Friday, March 27, 2015

Thrift store Frames turned into elegant artwork

Yesterday I shared with you guys my revamped collage wall.  I was determined to make my collage wall really special and was trolling the internet for some fresh ideas for art.  While browsing Pinterest recently, I stumbled upon some gorgeous images of gold leaf art that left me drooling.  Like this one:

Find it here.

I decided it would cheaper and more fun to make my own version of this abstract art.  So I put on my crafty pants (the ones covered in paint) and started brainstorming.  I headed to Goodwill (home of never ending bargains and eternal sunshine) where I found these beauties:
They were exactly the size I had in mind and were in great condition.  Plus, they were only $6 each! For frames this size, you just cant beat it.

Then I hopped on over to Hobby Lobby for the supplies I needed.
 If you buy this pack, it works very well considering how inexpensive it is.  But beware the brushes with the brown bristles.  They shed and leave lovely little brush hairs in your art.

 I already owned all of these paints from this project except for the Grey Sky.

I dropped about $37 on all these supplies and then when I got home I realized I forgot to give them my 40% off one regularly priced item coupon (which I would have used on the metal spray sealer, as it was the most expensive item at $8.99).  Oh, and I realized I needed two poster boards (I'd only bought one) so I had to make an impromptu stop at Walgreens.  What can I say?  I'm an immensely organized planner. 

LiveLoveDIY's guide is pretty much spot on (as is her entire blog really), so I used it to get some ideas. There are a few variations in how I made mine, mostly because I wasn't using a canvas.  Here's the breakdown of how I made mine:

Remove glass from thrift store frame, and trace it out on poster board so you have a guideline for the size of your artwork.

Apply glue to the areas you want to add the gold/silver leaf.  
Bonus Tip #1: Use a craft brush to spread the glue before putting the gold leaf on top.  The sheets are so thin, that the glue lines will show through if you don't spread the glue evenly.
Bonus Tip #2:  The glue dries fast, so work in small areas.

Using a different and clean craft brush, gently apply the gold leaf to the area with glue.  It tears super easily, so I found applying it with a brush to be easier, although you can use your hands if you want.

Before I started, I mapped out a general idea of where I wanted the gold leaf to go.  For the most part I stuck with my plan, but I wanted it to look organic and abstract, so I wasn't exacting in how it turned out.  You'll notice in some spots the gold leaf looks smooth, and in other spots it looks creased and wrinkled.  This was intentional, but you can't certainly do it either way.  I personally like the imperfection of it.

Then I added some silver leaf flakes. I found the silver flakes much more difficult to work with than the sheets.  I really wasn't happy with how the silver was looking at this point.  I thought it looked just like a big silver blob in the middle of my beautiful shiny gold.  To break up the blobness of it, I added some more gold inside the silver, and was much happier with it. (Blobness is a fun word.)
SIDE NOTE:  When I made the art for the second frame, I didn't have as hard of a time working with the flakes as I did the first go round.  I think I was mostly being impatient the first time.  Having said that,  I still prefer the sheets, but I think they are both good products, and it is just a personal preference thing. 

Once the glue has dried, gently brush off any of the excess gold/silver leaf using a craft brush. 

Then I started painting:
This was my favorite part.  I had a lot of fun painting and mixing the colors until I came up with the tones and hues I wanted.  I was really getting in touch with my creative side, holding an imaginary pallet with one of those little holes for your thumb and thinking in a French accent. 
I have the mind of a child sometimes. 
But seriously, I am very proud of how it turned out.  It is serene, like a misty morning :)  

SIDE NOTE:  If you read Virginia's tutorial at LiveLoveDIY, you'll notice that she used modelling paste before she painted, to give her art some texture.  I think this is an amazing idea, and really gives her art some added depth and gorgeousness.  I thought about doing that to mine, but opted against it for two reasons.  1 - since my art was going behind glass (rather than on a canvas) I figured the effect might get a little lost, and 2 - I'm cheap and didn't want to spend another $12.  Having said that, if I ever do another canvas art project, I'm totally going to try the modelling paste.

All in all, I am happy with the way my art turned out.  But full disclosure, my poster board did warp from the paint.

I thought this might happen, but was still bummed when it did.  Luckily, once I framed the art you couldn't tell at all.  So, if you are particular, you may want to buy something a little sturdier than a poster board.  But, if you're cheap like me, and planning to frame it anyway, poster board will work fine.  If you aren't intending to frame it, go with a canvas.  Or if you are planning to frame it, but not put it behind glass, I'd still go with something sturdier, just to be safe.

I repeated the process for my second frame, but opted to have my brush strokes going the opposite direction.  Then I just spray painted my frames white.  

And I was done!  Here is the finished product:


By the way, do you know what this means?! It means I'm on my way to completing my couple's shower checklist.  

To read about the staircase remodel, click here.

So, have you tried working with gold leaf before?   Were you happy with the way it turned out?  Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to follow along with me on Pinterest and Instagram!

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  1. Wow Jesse! These turned out beautiful! I especially love the colors!!

    1. Thanks Luisa! They were pretty fun to make! I hope you had a great Easter weekend! :)


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