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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Switch Plate Debacle ~ and How to Fix it!

If you've ever visited our blog, you know that we're usually into painting furniture, like our Gray and Coral Chevron Desk. However, due to our house remodel, I've had the opportunity to reintroduce myself to the fun of painting other surfaces.

Paint or Replace?

Have you ever pushed and strained to get a project done? The final nail is driven. You lay down your hammer, take a breath and wipe the sweat from your forehead. Phew!

Then - HORROR! One of the little details you've wrestled with for months looks terrible to your eye. You decide that maybe you're just too close to the project. Maybe you're just being too critical. Maybe it's just you. Then, your DH, who usually seems a little too happy to leave all those details to you, says, "Hey, do you think those switch covers look a little bad?"


I had just invested time, money...oh, did I mention money (?) in choosing just the right covers. Our last house was built in 1930.  Electricity was a luxury, so the outlets were very sparse.  Replacing them was no big deal. But, in this house, there is at least one outlet on every wall. There are so many switches that we still haven't figured out what some of them are for! Needless to say, replacing the plastic covers for so many switches and outlets was no little feat. And THEN, to have DH notice??

I did replace the ones in the kitchen with antique pewter plates. But now, all of the plates in the adjoining dining area were antique brass. I wouldn't have minded, but the rooms are completely opened up to one another and there are four covers that are less than twelve inches from each other. Ugh! Details!!

I really like the look of the antique pewter with the new tile backsplash.

How to change antique brass to antique pewter?

Frugality wins!

If you've read any of my posts, I'm all about being frugal. And I don't think there's anything that I wouldn't try to paint. Soooooo...what about taking those now mismatched covers and changing their looks? Give 'em a fake tan. Plaster a little barn paint on 'em. Spiff 'em up!

Here goes!  Knowing what I do about paint, I decided that switch plate covers aren't going to get a lot of wear and tear. For that fact, I decided that I wouldn't even prime them.

The Process

The first thing to do was to change the base color.  I grabbed a can of silver spray paint from another project lined up all these little critters and sprayed! The first coat was the Brilliant Silver.

The second coat? I lightly sprayed over the silver with the Krylon. It's a satin indoor metallic called Nickle.

The last spray paint I used was the Rustoleum Hammered Bronze. I held the can so that the nozzle of the can was parallel to the switch cover. Spraying very lightly, the paint landed only on the high spots of the covers.

After the three colors were applied.

See all the little carved out areas? I knew that I wanted to bring attention to them. I mixed up a little black craft paint and water to an inky consistency.

I painted the entire surface of the cover with this paint and then, using paper towels, wiped back most of the black. This leaves the black in the cracks and crevices, and dulls the silver just a touch.

Here is a close up of the antiquing phase. Picture #1 is the cover with the basecoat of spraypaint
Picture #2 - inky black craft paint wash
Picture #3 - Wiped back 

Although the difference between #1 and #3 are subtle, it really does make a big difference! It brings out all the little details and really shows the textures in the cover! And I LOVE textures!

I know, I seems like a LOT of steps to get from the first cover to the last. I just couldn't justify spending more money on covers when I had a style a liked. The color just needed changed. I think the experiment was a success!

The last step was to give a couple of quick coats of satin polyurethane spray to each cover. Overall, this project took about 2 hours, not including drying time. So, for 2 hours, I save my family a whole lot of cash! That's NICE!

Here is a quick view of the covers from antique brass to antique pewter. 

The Result

They are a nice warm antiqued silver, which matches much better than the stark antique brass.

Hopefully, this will help you in some way. Whether it's the spray painting, the antiquing, or just realizing that if you need to change something -- try paint first. After all, it's just paint. It's not permanent. If you don't like it -- paint it again!

If you have any questions about the technique or paints I used in the transformation, please comment. I respond to every comment on my blog, cuz I love comments and I love paint!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Home With You" Knock-Off Wall Art

"Home With You" Canvas Knock Off with a Purpose

Wanna Knock Off?

Have you ever seen something and thought, "Hey, I know I can copycat that for a lot less?" Yeah, that's usually where my mind goes when I see the price-tag of something that I really like. And so it was with this little piece of art.

This was my beauty, found on a retailer's site, priced at $49.99. 

It drives me crazy to pay for something that I know I can do myself.  I always weigh the options, to see whether I think I can do it for less.  In this case, I thought I could.

The Great Cover-up

Here is the exact spot I needed to place it. Isn't this pretty? (Sarcasm intended) This is what looked you in the eye as you walked through our kitchen door. I know it's a must, but WHY must it be so visible?

I was hoping to just buy a cover-up picture, and PLOP! be done with it.  "The best laid plans..."  the panel is too long for a normal size picture to cover it up, yet to cover the length, a ready made picture would be too wide and go past the door opening. Don't you just love a challenge? (Yep, sarcasm once again intended)

The Challenge

I couldn't find the right size picture, but a canvas frame was very close. I would still need to add something, but I was going to worry about that later. After a bit a brainstorming, and a little looking, I decided I could replicate the retailer's look AND cover up my beautiful breaker box. 

I knew that I could do this using the image transfer tutorial I found on A Beautiful Mess

The first step was to find the background image. I found a clip art picture of an old map online and saved it to my computer.

I uploaded the picture into Pickmonkey -
If you haven't used Pickmonkey, it's a great online tool for any kind of pictures, collages, edits, etc. I use it for most of my editing. To use the basic package, it's free. There's also an upgraded version with more fonts, etc. It's actually very affordable; it's just that I haven't needed to use any of the upgrades.

Once the map was uploaded, I added a grunge frame that I found here -
When you add the frame, choose the overlay option in Pickmonkey.  Overlay > Your Own  Using the Overlay option makes the middle of the transparent, so that your image shows through the frame. Once the overlay is over your picture, you can resize, play with transparency, etc. I then added a Pickmonkey smudge texture. Save it! Then you can reload it in Pickmonkey without the risk of messing up your background image.

Upload again into Pickmonkey. The next challenge was the text. This was the most time consuming part of the project: getting the placement and size just right. I couldn't find the exact font used in the original artwork, but I came pretty close.  Be patient. It took some playing around, but it is really close.

The next challenge was printing the image into a 15" x 30" size. I ran across this website a while ago, but had never really used it.  I opened the website, and got started. It was very user-friendly. The only thing I had to play with were the size ratios to get as close as possible to my finished size. Once done, you can save the pages to your computer. This was very nice, because if you want to change your mind or play around, you can have various files to chose from. I think I ended up with 6 files.

I saved my file, printed off the pages, making my page margins as narrow as possible. IF YOU HAVE TEXT, MAKE SURE YOU PRINT A MIRROR IMAGE! If you don't, any text will be reversed. If I were going to do this again I would choose the "shrink image to page size" option on my printer. My straight lines were a little off on the edges of my pages, and I think that would have corrected it. Geez, this is getting a little dry, isn't it? READY FOR SOME FUN? Here it is! 

Saving money is always fun! Using a 50% off coupon, I bought a 30" x 15" canvas at a local craft store. The canvas cost me $7.00. So far, so good. I took my printed pages to the local UPS store and had them printed off on their color copier. Another $3.00 - GREAT!  

Following A Beautiful Mess' instructions, I trimmed the margins of my image and laid down my copies. Weighted down with books, I let them dry overnight. Now the magic begins! Working slowly and carefully, wet down the paper backing. The idea is to remove the paper from the copier toner, which has been "glued" to the canvas. Be patient. I work at mine until it looks done, let it dry overnight and then see if I need to remove any more paper.

I used some watered down black craft paint to further age the edges and some brown to age areas of the text.

My final canvas still wasn't quite large enough, so I created a "frame" using old palette boards, just gluing and stapling the corners. Then I screwed it onto the back of my piece.

After looking at it again, I used some black colored pencil to straighten out the letters, where my crooked pages met and add some reddish brown lines and a circle. I think I need to add some lime green to areas. And I may do some pattern stenciling to the frame. I'm still deciding on that.  Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. 

At Last

So, if you're like me and have more time than you do money, and you're all in for knock-offs and upcycles, this could be a project you'd like to replicate. So, for about $10 and some time, this is now what greets you as you come in my door. It may not be perfect, but it's definitely an improvement.

If you're like me and like to save some hard earned cash, here are a couple of other projects that I hope inspire you to dig deep, think hard and get crackin'. There is ALWAYS a way to make something your own with your own two hands!

Be inspired!

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