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mat time

From Habitat magazine - issue 20

Make a cool canvas mat to brighten up your room.

Bright canvas mat

You will need:

  • 25mm wide double-sided tape
  • 25mm wide masking tape
  • Scissors, ruler and a pencil
  • Medium and fine artist’s brushes
  • Round foam dabber brushes in three sizes (available from discount stores and craft shops)
  • 1m of student-grade primed canvas (we bought ours from The Canvas Company)
  • Resene KidzColour testpots in Resene Lickety Split, Resene Kermit, Resene Tutti Frutti, Resene Top Secret and Resene Surfs Up
  • Resene Aquaclear waterborne urethane varnish and a large paint brush (the varnish is optional but it will help the design last longer)

How to paint a canvas mat:

Supplies you will need
Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2

Step 1:  Carefully rule out a rectangle in the canvas measuring 140cm x 90cm (or to whatever size you wish). Cut it out. Take the double-sided tape and lay it along one edge on the un-primed side of the canvas, pressing it firmly into place. Remove the backing tape, and fold the canvas over with the tape. Press firmly down and smooth out any air bubbles. Repeat on remaining three sides, so that all four sides have a folded edge.

Step 2:  Turn the mat over so the primed side is facing you and use the masking tape to make a variety of different sized and shaped triangles, all over the canvas. Make sure that all three sides are outlined in masking tape with no gaps so the shape is well defined when you apply the paint. Press the masking tape down firmly.

Step 3
Step 3
Step 4
Step 4
Step 5
Step 5

Step 3:  Give the testpots a good shake before you open them, and using a mixture of Resene Lickety Split, Resene Kermit, Resene Top Secret and Resene Tutti Frutti, paint the inside of each of the masking tape triangles.

Step 4:  Take the three foam dabber brushes, and dab them in three different colours of paint, making sure the surface is evenly covered. Use them to make three circles, each smaller than the last, stacked on top of each other to make another tree shape. Remove the masking tape carefully, and do any touch-ups that are necessary with the medium-sized artist’s brush.

Step 5:  With the fine artist’s brush, use Resene Surfs Up to make tree trunks and branches, going up the centre of each tree as shown. Once that’s completely dry, brush Resene Aquaclear over the entire surface of the mat to seal and protect your design. You may wish to give it a couple of coats.

Top tips

  • The great thing about masking tape is that it’s movable – if you don’t like the placement of the triangles, just pull up the tape and re-position it!
  • We placed the triangles in clusters of uneven numbers, covering most of the canvas, but you could do them in rows, or just dotted about randomly.
  • When you start applying the paint, it’s easiest to work from the top edge down, so that you don’t smear the paint.
  • When you use the foam dabber brushes, get the paint from the inside of the testpot lids, then you also have somewhere to rest the brushes when you’re not using them.

See more great step by step projects for children at

words and styling: Helena Dunn
pictures: Mark Heaslip

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