Sunday, February 13, 2011

DIY CRAFTS PROJECT: paper bunting for the kitchen

Good news: I'm still loving my cheerful blue kitchen. It has been feeling pretty devoid of art work and decoration though, since changing the general color palate in the room led me to start from scratch with wall art. I picked out a print from Etsy that I think will look great, framed, under the pendant light on the wall above the kitchen table. Now I am waiting for the print to arrive, which may take a while, for 2 reasons: 1. I ordered a custom size, so the artist first has to MAKE the print, and 2. The artist I ordered it from lives in the Czech Republic (isn't the internet an amazing thing?) so who knows how long shipping will take.

The other empty wall in the kitchen, the one above the stove, has always been confusing for me as I try and decorate. Since there are no upper cabinets, the space is kind of awkwardly broken into two parts horizontally by a rail where traditional upper cabinets would sit. In the center is the stove, and the hood above the range visually splits the space into 3 parts vertically.  When I consider what to do with this space, I am baffled. Do I try to work with the look of the top 3 vertical sections by placing a large piece of art in each? Do I put something large in the middle only? Should I work against those visual divisions and put something off center, or two pieces? It may not seem like such a big problem, but somehow I couldn't get my head around it. Everything I tried looked either too symmetrical too off balance.

Basically, when I look at that wall I see this:
 Why yes, that is quite an old picture of my kitchen, and yes, I made that little mock-up in Paint!  You can see how previously I had placed one display object or group of objects in each of the top 3 quadrants. Each item was centered in the quadrant but the height of each object was different. I actually didn't mind that concept too much, but it never looked quite right.

Since the general feeling we are going for in our kitchen is fun, whimsical and casual, I started thinking about creating some basic crafty art for that wall myself. I had seen a lot of interesting buntings (you know, those strings of triangular cloth flags?) on both Etsy and featured in house tours in design blogs I read, and I started thinking maybe that could work. In some odd way buntings are kind of in right now, which is funny, because I think most people think of them in terms of party decorations or dated "country" decor. Turns out, not all buntings are lettered to say something along the lines of "It's A Girl!" or are made of red gingham or American flags.

Since I don't have access to a fabric store, I decided to make mine with paper. I headed down to Paper Source, picked up several sheets of 12x12 patterned paper, and as soon as I got home I got to work. The entire project took less than an hour, and cost me about $10. I am still planning to cover the flags with contact paper to protect them in the long term, so probably in the end the project all together will have taken me under 2 hours, and cost $13. I can live with that.

What I used:
different patterned sheets of paper
white ribbon from drug store
pencil, straight edge, scissors, staples

First I laid out my paper, cut one piece to the size I wanted, and then used that piece as a guide to trace and cut the others. I looked  all over for my ruler, but it seems to have gone missing. I used a paint stir stick instead.

Once I had all my triangles cut, I had to do a little math (the horror!) I decided I wanted lots of extra room to drape, since I hadn't decided yet if I was going to hang the bunting in 3 swooping curls (in googling to try and find the proper words to more clearly describe that concept, I stumbled onto this hilariously specific tutorial for how to hang crepe paper at a party.) or simply straight from end to end. Basically I wanted to make sure that whatever I choose I had more than enough rather than less.

Since the length of wall I was using this on is 10 ft, I cut my ribbon to 19 ft (why not 20'? It just seemed like too much). I had made 21 flags, each of which was 6 inches wide at the top where they would attach to the ribbon. Some random futzing around with a calculator led me to decide to put roughly 5 inches of spacing between each flag. From there I just attached each one properly spaced apart, with 2 staples at the tops. I alternated the papers randomly, trying to keep it looking good, but without a specific repeating pattern.

I couldn't take many progress photos, as the process involved both hands. By the way, check out my tiny calculator and stapler...tiny office supplies are adorable, right? Also, notice my attempt at math on that post-it.

After that I just had to hang it. A bit of trial and errror and hemming and hawing led me to decide to hang it in one arch, not multiple swoops like I mentioned above.

Guess what? I look at that wall and I no longer see quadrants! And I think the variety of colors and patterns tie in really nicely to the curtains on the opposite side of the kitchen. And yes, I had way more bunting than I needed...

Anyone want about 7 feet of decorative paper flags and ribbon?

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