Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Filling that Annoying Negative Space and Upcycling an Old Calendar

I'm not the best at the whole "Decking the Halls" concept- I admit it.  I haven't spent the holidays in the same place in 17 years!  In all honesty, I doubt we'll be in this house for the next Yule either.  We have the problem of most couples- we're perpetual renters.

We've lived in hotels, motels, relatives' homes, and small rental places ever since we've been married.  Before that, I was also a bit of a gypsy.  I've even spent a holiday season at Boot Camp!

So, now that we're in a cozy little cottage (even if it's not permanent) I'm trying to make it cozy for the kids.  I've got a bunch of projects that I'll be showing throughout the month.
The Cottage the day before we moved in.  Look how peaceful, how unsuspecting... ahhh- the poor neighborhood!

I have this giant fireplace mantel that was driving me nuts.  It wasn't a small or cozy sized mantel like the one in the dining room:
See- the dining room mantel is such a much more manageable size.  It's perfect for a charcoal sketch of Sango-kitty's fat bottom!  (And it looks fabulous with the lights on!)

It was huge!  So, I hung some wreaths.  But, those were pretty boring all alone.  Plus, it left this huge gap between the wreaths.  I left it alone.  I just wasn't ready to think about it, I suppose.
Such is the poor photography of using a cell phone camera.  Can you guess what was on my wish list for the holidays?  By the way, mind the gap! (The VERY BIG OBVIOUSLY UGLY GAP IN BETWEEN THE BORING WREATHS!)

I moved on to other projects around the house.  I set up the classroom (another post for another time) and I came across an old calendar from the local Chinese restaurant.  I nearly tossed it out before I caught sight of the blank backside of it.  "Hmmm," I thought to myself, "the size is right... the scale is ok... and I suppose storage wouldn't be a problem..."

I decided to turn my trash into a banner to fill that gap on the wall above the fireplace.
Step 1: Gather Supplies- old scroll style calendar, newspaper, pencil, paints, brushes

Step 2: IN PENCIL, sketch out your phrase.  I chose the word JOY simply because I'm too lazy to spend all night sketching in other letters.  If you have stencils, this is your time to shine.  I didn't have stencils so I did some complicated math in my head that involved counting the number of stitches in the scroll and dividing to find the height of each letter.  My letters ended up 40 "stitches" high with ten "stitches" between.

Step 3: Fill in your letters.  BE CERTAIN TO PUT NEWSPAPER UNDER THE CALENDAR!  Don't worry about getting smudges outside the lines.  We'll take care of that.

Step 4: Remember those smudges?  Use a contrasting color to outline the letters.  Instant smudge-away.

Step 5: If you have any empty space at the top or bottom (I had 22 "stitches" on both ends) you can fill it with another doodle.  I didn't feel like taking a long time sketching out the original partridge motif I was imagining, so I stuck with some simple geometric designs that worked well with the scrolls stitching.

Step 6: Hang it up and enjoy it.  I'm rather pleased with how well it worked out.  I'm planning on putting a smaller pine swag on the top to hide the nail, but I've got to admit- it fills the ugly negative space and makes the wreaths look a bit more interesting.


  1. it looks beautiful! and that is a great idea. i've never thought to turn my calendars over and see what is on the back!


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