Easy Mr. Claus

Hands down my favorite christmas project.  That is what this post is all about. 

But let me start at the beginning. 

Our mantle got a simple sprucing.  We went for classic decor this year…nothing cluttered…and we wanted any potential buyers who came to see the house to be impressed with the house…and not distracted by the massive amounts of christmas decor.  So when it came to our mantle we simply hung our stockings and threw a bit of faux greenery on the mantle top.  Then we stuck silver ornaments in and around the branches.  Two candlesticks looked classic and simple enough…but then we were stuck.  What to put in the middle? 

At first, I wanted to create a knock off of the Pottery Barn NOEL sign.  But then I saw 1.2 million people online make the same one…and probably better than what I could make….and cheaper than I could make it.  So it made me question my decision. 

Right between my thoughts of “Is there any other christmas word that I could substitute for Noel that would be cool?” and “Dang them wicked awesome crafty bloggers”, I found a picture a la Pottery Barn Christmas catalog of yore that boasted a lovely canvas of Dear ole St. Nick himself. 

It really got my wheels turning.  I loved the simple portrait…and I adored the fact that I could use this as a future playroom decor item come Christmas time in future years.  I also liked the simple white and silver finish.  But the Pottery Barn was glittered…and I wasn’t thrilled about thinking of glittering an entire canvas.  And that was another thing…I didn’t have a canvas.  I just had a big piece of plywood. 

Then I started brainstorming…how the heck am I gonna turn a bitty picture I could find online of Mr. Claus into a big piece of art?  I remembered my middle school art teacher’s enlarging method.  It is as easy as drawing a grid over the photo like this: 

Then you draw the same grid (just bigger) on your canvas (or in this case my plywood painted with a coat of white semi-gloss paint).  Sure, it took a little math but I figured out that I could convert each little 1 inch box to 3.75 inches on our 2 foot square of wood.  After I did the lines, it was as simple as copying each box exactly the same.     

I sketched it in pencil and did each box till my santa was complete.

Then I used some silver paint pens to fill in the Kris Kringle.  After it was all dried, I just took the pencil eraser and removed the grid lines.

Now for the finished product…

Doesn’t he look so jolly on our mantle?

And still simple and classic, right? 


I love how it finishes off the mantle…plus, it is a handpainted piece of art that adds some charm and I know will be a beloved christmas decor item for many many years.  And it cost me NOTHING.  Not bad for free, huh?

So that’s my favorite project of Christmas 2010.  What do you think?  Do you love the Santa or do you think I was wrong to veer away from Noel?  Anyone else remember the grid-method?  Or are you one of those lucky people that have a projector?  Or maybe you are just thrilled at the fact that you could do a handpainted piece without actually owning a paintbrush? 

Stay tuned…there are three more days of ABP holiday crafts and home decor!  It’ll get you in the ho-ho-holiday mood :)



  1. Holly says

    Katie this is FABULOUS!!! You are great at anything you try your hand at, and you have such great ideas.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Kayla says

    Girl – your posts today were spot on. I love the trees and the Santa. I am a teacher and use the grid and (thankfully) the overhead methods all the time. Love them. Awesome stuff over there at the Bower household. Enjoy your holiday!

  3. Jessica says

    Hi Katie,

    I read your blog daily and just love it! I think that you are hilarious (in a good way!) :)
    Anyways, would ever think about making more of those Santas and selling them on-line? I LOVE! it, and would buy one for sure! Let me know if you do!


  4. says

    ABSOLUTELY love this!!! So classy, simple and cheerful. I’m going to have to attempt this when I have a second… not so sure it will come out as nice! Love your blog girl!

  5. Amanda T says

    Katie – This is so amazing! I love that you make it seem so simple! Though I’m pretty sure that if all I had was a piece of plywood and some paint pens, my St. Nick would, sadly, look nothing like yours. I never was able to figure out that grid system in middle school… Boo.


  6. Sonia says

    Love it. So much that I really want to copy you. I couldn’t stomach paying so much for the original last year from Pottery Barn. But I am running into some snags…
    1. obtaining the original picture
    2. Getting the right markers. I went to Michael’s and they have oil based sharpies and other kinds as well. I am looking to do barn red but I want the glitter effect. Do you have any suggestions for me?? I want to do it on canvas (I think?)
    3. Great website and will check back again.

    Thank you

    • says

      My original picture was really small…I just blew it up on my printer. So whatever picture you want to use, simply blow it up.
      The markers are actually paint pens…and we scored them at Hobby Lobby. Maybe look in the paint aisle? Also, I would suggest the good ole fashioned second grade trick of paint, let dry, apply elmer’s, sprinkle glitter (I would use glitter dust vs. standard glitter), shake off excess, let dry, use paint brush to clean up edges.
      Good luck Sonia!
      xo- kb

  7. Sonia says

    Wow. Great advice and I will take it. Thank you so much. I will try to upload a picture of my final master piece in a few weeks. Thank you again!

  8. katherine says

    I absolutely LOVE this. I’m normally pants at drawing but gave it a go in pencil and am really really chuffed with myself about it. Thank you so so much for showing us how to do it in a managable way :D

  9. says

    I LOVE this! Great job! My usual method of transferring something from paper onto wood or another medium is to rub pencil all over the back, then use your pencil to trace over all the lines on the front. The pencil graphite on the back will transfer to your wood and VOILA – easy peasy. But considering how big this is, that method might have taken a whole pencil’s worth of graphite. They do sell graphite paper at crafts stores, so I think I would have run out and grabbed some of that, although I’ve never used it before. I heard it works great though!

  10. Morgan says

    Hey Katie – I’m a new fan of your blog :) this santa is awesome!!! I would have NEVER thought of doing that – impressive! I really wanted to make one of my own but I completely lack any drawing skills, so thought I might be able to come up with a way to blow up the image without using an overhead projector or the grid method. I took the picture that you used, made it 8″x 8″ on Microsoft Word, and then divided it into 16 equal squares (each 2″x 2″) using text boxes. Then I converted it into an image file and repeatedly cropped and saved copies of the image until I had separate images for each little square. Then I put those each on their own page in Word, made them each 6″x6″, and put numbers on them so I wouldn’t get confused of which one was which. I printed and cut all those 6×6 squares out, and laid them out to be the full santa image, 24″x 24″. Now the easy part – I just laid each paper square on top of my painted white plywood, and traced the outlines of the image with a pen, pressing hard enough so that a slight indent was made in the wood. The indent is enough to show you the exact lines of where to color in! I know that’s a really long explanation, but I’m just thrilled that I was able to do your awesome project without having any art skills whatsoever – and it turned out great!! I saw a lot of comments on the post from people who also worry about not being able to draw it, so I thought maybe I’d suggest to send you the PDF file I created from my word document in case you wanted to pass it along. All anyone would have to do is print that out, cut out the 6×6 squares, and trace it on the wood :) Let me know if you would like me to do so – I just hope even more people can benefit from your genius project!!

    • says

      Hey Morgan – that’s awesome! I’m so glad it worked! How bout you just comment back with your email address and that way your new best buds can get the pdf from you directly…that way they can also praise your awesomeness and generousity directly too :)
      xo – kb

    • Kristina Haney says


      What an INGENIOUS solution!!!!! I would LOVE to have a copy of that! I feel awkward asking for it without offering something for it. I’d be willing to pay you for that. If you can, please call or text me at 480-200-7925. I would GREATLY appreciate it!

      Thank You So VERY much!


      • Debby says


        Did you ever get a copy of the PDF? I created a jpg of the image, thru Photoshop, that I would be happy to share with you… just email me. dbbydk at hotmail dot com.


  11. says

    Oooooh may I please beg and plead for Morgan’s PDF file? I’d like to make 3 of them and it would certainly shave off oodles of time. I LOVE this Santa so much! Thanks to you both!

  12. Kris says

    I stumbled on this picture and then your blog from pinterest. I LOVE the santa and made one for myself this weekend….TOTALLY rocks! Thanks for the reminder of the grid and how easy it can be to use.

  13. Susan says

    Hi! I am looking for the original Santa picture and I don’t know if I am missing something or what but I can’t find it! Can you post a link or tell me where to find it? This is a GREAT Christmas craft! :)

  14. sar says

    LOVE THIS!!!! im so doing this too (for next year obviously). hope that girl puts her email addy up. merry (late) christmas! :)

  15. darlene says

    love the Santa didnt think I would until I scanned back up!Pays to take a chance and to look back at whats discussed

  16. Karen says

    I am reading over these posts and seeing that some people are wondering how to enlarge the print or are waiting on the pdf. If you go into Pinterest and in your search bar enter the word “PosteRazor” this will give you a program (that as long as you have a printer attached to your computer) that will allow you to enlarge a picture to any size you want. Then you would just match each piece up on your board and trace out. Then paint your done..I hope you have as much fun with it as I have,enjoy..

  17. Valerie says

    I absolutely love the Santa. My son is an artist BONUS! I didn’t see this till after Christmas 2012 (POODEEDOO) but we went out today to get the supplies i.e… a canvas and silver sharpies… now for the math! YIKES!
    Thank you for sharing!

  18. Valerie says

    Here I sit after Easter is over making the cutest St. Nick! Thank you so much for sharing! I am going to place it behind an old window frame and add some Christmas lights, I think, this coming seasonal extravaganza.

  19. Julie says

    I loved your Santa grid. I do remember that method and now luckily I have a projector :0)
    But I must comment on your tree as well. It is stunning! Wanna come decorate my tree like that ?

  20. Carol Humphrey says

    Wow – I purchased this glitter canvas print a couple years ago at a Salvation Army for only $4. It is a Xmas favorite of mine. Do you remember what the Pottery Barn price was?

  21. Anthony says

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