Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DIY Throwback - "Making Music" with Puffy Paint

Frankly, I can't believe I've gone nearly 20 years without revisiting my obsession with puffy paint until now.  I don't even think "phase" is the right word for my previous relationship with puffy paint, given that I owned, in addition to all the usual shades, colors and sheens, a 100-piece set of neon, glow-in-the-dark puffy paints.  In retrospect, I'm not even sure there are 100 shades of neon, but to a kid that's splitting hairs.  For nearly a year, I smacked a heart, peace sign or music note on any solid article of clothing I could find, including every last sock in my sock drawer.  Luckily it was the 80's, so neon glow-in-the-dark socks matched an alarming number of items in my closet, including my white denim Body Glove sleeveless collared top and zippered mini skirt covered in neon Body Glove logos that I wore to the first day of third grade.  Needless to say I looked awesome. 

So back to now.  I first saw this fun use of negative space....

...and thread over on, and originally I thought I'd try my hand at something similar, but then I remembered that I suck at embroidery, so I started to brainstorm other ways to achieve the same effect.  I had also been searching for a fun way to play tribute our wedding song, "When the Stars Go Blue" by Ryan Adams and settled on giving my puffy paint idea a try given that, if you squint, the dots look a little like stars.  If you'd like to jam along to our wedding song while you read, click here.  All supplies, including extra felt, extra paint and a marker I didn't use, ran me less than $20.  The prep is about 10 minutes, and the entire puffy paint process took exactly the length of the Valentine's Day Glee episode, so about an hour including Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.

Full Instructions with Photos below the Jump:

- embroidery hoop
- relatively dense, non-porous material of your choice (I used felt) in the color of your choosing
- print-out of your word (I used Arial Rounded MT Bold in 72 font for this one)
- a pushpin or needle (anything that will poke a clean hole through paper)
For transferring your letters:
- for light-colored fabric: a fabric pen without too much bleed or transfer paper, sold at most craft stores
- for dark colored fabric: baby powder
- puffy paint in your selected color
- q-tip for touch-ups (especially if you're using the powder technique)

Transfer your image or letters
If you're using transfer paper, simply follow the instructions on the package.  I didn't have transfer paper, so I made up the technique below, meaning I came up with the idea on the fly after the light colored fabric pen I bought didn't work.  I'm sure this powder trick has been done before and if I knew more about needlepoint and embroidery, I'd probably know enough to tell you there's even a name for it, who knows, not me, because I suck at embroidering.  If you're using a pen or powder as listed above, follow below:

1. Using your pushpin, trace the edges of each letter using equally spaced holes.

2A. Place your paper over your fabric on a flat surface.  If using light fabric and a fabric marker, trace over your holes with the marker on the paper so that the pen color goes through each hole onto the fabric.

2B. If you're using dark fabric like me, with your paper placed over your fabric on a flat surface, sprinkle baby powder over the paper, making sure to cover each word.  This requires only a dusting, not a blizzard.

3. Remove and discard your paper.  You'll either be left with dotted letters in pen on light fabric, or powder outlines on dark fabric (photo below).  Time to pull out the big guns - your puffy paint.  I highly suggest doing a few practice dots on scrap paper so you can get the feel for how much pressure you need for a decent sized dot.  Beginning in a comfortable location (I go right to left since I'm a lefty in perpetual fear of smudging), begin re-creating your dot outline in paint, leaving space between each paint dot.

Above is an unnecessarily close look at my first row of paint. "go blue" has its first round of paint with 'when the stars" showing my powder outline.  Don't worry if the baby powder is all a bit smudgy.  It cleans up quickly at the end with a q-tip.  If you're using a marker you'll have to be more careful in covering up your guide, since it can't be wiped away.  Here's a photo of the completed first round.  Sorry for the crappy lighting - I like mood lighting while I watch t.v. (P.s. Is anyone else confused as to why Rachel, the Tracey Flick of 2012, all of a sudden wants to be a child bride? I don't get it.)
Here's completed Round 1 of outlines:

4. Let this set for 15 minutes or so, and then go back and fill in dots in between the existing ones, like this:

5. After another 15 minutes or so, begin filling in dots between the words, still following the general rule of not making two new dots directly next to one another.  Here's my handiwork after Round 3:

4. From here on out it's just finesse, adding dots to your heart's content until you feel you've got what you want.  Here's my final, before cleaning up the powder remnants with a q-tip:
5. After letting the paint fully dry, I ran a q-tip in the negative letter space to remove the remaining powder marks.  Then I simply trimmed the fabric and hung it on the wall (I used velcro strips because I was feeling too lazy to mess with anything more involved).

I showed it to the hubs, and exclaimed, "Can you believe that's puffy paint?!?!"  He had no idea what I was talking about.  It must be so sad to be a straight man.  Anyways, what do you think?  Are you into it or does the idea of puffy paint bring back painful memories of teased bangs and hair crimpers?

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