Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Perpetual Calendar and Clock Canvas with Sin City Scraps Stamps
The Clockworks plate of rubber stamps from SinCity Scraps is perfect for making clocks as well as many other projects. I used it to make a perpetual calendar.
A perpetual calendar is one you can use over and over for any year, because the dates are not tied to specific days of the week. You just change out the elements as time goes by.
My calendar uses the Roman numerals from the Clockworks plate, which was inspired by Terri Sproul, for the months and days.
I wanted a calendar that would remind me to take advantage of every day. I decided to use the Latin phrase “Carpe diem,” which we translate as “Seize the day.”
It comes from a poem by Horace, and while some people consider it an exhortation to do whatever they feel like doing, I think Horace was really trying to tell his friend to appreciate what he has been given. “Carpe” comes from a verb that means to pick, pluck or gather, as in gathering a harvest. My calendar is supposed to remind me to gather my harvest every day, or to take advantage of my gifts every day.
A very famous seventeenth-century poem in the “carpe diem” genre begins “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” Whenever I hear “carpe diem” then next thing I think of is “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” So it was a foregone conclusion that my calendar would have some flowers. I decided to use some pretty flowers I had made with my hand dyed cheesecloth.
I decided to use a large canvas as my base (12 inches by 12 inches), and I decided to add a clock because I had a wonderful vintage clock face using Roman numerals.
I took a fun class using wax on canvas from my friend, Tricia Samsal, a while back, and I adapted some of her techniques for this project. Tricia showed me how to make a canvas look aged by adding chalk ink. I used makeup sponges to apply several colors of ink to the canvas, dragging from the outer edges toward the center. I used Colorbox Chalk Ink in Bisque, Toffee, Yellow Ochre, Yellow Cadmium, Burnt Sienna, and Dark Brown. I started with the lightest colors and worked up to the darker ones. Then I went back over the dark ones with some of the light ones again. Here’s what the canvas looked like after inking:
Then I covered the canvas with tissue paper. In Tricia’s class, we used old sewing patterns and adhered them with wax. I decided to use gel medium for this project. I used an old sewing pattern, which is perfect for me, because sewing has so much meaning for me. I sew all the time. My Grandmother taught me when I was little; I sew for family and friends; I teach sewing and I sell what I sew, too. You could use another kind of tissue or paper. You could stamp on the tissue paper. Or you could just paint the canvas. I like the depth you get by covering the inked canvas with the brown tissue paper.
I cut a piece of pattern paper larger than the size of the canvas and its sides. I used gel medium to coat the canvas and glue down half the tissue at a time to the top of the canvas. Then I added gel medium to the sides and glued them down, too. I pulled the tissue around to the back and adhered that, letting the excess hang over the edge (I trimmed the excess off when it was dry). You can see the ink through the tissue, but muted enough so that it just looks aged.
The tissue paper is very thin, and it ripped in a couple of places while I was working on it. I just snipped some extra pieces and covered the tears with them. And by the way, I make sure I only use patterns I don’t think anyone will ever want to sew with. I especially like to choose the dresses from the 1980s with the huge, puffy sleeves. I can’t see anyone ever wanting to wear those again!
I printed my phrase on a piece of tissue paper and added it on top of the tissue paper I had already applied. Here’s how I did it. I cut a piece of freezer paper to 8 ½ by 11 inches, so it would go through my printer. Then I turned it shiny side down and ironed it onto the wrong side of a piece of pattern tissue. Then I trimmed the tissue to fit the freezer paper and fed it through my Ink Jet printer. I cut out my phrase with a scalloped blade in my paper trimmer, just to prevent any jagged edges. I peeled away the printer paper and laid the tissue paper piece onto my canvas. It was the first time I’d ever tried this method, and I think it has great possibilities.
I made my months and days with the Clockworks numbers. The numbers on the plate are one through 12, the hours of a clock. So the months are already prepared for you! Then I made a list of all the days as Roman numerals, one through 31. All you have to do to make all the days is combine the characters from the Clockworks plate. For the “22” in my picture, I used “X” and “XII” together. I used my list to determine what the longest month (VIII) and the longest day would be (XXVIII). Then I decided how tall a card I would need for the numbers (2 ½ inches), the longest card I’d need for the months (3 inches) and the longest card I’d need for the days (6 inches). I cut sample cards using the longest measurement I thought I’d need, and used them to make a mockup of my layout.
I decided to make my months and days from fabric I had dyed myself, and I chose some gauze that had been through the same dyebath as the cheesecloth I used for the flowers. I stiffened it with Mod Podge so it would be strong enough to use over and over. For more detailed instructions on stiffening and stamping on fabric, see my tutorial here. You could make the month and day numbers from any kind of paper or fabric you like. I didn’t try to guess the length of each number; I just cut strips 2 ½ inches wide on my paper trimmer, stamped my numbers, and then cut them with the paper trimmer. I added an eyelet to each day and month card.
I wanted to hang the month and day from cuphooks, so I can easily switch them out. I figured out where the cuphooks neede to be placed, then made a small pencil mark for the holes. Then I poked through with a canvas needle (that’s a really big needle you can sew tents with). I normally do not recommend poking through an art canvas, because you break the threads, but since I had already coated the canvas with gel medium, I thought they would hold, and they did. I decided to brace the cuphooks with wood. I chose two pieces of scrap wood that could hold the cuphooks but reach to the edge of the canvas. The lower one rests on the canvas frame for strength. The higher one is attached to the side of the frame with a Glue Line. The wood came from an incomplete woodworking kit I bought at a thrift store. I held each piece in place, poked through again with my large needle, and made a small mark on each piece of wood. That told me where to make a pilot hole. I held a nail where my mark was and hit it gently with a hammer. You don’t ant the nail to stay in the wood. You just want to make enough of an indentation to tell the cuphook where to go. Then I put each cuphook through the canvas and screwed each one into its wood brace, and added the Glue Line to the upper one.
I made a pencil mark for the center of the clock. I had the vintage clock face, but I used a new clock mechanism from a craft store. There are directions on the back of the package, and it was easy to put together. The trickiest part is that you choose the unit by the thickness of the clock face. I used one that said it was for ¼ inch thick faces. The canvas and the clock face don’t really total ¼ inch, but it’s staying in place without any extra adhesive. First, I put a battery in the clock mechanism to make sure it worked. The clock mechanism needed a larger hole than a needle could provide. I did poke the canvas needle through where the pencil mark was, so I could see the spot from the back side of the canvas. I wanted to cut a little hole, but I didn’t want to do it from the top. I turned the canvas over, front side down, on a cutting mat and used a craft knife to cut a little “X” where the tiny hole was. I made it just big enough for the clock mechanism, and again, the gel medium held the canvas in place. Once the hole was cut, I adhered the clock face to the front of the canvas with Glue Lines and put the clock together.
Finally, I added my flowers. I usually put a button in the center of each flower, but I decided to use vintage watch faces, in keeping with my theme of time. Each watch face had a hole in the center, and I didn’t like how that looked, so I used Crystal Lacquer to glue half a vintage snap to the center of each watch face. Then I attached the flowers to the canvas and the watch faces to the flowers with Glue Lines. I added some leaves cut from a piece of purchased trim.
Here are some closeups of the flowers:
It may seem like a complicated project, but if you tackle it step by step, it’s not hard! I hope you will make your own perpetual calendar with these beautiful Roman numeral stamps.
Please feel free to ask if you have any questions at all!