Early last month, my family and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon at a festival in a nearby little town. The kids rode ponies, we ate some good food, and we watched the Weiner Dog races. Yes, seriously. Right before we left, an Elvis impersonator took the stage, and we danced and sang along with him in the shade. It was so much fun.
While I was there, I became so inspired by this Elvis. He wasn’t the hunky Jail House Rock Elvis. Instead, he was the fat, sweaty, jumpsuit-wearing Elvis. I wanted him to live somewhere in my house. Yes, seriously.
That next week, Emma and I headed down to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to find some reclaimed wood flooring that I could nail together into some sort of canvas. There was no wood flooring (there is usually tons, so someone must have cleaned them out), but I did come across a 6 foot by 3 foot piece of old, blue house siding for $2. Sold! I’m sure was a sight to see me shove this into my little SUV, but we somehow managed to get it home. It was twice as long as I needed, but I’m always happy to have the extra length, just in case.
I’m not a huge Elvis Pressley fan, but my parents were born and raised in Memphis. One of the best memories I have of my grandmother was when she took me to see Graceland one summer. Elvis now holds a special place in my heart, because his image reminds me of my beloved Gay, who left us about 15 years ago.
I searched online for the best photo of Elvis to use for my project, and I kept coming back to this one taken of him during a concert in Hawaii. I liked his pose in the photo and I really love the lei.
I am so weird, right?
Anyway, I altered the image a bit in Photoshop and set it to print across multiple pages. I taped them all together, so my little template looked like this.
I put some carbon paper between my print outs and my old siding, and I started tracing the outline. I wanted to give the project a real pop art feel, so I thought I would do all of the shading in really geometric sections.
Turns out, that idea was a huge FAIL. It was scary. Really, really scary. There was nothing I could do to salvage it.
I’m glad I had that extra length on my siding!
I cut out Elvis’s silhouette and traced it with chalk onto the other end of the siding. I had plenty of room, and it immediately looked a lot better. It wasn’t the original idea I was going for, but this one was going to be fun, too. I filled in the inside details by hand. (Looking for a template? I now have one here!)
Using cheap bottles of craft paint that I already had on hand, I started painting in the details. Once the paint was dry, I was able to wipe off the chalk with a wet cloth. I am completely unable to draw faces, so I decided he would be faceless. We can pretend that it’s some artistic statement, but it’s really just that I’m an untalented artist.
In a last minute decision that screamed over-the-top-but-I’m-going-to-do-it-anyway, I decided to sequin his lei. I bought two packages of the big pailette sequins from Hobby Lobby and started nailing them onto the lei with small wire nails.
I nailed and nailed and layered and nailed the sequins. It took me a few days to get it covered, because every time I started working on it, Emma would yell, “No more bang, Mama!” Eventually I got them all put on. The result is quite shimmery, and I love it so.
Tom cut the “fail” portion off of the siding and together we “distressed” the cut edge with a hammer, a crowbar and dirt. We screwed the artwork directly into the studs behind our drywall. For under $10, I have a new giant piece of custom artwork.
Elvis now lives on the wall under my drum light and next to my crazy bathroom. He’s right at home here, don’t you think?
Eventually, this builder’s beige blech blah wall will become a vibrant color. The wall is not on my “rooms to do” list of 2012, so Elvis will have to give it some character until I can get to it. I think I might want to put something to serve as a console table underneath him, but I’m not quite sure. I need to live with him for a while before I make that decision.
Have you ever been inspired by something as crazy as jumpsuit Elvis? Did you see that inspiration through?