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Both my grandmothers are very artistically talented. My dad’s mom is an accomplished painter by trade and my mom’s mom is a great musician. My mom’s mom passed down her talents to me while my dad’s mom’s talents are seen in my sister Emily. Our youngest sister Megan got the best of both worlds and is really just good at everything. I will be the first to admit: I got zero percent of my grandmother’s talent for art. I remember trying SO hard in art class both in grade school and middle school but none of my work really turned out that well. Compared to everyone else it was never as realistic or smooth or beautiful like I wanted it to be. Nevertheless, here we are – my first DIY post!
It’s unfair that we think only naturally artistic people can make beautiful things. If this was true I would have to spend a fortune on making David and my new apartment look pretty. I’ve decided that as long as I take my time (even if it’s a long time) and carefully plan my steps, I can make some pretty kick-ass décor myself. Below you’ll find my step by step guide about how I did this ampersand sign in tacks as well as the mistakes I made so you don’t have to make them too.
1. Gather Materials
It was a process (more on that later), but these were the materials I finally ended up using:
• 900 Brass Thumb Tacks – Gold
• One 12×16 Canvas
• Two 5×7 Canvases
• FolkArt Acrylic Paint in Ivory White 427
• Folk Art Acrylic Paint Midnight 964
• Tacky Glue
• Wire Cutter
• Painter’s Tape
2. Paint the Canvases
So for this step I painted the tops first. I did the big one in Ivory and the small ones in Midnight blue. (You can really pick whatever colors you want; I just wanted blue and ivory because it matches my bedspread.) After doing a second coat of blue and letting them dry, I applied the painters tape around the edge. I did this so the secondary color of paint didn’t get anywhere I didn’t want it to (If you have a really steady hand you probably don’t have to do this, but I definitely don’t). I proceed to paint the sides of the large canvas blue and the sides of the small canvas ivory.
3. Draw the Ampersand Symbol
Ok so this part was definitely the hardest. Use a pencil with a good eraser and lightly sketch the ampersand symbol onto the large canvas. This was a lot of trial and error for me, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you awhile!
4. Draw the Letters
If you chose to do the side letters, draw these on with a pencil as well.
5. Start Tacking!
This is equally the most fun part and the most annoying part. It’s fun at first but does take a really long time. I suggest putting a movie or TV show in the background to keep your mind occupied.
Take each individual tack and punch it through the canvas. I did the outline along my pencil markings first and then filled in the middle. The edges get a bit complicated with the wood in the way though… I first tried to use a hammer to nail them in but I ended up with more broken tacks than I did tacks in the canvas. I also couldn’t move them at all if they weren’t quite right the first time they went in. Instead, I used a wire cutter to cut off the pointy part of the tack. Then I used a little drop of Tacky Glue to stick it to the canvas. Allow it to dry all the way.
If (like me) you have some scuff marks left over from some mistakes along the line, feel free to take an eraser to the canvas. If they’re a little more permanent and an eraser isn’t helping, dab a little paint onto the problem areas, and no one will even know!
TIPS from My Mistakes:
• Don’t use old painters tape! My edges are not the best because my painters tape was old and not very sticky.
• Use a straight edge when drawing the middle diagonal lines of the ampersand symbol (mine’s a little wobbly at the bottom).
• Make sure you buy enough tacks! At first I only bought 200 which didn’t even finish the outline of the ampersand symbol. David ordered more online but when they came they were a different color than the ones I initially bought! This brings me to my next tip:
• Don’t be afraid to take a tack out if you mess up. I took out all my original tacks and re-put in the new ones. You can’t even tell!
• Don’t spend time wiping up extra glue that comes out the side of some of the tacks. You ultimately will make a bigger mess. Besides, the glue dries clear so you don’t see it.