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How to Create Subway Art Using your Silhouette Cameo

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Mom has been shopping around for a large piece of subway art for her new house for a while now, so I thought I would surprise her with one for Mother's Day. 
As a single mom, breast cancer survivor, and in general someone who doesn't give herself enough credit for all of the wonderful things she does, I wanted to remind her with this inspirational quote to: "Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you've ever imagined". 

After finding the perfect quote, now came the task of actually making it!  Making your own hand painted subway art is pretty simple to do, however it can be very tedious and a little time consuming.  That being said, I absolutely love how a hand painted version looks over simply printing out some vinyl letters and adhering them to canvas. 

This is how I make my subway art projects using my Silhouette Cameo:

What you will need:
  • Canvas in whatever size you'd like (mine was 18" x 24")
  • Silhouette Cameo
  • Stencil Vinyl
  • Transfer Vinyl
  • Acrylic paint in colors of your choice (I used Liquitex Basics in Mars Black and Unbleached Titanium)
  • Large paintbrush to cover the background of the canvas
  • Smaller paintbrushes for detailing and filling in the stencil areas.

  1.  Use the Silhouette Studio to design the quote that you want for your art.  Use the grid to make sure your lines are all evenly spaced.  If your canvas is larger than 12" wide (like mine), you will have to rotate your stencil horizontally on the screen and split up your quote.  For example, one of my stencils said "ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE, STRONGER THAN YOU SEEM" and the other said "SMARTER THAN YOU THINK, AND TWICE AS BEAUTIFUL AS YOU'VE EVER IMAGINED".  To make the two stencils, I made two separate files.  To fit my 18" wide canvas with about an inch of space on both sides, I set the size of the vinyl at 17" and centered my quote about 1/2" in on each side.  
  2. Cut out your stencil.  Since my stencil is larger than my cutting mat, I fed my vinyl into my machine without the mat.  To do this, select "load media" on your Silhouette instead of "load cutting mat".  Make sure the settings are correct for the type of media you are using (I had mine on "Silhouette Vinyl") and that the blade is on the right setting (mine was at a 2).  Now, cut it out! Once cut, weed out the letters on the stencil. 
  3.  Paint your canvas with whatever color you want your background to be.  I went for the classic black and white look, so I used Mars Black for my background.  Try to keep your paintbrush strokes going in the same direction, as it will look nicer and more professional when the paint dries.
  4. Once your canvas is COMPLETELY dry (I let mine dry overnight to be safe), it is time to transfer your stencil onto it.  Using your transfer tape, cover your entire stencil and smooth out any air bubbles with a scraper tool or a popsicle stick.  Run your scraper or stick over the entire stencil a few times with adequate pressure to make sure the stencil is adhered to the transfer tape.  Carefully peel off the transfer tape with stencil attached and place it (centered) on your canvas.  Go over the transfer tape and stencil with your scraper.  Since the canvas is hollow in the middle, turn it over and use the scraper on the back side as well to make sure the stencil adheres to the canvas completely.  Once you are satisfied that the stencil is attached, go ahead and peel off the transfer tape, leaving the stencil on the canvas.  Go slowly!  You will most likely have to smooth some of the stencil onto the canvas by hand in places where it comes up.  To me, this is the hardest part of this whole process!
  5. When your stencil is on the canvas, go over it a few times with your scraper again for good measure.  Now, get your paint that you want your lettering to be and have at it!  I painted over my stencil three times to get good coverage over the black background.
  6. Once the lettering is dry, peel off your stencil.  Since canvas is not completely smooth, there will be places where the paint bled through.  Get out your background paint color and a small paintbrush and go over those parts.  I know it's tedious, but it will be worth it! 
  7. Once your touch-ups are complete, let dry, hang, and enjoy! 

Hopefully this isn't too confusing, but if it is, leave me a comment or send me a message and I'll be happy to explain!

My mom LOVED her art!  And my husband even joined me in making one for his mom too!  

 This tutorial was featured at: start at home, petals to picots, mad in crafts

7 Responses to “How to Create Subway Art Using your Silhouette Cameo”

  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I bet your mom loves this.

  2. She does! If you make one, I'd love to see it! :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Such an encouraging message... I need one of these in my house.

  4. Suzie @ Dorothy Sue and Millie B's too

    Very nice... And a great message!

  5. Very detailed. Thanks for the tutorial.

  6. Very detailed. Thanks for the tutorial.


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