Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Paint Chip Panel

Last year, one of the ways I celebrated Memorial Day weekend was by visiting Crafts Direct, a big craft shop near St. Cloud, Minnesota. I picked up some things that I shared with you back then, but I picked up some other supplies that are still warming the shelves in my study, just waiting for the right inspiration to strike! This year, in honor of having hoarded these materials for an entire year already, I decided it was time to use one!

I bought this 6 inch square wooden canvas. I'm really into the grain of the wood - I think its simple, but very beautiful. 

The back side isn't anything special, but I thought it would give you guys a bit of a sense of the shape. The "canvas" is at least an inch deep! 

I spent a long time wondering what I might like to make out of this panel. I began seeing the "paint chip" effect - otherwise known as ombre - everywhere. A dark color on the bottom, with lighter shades in graded order all the way to the top. I spent a while thinking that I would do something to incorporate this effect into my design, but I had no idea what color I wanted to showcase in its full range. 

Ultimately, the decision about what color to use was actually spur-of-the-moment. Despite my life long devotion to red, and to teal-turquoise-robin's egg and everything in between, I'm actually really into classic blue right now. (You can read more of my thoughts about that regarding my thermostat frame project here.) When I saw that Michaels had their craft paints on sale for $1 each, I decided it was the right time to make a decision and commit. 

These are the shades of blue I selected. The color, Dark Blue, second from the right is actually the same color I had used on the thermostat frame project, so I already had it on hand. You might be wondering why, for an ombre project, I decided to buy four different bottles of paint. Theoretically, one could buy the darkest color and simply add white to reach desired lighter shades. I'll get to that in a minute. But, for now, just know that the decision to go with blue was sealed by the fact that I was very happy with the thermostat frame and that I already had some of that paint on hand.

While I was wandering around Michaels like a doofus, I decided I also wanted to commit to the design that I would combine with the ombre effect. It had never been my plan to just use the colors. 

I had the idea that I might use stickers to mark off a quote that would show up in the bare wood once the ombre was painted on and the stickers were removed. I didn't have anything specific in mind, but while I was wandering the sticker aisle, I found these numeral stickers which were on mega-clearance. I selected 27, which is my birthday and the number of the county where I live, and the closest thing I have to a lucky number. I also picked up a package of letter stickers and spent some more time considering the possibility of using a quote. I didn't have anything in particular in mind, and I was a little nervous that the stickers wouldn't form a strong enough seal with the wood to keep the paint out, so I decided to stick with the 27.

Once the numbers were on the panel, it was time to get out the masking tape. 
I had the idea that, since I had a 6x6 panel, and four colors, that it was going to be really easy to mark off 1.5 inch sections and get rolling. When I measured the panel, I discovered it wasn't quite 6x6 and each stripe needed to be more like an inch and three eights. Grrrr! 

With these first two strips of tape applied, I got right to it! 
It was my plan to use masking tape that made me realize I couldn't just buy one dark bottle of paint and achieve the effect by adding drops of white. Each color would need the chance to dry before the next color up could be painted because the masking tape was covering part of the strip. That's not a huge deal, but I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to make the colors consistently lighter since I'd have to start over each time. That might be the right approach for someone looking for a "dip dye" effect, where the colors blend into one another. I wanted crisp lines and the masking tape made that happen. 

After the navy dried, it was time to pull the tape and get ready for dark blue. 
Notice anything different? Yeah, when I pulled up the tape that defined the top of the navy, it pulled off some of the sticker underneath it. (Aside: if you're considering making something like this, you MUST put the sticker closest to the wood and put the tape over it. Otherwise, in order to pull up the masking tape, you'll wind up pulling off the design.) The same thing happened at the top when I pulled up the tape that defined the bottom of the lightest blue. I got creative with more tape, though, and effectively covered the missing pieces. Though it's not much to look at, it worked! 

Okay, the painting is done. This photo was taken just seconds before the Moment of Truth...

Ta da! It turned out almost exactly as I'd planned. You can see a little bit of trouble at some of the edges, especially on the two. That was too bad, though I guess I can pretend I was going for that
"slightly distressed" look. I'm very, very happy with how the color gradations turned out. The lines are crisp (score!) and the colors are a really nice combo. I guess I should have done a larger piece!

Stay tuned: Next week, I'll be sharing photos of where this piece is currently hanging! 

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