DIY: Canvas Collage Tutorial

When we were renovating the guest bathroom (which is also my husband's bathroom– of course I don't share my tiny bathroom with him!), he commissioned me to do some artwork for the small room. His only requirements were to include "a tree and a saying of some kind."

Well, I ended up making him a paper collage that turned out like this:

The entire piece is made with different types of paper (with some scrabble pieces thrown in for good measure). I wanted to share with you how I made this piece in case you want to try it yourself.

Mod Podge (I used the glossy variety)
Acrylic paint

I'm weird so I had all of this stuff just hanging out in my garage, but you can get the canvas, paper and Mod Podge at your nearest craft store. 

1. The first thing I did was paint the sides of my canvas with brown acrylic paint. It's easier to paint a small edge than it is to cover it with paper, so I decided to do it this way. I'm all about easy!

2. Next, you cover your canvas in the paper you want to use as your background. In this case, I used this really organic looking paper from a really old journal that I have. It's got a lot of texture but still provides a neutral background, which is what I was going for. I tore it up into smaller pieces and used Mod Podge to adhere it to the canvas. You can see the background pretty well in the photo below:

Note: I've found that the most effective way to apply Mod Podge is to swipe on some underneath the paper first and then cover the paper generously like you would with paper maché. The more the merrier, since you don't want the paper to fall off. 

3. I knew my husband wanted a tree, so that's what I did next. I started with the compass, however, and then made my tree to work around it. The compass came off this piece of scrapbook paper that I bought at Hobby Lobby:

(My Mind's Eye from the Life Stories line)

I used the other side of the paper with the lines to cut out the pieces of the tree. The trunk and four branches are all separate cuts that were Mod Podged together to make the tree. I specifically cut the branches to wrap around and frame the compass so that it looked like part of the tree.

4. Next, cut out the circles to make the "leaves." Obviously this is an abstract take on leaves, but you could cut out leaves in that actual shape if you preferred. I love circles so I went that route. 

Here's the paper I used for the first layer of circles, which was another Hobby Lobby purchase:

Manila collection paper pack from BasicGrey

5. Then I cut some smaller circles from another sheet of paper to finish off the tree. This paper is from the same scrapbook pad at the compass print, My Mind's Eye. That pad has a lot of different vintage options that I really love. 

6. Adhere the circles using Mod Podge, and remember to be generous with the adhesive so they won't fall off later. 

7. The next step is to come up with your saying that you want on the piece. I love artwork that says something (literally). I also love when that saying is biblical or faith-based because I feel like I can never have enough reminders around me. We chose "walk by faith" because it was simple and tied in with the navigational theme of the compass.

8. Adhere your scrabble pieces. Normally I use a hot glue gun for this part,  but I was out of glue sticks so I just used my Mod Podge. I put a big blob of the adhesive on the back of each letter and simply stuck them on the canvas. I purposely do not place my letters in a perfectly straight line because I feel like it's much more charming this way.

9. I felt like I needed one more element on this piece, so I added the small cross in the bottom right corner. It's made out of the same blue floral paper used for dots on the tree, so it works to tie those two elements together. It's pretty self-explanatory, but I just cut it out from paper and Mod-Podged it to the canvas. 

Voîla, custom artwork with no painting or drawing involved! 

I really, really like Mod Podge and I really, really like paper. Here are some of the other projects I have done with Mod Podge and paper:

* Happy Monday *

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