Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mixed-Media Photo Tree Skirt

A Very Maki Tree Skirt

One of the reasons we don't like decorating for Christmas is that our decorations aren't very us... in fact, they're not "us" at all. We bought a bunch of stuff at Lowes, very generic balls etc., when we were first married ( nearly 16 years ago) and called it done. We aren't very tchotchke-oriented to begin with so the trappings of Christmas don't really fit our space. It's got to the point where I don't feel like hauling out the crap ever again. Something had to be done. So I started with our pathetic tree skirt. 

Tree Skirt 1

Please click on the pictures to see them up close.

Start with one of those dollar store, batting tree skirts:

Add fabric to it. I used the same technique I did with my dish mats and it went fine. The fabric is just a base, no need to worry about perfection or even matching:


Paint with thinned gesso. We used a mix of thinned and full strength gesso for variations in opacity:


Start adding some paint. I didn't worry about letting anything dry. But when painting wet on wet you need to have a light hand.


Add more paint, stamps, stencils - whatever you like :-)


Thin black paint with water and start writing meaningful text over the tree skirt. This part was really fun as the kids yelled out suggestions so ours has everything from "Saltine Toffee" to " No SAT" and "Elvis"

Keep doing this until you like how it looks. A lot of the writing will get covered up over time so don't stress about imperfections. Be sure to add some drips and splatters while you're at it:

Let it dry, overnight is best as the batting weight base really holds the moisture.

Meanwhile, print your photos onto fabric. I used Claudine Hellmuth's Sticky Back Canvas - it's awesome! In Alisa Burke's Anti-Scrapbooking Class  I learned a technique where you paint non-essential (or distracting) parts of the photos with gesso:


And journal in the open space. Cool 'eh?:


Once the skirt was dry, peel off the backing on the canvas and stick the photos down randomly. Since my plan is to continually add photos to it, I didn't worry too much about placement.


Add paint to the edges to blend them in with the background:


Decorate the painted edges, paint pens work great:


Add some doodles:


You might have a few corners pulling up; I solved this by adding messy, decorative stitching, but you could also use adhesive:


Stitching such an unwieldily gigantic project is horrible. Seriously. Not fun. It helps to roll up the sides to shove the excess through the sewing machine. Speaking of the machine, don't be surprised if it gets a little paint on it. Oops. 

Consider this man-handling of your project "distressing" and it feels a lot less traumatizing.

And yes, we do have zombie pics on our tree skirt... their called "memories" :-)

You should end up with something like this:

Hope there was something you can take away and use from this tutorial. If only, be yourself.


Maureen said...

OMG-this is awesome what a great family project. I wish I could get my son to participate in something like this.

claudine hellmuth said...

love what you did with the sticky back canvas!

Kathi said...

How seriously cool and such a wonderful family project!!! Plus, you can add to it each year!!!

grrlpup said...

I so admire how you can incorporate messiness and spontaneity! So many people, once they learn as kids not to be messy, can't get back to it. And there are so many cool effects that don't happen any other way!

posidanielle said...

I love this! You are so creative and inspiring!

BonnieRose said...

amazing project.. love it! That's one of alisa burke's classes I'd love to take!

Carmen said...

Fantastic! Really love it :) Will have to get me some of that canvas methinks :)

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

That is so very Maki :) And the zombie family pic is the bestest :D

Mim Smith Faro said...

This is awesome! I love that you can add pictures to it each year. What a wonderful family project.

Nina said...

Hiya, beautiful girl. It is so amazing to see you and your family when you do such cool and fun activities together.

God bless you and your beautiful family this season and in the New Year, Nicole!

Thank you so much for being such a treasure of a friend. Really appreciate the prayers for Matt.


Tiff said...

This is so cool and I bet the boys loved helping!