Friday, July 2, 2010
Hey there, everyone! It’s Lu again, back with a hybrid project custom designed with this week’s Product Spotlight in mind, Summer Cottage. I just thought this would make such a fun project & is the perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon (say, right after eating too much barbecue on the 4th of July)! It’s also a wonderful game that you can play with the family, and even young children can play!
As I considered the many different ways to go about this project, I thought about…Did I want to create a side table? Or put it directly on a kid’s table? How would I store this? Shove it in my entertainment center like all the other games or would I want to hang it? Put it on a stand to display it? If I displayed it, how big is “too” big..? So, you see, there is a lot to consider initially. Once you determine those issues, though, you can move right on along to the design. And this is where the fun begins…
Now, here is my first disclaimer: this is not a speedy quick project. It does stretch over a few days (depending on how you finish it or not). But it is not really difficult- it can be as simplistic or as elaborate as you want to make it! Given my nature, I opted for something a little more elaborate. Generally speaking, I just have “visions of grandeur”, you know what I mean? Do they always materialize? Nope. But I am a dreamer & usually about halfway through a project, I’m reconsidering my motive in the first place. Fortunately, I have a very loving, patient husband (who will be reading this, I’m sure) that really steps in & helps out. I decided that I wanted to display my little creation in my foyer, on a stand. Am I a proud peacock? Absolutely. I figured, “No one can help but notice this baby when they step through the door”! But since I decided I’d display it, that meant a little further consideration of what kind of material to use, how to finish…and of course, the checkerboard pattern!
The first thing to determine is your overall size & what you will adhere your prints to. Also consider where you are printing, and if there are any bleed requirements prior to creating your document. I decided that I wanted an overall size of 17″ x 17″, which would call for (2) 8.5″ x 17″ top & bottom layouts, printed on 11″ x 17″ paper. This will allow for approximately a 1/2″ exterior border & 2″ square spaces. I created my first “working” document at 8.5″ x 8.5″. The first thing I did was turn on my grid, as well as “snap to” grid. On my layout, I drew out a square shape, inset 1/2″ from two sides. This left a “blank” document space on two sides. Creating a new layer, I drug out a 2″ square. I copied this layer several times, placing the squares 2″ apart to create the alternating checkerboard pattern. Then I merged all the 2″ squares together.
This document, I considered my “master file”. Using my large rectangle & 2″ x 2″ squares as clipping masks, I clipped on the papers that I had chosen for my pattern, and added a solid paper as my background border. I then duplicated this document & flattened it. Creating a new document of 17″ x 17″, I drug over the first flattened “block” pattern, making sure it lined up in the bottom right corner. I then duplicated this layer & rotated it horizontally. I lined everything up & linked the two layers. Then I went back to the 8.5″ x 8.5″ working psd file (remember, duplicate this document, then flatten it. Don’t flatten the original!) Once back to the original, I switched the two papers, created a new document, flattened & repeated the process of dragging over to the 17″ x 17″ document. But this time, I rotated vertically, lined it up with the bottom layout, copied that layer, rotated it horizontally…and voila! You have a checkerboard pattern. There are undoubtedly easier ways to create this…but this is the route I took. (Primarily because I was creating a checkerboard size larger than the typical 12 x 12 paper. If you opt to go with that size, then life will probably be much easier). Now, this is when you can really add some personality. I added red embroidery stitches to create a grid between the alternating patterns, for more definition, as well as slipped some green ric rac (from the Blossom kit) under my large rectangle for some added detail. But use your imagination with these areas, I even considered putting a poem or a quote around the perimeter. Just make sure you are considering the bleed area, so nothing gets cropped off in printing. My final step here was to divide the 17″ x 17″ document into (2) 8.5″ x 17″ documents (much like you do a double spread), saving each portion as “top” and then “bottom”. These are the two “layouts” that you will print. Also, I felt this was a good time to give a friendly reminder to save your master document & any flattened jpg’s. I do not discard any working psd’s/jpg’s until I am quite positive that I’m 100% satisfied, forever & ever. And even then, sometimes I don’t discard. (It’s called digital pack-ratting and I cope by using external hard drives). Alrighty then, it’s much easier from here on… Are ya’ll still with me? Hello? Anybody there?
About the checker pieces, this is the SWEET part of the Summer Cottage checkerboard theme. You know those cute little round word art embellishments? I used those for my checker pieces. Just resized them to fit the wood discs that I purchased at a craft store (1-1/2″ dia., unfinished), copied them 24 times (each color, you’ll need two different ones, as you know). I send all my projects like this to Fedex Kinko’s…they are awesome. Now we are ready to get our hands dirty! Not really, because you should wear gloves for some of this… Here’s a few things I used:
sanding pad for board, large emory file for wood discs
Wood Stain (I used Minwax brand this time, but I’ve used various others. I also went with a walnut but that’s a personal choice)
clean, lint free cloth
I’d suggest settling down in front of the TV to cut out the circles, you’ll be here awhile (unless you can find a circle punch to perfectly fit your circles/discs), lol! Once I was finished with that little time-consuming task, I then went on to the wood discs for the checkerboard pieces. I spray painted those a flat white. (The paint needs to be flat because I plan to “age” these pieces with a walnut stain & stain doesn’t “stick” to shiny surfaces that well). Once I gave my discs a couple of coats and allowed them to dry (remember the long drawn out process…? this is it), I followed with a quick sand to knock off any “lumps” from uneven spraying. Entirely not my fault, those cans just spurt occasionally… Also, painting raw wood can bring out the grain & make for a rough finish. Personally, I like to get back down to the raw wood because this gives it that worn, distressed look. I then go back over the discs with a clean rag to remove any residual dust. Then it’s time to stain! A couple of words of caution: 1) A little goes a long way. It’s better to start with a small amount & add to the effect because once it’s on, it’s on. Unless you want to sand them & start all over. No thank you, this takes long enough as it is. 2) This stuff will dry quick, so work fast. With all that said, the whole point of distressing/aging is to add character- it’s not supposed to look brand-spankin’ new or perfect…it’s supposed to look well used & loved. Like it’s sat for years on a back porch, overlooking the coastal dunes. I told you my imagination can really carry me away… the point is, don’t angst over imperfections. You’ll never notice anyway, cuz you’ll be having so much fun playing! After the staining process, give the recommended dry time (okay, I gave it half an hour). Then I started Mod Podge-ing the cut out word art circles & sticking them on the discs- both sides! You can take a heavy emory board to sand the perimeter of the discs once you’re done & the Mod Podge dries. This will helps to smooth it all out.
Now to tackle the board itself. Disclaimer number two: I am (I mean, my honey & I are) are not professional wood workers, lol! As if I even need to say that, but just sayin’ anyway. We hack our way through projects & I’m reasonably happy with the results. The biggest thing to remember with this wood board is the old adage “Measure twice, cut once”. Um, we measure about a dozen times, but that’s just us. I purchased a large piece of plywood from a home improvement store- and I’m sure I saw precut pieces 16″ and under. But I didn’t need 16″, I needed 17″. Ugh… Another note, I chose plywood because I felt it would be “okay”. And for me, it was. It actually added to that “rustic, weathered” feel. But if you want something that will finish out much more smoothly & cleanly, perhaps you better go with something solid (pine or oak or whatever else solid). If we had just gone with a straight edge, there would be little difference, I’m guessing. But I wanted a profile (of course), which involes a router. So this part is definitely for someone that knows their way around oscillating blades. Be careful!! Wear safety goggles! Watch your fingers! Unplug the cord! Get out of the way! Ooops, sorry, that’s my honey talkin’, not me!
Alrighty, once cut out & sufficiently routered (is that a word?)… I gave another quick sand, removed residual dust (very important) & applied first a primer, then my spray paint. (Personally, I didn’t feel the primer was necessary but since we had to putty a few little divets ~he he~ it probably did help a bit). Once the paint dried, I applied my stain to the board. Gave it about 10 minutes to dry (seriously, you might want to wait it out a little longer, I’m just impatient. This sometimes bites me in the hiney).
Finally, I Mod Podged the (2) 8.5″ x 17″ print outs onto the board… and lo & behold! I had the checkboard I had envisioned. I gave this several hours to dry (even stacked books on top of it), then applied one final coat as sealer. Now you could stop here & call it a day. I mean, I’m exhausted, already. But I did add a few more hybrid touches, by stitching buttons on silk daisies & glueing them on the corners. Just another opportunity to get creative! And here is my final product!
I also created a little “coordinating” box to house the checker pieces. Perhaps I can “revisit” this in a future hybrid post, cuz I knew this would be overload as it is! One last thing…the rules! After all this effort, I realized I didn’t remember how to play the game, lol! So I visited this site for using standard U.S. rules. Thanks to all of you who stuck it out to the end. You two are still with me, right? Hello? You there, SP??