On a recent night, seven Paducah women gathered in the studio to learn how to take a black-and-white or color copy of a photo and transfer that picture to another surface, such as an 8-by-10 canvas or a small wooden block. The women — four teachers, a business owner, a doctor and a lawyer — chatted about their children, their work and life in general as they painted Mod Podge, a glue-like substance, over the pictures and placed them on the canvas. All the women had found things they liked on Pinterest, but without the time and supplies, they had only “re-pinned” the ideas, not created anything. Housman’s parties allow the women to find the time and space to get back in touch with their creative muse.
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard for displaying, planning and organizing collections of images found on websites. Users can “re-pin” or “like” photos in subjects ranging from crafts to cooking to travel to sports. Users then click those photos and are taken to a blog or website belonging to that particular photo. The new social media site, which can be linked through a person’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, draws 11.7 million hits each month.
According to ComScore, an Internet tracking firm, 68 percent of the website’s users are women and 85 percent of those women drive traffic to the site. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where users can join at any time, Pinterest requires an invitation from a member or a company before a new user can join. ComScore also estimates that half the women using the site are 35 or older.
Housman admits to having 1,700 “pins” on Pinterest, meaning that she discovered that many ideas ranging from photo transfers to décor projects to recipes. By “re-pinning” those ideas, she essentially bookmarked them for her perusal later. For instance, she pinned a comprehensive selection of downloadable fonts that she can use for monograms in her painting or other creative projects.
“You read it on Pinterest and then you don’t do it,” Housman said. “Pinterest is the inspiration. I’ll show the Pinterest inspiration and then I’ll have a different take on it. I’ll change the size or the layout.”
Housman, who seems to have boundless energy, draws inspiration, not instructions, from Pinterest. She was an early user of blogs and ran a successful design blog with her sister, Kari Wood, for several years. Housman also used Etsy, an arts-and-crafts retailing site, to sell her art. Her website, www.kijsa.com, is designed as a landing pad for people to navigate through her blog, her artwork and the Pinterest parties.
Housman decided to start Pinterest parties in her studio as a way to share her creative touch and encourage other women to do the same. The parties started in March, and she has sessions booked until May. She books parties on Thursday nights and can schedule private parties for groups. Parties generally last about two hours, unless the guests end up talking, laughing and enjoying the company and their creativeness. Housman charges either a flat rate ($18 for her public parties on Thursdays) or a fee plus supplies for other parties.
The problem with Pinterest is that women see the ideas, pin them and then move on because they may not have the supplies or the time. Housman said she began the parties as a way to help women see that they can create art without investing a small fortune in supplies that they may never use again.
During the recent party, Housman gave each woman an 8-by-10 canvas, a small sponge paintbrush, masking tape, a piece of sandpaper and a precut and painted wooden block. She passed around gel medium and Mod Podge for the projects. For the wood block, the women painted the gel medium on the front of a black-and-white copy of a photograph and then placed the photo copy face down on the block. The toner from the copier printed on the wood after the paper dried. The women rubbed warm water over the print to peel the paper fibers away, leaving the black ink of the image behind.
Housman pointed out that gel medium and Mod Podge both cost upwards of $15. A 10-pack of the canvases costs $20 at a local craft store. Pinterest party participants paid $18 for the supplies that evening.
For the canvases, the women painted the canvas and the photocopy of the photograph with Mod Podge. With just a few stroke of the paintbrush, the images popped from the canvas and appeared more like paintings than portraits. Housman walked around the room to offer encouragement and then blot each one with a burlap drop cloth to give the canvas more texture. She then helped the women select scrapbook paper to cut for a border and attach it with Mod-Podge as well. Once the picture and the scrapbook paper began to dry, she helped the women fill in the edges with paint. Several women smeared the dark paint into the bottom of the black-and-white images to offer shadows and additional texture.
“I’m obsessed with Pinterest,” said Laura McGee, a first grade teacher at Clark Elementary in Paducah. “You get on there and find things that you like.”
And even as much as McGee enjoys surfing on Pinterest, she often doesn’t have time to actually do all the projects once she’s home. With her two children and their activities, she might not find time for projects in her spare time.
“This is one of those projects where I can go home now and do this on my own,” McGee said. “Or I can do this with my first graders. This is the first project I’ve done. Some of the projects I love are not the things I can go home and re-create.”
Audra Bridges, who recently moved to Paducah, has attended two Pinterest parties at Housman’s studio. Her Sunday school class turned ordinary wooden pallets into a wall hanging with an inspirational verse emblazoned on it. The women brought snacks and worked for three hours on the project. “I never would have made that,” Bridges said. “I would have seen the pallet and stopped.”
But Housman doesn’t let anyone stop or try to talk themselves out of doing a project. Ever the encourager, she finds something unique in every person’s art. She shrieked with joy when one of her “students” rubbed off the paper fibers to reveal the black ink of a photo of the old Columbia theater. She praised another student who had trouble with her copy paper and encouraged her to try again. Housman simply wasn’t allowing anyone to leave the studio without their creative muse.
And thanks to Housman’s few minutes of clicking on photos she liked, the seven women left the studio that evening with two completed projects and a renewed creative spirit.
Planning a Pinterest party
Kijsa Housman hosts Pinterest parties in her Lower Town studio.
Unless booked as a private party, drop-in parties are from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays. Costs vary according to project but are posted on Housman’s website: www.kijsa.com.
Private parties may be booked for groups of six to 24 for any day or evening. Guests may arrange for catering or food.
Materials cost $4 per person, minimum of eight guests.
Cell: 331-2787, Email: email@example.com
Fast & easy photo transfer blocks
- Gel Medium (Liquitex heavy gloss is preferred, but any will do)
- Blocks cut from scrap 2x4s
- White acrylic paint
- Copied photograph sized to fit the block
- Sponge brushes
- Warm water
- Ribbon and cup hook if desired
1. Cut your lumber to size to fit a snapshot photo (3x5)
2. Use sandpaper to smooth the rough edges and corners and give the piece an antique look
3. Cut the photograph copy to size. Coat the FRONT of the photo with gel medium and then adhere face down on the block, smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. Dry for three to four hours.
4. When dry, wet the paper. (The paper will rub off).
5. Rub the image until the paper fibers come off.
6. Coat with more gel medium to add a gloss finish or leave as is for a vintage look.
7. Screw in a cup hook at the top and add a bit of ribbon for a finishing touch.