Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Long Weekend for Some Abstract Art [15 & 16/366]

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We had a long weekend here (which sadly has come to a close). As you can tell from the pictures, there was some lying around as well as some art. After the IKEA and Jungle Jim's trip on Saturday, Sunday was a lay around the house, pet the dog and cat kind of day. On Monday, I helped a friend set up her new television and DVD player and then decided I needed to get a bit of art done.

I saw this pin on pinterest early last week and was dying to make something like this for my studio.



I stopped at Jo-Ann Fabrics this morning to pick up some ribbon to edge the new curtains I got at IKEA (the project I probably should have worked on but that wouldn't have been nearly as fun). As I was walking through the aisles I noticed they had all of their canvases on sale. In looking at them, I realized one of them was damaged (a small tear at the top of the canvas). I know from past experience, JoAnn's sells "damaged" goods at a significant discount if you just ask for it at the cash register. I knew the tear wouldn't matter for this project since that would be covered up by the crayons.

I grabbed the rest of my items and as I was walking toward the front, I saw the crayola aisle. The box of 96 crayons was also damaged. (Forgot to grab a photo of the damage to the canvas, but did grab this one of the crayons.
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After the discounts for the two damaged items, I have less than $10 in this project. Awesome.

After I saw the original pin on Pinterest, I searched around for a few others and found several, but none of them had a good "tutorial". In truth, this is a really simple project, but there are a few things to know before you start so I thought I'd put one together. (By the way, if you want to see the others, they are on my Arts & Crafts board which you can see if you
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A lot of folks have done some truly creative things with this art including cute "rain" portraits.

On with the tutorial.

You're going to need:

  • about 85 crayons in colors you like (for a 24 x 36 canvas)
  • a 24 x 36 canvas
  • a hot glue gun
  • a blow dryer
  • A good bit of old newspaper/cardboard/other material to protect your work area during the blow drying
  • some good music to listen to while you're blow drying (it's fun to watch the drips form, but the process is a bit slow and tedious - the music helps)
  • about two hours (and I'll admit, I had no idea it would take this long)
I started by laying out all the crayons in the order I wanted them in. This involved several deep conversations with myself like, does periwinkle go between aqua and denim or between lavender and violet. And, where in the world do you put Purple Mountain Majesty and Razzmatazz. I swear crayons were not named this well when I was a kid.

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After the crayons got placed, I experimented a little bit with whether I wanted them straight across or wavy. I liked the look of wavy as I was laying it out, but decided to stay with straight across.

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After finalizing the order and the wavy vs/ straight debate, I set up my hot glue station. You need to attach the crayons to the canvas using a line of hot glue. I just put down a line of glue long enough for two or three crayons at a time and pressed them into the glue. In total it took about 1 1/2 glue sticks (which was good - because I only had two).

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Once I thought I had everything attached, I stood the canvas up to make sure - only one crayon fell off and had to be reglued.

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A few notes/tips on gluing:

  1. I made a very conscious decision to keep the color names facing out. You might want to think about whether or not you want that or if it doesn't matter, before you start gluing. 
  2.  Also, I was so worried about keeping the ends of the crayons at the top of the canvas (where I was placing the glue) right together, I wasn't paying good attention to whether or not the tips of the crayons were straight. Mine weren't completely. This is a pretty "random" project, but if there is one thing I could have fixed, I would have taken more time with that placement and gotten all the crayons straight up and down. Not doing so means I have a few gaps where there is more white space showing through on the canvas. 
  3.  Finally, as you near the end of the canvas (if you're completely filling it with crayons like I did), do a test fit to make sure everyone will fit back on the canvas. If I hadn't done so, black would have been out of luck - and for the why on that, see number 2 above. Instead of losing black (I really wanted to start with white and end with black), sepia went on to another job (which you'll see in a moment).

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I wanted to give the hot glue a minute or two to harden up, so I decided to do a test on a piece of canvas board. You certainly don't have to do this, but even seeing the photos on Pinterest, I was still a little skeptical about how all of this was going to work. I'm glad I did this step because it let me get my blow dryer set right - and learn the importance of NOT MOVING YOUR HANDS if you don't want lots of splatters. (So if you do grab some tunes to listen to while you do this, don't get into the groove too much or you're going to spatter wax everywhere.)  You're going to get some splatters and that adds to the beauty of the project, but if you want nice, straight drips, you have to hold your hand very, very steady. So, my sepia crayon helped me out a lot, even though he didn't make the final cut. I found using my blow dryer on the hottest heat setting and the lowest air flow setting worked for me, but I think it will vary a lot by blow dryer. I keep a test canvas board I use to test paint and other stuff before I apply it to a project.  If you don't do that, you could use cardboard.

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The other thing this test allowed me to see was how much potential for splatter and drips to surrounding surfaces there would be so a great deal more protection was added to the work area. If you were doing this outside on a sunny spring day or in the garage that wouldn't matter to you as much. The other thing (in my super safety conscious mind) is I think you and anyone else actually working in the area need to stay behind the blow dryer. The wax in this doesn't get super hot, but it's still hot so be careful.

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So, the only thing left to do (after turning up the volume on your tunes a little bit - blow dryers are not quiet) is gently and steadily apply the heat from the blow dryer to the crayons. This is more exciting than watching paint dry, but it's still a slow and somewhat tedious process. To do a 24 x 36 canvas like mine it took about an hour of blow drying time.

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I didn't hang it up last night as I'm still deciding which wall it is going on in the studio, but I did grab a few more close up shots, so I'll leave you with those, as well as a couple more of the dog and the cat - who both thought blow dryer noise for an hour was a bit obnoxious.

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