April 10, 2012 at 7:00 am
by Suzonne Stirling
For my DIY column in the May issue of Family Circle, I reinterpreted several vintage botanical prints in a more modern, playful way. The process looks complicated, but was really very simple and didn’t require any skill beyond the ability to trace.
I started with vintage botanical prints, readily available (and free!) from sites like The Graphics Fairy and Vintage Printable (just enter “botanicals” in their search engines) and printed them out in black and white from my printer. After that, I placed a piece of glass from my chosen frame over the botanical print and used one of my new favorite crafting tools, a white Sharpie oil paint pen, in both Fine and Extra Fine, to trace over the prints and fill in details. When the paint had dried, I flipped the glass over so that the painted side faced the inside of the frame and matted it with colorful paper to show off the white image.
This vintage poppy engraving from The Graphics Fairy was one of the images that didn’t make it into the column, probably because it seemed intimidating. But truth be told, it was easier than I could have imagined and doesn’t require a degree in Fine Arts.
The trick when working with seemingly more complicated images is to capture the spirit of the illustration, not every single detail. For instance, if you look at the leaves in the original engraving, they’re very finely shaded and detailed. To trace over every single line and detail would have been nearly impossible and I didn’t even try. Instead, I concentrated on certain areas of the leaves, filling them in in a loose, crosshatch pattern that retained the general feel of the original.
Once the tracing has been completed it’s time to experiment with different backings. Try fabrics with texture, like linen or even burlap. Try colored papers with different textures and thicknesses. Experiment with bold colors, muted colors, or neutrals. Each will convey a very different feeling, allowing you to express your personal aesthetic.
Start with This:
Begin with a black and white illustration like this, and eliminate the elements you don’t want to include in your final image.
Tip: If you like the orientation of the original illustration, print it as a “mirror” image. Otherwise, you’ll be flipping the painted glass over and the image will be reversed. In this case, I didn’t mind and printed the image as is. (Get the full size illustration from The Graphics Fairy)
For this vibrant mat, I placed a translucent, tissue like orange paper over a piece of orange card stock. The opaque card stock gave it vibrancy while the sheer paper gave it a soft texture.
I went for all out contrast with a heathered black fabric backing. It’s a strong, graphic effect, but would work well in both traditional and modern settings.
For more detailed directions, visit Family Circle.com or see the May issue.