Monday, September 05, 2011

What I was making...

Remember when I said I was making something totally awesome and made you guess what it was? Well, none of you were remotely close to guessing right! (Actually, I guess Elissa was the closest, so good work Elissa!)

I made a car playmat for Helen (who else??), who will be turning 3 this week! I have to say, this is one of the coolest things I have ever made! (Helen doesn't read my blog, so she'll still be surprised by this on her birthday!!)

here is a stitched together view of the playmat! It's a bit wonky, but you get the idea!

Here's how I went about this project of mine! 

First, I had seen on another blog two different painted rugs/mats. So that was sort of the inspiration behind this project. Also, Helen was about to have a birthday, so she needed a gift, and I have always made her something (so far...I need to lower the bar because I just can't keep up this pace for all the little children that are going to be in our family. And Dan is one of 5 kids, so you know that there will be a lot of little children eventually!!). So thanks for the idea and the how-to Sarah's blog!

You guys already saw my supplies:

 - a piece of canvas (I just got half a meter from the fabric store)
 - primer (had about 1/2 of that gallon left)
 - exterior latex paint (you probably don't need exterior paint, but I happened to have leftover in green)
 - acrylic paint (had a bunch, but also picked some up at the dollar store)
 - white glue
 - water-based wood sealer
 - paint brushes & drop clothes

First step is to prime baby prime!

I only did one coat, and it was fine. The point is to soak it into the canvas so that your other paints don't. 

Next, I painted the whole thing green (for grass!) And used chalk to layout my little town. I just did basic stuff with chalk - roads and a river. 

Then I painted again! I used regular acrylic craft paint mixed with a bit of white glue. I was just following suggestions from the above mentioned blog, and also an e-how article on painting a canvas rug, and both recommended mixing the paint with glue to give it a bit more elasticity. Toward the end though I just used paint and I think it'll be ok. (Also, check out my completed screen porch in this pic! I did finish that project and it's fantastic! Come over anytime for drinks on the porch - bug free since July!)

After I had my basic layout, I started adding buildings and other details!

Here are some close up shots of the buildings. 

I just realized that I didn't take a picture of the courthouse, or the school. Whoops! Oh well,you get the idea. For my buildings, I did collect some clip art pictures off of he internet just to get ideas for different building shapes, but some of them I just made up. I added parking lots, driveways and trees & shrubs as I went. I also tried to include stuff that Helen knows about (school, gas station, church, pizza place, pool, farm, river etc).  

When it was all painted and looked how I wanted it to, I sealed it with three coats of water based sealer. I used Varathane brand Outdoor Diamond Wood Finish in a satin finish. The canvas was pretty rough before I sealed it - this really helped to smooth it out, and I hope it'll make this thing durable enough for years of play (after the sheer amount of time that went into this project, I have deemed it to be a gift for all current & future Wall children!)

Lastly, after the sealer had dried and sat for a few days (mostly because that's how I roll with projects around here!) I flipped it over and hot glue the edges to the back. They were still pretty rough from all the paint, and I had used pinking shears to stop the canvas from fraying on the sides, so it was sharp. My mat is by no means a perfect rectangle (which I think you can tell from the first photo!), but that was fine, I just glued about 6" of the edge at a time to make nice edges on the front. 

There you have it! Can't wait to gift this and also show the family. I'm pretty proud of it! If anyone out there ever makes one of these, please let me know because I would love to see it! 


  1. Erica, I am totally impressed!!! This is the cutest little play mat and no doubt Helen will be playing for hours on this baby. I love it and when I have babies I want one too, OK? I love all of the little buildings and the roundabout! Or traffic circle, whatever you want to call it. LOVE IT!

  2. You are my hero! I absolutely adore it! Cutest thing ever!

  3. Anonymous11:52 AM

    Hi, love, love your project. Aren't you sumpin! Will it roll nicely for storage do you suppose? Great idea.
    auntie rose

  4. Anonymous2:25 PM

    WOW! adorable. so cute. wonderful work. the end result brings high satisfaction! you are so amazing. love it.

  5. Anonymous4:51 PM

    I don't even know what to say!! This is so terribly creative! Love it. Makes the one in my kindergarten classroom look pretty boring.