Friday, November 8, 2013

Puzzle Painting Tutorial

This was such fun!  I am definitely going to do more of these.

This baby shower gift was for a cousin's wife who has had a difficult pregnancy, and has endured MONTHS of bedrest in a hospital room with one window that looks out on a brick wall.  Since that doesn't leave a lot of decorate the nursery time, I made this.

Part of the idea is of connections and of using materials in the way they were intended, but with a big twist.  A single puzzle piece usually communicates nothing.  But together, in context, it has meaning.

Pictures and a tutorial after the jump.

1. I found a framed poster.  The frame is kind of rustic, which I thought my cousin would like.  

2. I took out the poster, flipped it over, and painted over the words on the back.  It became my perfectly-sized canvas.

3. I sorted four Thrift Store puzzles into piles by color.  (But I forgot to take a photo until later!)
Originally  I was going to have the background be quite pastel and faint, and was going to help the viewer see the image by outlining the shapes with a black paint pen.  (Not a Sharpie!  They smear when you apply sealant.)  So I opted for a simple image.  

 3. I painted my design.  I kept the above layout handy so I could get the proportions right, but it was still a bit nerve-racking because I had to have the sections wide enough for puzzle pieces to fit, but small enough so I could get the whole image on the "canvas."

4. Next, I made my sandwich, putting the painted picture and then the cardboard backing into the frame.

 Here you are looking at the back of the frame and the poster that is soon to be covered by the cardboard.
 5. I stapled the frame, not the cardboard.

 6. I used pliers to pull the staples half-way out of the wood.  This keeps the cardboard in place.  (I was just putting it back the way I found it, as I’d had to put staples out to get the thing apart in the first place.)

 7. Working in small sections, I glued the pieces to the poster with a mixture of PVA glue (Elmer’s) and water. This is a forgiving and imprecise combination.  Basically you want it as thick as you can while still being able to apply it with a brush.

I was glad that I had made some extra piles of “mostly orange with some green” and “mostly green with some orange.”  That was really helpful.

I also treated the puzzle pieces differently to emphasize the different areas, mostly by having the sky pieces be almost the only ones that weren’t touching.  I didn’t really have enough puzzle pieces, but I was out of Thrift Store puzzles! 
 8. I then sealed it with two coats of my beloved ModPodge.

Here is the finished piece:
And a close up which lets you see how I used some of the "mostly green with a little orange" pieces.

I hope the little baby girl likes it!  Now to get it wrapped....

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