Saturday, May 9, 2015

Silly Self Portraits

A few years ago my girlfriend and I glued together several pieces of cardboard and painted a silly portrait of me.  It was just something fun to do one evening when we were bored.  I eventually put it in a frame, but because of the thickness of a few dozen pieces of cardboard, it did not stay in the frame long.

The silly portrait made it's way from New York to Arizona, but it stayed in the closet until now.  I decided I wanted to permanently attach the portrait to a backer and hang it up.

For the backer I'm going to use a spare piece of MDF I had leftover.

But before I do anything I need to remove a lot of the excess cardboard that made up this thing.  So for a while I ripped off the many layers, careful not to damage the front.

Once all but the top layers of cardboard remained, I put it aside and set up my router table.

I then routed the edges of the MDF.  Whenever working with MDF be absolutely sure to wear a breathing mask.  MDF dust is very fine - almost powdery - and it's toxic.

After routing and cleaning the MDF and surrounding area, I sanded the edges to make sure they were smooth.

Then after a little more cleaning I applied some primer to the MDF.

After a few layers were applied and sanded, I thoroughly cleaned the MDF.

Now it's ready to be painted.  I decided I wanted a gradation for the backer, so I gathered some spray paint from Blue, light blue, pink and red.

The gradation came out well.

Once it had fully dried I then applied a good amount of glue to the back of the painting.

I placed it on top of the MDF, allowing it to dry for a few minutes...

...and then flipping it over and clamping it to my work table.  I then left it there overnight.

The next day I removed the clamps and I was happy that the painting adhered to the painted backer fairly well.  Some of the corners didn't fully stick, so I applied a little more glue and used my nail gun to keep the edges in place.

The nails from my nail gun were longer than the thickness of the board, but I'll trim them later.  Next I used a gold paint marker and added trim.

Then my girlfriend and I signed our piece of art.

Then I sprayed on some satin clear coat.

Once the clear coat was dry it was time to work on hanging this thing up!

First I needed to take care of the nails that went through the back.  So I used a grinding bit on my dremel to remove them.

Next I needed to add some D-rings to the back.  MDF alone might not be good enough to hold up the weight of the whole thing, so I cut 2 thin pieces of plywood...

...and I glued and clamped them to the top of the back.

Once fully dry, I removed the clamps and drilled 2 small holes.

I screwed in the D-rings and added a hanging wire.

I hung up the portrait in my garage for a while to make sure the mounts hold - which they did.

Now all I have to do is find somewhere to hang this up.  However, I think this would go well with a silly portrait of my girlfriend Jess!  So I started to sketch a picture of her in Adobe Illustrator.

This is Jess' famous "Pouty Face".  I printed the picture to a similar size as the portrait of me.  Since it's so large I had to print it on many sheets and then put it together like a big jigsaw puzzle.

Next I began gluing up some cardboard...

...and placing them on top of each other in random arrangements.

To keep the cardboard from curling, I placed my other portrait on top of the cardboard until the glue dried.

Once dry I removed the weight.

Then I trimmed the cardboard to better match the illustration.

Next I flipped over the print outs and drew in the black areas with charcoal.

Then I flipped the print outs over, taped them to the cardboard and traced the black shapes.

The charcoal on the printouts acts like carbon paper, transferring the design onto the cardboard.

Next I used a marker to trace the design.

Then I filled in all the black areas.

Then my girlfriend and I began painting in each square of cardboard different colors.

It took a few layers of paint to get the colors to show brightly.

...but it was worth it.

Next we used color pencils to draw in different patterns.

Next I sprayed some clear coat on it.

With the painting done, next I worked on the backer.  I bought a piece of 2'x4'x.5" MDF.

The piece of MDF I used for the first painting was smaller, so I used my other backer to draw guides on the new sheet of MDF.

Then, using my table saw, I trimmed the new piece of MDF to size.

The rest of the steps are the same as the first one:  First I routed the edges.

Then I sanded, cleaned and primed it.

Next I sanded, cleaned and then painted on the same gradation.

When the paint dried I glued the painting to the MDF, then placed it upside-down on my work table and clamped it down.

After removing the clamps when the glue dried, the bottom of the painting was not fully attached... I added more glue and clamped a 2x4 over the area.

Once that was corrected I then added the gold trim and signatures, and gave it one final coat of lear coat.

Next I glued the thin plywood to the back...

...and attached the hanging hardware.

I hung it up for a while to make sure everything holds well.

Now both portraits are done!  

All that's left is to hang them up!

These pieces are definitely a conversation piece.  But they are also fun portraits themselves, and my girlfriend and I had fun making them.

Thanks for reading!

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