September 30, 2013

Return From Rose City: A Comic Con Recap

Normally Monday is an opportunity for me to break out the stack of low-cost, low-quality comic books I've accumulated over the years and write up a comedic and entirely opinionated comic book review which I then proceed to post for the whole internet to glance over and not actually read.

However, I spent not this past Saturday but the Saturday before with my dad at Rose City Comic Con, and had decided that an account of my adventure into nerd heaven and all around geek ecstasy would be a more than appropriate replacement for two weeks worth of our weekly comic book review. It's a little late coming to you as life has a tendency to happen whether or not you've set deadlines for your blog entries and planned to set aside time to type, and it doesn't always give you the chance to spend those entirely necessary several hours writing up something you'd feel is at least semi-acceptable to share with the rest of humanity. It may be a week late, but I managed to put together a little revisit of the awesomeness that was Rose City Comic Con for you guys, complete with pictures. So grab some Doritos, pop open a can of Rickey's tea, pause whatever game you're currently playing on an emulator, and get prepared to enjoy a little geek culture.

Now first things first: Our objectives on this trip?

One: To locate a handful of decently priced comic books essential to collectors--often referred to as "key issues"-- depicting the initial appearances of specific characters, deaths, or the introductions of important story arcs or scripts. My dad collects valuable comic books, so RCCC was a great opportunity to pick up some must-have issues he's been dying to get his hands on. 

(Check out our list!)

Two: To meet see some of the amazing comic book artists in the industry today and to not only get to see their work in person but to ask their advice about cons, comics, getting started in the business, techniques, and everything in between. 

Three: To find some awesome stuff to bring home that'll make all my fellow geek friends jealous. Merch is a must have.

Anybody around here a fan of cosplay? There were hundreds of costume donning fans attending the second annual RCCC, so many in fact, that documenting them became something of a chore. So as much fun as it was to "ooh" and "aw" over every Poison Ivy and Deadpool that walked passed us, we saved our lens for those that we adored above all else. I got a chance to share the spotlight with a couple of fellow fans dressed as some of my personal favorite characters, which was a lot of fun.

Sheesh, what a day. Nightcrawler insisted on taking a stance that seemed more natural to him, crouching like a demon devil creature, so that it was necessary for me to lean over awkwardly beside him to stay in the frame. Link had no qualms about getting up close and personal, but apparently I forgot that the point of taking a picture was to actually smile. I look super uncomfortable and awkward, which wasn't how I felt at the time at all. But so what? I'm a real person with a real face who has the terribly real weakness of looking really awkward in photos half the time. It doesn't bother me any. I don't have anything to hide from you guys. Plus, no matter what my face looks like, my new haircut looks pretty darn sweet. So there. Oh, and the girl wearing the blue fairy costume? I've got to give credit to the girl who pulled off Navi like a boss.  "Hey, Listen!...I like your costume!"

Now, It's a common misconception that comic con is a place for comic book geeks only, which is entirely untrue. Comic cons are more accurately pop culture conventions. If you're obsessively passionate about a book, movie, television show, toy, brand, podcast or game, you're most definitely going to find a representation of it somewhere at comic con. 

Whovians and trekkies run amok at conventions like this, and if I didn't spy a few handfuls of full-on bronys and furrys conversing with a couple of Game Grump lovelies, then I don't know a thing about geek fan group stereotypes. Most cons run a full floor of exhibitors and artists sharing and selling their crafts, wares, and merchandise, and RCCC was no exception. CD's, books, jewelry, prints, T-shirts, plushies, pillows, key chains, bookmarks, leg warmers...Almost any type of merchandise you can imagine is being held hostage by a nerd franchise vendor, awaiting either your dearest payment of cold hard cash or a breezy credit card swipe in exchange for their immediate release.

The guy running the booth where this mock NES game cartridge pillow was being sold flat out insisted that I at least take a picture with it since I looked like I was going to pass up the purchase. Sure thing, since I had no intention of dropping all the cash I brought on this one item. Sorry unicorn pillow. When we walked back past the booth later, they were completely sold out of ironic NES pillows. Darn.

If you thought we'd come home from the con with toys like this, you were terribly mistaken. I don't even want to know how much these guys are going to cost when they're officially released (but I looked i up anyways--a whopping retail price of $425. Yikes!) The displays for these guys was impressive ; half a dozen or more tall glass cases housing 1/4 inch to scale Iron Man action figures standing at eye level, lit up by strategically placed lighting, the whole thing surrounded by a rich square of red carpet? No wonder it took so long to work our way up front where we could get a good look at the Iron Patriot.

My dad struck up a conversation with some exhibitors who put together and sold custom lego sets. The idea is to prepare boxed sets for characters and scenes lego doesn't have readily available in their retail collections available for purchase: for example, a model of the original 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Party Wagon, complete with April O'Neil, The Ghostbusters Ecto-1 vehicle, or a scene from AMC's hit television show, The Walking Dead. So, these guys make their own set using pieces that lego as already made and sells the set as their own with customized packaging. My dad asked them how lego felt about it, and as it turns out, they had contacted lego about what they were doing, and they didn't mind in the slightest. "The way they see it, lego building blocks are like paint. The person who makes the paint doesn't sue an artist for painting a masterpiece with their product and selling it." That's not an exact quote, but it is essentially the gist of what he explained to us (I didn't have my notepad out and at the ready to jot down quotable moments). I found their work notable, and definitely worth a mention.

If you had your quarters at the ready (or were willing to use the conveniently close by coin exchange machine), you could play retro arcade games to your heart's content in an area set up for that precise purpose. I'm not sure which exhibitor set this up, but the fact that the Portland Retro Gaming Expo is right around the corner could possibly be a contributing factor to this awesome addition to the expo floor. Classic games like Mrs.Pacman, Tapper, and Tetris, as well as less conventional classics like CarnEvil made an appearance. Did I mention there were pinball machines? And holy comic grader batman! A super convincing Batmobile replica vehicle was on display nearby, which we didn't hesitate to photograph. Let's be honest here, whether it was screen used or not, a Batmobile is a Batmobile and is just plain cool.

Artist Alley is what they call the section of the con dedicated to artists and creators of every skill level and artistic style. I spoke to a comic book penciller who worked on Spider-Man, as well as an artist who worked on the Mega Man comics and got to browse through the original inked pages that he worked on from the Mega Man / Sonic the Hedgehog comic book cross over. I had an enthralling conversation with Jimmie Robinson, the author, artist and creator behind The Adventures of Evil and Malice, a short comic series about twin daughters of a super villain who aim to be superheroes. I conversed with sketch artists who went into hosting a table at cons initially as a way to get their portfolios reviewed by professionals only to stumble upon their future career paths as comic artists and regular con attendees and artist alley hosts. I met a man who illustrated these fabulous images depicting distorted perspectives of Portland coffee shops. Stunning! A man who once worked on older style cartoons and their comic counterparts such as Pinky and the Brain and the Animaniacs.

If there was one piece of advice that I could share with you that seemed the most integral to everything everybody mentioned to me when I talked to them it was this: If you want to get into something, just do it. If you want to start making comics, just start making them. Nobody's going to offer you a golden opportunity without seeing what you've done on your own, and experience by attempting and failing and tripping up and making mistakes is half the journey towards making something spectacular. The more I browsed the art being sold and struck up conversations with all sorts of creatives, I realized that I could be doing this. I could be the one on the other side of the table, offering my art to the world, making a little money, but mostly gaining experience and doing what I loved. I was inspired, to say the least.

I really wanted to purchase some artwork of my own to have, original and prints. I picked up three well-priced prints from Mika Darling, a young female artist like myself who attends Savannah College of Art and Design, pictured below. 

I wish I remembered the name of the man who illustrated this awesome sticker! His work was absolutely gorgeous, and I wasn't passing up the offer to buy this sticker when it only cost a dollar.

I nearly laughed out loud when I saw this colossus artist trading card-- and not at the artist's expense, but with pure enjoyment and intrigue. Nightcrawler may be one of my fave X-Men, but I couldn't pass up the hilarity of the pose Colossus was striking here. This is a sheet of canvas/cardstock the artist actually worked on, a one of a kind artwork, pencils, ink and everything...And now its under my watchful possession.

Look at these super cute and cuddly chibi key chains I found, $3 for one or two for $5. I got two as you can see-- Nightcrawler and a humanized version of LSP, the Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time. Mathematical.

I picked up this custom made notebook from Skulltastic at the con for only $5-- You pick a cover (there were dozens of awesome nerd designs to choose from, my favorites being a parody school book cover with a bottle of "Elm Street Glue" and the "Mathter's of the Univerth" set depicting both He-Man and Skeletor), choose a binding (A rainbow of colors to choose from), choose the type of interior paper (lined, blank, comic page), and determine whether you want it binded on the left hand side or right hand side, or from the top like a notepad. Once you've made all of these important decisions, they process the pieces and put your cover and bits in a machine, and momentarily you've got yourself your own custom spiral bound notebook. I can't wait to put my new notebook to use by sketching new ideas and scripts for FRIENDZONE (Installment #2 is in the works, btw! Hint, hint)!

And of course, I'm sure you're all wondering the same thing: "Did dad get his comics?!?"
Well, let's take a look...

...The Uncanny X-Men #142 and #141, the introduction to the Days of future past story arc and the deaths of Wolverine, Storm, and Collosus.

...Marvel Premiere #47 and #48, the 1st appearance of the new Ant-Man.

...A replica of Action Comics #1, for display purposes.

...The Amazing Spider-Man #135, the 2nd full appearance of The Punisher.

...Giant Size Spider-Man #4, the 3rd full appearance of The Punisher.

...Yeah, I'd say he definitely got what he was looking for. 

Now, tell me: who doesn't love freebies? Every Exhibitor and artist had a stack of business cards on hand, making keeping track of artists and their sample work and contacts a cinch! I scanned my favorite business cards so you could get a glimpse at the diversity the con had to offer. All art pictured below is representational of the artist's actual work. Cool, huh?

Something like 10,000 people were expected to attend this years convention. Instead, there was a whopping 17,000 people that gathered on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd in Portland Oregon. Now, I'll let you all in on a little secret...Wizard World is coming to Portland January 24th-26th in 2014. And that is a comic con I'm not going to miss out on.

Alright, well I hope everybody enjoyed this little recap. If you've got questions, insights, feedback or criticism, feel free to leave a comment. I'm more than happy to answer questions and have discussions, so feel free to talk to me. You can also tweet me or post on my face book wall, all the links are posted below.

Also, look out for a series of brand new artworks, being posted this week on all of my social media pages. Like, retweet, share, and all that jazz. I've got more work to attend to, so I'll end it there.

With all sorts of nerdy well-wishes,
Krystal Dawn

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94

September 20, 2013

Rose City Comic Con Awaits

What with all of my weekly scheduled blog posts, I haven't had a chance to set aside a little time to just blog for the sake of blogging. Sometimes we need to fulfill that desire of ours to write without knowing what we're to write about before we start. Every now and then, its alright to face the unknown head-on and to tackle uncertainty with our everything. There aren't always rules. So we make our own, and then we break them. That's not a lack of commitment. That is what I call growth.

Early tomorrow morning I'll be heading over to Rose City Comic Con, and I cannot tell you how much pure excitement and adrenaline is pumping through me, more than 12 hours before they even open the doors to admit fans and con goers. This is only the second year of this particular Con, but since last year's was such a success, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of history in the making.

You can expect an avalanche of full-scale Comic Con review once I return. I plan on taking lots of pictures, meeting other nerds, browsing miles of comics and experiencing a multitude of fantabulous artwork, so there'll be lots to blog about!

As you may have noticed, there was no DIY or DET post on Wednesday. Why, you may ask? That current segment is being cleaned up, revised, and adjusted to fit my own time frame and personal tastes. I didn't like the direction it was taking, but have already envisioned a new goal. Don't worry: it'll still be a DIY segment, just a different angle or take.

In other news, drafting has begun for the second installment of "FRIENDZONE", and I can't thank you all enough for the all of the views and "likes" on the first piece, which was a visual disaster to say the least. I love it, and it is what it is, but I made so many mistakes that I can't even count them all. I should be making a post discussing what not to do when making a comic. The good part? I learned tons! So the next installment will be much even better than the first. I promise that this time I won't spend extra time checking that I've spelled "misogynistic" correctly and neglect such gems as "ufair" and "rediculous." I've even done a little background study on how to write good jokes and how to incorporate humor into comic strips. I spare no expenses when it comes to giving you all the best I have to possibly give!

And with that, I must bid you all a goodnight. Although, the chances I'll sleep at all are slim. Rose City Comic Con. Perhaps I'll see you there?

With lots of love and anxious excitement,
Krystal Dawn

September 16, 2013

Caravan Kidd #3 (Comic Review #2)

Here at, Mondays mean one thing: bargain bin comic book reviews! All comic book stores seem to have at least a few boxes dedicated to cheap comic book rejects. Whether these are little known indie comics, one-shots that didn't stand up to the test of time, familiar faces in embarrassing crossovers, or forgotten heroes who've simply been passed over one too many times, there's always the opportunity for the occasional dumpster dive to reveal a treasure among the trash. Its time to give this week's book a read, a review, and a rating so you can either add this steal to your reading list, or know to pass over a mounting catastrophe.

Quick Specs:
Title: Caravan Kidd
Issue: Part 1, #3
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publication Date: September, 1992

Story and Art: Johji Manabe
Translations: Dana Lewis, Toren Smith
Lettering and Touch-Up: Wayne Truman
Edited by: Chris Warner, John Weeks

Alright, so for today's bargain bin comic book review, we'll be taking a closer look at an early issue of Caravan Kidd. Issue #3 to be exact. I picked this up at a comic book store in a neighboring town, quite literally from an actual bargain bin, so it's bound to be filled with cheap thrills.

To kick things off, let me take the liberty of saying that before today's reading, I was not familiar with this comic book series at all. Not in the slightest. Typically what I see sold for close to nothing are not-so-super-hero comics and one-shot indie forgottens. Manga in general is a bit rarer to find as it's considered widely popular to many. I used to be quite the manga authority, but had never once heard of this book before now. 

As it turns out, my ignorance was a blessing in disguise.

Judging by the cover art, this book is chock full of stereotypical manga style artwork. Look at this chick's eyes--they're huge. Unruly, unnaturally colored unisex hairstyle? Check. And her outfit? Skimpy. Perfect. Looks like we've got a classic 90's manga on our hands. If it weren't for her eyelashes and the sliver of cleavage,  I would've mistaken her for a man...Yikes. The art in itself however is crisp, clean, and the colors are extremely fresh and vivid. Classic copic marker style coloring technique seems to have been used to great effect. Next time though, I'd like to see a few more lines describing the texture of her hair, and less highlights in the fabric covering her crotch. Could you do that for me, Manabe?

Let's get right into our synopsis here. Wataru seems to be a normal kid.. Err, pre-teen? Tween? 17 year old? Twenty something or other...? It's hard to tell with this art style, so let's just assume Wataru's just our average 12-22 year old nomadic guy travelling with his alien companion. Him and his alien friend, "Babo," are forcibly accompanied by a strange, headstrong part woman/part animal anime girl named "Mian" who possesses unknown strength, a mysterious past, and borderline risque costume attire. After Babo lashes out at Wataru for something that occurred in the previous issue, he storms out to literally "take a dump" outside his and Wataru's camp (a tiny tent in the middle of nowhere). Here, Babo runs into hundreds of armored soldiers while doing his business as well as dozens of military vehicles, an air ship, and a massive armed battle ship.The issue goes out with a bang when this mysterious woman manages to somehow take out the entire battle ship and unnamed military armada without the use of a single weapon and is then professed by the defeated general to be a "breaker," intent and capable of bringing down the very mechanism and workings of civilization as they know it.

Are you ready? Are you sure? Alright, let's do it.

So, before we start trashing the story line, dialogue and plot, we've got to take two things into account. The first thing is this: This story has been translated from its original language and form. The intention of the author was left in tact as much as was appropriate for American audiences I'm sure, but in the overall scheme of things, it makes no sense to nit pick and grumble over minor details that aren't the writer's fault (At the very least we must blame those who edited the story). Now the second thing to consider will be a bit of a shock to some of you: once you look past the obvious character stereotypes, poorly carried over dialogue translations, and pace-less mess of nonstop nonsense events, you'll realize the actual story and concept itself isn't half bad. The story is oh-so-anime, but there were details added to the plot that, while limited, that provided the necessary interest level to keep the reader turning the pages. For example, the general making a brief rference to his knowledge of exactly who Mian was and more importantly what she was. More often than not, however, it seemed I was flipping back through the pages so I could accurately piece together what in the world was going on, as the story was quite difficult to follow.

The art, now, is a whole other sack of potatoes.

Yes, the artwork is extremely reminiscent of every other manga artist in the history of manga artists. That aside, some of the artwork is truly gorgeous to look at, especially the elaborate machines of mass weaponry, intricate explosions, extensive clouds of dust particles and explosive action sequences. The characters were clean and tolerable, but don't feel at home in their finely wrought world of gingerly clipped detail and solidly employed design principles. The whole feel of the atmosphere illustrated gave off a very "Akira Toriyama" vibe, and I was keenly aware that I felt as though I were reading a not as well written, watered down Sand Land knock off throughout the entire story.

First, let's talk about the positive aspects of this mish-mash of mediocre story-telling and fairly decent artwork.

I really loved the art style when it was used to depict the precise angles and technological detail of mechanical weaponry, armor, and machines. Thanks to the artist's attention to detail, there were panels where even the dirt looked exotic and exciting...Man, I really wish I had more reasons to like this book.

Now let's take a few moments to get into what really, really bothered me about this comic as a whole.

There was an abundance of unnecessary swearing in the character's dialogue. What I mean by unnecessary is that none of the curse words were used in a way that added any sort of depth or meaning to the situations presented in the story. They were hollow, empty. Words used simply for the sake of using them. The dialogue between characters sounded too generic. There wasn't any sort of chemistry between the characters in a way that made you care about them or their relationships to one another, or their relationship to you yourself as the reader. Wataru's alien sidekick Babo was certainly intended to be comic relief of sorts, but was instead nothing short of repulsive both visually and verbally. Also, for obvious reasons, the female character's outfit is ridiculous. Oh, and to complete the circle of silly traditional manga stereotypes? SERIES SPOILER ALERT: she's a robot. You're welcome.

Final Thoughts?

I've got to learn to read Japanese someday. I've got the feeling that the original translations in conjunction with ideas and concepts native to the culture they were influenced by probably make a lot more sense than what we end up with here. All in all, decent art, but poor story telling.

Story: 2 stars
Art: 3 stars
Theme: 2 stars
Characters: 1 star
Presentation: 2 stars

Overall: 2 out of 5 stars performance.

If you're interested in authentic manga, give it a glance, you might like it, but don't expect too much. If you're not really into the Japanese art style, I don't think this is the one that's going to win you over. Just go ahead and give it a pass. 

Interesting fact: if you look this manga up on wikipedia, there's literally nothing there but a 4 sentence synopsis of the entire series, a fragmented description of 4 characters, and a few unreliable references.

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94

September 14, 2013


The first ever installment of my new online web comic "FRIENDZONE": a comedic approach to my life as a  quirky freelance artist, full time gamer, college student "sort of" and all around geek. Don't forget to leave constructive feedback, criticism or suggestions, so that I can improve the next installment!

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94

September 11, 2013

DIY or Don't Even Try: Upcycled Earring Holder

Its Wednesday, and you know what that means! Its time for our first ever "DIY or Don't Even Try!"

Now, before we get started today, I want to take a few moments to reflect on today's date in American history out of respect.

It is, of course, the anniversary of 9/11.

People always talk about where they were on this day, when the world Trade Center fell. I myself was just a child when 9/11 took place, and I lived clear on the other side of the states. I had barely started the first grade, but that doesn't mean I was unaffected by the events that occurred that day. I remember the news being on in the living room, my mom talking in quiet voices on the phone, her face more serious than I could ever recall in living history...There were other things I remembered. Images and words I didn't understand out of context. Mostly talk about planes. I remembered feeling frightened, confused, and scared.

That's where I was. I feel like its our duty to remember what happened and to reflect on the great compassion and courage displayed that day by the American people united as a single entity by the aftermath of disaster. I was only 6 years old, but I will never forget.

Now that our respects have be payed, let's get started.

This project was inspired by a DIY craft tutorial posted on Youtube by username HeyKayli, titled "DIY Jewelry Holders!!" (click here to watch the original video). I just thought her DIY idea for turning old picture frames into jewelry holders were so super adorable! So of course, I watched her video from beginning to end, and made a mental note to try out her super chic tricks!

The concept was to take cheap picture frames that you can pick up anywhere--Walmart, Walgreens, Jo-Ann's Fabric and Craft, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Dollar Tree-- repaint and decorate them, then add a mesh backing for the earrings to hang off of.

The backings she used had an incredibly unique and gorgeous pattern, but guess what they were? Tin radiator covers from Home Depot. The idea has merit, and obviously worked great for her personal project, but what she didn't mention was just how expensive these radiator covers are.

Inspired to make my own, I looked up Home Depot's prices for myself, and wow, was I in for a shock. I found the exact same 3' by 3' radiator sheet from her video online for the price of $22.78. And yes, keep in mind this is for a single sheet of tin. I'll even throw in the link so you can check it out yourself by clicking here. And as you will notice, this is one of the cheaper sheets. Now, this may be a great price for a radiator sheet when used as intended, or for DIY picture frames that you plan to resell for mondo bucks, but if you're like me, you see the insanity in investing that much in a couple of cheap picture frame projects that may or may not go quite according to plan. So already I had to make some adjustments to her project before I even got started.

But not to worry! I found a fabulously cheap replacement for the expensive mesh sheets at my local all-purpose Walmart Super Center! So are you ready? Let's DIY!

The most essential thing you will need is a clean, solid working space. I cannot stress this enough. Crowded and messy may be your style (and often its mine too), but it seriously complicates every do it yourself project process 10 fold. Being lazy just isn't worth it.

In addition to a flexible working space, you'll need a few trusty craft materials and tools: A cruddy old picture frame of your choice, a hot glue gun and hot glue (I am personally using a mini glue gun with mini glue sticks), a sturdy pair of scissors, something mesh that your earrings can hang onto (I go into detail about what I'm using below), paint brushes, an old cup for the paint water, spray fixative (optional), and black acrylic craft paint.

Literally all of the above was purchased at Walmart. I cant guarantee that the frame was, but if not, it probably came from a dollar store of some sort.

So this is what I'm going to use for the "mesh" that the earrings will hang on in replacement of the radiator cover that HeyKayli used. The moment I saw this Autumn themed place mat at Walmart, I absolutely knew what purpose it was meant to serve, and that wasn't to be sitting beneath my dinner. This single 1 and 1/2 foot by 1 foot place mat cost $2.98. Yes, its flimsy-ish, but I just call that flexible. It serves the same purpose perfectly as long as you cut the correct dimensions and attatch it to the frame accordingly, and is much, much easier to cut. In HeyKayli's video, she mentions using a special tool purchased at Home Depot just to cut the tin, which racks up your investment price even higher. Trust me guys, this is what you want. All I'm seeing are pros.

And here it is from the back. We're going to have the front showing since it has a very nice, shimmery texture to it that looks very refined. Note: There were other mats with other colors and variations. Meaning we can also skip the step of spray-painting our "mesh" if we wanted to. How cool is that?

So here is my picture frame. It's dusty, cheap, and has a funky texture that's just barely smooth enough that I believe paint will go on in even coats. I've chose black craft paint to help shield the eye from some of the dents and nicks in the wood. A lighter shade of paint would be fine also, but the relief from the shadows would become more visible. Ultimately the color is up to you, your preferences, and how you want the finished product to look.

The first thing we want to do is carefully flip the frame over. Now, most of you have put pictures in a picture frame before, so this part should be a cinch. Just unbend the little tabs holding the cardboard in place by pulling them towards you until they stick straight up in the air. Be careful- yanking to hard can cause the metal to bend too much and break. If any of them do, don't sweat it. Nobody's going to be staring at the back once its done anyways. Place your hand beneath the glass on the underside and push up to unstick the cardboard and glass from the wooden frame.

Remove the cardboard and glass carefully and set aside. We won't be using these for this project, but may be useful for a future craft endeavor. If you don't believe you'll have any use for these pieces, feel free to toss them. Next you want to wipe your frame down with a damp towel or cloth, removing any dirt or dust from the surface. This will help the paint stick to the surface much more efficiently.

We're ready paint! Believe it or not, we're halfway there. I've chosen to use Daler Rowney Simply Acrylic paint in black, but again, you can use whatever color or brand you'd like. I believe I paid either $3.00 or $4.00 for this 2.5 fluid oz. bottle. Just make sure you're not using a paint that's too cheap, otherwise you may have a runny mess on your hands. Make sure you're using acrylic! Trust me on this. Water color or oils will not work the way you'd think they would.

Any brushes of any size are fine, although I personally used a brush with a small-ish tip so I could easily get paint into the creases of the frame without drowning it and having it dry with massive black clumps. On the other end of the spectrum, don't use a brush that's too small or you'll be spending hours painting a frame that should only take approximately 20 minutes to paint. Don't worry about painting the back, but make sure you get the outside edges and the inside edges, so the frame appears to have always intentionally been the color that it will soon be.

Once you've covered the entire surface area (excluding the back, of course) with paint, plug in your hot glue gun so it can start heating up. Mine takes about 5-8 minutes before its warmed up to its most proficient temperature, so this gives you time to go back and touch up any spots where the paint is thin or to add an extra layer. Once the paint is dry, you can either move on to the next step, or spray your painted frame with fixative. Follow the instructions on the bottle, and you'll be fine. I chose not to use any on this particular frame, so I'm moving directly to the next step.

Flip your picture frame over carefully (you don't want to scuff that new paint job), and lay the place mat over the back, lining up the edge with the inside edge of the frame, where the glass snugly fir before. Either mark out the edges where your mat needs to be cut, or you can eyeball it like I did. If you mark your mat, make sure you're marking on the back of the mat, and do so lightly so it won't show up on the front.

The next step is the trickiest, and yet is super straightforward and easy. Remove the mat, and draw a line of hot glue across the top inside edge of the frame. Fit the top edge of the mat into the cranny, straightening it best you can before the glue completely dries, double-checking that the edges are still lined up. Remember to act fast! Hot glue dries extremely quickly, and holds on good. You should be able to pull it off and retry if you mess up however, so don't panic if you find its lined up incorrectly. Just peel away the glue from the surface of the frame first, then the mat edge, then try the process of gluing over again. Repeat with each edge. The tricky part is lining up the sides. Since the mat isn't stiff you'll need something to hold it in place--gravity. Lean our frame against a wall, chair, or other surface before pressing the mat into the glue. This will increase the chances of lining it up correctly since it will hang vertically.

Here is the final product!

Check it out: the small holes in the leaves can hold stud earrings too!

At the end, we've taken a junky old picture frame and a place mat, and with a little glue and paint, upcycled them into a stylish and trendy earring holder!

So, as for my rating on the project as a whole inspired by HeyKayli:

Difficulty:  5 stars. This project is super simple!
Cost:  1 star. Absolutely horrendous. Thank goodness the Walmart gods seemed to have smiled upon me.
Efficiency: 5 stars. As long as you've got hot glue, there's not much that can go wrong here.

All in all, I think this would be a great project for anybody to tackle. If you're new to the world of DIY, give it a go. Don't be afraid to try something new. This project is quick, easy, and the end product looks extremely polished. Plus, you can take it even  further than what I did here by adding extra decorations or decals or experimenting with different types of frames or mixing and matching textures. Thank you HeyKayli, for sharing your ideas with us, and inspiring this twist on your super cute and creative DIY jewelry holders!

If you do get inspired to try a little picture frame DIY of your own, tweet me the pics or share them on Facebook! I'd love to see what you guys come up with. Until next time, Yours truly:
Krystal Dawn.

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94



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