Subway art secret distressing technique...nail polish remover!

Last week, I made my first attempt ever at making subway art on a canvas.

I found a blank canvas at a garage sale for 50 cents and knew it was begging for some words on it. I also picked up some HUGE rolls of adhesive vinyl at a garage sale for just about nothing (4 rolls about 5 feet long each for $10 total). I had pinned this tutorial by lil blue boo and started using her directions on how to make it.

I put layers of phone book papers down and mod podged them on, then painted over top of it with a really cool brown color. I realized that one of the rolls of vinyl that I picked up wasn't white like I thought, but clear instead, so I thought that it would make the perfect stencil to use on the canvas. Easy peasy, right?


After cutting out the letters on my silhouette machine, putting transfer paper on each word, then placing it on the canvas, I thought I would then paint over the canvas and the letters with my black paint. So far so good until I went to pull up the letters.

It probably wouldn't have been an issue had I not put the phone book paper down first. When I went to peel the vinyl letters off that I was using as a stencil, the newsprint began to peel too. UGH! This is what it looked like. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, so I went to bed and was hoping some great idea would hit me in the morning.

And it did! I thought I would see if I could remove the paint from the vinyl letters with some type of paint remover. I looked for acetone in our garage with no luck, so I grabbed the second best thing, nail polish remover.

I started using it on the canvas and the paint started coming off. this is what it looked like in the beginning stages.

I kept rubbing

and found that using a cotton ball worked better than a napkin or paper towel. I went over the whole canvas a few times making sure I could read all of the words on the board.

I was pleasantly surprised with the end result.

I think it looks pretty cool. The nail polish worked as a great distresser on the art.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

that's a really cool effect! I'm surprised you had trouble with the vinyl - I do similar things quite often. Did you put a coat of modpodge on top of the phone book papers? It may be that the paper was just too thin for this sort of thing.

Still, great job finding a good fix! I might have to try doing this on purpose!

What sort of paint was it? Ordinary craft paint?

Unknown said...

I did put modpodge on top of the papers. I didn't layer them too thick though...wonder if that was my problem?

The paint was just normal craft paint I had on hand. Hope it works for you!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! If I try it I'll let you know how it turns out!

Howsewears said...

I LOVE it! It doesn't look like you need it, but I just posted a subway art tutorial. Feel free to check it out. You might find a tip or two.
Fondly, Tami

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

That's a great save. Clever of you. Now this is on my list of textured finishes for arts and crafts. I will probably do your "oops" on purpose!

Mimi said...

Amazing transformation!

Jennifer said...

Very cool!!
Thanks for sharing at Show & Share!

Anonymous said...

wow!! Rachel!! wow!! thats impressive!!

Anonymous said...

Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a
few of the pictures aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

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