Crafting a Custom Family Portrait Tradition
By Jennifer Perkins on May 10, 2012
BlogHer Original Post
It is tricky choosing the perfect Mother’s Day gift, I know from experience. Not only am I a mother, but I also happen to have a mom that is particularly difficult to shop for. Jewelry and flowers are nice, but they have been done already. Why not instead get your mother something extra special. What mom would not love a picture of her family. I’m not talking a trip to the mall in your Sunday’s best to pose at JC Penny’s, I’m talking custom portraits. You can either make your own or choose from the myriad of amazing artists on the internet.
Each year since my husband and I became parents we have treated ourselves to a custom portrait of our family. We consider it our mother/fathers day gifts to each other. Usually we save a little money from our tax return to pay for it. This will be our 4th portrait in the collection and each year I am more and more smitten on the idea. Last year we had an Etsy artist that goes by the name Tuesday Mourning do our portrait.
A custom portrait might be pricey, but you can get a lot of bang for your buck. The obvious thing to do with your custom family portrait is to frame it and hang it on your wall. Most times you will also get a digital version of your portrait. As long as the artist does not mind I also get blank note cards printed up with the image. I use these cards throughout the year as thank you cards and such. Often times other family members end up framing their note card so they have their own mini portrait. One of my favorite portraits was done in 2009 by Etsy artist Ashley G.
A quick stroll through Etsy and you will quickly discover that you can have your family portrait done as an oil painting, leaf cutting or even burned into a piece of wood. Early on my husband and I decided that we did not want our portraits to be traditional. We live in a funky little teal and red house chocked full of kitsch it seemed only fitting to have funky portraits. However, whatever your mother’s taste or preference I promise there is an artist out there to fit the bill. Sure, it is too late to give mom the actual commissioned portrait on Mother’s Day, but it is not too late to suggest the idea and let her choose the artist and style she likes best. This is my poppet family that I made with Claudine Hellmuth on an episode of Craft Lab.
There is nothing that says you have to pay someone else to make your portrait. Why not try to make your own. I made these custom placemats as a housewarming gift, but wouldn’t it be fun to give mom a complete set with everyone in the family’s face. I drew mine with a fabric marker, but an embroidered portrait is also an option.
Another fun option is to combine your favorite family photographs and embroidery. I made this set of embroidery hoop frames for Jo-Ann’s. Did you know there is fabric that will go through your printer? I love it and have used it to make so many fun projects from plush graffiti covered vans to jewelry. I simply embellished the pictures with a little fabric paint and a few stitches and displayed them in embroidery hoops.
If digital scrapbooking is your game why not gussy up your favorite family portrait. No fancy matting job or frame necessary when you have an elaborate digital scrapbooking layout. Print your handy work up, frame, wrap and give. What mother would not be pleased as punch. One of the best things about digital scrapbooking is that there are elements available to suit any theme or style. You can add text like “World’s Best Mom” or leave the portrait blank.
My friend Carin had a clever idea for a custom family portrait that got everyone involved. The family drew names of each other so that her youngest son Jack drew his father Jeff, daughter Sofia drew mom Carin, Jeff drew Sofia and Carin drew Jack. The all sat around the kitchen table with various artistic mediums ranging from paint to crayons and drew each other. The finished masterpieces are framed and hung above their dining room table. Such a clever, fun and crafty idea.
This Mother’s Day when you are thinking you will frame yet another photograph, think again. You can draw, commission, embroider or scrapbook something much more clever. My collection of yearly custom portraits is one of my favorite family traditions. It is all started with this one by Etsy artist Demofia and will continue until I am adding grandkids to the portraits.