It’s the Great Pumpkin! Kind of…

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There is so much Halloween cuteness to be found on Pinterest that I had to make a separate board to keep my inspirations straight. Pumpkin carvings like this and snacks like this.  Don’t they just make you want to host a Halloween party?!  Plus, after I made the ghost feet canvas, and loved it, I didn’t want to waste any time getting on board making this adorable kid friendly craft . I wanted to get it up on the wall as soon as possible, so that I didn’t have to wait until next year to display it.   Here was my inspiration.

Is this not adorable?!

I’d already purchased the canvas in a bulk pack using a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby(making each 12×12 canvas cost about $1.20), and I already had brushes, spray acrylic sealer, white paint, and stencils from previous projects.  So, I stopped at Michael’s and grabbed four tubes of acrylic paint (two different oranges and two different greens) and a roll of orange ribbon with white trim to use to hang the canvas. By the way, educators, including home educators, get an additional 15% off every day at Michael’s, so bring your teacher ID or homeschool registration card if you want to save some extra money.  My out of pocket for this rang in just shy of $5.

Anyway, I brush painted the canvas white at night, after my boys had gone to bed.  I should have used a foam roller, like I did on the ghost footprint canvas, because it was quick and seemed to give really even coverage, but my roller wasn’t completely dry when I started this project, so I had to make due with brushes.

White paint on a white canvas... not much to see yet!

I did two coats of paint, letting it dry for about 30 minutes in between coats.  Then I painted a big orange pumpkin.  I just free handed it, starting small and then making it larger until I liked how it looked.

Then I did some stripes in a slightly darker shade of orange to try to show some depth, stenciled in the year, and let the whole thing dry overnight.

This is the first handprint art I tried with the boys since the disaster that was Father’s Day 2010, when His Majesty, then a mere 3 months old, screeched like a banshee and refused to humor me by opening up his hands.  Talk about a big fat, FAIL!  But this time, this time was going to be different.  This time, the project was going to go perfectly.  After all, our footprint effort had gone off without a hitch, so naturally, I was more than hopeful that this project would be a success.

Well, it wasn’t exactly as easy as I’d hoped.  My plan was to use Christopher’s hands to do the leaves first, and then use His Majesty’s hands to do more leaves in a slightly lighter color green, kind of overlapping them.  Seemed pretty straightforward, right?  Yes, except that Christopher is eleven years old, and his hands are officially almost as large as my own.  Which would have been fine, except that the pumpkin I painted was not large enough to make that work.  And because I’d already stenciled in the year, I would have had to paint over the stencil in a few coats of white paint, wait for it to dry, enlarge the pumpkin, wait for THAT to dry, and then do the handprint leaves. I was so bummed.  But then Christopher, the independent thinker that he is, suggested that we use his thumb as the stem of the pumpkin, and leave little brother’s hands to serve as the leaves.  YES, I agreed, that sounded perfect!

We started about the task of gathering His Majesty, who was clearly disturbed that he was not being granted the privilege of holding the paintbrush.  Luckily, he didn’t make too much of a fuss about it.  It was early, and mercifully, I don’t think he was fully awake.

Not exactly thrilled with his role in this project.

So, all was going well with the painting of his palm, except that when I got ready to make the first print, he closed his fist.  Tightly.  And by the time I’d convinced him (aka, bribed him with the promise of a banana) to open it, the paint was kind of dried.  So I had to repaint his hand, and then quickly press it to the canvas.  Anyway, we eventually got it, and the other hand, too.  And they looked pretty darn cute, despite some areas that would need some minor touch ups.

Then came time for Christopher to do the stem.

He expertly painted his thumb and made his mark on the canvas.  His print was even, and dark, a real 10+ thumbprint…but… do you see what we saw?

His beautiful thumbprint was positioned in such a way that it looked like His Majesty had a large 6th finger.  We laughingly examined it from all angles, and then Christopher suggested that we should scrap the stem idea and instead turn the thumbprint into a vine.  He was the brains of the operation, but unfortunately, I was assigned the task of turning his thumbprint into a vine… and painting leaves…

Eh. It worked out ok.  See the cute little handprints?  And those nice stenciled letters? Focus on those… Because I obviously need some practice making vines. And I probably should have googled images of pumpkin leaves before trying to paint them, considering that mine don’t look the least bit like them… but, we got it done (in under an hour), despite a few minor changes to the original plan.  Plus, we had some laughs about it, which I’m sure we’ll remember every year when I dig this beauty out of the Halloween box.

After it dried, I took it outside and sprayed it with acrylic coating, to seal the paint so that I can keep our creation for years to come.  The acrylic has to dry for 24 hours before you handle it, so it was another 2 days before I was ready to put the finishing touches on it and hang it up. I asked my husband to help me staple the ribbon to the back of the canvas, and I should have just waited for him.  However, I’m a little bit impatient, and in the 20 seconds of waiting on him, I decided to just staple it myself.  How hard could it be to use a staple gun, right?

Wrong.  What happened next was so disappointing, not to mention a bit scary, plus it made me mad, but didn’t kill or impale me or anyone in my family, so all is well.

I picked up the staple gun, squeezed the trigger, heard a loud crack, and then looked down to examine my handy work.  But there was no staple holding the ribbon to the canvas.  And just as I opened my mouth to ask my husband what kind of cruddy staple gun we owned, he turned the corner into the kitchen, and I realized what I had done.

I had held the staple gun incorrectly, and instead of attaching the ribbon to the canvas, I’d shot a rogue staple right through the center of the Great Pumpkin.

I wish I had a picture of the staple, but in the midst of my temper tantrum heartfelt expression of gratitude that I hadn’t shot myself in the eye/carotid artery/chest/whatever with the wild staple, it just slipped my mind.  I was pretty peeved that I had damaged the canvas, but my wonderful (and always calm) husband managed to remove the staple, and blend the paint on the pumpkin, leaving only a few traces of my staple gun mishap. He also stapled the ribbon to the canvas, and presented it to me for to display.

My reminder to not use tools without at least getting a brief how-to demonstration.

The staple gun does work to easily attach ribbon to canvas, assuming that you use it correctly.

After all of that, our final result looked like this.

Not too bad.  And, if you harbor a better understanding of spatial relations and staple guns than yours truly, it should be relatively easy to pull this off.  Obviously, if I can literally fumble through it, YOU can do it. I’ve gotten all of the mistakes out of the way for you now!

So tell me.  Have you ever had a creative snafu?  Did something that you created not turn out exactly as you’d hoped, but you somehow managed to pull it off in the end?  Have you narrowly averted a run in with a staple gun? Do tell. Please give me something to chuckle about that isn’t myself!

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