The first Pinterest craft I wanted to test for parents comes from “The Child at Heart Blog.” (Here are the instructions.)

The craft is a canvas spray painted red, with “joy” written across in white, and Christmas string lights poking through.

If you want to try this craft, here are some notes, highlights and tips:

Total project time

This craft can technically be done in one day… but if you attempt that, you’ll be working on it ALL DAY due to the multiple coats of paint. I gave myself three days for all of the paint to dry (including the background and the word “joy”). The latter half of the project (hole-poking and light plugging) only took a half hour altogether.

Total project cost: About $25

  • $2 for white acrylic paint (Craft Warehouse)
  • $2 for a packet of three sponge brushes (Craft Warehouse)
  • $5 for a can of basic red spray paint (Lowe’s)
  • $15 for two 14”x18” canvases
    (I lucked out with the cost of my canvas, with help from a 50 percent-off sale at Craft Warehouse.)
  • $0 for Christmas string lights (because I had some already)

Age range

Middle and high school students can probably attempt this without much supervision.
With kids ages 6-10, parents will probably want to test a portion of each step first and then decide what their kids can help out with. (Also, you may want to add an extra half hour to some of the tasks).

joy1Challenge #1: Spray painting — in winter

The blogger used spray paint for the background, but spray painting outside in December in North Central Washington… well, it’s not ideal. I was lucky to have bright, dry days at lunch to make the process more doable, but I still needed a special place in my garage for the canvas to dry, and it was still extremely cold.

If you want to include kids younger than 12 years old in this portion of the project (using spray paint is not recommended for use by children — plus, those paint fumes are just awful), consider buying large paint brushes and a large bottle or two of red acrylic paint. It’ll lengthen the project time, but you won’t have the downsides of spray painting in December.

joy2Favorite part of the project: Joy!

Writing “joy” across the canvas was pure magic. The contrast of red and white is so satisfying to see.

The blogger used chalk to make her outline, which is very smart if you don’t have a steady hand or if you want to place a marking for your kid(s) to follow. I did not have chalk, and it turns out lightly penciling the canvas doesn’t work at all. Use chalk if you have it.

The word takes a couple of coats that take no more than a few minutes to apply each round. Use a smaller paint brush or the edge of a sponge brush to neaten the edges of the letters after the second coat has finished drying. Tidying the word up took me about half an hour, but might take longer with kids still coming to grips with their hand-eye coordination.

Challenge #2: Light it up, up, up!

Unfortunately, placing lights through the back of the canvas didn’t work for me. I think it had to do with the square-backed lights I used, which did not allow me to push each light through their respective holes enough to keep them in place. They kept falling out.

If you try this project for yourself, make sure you have string lights with a rounded back on each light, and be sure to push the light through so that a portion of that plastic backing is halfway through the hole. If the lights had stayed, this portion of the project wouldn’t have taken more than 5 minutes.


So… is this project really worth it?

This craft felt like a hurry-up-and-wait project, something you can’t avoid when the majority of the steps involve paint. However, I’m still very glad I did it. The vibrant red and thick white letters really pop and catch people’s attention. The craft makes a great focal piece and would look fantastic with some dark green garland on a fireplace or dresser.

If you don’t have any working lights (or don’t want to bother with that portion of the project), it looks just as great with paint only.

Have multiple family members interested?

If you only have one canvas to use, it might be a difficult project to share among kids. Consider buying multiple smaller canvases instead ($3-$6 apiece) for each kid to make his or her own creation. Try white handprints on red, gold or green backgrounds, with each person’s name written across — or give each person a word (“joy,” “hope, “love,” “star”) to write.

Know a deceptively simple craft on Pinterest or elsewhere on the web you’d like us to test? Let us know, and it could end up as a featured project. Post the link to our Facebook page or reach out to me directly at

Happy crafting!

(Photos: Michelle Naranjo)