Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How To Transform a $1.00 Place Mat

In my next life, I want to be a visual artist, a painter, a Van Gogh, Chagall or Monet.  That is my wish.  Hear that Universe?  I'm putting in my order now.  Van Gogh's Starry Night is my all time favorite painting.  The colors and representation of the night sky humble me and make me so want to be able to do that.  To make someone else look at what I painted, to see and feel moved in a place and way they can't really describe.  But, it is not my gift.  Yes, I can do simple things.  I mean, I have watched my share of Bob Ross and I can make happy little clouds and streams with the best of them and perhaps that should be enough, but it's not.  

It's sort of like writing.  My daughter is an amazing writer.  She can put words together in a way that breaks my heart and makes me laugh all at the same time.  Me, I can write this blog and hope that my recipes and directions for crafts make sense to anyone who reads it.  But, I am no "writer".  I have read hundreds and hundreds of books. devoured them, enjoyed them, lived many other lives through the words I have read and traveled the world, but I could not write a book if I tried.  Do you know what I am saying?  It is frustrating to me.  I try to paint, I try to write, but my skills are rudimentary at best.

Does it stop me?  No.  I keep plugging away and hope that one day true inspiration will strike and that "painting" will come to me or that hidden book/story will formulate in my mind and will leap out onto pages.  Until then, it's craft time 101.   

Last week I bought these really pretty place mats at, where else, Dollar Tree.  My table sits 6, so I bought 6 place mats for a grand total of $6.00 plus tax.  The tag said they were 100% paper which was interesting, but I loved the way they looked and they would be great for a springy looking table setting.
Of course, I knew that I would doctor them up somehow, just didn't know exactly how at the time.

I brought them home and looked at them for a week.  No inspiration would come.  I looked at them every time I went into my craft room, better known as the extra bedroom.  Hmmmmm, what to do, what to do?  Saturday, I determined it was going to be a craft-a-thon since I hadn't spent a whole day at home  all week.  It was cool, rainy and a perfect craft day - no place to go, nothing else to do.  (I hate having to stop mid project.)  I finished the mirror I wrote about yesterday and was so pleased with that project that I got out some of my acrylic paints, a few brushes, covered the table to protect it, determined to finish the place mats.  This is what I came up with (see picture above), and they look adorable on the table!! 

These plain green place mats had a texture somewhat like jute or burlap.  The tag said they were 100% paper.  Interesting.  They did not lend themselves to lots of shading and detail.  My idea was to paint spring flowers on them.  Have you ever tried to paint a daisy and get it even?  Somehow, they always get out of shape.  Here's a trick.  Use the bottom of a 12 ounce soda bottle.  Paint the ridges on the bottom and stamp it on whatever you are painting.
Now, stamp.
See the pink spots it leaves?  All I did was load a square shader brush and pull the paint toward the center to make my daisy and they are all perfectly even.  I LOVE when that happens!  Now, I wanted some dandelions - you know, the kind kids like to blow when they have gone to seed.  White, airy dandelions, but I couldn't paint all the little details so I basically made a white ball.  How?  I found a small bottle in my spice cabinet that was the right size and painted the edge of the bottle white and stamped circles on the place mat.

Perfect circles.  Yes!  Easy peasey.  


Next, I took a small stencil brush and loaded it with white paint and filled in the circle.  Bob Ross would be so proud.  Happy little dandelions.

Now, everything needed stems.  I chose a blue color called Tahiti Blue and mixed it with a little green and painted stems and leaves and grass across the bottom of the mat.  I chose blue so that it would show up on the bright green mat.  Nice.  Now, it needed filler and I wanted more pink and white so I made little flowers in clusters all over the grass using the end of one of my paint brushes.  You just simply makes dots wherever you want them.  I did white first and then filled in with pink.
Voila!  I painted yellow in the centers of the daisies, sprayed it with clear acrylic spray and I was done.  One down, five more to go.  I simply followed the same pattern and procedures and now have 6 matching hand painted place mats.  It was very restorative to my creative soul.  It's not Van Gogh or Monet - Grandma Moses might be a closer description.  Anyway, I LOVE them on our table.  They are bright and springy and just what I wanted.  

When I get the centerpiece and napkins made, I will show you pictures of the whole effect.  Always look at things with "other possibilities" in mind.  Nothing is just one thing.  The possibilities are endless.  Try your hand at painting on anything.  You may discover a new talent you didn't know you possessed.  I'm still plugging.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

‘Things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.   
Carlos Casteneda

1 comment:

  1. Donna,

    You are a genius! So crafty and inspiring! Im still grateful for the beautiful costumes you brought to evansville and the time you spent making theater come to life for North when I was there! I love your blog..I dont think I would be able to cook as well without your blog's guidance :)