Use the Sun to Print Photos onto Fabric!

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)         As part of my job, every once in a while I schedule some time to walk through craft store aisles to peruse what new products have come out or see if anything interesting jumps out at me. There's one product in particular that has caught my eye several times and I've always wanted to give it a try to see if it's actually as cool as the photo on the box tells me it's supposed to be. It's this photo printing kit that allows you to print a photo using (wait for it) the sun. I've seen sun-activated ink or fabric before, but I loved the idea of being able to "print" a photo rather than only use objects to block out the sun to make negative space designs. I was a little skeptical that the process would work well enough to be worth it, but it totally does! So we're teaming up with our friends at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores to show you how it worked.

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)Supplies:
-Lumi photo printing kit
-white cotton fabric
-8" x 10" canvas
-printer
-access to a washing machine
-staple gun
-glass from a picture frame bigger than 8" x 10" (optional)

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) First you'll want to pick the photo that you want to print. Try and pick something that is a relatively simple photo without a ton of pattern or busy textures happening (subjects against a light or white background look best too). Use a photo editing program to change the photo to black and white, increase the contrast so the image becomes more distinct, and invert the image so the darks become light and vice versa. Print your photo twice onto two of the transparencies that come in your Lumi printing kit (to get a really dense black that the sun can't get through, it helps to stack two transparencies on top of each other). Line up the transparencies and use clear tape to tape them together. 

Gather your cotton fabric, double transparency, and ink packet from the photo kit. I had the clearest photo transfer when I used a thin smooth fabric as opposed to a textured canvas type cotton, so keep that in mind when you are buying fabric. Use tape to outline an 8" x 10" area on your fabric, pin the fabric to the thick foam core board that comes in the kit, and take your supplies into a dimly lit area that has a window (if possible) for ventilation (the dye smells pretty strong). Break the dye packet in half, squeeze the ink onto the fabric, and use the folded ink packet to spread the dye onto your fabric (just stay within your taped border). As you can see in the photo, this method shows the brushstrokes around your photo, so spread the dye in a manner that you'll want to show up later. 

Once the dye is spread, blot the dye with paper towels to remove any excess (you just want a thin layer of dye), and position your transparency on top of your dye with the ink side of your transparency facing up. Either pin your transparency or place a sheet of glass from a picture frame on top to keep the transparency in place. 

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) Place your fabric board out in direct sunlight and allow the ink to be activated by the sun. If you don't use the glass on top, your photo can be done in about 12 minutes on a sunny day and about 30 minutes on a cloudy day, but you'll want to double (or even triple) your exposure time if you use the glass sheet. The best time to do this is during peak sun hours in the afternoon (from around 11-2), but if you miss those times, just leave it out there a little longer. I left mine in the sun during peak hours for 45 minutes. The exposure is done once the dye has reached it's darkest color (so pull it sooner if you want a lighter print).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial) Once your photo has been exposed to your liking, bring the fabric inside and remove the glass, transparency, and tape from the fabric. Immediately drop it in your washing machine on the hot/cold cycle with one of the detergent packets from the photo kit to wash off the extra dye from the fabric (otherwise your white areas will just keep developing).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)       I would definitely suggest washing it twice as the kit advises. You can see the difference above from the print I washed twice (on the left) and the one that kept exposing a bit longer after one wash (on the right).

Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)        Once your print is washed and dried, you can iron it flat, center it on your canvas, and use a staple gun to wrap the fabric around the edges of the frame and secure in place. That's it! You're done!


Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)
Use the Sun to Print Photos Onto Fabric! (click through for tutorial)            This was such a fun project to try and I'm so glad that I finally got to play around with this product. I like how the finished photo kind of has a bit of a vintage feel to it and the scraped ink lines around the photo make a cool printed texture as well. Obviously you could do this method on lots of other projects like t-shirts, pillows, or fabric to make into purses, etc., but I'm really happy with how my little canvas project turned out. Here's to trying new things! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.

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Customize Your Own Wire Baskets

Bring more color to your deskIf there's one thing I'm always needing more of, it's cute storage options. It's just not always easy to find exactly what I need in the right size or style for the right price. I decided to try my hand at making my own wire baskets out of galvanized mesh wire from the outdoor section of the hardware store. My sizes were only limited by the width of the mesh wire, but I didn't need anything wider than what was offered and had plenty left over after making the three shown. 

Customized wire basket DIYI added some decorative leather tabs just to dress them up a bit and used colors that feel like spring because it's dreadfully cold and frozen outside right now. I also think these would be beautiful in gold or copper with pink leather accents! I love the color and texture they add to my studio workspace. 

SuppliesSupplies:
- 2' roll of galvanized hardware mesh wire
- wire cutters
- pliers
- leather or vinyl
- awl
- metal ruler (not shown)
- leather needle (not shown)
- waxed linen or embroidery thread (not shown)
- spray paint
- scissors
- work gloves

IMG_5495Step One: Decide how wide and long and deep you'd like your basket to be. The only limitations are the width of your mesh wire. I cut my first and largest wire basket out first by counting twelve squares in from each corner and then cutting twelve squares down. I then repeated on the opposite side to cut out the other corner. Shown above is my narrow end. I then measured from the new negative space corner about 20" and made note of where I should cut my next two squares.

You're basically making a swiss cross shape, but you can stretch the length or make the edges shallower, etc. Note that I trimmed the edges to be mostly flush on one flap but left the long ends on the side flaps. This is just for a cleaner finish when you fold the sides up. Also, I suggest using work gloves as you cut through this wire as it can be sharp. If you have a sharp edge that didn't get cut close enough, you can can bend it back and forth near the seam line with your pliers and it should come off pretty easily.

Step2Step Two: Place your metal ruler (or something else that is tough and straight) along the long edge where you want to fold your side up. Think of the long wire as your seam. I did my best to fold my edge up without bending it out of shape. Repeat with the opposite edge and then the last two edges.

Bend your wiresStep Three:  Once your edges are bent up, you'll want to maneuver things so that your sides meet. Gently bend the long ends of one side around the outside of the other edge and fold under. Repeat with the other edges.

Spray paintStep Four: I love the utilitarian look of galvanized metal but I also love a colorful workspace. Emerald green has always been a favorite, so I went with that knowing I could easily use these baskets in my studio or either of the kids' rooms for when they're needing a little more storage space. Also, remind me to wear my gloves next time I'm spray painting on the porch in twenty degree weather! Sometimes a girl just has to move fast to make it happen!

Leather StrapsAdd Leather StrapsStep Five: Cut two 1.5" x 5" handles from your leather or vinyl. If you don't have leather on hand, you could also use felt wool. Fold each in half and poke four holes through both ends of your straps as shown. Awls are sharp, so be sure to protect the work surface under your leather. Use a self-healing mat or push through over a rug. 

Step Six: Thread your needle and fold your strap over the edge of your basket. Make sure it's centered and with about 1/2" of a tab above the top of your basket. Start from the holes on the inside of the basket and create an 'X' shape as shown on the outside. You'll finish your thread on the same side you started. Tie a double knot and trim your end. Repeat on the opposite side of your basket.

Stitch them onYou're done! You can make a variety of the same size or a trio of baskets in different sizes. This specific mesh wire is sturdy enough to carry whatever would fit in the smaller two sizes shown but the larger size isn't quite strong enough to physically carry heavy things in. It's more for corralling those larger items and designating a space for them. 

Make your own wire baskets and then spray paint them in your favorite shade. Get the details at www.aBeautifulMessI could see a large one in a bathroom for organizing hand towels, a medium one in a kitchen for displaying cookbooks, and a small one would be lovely to make a gift basket for a friend, or darling with a plant friend hanging out inside. Where would you add some wire baskets? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Acrylic Message Board DIY

Make your own interchangable acrylic message board and leave yourself short, inspirational messages or use it as a perpetual calendar. Get the full tutorial on www.abeautifulmessHave you ever had something you couldn't get out of your head until you made it happen? This acrylic message board was that project for me. It started out as an idea for a holiday countdown, but then it felt like too many supplies to only be used 30 days out of the year. So then I thought it might work as a perpetual calendar, but then things got really busy around the new year and I couldn't squeeze it in in time for Jan 1st. So it sat in my head. And sat. And sat. Finally, over the weekend, I managed to figure out everything I needed to make it happen, and the idea morphed from a calendar into a message board. Now it's got a day job AND a dream job!

Keep yourself motivated with this acrylic message board that doubles as a perpetual calendar. Find out how to make your own on www.abeautifulmess.comThe hardest part about putting this together was figuring out measurements and having patience while I cut acrylic rectangles. I made a few mistakes because I was impatient, but overall it all came together in the space of two interrupted afternoons. Now I have a fun display board to keep me motivated in my studio and to use throughout the house as a calendar or holiday countdown. I am SO thrilled that this idea finally came to fruition. Sometimes things just need to sit a little to become the best version of themselves, huh!  

Supplies for acrylic message boardSupplies:
- 12" x 12" precut piece of wood from Michael's (or cut your own down to size)
- two 18" x 24" acrylic sheets. I tested two thicknesses and the one shown was harder to cut through. I suggest the Duraplex brand or anything around 2mm thick. It will also be the cheaper option. 
- two lengths of 1/4" x 3/8" x 2' balsa wood
- two lengths of 1/4" x 1/4" x 2' balsa wood
- 3.25" vinyl alpha and number stickers. I used a set from Michael's that I found in the scrapbook section. This size fits best with the size of the wood I'm using, but you can adjust your sizes for both as long as you adjust all of your measurements consistently.
- general purpose sandpaper
- utility knife or Plaskolite's Plastic Cutting Knife 
- self healing mat
- wood glue
- alligator hanger for mounting to wall (optional)

IMG_5432If you're using 3.25" vinyl stickers like I did, you need to cut your acrylic to measure about 1" taller so that you get about 1/2" of negative space on the top and bottom. Part of this might be covered up by the lip of your balsa ledges. This means your acrylic should be 4 1/4" tall. Your width will vary depending on the width of your letter or number. I suggest adding about 1/3" to each side of your letter or number's width. This will help space them out evenly no matter what word or abbreviation you spell. 

To prepare to cut your acrylic, place it on your self healing mat and measure about 4.25" from one edge. I then placed my metal ruler on the line where I was going to make my cut and used my utility knife to score a straight line against my ruler. Once I made the initial score, I repeated scoring it with more pressure to help make the cut. I may have had to score it 10 times to get a deep enough cut. Then I laid it against the edge of a table and applied downward pressure until it snapped off. 9 out of 10 times I got the clean cut that I made with my knife. Once I got lazy and didn't cut it deep enough, it just broke off where it wanted to. 

After getting my length of 4.25" acrylic cut, I would measure out each letter with about 1/3" to spare on each side and then make another round of cuts with my utility knife. This is the tedious part, but it's also pretty fun to see your stack of numbers and letters grow. 

NOTE: I suggest wearing heavy duty work gloves for this part as you'll be applying pressure to your acrylic and using a sharp tool. Safety first! 

Carefully cut your acrylic with a utility knife and metal rulerIf you want to make this part easier, you can use the thinnest acrylic sheets you can find or maybe skip this and use transparency sheets like the kind you can print on and use with projectors. It won't have the same sturdy look, but it might be another route to try.

IMG_5461As you can see, I can fit about 3-5 letters across the width of my message board depending on their width. If you were only wanting to use this as a calendar, you could cut one length of acrylic per month and just add three letters each such as 'Mar' or 'Dec'. This would save some cutting, but you'd also need to ensure you have multiples of regularly used letters such as 'a' and 'e'.

Sand and cutPrepare your cut of wood by sanding it lightly and wiping off excess sand with a damp cloth. Then cut your balsa wood so that you have four lengths of both sizes that are 12" wide. You can use your utility knife or sharp scissors. Sand down your ends.

IMG_5464Run a thin line of wood glue along the top half of your wider piece of balsa wood (1/4" x 3/8") and place your other size on top of it so that the top edges are flush with each other. Repeat with the other three sets. These will create your ledges. Since my wood glue needed some time to dry, I placed my glued balsa ledges next to each other, covered them with another piece of flat wood, and placed heavy things on top to help keep the wood from warping while the glue dried.

Glue the edgesOnce my glue was dry, I found the center of the board and lightly marked it. I placed two of my ledges together in the center with the lips facing opposite directions and glued them to the large piece of wood and to each other. Then I gently fitted a piece of acrylic to find the measurement for where my top and bottom ledges should go. You don't want them too tight, but you don't want them to fall out either. So just make a mark with a little wiggle room and glue it in place. Again, I placed something on top of these while they dried. 

Add your acrylicAt this point you could paint or stain your wooden base. You could also add an alligator hanger to the back if you wanted to mount it to your wall. Add your acrylic and find a home for your new favorite project!

A perpetual calendar made from precut wood, acrylic, and vinyl letter stickers. Get the full tutorial on www.abeautifulmessI'm going to find a way to use it for Smith's first birthday decor and will be sure to pull it out when we countdown to Christmas. 

Switch out your letters to give yourself a tiny motivational speech or add numbers to keep track of what day it is!Heck Yes you canIn the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my new signage in this happy corner of my studio. What short phrase would you display on yours? -Rachel

Credits//Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

Lessons Learned While Painting an Entire House

How to prep any wall for paintingHey, folks. It's Josh. I've been super busy these past couple of months working on our HFHS project house. As we mentioned in our last update, the house is coming along, and we can't wait to share more with you soon. We've learned a LOT while working on this project! One task we recently completed was painting all of the interior. A lot more goes into painting than you might guess, so I thought it would be fun to share a thorough breakdown of everything we encountered and learned as we painted this house. If you have any big painting projects in your future, I highly recommend you check out some of these tips and lessons we learned so hopefully your project goes smoothly. 

Please note: there are tons of references online on the subject of painting (from pros who have been doing it for years). This post is going to be an overview of the steps, mistakes, and successes we used/had.

The house we're working on is about 900 square feet. All in all it cost about $1300 to paint the entire place. The quote from our contractor was $2500 and that number didn't include skim coating the dining room, which we ran into unexpectedly. So we saved over $1000 doing it ourselves, and our cost included a paint sprayer we purchased!  Actually, let me break down all of the costs for you. (This is a rough breakdown, all numbers are rounded.)

Supplies & Tools
(3) 5 gallon buckets of KILZ primer - $225 
chalkboard paint (custom color) -$25
lead tester $10
wallpaper stripper - $5
dust masks and respirator - $50
drop cloths - $55
painter (we got this one) - $240
drywall/tape/mud- $35
elastopatch - $10
masking tape -$35
grinder/cutter wheel - $60
wall patches $10
caulk gun $2
spray sock $2
coveralls $15
paint/brushes/rollers $350
pizza (it just makes painting better, although optional) $60

We are pretty much set up to run a small painting company now. Keep a lookout for ABM Paint Co™. Not really. But when you work on an old house, projects just keep stacking up, which means more tools and supplies. But even after buying all the tools, supplies, and paint, it still cost less than hiring a pro! One thing that isn't on the list, and to most people is the most expensive thing, is time. A lot of time is needed for prepping, painting, and cleanup. You don't want to be in a rush when you're painting. Precision is key to a job well done, and you can't be both precise and in a hurry. It just doesn't work! So keep that in mind when you're planning a paint project. Try not to rush through it. Take your time prepping and painting, and when you're done and see how good of a job you've done, you'll see that it was worth it!

Prepping

There were a couple things that needed to be done before I even started thinking about painting. Since the house was built in 1921, I wanted to check for lead. You can find lead testers in any home improvement store. I followed the directions on the label, did some tests, and found that the house was lead free! That was a relief because removing lead is a huge hassle, requiring professionals, special suits, and more tests. No thank you. If you do happen to test for lead and it shows positive, you can contact the national lead hotline, which should get you on the right track for proper removal. Fortunately we were able to bypass that entire process.

Filling lots and lots of holesThe second thing that we needed to do was prep the walls for paint. That required several things:

Wallpaper

First, we worked to remove all wallpaper throughout the house. There was a wallpaper border in a couple rooms, so it wasn't too big of a deal taking it off. I basically scored the paper, wet it, then scraped it off. We did a more in-depth post last year. The main thing to keep in mind when removing wallpaper is to score well, then soak soak soak. The longer you let the paper soak up the removal spray or water, the easier it will peel off! Don't paint over the wallpaper. Like most short cuts in home repair, it will lead to more problems down the road. Which I ran into in this house. In the dining room, I was removing the wallpaper when I realized somebody had previously painted over wallpaper. In the entire room! Which leads me to the second thing we did.

Tips for removing wall paperI ended up scraping off paint and wallpaper down to the plaster. It took a couple days to finish. I'm so glad they only did that in the one room! Again, moisture really helped in the process. The more I soaked the walls, the easier it was to scrape and remove the wallpaper and paint. After I had the entire room scraped down to the bare plaster walls, I realized I would have to repair some cracks and skim coat the entire room if there were going to be halfway decent looking walls.

Skim coating the dinning roomSkim Coating Plaster

We used a product called Elastoplastic to fill in the cracks, so that it would expand and contract with the walls. That was no problem. Skim coating was a whole other story. It was something I'd never done before, so it took a bit of experimentation to get it looking somewhat good. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos to get an idea of how it was done. Of course every person had different methods, tips and advice. Eventually I just had to go for it. I used a premixed all-purpose sheet rock joint compound. Describing how I did it won't be very helpful. It takes doing it to even understand how to start. I would do what I did, which was watch a bunch of videos and get a big picture on how it's done. Then buy the mud, the mudding knives, the mudding hawk and go for it. What you're basically trying to do is create either a good flat or textured surface to paint over. I tried to get the surface as flat as possible. It took several coats, retouching, wet sanding (using sanding sponges) and patience to get the walls looking halfway decent. I was happy with the results, thankfully. Especially compared to what it looked like before!

Stains

The ceilings are all covered in popcorn finish. We really didn't want to keep the texture at all, but decided to forgo removing it to save money since it's mainly an aesthetic preference anyway. But we wanted to at least get the ceiling back to looking white. Previous residents must have been smokers, as the ceiling in the living and dining room had taken on a gross yellow patina. Although popcorn with butter is delicious, you don't want your ceiling to look like buttered popcorn. There were some unsightly water stains as well. We initially just tried painting over the stains with KILZ primer (we actually just tested one spot to experiment.) The water based primer didn't have a chance against the stain, and within minutes it was seeping through the (several) coats of primer.

Emma bleaches the ceilingThe next option was using oil based primer. That stuff is not fun to work with. The fumes are not fun to work around (be sure to open windows!), and you can't wash it off without using more chemicals. Fortunately somebody suggested we try bleaching the stains, which sounded a bit more feasible and manageable. So we tried it. Dawning coveralls and face masks, and armed with a pump garden sprayer filled with diluted bleach (mostly water with a couple capfuls of bleach), we attacked the stains. After a couple spray downs, the yellow started to disappear! For a couple of days, we misted the ceiling, waited a couple hours and repeated. Most stains were taken care of, the rest were dissolved enough to prime over.

Adding dry wall to the kitchenAfter we had the dining room ready for paint, there was a kitchen wall that needed some help. There were cracks, and a big ol' bulge from where a chimney had been plastered over. It was also covered with greasy old wallpaper. We decided to grind out the crack and drywall over the entire wall. I would suggest hiring somebody to do this for you. It would take a pro about an hour to take care of it for a reasonably small price. I know just enough about drywall that I was able to do it myself. First, I used a grinder with a cutter wheel to cut out the plaster and lathe that was bulging out. I'm pretty sure the majority of people don't have to deal with plaster walls and lathe. It's mostly found in older homes.  So the chances of you running into this problem are slim. Fingers crossed, knock on wood (pun!).

Repairing Minor Holes      

In both bedrooms there were holes knocked in the walls by the door handles (easily avoided with a $1 doorstop.) The holes were too big to patch with just spackle, so I got a couple of hole patches. They are sold near the spackles in your home improvement store. The directions are easy to follow, and they work! After paint, you wouldn't know there once were big ol' ugly holes. We used spackle to cover nail holes, minor cracks, and imperfections throughout the house. I tried a lot of different spackles in this house. My favorite one for minor repairs is Fast N Final.  It applies easily, dries in a few minutes, and doesn't require a whole lot of sanding.

Fill holes with putting before paintingOnce all the walls were patched, repaired, dry, and sanded it was time to spray on the primer. Using the sprayer took some getting used to. If you do have a big project ahead of you and decide to buy or rent a sprayer, here are a few tips I (as an amateur) would pass on to you when it comes to using a sprayer:

Using Paint Sprayer

1. Read the directions! When I use a new machine or tool, I usually just go for it and learn along the way. For a sprayer, there are so many variables that can make or break the outcome: clogging, pressure, priming, cleaning, etc. all play a role. Read the directions and you'll know how to deal with all of those issues as they come along.

Tips for using a paint sprayer2. I'll probably say this a lot in my posts, and it really is a no brainer, but I think it's easy to forget that there are tons of resources available not only online, but in things called books, and from real people! Watch videos, use Google, go to your library, or ask people questions. There are people that are old pros out there that have great info. They know hints and tips and methods that can only be picked up by doing something full time, for years. Maybe you have an uncle or neighbor that paints. Ask them to give you advice they wished they had when first starting out. Even the people at the paint department in the home improvement store can give some good advice. Why I like to get my resources from different places, is that some people like to pretend to know what they are talking about. By cross-referencing resources and digging a bit deeper, solid advice can be found.

3. Have a plan. How are you going to clean the machine? Do you have a mental route of the space mapped out that takes into account the hose, machine placement, the paint bucket, etc? Do you need to protect the floor or windows from overspray? Having an idea of all the steps you need to take to get things done will save time.

As for actually using the sprayer, the main thing to remember is to not overcoat with paint. Two or three quick passes will minimize drippage as opposed to trying to get a full coat on all at once. (Which I learned the hard way. The first room I painted was so drippy droppy, we had to do some extra sanding once it dried. I felt so bad!) Only by actually using the sprayer will you get a method down. By the time I was done with the sprayer, I felt like a pro and actually had fun painting!

4. Wear coveralls! Wear shoe protectors. Wear a head sock! Wear goggles! Especially when first starting out, and/or are spraying a ceiling, you will get paint everywhere. My glasses will never be the same.

Tape everythingIt took a couple days to get the house primed. When that was done, it was time for our paint party! We had some people over and painted colors, whites, trims, and doors. You can see the color choices here. The walls were painted a semi-gloss paramount white and the trim was gloss ultra white. Choosing two different sheens gives contrast and a bit more depth. The semi-gloss and gloss painted walls are also easier to clean compared to flat paint.

Tips

I'm going to leave you with a few hints and tips that I've picked up in this project and will use on all the next paint projects I tackle:

  • Spend the extra money getting better tools. Buy the $6 dollar bendy handle trim brush ( I won't do trim without it) as compared to the $2 chip brush. Get the more expensive paint tape with edge lock tech. You'll get crisper lines, less paint seeps. Cheap brushes and tape don't help and usually cause double work. You'll still save money by doing the painting yourself.
  • Take the extra time and tape off your windows, sills, countertops, floors—basically anything not getting painted. The same thing with door hardware, take off the knobs, tape hinges. It takes a lot of time to do. It's a hassle. But after you're done painting, and you're peeling off the paint and plastic and putting back on the knobs, it'll look so good! You'll feel so good!
  • Clean your brushes thoroughly right after use. Especially if you're buying the more expensive ones! That extra care will go a long way. You can reuse the brushes for future projects.
  • Paint trim first, then walls. 
  • After painting, if need be, install door stoppers right away. Save the walls from abuse!

So there you go. An amateur's guide to painting a house. Really the best way to learn how to do something is by doing it. Don't be afraid to tackle that big paint project. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section. -Josh

Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes, Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

St. Louis Style Pizza

Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)      I consider myself something of a pizza aficionado. I've eaten pizza in Chicago, New York, Italy (I ate a lot of pizza in Italy), but until I came to live out here in Missouri, I didn't know there was also a St. Louis style as well. I love thin crust pizza (and pan, and deep dish, and hand-tossed), so I was excited to try a new variety when I found out about it, and believe me, I did not feel disappointed. The keys to a St. Louis style pizza are threefold: a thin, cracker-like crust, a special blend of cheese called Provel, and a slightly sweet tomato sauce. The crispiness of the yeast-free crust with the buttery gooeyness of the Provel are a delicious combination, and the sweeter sauce adds another twist to the classic pizza. Provel cheese is a mixture of swiss, cheddar, and provolone cheese that may be more difficult to find the further you get away from St. Louis, but don't worry! You can also make your own blend as well if they don't carry it in the deli section of your grocery store. Let's make some pizza!

Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)St. Louis Style Pizza

1 thin yeast-free pizza crust (recipe here)
1/4 pound of shredded Provel cheese (or a combination of swiss, cheddar, and provolone)
8 oz tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
toppings of your choice

To make the sauce, whisk the tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and sugar together in a bowl. Set aside.

Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)Shred your Provel cheese, or mix together 2 parts provolone cheese, one part cheddar cheese, one part swiss cheese, and a drop or two of liquid smoke if you have it.

Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)Prepare your yeast-free thin crust and pre-bake the crust in a 425° oven until the edges just start to turn brown. Mine usually takes about 15 minutes to do so. Add your sauce and generously sprinkle your cheese and toppings on top. Give the pizza a final sprinkle of some oregano or homemade pizza seasoning and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until the cheese starts to look golden brown. Cut the pizza into squares instead of triangles (it's the St. Louis way!) and enjoy!

Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)Yum! St. Louis Style Pizza (click through for recipe)Mmm, thin + crispy, melty + gooey, sweet + salty...perfection. Plus, there's something about pizza cut into squares that I really love—it feels a little rebellious. Anyway, if you've never tried a St. Louis style pizza before, I highly recommend it. And remember, I have an honorary PhD. in Pizza Studies from Youwannapizzame University, so you can totally trust me... xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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