Monday, March 26, 2007

DIY Another Day

I am extremely susceptible to DIY projects

I am the kind of person who reads about a project in a magazine, and immediately wants to do it. Never mind actually knowing how to do it or if I having the right materials to do it or even the space in my apartment to house the finished product of said project. If it looks cute, and I like it - I must do it.

So while thumbing through this month's issue of
Blueprint magazine (which by the way I am officially obsessed with) , I came across an idea for cute DIY wall-art. A photographer in Texas whose house they were showcasing (as well they should since it was perfect), stretched bright orange fabric tightly over canvases, stapled it, and hung it on her wall to make an inexpensive but colorful statement in an otherwise mostly neutral colored room.

I thought to myself "I can do that!" and immediately began plotting what rooms could be the lucky recipients of my newfound design inspiration. The bathroom was sorely needing a little jazzing up, as were the nearly empty, sterile walls of our bedroom. So on Saturday I headed to the fabric store, armed with ambition (if not skill) and picked a yard each of two lovely fabrics. One a green and cream colored toile for the bathroom, and one a blue and white Mediterranean Tile printed upholstry fabric for our bedroom.

Next stop, Michaels, where I made the first of one (or two or three) fatal mistakes. While perusing the canvas aisle for the first time, I was struck by the high price of the canvases I need. I have done (attempted) several DIY projects in my life and my cardinal rule is that the materials I buy to Do It Myself should not cost more than the finished product I could Buy For Myself. So I settled on some cheaper canvases that come in a three-pack and was on my way.

Once home, I devised how to best go about this whole getting the fabric to stretch evenly across the canvas and staple it. It was at this point that I realized I had no stapler. "No matter", I thought, as I searched for and eventually found my bottle of Tacky Glue

Which is so named because 1) it is very sticky and 2) I make truly tacky projects with it.

So I set decided to work with the toile first and set about centering the canvas on it, wrapping the fabric around. It was at this point I realized that a canvas covered in toile looks pretty dumb. So I scrapped that project, and decided to start on my Mediterranean Tile Masterpiece. The way the tiles were rendered on the fabric, I had to use two canvases so that one row of tiles wasn't cut off in the middle. So I measured, I cut carefully, I centered, I glued furiously but with panache. I even worked on our glass coffee table so that I could crane my neck underneath and make sure it was centered while I was gluing the ends of the fabric on the back of the canvas.

Shockingly, it did not come out 100% perfect. More like 50%. The top half was perfectly centered and looked great. The bottom half was a bit crooked. And my overzealous gluing made it impossible to fix.

And so I sat there, defeated amongst my scraps of fabric with glue-covered fingers. Maybe it's not as easy as just slapping some fabric on a canvas. Maybe this woman whose house was showcased in Blueprint magazine has, gasp, MORE design skills that I do.

In the end (not wanting to completely admit defeat), I used the green toile fabric to line the shelves in the bathroom etagerie, and I used my fabric covered canvas, bent in half, to cover a stack of magazines we keep in the spare room. To my surprise, using it in this manner is actually kind of cool. I looks like a fabric covered box. A fabric covered box filled with old Playboy magazines.

How quaint.

In any case Martha Stewart I am not. We may share a last name but that's about it. But that won't stop me I am sure from opening next month's copy of Blueprint and rushing out to the craft store to try my luck again in the madcap world of DIY.


Nicky said...

Oh honey, please give me a call the next time you are inspired by a DIY project. The reason the fabric-over-canvas-project is "easy" is because these are arty types who already how to stretch canvas in the first place. You could've bought wooden stretchers for a couple bucks a piece, and just stretched the fabric over those. I have a staple gun. I know how to stretch canvas. Come over again soon and I'll show you. Unless, of course, you're "so over it" by then. LOL.

Sarah said...

that sounds like a lot more effort than i wanted to put into it. hence i am forever doomed in any DIY project designed for a skill set/attention span above that of a 6th grader.

Jenny said...

No way! You can totally stretch the fabric over a canvas -- as long as you use the right tools (ie a stapler) you'll be fine! (Tacky glue aint that great for stuff like that, but A++ for effort). If you do thatit will come out GORGE. Promise.

Oh also? Next time you decide to buy canvas - either let me pick it up or I'll give you my Blick card -- canvas is way cheaper there and with the card you get a bigger discount! (Michaels is a HUGE rip off. I am horrified at their prices). Although I'm nervous to introduce you to Blick Art Store ... you'll buy the place out!

Princess Extrordinaire said...

I give you an A for effort and hey, at least you got the nice box of Playboys covered...

Kathleen said...

I used to make these at Crate & Barrel, and at some point after a trip to Freddy Farkel's fabric store in Watertown will be doing this in my apartment. Just buying the wood canvas frames is waaaay easier, it takes about 15 minutes to assemble it and get that shizz stapled down. The large scale Marimekko prints C&B uses are better suited for it than toile, but anything will work.

Also, check out this month's ID magazine, it's the "decoration" issue and you'll love it.

Sarah said...

thanks for the tips! i will definitlely be checking it out!

Lys said...

OK - Blueprint.. I'm scared!!! *LOL* Between that and Dominos those magazines can smack a gal into decorating, much to the detriment of herself and others. A+ for effort though! You aren't watching Top Design, are you?