Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finally, My Favorite Art Ever!

I'm so excited it's Pinterest Challenge time again! Pinterest gave me all kinds of ideas for personalized subway art...as you'll see, it wasn't as easy as I expected it to be but it was worth the effort!

A month ago, I optimistically tackled art that seemed like an easy project: subway signs. Other blogs made it seem so simple that I thought I could complete it in an energy-filled evening. I couldn't, as you read here. To fix this mess, I had to pick up two new skills...math and the ability to spend too much for something.

To start with, I went back to the drawing board (literally) and redid my graph for the project. I have professional graphing paper somewhere, but of course couldn't find it when I needed it so I made my own.

The extra spending came with the sticky letters. I recently found them for about $5 at Ace Hardware, but when I bought mine I was at Michael's and they were $8 each. Recognizing that my pack of 2" letters wasn't going to fit on my not-quite-two-foot canvas, I took my mom's suggestion (great idea, mom! ;) and bought a set of 1" letters as well. This allowed me to fit in the longer place names without running off the edge of the canvas.

Curious about the blue painter's tape? That's evidence that I had not yet set aside my inability to spend money on this project...I ran out of letters. As a Scrabble player, I should have known that "A," "O," "S," and "N" would go first...but I hadn't planned for that. So instead I did half of the board, covered the other half with newspaper and planned to reuse the letters after the spray paint dried on the top half.

It didn't work.

The letters would not restick after being painted, though I ended up with a great mural of letters after I placed the painted ones on wax paper in hopes of reusing them.

I thought about leaving the bottom half of the board white and painting the pencil-lined letters black, but didn't really like it that way.

So instead I groaned a little, dug up an almost-expired 40% off coupon for Michael's, and went back to the store for another set of overpriced letters.

Three weeks and lots of frustration later, it was all worth it - I love this personalized art!

For the most part, it's a reminder of favorite places I have traveled. The bottom half of the canvas on the left, though, is more of a "bucket list" for travel - I haven't yet made it to Santorini, Cinque Terra, Wales, Costa Rica, Lyon or Rio. Someday!

P.S. For those of you who may want to try this project, here's what I learned through trial, trial, trial and error:

1) Buy the gold letters instead of the white ones. For some reason, they stuck better though they were all the same brand...I was able to reuse some of the gold ones, but none of the white could be used again and some didn't even stick well through their first battle with the spray paint.

2) If you split the canvas like I did (in order to reuse letters as much as possible), use blue tape with EdgeLock. This isn't a paid ad - it really makes a difference! Here's my paint line with normal blue painter's tape:

And with EdgeLock painter's tape:

3) If you don't want to mix letter sizes or if you still need more room, you can overlap the letters and hand-paint the edges with a lighter shade of grey/black to make it look unique. (Great idea, dad! ;)

4) I thought about being even more creative and using yellow to hand-paint a letter in each line to create a vertical hidden message, as well. (I mentioned the idea in an earlier post...my plan was to spell out "travel often" and "never settle.") I decided against the idea because I liked the simplicity of the black and white, but I may try it on another canvas sometime.

For more inspiration, check out the experts' Pinterest Challenge projects! You can find them linked here


  1. You will want to add Carpinteria to the list after staying here~ wonderful spot!

  2. Wow! Great job!!! It looks so time consuming, which is my vice. I get so frustrated! I'm glad you were able to finish the project and it was SO worth it. Love them!

  3. Great job. This looks fantastic!

  4. Such a cool project! Found your site through the Pinterest Challenge. I really like that you included places that you have yet to travel to--what a great reminder to make it happen!

    I'm definitely pinning this! :)

  5. The final outcome is very impressive! I bet the next subway art you create will be easier..we learn from experience. Thanks for inspiring!

    Sharon @ mrs. hines class