Copycat Painting

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Have you spotted an image online that you would love to be able to paint? Maybe a favorite TV show or movie character for yourself or as a gift? If you are good at tracing and/or are a perfectionist, this form of painting will work for you. At least till you hone your creative skills.

Step 1:

Find an image, preferably something that is simple with definite lines/borders for tracing. I would steer clear of real images or paintings with a lot of fine details. Cartoons like this one below are the easiest to start with.

Once you have your image, expand it to the size you want on your laptop or computer screen, (if you have a printer, print away!). If you don’t have a printer, prepare to gently trace the image, never press hard against your screen! I just lay a thin paper on my laptop face and lightly trace all the lines inside and out of the image onto the sheet.

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(Here is the original image of Neiliel a.k.a Nel from Bleach)

Your trace should look like this with all the major components clearly copied.

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Step 2:

Here comes the tricky part, cutting out your traced image. The thing to remember here is to take your time, try not to skip over fingers and toes and do the best you can at keeping your cuts smooth.

Just focus on cutting out the image as a whole first. Follow the outer line. Once you do that, trace the image onto a canvas. You can use a pencil or pen depending on how you want to fix any mistakes that might occur. If you use a pen you can use white paint to cover up mistakes (assuming you are using a white canvas).

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Step 3:

Now it’s time to cut out the finer details. That means dissecting your whole image into traceable pieces. For example, I followed the line of her skull helmet, after cutting that out I traced it onto the canvas, lining it up with where it would be. I repeated this throughout the image, cutting along where her hair framed her face and tracing that, cutting out her eyes and tracing them, feet, fingers, arms etc. Till the image looked like the original traced upon the canvas. If you own an art projector you can avoid all that cutting!

Step 4:

It’s time to paint! This is the fun part, start by painting in all the base colors, don’t worry about shading. Try to stay within the lines, if you do overlap that isn’t a big deal, often you can thin the paint by drying your brush and then moving it over the line you had covered, the pen should show through and you can retrace it later.

I painted Nel piece by piece. It took two coats to cover the darker parts like her clothing and hair. After each piece was dry I then mixed a little black or brown into the paint to create a shaded hue for the wrinkles in her clothes, the shadows of her features etc. If shading doesn’t look smooth and natural, add a tiny drop of water to your mix. After that, I re-traced her lines with a thinly pointed marker.

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If you notice, the original painting added detailed shading lines to the skull helmet, I improvised by adding a darker hue and crisscrossing lines instead to create a broken cracked look to the skull, since Nel’s helmet was broken. You may need to add a touch of improvision to your image to substitute more diverse painting styles or details. In other words, the painting can be as detailed as you want it to be, you decide the stopping point.(I left out the extra details in her hair)

(My finished painting is at the top of the page)

That is how you copycat paint! if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to see your paintings! ūüėÉ

Less Is More

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The main goal of a repurposing business is to do less and reap more. You want your profit margins to increase, and your spending of time and money to decrease. Some large items will pay off, but most things (especially just starting out) will take much time and energy and won’t bring in the profit you were expecting. Granted, you could make more by setting up in some rich town but you still have to spend money in getting to that location, and extra wear and tear will happen to your items along the way. If you have enough to fill a booth at a market, there is generally a booth fee, plus you will need a truck, trailer, chairs, tables, money for gas and for buyers that need change. And you have to be prepared for those who will try and talk you down on your prices. Come to an event like this knowing what the lowest you will take is and still make a profit. I keep a list of all the expenses per item and from there figure out a price.

Before going to flea markets and craft shows you need to start off small and smart. Find things free as often as possible. Yes, that means be prepared to dig. Trash day is great, so many people throw out things that could be fixed and sold, or even just cleaned up and re-painted. Yard sales aren’t bad either if you know what to look for. Never get your items at an antique store or high-end flea market. They are most likely selling their items at the retail price. You want to try for win-win¬†scenarios and use the money to build up your business and spread your name. Also, you must strive for excellence. Having easier items to begin with, will make this goal more attainable. You can’t really screw up on painting but you could on items that involve a lot more work and detail.

Notice what sells, I started off pouring so much time into something that wasn’t selling fast. I had to discover what it was that people wanted, and what people would buy from me and reshift my efforts accordingly. I’ve sold more small items that took less time than large items that took me days. People are just more willing to buy smaller lighter items than something so big they would have to make room for it. If you are creating something big, make sure it has a function. This will increase your chances of selling something large. For example, don’t make an old door into wall art, put a bench on it and some coat hangers and you have made it functional. Turn the door into a shelf or end table and suddenly art has become something more valuable.

Just be flexible, learning to change and mould to meet the desires of your buyers. Be unique and try new things, there are a lot of people repurposing and selling antiques, do something they haven’t done. Pinterest is great starting out, you want to know what’s popular, but in the long run, you don’t want to be a copycat. You can change the style of an item and make it unique and fresh. Whatever you like online think of simple ways to add to that item, or change that item. Make it yours.

Hope this helps! God bless you and the work of your hands!

The Art of Distressing

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Many of you have probably been inside a primitive craft shop at one point or another, and have spotted furniture that was made to look worn and distressed. The fact is, the distressed “used” look is becoming quite popular. The dings and scratches add character and age to things that were new and perfect before. It’s the antiquated look that is catching people’s eye. So if you generally like to fix furniture up, you may want to drop it down the stairs a few times for good measure, because distressed wood furniture is on the rise.

I believe this love of “distressing” comes from the desire to have something unique. Something that has a story to tell. When we come across true antiques, we wonder at all the people who may have used such items. I have an old wooden school desk from the 40’s that still has gum stuck to the underside. If I really look I can spot some names etched in the wood from students who apparently didn’t find their class very interesting. Some items though, tell a more serious story, such as the Army tools and gear that carry the damage of war. Regardless of the item, every antique has seen a world many of us have not. For those who remember such times, these items are nostalgic, for those who haven’t, these items are a reminder of a legacy that shouldn’t be forgotten. A different America, and world that we live in today.

So, to the art of distressing, how do we successfully add age to items that are more modern or even somebody else’s trash? The method I use is very simple.

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First wash or dust off the item you intend to use. Here is the “before” picture of the chairs listed above. I found these at a flea market, however, I encourage you to find your items for free whenever possible, even if the items are slightly broken. After cleaning we repair any damage that affects the functionality of the chairs. I had to use wood glue on these and let them dry overnight. Once repaired make sure everything is how you want it. Test the chairs and make sure nothing was left out.

Now it’s time to paint, this step is important! Make sure to get a paint that sticks to the wood nicely and doesn’t peel. This can make the distressing step difficult as you simply want to wear down the paint, not make it peel back. Semi-gloss should be fine. You can spray or hand paint your furniture, I brushed mine on because it adds to the antique feel of the chair. Once your paint has dried it’s time to distress.

Have sanding blocks/paper ready, medium grit and look at your furniture piece. Where would distressing occur? Are there any corners or edges that would get banged up after much use? Once you have decided where to distress your item and how much you want it to look distressed, you can begin sanding. Sand till varying degrees of wood show, make your marks random and different.

When finished dust your work off and spray sealer on it. I use Rust-Oleum¬†semi-gloss clear. This will make the wood appear darker and will hide any scuffs that occur from sanding paint. For example, I noticed when sanding black paint, white spots can appear where you wore the color away, sealer has always worked to get rid of those spots for me. After that, you’re finished! Every item will be different and present different challenges, but distressing wood should be the same, it’s always easier to damage something than it is to fix it. Also, there are many ways to distress than just using sanders, I’ve heard of people dragging things behind their car, or beating them with chains. If you distress things a lot you will discover what way works best and looks best! Good luck and have fun!

The Joys of Resin

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Items you will need:

  1. Resin
  2. Molds
  3. Measuring cups/stir sticks
  4. Lamp or drink straw
  5. Covered/ventilated work surface
  6. gloves
  7. Items for mold
  8. Sandpaper/blocks
  9. Vaseline
  10. Glaze (optional)

Making bracelets out of resin was one of the first projects I started to broaden my range creatively. I was working on large antique items at the time and felt the need to have something smaller and vibrant to sell. I went to Hobby Lobby and found a plastic bracelet mold and a resin set. You want to make sure to get a decent quality of resin, as well as have mixing/measuring cups and stir sticks that are disposable. I use Alumilite Amazing Clear Casting Kit. 

You can choose any item you wish to put into your molds, as long as they are dry. If you wish to press plants or food items they must be properly dried out, otherwise, your resin may refuse to set and your items could become discolored. Once you have your items ready and workplace set-up, you can begin.

Start by lining your molds lightly with vaseline, this will make the bracelet more removable without damaging your mold. Make sure you wear your gloves once you start dealing with the resin as it could irritate your skin. When I get some on me, I immediately go and wash it off with dish soap and warm water. Follow directions on the proper mixing of the resin, however as long as you mix equal parts of both A and B bottles slowly without removing your stir stick, you should be fine, and won’t get too many bubbles.

Mixing is a slow process that can take a few minutes, the mixture should clear when it is thoroughly mixed. If some bubbles remain, don’t worry, you can attempt to pop them against the side of your mold¬†if you have large bubbles, small ones will have to rise to the surface. Once ready you may pour your resin into the mold half way so that there is room to add your items. Remember that the best side of your bracelet will be the mold set side, not the side you will have to sand, design your bracelet accordingly.

When finished adding your items, top off the mold with more resin so that the top looks smooth. From here you can put a warm light over your mold to bring any bubbles to the surface. I always use a drinking straw and blow quickly onto the mold if I see bubbles close to the surface, the carbon dioxide will make the bubbles pop. Be careful if you try this approach!

Your resin should begin to set quickly, if any items in your mold surface due to air you can push them back down into the mold with your stir stick, however, this will get harder as the resin sets. If you properly mixed your resin the setting process shouldn’t take more than a day or so. If the surface still feels tacky, give it another day to set. Sometimes I have waited up to 3 days due to either imprecise mixing or temperature changes since I make them in my garage.

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After they are set, you can bend them out of your mold and get them wet and soapy. That way you can sand them without risk of breathing in particles. Just sand the bottoms and sides till they are smooth and to your liking. Then if you wish you can seal them, I use Sculpey Gloss Glaze, it adds an extra shine and covers any scratches or imperfections. Unfortunately, some bracelets may need another layer of resin brushed on them if the imperfections are too great, such as bubbles that made holes.

I hope this helps anyone who is interested, I know there is much to learn about resin, but as a beginner, this is what I have personally found to be effective. God bless and have fun!

Hope Song Creations

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“She thought she could take the ashes and make a masterpiece, but the pieces broke in her hands, she could do nothing. But the Creator, the one who formed her and knew how to bring beauty from ashes, took the broken pieces and formed a dream. One that gave meaning to the ashes and brought forth a purpose that could never die.”

 

It’s been awhile since I have blogged. Life likes to surprise you and take you down roads you never thought you would go down. But God is always in the lead, pointing and guiding us even through the most confusing of times. He will always lead you beside still meadows if you let Him. Sometimes you have to be willing to go through the brambles and weeds to find the sweet spots. The beautiful gardens God prepares just for us. I must say I’ve gone through those thorny messy moments, many times. But this time, a dream was at the end.

It all started after trying to find a job. I worked third shift at a retail store for about a year and found the job too demanding. I hardly saw my husband, let alone prepared dinner for him. My life had become mediocre, a cycle of eating, sleeping, and working. And the pay wasn’t enough for my troubles. I left and applied at multiple places to no avail. I finally chose something I thought I would enjoy, and at the heart of it, I did. I love children, and at this job, it was my privilege to care for and teach children from infants to 5th graders. I soon realized that even here, much was required of me, and I felt trapped in that I couldn’t do anything that would have a lasting impact. You see I wanted to make a difference somewhere, I couldn’t live with spending most of my time stocking shelves or with having to run circles around a room full of kids.

It had become all work, it was draining and I found myself having to discipline more than simply loving on the kids. I really loved those kids. We had them from sun up to sun down and got to watch them grow up before our eyes. We worked long hours for very little pay and no overtime. And the kids came from many backgrounds, but most came from single parents who had to work long hours themselves. Again it became a cycle, a means to an end…..I was let go.

I had never been fired before. I had a particularly stressful week in a class of 12 two-year-olds and due to exhaustion and stress, I simply couldn’t just go with the flow anymore. I was let go because I said I couldn’t handle them on my own. I had proven myself time and time again, passing all their testing and in-class observations but in a moment of supreme stress I threw my hands in the air and that was that. And a chapter was turned in a moment. Never was it so hard to say goodbye, and partly this was because I didn’t even get to. All those kids I had come to love as if they were my own. And I had to leave their lives without a hug or explanation.¬† I am not blaming the place I worked at…every child care facility is set up in such a way because the state sets the bar high. In the past, that bar would have felt attainable, but today, with so much brokenness in families, every child needs special care and direction, the teacher to student ratios just don’t fit the demands.

I must say I cried awhile. I had planned on putting in a two weeks notice and getting to slowly say goodbye on my own time. I wanted to tell them how much I loved them and that I believed in them. I wanted to say a proper goodbye, and bless them as they entered a new year and class…as I said, life has a way of surprising you. You decide some paths and others you fall down, slipping and sliding.¬†But through the brambles, I saw a glimmer of hope and God awakened a dream that same night. I now own a business called Hope Song Creations.

I grew up loving antiques and watching all the TV shows. The past has always fascinated me, not that I wanted to go back in time but that I wanted to remember their legacies, what they fought for, the lessons learned and wisdom gained by our past relatives. Our culture today is so bent on erasing it all, but this is equally being met by those who are seeking to preserve the past. A lot of old things are being made new again, from old clothing styles to fixing up antiques and giving them new life and function in today’s society.

I started finding antiques and learning what I could do to make them functional and appealing again. I set up shop in my garage, and with each new project, I learned more and bought more tools. Never had I used anything but a hand drill. Now I use it all, grinders, circular saws, axes, hand saws, jig saws…the list goes on. But like any starting business, it’s been difficult. I must find the right avenues, take the right turns and discover what it is that people really want.

This year is winding down though, winter is rolling in and what was difficult before has doubled now. But God has a plan in all of this, and It is my joy to blog again and to share what I have learned so far. So this is the first of many more Hope Song Creation blogs, for anyone who is interested in antiques, repurposing, or starting a business. God bless you all, and never give up on your dreams!