Create Your Own FREE Art Paintings (from photographs)!

Turn Your Photos Into Art (the ultimate guide) | The Painted Hive

In keeping with my completely, absolutely, totally not weird obsession with budget-friendly wall art I wanted to share a really cool and easy way to create your very own custom ‘paintings’.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the concept of digitally turning photos into paintings, and maybe some of you have already played around with the process, though for anyone a little sceptical or uncertain, hopefully this post sheds some light, sparks a few ideas and helps inspire.

I started playing around with applying painterly effects to photos a few years ago after I got Photoshop and stumbled across a few on-line tutorials. It was a new and exciting discovery for me, opening a whole world of possibilities. Achieving really good results using Photoshop can be tricky, so at the time I also trialed a few auto-painting programs which offered simple “one-click” filters.

Since then there has been heaps of progression in the photo-to-art realm. Having sooooo many options is awesome and empowering, though can also be confusing and overwhelming. So, here’s my little break-down.

 

The Photo

Of course, you need a photo to begin with.

The choice is entirely personal, though keep in mind that some may work more successfully than others. Certain compositions and subject matter just lend themselves better to artistic treatments. And remember, one of the bonuses of turning your photo into a painting is that it doesn’t need to be particularly spectacular to begin with.

The photo could be an existing one of your own, one taken specifically for the purpose of applying a painterly effect or a scan of an old photograph.

In addition to using your very own photos, it’s also nice to know that there are literally millions to choose from online. This can be handy if you’re after something specific that you simply don’t have the ability or inclination to capture. Online photos can be purchased through stock image websites or even downloaded directly for free (just be sure to obtain consent first).

A few of my fave subject matters for painting conversions are…

Drag the slider to compare before and after – if you’re viewing in a reader you may need to click over to the blog.


ANIMALS
Who doesn’t love a painting of a beautiful animal? I especially adore the impact of large-scale animal art and, for whatever reason, am particularly drawn to farmyard animals and birds (along with the more obscure, like camels and giraffes – weird). I also like the idea of using photos of your very own pets.
The above deer has been converted by the team at Topaz Impression.

 

LANDSCAPES
The natural romance of most landscapes makes them well suited to painterly transformations. Imagine turning your cherished travel snaps into custom works of art. Or converting scenic home-town pics into meaningful paintings.
The above lake has been converted by the team at Topaz Impression.

 

ISOLATED
A grouping of themed isolated objects (that is, individual items on plain backgrounds) can have amazing impact. I LOVE the possibilities here. Think Gramdma’s old china, your kid’s favourite toys, fruit, leaves, shells, kitchen utensils, precious trinkets, vintage wares, little knick-knacks…anything! Simply place your chosen object against an all white background then snap your pic. If needed, further editing to clean-up the ‘canvas’ can be undertaken during the conversion process. As a shortcut you can also find lots of isolated images online.
The above car (not my usual style, I know, though this was done for my brother and I think a collection of cars would be great in a masculine space) has been converted by myself using a combination of Paper Artist and GIMP. Original image from Performance Garage.

 

BOTANICALS
From a vase of carefully orchestrated roses to clusters of clematis still on the vine, botanicals can range dramatically in terms of style. This makes them incredibly flexible. So, whether your taste is neutral and natural or bold and bright there is sure to be a composition to suit. For sentimental types I like the idea of immortalising a special bouquet. Or how about simply capturing your favourite backyard blooms?
The above hydrangeas have been converted by myself using Waterlogue. Original image from Jentertaining.

 

STILL LIFE
If you’re looking for an easy, fun and rewarding project, why not try composing and photographing your very own still life then converting it into a painting? You could use some of your favourite items and even incorporate sentimental objects. Remember, the photo itself doesn’t have to be spectacular though you might want to pay attention to light and balance.
The above composition has been converted by myself using Topaz Impression. Original image unknown.

 

Note: Generally speaking, you can’t simply download and print photographs taken straight from the internet because the resulting quality will be super poor due to insufficient resolution (refer to my Understanding & Editing Free Printables post for further information about this). Even high resolution photos carry limitations in terms of quality when it comes to enlargement. It doesn’t take much for them to begin to appear blurry or pixelated which is a shame because photos really rely on crispness to look their best. Digital paintings, however, are much more forgiving in this respect. This is part of the beauty of applying painterly effects – the flexibility they provide in terms of size and quality. This allows for the use of poor resolution images and the considerable enlargement of almost any photo with little discernible degradation. For me, the ability to create HUGE statement art is one of the most exciting aspects of using painterly effects.

 

The Effect

Of course, the look of the ‘painting’, and the way it’s achieved, is essentially dictated by the method (and program – more on those below) you use. Some processes are super quick and require absolutely no skill, whereas others demand quite a bit of patience and artistic ability. The options are almost endless, and needless to say, results vary.

I’m partial to the more traditional looking artistic styles, though the sky really is the limit here. From funky pop art to something more whimsical you’re only limited by your imagination!

Essentially, there are three main methods for turning a photo into a painting. Keep in mind these describe the different photo-to-art techniques. Photo-to-art programs may incorporate capabilities for one or all methods – refer to the program list below for more details.

AUTO-PAINTING
This involves using pre-set filters which, as the name suggests, are applied automatically. Simply select one of the available styles (such as ‘watercolor, ‘oil painting’ or ‘pastel’, for example) and via smart algorithms your photo is instantly transformed! In some cases you can also make controlled changes by adjusting certain parameters (such as brush size, stroke direction and texture, for example) or making other edits to tweak the effect to best suit your image and desired look.

Photo to Painting with DAP

Dynamic Auto Painter

ASSISTED DIGITAL PAINTING
Unlike auto-painting, which is, well, automatic, assisted digital painting calls for the manual conversion of photos through the application of user-applied brush strokes. This might sound complex and labour intensive though smart technology, known as ‘cloning’, does much of the work for you. You see, rather than having to create your painting from scratch on a blank canvas, cloning uses the original photo as a source, instantly transforming areas in a painterly fashion as you apply custom strokes! This process does require some practice and an artistic eye though the results can be amazingly realistic and quite striking.

Photo to Painting using Corel Painter

Corel Painter

Note: Whilst you can certainly use a standard mouse to paint digitally (I do), a tablet and stylus does give greater control.

IMAGE EDITING
Of course, all of the methods involve image editing, though what I’m specifically pertaining to here is the clever blending of standard photo manipulation techniques. Different effects can be applied to your photo then layered in such a way as to mimic a realistic painting. I know this sounds kinda technical – and, well, it can be – though for beginners there are lots of on-line tutorials to educate and build confidence. Results can be fantastic and the process is really rewarding.

Photo to Oil Painting in Photoshop

Photoshop (via Thom Yorke)

Note: Although image editing isn’t the obvious choice for photo-to-art conversions, it’s a great technique to try if you already own a powerful image editing program. It can extend your knowledge of the program’s capabilities and ensure you get the most out of it. It also negates the need to buy any new software.

 

For the purpose of clearly explaining the different methods I have segregated them however they could be, and often are, combined. For example, you could begin by applying an automatic filter then build upon it with some custom digital painting and subsequent editing to achieve your desired look. This layering of styles can produce amazing results.

As an aside, keep in mind that the way your painting appears on screen may not accurately reflect the way it will look once printed. Play around with different resolutions and sizes and always choose the best available quality when saving your work. If possible, view at print size and print a test patch first.

 

The Program

From basic apps for hobbyists to comprehensive software packages for professionals, program options are vast and varied. Obviously, they all differ in terms of capabilities, cost, and out-put quality, and some are super simple to use and require absolutely no skill whilst others come with pretty steep learning curves and the need for some talent. I think you really need to use a program to get a good understanding of how it works and what it offers. Fortunately, most of the more pricey options provide free trials.

Here are just a few programs to check out (prices are a guide only)…

WATERLOGUE ($3.00)
A popular app (Apple devices only) featuring a small selection of luminous watercolour filters.

TOPAZ IMPRESSION ($100)
An intelligent program featuring hundreds of realistic editable filters.

PAPER ARTIST ($4.00)
A fun app with a vast collection of different artistic filters.

COREL PAINTER ($400)
A professional program with a focus on manual digital painting.

COREL PAINTER ESSENTIALS ($40)
A condensed version of Corel Painter.

COREL PAINT IT ($40)
A fun program with several artistic filters and the ability to make some custom changes.

PHOTOSHOP ($30 monthly)
A powerful photo editing program.

PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS ($100)
A condensed version of Photoshop.

POPSICOLOR ($3.00)
A funky app (Apple devices only) which renders splashy watercolours.

FILTER FORGE ($30 – $300)
A versatile program inclusive of thousands of filters and the ability to create and save your own effects.

DYNAMIC AUTO PAINTER ($100)
A world-class program with numerous detailed filters and the ability to create your own effects.

JIXIPIX ARTISTA SERIES ($35)
A suite of artistic filters with some customisation options.

POSTWORKSHOP ($120)
A comprehensive program featuring hundreds of editable and layerable filters plus the ability to paint manually.

SYNTHETIK STUDIO ARTIST ($300)
An extensive program with hundreds of editable filters and assisted painting capabilities.

SNAP ART ($100)
An effective program featuring a wide selection of artistic style filters with options for customisation.

AKVIS ARTWORK ($70)
A simple program inclusive of several artistic style filters which can be adjusted and combined.

GIMP ($FREE)
A free photo editing alternative to Photoshop.

 

 

Of course, there’s no denying the beauty and pure specialness of real art, though let’s face it, not all of us have the skill to produce lovely paintings. These clever digital alternatives are a perfect cheat – and just plain fun! To be honest, I’m actually reasonably artistic (if I do say so myself :-) and really enjoy drawing and painting, though I’m not exactly what you’d call ‘efficient’ (read: I am slow and messy!), so for now I’m loving playing around with this virtual substitute!

I’m also loving the possibilities it opens up in terms of gift giving. How cool would it be to gift someone special a custom ‘painting’ of something symbolic?

I’m actually working on some cool free printables for you guys using a few of these programs and techniques so will share more in-depth tutorials when I get around to that.

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PS I’m trying out a new before and after image slider. If it doesn’t work for you, or something just looks plain outta wack, feel free to let me know.

PPS Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Christmas.

Thank you so much for your e-friendship throughout 2014.

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Easy DIY Lantern Lamp

A few months back my mum mentioned she was looking for a new bedside lamp to grace the guest room at her beach house.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely accurate. When I say “looking for” I really mean “dreaming up”, and when I say “new” I really mean “not new at all” because, like me, she has the same weird can’t-leave-well-enough-alone-or-just-buy-stuff-from-a-store-like-most-regular-people disease.

Anyways, her plan was to simply combine two elements she already owned; an inexpensive lantern and a complete lamp cord. Yep, two basic items anyone can get their hands on!

And when I say “simply combine” I really do mean just that! Truly ruly, this is one of the easiest DIY lamps ever. It’s also super affordable, completely one-off and the possibilities are almost endless! Oh, and did I mention the absence of any wiring?

You only need three ingredients…

Convert a Lantern into a Lamp | The Painted Hive

LANTERN
We used a rustic wooden lantern that was found at a discount variety store a few years ago for just $8. Although we used a lantern you could use almost anything with an appropriate form (as long as it’s safe to use as a lamp – remember, some light bulbs can get pretty hot). I’m liking the idea of a cute wooden birdhouse!

If possible, use something with a raised base to allow space for the socket flange and to provide a feed for the cord (demonstrative photos below). Of course, if you can’t find something raised, you could always add your own little feet/apron or consider the option of hollowing out certain areas (if possible).

LAMP CORD
Did you know you can buy wire-free DIY lamp cords? Whilst we used a cord from an old Ikea MYLONIT lamp (this was a really cheap self-assemble lamp with a complete cord which was entirely independent of the actual lamp form – now discontinued) Ikea still sells super affordable similar lamps with all-in-one cords which would work just as well for a project like this (check out the LATER, KVARNA and KAJUTA).

Note: As an alternative to the Ikea lamp cords, you could try a plug-in pendant cord though they can be pretty pricey (up to $60) and may not be as well suited for this type of use. I know there are lots of really affordable lamp kits available in the US (and I’ve also just discovered you can actually buy separate cord sets from US Ikea stores) though I think due to legalities they are pretty much non-existent here in Australia. I found using the Ikea lamps to be the best option.

LIGHT BULB
We used a little 15 watt pilot bulb (available at supermarkets or hardware stores) which, for whatever reason, I think compliments the subtle nautical style of the lantern. It’s low wattage also emits just the right amount of warm light given it’s shining through clear glass. Of course, you could get fancy with a more decorative filament bulb or use a traditional candle-shaped one.

To convert the lantern into a lamp…

How to Make a Lantern into a Lamp | The Painted Hive

ONE Make a hole in the base of your lantern.

This needs to be large enough to accommodate the socket, though not so large that the flange fits through (refer to diagram below). The flange needs to be ‘caught’ by the underside of the lantern so the socket can be properly secured.

In the case of our old Ikea spring-loaded lamp cord, we had a little room for error in terms of hole size as the circumference of the flange was quite a bit larger than that of the socket. The newer Ikea lamp cords however require a little more precision as the difference in size between the flange and socket isn’t as generous…

Ikea DIY Lamp Cord Parts

That said, for greater ease or to correct any oh-oh-I-made-the-hole-too-big mistakes, you could always use a washer to fake a larger base area.

To create our hole we used a hole saw bit (as can be seen above) though there are lots of ways to go about it. A spade bit (if you have a large enough one) or a multi-tool are just two alternatives.

Note: These methods for creating the hole should work for metal too – as long as the cutting bits are good quality and sharp. Getting through might just take a little longer.

 

DIY Lantern to Lamp

TWO Paint the socket sleeve (thanks for being my hand model mum!).

This just helps disguise the plastic look of it. We went with basic matte black, though you could opt for a trendy colour pop or faux metal finish. You could also choose to conceal the sleeve once in place – I contemplated wrapping it in twine, fine rope or even a sleeve of metallic card, though decided it wasn’t really necessary. I actually quite like the simplicity of it.

 

How to Convert a Lantern into a Lamp

THREE Feed the socket through the hole and insert your bulb – DONE!

Obviously I took the above demonstrative spring arm photo before I painted the socket sleeve!

In our case, this meant squeezing up the spring-loaded arms and inserting the socket from the underside before allowing the arms to snap back, securing the socket in place. If you are using one of the newer Ikea lamp cords, this would simply involve inserting the socket from the underside then screwing down the plastic nut to sandwich the base of the lantern. Essentially, the nut and spring arms serve the same anchoring purpose.

And it really is as simple as that!

DIY Lantern Lamp | The Painted Hive

Mum now has a totally unique lamp to both compliment and illuminate her beach house guest room – and all for less than $15 and in under fifteen minutes!

I tested the lamp at night and was immediately smitten with its warm glow and shadow cast. The decorative x’s cut the light quite boldly and produce, what is to me, quite an enchanting ambiance.

Below you can see what I mean about the lantern needing some sort of raised base or hollow. There has to be space to accommodate the socket flange and somewhere for the cord to feed out or the whole thing won’t sit level.

Lantern Lamp DIY

As nice as it is to use lanterns with actual candles, this is just a bit of a quirky take which makes for a unique lamp and provides easy one-click radiance.

I know this isn’t really a Christmas project though given the time of year I thought I’d style it a bit festively.

Turn a Lantern into a Lamp (No Wiring Required!) | The Painted Hive

Since creating this lamp I’ve found my eyes lingering longer over every lantern (slash hollow object) I come across. Do you ever do that too? Get so excited about the possibilities of a project that you just want to make more and more for no good reason? Fortunately stuff like this can make pretty cute one-of-a-kind gifts!

Hope everyone’s Christmas preps are going well :-)

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Quilt Cover Curtains…and a faux bamboo blind

There’s something about the large-scale use of bold patterns which scares me a bit.

I know that probably sounds stupid (I mean, it’s just ‘stuff’ after all) though as a budget-concious DIY decorator with a decidedly fickle streak I think it’s the fear of expending a fair amount of both cash and time on something only to tire of it after five minutes – not to mention the ridiculous dread of getting it just plain wrong in the first place!

I’m sure some of you probably feel the same way, and, like me, wish that maybe you didn’t, because as much as I adore the timeless appeal of my go-to ‘subtles’ there’s no denying the energy and impact a striking pattern can impart. Which is why I decided to step outside my comfort zone with this window treatment project for Charlotte’s room.

It all started with the Pottery Barn Florian Palampore collection…

Florian Palampore Quilt Cover

The Florian Palampore range (which included quilt covers, window drapes and shower curtains) is around four years old and now discontinued.

I was smitten!

Despite my instant love however, I never intended using anything from the actual range. You see, aside from the fact it was already discontinued, it was never even sold here in Australia (and even if it had been I’m betting it wouldn’t have been cheap). So, I decided instead to go on one of my relentless (and in no way obsessive :-) quests for something similar. I was concentrating on sourcing affordable vintage sheets which could be repurposed into curtain panels and after a few months of fruitless searching, guess what I just happened to stumble across on eBay? Yup, an actual Florian Palampore queen-sized quilt cover! Squeee!

Although a little more than I was intending to spend, at $80 (plus $20 for international shipping) I couldn’t say no. The best thing was I also discovered that the quilt cover was actually double-sided – same beautiful fabric front and back! – and based on my calculations one side alone was all I needed to create my pair of curtains. Soooo, I really only used half of the quilt cover which means that technically each curtain panel cost me just $20 – and, as a bonus, I have a whole “sheet” of that gorgeous fabric remaining!

I always intended using the curtains purely for decorative purposes so of course needed something functional to accompany them. I settled on my go-to of an inexpensive block-out roller blind concealed by a faux bamboo roman shade (a pretty yet practical combination I  also used in my master bedroom and my parent’s bedroom). Anyhoo, here’s how the whole project went down…

Just as a note, the window I worked with for this project is a standard-sized floor to almost ceiling (180cm wide x 210cm high). There is also an external blind (which you can see in some of the photos) as this is a westerly facing room which can get super hot in summer.

The Roller Blind

This is what forms the functional component of the window dressing, helping control light (and temperature, to some extent). I like using roller blinds because they are effective, easy to operate, slim and discreet and generally really affordable. I picked-up this basic block-out roller blind (just $20 on sale from Spotlight) and mounted it just above the window frame.

Block-Out Roller Blind

Prices for roller blinds can vary dramatically. For a project like this where the entire thing is concealed, there’s nothing wrong with using a low-end version. I find the basic functionality is completely comparable. Of course, if you don’t have standard sized windows then buying off-the-shelf might not be an option. I considered using a textured roller blind (so I could forgo the bamboo valance) though I couldn’t find any suitable ready-made options and the price for a custom blind was super expensive. I also toyed with the idea of topically covering my cheap roller blind with a textured fabric or wallpaper, though decided against it. Maybe that’s something for a future project.

 

The Faux Bamboo Shade

This is really just a valance imitating a bamboo shade. It does double duty by concealing the roller blind and instilling some lovely natural warmth and texture. It also hides the external blind from view when inside the room. To create this valance, I first mounted a basic curtain rod ($10 from Spotlight) just above the roller blind (making certain the brackets were deep enough to comfortably clear it).

Valance Mounting Rod

I then simply cut an inexpensive matchstick blind ($35 from Bunnings) in half horizontally, removed a few of the “sticks”, re-tied the strings (this is why I needed to remove a few sticks, to give enough slack to re-tie the strings) then wrapped and draped one half over the rod until I was happy with the look.

Valance - Using a Matchstick Blind as a Faux Shade

Remember, all the ugly exposed ends will be completely hidden by the curtains.

Note: I played around with using the upper half of the blind complete with the solid length of mounting timber though couldn’t get it to look and work as I wanted. If you plan to use the upper half, I recommend removing the mounting plank.

My valance is merely balancing on the rod though it’s incredibly stable (I’ve had this exact treatment in my master bedroom for over three years and the bamboo has never budged). You could use some clear string or thin wire to secure it if you like.

Here you can see how the block-out blind is lowered behind the valance without disturbing it in the least.

Bamboo Blind Valance

The above pic shows the blind only partially lowered for photographic purposes. Obviously it can be lowered all the way to the floor.

You might be wondering why I didn’t just forgo the roller blind and valance and use a real bamboo shade in their place. This does seem to make sense though I needed something with block-out capabilities and most bamboo shades are merely light filtering. This limited my options somewhat, though more than that, given the width of my window a bamboo block-out blind would have been extremely heavy to operate (and using two, with alternate string sides, would have required customisation – pricey). Charlotte likes opening her blind in the mornings and simply wouldn’t have been able to lift a big timber one. Also, they are pretty expensive. The cheapest ones I came across were more than double the price of my combined roller and valance alternative!

 

The Curtains

These lovely, bold botanical drapes are the real statement component of this window dressing. From a cosmetic perspective they add pretty vibrance whilst concealing the ends of the valance and plastic cord of the roller. From a functional perspective, although they are essentially “dummy drapes”, they help filter excess light which creeps in from the sides of the roller, making the room even darker (and they can be closed too if need be).

Quilt Cover Curtains and a Faux Bamboo Shade | The Painted Hive

From the beginning I had envisioned using a natural bamboo pole though unfortunately I couldn’t find a long enough one which didn’t taper down considerably (like, to pencil thinness) at one end. I eventually decided to simply cut two bamboo poles in half then connect the fatter ends together (bamboo poles are super cheap from hardware stores and garden centers). To join the halves I pumped some clear expanding glue into each natural hollow then inserted a 50cm length of dowel and forced the ends together – it’s important to use a relatively long dowel to give the joint structural integrity otherwise it may bow. This created one long, strong pole with a nice even girth and because I had cut and connected both ends at the point of a node the join is invisible. I mounted my pole quite close to the ceiling on basic cream brackets deep enough to clear the valance. For a finishing touch I added some small timber finials ($4 each from eBay – the ones I used are no longer available sorry though drawer knobs are a good alternative) and painted the visible ends of the brackets to co-ordinate with the bamboo pole.

Bamboo Curtain Rod | The Painted Hive

To transform my quilt cover into two curtain panels I first trimmed off the end section (where the buttons and holes were) then separated the front and back to give me two clean “sheets” of fabric (as mentioned above, one sheet was all I needed for both of my drapes so I  simply set one aside for use in future projects – awesome!).

I then hemmed the top and checked the length only to discover they were marginally short. Not to worry though. I had anticipated this and already pre-planned to add some simple natural linen I already owned as lengthening base trim if need be. This is not only an easy fix though also provides a nice bespoke detail. I simply added the trim during the remaining hemming process.

Base Trim Lengthens Short Curtain Panels | The Painted Hive

In this pic the base looks a little wonky though it’s just the camera angle and wave of the curtain. It was kinda hard to photograph given it’s practically behind the bed!

For the heading I defied convention (that is, my convention) by doing something that was slightly conventional (say what?). I used actual proper curtain gathering tape and hooks (super cheap from IKEA) and antique bronze rings ($15 for twenty on sale from Spotlight).

Gathering tape is more commonly associated with tailored pleats though can also be used to form the more casual ripples I went with. I sewed my tape on though you could simply use fusible webbing.

I love the soft, relaxed waves and the finish is so professional.

DIY Curtains with IKEA Gathering Tape and Hooks | The Painted Hive

You might be wondering why I didn’t just use block-out drapes and forgo the roller blind and bamboo valance? Well, I don’t really love the way block-out drapes hang. I find their fall can be a bit too stiff, heavy and ‘fat’, flanging considerably at the base. For windows with plenty of wall at either side this can be okay, though in this case they would have encroached on the actual glass, blocking some of the natural light and making the window appear smaller. Also, I don’t find opening and closing high-up, heavy drapes the most practical of options, especially in this instance where a bed impedes access – it’s much easier to simply reach over and pull the roller cord. In addition, I do like the look of layered window treatments.

Quilt Cover Curtains and a Faux Bamboo Shade | The Painted Hive

I’m kinda smitten with the happy vibe the sunny botanical print is imparting and am taking my husband’s call of “70’s caravan curtains” as some weird sort of compliment.

Of course, whilst in this instance I re-purposed a quilt cover, you can use just about anything made of appropriately proportioned fabric; flat sheets, tablecloths and drop cloths being just three options. And remember, the size doesn’t need to be perfect. Adding some co-ordinating trim at the base, head, or even somewhere mid-way, is easy and effective.

Anyhoo, Charlotte’s room is really close to complete now! I just need to finalise bedding and artwork, build some custom storage boxes and add some fun, whimsical touches – looking forward to ticking this one off!

 

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AT A GLANCE
COST BREAKDOWN
Roller Blind – $20
Bamboo Valance (including rod & brackets) – $35
Bamboo Pole (including brackets, rings and finials) – $30
Curtain Panels (including tape and hooks) – $50
TOTAL
$135

I know this doesn’t sound super cheap, though compared to buying something similar the price is pretty great.

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DIY Christmas Advent Calendar Wall Chart

Just in case you’re wondering…yep, this is a re-post of my project from last year.
I wanted to share it again, a little earlier on in November this time around, to give everyone a better chance of getting it completed before December 1st.

I love Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year. So, it seemed only fitting that my advent calendar should bring together a few more of my most fave things; wall charts, chalkboards, typography and bakers twine!

Advent Calendar Wall Chart (with FREE printables!) | The Painted Hive

The countdown to Christmas day isn’t something I’ve given much thought to since childhood, though now with little kids of my own, it’s once again a time to celebrate. My vision is for this advent ritual to become a special family tradition which builds fond future memories (for myself, hubby and the kids).

This calendar was part-inspired by the old-fashioned borrowing system used at my primary school library (where there was a wall of modified envelopes filled with laminated borrowing cards) and features faux chalkboard date pockets which each hold a cute little shipping tag ready to be hung on the tree. The tags are adorned with a decorative snowflake and lyrics from ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.

I really love the look of this calendar – it’s big, eye-catching, vintage-esque and gives just a subtle nod to the festive season – and am already kinda lamenting having to eventually take it down :( Though, thanks to its re-usable nature, I’m also looking forward to hanging it again next year!

This project is really easy, super affordable and completely rewarding (oh, and kinda awesome too :-). It’s also a project the kids can help with, and…there’s still plenty of time to have it complete before the start of December!

You will need…

DIY Advent Calendar Wall Chart Supplies

1 Fabric. I used lined (backed) seeded calico (from Spotlight). Of course you could use almost anything. I chose the calico because it had a lovely organic look and a nice medium weight (due to the backing). Plus, at only $5 a meter (on sale) it was also super affordable.

2 Hemming tape. Obviously, this is to hem the fabric. You could choose to sew the hems, use fabric grade double sided tape or fabric glue.

3 Timber trim. I used 18mm (3/4″) half dowel.

4 Timber stain. I used water-based interior stain in Walnut.

5 Double sided tape.

6 Thumb tacks or upholstery pins.

7 Hanging string. I used twine.

8 Paper. I used good quality photo paper though you could simply use standard copier paper. Light cardstock would also be good.

9 Shipping tags. I used 108mm x 54mm (4 1/4″ x 2 1/8″) tags (from Officeworks). I wanted the simplicity of traditional buff though you can find them in lots of pretty colours. Red would be nice.

10 Bakers twine. I used traditional red and white (from eBay) though you can buy it in lots of colours.

11 Acetone. For transferring the chart title onto the fabric. There are quite a few different mediums you can use for fabric transfers (Citrasolv and Artist Gel Medium being two popular ones). I found the acetone worked really well for me.

You will also need these completely free printables (click to view and download)…

FREE PRINTABLES
Chalkboard Tag Pockets
Shipping Tag Template & Graphics
Calendar Chart Title

Free for personal use only.
Republication, reproduction or redistribution in any form is forbidden.

DIY Advent Calendar Wall Chart

STEP 1 Cut and hem your fabric.

Cut your fabric into a rectangle measuring approximately 950mm x 650mm (1 yard x 25″) then hem all four sides. As mentioned in the supplies section, I used iron bond hemming tape to fuse my hems though you could sew them, or adhere them with fabric grade double sided tape or fabric glue.

How To Make an Advent Calendar

STEP 2 Cut and stain your trim.

Cut your timber trim so it overhangs the fabric by around 15mm (1/2″) at each end. If necessary, lightly sand it then tint with timber stain.

Create a Wall Chart Advent Calendar | The Painted Hive

STEP 3 Attach your trim and create the hanging string.

Run strips of double sided tape along the rear of your trim, lay the pieces in place on your fabric then press down firmly. Flip the fabric over and push in five thumb tacks along each length of trim to secure them in position. At one end, create the hanging string by winding some twine around two thumb tack stems prior to pushing them in completely. Depending on the density of your timber trim and/or the strength of your fingers, you may need to tap the tacks in with a hammer (or, in my case, the flat end of a logistically convenient meat mallet!).

Faux Chalkboard Pocket Assembly | The Painted Hive

STEP 4 Make and attach your faux chalkboard pockets (printable supplied).

How to assemble a pocket (visual guide above):

1 Print out page one of the ‘Chalkboard Tag Pockets‘ printable.

2 Cut around the outline for the number ‘1’ pocket.

3 Fold along the dotted lines. Take care to fold a smidgen inside/outside (as applicable) the lines so they aren’t visible on the finished pocket.

4 Use double sided tape to secure the top and bottom ends first (these ends are both doubled-over to hide any white paper and reinforce the pocket opening).

5 Punch (or cut) a semi-circle in the top of the pocket front. This isn’t essential, I just think it looks nice.

6 Fold up the back and use double sided tape to secure the rear flaps.

Once all 25 pockets are assembled, lay them out in position on your fabric then attach them using double sided tape. I just eyed this process though you could measure and mark.

Christmas Advent Calendar Wall Chart (with free printable pockets & tags!) | The Painted Hive

NOTE: Double sided tape works fantastically for this project. It holds the pockets perfectly in place though can be easily peeled off the fabric if required. This is great if you need to reposition a pocket. It’s also handy if you want to remove the pockets for storage purposes – simply peel them off and stack them with a square of grease proof baking paper in between each layer. And, if in a few years time the pockets need updating, you can also easily and super cheaply create a whole new batch!

How To Print Onto Shipping Tags | The Painted Hive

STEP 5 Print onto your tags (printable supplied) and attach the bakers twine.

How to create the tags (visual guide above):

1 Print out a copy of the shipping tag template (page one of the ‘Shipping Tag Template and Graphics‘ printable). Remember, this template uses 108mm x 54mm (4 1/4″ x 2 1/8″) tags.

2 Place a tag over each tag outline and secure temporarily in place with low tack tape. If your tape is too sticky it could tear the tags when you remove it so if necessary dull the tack by pressing on a cloth.

3 Insert the sheet complete with tags into your printer as per usual and print page two (remember, page one is the template) of the ‘Shipping Tag Template and Graphics‘ printable onto the tags.

4 Repeat with the remaining four pages until you have printed onto all 25 tags. When printing the 25th tag you need only tape one tag over the top center outline of the template.

5 Carefully peel off the tape.

6 Thread each tag with a bakers twine loop then insert into the date pockets.

DIY Shipping Tag Christmas Advent | The Painted Hive

I chose to adorn my tags with decorative snowflakes and the lyrics from ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ for something whimsical and light-hearted.

Fabric Transfer with Acetone | The Painted Hive

STEP 6 Add the calendar chart title (printable supplied).

How to transfer onto fabric (visual guide above):

1 Print out the ‘Calendar Chart Title‘ using a laser printer or have it copied using a laser photocopier (inkjet will not work for this process) then cut out each line of text (it has been fragmented because it is larger than one standard letter sized sheet of paper) and reassemble it in position right side down on your chart. Secure temporarily in place with tape.

2 Working in small sections, brush on some acetone.

3 Whilst still damp use a hard smooth implement (such as a spoon) to burnish the text, transferring it from the paper to the fabric. Lift the corner of the paper from time to time to check the transference progress.

Advent Calendar (How to Transfer onto Fabric) The Painted Hive

This transfer method creates faded, distressed, aged looking graphics, which is just what I wanted for this project. It also leaves no visible residue so post washing isn’t required.

Christmas Advent Calendar (with free printables!) | The Painted Hive

STEP 7 Hang your chart and let the countdown begin!

On each day of December leading up to Christmas take a tag from the corresponding date pocket and hang it on your tree. I couldn’t resist sneaking in a few random sweets too and I’m also going to include a simple activity every third day (such as ‘write a letter to Santa’ or ‘choose a toy to donate’). Of course you could fill the pockets with whatever you like!

DIY Christmas Advent Calendar Wall Chart | The Painted Hive

There are so many ways you can tweak this project to really make it your own. And whilst I know super fast crafty projects are all the rage right now, occasionally it’s nice to take a little more time to create something that’s just that bit special (not that this particular project is overly labor intensive).

DIY Christmas Advent Calendar Wall Chart (with FREE printables) | The Painted Hive

Hope it helps inspire!

Signature

 

FREE PRINTABLES
Chalkboard Tag Pockets
Shipping Tag Template & Graphics
Calendar Chart Title

Free for personal use only.
Republication, reproduction or redistribution in any form is forbidden.

 

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