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The Blue Suburban Skies

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm happy to report that I've finished the Penny Lane project I told you all about a few weeks ago!  It was quite the adventure, to say the least...but considering this was my first attempt at subway art, I think everything went alright in the grand-scheme of things.

This pretty-pink-project cleaned up nicely between the "before" and the "after" shots--especially when you see that this was where we started out...

Where does one find a 24x36 rectangular table-top without stealing it from a cafe?  Oh, just at the Restore for the hefty price of $1.00.

Yes, that's right...I said $1.00!

Originally, I had planned to use wooden planks, just like my inspiration piece at House of Hepworths, but how is a girl supposed to turn away from a $1.00 rectangle that's exactly the right size, and doesn't require any nails or staples to hold it together?

The only downside to my Restore find was that you just never know where things have been when you're buying at a thrift store...and so, the very first step of this entire project was a good old-fashioned cleaning!  It gave me peace-of-mind, considering this artwork is meant for a baby's nursery!

Once the surface was good and clean I began to prep it for the under-coat of paint.  This entailed a light sanding...

...another cleaning, and a few coats of primer to ensure the red surface would not show through my white paint...

I also used a little bit of drywall putty and a trowel to fill in any uneven areas on the surface, particularly where the wooden edge met against the laminate surface.  I knew my paint would just seep into these gaps if they weren't filled, which would only draw attention to that flaw in the finished product.

Once the primer was dry, I applied two coats of Rustoleum's 2xCover White Gloss spray paint and allowed each coat to thoroughly dry.

When the under-coat was finished, I started working on the process of transferring the words onto the board's surface.  For this I had a few options...I could either wing it by guessing on the letter sizes and test multiple times until I found the right fit, or I could use my handy-dandy image projector to find the right size before printing a single letter.

Hmmm...let's go with plan B!

Now, I've said this before on this blog...I'm very "high-tech" around here.  In fact, it also seems that I've become somewhat of an engineering genius!  To get the board level at the right height, I had to construct my very own version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa...except, mine just consisted of two bar-stools, a cookie sheet, some tupperware lids, and some tealight candles!


With the image projected on the wall I was able to measure the height of each word.  Then I edited my sample image by inserting it into Microsoft Power Point, cropping the image down around each letter, and resizing the image so that the height matched what I had measured form the projection.

After everything was resized, I printed my letters onto some cardstock...

...then I cut everything out, used the cardstock letters as a template to trace the letters onto some vinyl (my vinyl sheet was too big for my printer), then cut everything out again...

The easy way???  Probably not.

It didn't take me long before I was really wishing I had just invested into some additional cartridges for my Cricket...but what's-done-is-done, I guess.

I even made the mistake of first tracing the letters onto the back of the vinyl, which I don't recommend unless you only want the artwork to be readable when standing in front of a mirror!  But the good news about that is I only cut out a few letters before I put two-and-two together that P's are not supposed to look like upside-down b's.  Ha!

When everything was finally cut, I pieced the puzzle together to make sure I hadn't missed any letters along the way...

...then, I taped the letters into place on the board, using the projected image as a placement guide...

Worked like a charm!

Next, I used a Sharpie to draw markers for the placement of each letter, removed the back of the vinyl, and stuck it into place...

With this, I made sure to not cover any of the Sharpie marks with the actual vinyl because I wanted the marks to be covered when I added the pink paint.

To keep the pink paint from seeping beneath any unsealed edges of the vinyl, first I applied another coat of white gloss spray-paint...

This is supposed to seal off the edges with the base color so the secondary does not seep through...ideally, leaving crisp, clean lines when you peel away the vinyl.

Then it was finally time to add some pink!  Queue, Daddy's Little Girl...

These are just a few of those paint samples you can pick up at Ace Hardware for around $3.50 each.  I thought this color was so appropriate for this project, considering this piece was literally being made for a daddy's little girl.

At first I applied the paint with a roller, but if you look closely at this photo, you can see that it left a strange texture on the surface.  I didn't want to risk having the paint dry that way, so I took a sponge-brush to smooth out the first coat, and to apply the remaining two coats.  I don't know that it really needed three coats of paint, but I wanted to make sure the white was good-and-covered.

Now, I'm summing up this paint-coating process, so I need to throw out the reminder to allow each coat of paint to fully dry before applying the next coat.  If you don't remember why that is so important, feel free to learn from my mistakes, and read about my experience with my lamp makeover project.  

Seriously, let your paint dry!

When everything was finally dry I moved on to the part I had been dreading all along...peeling off the vinyl.  I was so terrified that the paint was going to stick to the vinyl and peel away along with it, but I used a small razor blade to catch the edge of the vinyl pieces and fortunately my fears were put to rest...

The vinyl peeled away smoothly, leaving a mostly clean edge around each letter.

I say "mostly" because you can see in this image that some of the letters still had a bit of pink paint that seeped beneath the vinyl.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it wasn't anything that a few minor touch-ups with a paintbrush couldn't handle.

Now, this wouldn't be an interesting story unless there was a bit of drama, right?  Well, it's officially time to queue some drama!

After the touch-ups were done, I gave everything another light sanding, just to smooth out the edges around the letters.  Then it was time for the clear-coat-finish.

This picture is what my beautiful project looked like as I gave it a spray of clear-coat, and blissfully thought to myself, "this project is going really well!"

duhn. duhn. dah....

Then out of the corner of my eye I saw motion. 


Yep, motion!  Cringing, curling, puckering motion!


Seriously, world?!?  

On my very last coat of clear finish?  Seriously???  I literally watched my project form it's very own version of the Grand Canyon...but only on the P and the E...

Maybe it was a sign from the project Gods that I was feeling too confident about my subway art capabilities.  I guess I needed to be humbled, put in my place, and knocked down a few.  It was like the world was reminding me that the words "this is going well" are pure poison to any project that is still in progress!

And so I got out another razor blade to clean up the damage...

To correct this puckering issue I scraped out all of the paint from the P and the E, and repainted them by hand.  Thank goodness it was only those two letters...but me being the perfectionist that I am...I couldn't stand that the P and the E were more shiny than the N, N, and the Y.  Not to mention all of the other letters on the piece.  

...and so I decided to also paint each of the letters by hand so they would all match...

Don't worry, by the time I finished painting the word Penny, I realized it would be completely crazy to repaint each letter.  Besides, the more that I hovered a paint-dripping paint brush around this project, the higher the odds were for truly ruining the project all together.

So here it is...the final project...

...and yes, I can still see it's battle wounds, but I still like it, and I hope little Penny will grow up liking it too...somewhere beneath the blue suburban skies!

Believe it or not, this project got me all gung-ho over subway art!  I've lived, I've learned, and now I know how to go about a project like this in the future--a project that could quite possibly look something like this...

Can anyone place this song?  If I were to say that Mark and I had a song, this would be it.  Let me know if you think you've got it.

Has anyone else tried out a new project lately?  Anyone working on some subway art of their own?  I like subway art because you can make it so personal.  Whether it's a song, a poem, or even the words you said in your vows, there are so many different ways to create subway art that is meaningful to you and your family.  Tell me, what words would be on your subway art?

Have a great night!


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Reader Comments (4)

Phew! That was kinda stressful to read! lol I was rootin for ya! NICE JOB finishing it up!

So true, Heather!

I seriously was about to start all over with the project once the paint crinkled...luckily my better self stepped in and stopped me!

Thanks for stopping by!

xo, Kel

February 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Even though there were hiccups along the way I think it was totally worth it. Your finished product looks amazing!

March 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTamsyn

This looks great! I've got a love affair with subway art, but still haven't pulled the trigger and done a project with it. Thanks for linking up again!

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