Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Art on Plates

I almost feel like there are no original ideas in the arts and crafts world anymore. And that's fine. We all love a good imitation. But then I saw the Marie Claire Idees December 2010 issue. (Marie Claire Idees {Ideas} is a French crafting magazine....kind of like Martha Stewart, but fresher, hipper, less stuffy, and way more inventive. Sorry, Martha.)

My mom picked up a copy when she was in France three weeks before me. And it was an absolute goldmine of ideas. I've felt a little less than inspired for the past year and a half; I think the wind was knocked out of my sails when Jon lost his job and we were sent reeling to figure out our future and chart a new course. (Pardon the sailing metaphors.) But the December issue of Marie Claire Idees filled me with inspiration: the colors, the patterns, the fresh take on old things. I was enthralled.

So when I went on my trip to Paris, it just so happened to coincide with the Marie Claire Idees Savoir Faire. Which is like a big crafting convention of booths with amazing products and curiosities. You can bet your bottom dollar that this was one of the highlights of my trip! Rows and rows and rows of crafting items. I was able to breeze past the quilting booths with expensive American import fabrics, and settle into the grit and delicacy of the European crafting scene.

At the end of the night, I purchased a 2-year subscription to the magazine.....to be shipped every other month from Paris to Provo. Wahoo! My mom and a few friends have already asked me to call them straight-away when it arrives.....and I will, but only after I've savored a good preliminary look.

One of the ideas that I slightly adapted, were the Matryoshka Plates. They had taken thrift-store type china, Mod Podged faces of little girls, surrounded by origami papers, and then colored in their lips, cheeks, and added scarves. I LOVED the look, and knew it would be perfect for my three darlies.

So, I went to the local thrift, gave myself one time to find 3 suitable plates (I could have waited months to find three PERFECT plates, but decided to force myself to get them all in one shot), and then went to work a few nights later.

I chose pictures that had great and appropriate expressions of each of my girls. Leah's profile is kind of serious, and she tends to be a thinker. I think it's a beautiful and romantic photo, and highlights her delicate and angelic features. It's one of my favorite photos from my Paris trip, taken in the Gare de L'est train station.

Esther's picture is from her 6th birthday. She's actually sitting on her new bike in the photo, but I just cropped that out and focused on her darling face. And this picture perfectly portrays what I love about Esther: she's happy, forthright, has in-your-face enthusiasm and joie-de-vivre like none other. She's a dazzler.

Phoebe's photo is coy, pixie-ish, innocent, but a little bit mischievious . . . . which is what I'm getting to know of her in her almost-3-year-old demeanor. I almost wrote that hers might be my favorite picture of them all, but then I realized that they are all so perfect for each of my girls and their personalities. I love when I get something this right.

Anyway, on to the process:

1. I cropped each photo, made them black and white, and then increased the contrast of each photo in Photoshop. I'm sure this can all be done with free software. I then printed them out on my dinky InkJet printer on normal printer paper----not even photo quality.

2. I started with Esther's plate. The concept of hers was my easiest. She is my girl who loves flowers. All kinds. I played around with positioning for only a minute, but then dug headfirst into the process. After trimming her photo to the appropriate size, I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge to the area where I was going to lay the photo, then pressed the photo on, and tried to get all of the bubbles out. I then applied another layer of ModPodge to the top of the photo. (I used the foam craft brushes for the entire project).

3. I then started layering the floral stickers and cut-outs from scrapbook paper, brushing the Mod Podge over and under each piece. After awhile, I decided to stop and work on another so it could sit with me for a bit. I then moved on to Leah's plate, and then to Phoebe's. I went back and forth at the end, adding a little here and a little there, until I was satisfied.

4. Brush plate with another layer of ModPodge. I used Matte, but you can choose glossy if you prefer.

5. I shouldn't have even used numbers for this project, because it's so simple, you really don't have many steps. Let dry. Hang.

(NOTE on hanging: I have never hung a plate from my wall. I didn't even know where to go to get a hook for a plate. And then I found something pretty genius. This might be common knowledge, but there's a way to hang a plate without the weird wire hanger system. They originate in England, but there's an EBAY seller who carries them. I purchased the 4" circles, and they are very easy to use.) I love the look of the plates stuck to the wall without the whole wire hanger showing.

I had them hanging on our red/orange dining room wall on Christmas morning. It took them awhile to notice them, but once they did, they were elated. They have added so much spunk, energy, and personality to our dining room. I plan on doing one with a picture from every year forward. (In fact, I almost want to go back and do them for the past several years.....)

My plates definitely deviated from the Marie Claire plates. (Maybe I'll scan and upload photos of theirs someday when I have more time.) But that makes them more mine. And that's all the fun.

And, if you have boys, no fear. Think ab0ut what your boys love: cars? dinosaurs? robots? space? You could have a little boy standing on a planet, with cool stars and rockets. Or a boy's face on a T-Rex body. Get creative, and no more whining that you can't do cute things for boys.

Hope you like yours, too. And, if you do the project, please send me pictures. I'd love to post a plethora of darling plates.

Have fun,



Gingham Skies said...

Oh my. I thought your photos WERE the magazine shots! These plates are beautiful, as are your little ladies! I especially love the third plate.

I am a new found "lover" of your blog, led here thanks to your outstanding dollhouse. I'm almost afraid to read further... something tells me you are going to leave me with a million more TO DOs on my crafting wish list.

Natalie said...

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE these, Rachel!! To die for....

Kelly said...

I just happened across your shop and then your blog and I love both! What a fun idea! I am currently living in a basement and have been having a hard time not having my own house to decorate, but between the birds I think I am going to hang from my bedroom ceiling and the ideas I can get here, I think I can make a little oasis of happiness for myself. Thanks so much!

Morgan Moore said...

I love, love, LOVE this idea (and that magazine!) How inspiring!

Kelly said...

Hi me again, I was inspired by this post and made something.