September 12, 2011

How To: Personalize Subway Art

 I have been in love with subway art for a very long time!  But there have been a few things keeping me from buying any that I find...

1. I have never really found anything that is personal enough for me.  I don't really know New York enough to have their streets displayed in my house.  The hubs and I lived in San Francisco while I was going to design school so I am constantly looking for Frisco streets but when I do...

B. They are TOO expensive!



So I decided to be savvy and make my own personalized subway art.  I will admit when I first started this project it was a bit daunting.  I had a vision of what I wanted it to be, but I wasn't quite sure how to execute it.  After a little bit of reading in blogland I realized... I needed a Silhouette machine =/ , and those are not cheap so there went my savvy budget.  Then I thought I would just buy letter stencils and make my own words, but that seems like it would take forever and if I wanted more than one font I would have to spend more $.  So here is what I came up with...


I sat down at my computer and I made this on Photoshop.  I made my canvas size 24"x48" and just started making layers for all of the words.  I picked Copperplate Gothic Bold {I would recommend not choosing a font with a serif... made it very hard to cut out!} and Zapafino for the cursive.  I would type out the words and then use "free transform" under edit to make them the size to fit the space.  Once I was all done I saved it to a usb and headed down to my FedEx Kinkos to have it printed.  My place charges $.75 a square foot so this full size version totaled a whooping $6 bucks!!



Then I started with a 24"h x 48"w piece of 1/4" plywood.  It was precut to this size.  In hind sight I should have sanded the raw ply down before I sprayed the first color.  There were just some very rough spots and when I started I thought they would add charm, but after it was painted I wanted them more smooth.  I first spray painted it a navy but then dry brushed it with a greyish color sample I had on hand.  This was my first time dry brushing... as you can see I needed to get it a little more dry to not have the so wet patches... Lessons! 


Once that was done and dry I taped off the entire board with painters tape.



I then took the full size template and taped it down to the board.



And then I began cutting out all of the letters with my exact-o knife.  I will admit... this took 
F  O  E   V   E   R!
luckily it was good project to do in front of the tv while I caught up on my design shows =).
After a while {2 days off and on} the hubby took pity on me and finished the rest.  {love you hubs!}


Once it is all cut out it is time to apply the paint



At first I was just going to spray paint it, but I really wanted it to have a think layer of paint because I wanted to do a little bit of sanding {since I didn't do it the first time at all}.  So I dug through my paint samples and found a icy blue white.  I applied the paint with a foam brush.


Once it was dry {for the most part} I started to peel off the tape.  I used my exact-o knife to lift the tape where it was really sticking.


As you can see not all of the tape was varnished down very well.  I think it was the wood being sort of rough {again, if I had sanded first maybe it wouldn't have done this?} or was it was the hand cutting of the tape?  Who knows, but I was not about to start over again!  I had to make it work!


As I stood looking at it I thought why not make it look like the paint blurred into the wood grain... so out came the tool I should have used in the first place.


My The hub's orbital sander.  I used 220 grit but really worked the paint down so you could see the wood grains. 








In the end it is not what I first pictured... I think it is better, and I am so in LOVE with it!  All of these places and dates mean something to us... where we met, where we have lived, vacationed, got married, when our 2 boys were born.  All personal at the fraction of the cost!

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8 comments:

cheryl @ nefotlak. said...

love it! great tutorial also. i'm another that doesn't own a vinyl cutting machine!!
thanks for sharing.
cheryl xox.

Traci said...

This subway art turned out beautifully. I have no idea how you had the patience to cut all those letters by hand.
But it look great.

Amanda said...

I love this! Great work!

Karena said...

Love this idea! I would love for you to share it on my link party this Friday at cookienut.blogspot.com

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

I love your subway art! I am always keeping an eye out for some too and they are hard to find!! Thanks for sharing how you made yours!! Would love if you would come share at Feathered Nest Friday sometime! :)

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...

Hi there~ Just stopping back by to say thanks for sharing this at Feathered Nest Friday this week! Hope you come link up again soon!

Sharon said...

I love this!!! And it's perfect for me since I lived in Hawaii, San Francisco AND Half Moon Bay! ; ) I love your easy to follow tutorial. I need to stop reading the how to and just start making one! Daunting for sure....but so worth it. It's fabulous!

Sharon said...

I love this!!! And it's perfect for me since I lived in Hawaii, San Francisco AND Half Moon Bay! ; ) I love your easy to follow tutorial. I need to stop reading the how to and just start making one! Daunting for sure....but so worth it. It's fabulous!