I could have named this post, “How to Create Let it Snow Artwork on a Shoestring Budget” because it basically cost me nothing to make. I found the frame, in a little different form, on the curb with a free sign.
Or even more appropriately I could call it, “How to have Craft Train Wreck while Creating a Let it Snow Artwork”, but that is a little wordy, isn’t it?
Found on the Curb
This is what this ‘free on the curb piece’ looked like when I found it, (dirty glass and all):
It’s hard to tell, but the medallion thing in the center is mounted back so that the space between the medallion and mat create a shadowbox like effect. Cool effect… not so cool style or color.
Living Situation Means Creativity
Since we’re living in the newly renovated basement apartment while the rest of our new house gets renovated, we have pretty much all our things, including the Christmas decorations, in storage. That leaves our basement apartment temporary home just a little bah-hum-bug feeling…
Thing is, I have so many Christmas decorations already, they’re just not at my fingertips, so I really don’t want to invest in more, just for this one year… (ok, maybe a little tiny bit here and there, but basically none 😉 )
All that to say, I thought maybe I could turn this worn out free-on-the-curb piece into a little festive something for the apartment without spending $$$… trust me, enough of that $$$ is flying out the windows for the renovation!
Before I start a project, probably like most people, I like to have a vision. Well I sort of did and sort of didn’t on this one. I envisioned a hand cut snowflake on a black background shadowbox idea. With some sort of ‘snow’ gathering and a little hand lettering on it. I wasn’t sure exactly what, I figured it’d come to me once I started…
And it did…
Just a little late, more on that later.
Step by Step
First I took the whole thing apart:
Then I painted the back board black, that’s what I’m calling the board that the medallion was mounted to:
Part of the reason I can say this didn’t cost me anything to make is because I have a lot of craft paints and found some white paper, glue and a bit of foam for the spacer. That’s all I needed for this project.
This is where things started to go wrong…
I penciled then painted on ‘let it snow’ along the bottom edge of the black painted back board. (for the font, I just simply typed it on my laptop and changed up the font until I found the style I liked. Once I had that to refer to, I could easily write in that style on the board. To see details about how I do this, you can check out this post when I made my own version of mile markers at the cottage)
While the hand lettering on the backer board was drying, I set to work on the frame.
At first, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to save the frame at all… I really didn’t care for the way it looked. But then I decided if I didn’t save the frame, I might as well as throw the whole thing away, because that was the main substance of this ‘freebie’ and this would all be for naught.
Could Paint Save it?
Maybe paint could save it.
Yes, I decided it just was trying to look too fancy… how about if I brought it down with a faux zinc look.
I started by painting the frame black.
Faux Zinc Finish
Once that was dry, I brushed on a thick coat of zinc colored paint, leaving most of the concave parts of the frame still black. This zinc paint was no near as believable zinc looking as the 2 colors I mixed together back when I made the faux zinc letters I wrote about here. (that paint was long gone though… but that look was my goal with this frame.)
After that dried, I felt like it looked just a little dull, so I pulled out the metallic silver craft paint and spread that around on the frame, thicker in some spots and thinner in others.
Let it Snow with Puffy Paint
Going back to the backer board, I started to ‘let it snow’…
Using puffy paint, I created some snowflake dots, with an accumulation on the bottom:
I wasn’t loving this look.
No Pictures for a While
Time for the Trash?
It was also around this point I quit taking pictures, not on purpose, I don’t think, (hmm?) it was now that the doubt was sinking in.. was this ‘let it snow’ artwork going to be tossed in the trash, and soon?
Adding More Puffy Paint
I tried to help it along and added more puffy paint snow on the bottom. Nope, that didn’t do it.
Adding Light Blue Highlights… then White
Then I added light blue highlights on the let it snow lettering… Oh boy, that looked a little messy, so I tried to fix it by going over the lettering with another layer of white.
How About Grey?
That didn’t look good, mostly a little worse. Since that didn’t work, I decided to do it some more… I added dark grey shadows on the bottom of the letters.
You know that creative train wreck, where I just keep heading to the tunnel of what feels like no return… just repeating the same mistakes hoping to gain a different outcome… Wait, isn’t that a sign of insanity or sheer stupidity or something, to continue making the same dumb choices and yet expect a different outcome? (I guess I could have also named this post “Life Lessons while Making a Let it Snow Piece of Sh*t… er… I mean Artwork”
Well, just what we already knew, the grey on the bottom of the lettering just added to the messy lettering job. Good grief. (I had started with a paint brush , but quickly switched to paint markers for this lettering, which typically works great. Problem was, these were medium point paint markers, which was still too thick for this small lettering)
Again, what didn’t work before was certainly worth yet another try… So I went over the letters again with some more white. Nope, as already discovered, but apparently was choosing to push to the back of my brain, that extra layer of white didn’t help and only added to the messy now almost chunked up lettering because of the layers of paint on top of each other.
Choo Choo! There’s a Trainwreck Coming…
Seriously, this ‘festive addition’ was looking like a grade school project gone wrong. (On the bright side, it looked great without my glasses. Jeesh, my eyesight is getting so bad without reading glasses!)
Ok, setting that backer board and quite thick paint on the lettering aside to dry and magically turn pretty, I moved on to the mat thinking that maybe it would nicely frame the ‘snow’. I also had a tiny hope that maybe the gap space between the backer board and the glass would somehow disguise the hideous lettering… sort of how it looked without my glasses.
The larger of the 2 mats that originally came with the artwork was the only one I was going to use, so I painted it black. I needed to use that mat in order to create the shadowbox effect with the snowflake.
And then I Realized… OOPS!
When the matte dried and I held it up to the background black backer board for a dry fit, nothing fit! Duh! The hole in the center cutout of the mat was too small for the snowflake I cut… aaaand… the ‘let it snow’ lettering along with 99% of the ‘snow accumulation’ on the bottom was all below the cutout on the mat and wouldn’t show. What in the world was I thinking when I was cutting and painting all this?
Cover it Up and Starting Over
Ok, back to the drawing board. I decided this was a good thing and I’d ditch the lettering on the backer board. In fact, I added lots more ‘snow’ and totally covered up the lettering with the puffy paint.
Once that was dry, I needed something to create the space, or shadowbox if you will, between the backer board and the top matting. I found some adhesive foam strip leftover from something in the apartment renovation, not sure what, pretty sure we don’t need it anymore, and it was the perfect size for this craft, so I stuck the sticky side down to the backer board edge:
Then to hold the top matting to it, I squiggled a bunch of glue on it.
But first, I added the hand cut paper snowflake. Obviously not the one that was too large… I re-cut a smaller snowflake. I wanted the snowflake to be lifted off the backer board a bit, not as much as the foam sides though… about half the distance. So I cut about half the thickness of foam off, then put that tiny strip of adhesive foam behind each of the 6 points of the snowflake. That gave it just enough lift to create a shadow.
Moving the Hand Lettering to Matte
I still wanted the hand lettering ‘let it snow’ but thought maybe on the corner of the matte would look better. Ok, here goes… another attempt to create a simple hand lettered look… hopefully this time around avoiding chunks.
Time to glue on the matte. To be sure it would dry nice and flat, I weighed it down to the foam with a bunch of little bottles of craft paint:
See that little shadow line created from the space between the backer board and the mat? There’s a shadow behind the snowflake, but that was really hard for me to capture in a photo.
Re-Done Lettering is Much Better
Here you can see since I didn’t totally give up on the ‘let it snow’ lettering…
I was able to write it on the edge of the mat instead.
I like that so much better.
Here’s a better shot to show the little lift the snowflake has:
Talk about a hard picture to get…
No matter where I put this finished piece of ‘let it snow’ artwork, the glass, (now clean and shiny) reflects the room in front of it.
So I just took a picture of where it sits, in the living room of our little apartment in front of the front window that overlooks the pond. Cute. It adds just a subtle Christmas decor in this temporary home carefully chasing away the bah-hum-bugs, and reminding me if I fail, try try again, but probably best to try it with a little different approach. 😉
Click here to read more about the renovating of this basement apartment or the progress on the main house.
Here are more Christmas decorating posts:
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This post is linked up at these other sites: Savvy Southern Style, My Thrift Store Addiction, My Delightsome Life, 2017 Holiday Link Party, Imparting Grace, Olives & Okra, Simply Sweet Home, Chic on a Shoestring, Funky Junk, DIY Showoff, Tatertots & Jello, Skip to my Lou, Between Naps on the Porch, Slice of Suburbia, The Scoop, Yesterday on Tuesday, My Repurposed Life, The DIY Dreamer