A gift for a soon to be born nephew!

Inspired by this tutorial at Lil Blue Boo, I made a little wall hanging for my nephew’s bedroom.  You should definitely go check it out, Ashely at Lil Blue Boo does some very neat projects.  I decided to go with a momma and baby fish theme because Jackson’s mom and dad are pretty into fishing (as is the rest of my family.)

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I made mine slightly differently than Ashley did, mostly because I didn’t want to go to the store.  I just made it work with supplies from my stash, and that of my mother.    We didn’t have any hardboard, so I gesso’d up some mat board.  Next time I’ll use hardboard so I don’t need to worry about it curling up once its been gesso’d. I cut it out to have a quarter inch space on all sides of the frame’s mat.  Turns out, thats how big the pre-cut mat is.  So for my frame that holds a matted 8″x10″ picture, the window is only 7.5″x9.5″.  We didn’t realize this until we were mounting the thing though! Oh well!  It just doesn’t float.  Learn from my mistake,  measure your window first!

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Here we have some of the mat board with painting experiments on it.

I drew out the design I wanted on some plain sketchbook paper, and then colored it in to help me decide if that was going to be too much blue, or too much green or whatever. I also used the design from a wall hanging I did previously for the seaweed. Then I began to trace the fish and seaweed onto a hard cardboard using some variety of carbon paper.  I wouldn’t use it again, because I couldn’t erase any of it.

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cut out a piece of mat board for the dark blue strip down the side. Then I cut out my little fishies & seaweed flourishes with an exact-o knife.  I don’t know what that cardboard was used for originally, but it was tough stuff!  Cutting it out was by far the hardest part of this whole project.

My big momma fish is half on/half off the extra dark blue strip of mat board.  So I cut out a small triangle of mat board, and then glued it onto her tail so it would be supported and all on the same level with the head.

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After everything was cut out, I started painting.  I painted his name with rubber cement first.  It acts like liquid frisket, and keeps the area under it the base color, in this case white, and provides sharp edges.  The rubber cement was a little harder to use than normal masking fluid, only because it isn’t really made to be painted with.  It was difficult to make sure that the whole area was covered in a pretty thick layer, but it worked out just fine.

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Next came the background, the seaweed and the fishies.  I wasn’t too worried about it being precise and just free handed it.

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And I ended up adding glitter to a lot of the elements.  Real fish are sort of sparkly, so why not have Jackson’s fish be sparkly?!

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I glued everything down, and once everything was dry I started adding dots, and “sewing” outlines, and little jewels.  I’m not usually one to embellish things this way, but I think it really adds something.  So I just kept adding things.  Then I decided I wanted to put a quote in from Dr. Seuss.   Bad idea! I hadn’t planned for it, and it just didn’t look right.  Then my paint pen stopped working correctly and being really spotty.   So I ended up repainting the background sea part.  I don’t like the result as well as I liked the first one, but I was in a time crunch, and it definitely looks better than it did with the splotchy, unplanned quote.

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After it was all dried and glued together and properly glitterized, it got a few coats of spray on acrylic sealant and then was framed! Framing is not my area of expertise so my dear mother helped me out.  We ended up gluing the piece itself to white paper that was glued to the backing of the frame and elevating the frame’s mat with double sticky foam like Ashley did.

When all was said and done with it, I decided I like it.  I gave it away as a baby shower gift the afternoon it was framed, and it seemed to be well received.  I am considering making another one for a baby niece who has a big room with empty pink walls right now.  It will probably be larger, and perhaps pink.  I’m not a fan of doing all the pink for girls!/blue for boys! stuff, but her room is pink.  We’ll see.  I collaborate with my mom a lot on creative ventures, and she mentioned that her cricut machine can cut mat board with a special attachment.  That might open some more doors since the cutting part was the hard part.

~~Amy Jo

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