This State Art made with a DIY Cardboard Box Projector was a lot easier to create than it probably looks.
Check out my simple tutorial below to make your own.
My husband is a high school principal. Once or twice a year, I'd get a wild hair and need an overhead projector for a project...or ten. He'd give me the whole "do you have any idea how hard those are to track down these days...nobody uses them anymore?!?". And I'd pretty please my way into a campus-wide hunt for that one lonely overhead that a teacher had hidden in the depths of their closet somewhere. It was getting to be a bit of an ordeal to come by one of these projectors, ya know? When my friend told me she heard about people making a projector with an iphone and a cardboard box, I was all over that, y'all. Check out how I made mine below.
Isn't she pretty? I'm super happy with how my state art turned out. There are several tutorials out there for these kinds of cardboard box projectors, but this is just what worked best for me. I'm also sharing the weathered finish I gave this piece below, too.
For this project, you'll need a small cardboard box, printed transparencies (you can get these made at any copy store...or if you have schoolish connections, you can go that route...not that I would ever do that...ish), a pencil, tape, and a smart phone with a flashlight app. I can't speak for other phones, but I really think an iphone does have a more bright light than others...if that option is available to you, I'd go with it. Regarding the transparencies, you can also buy blank ones at an office supply store and just trace your design from paper that you print your shape onto. This projector could be used for lettering, too. Really, the possibilities are pretty endless.
You'll also need a blank slate to project your image onto. I went with a scrap board from our garage. I'm a scrap wood hoarder. This piece was from the board and batten we did in my son's room two and a half years ago (see that project here). If you want to get super technical, it's 5 MM 4x8 Underlayment...better known as insulation, y'all. I wanted something really lightweight since I was going to hang it from the mortar on our house's exterior.
This project cost me absolutely nothing, too. I even grabbed a can of paint from our porch makeover for the base coat of aqua. It worked out well since it was outdoor paint. I was lazy and knew I was going to weather it, so...and hold onto your hats, folks...I didn't even stir my paint. It has sat there in the garage for almost a year getting the clear layer of whatever on top of the paint and I didn't so much as swirl a stick around the can. Dad, please don't disown me after reading that.
I'm not sure if that makes me a painting rockstar or just plain lazy. Whatever it is, it turned out just fine in the end.
Using a box cutter, you'll need to cut a small square in one end of your box. Tape your transparency image going the wrong way (guess how I figured that one out) over the opening.
Then turn off all of the lights and close your drapes to make your room as dark as possible for projecting (which was also awesome for the above and below photos, too...not). Stick your phone into the box on the opposite end of the transparency with the flashlight app turned on and projecting outward through the transparency. I had to tuck a couple of books under mine to get the correct projecting angle...just play around with it until it works for you.
And there you go...you should have your image onto your blank canvas.
I texted this photo to my husband and he probably danced a jig.
Farewell, overhead projector fiascos.
I traced my shape with pencil in less than a minute.
After the image was traced, I just filled it in with acrylic paint.
I wasn't even that careful since I knew I would be weathering it.
After the paint dried, I roughed up the entire piece with my palm sander. And then removed the dust with tackcloth.
Somebody at church recently asked me "why on earth I weather everything I make"? I tried not to be offended at this person's frankness. Tried. But, I do have a reason. Actually two. First, I love old stuff with character (even if it's just faux-character, I suppose). Second, I'm not a perfect painter. I probably could be, but I've been down that road and perfectionism drives me bonkers (I was an art major for three years before switching my major...I drove my professors bonkers). I stress over the idea of being perfect to where the act of getting to that said perfection makes me a crazy person. I would've, literally, spent hours painting this perfectly if that had been my goal. So, I let that idea of perfectionism go a long time ago. Weathering a piece gives me the ability to cover up its imperfections and disguise them in a way that they look purposeful. Purposefully imperfect. Just like me. ;)
I deepen the weathered look by going over the piece with stain (this color is Minwax's Dark Walnut...it's my fave). I wipe it on and then wipe it right back off. Kind of a Mr. Miyagi situation. Stain on. Stain off. Wipe on. Wipe off. Wax on. Wax off. I'm pretty sure you get the idea. The longer you let the stain "sit" on the piece before wiping it off, the dirtier the piece will look in the end (I actually like that look). You can kind of work the stain into the piece as much as you like...just add a little elbow grease. One other factor to consider is temperature. When I use this technique during our 100+ degree summers, I have to work really quickly to wipe my stain off or it will "set" too fast and not be easy to wipe back off. I used an old t-shirt for this. In the past, I've used paper towels to wipe off stain. But, good gravy, have you seen some of the brutal comments on my February post about paper towels/kitchen cleaning routines? Ummm...yeah. I love the earth, y'all. I promise. But after that post, I kind of wanted to sit in the corner and rock myself for a while for using paper towels to clean with at times. Shake it Off was on repeat that week. I digress.
I hung this piece in our new firepit area in the backyard. I actually haven't sealed it yet (my dad about died when I told him that). I want to let the weather age it a bit further naturally before I seal it. I will go over it with a clear spray sealer when I'm happy with the amount of weathering it has.
Here, you can see it in the backyard. And yes, we intentionally put the firepit that close to the house (again with the comments from past posts and on social media). I promise we're not idiots. This actually is within our city's code. Since we built this as a non-permanent piece (purposefully), the distance is legit. We're aware of the risk...but...there's the hose right there. We hose that baby off every time we have a fire in it. It's all good. Promise. Just come have a s'more with me already.
Click here to see the DIY Planted Posts we built. They're perfection for hanging our vintage patio lights from. We've also added some fun hanging baskets to them as well. This entire area is almost finished. Can't wait to show you the total backyard makeover!