut out the letters from the contact paper stencil. Then I peeled of the back of the contact paper and placed it on my prepared canvas. I used paper to mask off everything except for the word “Sinclair”:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I used green spray paint to fill in the letters:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Once the “Sinclair” was dry, I masked off the rest of the sign except for the words “gasoline” which I then spray painted red:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I repeated the same process for the black dinosaur:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
The sign immediately post-spray paint:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Stenciling in this way isn’t a perfect process so I had to touch up some of the letters….but it actually adds to the “aging” of the sign. I used white gesso for the touch up.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com

Step 4: Distressing
After the entire sign was dry, I took my detail sander (I use a Black and Decker Mouse) and sanded down the entire sign. The paper starts to sand off in raised areas which gives the painting a random distressed look.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I sanded down the corners a little extra where extra aging would have taken place.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
I wiped down the entire canvas to remove excess dust from sanding.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com

Step 5: Additional Aging
I took dark brown paint and watered it down a little to make a thin glaze (I use Golden Fluid Acrylics because they thin well and are a nice glaze layer, but any paint will work).

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Spread the brown glaze layer making sure to get it into the places where the paper is showing through. The paper layer will soak this glaze up and turn a brownish color.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Take a cloth or paper towel and wipe off the excess paint as you go.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
It helps to have a good assistant:

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
A finished vintage sign! You can apply a varnish once all the layers are completely dry to protect the painting.

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com
Now I just have to hang it!

How to make a distressed vintage sign using canvas. DIY tutorial via lilblueboo.com

Visit the following tutorial too! Click the image for the post:

Subway Art Pillows: DIY Subway Sign inspired pillows via lilblueboo.com

 

Saturday LBB Gallery Share (A day late….)

Where have the last few weeks gone? I’ve been buried in my new studio sewing and silk screening like crazy. Just a few photos to sum up some recent projects:

Lots of seahorses….and beautiful photography by my friend Lisa from Ellebows:

A few blue marlins…..

Homemade silk screened plaid:


A doll sized LBB princess dress (inspired by Boo’s birthday dress)

….to match custom princess dresses:

I finished all the “Fuschia Filly” horse dresses I was working on as a limited edition offering in my Lil Blue Boo Big Cartel shop.


Each one came with a matching doll dress.

Finally got caught up on shipping:

A few days later I got some amazing photos back as kiddos received their packages….so many great photos. Check my Lil Blue Boo Facebook page for the rest.

 

I finished up a large batch of limited edition Father’s Day dresses which featured a silk screened tie and pocket protector image:


I made them in blue…..


….and pink. Making more this week since they all sold out.


A few customer appreciation photos:

Brinley in a “Gingham Gallop” Lil Blue Boo dress:

Photo courtesy of Carli Karluk

Lil Blue Boo doll dresses used for nursery decor! I think I’m going to have to borrow this idea for a studio shoot coming up!

Photo courtesy of Carli Karluk

Sophie in her Lil Blue Boo asymmetric dresses:

Photo courtesy of Mary Rodin

Non-LBB-centric photo alert: We got this amazing dress in the mail from one of my favorite upcyclers Dress Me. Liesbeth does amazing work. We are expecting another dress any day now!


And I think this would be called “Big” Blue Boo…..I made this tunic/dress to go and see Sex and the City last night with some girlfriends. Sorry for the bad photo….but iPhotoBooth is all I have available to photograph myself until my daughter learns photography. I’m working on S, M and L women’s sizes for my Big Cartel shop!


We did a 15 minute makeover of Boo’s room. No time to paint a mural as planned like the Fairy Forest mural I did for a client, but these peel and stick vinyl decals worked great from Wall Art Corner, one of my sponsors.

 

Oh, and a sneak peek of a tutorial to come this week! I’m making this for Mr. LBB’s birthday. We need some art for the hallway. Can you guess what it says?

And how about a giveaway?! I’m giving away 2 of these screen printed tees featuring a LBB starfish. All you have to do is refer someone to my Lil Blue Boo Facebook page, tell them to leave a comment saying that you sent them (leave the comment on the post announcing this giveaway). I’ll pick a random number on Tuesday night…..if someone you referred wins, you win a t-shirt too!

And don’t forget to start on your entry for the Lil Blue Boo and Dharma Trading Great Ugly Knit Upcycle! Great prizes!

 

 

New to Lil Blue Boo

New to Lil Blue Boo! Silk screened shorts! These were made out of necessity….Boo wears dresses 99% of the time but she also wears shorts underneath for the hot slide at school! No one wants a burnt bum! I couldn’t find a yoga style short I liked so I decided I needed to design my own:


I made her wear a tank top so I could get a photo of them (Graffiti shoes look familiar?)


I love mixing and matching them all!


I’ve also been working on perfecting a new sleeve style…..an extra large fluttery sleeve. Sienna thinks they look like elephant ears (maybe because we just a got an elephant shaped baby pool for her to play in)…..so that’s what we named them!


I turned 33 this week! Here I am at 3 years old….same age as Boo now….sporting vintage flutter sleeves.

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