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Author Archive | Angie Backen

Vendor Review & GIVEAWAY: Plaid – Paint by Number Kits

Reported by Angie Backen

When you were a kid, do you remember watching “The Joy of Painting” with Bob “happy little trees” Ross on PBS? I do. I realize that because I do, I’ve just totally dated myself, so if you don’t remember (or even know who Bob Ross is), there’s no need to respond to that question. We’ll just leave it at that. Anyway, watching that show always left me wanting to create some sort of painted masterpiece. I stumbled across the paint-by-number section in the craft store several years later and that feeling came rushing back. Still, I could never bring myself to buy one… until I had children. The paint-by-number kits are a traditional Christmas gift in this household. I’ll admit that I always secretly hoped one of the kids would want me to do it for them help them with it, but no such luck. They love doing it themselves and I can hardly blame them.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to buy one for myself but when the opportunity to review a Plaid Paint by Number kit came up, I jumped at the chance. When that package arrived, I was like a kid on Christmas morning! I received two kits: “Night Owl” and “Visit from Santa”. Each kit includes water-based acrylic paints, a pre-printed and numbered 20″ x 16″ textured art board (canvas), one paint brush, trilingual easy-to-follow instructions, and a paint chart.

Additional supplies used: water for rinsing brushes/thinning paint, paper towels, toothpicks for stirring paint pots, and a slightly larger paintbrush for larger areas.

I decided that I would start with what seemed to be the least difficult of the two – “Visit from Santa.” Plus, I could use that as an excuse to listen to some holiday tunes… in springtime. Hey, whatever it takes to set the mood.

I gathered my supplies and was ready to start painting. I glanced over the instructions, which really were quite easy to follow. They were more like guidelines and tips rather than actual directions because the project itself is pretty foolproof. The numbers on each of the color paint pots correspond to the numbers on the canvas board.

The paint pots are all connected and the instructions did say to snip the closed pots with household scissors, but I decided to keep mine together if only to avoid making a mess and having several little pots strewn about.

It turns out that that was not the best idea. It was difficult to hold the entire row while painting and I promptly grew tired of reaching back and forth, so snip-snip. I would highly recommend it for convenience sake.
Before getting started, it’s important to open and stir each pot. Especially the darker colors, as those are much thicker. Adding a few drops of water will help to thin out the paint and also keep it from gooping up again in the pot.
Continue to stir the paint pot with a toothpick to keep it from developing a “skin” and make sure to keep it covered when it’s not in use.
I have to admit that at first, I didn’t think those tiny pots would be enough to cover the entire canvas, but I was quite surprised at how little paint it actually takes. The kit does include one extra pot for those areas that may require more, but I wound up not even having to use them.
Still being concerned about running out of paint, I dabbed the paintbrush onto the leftover paint on the end of the toothpick after stirring, using as much of that as I could before dipping into the pot. I also constantly scraped the paint off of the side of the pot to prevent any of it from drying out.
There’s really no wrong way of going about painting the image, but I decided to go in numerical order because I am just anal-retentive  organized that way. I started with the smallest area first, knowing I would be building layers on and around it.
The paint dries very quickly on the canvas, so to avoid large clumps, I had to work fast.
I found that if I dipped the brush in water and left a little bit of moisture in the brush before dipping it in the paint, it made it easier to spread and left a much smoother finish. However, it did require additional layers of paint to completely cover the area.
One disadvantage is only having one paint brush to work with.. After a while, the bristles on the brush began to fray, thus making painting in those tight areas a bit challenging, as one color would streak over another.
I simply snipped away the strays with a small pair of scissors. Of course, that eventually just thinned out the paintbrush, but it made it all the way through to the end. The instructions do recommend a #4 line brush for detail and a #6 or #8 flat brush for larger areas, which I just happened to have on hand.
The box states that this project is “Hours of fun…” and I can attest to that. It took me a total of 49.5 hours, in between errands, homework sessions, cooking, cleaning… you know… life. But it was definitely a fun project and I did find it relaxing, even therapeutic at times. Here is the progression of the image (photos taken after every 3-4 colors completed):

According to the instructions, no blending is required. I just did the straight number to number approach and didn’t add any fancy highlights, shadows or accents but it sure looked like I had once it was completed! Depending on how you apply the paint to the canvas, it sort of naturally blends on its own. I found that the thicker the paint and the more I applied, the darker it dried. However, had I wanted to get fancy with it, Plaid provides tips on how to create special effects on your painting so I decided to try a few of those techniques afterward:
“Sponging: Paint an area with the brush and allow to dry. Dip a small piece of damp sponge into a lighter color of paint and tap the color over a darker color.”

“Stippling: Dip the point of the bristles or the end of the brush handle in the paint and apply small dots to random areas of the same color to build texture.”

“Streaking: Paint streaks of a lighter color over a darker area.”

“Wash: After painting an area, take the same color and thin it with water to make it more transparent. Blend this over random areas of the first color.” (I sort of discovered this technique on my own in the process)

If you are perfectly content with the painting as it is, you can use Plaid’s FolkArt or Patricia Nimocks spray sealer to protect it. It’s available in matte, satin and gloss.
This is definitely a time-consuming project and I would say not to expect to finish it in a day or even two days, unless you have a pot of coffee brewing constantly (which can also be a disadvantage as this may require a steady hand at times), you are extremely focused and committed, and you are not a perfectionist don’t fret over painting outside the lines. Ahem. I was so that kid whom, when coloring a picture would outline the image in thick, black crayon and then made sure to stay within the “border” (hey, I won several “best coloring” awards and stickers during my elementary school years with that little technique!), so letting go of that proved to be quite difficult for me until I realized that it’s perfectly fine and that this product was designed to paint outside the lines! In those teeny tiny areas, it’s a must.
You really can’t mess this up and what you wind up with is a beautifully painted canvas along with great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. It also inadvertently teaches you how to wield and maneuver a paintbrush to achieve a desired effect. Learning new skills is always a good thing!
I’m looking forward to getting started on the second painting and because I now know what to expect, I’m going to be a bit more creative with that one. I have several ideas for enhancing the painting including, but not limited to: glitter paint, small beads and washi tape. Fun stuff! What are your thoughts on a paint-by-number kit? Have you tried one or would you consider trying one now? 
Pros:
  • The numbers on the paint pots correspond to the numbers on the canvas making this an easy, foolproof project.
  • Easy to follow instructions and tips for enhancing your painting with special techniques are included.
  • Completing the project leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and a beautiful work of art.

Cons:
  • Only one paintbrush is included and wore out rather quickly.  While having a couple of different sized paintbrushes is not required, it certainly is helpful if you have them on hand.
  • The acrylic paint is fast drying and requires constant stirring to avoid developing a “skin” and gooping up in the pot.
  • This can be a time-consuming and sometimes tedious project and does require a steady hand (and perhaps a magnifying glass) for those extremely tight areas.
GIVEAWAY
The folks over at Plaid are giving away kits to two lucky readers. To enter simply answer any of the questions below in the Comments section of this article on our website. One comment per person, please.

Have you ever tried a paint by number kit? Is this something you or your kids would like to do? What designs appeal to you?

Winners are chosen at random. Contest closes Sunday, June 12th at 6pm CST. Good Luck!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Scrapbooking: Jenni Bowlin

Jenni Bowlin Studios is excellent at setting and keeping up with trends, but in their own fabulous “vintage-y” way. This was one of the most anticipated lines for this season and to be able to see it in person was well worth the wait.

Silhouettes are all the rage right now and JB (and the incredible designers) have taken them to the next level:

These metal round tart tins are sweet and quite unique:

There are new bits and bobbles – wooden spools, charms, and blue ribbon embellishments:

New mini bingo cards and banner stickers!

Some of JB’s most popular designs can now be used over and over, as they have been turned into acrylic stamps. How awesome is that? They work perfectly with the line of Jenni Bowlin for Ranger ink pads and paint dabbers.

There are new mini chipboard elements and albums:

Check out the new Custom Gift Tag Kit and Hodge Podge Mini Album Kit – part of Project Foundations from JBS:

And of course the luscious JBS Core Impressions by Core’dinations textured cardstock in 12″ x 12″, 6″ x 6″ and 4″ x 6″:

Such a fantastic array of new goodies from Jenni Bowlin. We’re looking forward to seeing all the ways these products will be used this year, especially the silhouettes.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Scrapbooking: Nikki Sivils

The adorable Nikki Sivils debuted not one, not three, but SIX new lines at this year’s winter show. Yes… six, and each one of them is as adorable as she is. These collections are fun, bright and perfectly coordinated which makes for easy breezy scrapbooking, card making and papercrafting.

Max & Mollie, which was inspired by her twin niece and nephew, features sweet little skunks (if skunks can be sweet) with a soft and flowery pink/sage/brown color combination:

We are Family is all about bright colors, happy little homes, and fun shaped trees. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this family?

It’s Raining It’s Pouring has some of the cutest paper we’ve seen, especially the one with the little rain boots. And how sweet is Tubby the Turtle? It’s a great collection for spring.
Beatrice features another adorable critter and more funky fun-shaped trees. This is a great addition to the “Tree Love” collection.

Summer – think ice cream, lemonade, sunshine and cotton candy (as some of the papers are appropriately named). This line is joyful and carefree:

It’s Your Day is all about celebration. You can plan an entire party with this line – from the invitations to the decorations to the thank you cards!

So, which of these will be your favorite line? That is… if you could only pick one.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!