When the announcement came out for the latest installment of the Pinterest Challenge, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The art above the mantel in our family room has been patiently awaiting a little makeover. I loved the colors in the art, but actually preferred it hanging upside down. It was barely noticeable that the artist’s signature was now in the upper left hand corner, upside down. Even though I liked the colors, the overall look was a bit too dark and dull for us. Here is the before:
I was inspired by several different pins for this project. First and foremost, I loved this idea for masking letters on a piece of art, painting over the whole piece, and then peeling off the letters to reveal bits of the original art underneath. But, I did not want any text on this piece. So, I found myself also inspired by some beautiful Moroccan patterns, like in this bathroom and on this embroidered card. The criss-crossing lines create star formations and we all know how I feel about stars (in case you don’t, stars are one of my decor idols).
I decided to combine my two inspirations to transform my mantel art. The concept was to mask off a Moroccan-inspired pattern, paint over the entire canvas, and then reveal the original art where the pattern was masked. I loved the Moroccan pattern with an 8 or 10 point star in the center, radiating out to form other 5 point stars. To keep the project simple, I decided to work with an 8 point star for the focal point.
My artwork is about 36 x 36″ and I wanted the focal star to be a decent size. I folded an 8.5 x 11″ sheet of paper diagonally to form an 8.5 x 8.5 inch square and trimmed off the excess paper. Then, I created another square the same size. I folded both squares in half each way straight and diagonally to create fold lines as guides for lining them up. I layered the two squares, with one turned 45 degrees. The straight fold lines on the top square line up with the diagonal fold lines of the bottom square. I taped them together to create a template.
To create the mask, I traced my 8 point star template on contact paper. The rest of the mask was done with painter’s tape. I adhered the contact paper star in the upper left corner (well, upper left of the already upside down art). I used a yardstick and painters tape to mask out the rest of the lines. The 8 point star guided the initial lines radiating out. Then I placed some extra intersecting lines to create the 5 point stars that bleed off the bottom and right sides of the art.
I wanted the lines to be super crisp. I pressed the contact paper and painter’s tape down firmly with my fingers. Then, to make sure I had an extra good seal, especially around the contact paper, I used mod podge. I mod podged over the edges of the tape and the contact paper. This seals the seam, so the paint won’t seep through. If any mod podge leaks under, it is no big deal, since mod podge dries clear. Thank you to House of Hepworth’s for this fantastic tip!
I painted over the entire canvas with white paint. The color I used was from a sample pot of Martha Stewart’s Tailor’s Chalk (the color we chose for our basement). I used a foam roller and did 3 thin coats. I let the paint dry between each coat. Here’s a shot of the first coat, where you can still make out the tape:
Once the final coat was painted, I could hardly wait to start peeling the tape…so I didn’t. I immediately started peeling the tape off, slowly and carefully. The original artwork began to emerge.
I saved the 8 point star for last and once it was removed my vision for this piece became reality. I used an xacto knife to gently pry up one corner of the 8 point star. Then I slowly peeled it off.
Once everything was peeled off, there were only two problem areas. In the first, a large amount of paint had seeped under one edge of the 8 point star made of contact paper (must have missed the mod podge there). Luckily, with a gentle fingernail scraping and a damp paper towel I was able to clean up that blob.
In another area, the tape peeled up a little bit of paint. I simply laid down some new tape and used a paint brush to touch up the paint.
The finished pattern was striking! The beautiful colors peeked through the white paint. Overall the artwork was much lighter and airer. The last step to finish of the piece was painting the edges of the canvas. This canvas was a nice thick 1.5″, but unfortunately the artwork did not wrap around the edges. The original edge was black. I rolled on a nice clean white edge.
The hardest thing next to waiting to peel the tape off, was waiting for the final coat of paint to dry so I could hang it back above the mantel.
The reworked art is much more our style. The creative masking allowed me to control what colors and areas of the art showed through. I was able to cover up the artist’s upside down signature. The new design is so stunning, you can’t help but look at it. It is weird, because it is the first time we have had something above the mantel that draws your eye up.
Using white was the right choice to brighten up the artwork. It looks amazing against the dark grey walls. It also staves off my itching desire to paint the mantel white. The white artwork goes well with our white gallery wall in the same room and the white accessories on the built-ins.
To top it all off, the reworked art adds a new pattern layer to the family room. I have managed to work in so many patterns in this space…all in small, visual-clutter-free ways. There are chevron, ikat, and striped pillows. A Moroccan rug. Chevron and whale print throws. And, paisley-like block printed chairs (still in need of a color makeover). Oh, and don’t forget, the quatrefoil lampshade and floral chair covers in the adjacent kitchen.