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Brush Up Decor With Curtain Canvas

September 11, 1993|MARESA ARCHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hand-painted curtains are an inexpensive way to bring a touch of individuality and a splash of color into a room. It is also a way to bring paintings into a room that has limited wall space. With a little imagination, a plain piece of canvas can become a unique work of art.

Painting on canvas gives you the freedom to design any motif you want and incorporate any color scheme. Artistic ability is not a necessity if the design is kept simple, such as swirls of bright color or geometric shapes.

A good example of canvas curtains is at Cha Cha Cha, a restaurant in Long Beach that serves Caribbean cuisine and has a bright tropical decor to match. There, co-owner/chef Toribio Prado designed curtains that would keep out midday sun while enhancing the decor of the dining room, adding a wall of bold colors that is illuminated by the sun.

"When I was a kid, my mother used to paint the curtains in our house so every room was very different," Prado said. "That's the whole idea of playing with paint--to be fantastical and use it to create a unique look."

Several types of material can be used, including muslin. But for a long-lasting piece, it is best to use eight-ounce canvas, which can be purchased at any fabric store that supplies drapery or upholstery fabric.

Mark Levine, owner of Mark Levine Window Coverings at the Design Center South in Laguna Niguel, recommends buying material that is at least 48 inches wide.

Choose fabric that has not been treated with any kind of stain-resistant chemical that makes the cloth less porous.

"You want the paint to be able to seep into the weave of the cloth to get really bright colors, but without bleeding through to the back," Levine said.

A rubberized paint, such as acrylic, should be used to avoid flaking when it dries, he added.

Cut the cloth to the size needed but paint before sewing. Stretch the canvas out on a clean, flat surface and paint the design, giving it ample time to dry before sewing.

Any standard sewing machine can be used, but make sure the needle is of a heavy-duty, heat-resistant variety. Also, to help the needle glide through the fabric, Levine suggests spraying silicone onto the fabric and the needle just before sewing a section.

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