Monday, 30 January 2017

Covering canvases

Our walls are filled with examples of our creative exploits.  By 'ours' I mean myself and the Girl and the Boy.  The Husband has yet to show an interest in producing anything craft-based of his own, although he is very encouraging of our endeavours; his creativity is channelled into his baking instead (for which I am thankful, partly because I get to enjoy the results of his culinary labours, and partly because I don't think I could cope with him 'interfering' during our craft sessions!).

The kids' artwork is spread throughout the house; the Girl, especially, is prolific, but both really enjoy using the creative part of their brain and have made some fantastic and unique pieces of art.

One of our favourite ways of producing a new piece of art for our home is to use artists' canvases.

Bought from a specialist arts supplies shop, high quality blank canvases can cost a significant amount of money.  However, you can pick up a canvas (or sometimes a pack of canvases) for just a couple of pounds from shops such as The Works or Home Bargains.  Admittedly they're not top quality but they're very good and, for our purposes, they more than suffice.

Here are a couple of ways that you and your family can produce some terrific and personal art for your home without breaking the bank.

One of the simplest ways of creating some amazing wall art is to wrap some funky fabric around a canvas.  You need nothing more than:
- your chosen piece of fabric (big enough to cover your canvas, wrap around the edges, plus an extra couple of centimetres)
- your canvas
- a staple gun

You don't need to hem the material as the edge won't be seen.  I tend to go for a relatively lightweight, non-bulky fabric which will fold easily at the corners - a light cotton rather than a heavy velvet, for example.

- First, iron your fabric to get out all the creases - use as high a temperature as you dare, and use steam if you can.
- Place the fabric right side down on a table, and then place the canvas right side down on top of it, leaving an equal amount of fabric on each side.
- Starting with one of the side edges of your canvas, wrap the edge of the fabric around the canvas frame. Find the rough centre of the frame's edge and (keeping your fingers out of the way!) staple gun the fabric to the wooden frame of the canvas.  Hold the staple gun at a right angle to the frame and push down firmly as you staple, otherwise the staple tends to sit proud of the frame.  Working your way out from the centre, add more staples along this edge of the frame.  Keep the material taut as you work, but don't overstretch it, otherwise the pattern of your fabric risks being pulled out of shape.
- Now you need to do the same with the other side edge of your frame.  As you wrap the fabric around the frame and before you start stapling, gently pull the fabric to make sure that the material is stretched fairly tight over the canvas.  Otherwise it might sag once complete.
- You now need to fold the corners of the material before stapling the top and bottom edges.  I've found the best way to do this is to imagine you're wrapping a present. Fold in the loose fabric at the corners as neatly as you can; if you need to, trim away some of the excess material to avoid a bulge at each corner but be careful - fold it first and work out what you really need to keep in order that you don't have any 'bald spots' where the canvas shows through on the edge, and so that you don't have any raw edges of the material showing.
- Once you're happy with your corners, wrap the fabric around the canvas edge, gently pull the material so as to keep it taut but not distort the pattern, and staple it in place, starting from the centre point again.  Repeat with the opposite edge.

And there you have it - a simple but effective piece of art for your home which, when done right, can look far more expensive than it actually cost to make.

Your canvas can be huge or tiny, depending on your material and your available wall space. There are all manner of fabrics available, from all manner of places - even Ikea sells fabric by the metre now.  You don't need to spend a fortune - you can get perfectly good material from markets or charity shops, or you could even cut up an old item of clothing or a larger item fabric such as a bedspread.  There are also amazing discount fabric stores - we have one not too far from us which sells cheap previous season fabrics and slight seconds, and has an amazing room at the back in which everything is a pound a metre - a pound!

Here are a couple of examples of fabric-covered, home-made canvas wall art currently on display chez Comfy Marmalade:

This canvas has been on display in the Girl's room for a couple of years now…

I really need to have a word with the Girl about tidiness!

The material came from a local fabric shop and cost no more than a couple of pounds, and the canvas cost around the same.  I think the Girl is hankering after something a bit more funky now, so I suspect this one will come down in the next couple of months and be recovered.

These two are to be found in the Boy's bedroom.

This noticeboard was covered in fabric cut from a pillowcase we didn't need

I love this fabric - so bright, colourful and energetic

Boom! Pow! Wham!

These are actually cork pinboards bought for around £1.50 each from Home Bargains.  I covered one in a 'ka-pow' cartoon style fabric that cost £3, and the other was covered in material from a pillowcase that I cut down and reused.  I used some thin wadding, again easily available from all manner of places, to give them some extra plumpness.

I made the Girl this cute, A3 sized wall art…

A delicious apple fabric covered canvas for the Girl's room

The simple running stitch adds depth to the canvas

Before I stapled the fabric and wadding to the canvas frame, I pinned them together and hand sewed around all the apples using a simple running stitch, to give it a bit of depth and texture.

And I made this only last week from material sourced from Stitch. I love its slightly folksy, retro feel, and the height of the pattern made it perfect for this canvas.

My most recent canvas, folksy in style

This pattern is just fantastic

The canvas sits snug in a gap between our landing wall and our bathroom and really pops against the white walls.

Finally, you'll be familiar with my love of orange...!


These illustrations are so sweet (or tweet)

I confess that I didn't cover this particular canvas, I found it ready made in a local charity shop for £3 a couple of years ago and fell in love with it.  I love the colour (obviously), but I also love the simple illustrations of the various birds and foliage, just gorgeous.  We're blessed with high ceilings in our house and so consequently have large, tall walls to fill; this oversized canvas fits perfectly between the wall lights in our living room and the colour really pops against the simple white wall.


Another cracking idea for canvases is to paint them, or decoupage them.  The Girl did this beautiful painting of a flower years ago, when she was at nursery; I think she was three or so.

The Girl's canvas from when she was around three years old.  Bless.

We love it so much that it is still hung on our landing wall all these years later.  Kids love painting canvases - sometimes they look a little 'abstract' in content, but that's all part of the fun!  They also make great presents for friends and relatives; what grandparent doesn't adore a piece of lovingly made art from their grandchild?

I've got a number of canvases in storage just waiting for the right fabric (or the right crafting session with the kids) to come along.  Come to think of it, I've got a piece of fabric which would do just perfectly for one of them...

Bye for now xxx

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  1. I saw some fabric in Musbury the other day and immediately thought of you! It had woodland animals on it - not that I think of you as a woodland animal. You know what I mean x

    1. Thanks for clarifying that! Might need to have a wander down there and take a look... xx