DIY Sheet Music on Canvas

Another busy weekend has come and gone and we are still in full project mode at the “P” residence. With about 6 weeks left of pregnancy, my hope is that maybe around week 38 I can get a little relaxation. It feels like wishful thinking at this point, but I suppose rest and relaxation is just not in the cards for everyone.

Each room in our house is slowly shaping up and I can’t wait to share the end results with y’all. Hopefully, *fingers crossed* we will be ready to put some after pictures up in the next few weeks. The first room that we officially started so many months ago was our formal living room. Since that room houses my piano and one of Mr. P’s guitars I lovingly call it our “music room.”

Since the new house is so much larger than our previous house, we have had quite a time filling it up. When possible, I have tried to reuse or repurpose the bulk of our old belongings. At some point, I was really into “wine” themed decor. It probably had something to do with my love for France, Italy, and Napa Valley. Who doesn’t love the romance of rolling hills and a product crafted from the vines?

As with most things that are “themed”, eventually I grew tired of this look. I had two large canvas pictures that I purchased from Kirklands ages ago that I wanted to repurpose, but I wasn’t completely confident that my plan would work out. The pictures consisted of one large canvas with a smaller canvas on top of the larger one (see below).

WinePicBefore_07.21.14

Both canvases were in good shape so I felt bad to deface the pictures, but this look just wasn’t going to work in the new home. Since these were going to hang over the love seat in our “music room,” I wanted something musically inspired. My plan was to keep the larger canvas as a backdrop and cover the smaller front part of the canvas.

The first thing that came to mind was this lovely picture titled “A Tribute to Music” by Mitchell Gold. At 54″ wide by 42″ high, this is not only a very large picture, but also an expensive one. You can have one of your own for around $2,000.

That was definitely out of our budget, but at least the inspiration was there. I found this great tutorial on a blog titled Amy’s Casablanca who was also inspired by “A Tribute to Music”. It is so much easier to tackle a project like this after someone else so I greatly appreciated the time she took to map out her own sheet music canvas project.

DIY Sheet Music Canvas

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If you don’t have a canvas on hand, you will probably want to purchase one of those first. This is where things could get pretty pricey. You could buy a new canvas from a painting or hobby store such as Hobby Lobby or like us, you could recover an old canvas. Depending on how large you would like the final picture will determine your needs on a canvas size.

After you have your canvas ready to go, you will want to pick out the sheet music that you would like to enlarge. Originally, I wanted to pick two songs that meant something to Mr. P and I. My first inclination was to go with our “first dance” song at our wedding (“In My Life by The Beatles – in case you were wondering) and “Oh Happy Day” which we walked down the aisle to after we were married, but the actual sheet music wasn’t very difficult.

I wanted a beautiful jumbled mess and sadly, these weren’t going to cut it. I’m pretty sure my search on Google went something like this, “free classical sheet music.” From there I found several websites that offered free printable classical sheet music (for the piano).

When deciding which one to use, I started by narrowing the selection to “Hard” (if I were actually wanting to play the music I would have had to select “Easy”). This brought up a new list of wonderfully complicated pieces by all of the big names in classical music. I chose one by Beethoven because it was on the top of the list.

Since we were using two different canvases, we required the alteration of two pictures. I picked out the two hardest sheets and saved each sheet as a separate jpg file. Below is a copy of the jpg file of one of the sheets.

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I printed both sheets out and went to Office Depot. The next part of this tutorial can be kind of tricky because you really need to work with someone who knows what they are doing in Adobe Photoshop. My first attempt with the salesperson did not turn out very well. After taking the enlarged photo home, I decided to completely scrap it (almost scrapping the whole project!).

Not wanting to accept defeat, I went back to Office Depot and had a completely different (better) experience.

The picture of the sheet music should be printed on regular white 8.5″ x 11″ paper. You will need to let the sales clerk know:
1) how large you would like the picture to be
2) that you would like it centered (our first one was slightly off)
3) to set the background to transparent and transpose the sheet music on top of each other
*This is the part where it can get confusing.

When you work with the sales clerk, it is helpful to have a picture of the end product. I would suggest printing out either our finished product (below) or the picture of “A Tribute to Music” to give the salesperson a better idea of what’s trying to be achieved. Once our salesperson saw the photo, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

We transposed the music two to three times (taking the sheet music down just a pinch each time) so there was a lot of overlap in the notes. If the salesperson isn’t very busy, they can show you what the end product will look like after transposing it each time. This is highly recommended so you know exactly what you are getting once printed.

Once you agree on the way the sheet music looks, the sales clerk can print it out any size that you would like. As far as the cost goes, I can’t really confirm. The first salesperson that we worked with charged us around $8.00 for the two enlargements. Although I thought that was a little high (it was large, but it was black and white), my home printer couldn’t do the job so it is what it is.

Our second time around (which turned out much better than the first), the same two prints only cost $2.50. I didn’t question it. Obviously, the two sales clerks had different opinions on what was being purchased and the second time was a much better deal.

As you can see below, the larger pages of sheet music lost a little bit of clarity once enlarging. Although the jpg was sharpened prior to printing, any time that you print and reprint, you will lose some clarity so make sure you start with the best quality possible. For this project, it wasn’t a big deal since we overlapped the music notes on as well as “aged the paper” (up next!).

MusicPicBefore_07.21.14

Once I got the pictures home, I took care to give the prints a more vintage vibe by tea staining each sheet. If this is your first time using tea or coffee to age paper, you can check out our detailed tutorial describing how to do it here. I stained both pieces using the tea bags to give the sheets a nice subtle aged appearance. With the heat of the summer, these were completely dry in about an hour.

MusicPicAfter_07.21.14

Now it’s time to attach the photos to the canvas. Our two canvases already had a painted edge so we decided that it wasn’t necessary to make any changes here. If you are working with a blank canvas, you have two options. The first option is to paint the edge. If you go this route, then you will want to print the sheet music to the size of the front part of the canvas (not the sides).

The second option is to wrap the paper around the sides of the canvas. For this option, you will want to ensure that the print is large enough to do this. Depending on the size of your canvas, you may need to add an additional inch or two to each side. For example, if your canvas is 16 x 20 x 1 (deep), you will want to have your sheet music printed at least 18 x 22 or possibly even 20 x 24. You can still request that the actual sheet music itself cover a 16 x 20 area, but that will give you some extra room on the edges to attach it to the canvas.

To attach the sheet music to the canvas, I purchased a container of Mod Podge in Antique Matte (easily found at any hobby store) and two sponge brushes for application. You could use a regular paint brush, but I didn’t have a small one on hand.

On the back of the sheet music, generously apply a thin layer of the Mod Podge with the sponge applicator. Carefully, line up the sheet to the front of the canvas. If you have wrinkles in the paper, you can take a plastic credit card and smooth them out. Since we were going for an older look anyways, I felt like a few imperfections would give the piece character.

Let the sheet music canvas dry for at least 24 hours. Once dry, apply another thin layer of Mod Podge on the front of the sheet music. This will give the sheet music a nice finish. Let set for another 24 hours before hanging.

Below is our finished DIY Sheet Music Canvas Art.

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This fits our space perfectly and I’m so glad I didn’t dump the project the first time. Enjoy!

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