When I was planning our wedding, I went to Hobby Lobby at least once a week. I always had something on my shopping list from the ideas and visions I’d had during the week, but I also liked to wander the store looking for more inspiration. Sometimes I had returns or exchanges from where my visions failed me in the store. Most embarrassing return: a $2 package of pearl beads for which I’d used a 40%-off coupon. I'd bought it with a bunch of other things that were all on sale, and the coupon only applies to regular price items so it automatically applied to the beads. I didn’t think about that when I returned them, but I am sure the cashier wondered what was wrong with me as he counted out my dollar and THIRTY-TWO CENTS. I know every penny counts in wedding planning but that was ridiculous.
One of the ideas I had, in the last stages of planning, was to make a collage of old photos including every single wedding guest, preferably pictured with Mr. P or me. To have something large to attach the photos for display, I bought one of these 16x20” canvas two-packs from Hobby Lobby:
It was 40% off. Of course. You don’t enter Hobby Lobby without a printout of the weekly 40% coupon, duh. You can thank me later for avoiding that rookie mistake. So the two 16x20” canvases were less than $5 total.
Note how I mentioned, though, that this was in the last stages of planning. We had all the big details done and so I guess I thought I needed more projects, but there were seriously only a handful of weeks left before the big day. I soon discovered that hand-picking photos of each wedding guest, even for a medium-sized wedding like ours, was going to take forever. Not worth it when I had other things to do, like obsess over finding the perfect shoes for honeymooning in Italy and inspect my face multiple times daily for any early signs of zits. Therefore:
1) The canvases did not get used for that project, and
2) I did not return them, because we soon got married and my weekly visits to Hobby Lobby finally ceased. Not because they were only $5 so I might as well keep them, obviously. Ask the cashier who gave me back my buck-thirty-two.
Fast-forward a few months, to… now-ish. I’m redoing my office (including the closet disasters featured here and here) and I decided I needed some art over the desk. And a year later, I still had these two canvases lying around. At first I thought I’d cover them in some fun fabric, like so, especially since one yard of fabric could cover both canvases:
Easy! So back I went to Hob to the Lob, but discovered I didn’t like any of their fabrics. I thought the designs were too small or not the right style. Nor did I really love any fabrics sold elsewhere, with the exception of this, “Vintage Blossom, Dove” by Dwell Studio:
The lowest price for which, I found, was $19/yard plus shipping. Dwell Studio itself sells it for $28/yard, plus shipping. And with that big pattern I felt like I’d want at least two yards to center the design on the canvases the way I wanted it. I realize that covering almost two by three feet of wall with some lovely art (of the fabric variety) for $50 is a relative steal. But people, I am even cheaper than that.
So I went a different route. Thanks to my BFF Pinterest I found this free stencil download. I’d been itching to stencil some wall or furniture, but hand-stenciling is time-consuming and I hadn’t found the right place that would be worth it. Stenciling those canvases, though, wouldn’t take long at all. And the art would be FREE, which is right in my usual price range.
Off I went! First, I traced the stencil onto the canvas in pencil. I didn’t bother to prime the canvas at all, just traced. The only tricky thing was making sure the stencil lined up with itself each time:
Next I mixed up some paint with the colors I had lying around. That’s right, plain eggshell latex wall paint. My original intention was to basically use the office wall color, which is a light grayish-blue, and darken it just a bit with some gray paint leftover from our master bedroom for some extra contrast. Unfortunately I was a little heavy on the dark and it’s basically the same color as our bedroom walls and no blue. Oh well. Free!
To make the trellis design, I painted along the INSIDE of my pencil lines with a 1/4” craft brush. Slow and steady wins the race:
And just kept going:
One canvas down! I found that high-school-era Chinese takeout-style boxers from Old Navy and a crazy hairstyle enhance the beauty of the canvas in comparison, but you could possibly get the same result with old sweatpants and bedhead. You’ll just have to give it a try during your own Saturday morning.
And finally, hung in place in the office:
Ahhhh. I’m feeling like they could maybe use a light, very watered-down coat of some shimmery paint over the whole canvas, but as is? They are lovely and just what I had in mind. Lovelier is the cost involved:
15 minutes to print and cut out the stencil on cardstock
30 minutes to trace the stencil on both canvases, while halfway watching Get Him to the Greek and musing what a bizarre movie that is
Less than 2 hours to paint the design on both canvases, while watching a Harry Potter movie which, on the whole, is a much better film
Total time: about 2.5 hours
Canvases: already owned ($5 at the store)
Paint: already owned (~$3 at the store)
1/4" craft brush: already owned (~$2 at the store)
Stencil: free here
Total cost: FREE
Even if you don’t have all the supplies, you can’t beat covering your wall with some nice modern art for around $10 and a few hours of your time. And you don’t even have to have artistic talent! You could do the same thing easily with stripes (click the images for the source posts and DIY info):
Or go for a more intricate design if you are more artsy, like this one at Young House Love: