February 13, 2014

How To Make DIY Ampersand Art Using Thumbtacks



How to make DIY ampersand art using thumbtacks! LOVE this!
Hey ya'll! I have an awesome art idea for you today. I was browsing Pinterest the other day and came across this brilliant idea on Angela's beautiful blog. 

The minute I saw it, I knew I had to make my own, so I flung into action and several hours later, my ampersand art was born.
And I could just leave it at that, but you know I'm incapable of such brevity. 
It's a blessing and a curse.









So, before I tell you my life story and share a quick tutorial, here's a few beauty shots of my favorite art project to date.


I totally love the way it turned out, 
and it looks great just about everywhere I put it.
It's currently taking up residence on Vern, and has offered to split the rent with my new house plant, Gardenia. I'm hoping she lasts longer than the previous tenant.
I refuse to give up on having a plant.



To make my ampersand art, I used a small 12'' x 12'' canvas and about 700 gold thumbtacks.



Let's talk about thumbtacks for a minute. 
I originally wanted to use silver thumbtacks for this project. 
And I tried so hard, but it wasn't meant to be.
I drove all over town looking for them. I tried Walgreens, Joann's, Hobby Lobby, Office Depot, and The Dollar Tree, and all I could find were colorful thumbtacks or those jumbo acrylic pushpins. Target actually sells silver thumbtacks but they were sold out of them.
 It felt like a bad thumbtack dream.

So, I temporarily gave up and was going to just come home and try to order some online. Then I stopped by Kroger on the way home to grab dinner, and boom....
Thumbtacks.
Gold thumbtacks. 
Isn't it ironic. 




And so that's the story of how I ended up using gold thumbtacks. 
In the end, I'm kinda glad it worked out that way.
If you experience a similar thumbtack hassle, you can find gold ones here and silver ones here (affiliate links). 



Anyways, once you've got your supplies, it's pretty straightforward.
I just drew my shape onto the canvas with a pencil. Use a pencil with a good eraser, because if you are drawing it freehand like I did, you'll need it. 
Angela mentioned in her tutorial that she printed a template and traced it onto her canvas, but my printer hasn't worked since 1992. So, it was manhand or bust.



Then I just started filling in the spaces with tacks. This part took forever. Luckily, Jesse was away with his friends in Michigan on a snowmobiling trip, so I had endless hours to catch up on Nashville episodes and push 700 tacks into a canvas.
Why can't Raina and Deacon just make it work?!?!


I found it best to work in small sections at a time, working in rows. You can see in the below quality nighttime picture that the tacks near the edges of the canvas are a little raised. After I had filled everything in, I used a hammer to hammer them all the way into the wood and smooth them out.


And that's basically it! 
It took me a couple hours and I ended up with a bandaid on my thumb, but it was totally worth it. 
Okay, fine, it was three hours and two bandaids, but still.
No pain, no ampersand.



That's all for today, gals! I'll be back soon to share the rest of the bedroom and the craziest thing that's happened to this house yet. By far.
Thanks for stopping by. 
If you're in the mood for more art ideas, you can check out my top 10 from last year. 
Some good, some bad, some utilizing that printer that broke back in 1992. 



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55 comments:

  1. I also have picked up gold thumb tacks at the Dollar Store. I was really into gold thumbtack pumpkins for a while.

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    1. Right?! I could have sworn that I've seen thumbtacks at the dollar store a million times, but I couldn't find any!

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  2. I think the gold looks better than the silver! So awesome. :)

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  3. Love this! Something to keep in mind for those boring Sunday afternoons :)

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  4. Love this idea, pinning it for when I redo my office!

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  5. Hi! I love all your DIY work, and this one especially made me laugh out loud! The cats in the backgroung, I love it! So funny. I also have cats, who decide the best time to be around/affectionate is when I'm DIYing or drawing. Your posts are always funny though, it's why I love your blog. (This is my first comment on a blog, ever...I wanted you to know that you're THAT good, finally got me to actually write something!) You've also inspired me to begin my own blog (up and coming) but I'm not nearly as funny or entertaining as you! Keep up the great work! I look forward to seeing more from you! xx

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    1. Jackie, thank you, thank you, thank you! That was a pretty awesome comment for your first ever comment! Definitely start your own blog...you will be wonderful at it! xo

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing my Thumbtack Ampersand :) I LOVE the gold! Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

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    1. Thank YOU for the brilliant idea, Angela! I owe my favorite little piece of art all to you!! xo

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  7. So simple! You're a genius! Love the kitty too :)

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  8. Love it! And I think the gold makes it POP so that's why you couldn't find silver...everything happens for a reason :)

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    1. Thanks Tay! I totally think so, too! In my head, I just KNEW silver would look better, but in the end I definitely think the gold was meant to be! xo

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  9. This looks so cool. Also, funny side note when I got to the line Isn't it Ironic I was actually listening to that song on my computer and then the It's like Rain on your wedding day line played just as I scrolled of the picture with the same line. It was really crazy.

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    1. That is hilarious!! Alanis obviously makes magic happen. :)

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  10. Have to have it...so I shall. I love stopping in to see what fabulousness you're up to. I'm going to stop by Angela's blog, too.

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  11. Absolutely love this idea!!! My mind is reeling.

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  12. I really, really love this piece. Such a genius idea!

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  13. Thanks for the inspiration...I made mine last night and love it! No band aids, but I did have to take some breaks to give my thumb a break. :)

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    1. That's sooo awesome, Coleen! I love that you made one! xo

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  14. Love this, and love that it's actually something so easy I could do it myself, and would want to!! This whole post made me laugh. I like when funny people blog, makes it 1000 times better!

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  15. Awesome. I love how you turn all your posts into funny, adventurous stories.

    Try an African violet for your next plant. They're pretty easy to care for as long as you don't give them too much water. I've had mine since last May. I give it a little water every Monday, it blooms like crazy, and it's about to outgrow its container for the second time.

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    1. Thank you, Dorothy!! I will definitely look into an African violet! Sounds like a good one! xo

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  16. Get OUT! This a an awesome {easy} project with a big impact. I love the texture of your ampersand!

    Hope your thumb feels better! It was so worth it! ;)

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  17. I absolutely LOVE this post! My boyfriend has just moved into an unfurnished place so Im definitely considering making one of these with his initial on it! Thankyou for the inspiration :)

    question - what did you do with the back of the canvas that had the back of the pins sticking out?

    http://bakeitblonde.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hi Georgina! Thank you so much! I didn't do anything with the back of the canvas. The wood frame was about 1 inch deep, so the tacks don't stick out past the frame. Mine is just leaning against the mirror/wall, so I just left it as is. You could always staple a piece of thick paper or fabric to the back if you are worried about it. :)

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    2. I was going to ask the same thing as Georgina! My idea is to get a square piece of thick foam to glue to the back on the canvass so that the thumbtacks stick through the canvass into the foam and nothing is poking out of the back. TOTALLY making this because I have been obsessed over finding apiece of gold & décor with no luck. I think I found your blog for a reason ;)

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  18. This is really pretty, Virginia. You're creative AND patient! I wonder how this would look in the shape of a musical note or treble clef? I'm thinking of making one for my musical daughter's room. Thanks for sharing yours!

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    1. Oh, what a cool idea! I think that would look great! xo

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  19. That's lovely, Virginia! I may have to give it a try.

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  20. SUPERB DIY. And I especially like the comments attributed to the cat :) great idea and project. Cheers. Monique

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  21. Hi, I've been stopping by but never needed to comment until now. I just loved the "dreaming of fishsticks" photo. LOVED it!

    Now for my question: how tightly do the tacks stay in? I have boys - and things fall over - and apart - a lot at my house.

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jenny! Thank you so much! Mine are really sturdy because the canvas was really thick. It might differ with different canvases.

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  22. Great project! Thinking about doing this with initials. And the gold was meant to be it looks amazing. But did you really use 700 tacks?! I have a feeling you aren't exaggerating.

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    1. Thank you! I love the idea of doing an initial! Great idea! And yeah, probably about 600-700 tacks. I lost count, but know it was up there! :)

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  23. I am about 3/4 of the way done with this (THANKS FOR THE IDEA!). My thumbs are definitly hurting. Question - did you cover the back? The pins just poke out and are sharp and I'm worried they will fall out...I'm thinking of covering the back?

    Also TIP- I laid a napkin/cloth over the pins when hammering because the hammmer was leaving marks on the white canvas.

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    1. Hi Jessica! I left the back open as it's leaning against the wall. If anyone wants to, it would be easy to cover the back with some fabric or thick paper. Definitely a great idea. And thanks for the tip with the napkin! I didn't have that problem, but I may have just been lucky bc I think Jesse's hammer that I borrowed was a pretty new one. :)

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    2. I glued thick paper - worked great! Just paranoid about kiddos if it fell on the ground. Planning on putting a picture of myself and my guy on the left of it and our baby (coming in August) to the right of it. GREAT PIECE! I am so thrilled with it.

      And yes, this hammer was dirty :) Logan is Mr. Fix everything. :)

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  24. Love this! I am also a blogger (2 months now) and was just finishing my next DIY post, but now I want to run out and buy gold thumbtacks. Great job! Like the humor as well.

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    1. Thanks SO much, Laurie! And congrats on your blog! Lots of fun ahead for you! :)

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  25. I absolutely LOVE your blog. I have pinned almost all of your tutorials, but I picked this one as my first to try. I made mine with gold tacks and a black canvas, it turned out great! I love it! Thank you so much for all of your wonderful tutorials! :)

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    1. That's so awesome, Joy!! Love the idea of a black canvas! xo

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  26. This is great - and of course, like many others, my mind races with what else can be made like this...initials, shapes, etc. I do think, with all the other silver/pewter colors you have in that spot, the gold looks perfect! I was thinking the same thing as the comment above about giving the background a color. Easy enough for kids (the older ones, not the ones that will intentionally stick the table, floor, themselves, others or the pets!) Btw, I looked at Dollartree.com and they have the tacks, in gold and silver, 300 count packs. You can order and usually have it sent right to your local store at no additional cost. I have liked your Facebook page and am sharing this on my timeline!

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  27. So pretty! This is my weekend project, and will fill an empty space on the wall I've been looking at for, um, way too many months. :) Love it!

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  28. I received a wedding invitation last week featuring an ampersand: "Marina & Benjamin", so I enlarged the particular ampersand they used and am making them a piece of this art. 2/3 of the way through, but taking a break to rest my thumbs...

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  29. I just made one of these but I used our last name letter "M" in a Times New Roman font. It turned out pretty awesome and is a nice addition to the fireplace. Thanks for the idea! I also cut a piece of foam board from the dollar tree to go on the back of the exposed canvas. You can press it in just enough to keep the edges of the tacks from sticking.

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  30. Hi, not sure if you have answered this question before or if it's a bit silly. When you pin the thumtacks to the canvas do they stick out the back a lot? and are they loose? Could you put some styrafoam behind for then to pin into? Also did you paint the canvas or did you leave it raw? Thanks :)

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.

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