The Most Beautiful Piece of Artwork Ever!

After much waiting… (okay, only a very little amount of waiting)… the new art work for the mantle has arrived (sound the trumpets!).  I saw the huge box sitting outside my front door while pulling into the driveway from an IKEA run and ran, ran, ran to the door to finagle the box into the house.  I am a short woman (5’2″) and the box was my height but I am also a determined woman so I wrested it inside and took a pair of scissors to the box to reveal the MOST PERFECT PIECE OF ARTWORK EVER!!!  Alright, so that’s obviously my opinion as artwork is entirely subjective, but to me, it’s perfect and I know that at least 5 out of 10 of you will agree. 🙂

So, as I said in my last post, I wanted to liven up my mantle because the gold-ish mirror that I had leaned up against the white brick was not cutting it.  It was too small and too monochromatic.  Here is the before:

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And here is the after, with the most perfect piece of artwork E-VAH!:

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The gold and silver trees are seasonal and when the weather warms up, they will go into hiding and I will put something else in their places.  Since it is currently butt-cold outside, I think they are appropriate for now.

 

After looking at the artwork, I couldn’t decide whether to lean the canvas horizontally or vertically, so I tried both ways:

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After trying both ways, I think I like the horizontal layout better but it’s funny, I didn’t know that until I took photos of the mantle.  If I can’t decide on what I want or like, I like to take a picture of the space because I can then see the “scene” in a new, more objective way.  I also really like that the canvas looks great horizontally or vertically; that way if I change my mind on how to lay it out, it will still look great.

 

Making a Mantle

So after a long hiatus, I finally have a chance to post some of the living room projects that I’ve completed.  The mantle was the one that I liked doing the most.  After painting 24/7, it’s fun to do something different (even if it still involves a paint brush).  I wanted a custom mantle for our newly painted fireplace but didn’t want to shell out the cash since I knew it would be expensive, so I headed over to my local building reclamation shop to see if I could find some inspiration.  I like to go to Community Forklift (www.communityforklift.com) in Edmonston, MD because it’s a huge warehouse chock full of recycled building materials.  There are thousands of doors, cabinets from full kitchens, tons of wood, antique elements, and many other finds.  What I was most interested in were slabs of wood since I knew I could fashion a mantle out of an interesting piece of wood.  So I found this beauty and like the nerd I am I was in love with it as soon as I saw it:

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I like this piece because it was the right length and I loved the highly grained quality of the wood.  I wanted to highlight the grain and not hide it with two much “product” so I tried stain and also lacquer on a a sample piece with the following results:

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The top (the tip of the wood) is a dark wood stain and the bottom is a clear lacquer.  I really liked the lacquer because I wanted something glossy that allowed the grain of the wood to pop and lacquer fit the bill perfectly.  I didn’t know that much about lacquer before I used it, so I don’t want to say that it was a crapshoot whether it would turn out the way I wanted, but it was :).  I painted about 8 coats of lacquer using a soft wide brush and allowed the coats to dry for at least 3 hours in between coats.  I wanted the piece to be GLOSSY and look wet so I just kept painting until I achieved that result.  But after all that painting I found that the bad thing about lacquer is that it REALLY smells, like the kind of smell that stays in your nose with you all day so use a fan to blow the fumes away from you and don’t paint in an enclosed area unless you like a major paint high and/or a killer headache!

So after three days of painting and then cutting it down to size, *ta da* the mantle now looks like this:

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The underside:

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Not to be too designer-geeky but, I liked keeping the mantle looking rustic against the modern white brick of the fireplace to add some textural interest giving the two elements a nice juxtaposition.   I kept the bark on the mantle to give it even more texture and it also made the mantle look more organic since the bark kind of curves a little making the mantle bow in the middle.  The  mantle also ties into the beams on the ceiling nicely.  This is definitely a project I recommend doing since it was cheap (it was $100 total to include the slab of wood, the lacquer, and the material to hold up the mantle) and it looks great!