Monday, April 1, 2013

Our little Princess

Our granddaughter, Libby, lives in a world of magic and make believe.  She loves tiaras, princess gowns, magic wands and glitter covered slippers.  She gets up in the morning, puts on her clothes and then dons a princess dress and tiara to complete the ensemble.  She goes everywhere this way and spreads smiles and magic throughout the land.  Ahhh, to be that young and confident about who you are.  Wonderful!

Last year our daughter-in-law, Lisa, sent me this cuter-than-words picture of Libby sailing down the sidewalk on her scooter wearing her tiara and gown.  They say a picture speaks a thousand words and this one sure did have a lot to say about Libby's personality.  It seemed to capture it all.  I wanted to do something with that photo and then I stumbled on this saying in a catalog.  So I tweaked the words ever so slightly and made this canvas for her.
I started out with a 12'x12' wrapped artist canvas.  (Master's Touch 100% cotton).  I mixed several colors of Tim Holtz Distress Re-inkers in the little mini-mister bottles (one dropper ink and then fill with water) and spritzed the canvas randomly.  I let the colors run together, moving the canvas back and forth.  I kind of alternately dried it and rocked it to get the effect I wanted.  Most of this method is just a happy accident.  Once the colors are dry, then I decide on elements and placement.  The background kind of sets the tone for what comes next.  If you get it dry and you decide it isn't working for the current project, you just set it aside and save it for another.  After the canvas was dry, I sprayed it with Premier Art Print Shield to protect the watercolor background as I added more layers.

Based on where my colors were, I decided some flower elements would be pretty in the corners.  I had a rose stencil in my 'bag of tricks' that I had cut out with my Silhouette for another project.  I taped the stencil on the canvas with some cheap masking tape (you want to use something without much tack so that it doesn't pick up the paint) and also taped over any areas I didn't want to stencil.  I moved the stencil several times, adding leaves and dots here and there with distress stains and a foam applicator.  I used the colors I used to paint the background to keep the look cohesive.
As you can see in this photo, I also let the colors run down the edges of the canvas when I was painting the background.  Wherever there wasn't enough color, I just spritzed some more.  I think it gives it a very finished and 'painterly' look.

I initially thought the large group of roses would go in the lower left, but once I completed the stenciling and looked at the color placement in relation to where I wanted the photo, I decided to turn the canvas.  This puts a glow around the photo and highlights the 'main attraction'.

Next came the tough job of getting my lettering on the canvas without messing up the background.  I don't know how other artists operate, but I often want to quit while I'm ahead.  But no guts, no glory - right?!  I thought the easiest way to do this without messing things up would be to cut out letters from chipboard or cardstock and then glue them on.  I tried this and didn't like the look at all.  They seemed to steal the show and that wasn't the look I was going for.  So out came the rubber stamps.  I had seen other examples where people stamped on canvas and got good results.  One person said they placed a book under the canvas for support.  I searched through all of my books (and I have many) for one the right size.  Each one I tried was either too thin for support or too large to fit.  Finally I found one - my Bible.  (Sorry to say I didn't look there first for the answer.  The story of my life, I'm afraid...)

I have several sets of alphabet stamps that I decided to mix together for a whimsical look.  If you are going to try this, you need to make sure that they are the same type and brand so that the stamps are the same thickness and will all meet the surface under the same pressure.  (If that makes any sense at all.)  Mine were, so I lined them up on a couple of acrylic blocks spelling out my phrase.  (That only took one sentence to describe but in truth it took several attempts and untold time to get them lined up and tested until I had the look I wanted.)  After testing on scrap, I inked them up with Ranger Archival ink and stamped my canvas.  Alas - the result was not pretty.  The ink was dark in some places and light in others.  Possibly due to varied pressure, possibly due to varied amounts of sealer on the surface - not sure.  But all was not lost.  I took a black gel pen and using the stamped images as my guidelines, I filled in the lettering.  There is usually a save.  Usually.  :)

Next, I needed to print and cut out my image.  I wanted the image to stand out from the canvas, so I needed to make it stable and sturdy.  I printed the image on Epson Matte Presentation Paper.  This paper is cardstock weight and prints nice, crisp photos.  After printing, I carefully cut out the photo with a tiny scissors.  My plan was to cut out the image two more times and then glue them all together for a sturdy figure.  But after the first one, I knew that I would never get them all cut the same and I wasn't totally happy with how the edges were looking - plus, I had scratched the photo with my tiny scissors.  I needed my cutting helper - my Silhouette.  I placed the one I had already cut printed side up on my scanner, placed a black piece of paper on top and then scanned the image into my computer using a black and white setting.  This way all I had was a silhouette of the image.  It was in reverse, but I could flip it in Photoshop and have a nice sharp cut-out without having to do any extractions (removing the background).  I used my selection tool to select the edges of this silhouette and then saved the selection and used it to separate Libby from the original photo and delete the background.  I saved the silhouette of Libby and the photo of Libby and opened them in my Silhouette (the cutting machine) software.  This gave me the ability to make a 'print and cut file' for printing and cutting the image multiple times with my Silhouette Cameo.  (It is much more accurate at cutting than I am.)  The first time I printed it, I used the Epson Matte Presentation Paper again.  However, after I cut it, it would not release from my cutting mat and tore in several places - something about the coating on the paper.  So I ended up printing it on Strathmore Bristol paper instead.  I then cut out just the outline (no printing) from two more sheets of white cardstock.  I inked the edges of each one with some neutral colors so that they wouldn't stand out and then glued them together with a Scotch Mega Glue Stick.  The edges need to be inked before gluing because if you have some squeeze-out the ink will not take where there is glue.  After gluing, I placed the image under some books (grabbed my Bible first this time) and let it dry. 

To highlight the tiara, I added some Studio G glitter glue and Melissa Francis glass glitter.  I used Sew Easy Fancy Floss (We R Memory Keepers) to make a tassel for the handle bar.  I thought I was going to have to make a trip to the fabric store to find something to make the gown dimensional, but I found some netting in my stash of trims.  I ironed out the wrinkles, cut it to length and finger-gathered and glued it at the waist. 

I dyed some seam tape with Distress Stain (Picked Raspberry) and Glimmer Mist (Pearl), wrinkled it, dried it, glued it to the waist and tied it in a bow.  I then fastened the figure to the canvas with some dimensional glue dots.

I felt the canvas needed just a little more magic, so I added some swirls and exhaust trails with the Studio G glitter glue.  It doesn't photograph the best, but hopefully you can get the idea.  After all, Libby spreads her magic wherever she goes.

Hope this isn't "too much information" as they say.  :)  I love to read and learn the details of how things are done but I know it's not for everyone.  As always, I thank you for visiting my blog and I would love it if you left a comment.  Happy creating!

I am linking this to:
 Inspiration Emporium - They are having a challenge to use stencils and masks in a project.


  1. this is wonderful and at first I didnt realise that you had attached the tulle to the dress on the photo - I love the verbiage and it was a lovely blog post to sit and read. Cx

  2. Thank you so much for putting all of the time into this project for my little princess Libby Grace...She will love having this keepsake. Lots of creativity and I'm sure it looks even better in person:) Another job well done:) And great info on the steps it took to complete the design:)

  3. You're very welcome. Thanks for the photo!

  4. This is a wonderful project and keepsake! Thank you so much for sharing it with us at the Inspiration Journal challenge. =)

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog, because I would have missed this! What a gorgeous treasure you have created! Love that picture and the depth you captured! Fabulous!

  6. Oh my, how darling! I just love her little dress, it's adorable!

  7. Gorgeous canvas!! Love everything about it especially how you made her dress dimensional!! Fabulous job!

    Thanks for joining us for the April Stencils and Masks Challenge at the Inspiration Emporium :)



    1. Thanks, Spike. So glad you stopped. Libby is very happy with her picture and keeps bugging her dad to get it hung on the wall. :) Always fun to have your creations treasured and appreciated.

  8. Fabulous canvas, so cute and such a lovely keepsake. Really enjoyed reading your description of the creative process - inspired and inspiring. MMx


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