Momma Mel

Canvas Nightlight Tutorial | January 16, 2013

So a while ago I pinned a picture of a craft I made on Pinterest. Apparently it was pretty cool, because within an hour it had been repinned almost 300 times. Wow! I also had people asking me for a tutorial. Not gonna lie, I almost didn’t do one, because my dad and I pulled it off using random things we had around the house, and while it looks all clean and neat from the front, the back is a hot mess of duct tape, cut up sponges, and some random sticky foam stuff, plus two screws with loops on them and some hanging wire. Not to mention the massive battery pack for the lights. But I’m going to put together a tutorial anyway, in the hopes that someone can learn from my craziness and maybe make it work in a less jumbled way.

To start with, I purchased an artist’s canvas on sale from Hobby Lobby. The size is up to you, depending on the amount of space you have and how long the quote is you want to put on it. I also purchased some dark blue acrylic paint and some of those letter stickers like you would use on posters. Since doing this project I’ve read that using spray paint instead of acrylic would make it easier to peel the stickers off later, but alas, I didn’t find out in time. That’s all I bought for this project, but I also used an exacto knife, sponge brush, unused kitchen sponge,duct tape, some sort of foam/squishy stuff with sticky adhesive on one side, one set of battery operated Christmas lights, two screws with loops on the end, and picture hanging wire.

After I gathered the initial supplies (canvas, stickers, brushes, and paint) I wrote out on a piece of paper the quote I was using to make sure that I had enough letters to complete the whole quote. I almost did- I had to make a lower case ‘L’ by slicing apart a ‘k’. Then I started sticking the stickers on. I just free handed it, but that’s because I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler. I half heartedly used a piece of paper as a guide, but it turned out relatively straight.

After the whole quote was on the canvas, I rubbed each sticker to make sure I didn’t have any edges sticking up. I had done a clock using this method previously and had issues with paint leaking under to make some of the letters look off, so wanted to make sure I would be in the clear. Then I painted over everything. I put on two layers and left it to where it wasn’t all one solid color but kind of a wishy washy cloudy night look. Then I left it alone until the paint dried, which was a few hours.

After the paint dried, the next step was to remove the stickers. I use an exacto knife for this- very gently get under just the sticker and lift it up. This is the part I have the most trouble with because the adhesive on the stickers really likes the canvas. So I would get as much sticker and adhesive off as I could, then gently scratch away at the sticky leftovers. This takes a LONG time, and I will once again say the magic word- gently. I got a bit anxious and gouged a few tiny holes in the canvas (and myself) due to rushing it.

The next step is where the MacGyver part of the project comes in. I was staring at my canvas with my wonderful Harry Potter quote trying to decide how to get the effect I wanted. Enter my dad. I explained that I wanted the Christmas lights to poke through and not fall off, and I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. So we brainstormed, and this is what we came up with.

I would mark where I wanted each light to go with a pencil. He would poke a hole from the top side through to the back of the canvas with the exacto knife and we would then poke the lights through. We would attach the battery pack with a bit of duct tape. I would screw in two of the screws with loops (eye screws, maybe?), tie a piece wire with one end on each one, and hang it on a nail on the wall and be done.

Problem one: the lights wouldn’t stay in. Possible solutions: glue? No, because I wanted to be able to change the light strand if one went out. Duct tape? Nope, it made the lights sit crooked. Random adhesive foam/squishy stuff? That’ll do. We cut this stuff into squares and sliced a small opening in it, stuck the light bulb in and pushed it, sticky side down, onto the canvas. The lights stayed!

Problem two: the battery pack was so big, it made the bottom of the canvas stick out farther than the top, making it stick out from the wall. Solution! Super glue cut pieces of sponge around the frame to make all of it stick out enough from the wall. We did eight- two on each side, although we could have done without the two on the bottom because the battery pack stuck out. But we were thorough.

Problem three: the wires weren’t secure and were working with gravity to pull the lights away from the canvas even with the adhesive foam. Solution? Of course, duct tape. Everywhere.

Finished product?
Quote on Canvas



I’ll try and update with pics of the back side- it’s not pretty, but it works. Kind of reminds me of waterfowl- all serene and calm on the surface, but underneath paddling like crazy.


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1 Comment »

  1. awsome piece…I did this last year, for an electrical circuit of heart … lol thought i was the only one who poked holes in canvas and pushed lights through (until pinterest LOL), i used a glue gun to hold in lights and actually it peals off somewhat easily if lights need to be changed (but a great idea on using the sticky squishy stuff, will def. use next time probably a lot faster as well) and of course lots and lots of duct tape :0)

    Comment by Jay — March 13, 2013 @ 10:03 pm

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About author

A little bit about me- I am a Mom and a Wife as my full time job. We are a homeschooling family with four kids. I love Jesus, reading, crafting, tea, and nerdy stuff.







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