Hand Painted Pillow

Hand Painted Pillowfeatured


Sara Jo is recovering from getting her wisdom teeth removed, so today I (Michael) am going to share one of my favorite contributions to Bryarton Farm Art & Design. Though I have been a calligrapher since I was in high school, creating decorative pillow covers for our Etsy shop with hand-lettered calligraphy is a new direction for me. This job doesn’t sound very macho, I have to admit, but I do enjoy making them.

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I can’t take all the credit for the final product, however. I do the calligraphy, and my wife Sara Jo does the design element. She loves to create custom designs that complement and embellish my lettering. When someone orders a pillow from our shop they tell us the name they want, choose a color, and the script they want it written in.

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Poor Sara Jo wouldn’t let me take a picture with her face showing because her cheeks are so swollen. She is still in a lot of pain, but helping me with this post was a welcome distraction for her. We already created a pillow for our youngest daughter Avonlee’s nursery, so her big sister Camdyn is long overdue to have hers.

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We start with a simple pre-made canvas pillow cover. We use acrylic paint watered down a bit with a chisel tip brush. Acrylic is good because it won’t come off in the wash, but it really doesn’t flow on the canvas covers very smoothly, which is why you will see me going back over it several times in the video below.


I start by doing several drafts of the name in the color that the client has chosen (today Cami Grace is my client and we are using gold). This is the part that I can do while the girls are playing/fussing. After I get a draft that I like, I use masking tape to keep it in place right above or below where I want to write the name on the pillow cover.


With the draft done, now all that is left for me to do is write it out onto the cover itself. This is the tense part. If I mess up on this there is only so much that I (or Sara) can do to fix it. So we usually turn on some soft music and we take turns distracting the girls while the other works on the pillow. Taking them to visit the chickens, pushing them on the tree swing, or having a tea party in the playhouse are great ways to catch a quite moment in the farmhouse.

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After I am done, Sara will sometimes refine the shading of the letters, then paint the beautiful flowing design above and below the name. Like my lettering, she does not use a stencil. Unlike me, she just goes for it with no sketch done beforehand. The whole process is not only a great collaboration between two artists, but also a perfect partnership between two people that love each other. We are blessed to share a passion for Art, Design, and our Family.

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Here is the whole process in Stop-Time for all of those who are interested in seeing a video version of our collaboration.

I hope that you have enjoyed this look at how we create our pillows. If anyone else is crazy enough to spend this much time on a pillow case that they sell, I haven’t seen it. We might be crazy, but offering a product that we care so much about and that we enjoy doing together makes it worth all the work.

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