A Beautiful Parisian Themed Growth Chart


Just over a year ago, when I was looking around for finish touches for the nursery, my mom suggested I get a growth chart to mark Annie's progress as she grew.  I loved the idea and went on a hunt to find the perfect one. Despite my best efforts, I came up short - underwhelmed by the selection and quality. 

That's when my DIY brain kicked in and said, "if you can't find it, make it." 

Over the past few months, I sketched out a bunch of ideas and finally settled on one that fit my daughter's Parisian themed room: A glittering Eiffel Tower with colorful, old-world hot air balloons, set against a sunset sky and the words "Up, Up & Away" on a scroll beneath. 

Dreaming it up and sketching it turned out to be much easier than actually creating it. 

The first step was to purchase a roll of painters canvas that was already primed.  The effort of doing so completely exhausted me and I had to leave the canvas rolled up in its packaging for months on end while I recuperated.  Or, I suppose there is the slightest chance I was simply overwhelmed by the project and procrastinating like a champ.   

Finally, as the scrunchkin's birthday drew near (and I couldn't take the roll of canvas staring accusingly at me every time I passed it...), I heaved a sigh, collected supplies and broke the process down, step by step. 

I knew I wanted to mount the chart about 1 foot off of the ground and for it to measure up to 5 feet with a few extra inches at the top.  I also had to allow 1 extra inch on each side for hemming and 2 inches on the top and bottom.  After measuring 20 times to make sure I wasn't screwing it up, I cut a length of material 4' 10".  (The width didn't matter so much to me, so I didn't bother cutting it down). 

Hemming the canvas was not the easiest task ever.  I purchased heavy thread and an upholstery needle for the sewing machine and bumbled through the first side before claiming defeat and requesting help from my oh-so-patient mother.

The additional two inches of material at the top and bottom was hemmed to create a small pocket that would eventually hold a dowel.  (The idea with the dowel was to add some structure and heft to the chart, though, after finishing it, I don't know that it was entirely necessary.)  I also gave the hems a quick coat of paint just to decrease the chance of them unraveling.

Once the canvas was ready to go, I laid it on the floor and began painting in the background. 

I should note here that I am NOT an artist.  In fact, other than walls, I have never painted anything  in my life.  I can't teach anyone technique or style or method or theory... I can just tell you how I went about this process.  The one thing that I CAN tell you unequivocally is that Brushes Matter.  The first set I got were crap and wound up leaving hairs in all of the paint.  Very annoying.

Using a wide flat brush dipped in water, I swirled pinks, blues and purples onto the canvas in varying degrees of opacity.  I added some pearl white in soft swirls for clouds, and then left the whole thing to dry.

Once the background was completely set,  I used a pencil and a ruler to carefully mark out the measurements on both edges.  I used a stencil for the numbers and only marked up to 5 feet.  Instead of using paint, I traced over the pencil measurements with a silver Sharpie.  It gave me a much neater line, and I like that the silver doesn't look too harsh against the rest of the pastels.

 Again, using light pencil strokes, I transferred the images from my sketch onto the canvas.

After that, the work became all about painting.  As I said, I'm not an artist, so the process was a bit of trial and error: a deep navy for the Eiffel Tower; lavender, slipper pink and sunny yellows for the flowers; vines of fresh green and brightly hued balloons... everything sweet and light and wonderfully girly.  

To do the lettering inside the scroll, I utilized a simple technique I've used for other projects.  I found a font that I liked online and enlarged and printed the words "Up, Up & Away."  I flipped the print out over and used the side of a pencil to shade a solid block over the back of the text. 

Then I flipped the printout back over, placed it where I wanted it on the scroll, and traced over the words with a ballpoint pen.  As I pressed down, the pencil on the back of the paper marked the canvas, and, once I was done, it was an easy job to remove the paper and paint in the outlined text. 

Once everything was completely dry, I added a few finishing touches.  I hot glued pink paper mache roses to one balloon and made a small flag banner out of washi tape and baker's twine for the other.   The Eiffel Tower got a wash of clear glitter paint as well as a stippled border, and I was going to leave at that...until I found strips of rhinestone adhesive.  I mean, I would have been a fool to pass that up. 

In my wanderings through the craft store, I also came across some tiny pieces of canvas stamped with French themes - I thought they'd be adorable as height markers (I'll use a fabric pen to write on the back the date and the exact height).  I actually kinda like that they have a old world charm but tone down the babyish-ness of the project.  I burned the edges a bit to underscore the vintage look and will eventually create a pocket on the back of the canvas to store the extra pieces.

I cut down a dowel to fit in both the top and bottom pocket of the canvas and stapled a satin ribbon to the wood in order to hang it.  Satin and gossamer bows were another last minute addition but they somehow make it feel more finished. 

Last but not least, I turned the project over and added a small, handwritten note: "No matter how big you get,  you'll always be my baby."  It seemed like an important reminder.

I have to say, I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  No, it's probably not the finest example of artistry, but it's something that took me a lot of time and effort to create.  It's something that can go from house to house with us.  Something that Annie can roll up and keep, even when she's too big for hot air balloons and glitter and rhinestones.  Maybe even something she can share with her little munchkin.  And hopefully, every time she looks at it, she'll know how very much she is loved.

You may also like

No comments:

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

Powered by Blogger.