Wall-Sized Paint-By-Number

Sometime around last March or April, I got a crazy idea to paint a giant paint-by-number image on one of the walls of our bedroom. We’d been talking about how that wall was so blank and really needed something. Then we’d been at a friend’s sister’s house and liked the giant vinyl self-adhesive trees that she had on her wall, so I started browsing the internet for something similar and stumbled onto a couple of blog posts where people had done giant paint-by-numbers (see here, here, here, and here). I quickly became obsessed with this idea.

In all my browsing, the best place to find images was at The Paint By Number Museum, but you can also search for paint by numbers on places like Ebay and Etsy, though the images may not be as clear. I quickly realized that if I had to distort or crop the image to fit on the wall, it usually ruined the aesthetics of the image. So, I measured my wall and then looked for images that were similar proportions. I settled on this image:

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I debated several options for getting the image on the wall, including using an overhead projector (remember those?) and projecting the image onto the wall directly from my computer. In the end, I couldn’t figure out how to get the image enlarged to wall size with one of those methods. Nor could I figure out how to do it a piece at a time while making sure it was enlarged to exactly wall size. So I opted to go old school.

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I got out the tracing paper from one of my art classes, converted the image slightly to make sure it was the same proportions as my wall, and then traced it using a light box (you can do this on a window as well). Then I created a grid on another sheet of tracing paper marked off so that every box would be a square foot on my wall, except for the bottom and right edges. I then overlaid this onto my tracing. I did this on separate page so I wouldn’t get confused about which lines were grid versus the drawing.

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Then I needed to transfer it to the wall. I marked off the ends of the grid lines along the four sides of my wall. Then I used black thread and taped it at the ends to create the grid lines. This way I could remove the grid lines after the drawing was transferred and I wouldn’t get confused about what the drawing areas were.

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I then drew the traced image freehand onto the wall by consulting my tracing. I recommend a really hard pencil, because it will leave thin, light lines. Again, I had a nice 2H pencil and kneaded eraser hanging around from an art class.

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It was basically impossible to get a picture of the wall with the image drawn on it. It just didn’t show up. But here’s a close up of a little section:

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Now it was time to sort out how many colors the picture had and what colors I would need. I started by scanning my tracing and printing a copy on white paper. I then sat down with a big set of colored pencils and started coloring in all the different colors, one color at a time, making sure I got every section. I didn’t aim to to be accurate in the colors I was using — I was more interested in being able to tell them apart later. Here’s the end result with what turned out to be 17 colors.

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I thought it would be too hard to work off this dense image, and I didn’t want to label the sections on the wall with the numbers. I was afraid that not all the colors would cover the numbers well. So, I divided the colors up onto six separate print-outs of the tracing to make them easier to see.

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Time to choose paints! Based on my calculations, one of these 7.5 ounce test-size containers would give me more than enough total paint. The question remained whether for the colors with more surface area if I would have enough. Turns out I did! I got the eggshell, which has a nice bit of sheen, but not too much.

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Choosing paint colors was kind of tedious. I went to the Home Depot and picked up a few (ahem) paint chips.

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I compared these to the print out of the image that I had, and picked colors. Here are my final picks.

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And here’s the full set of paints!

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Some of the info I had seen indicated that people used sponge brushes to put the paint on the walls. I tried this, and it really was awful. It could be because our walls are kind of textured. But whatever the reason, I went with brushes.

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I used the two that are second and third from the left for a while until I pretty much destroyed them (those bristles are totally splayed out!). These are all cheap brushes, again from some general purpose set of brushes from some art class. Nothing special. After I killed those, I moved on to the two next to them. Occasionally I needed to paint large sections and I swished the next to last brush. In one tiny section I used the little brush on the right, but I tried not to be that picky about it most of the time.

I used disposable plastic cups for the paint and paper plates for putting my brushes on.

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In the end I put two coats of paint on everything, and three coats on the two yellowish greens at the bottom of the second column in the photo above. They covered really poorly.

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I estimate that the painting along took me about 60 hours, plus all the hours I spent figuring out the best way to approach each step of the project.

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I found the painting very meditating to do — a total surprise to me, since knitting and sewing usually involve lots of cursing.

And here’s the final result!

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And just for fun, I created this animation of all the photos I took along the way.

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The Way Things Go

Hello, my friends. It has been a while.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much these days. It seems the new job is keeping me pretty busy. I just have not had the time or the energy for the blog, and, truth be told, I go for weeks without even remembering that it exists. I’m a little sad about this, but realize that it’s just the way things are going to be.

I was at a birthday party for a couple of 6-year old today and was asked how the new job was going. When I complained that I just don’t feel like I have very much time to do anything any more, I got a couple of blank stares and some silence. Then someone said, “You’re talking to people with kids.” Right, no sympathy from that crowd. But it’s a huge change for me (both having a full-time job again and having to have that job be somewhere else than my home office) and I’m working on having some patience with it all and letting more things go than I would have in the past.

And one of those things is obviously the blog. I do hope to post here on occasion in the future — like when I finally finish that sweater.

But I wanted to let you know that I won’t be around much, at least for a while. Until I can figure out how to juggle more things at one time. I hope to still see you here on occasion, and I’ll be lurking around your blogs as well, commenting while I’m on the train home from work.

Until then, here are a few more views of Stanford’s campus, usually taken on my morning or afternoon walk through campus to my office. Passing on a little of our Northern California blue skies to you!

There and Back Again

Happy Friday, everyone!

I survived my whirlwind trip to Connecticut and back. Out on Tuesday, then a job interview on Wednesday morning and a return trip Wednesday afternoon/evening. Lickety split.

For those of you who don’t know, I lived in Connecticut once upon a time. Back when I was in graduate school at Yale. But on the flight over I was trying to think when the last time was that I had been there. And what I came up with was my thesis defense, which I believe was in September of 1999. That’s a while ago.

Most of the trip was traveling, which was fairly uneventful. I woke up at 5am on the day of my departure and my first thought was that I DID have a knitting project I could scrounge together to take with me! That’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t have a stash. It was a quick mother’s day gift that I finished before I was half-way home on Wednesday, and I was super glad to have it, since USAirways has exactly 0 in-flight entertainment these days. (They do not even have monitors installed on the planes. Seriously.)

Anyhow, on the flight from Philly to Hartford I dropped my purple rubber point protectors for my knitting needles and couldn’t find them. It was one of those little jets where there are only 4 seats across the plane and the tall guys can’t stand up all the way. I had to keep myself from laughing when I realized I had four middle-aged men in business suits all up and looking around the floor trying to find them for me (and they were found!). Hilarious.

I took my camera with me, but I didn’t manage to get any photos between it being dark when I got there, not having much time, and there not being much of interest to photograph where I was staying. And I was disappointed that in February there wasn’t any snow on the ground!

So, instead, I’ll treat you to a couple of photos of what it looked like when I lived in Connecticut. This is Wallingford, CT, during the blizzard of 1996. Feast your eyes!

Connecticut Blizzard of 1996

Despite there not being even the slightest speck of snow on the ground, I have to tell you that when I stepped out of my car at the hotel and took a deep breath, it totally smelled like winter.

Do you know what I mean?

I couldn’t pinpoint it to anything in particular, but maybe it’s some combination of really cold, dry air, rock salt, and sand. I’m not sure, but as soon as I smelled it I realized it was a smell I hadn’t smelled in a while (for some reason Tahoe didn’t smell that way).

In case you’re wondering, I think things went pretty well at the interview. I have no idea when I’ll have more news, but I’ll continue to keep you posted!

Amy Crochets a Scarf!

I’m still working on catching you up on some things I finished before Christmas, and I’m super super excited about this project, because it was my first crocheted project!

Treillage Scarf

My friend Dolin wrote this pattern a while back, and I have been completely in love with it ever since I first saw it. It’s the most luscious, smooshy, cushy crocheted thing I’d ever seen, and was part of my motivation for learning to crochet – I wanted to make this scarf so badly!

Treillage Scarf

Back at the end of the summer, the shop where I work had a big yard sale, where people brought in stuff from their stash they wanted to sell (priced themselves), and we sold it for them. They collected their money in the form of gift cards to the store. The only thing I bought at that sale, was one skein of Posh Yarns Laura for $5. This yarn has been discontinued, but it’s so so lovely (it IS 20% cashmere). And it was perfect for this scarf.

Treillage Scarf with my new coat

Even as a beginner this scarf was totally doable, and despite turning out really long (79″ or so after blocking), went really quickly. And it’s so nice to have such a readable pattern, and one that includes both words and a chart.

Treillage Scarf with my new coat

I am totally loving it with the new coat I got for Christmas.

You can now purchase the pattern on Ravelry for a mere $3.95. And it comes highly recommended!

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

I recently received a copy of the new Liberty Book of Home Sewing from the publisher (I am super psyched that I have somehow gotten on their “media” list to qualify for the occasional review copy!). I did get the book for free, but no one is paying me to do a review of it. I just am, because it is such lovely eye candy!

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

The first thing I noticed about this book, and ooh’ed and aah’ed over, was all the fabulous, gratuitous images of the most gorgeous Liberty fabrics.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

Even if you don’t look at the projects, just seeing all these prints nearly makes this book worth owning.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

But eye candy aside, this book is quite lovely. I was immediately struck but how much it reminded me of the vintage sewing book I picked up on my birthday weekend. Both books include information about all different kinds of sewing projects and sewing techniques, and they are presented in a similar fashion.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

The Liberty book does not have a lot of step-by-step photos for projects. Projects are primarily illustrated with drawings, and the instructions may assume that you know basic sewing techniques (as any woman in the 50’s or 60’s would have). The instructions are presented in little paragraphs, rather than numbered steps, much like my vintage book. It’s really a lovely retro feel to the entire thing, but if you are used to the more modern type of layout for sewing books and/or have trouble following directions, you may find this a little hard to use.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

I really love that they have additional bits for many of the projects called “Taking it farther” that suggest ways to take the project to the next level. But do note that these little sections do not always have detailed instructions. They are sometimes more like ideas for you to sort out yourself.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

I love the traditional feel of many of these projects. The Cook’s Apron for example. You may think it’s just another apron pattern, but they’ve managed to make it cute while keeping some quality touches, like adjustable d-rings for the neck tie and hand wiper that attaches with snaps (so brilliant!!). This pattern includes a child’s version and the option to do a pocket instead of a hand wiper. (I have to say that I have never used a pocket on a kitchen apron, but I am totally in love with the idea of a removable hand wiper — maybe several to swap out??)

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

Other projects range from basic but sometimes hard to find instructions on these days, like the instructions for a box cushion of any size or a Roman shade, to others that are more extravagant, like the Rose Pillow (this looks REALLY luxuriant with the velvet and the three-dimensional fabric roses) and the Peacock Pincushion that may be as a showy as a real peacock.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

One thing to note is that this book does not contain pattern pieces. It also doesn’t contain images that need to be enlarged. Instead, when pieces are required, it has drawings and instructions that tell you how to make your own pattern pieces. Just another feature with a very vintage feel.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

This book includes projects that use a variety of different fabric types (all Liberty of course), from their Tana Lawn to Balcombe Silk to Cotton Canvas to Rossmore Cord. Everything but Tana Lawn might be hard for those of us in the US to come by (and even that at a VERY pretty penny), but it’s still beautiful to see. And just to make it easy on us, they have included a Glossary of Fabrics in the back that is its own little bit of eye candy.

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing

Projects in this book

Essentials:
Basic Pillows
Simple Drapes
Eco shopping bag
Cook’s Apron
Sugar-Bag Doorstop
Toiletry Bag
Roman Shade
Beanbag
Tote Bag

Organization:
Keepsake Board
Jewelry Roll
Drawstring Bag
Gadget Case
Peacock Pincushion
Book Covers

Accents:
Round Pillow
Rose Corsage
Rose Pillow
Bench Cushion
Frilly Apron
Kimono
Lampshade
Rose Throw
Traditional Crib Quilt
Contemporary Brick Quilt

I personally am excited to find some time to try out a couple of these projects. If only I had some Liberty fabrics that I could use to make them!

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