I got a wild hair over the weekend and decided since I had nothing else I should have been doing (ahem, right), I would try my hand at some subway art. We moved 7 TIMES in the first 6 years of our marriage and I wanted to document all the towns and streets we’ve passed through over the years. If you haven’t had the fortune of shuffling your family around every year or so and don’t have a long list of previous addresses, you could do this project with places you’ve traveled to together or even you “bucket list” of destinations. All together this cost me about $15… for the 15×30 canvas (half off at Joann’s) and the 12×24 sheet of adhesive backed vinyl. I used the black and white paints I had at home and just little craft foam brushes. Oh and the most important tool… my Silhouette Cameo machine. (there’s a great bundle deal at SC right now!) If you’re new to the Silhouette or you just want more ideas on how to use it… be sure to check out the Cut It Out class here.
The key thing I learned doing this project: The Silhouette can cut WITHOUT a mat. What?! I had no idea. But that little tidbit made it possible to make a 12×24 stencil to use on the canvas! To cut without a mat, just unlock that blue lever on the right side and slide the white roller down to the next notch. It will now cut your vinyl sheet that’s 12×24! Just be sure to also select “no mat” in the software under the page option and then you can set up your page dimensions to be whatever you want. In this case, 12×24. I was a little worried that the machine wouldn’t have a good grip on the vinyl sheet at the end, so I cut a 12×4 piece from the other sheet in the package and taped that onto the end of my 12×24 piece just so the rollers had plenty of “stuff” to hold on to.
Once I had my machine all set up, I started designing my canvas. I decided to go with a 15×30 canvas even though my lettering wouldn’t reach all the way to the edge. I like it better with the border around it actually. If you want your lettering to go to the edges, just use a 12×24 canvas. I just started typing in all the cities, streets, house numbers, etc onto the page and once I had them all there I started moving them around, resizing, mixing and matching numbers and streets, etc to get them all situated how I wanted them. Be sure to ungroup everything after you type it and then select each individual word or line of words and “group” that. This allows you to move that line of text around as you please and resize it easily by dragging the corners, etc. You want the lines of text to be different sizes, so it’s much easier to work with them as separate “groups”.
Once it was all typed up and ready, I hit cut. Then I painted the whole canvas black. I thought the hard part was behind me…. I was wrong. My plan was to pull up the negative part of the cut in one tidy piece and simply lay it onto the canvas to act as a stencil. Silly me. I haven’t worked much with the adhesive vinyl, but I’ve now figured out that it’s really actually adhesive. 😉 It started to stick to itself, get folded up, tear in some places and I was beginning to LOSE IT. But then I gave up on my idea of one nice vinyl stencil and decided to just cut the lines of text apart and lay them down on the canvas one at a time. That was MUCH easier. There are some lines that aren’t as straight as I’d want, but it works! Once all the lines of text were laid down on the canvas, I used a foam brush and some white acrylic paint and just started dabbing in an up and down motion to fill in the letters. I just did one coat of this but I could probably have done two. Peel up the vinyl before the paint’s totally dry so it doesn’t get stuck to the canvas and viola… subway art! (note: I mixed and matched my numbers and streets for fun and to fit things in, but I still blurred our current house number just to be safe.)
My stencils didn’t work perfectly. Or maybe I should say my stenciling technique wasn’t perfect. I just went over any messy edges with a black sharpie marker and have decided to embrace the hand made look of it all! I love having it on our wall and remembering all the places we’ve lived.
Let me know if you have any questions…I’ll try to answer them!