Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Say it Now

It's not great to think ahead about the death of a loved one.  But it was so sad that I wrote a tribute to the things my mom gave me and meant to me in my life only after she was gone.  I decided that wouldn't happen with my dad, and I set out to do something about it.  It was a good exercise in using my grief for good, and distracting myself, too.

I LOVE the hand-painted, subway sign I ordered from CantonAntiques on Etsy, and have hanging in my kitchen.  I didn't think I could afford a custom one for Dad, and it was more heartfelt to put in the effort to make one myself anyway.

I started by making a list of the special memories and things Dad had done for me and our family.  Then I hit the internet for "DIY subway signs."  That's when I found this post by TemptingThyme.  The examples looked just like what I wanted, and the instructions were helpful.  

This technique used PicMonkey, which is a fun and free photo editing site. (To tell the truth, I splurged and paid the small yearly fee, so I could get more fonts and effects.) The funny thing is, for this project, it's not about editing a photo, image, or document, but covering an image with a solid color, and customizing the sign with text in colors and fonts of your choice.  I have to say it was quite rewarding.  I won't 'reinvent the wheel' by repeating the instructions you can follow on TemptingThyme.

After creating my 'masterpiece,' I saved it to my desktop, and placed an online print order with FedEx printing.  Click on "Set your own Print Options." Upload the image, and you'll likely get a message that says "this file contains non standard print size," and you can click on "review options" to choose a standard size or stay with the original.   If you choose one of the preset sizes, you will be able to preview your project.  For Dad's I chose 11 x 17", and hit "convert."  You can always trim if your project doesn't cover the whole sheet.

 I recommend specifying a heavier weight paper (32# or 60#) to prevent wrinkling hassles when applying the project to a board.  To do these prints in black and white are about 42 cents (!!!), and in color, less than $2.50.  You might be able to do the printing yourself, but only if you have a laser printer.  InkJet ink will bleed when you apply a finish.

I mentioned a board, and didn't explain where it came from...   I had Hubby cut and glue 3/4" boards to create a base of the proper size.

My print had a white background, so I painted the sides of the boards with white acrylic paint, and let it dry.  That didn't take long...A half hour, at most.

  The gluing/finishing process was the hardest part.  I used matte ModPodge.  I applied it to the board with a foam brush, and let it dry until tacky.  I applied the printed paper, smoothing as I went, using a dough scraper as a squeegee, to avoid any air bubbles.

On my first attempt, following instructions I'd found elsewhere on line, I waited only about 45 minutes before applying the finish coat of ModPodge over the whole project.  The paper stretched and bubbled (see pic above), and eventually scratched and tore as I worked to try to smooth it (see pic to the left).  Thankfully,  Hubby had made 2 boards, and I started over.  This time I let it all dry overnight after applying the paper to the board.  The next morning, I did 2 finish coats and the result was much smoother.

Unfortunately, after days of curing, and after it was in my dad's possession, a few air pockets formed. I used 24 or 32# paper, but there was also 60#, and maybe I should've used it.

--But my dad doesn't mind the little bubbles.  He said it was nice and commented that I'd remembered a lot of things.  It may not sound like it was a big reaction, but I think I heard a catch in his voice and spied moist eyes, which means, with a man who loves gifts but is a little tough to 'wow,' this was a success.  :-)  He's told me since that a lot of the staff in his assisted living facility have commented on what a really nice gift it was.  --I don't say this to brag, but to be thoroughly thrilled that he likes it so much and is feeling appreciated.  

I know I've been a little vague about the directions, so if you get lost after visiting TemptingThymePicMonkey, and/or FedEx, please don't hesitate to contact me for further help.

Mostly, I'm saying that if you have someone you love in your life who means a lot to you, and you have certain reasons you are thankful for them... TELL THEM.  Somehow.  You don't know when the opportunity will be lost forever.

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