Tyvek Craig

Many moons ago, I worked at CERF+ (it was called CERF back then). During my time there, Craig Nutt came on board as the director of programs. After nearly ten years with the organization, Craig recently retired from his position to return to work in his furniture studio. By the way, you must click on his name and check out his furniture – it’s fabulous.

I was contacted by Cornelia Carey, CERF+’s executive director, to create a commemorative book for Craig. As I mentioned in this post, individual pages were sent to 100 people to create a piece for inclusion in the book. Participants had two months to complete their work, after which the pages were collected and given to me for binding.

Now that the book has been presented to Craig, I can show you what I’ve been up to! Today’s post focuses my page – yep, I got to make one too!

For my design, I posterized a photo of Craig in Photoshop Elements to reduce it to three shades. I created a rectangular border around his head, adding text to it in white.

As I mentioned in this post, I painted three sheets of Tyvek for the project. I started with the medium shade of grey, which was the base of my piece. I attached a sheet of CODA cold-mount double release adhesive to the Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I then taped the Tyvek to the back of my template.

White Tyvek with double-sided adhesive sheet mounted on the back, taped to a sheet of paper

My first task was to cut out all of the light grey areas.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Once that was done, I peeled off the adhesive liner on the back.

Cut Tyvek with adhesive on the back

I took the light grey sheet of Tyvek and stuck it to the back of the medium grey sheet.

Layers of colored Tyvek stuck together

I then cut out the areas around Craig’s head, leaving tabs at the top and bottom. When assembled, the text border would overlap the tabs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

On to the next layer!

I attached a sheet of adhesive to the black piece of Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I taped the Tyvek to the back of another copy of my template. I started work on the letters.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Cutting through the layers of paper, Tyvek, and adhesive was tough when it came to the letters. I really, really hate the letter S now. It’s EVIL. Thankfully, the Tyvek didn’t come out all chewed up like the paper template.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Once all of the letters were cut (it took a lloonnngggg time), I trimmed the edges of the border.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

At this point, all I had left were the details – the dark areas on Craig’s face. I slapped adhesive on more black Tyvek and got to work.

The small bits really made the portrait come to life. This piece…

Cut Tyvek hair

…was hair.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Then more hair…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and a mustache.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Don’t forget the eyebrows…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and eyeballs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Finally, it was time to assemble the pieces. I trimmed the tabs on Craig’s head and peeled off the adhesive liner. I used another copy of the template to help me place his head in the right spot.

Cut Tyvek portrait adhered to a piece of paper

Once the head was in place, I slowly attached the border, making sure that it was straight and overlapped the tabs in the right places.

Adding cut text border to cut Tyvek portrait

And then BAM! It was done.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

Then I stared at it for a long time. I couldn’t believe it was finished!

A couple of days later, I wrote a message to Craig on the bottom of the piece and signed it.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

I feel like this post is making it sound like this project was easy peasy. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a good job of tracking my time on this project but trust me – it took hours.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Cutting Tyvek is really fun and it’s easier to work with than paper – it doesn’t tear as easily.

Some tips for cutting Tyvek:

  • Change that X-Acto blade. Often. It makes a huge difference.
  • Weights can be your best friend. They help keep the paper from slipping while you work.
  • If you find yourself getting frustrated – walk away from it and take a break. You will make more mistakes if you’re agitated when you work.
  • Don’t rush it – slow and steady is the way to go.

My next post will focus on the construction of Craig’s book – stay tuned!

8 Responses to “Tyvek Craig”

By Karen Krieger - 10 May 2016 Reply

You did an amazing job Elissa! Shepard Fairey has some competition!!

By Elissa - 10 May 2016 Reply

Karen –

Wow, that is such a nice compliment – thanks!


By dorsey hogg - 10 May 2016 Reply

Wow- I am inspired! Can you bring it to the board meeting tomorrow so we can see it for real?

By Elissa - 10 May 2016 Reply

Dorsey –

I’d love to, but it lives in Tennessee now with Craig. 🙁


By Amy - 11 May 2016 Reply

Very, very cool Elissa!

By Elissa - 13 May 2016 Reply

Amy –

I’m amazed that it came out as well as it did, considering my lack of experience and the time pressure. I was very lucky!


By Craig Nutt - 13 July 2016 Reply

Amazing-the book, your page, everything! It really knocked me out! I am still at a loss for words. -Craig

By Elissa - 14 July 2016 Reply

Craig –

I’m so glad you liked all of it! Coming from you, that means a lot. 🙂


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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