Oct 162012

So, this morning I woke up in a crafty mood. This happens every so often, usually after I’ve followed a link to my blog in Statcounter, which leads me down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. However, this time around Family Fun magazine was the culprit. This is one of my very favorite magazines (I got a 3-year subscription for only $10! A major bargain) because I often find cute project ideas that I can use as inspiration for my own creativity. Last night I was up WAY too late reading the October issue, but I’m so glad because I found a simple keepsake idea that I remember from when I was in elementary school – portrait-style silhouettes. I still have mine, though at that time, before the days of personal computers, it was made by my 2nd-grade teacher, using an overhead projector.

I’ve had a stash of simple wood picture frames that I’ve been meaning to paint all summer, and I thought this project would be a perfect use for them. Today was clear, calm and around 65 degrees – perfect painting weather – so I cleaned the frames and set them up outside on a big piece of flat cardboard.

I surveyed our stash of spray paint in my husband’s shop, and found that all of our cans of black (our most often used color) paint were clogged up, or nearly empty. So, DJ and I made a quick trip to the local hardware store for a new can, and I also stopped at the dollar store for some black poster board.

While DJ rode his Big Wheel around the driveway, I got to work painting. The key to successful spray painting is to use sweeping strokes, and don’t hold the paint can too close to whatever it is you’re painting. Just give the object several very light coats until completely covered. Each coat takes about 10-15 minutes to dry, so between coats DJ and I explored the yard, and we also watched a beetle meander across the driveway.

Here are the frames after 2 coats:

After 4 coats, they were a beautiful glossy black. I left them in the sun to dry very thoroughly (also very important!) while I worked on the rest of my project.

Family Fun suggested gluing a piece of fabric to the frame backing, and mounting your silhouette on it. This is a great idea except I don’t sew, so I have no fabric on hand, and the nearest fabric store is 20 minutes away, so this is where the black poster board came in. I cut a piece to fit each of my newly-painted, 11×14 frames, and then I cut pieces of 12×12 patterned scrapbook paper down to 9×12, using my paper trimmer. This left a 2-inch border between the solid black outer mat, and the patterned inner mat. I then followed the Family Fun instructions, and photographed DJ from the side. Using Windows Live Photo Gallery (a free download!) I turned the photo to black and white, printed it as a full-page 8 1/2 x 11 photo, and then cut it out.

My original photo before cutting

I traced it onto black card stock, and carefully cut out the silhouette again,

then glued it to the patterned paper.

I later trimmed his silhouette a bit, because DJ was wearing a bulky PJ shirt with a collar, and it made him look too barrel-chested.

When the girls came home from school I took their pictures and repeated this process,  and when my painted frames were completely dry, I washed and replaced the glass, and grouped all the silhouettes on my kitchen wall where we can look at them during our family meals.

I just love their simple, vintage appeal, and there’s nothing better than creating a beautiful, unique keepsake on a teeny-tiny budget. The cost for this project: $3.00

$2.00 for approximately half a can of gloss black spray paint (I can use the other half for more painting projects!)
$1.00 for 2 pieces of black poster board.

I bought the frames years ago at a garage sale (50 cents each – until recently, they were used for family photographs), and I had the scrapbook paper, glue, and card stock on hand.

I have one more frame, newly painted and waiting for another project I’ve been meaning to do, but that will have to wait until next week, because I have a lot of eBay auctions to get listed this week. So for now, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy looking at the cute little faces of my kids in silhouette. Thanks to Family Fun for reminding me, once again, how easy and fun it can be to create something special.