Thursday, April 15, 2010

Altered House Tutorial (The Beach Shack)

Welcome House Party guests and anyone else interested in altered houses!  Several people asked for a tutorial on making altered houses, so I thought I would walk you through the creative process I used to make this house, which I call my Beach Shack. I hope you find the tutorial useful. I started with an envelope of supplies, which included the following:
I began by looking at the supplies to decide what kind of house they suggested and whether I wanted to go with it or change it entirely.  I thought these supplies suggested a beachy, funpark kind of theme, and I liked that. [If I'm starting from scratch (without a bag of supplies), I usually start with a theme in mind and pull out supplies (images, paper, embellishments) which support that theme.  Or, I might start with an image that calls to me and then choose supporting papers and embellishments.]  The next thing I did was to think about any of my own supplies that I might want to add - things that had a similar feel and color scheme.  I pulled out a few things, including paint, ink, brads and some 1940's pictures of women in swimsuits:
From here, I basically proceeded to follow the three steps that I outlined earlier in my collage tutorial:  create a background; add an image; and add embellishments. You can find that tutorial here.  It's truly not so different than what your probably do in making cards or scrapbook pages.
Step 1:  Background. To create a background for my house, I considered a variety of different ways to use paper and paint to cover my house.  I started with these three papers:
I liked this basic approach, but I really wanted my beach shack to have a rustic feel, so I tried out my two paint colors to see if either would work:
The brown seemed too drab. I liked the blue, so painted the bottom half of the house blue.  I still wanted it more rustic, so I considered using either crackle paint on top of the blue or spritzing brown ink onto the blue.
Since my crackle paint was a little dried out (and also drab), I decided to spritz the bottom with brown ink.  I also used brown ink to ink the edges of all the papers and the edge of the blue. Then I glued the papers in place, and my background was done:
Step 2:  Images. I decided to use two images:  the elephant from the envelope and a 1940's woman doing a handstand.  I double-matted the elephant, single matted the woman, and placed them on the house:
Step 3:  Embellishments. When it's time to decide on embellishments, I usually try a few different variations to see what I like before I glue anything down.  I used a selection of things from the envelope and from my stash for my first pass:
I thought this looked pretty good, but thought it felt a little plain still. I wanted to add something else, and I realized I hadn't used any of the cool gingham ribbon from the envelope. I tried out the idea of putting some under the roof line or maybe some squares in the lower right corner of the house:
I decided I liked it along the roofline, but not so much on the house.  I decided to put some yellow brads in the lower right instead.  I adhered everything to end up with this:
I liked it pretty well, but I felt like it still needed one more element in the upper left hand corner of the house.  I rooted around on my desk and found a cream-colored star button with orange polka dots.  The orange pulled some orange out of the elephant picture.  I adhered the star with yellow brads, and my beach shack was complete! [Just to be sure it was complete, I toyed with the idea of adding something else (small shells, a flag on top, flowers), but they all made it feel cluttered.]
A few things about the design that I think work well.  The color scheme followed the gallon-quart-pint formula (where you use approximately 70% of your main color - blue; approximately 25% of your supporting color - brown; and approximately 5% of your third color - yellow) which often works for me. The vertical line of the brads reflect and balance the vertical image of the woman doing the handstand (she's a friend of my Aunt's, by the way), the star with the circular brads reflect and balance the picture of the elephant on the round ball.  Like many of my collages (or scrapbook pages or cards), there's a background, a title (live simply) and then three embellishments (tickets, star and brads).  Everything (color, images, embellies) supports the theme of a Beach Shack. I've never studied design, but I think this is why the house works for me to feel balanced and complete. Usually when I'm creating, I don't think consciously about any of these design principles, but I can look at the completed product and describe them (and I find it an interesting exercise).  If I'm struggling with a project, then I usually try to think about design principles to find out what is or is not working.
I didn't use everything that came in the envelope or that I pulled out.  Here's what I had left over (it's probably enough for another house - LOL!):
A few additional thoughts. There were other directions to go with the background and embellishments. For instance, I considered painting the roof brown or using a brown paper on the roof piece and then cutting some of the flowers out of the patterned paper to decorate it.  I also thought about cutting out some of the compass designs and using those as part of the background on the house or cutting little triangular flags out of the yellow paper. Any of these could have worked.  Second, if the theme suggested by the supplies in the envelope doesn't speak to you, feel free to substitute for any or all of the supplies.  Third, just play with the embellishments until you find something you like. As Paul Gardner said, "A painting is never finished.  It simply stops in interesting places."  I love my beach shack.  I think it's an interesting place to stop and spend a few moments. It might even be a fun place to have a house party . . .
I hope you found this tutorial useful.  If so, I'd love feedback as to what was helpful.  If not, polite suggestions as to what to add or delete are always welcome.  Party on!


debs14 said...

Fantastic! I've been itching to get started on my house ever since it arrived in the post yesterday and as this is the last day of the Easter holidays (I am a school secretary so have much time off!) I plan to play around with it today.
I love the way you have explained not only what you did, but your thoughts behind why you did it. I've learnt a lot from this post - thank you!

emhowl said...

Thank you, Rinda. I'll enjoy trying out the proportion ideas that you give. Sadly, as I usually use the dining table for craft and my daughter has a friend for tea tonight, tidiness is taking priority! But I've already cut out three other houses to do at the same time.

Sian said...

Thanks for this Rinda! I'm hoping to make a start over the weekend.

Amy said...

Well, the whole lot was very helpful to me - you know I'm not a paint and texture girl so this really will help when my parcel arrives :-) I do have an idea for my little house when it arrives .... watching the mail daily!

humel said...

This was so interesting, thanks Rinda :-) Got my envelope yesterday (woo-hoo!) and have mulled over a few ideas - I even dreamt about it last night lol! - looking forward to having a play :-)

Julie Shoemaker said...

It's easy to see why you should be teaching Rinda. The tutorial was well thought out, concise and very informative. I always heard 1/3..2/3..but I like the 5% idea. I received my house packet...thanks for the challenge.

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Nice tutorial, Rinda. It's always fun to read about someone else's creative process. I love your beach shack ~ would love to have a fancy drink with an umbrella there on house party day! ;o)

I'm going to work on my house this weekend!!!

Denise said...

Thanks for posting this Rinda,I received my house safe and soun yesterday and may even have a play after work this evening x

Mommy2CVC said...

Very cool Rinda! I have a question that you probably answered, but I don't see it. What size are the houses? Thanks! I love coming to your blog!

Lizzie said...

Thanks Rinda! My little package arrived safely yesterday and I'm already well into my little "House". The great stuff you sent me suggested some ideas and I came up with a theme... I'm having such fun!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I loved learning how you approach these. I haven't looked through my bag yet. I made myself wait until the tutorial, but I'll be laying it all out this weekend! I tagged you on my blog. I hope you don't mind.

♥ Liz ♥ said...

Great tutorial. I knew what mine would be as soon as I saw the colours and one of the embellishments!! I've had great fun messing about with bits and bobs. I haven't done any papercrafting in such a long time.

Kimberlee said...

Can't wait to get started on mine. :D