Plaid Creators: Craft Challenge

One of the highlights of my summer so far was definitely the annual Plaid Creators event at Plaid HQ in Atlanta. As you know, while I was there, I got to play with all kinds of new craft products and techniques and make a bunch of fun projects. It’s hard to choose just one favorite activity, but if I had to, it would be the Craft Challenge. We were split into teams and asked to create a summer patio vignette – here’s how it worked.

Plaid Creators {L-R}: Amy Bell of Positively Splendid, me, Erin Spain of, Bev McCullough of Flamingo Toes, Abbey DeHart of The Cards We Drew, Katie Wyllie of Made to be a Momma, Liz Welker of The Pretty Life Girls, Kathy Owen of Petticoat Junktion, and Ashley Thurman of Cherished Bliss

I’m pretty sure this activity would have made an epic reality show! First, we were randomly placed into three groups by choosing numbers out of a bowl. Group 1 was Erin, Bev, and Ashley. Group 2 was Liz, Abbey, and Kathy. I was in Group 3 with Amy Bell and Katie.

Next, each team was given the same basic pieces: a wooden chair, a small wooden table, a crate, a wooden tray, and a white cloth napkin. We had access to any Plaid supplies/products we needed, including stencils, paintbrushes, paints, etc., and were given a “runner” from the Plaid staff who would literally run downstairs to get us anything we asked for. There were some other surfaces available too, like metal containers and wooden coasters that we could incorporate into our vignette if we wanted to use them. When it came to staging our finished scene, we could use anything that was in the room…more on that later!

We had one hour to complete our challenge.

Yes, one hour to completely transform five unfinished pieces into a stylish, on-trend vignette. All I can say is that they had some pretty high expectations of our talents!

Katie, Amy B., and I quickly agreed on our theme: Americana. Since it was just a few days before the 4th of July, something patriotic felt particularly appropriate, but we all know that an Americana theme is perfect all summer long! Amy B. immediately set to work on the chair, which we wanted to give a beautifully aged look with the FolkArt Painted Finishes, specifically the Barnwood and Barnwood Wax. She started by giving it a coat of the stain, while Katie worked on the table. For time purposes, we decided not to paint the whole thing. Plus, it already had a stain and a glossy finish on it, so it really only needed a few colorful accents.

I taped off the lower sections of the legs, the Katie got to work painting them while I painted the front of the drawer. Since traditional red, white, and blue can be a limited color palette, we decided to expand on it by using a variety of shades. We picked several hues of red paint, along with a light powder blue and a navy. For our neutral, we chose a creamy off-white. We decided on the light blue for the table accents, and I’m so glad we did, because it was the perfect complement to the color of the existing wood. We only had time for one coat of paint on the legs and drawer…if we were really making the project at home, we’d have done at least two for better coverage since the surface was dark and glossy, but hey, the clock was ticking!

Amy B. continued working on the chair; by this time, the first coat was dry and it was time to apply Barnwood Wax. She painted a coat of it over the entire surface of the chair {except for underneath…shhhh!} and then scraped the excess back off to allow the wax to settle into the natural wood grain. For this step, it’s ideal to use a plastic card of some sort. I suggested her key card from the hotel, and it worked perfectly…although I’m pretty sure they told her to just keep it when she tried turning it back in. It may or may not have looked like a hot mess.

I settled in to work on the napkin, which our group decided was the perfect place for some hand lettering using Plaid’s Fabric Creations paints. I sent our runner downstairs for navy and red, and she also brought me a pack of very fine brushes to use for the lettering. We decided on the saying, “land that I love,” which I painted onto the napkin. I definitely feel more comfortable lettering with markers, but I have to say that it didn’t turn out too shabby with the brush!

Seeing as how none of us were particularly worried about keeping the work area neat…I mean come on, we had 60 minutes to finish…I may or may not have accidentally gotten a smudge of red paint on the right side of the napkin. Instead of seeing it as a disaster, though, I decided it was a sign that the edges needed a border of red stars, so I created some. I’m actually glad the mistake happened because I think the stars add a lot!

By that time, Amy B. had finished the chair, so I painted three little cream colored stars across the top rung, as well as a large cream star on the metal container we had chosen to use to add some continuity and tie a few of the pieces together with a common image. We couldn’t find a star stencil, although I’m sure Plaid makes one, so I freehanded them with a small brush.

It was time to work on some of our smaller accents, so we divided and conquered. Katie painted the tray navy with light blue edges. Amy Bell set to work with some cream yarn and the RyaTie tool to create a pom-pom garland. I painted three of the wooden coasters using three slightly different shades of red FolkArt paint. When they were dry, I lettered, “America,” on them, as well as lettering, “USA,” on the tray.

Finally, I set to work on the crate, giving it a coat of FolkArt Coastal paint. We literally didn’t have time for it to dry at this point, with only ten minutes left to go, so Katie did a wet distress on it. That basically entails sanding off some of the paint while it’s still wet. It gives a slightly different effect than sanding when the paint is dry, which is actually pretty cool looking, so we’re just going to say that’s totally what we were going for. With literally two minutes left to go, I lettered a patriotic phrase onto the front slats of the crate. The paint was still a tad wet, so I actually had a Plaid employee, Jon, standing next to me handing me new permanent markers when one would stop working. Boy, it would be nice to have runners and assistants when I craft at home! 

We styled our vignette using some faux succulents we found in the room, as well as some books we grabbed off the shelf in the Plaid lunch room. We also borrowed a wine glass, some sweet tea, and some blue and white striped napkins from the kitchen. Here’s how our complete setup looked when we presented our work to the panel of expert judges.

We talked about how we incorporated a rustic look as well as patriotism to evoke a comforting, nostalgic feeling that ties into the mega-trend of hygge {pronounced hue-gah…google it}. We described how we created each item, what different products and techniques we used, and how we divided the work by utilizing everyone’s individual strengths.

Here’s a look at all three entries in the contest. Honestly, I was blown away by what each group created as well as how unique everything was! I loved seeing how the exact same materials could be used in such different ways and create vignettes that were nothing like each other! The only thing we had in common was that we all chose to do a paint dip on the table legs. Other than that, we went in totally different directions…take a look.

Group 1: Coastal

Ashley, Bev, and Erin decided on a pretty coastal palette, using a pickling wash on the chair and giving the table legs a pop of navy. They flipped the crate upside down, gave it an aged, salt-worn look, and used it to hold wine glasses and the napkin, on which they painted navy stripes. My favorite part of their display is that pillow! Bev took a second cloth napkin, stenciled, “SEA,” on it, then filled it with skeins of yarn. She folded it in half and tied the corners to make the cutest little accent pillow; I’d have never thought of that! To further style the vignette, they added rope, an oar, wine, and some metal tins holding greenery and seashells. Apparently you can find just about anything in the Plaid storeroom. Personally, I thought this was absolutely gorgeous, and since my house is full of coastal style decor and this color palette, I wanted to bring it home with me. No such luck.

Group 2: Tropical Vibes

Liz, Abbey, and Kathy went for a jungle/tropical flair, using a fun leaf stencil on several of their pieces. They painted their table legs white, as well as the top portion of the chair, then stenciled green leaves on the table top and chair seat. They used a metallic accent on the bottom portion of the chair, leaving the center part unfinished. This group continued the color blocking theme on all of the pieces, adding a diagonal metallic section on the wooden tray and painting only certain sections of the crate and coaster. Cute little stenciled flamingos decorated their napkin, and they added a few succulents and a chalkboard sign to complete the look. How summery and fun does this look?!

Group 3: Americana

Here is our completed vignette, with all the pieces put together. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the way it turned out, and much to our excitement, we won the challenge! The judges chose ours as their favorite!

I just can’t get over how incredible all three of these turned out in just an hour’s time! It was so much fun working together and seeing what everyone came up with. What do you think? Which is your fave? What would you have done with these materials?

Craft Challenge: Summer Vignette

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.