Monday, September 15, 2014

DIY Otomi Artwork for the Nursery

Hello again! Tonight I have the first of hopefully many baby room projects to share with y'all. I mentioned in the last post that I had started on a piece of artwork for the nursery. Well this piece has been in my mind for years actually!

It all started a while back when for some reason I was looking at baby bedding on a website called Serena and Lilly that featured embroidered animals and shapes. I thought it was so pretty and told myself that if I ever had a baby then I would make something similar for the crib bedding. Here is the bedding I am talking about:

Eventually I discovered that the design of the bedding was based on a much more colorful version of embroidery made by the Otomi tribe in Mexico. Once I saw these colorful versions, I decided THAT was what I wanted for a future nursery, not the beige and white version that I had originally seen haha. Below is an example of actual Otomi embroidery.

 The problem with these authentic embroidered pieces from Mexico is that they are quite pricey. Even with scouring Ebay and Craigslist, I couldn't find anything in the size I wanted for less than $200. Now, maybe my little bundle of joy that is on the way is worth that much money, but I like to think he'd be more happy with the fact that I saved a little money to put toward his college (or some really cute clothes for him haha). Once I decided to DIY a version of the Otomi embroidery I had to find a something to trace or use as a stencil since I did not want to have to freehand the animals and other shapes. Luckily, I stumbled across these stencils and new they would be perfect! With the stencils figured out, I just needed to buy a large canvas and a variety of acrylic paints. The canvas I chose is 36" square and is from Hobby Lobby. I used a 40% off coupon for the canvas, and all the paints were already on sale. You'll also need some contact paper for this project. The total for paint and supplies was probably around $50. I did end up also buying some Polycrylic sealer to finish the painting off, but that part isn't absolutely necessary. Now for the steps to create the painting!

The first thing to do is trace the shapes onto the contact paper and cut them out. If you're using clear contact paper, then you can just lay the printed animal stencil underneath and trace them right onto the contact paper with a maker. Cutting all these shapes takes a while, so maybe pop in a movie or start a Netflix marathon and get to work! Once you have all the shapes that you want cut out, arrange them on the canvas before peeling off the backing of the contact paper.

Once you got 'em where you want 'em, peel the backing off piece by piece and press the contact paper into place.

This next step may not be essential but it was quick and probably helped a little bit. I used a small foam paint roller to apply a thin coat of primer over the entire canvas. My hope was that it would seal the edges of the contact paper shapes in order to prevent the colored paint from seeping under.

I waited overnight for the primer to dry, then got to work on the next step of marking out and drawing all the lines that I would be painting. Instead of painting stripes on the animals like the inspiration embroidery, I decided to leave the animals white and have the background be striped. My stripes were each 1" wide.

When it came time to fill in each stripe with paint, I just used a small craft paint brush. I skipped around on the stripes so that I was never painting up against a freshly painted stripe. To help the process go faster, I lined up the paint bottles in the order I wanted to use so that I didn't have to stop and decide on a color each time. Also, each stripe got 2 coats of paint.

The shapes on the left have had the contact paper removed, and the shapes on the right still have the contact paper that has just been painted over. 

As I went along I started to peel off the contact paper to reveal the white canvas underneath and it became apparent that the coat of primer I did was not super effective.

Once all the stripes were done, I went back with white acrylic paint and touched up any bleed through spots. Then I painted the edges of the canvas with gold craft paint. The final step was to brush on a coat of semi-gloss acrylic sealer to give a nice sheen to the painting. The craft paints I used had a matte finish and just looked kind of chalky. Then it was done!

Having this painting done is making me even more excited to get the rest of the work done on the baby's room! I'm already working on the 2nd project which is refinishing a dresser that we bought on Craigslist. Tonight I finished removing a few layers of paint from all the drawer fronts, and tomorrow I'm hoping to remove the paint from the frame of the dresser. I'll be sure to share the dresser on here when it's all done! Until next time, have a great week!

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