DIY Keep Calm and Carry On Canvas

The New Year can be stressful.


At Cal Poly, it’s a new quarter, which means all new classes, all new responsibilities, and all new stresses.

One of my favorite sayings is Keep Calm and Carry On.”

It’s probably because I’m such a high-strung person that I need a reminder to take a deep breath every once in a while.

Keep Calm and Carry On has evolved into a popular motivational image. Some people have even substituted other words for the Carry On”, adding humor and relate-ability to it.

Keep Calm and make Tea Keep Clam and Blog, Keep Calm and Capture it keep calm and draw ponies

The Draw Ponies one is my favorite. 

Here comes the crafty part.

Keep Calm and Carry On Canvas finished productLast quarter (aka the craziest quarter of my life), I became a Big.

For those of you who have no clue what a “Big” is: I’m in the sorority Alpha Chi Omega. When we get new members, we get to be their “Big Sisters” and shower them with lots of goodies and gifts to show them how much we love them.

Naturally, I wanted to pass this calming reminder to my “Little.”

And she’s British, so it seemed fitting.


So I made her a “Keep Calm and AXΩ on” canvas. (AXΩ stands for Alpha Chi Omega)

Here’s how:

What you need:

  • a canvas. – Mine was about 8″ x 10″. You can buy them at any arts & crafts store.
  • acrylic paint. – I used light blue, light pink, and gold to go with the theme of my gift.
  • paint brushes. – You don’t need anything fancy. I get the 99 cent foam ones and they work wonderfully.
  • tape. – Masking tape will do. I used blue painters tape because I had it on hand.
  • gold glitter scrapbook paper – Any thick cardstock paper will do. I just used the gold glitter one because it matched… and it was on sale.
  • gold glitter
  • Mod Podge – aka the most wonderful substance on the planet.

Taping the Canvas


1. Tape your canvas to create the vertical line of the Union Jack in the background.

  • If you don’t know what a Union Jack is, click here.
  • Then, take the pink paint (or whatever color you choose for the stripes of your Union Jack), and paint between the lines.
  • Don’t worry about painting over the tape (especially with painter’s tape). It won’t show up in the finished product.

2. Let this strip of paint dry and then peel off the painter’s tape.

  • You should have a beautiful, smooth line with crisp edges.

3. Next, repeat the same process with the intersecting, horizontal line.

  • Tape off a line perpendicular to the one you’ve just painted.
  • Paint that one pink too, let it dry, and peel off the painters tape.

4. You should have a beautiful “t”-shape on your canvas. Here comes the trickier part.

  • Make the “X” on your canvas to finish the Union Jack shape. I kept referring back to a Union Jack picture online for this step.
  • Tape off one diagonal line that intersects through the center of your “t”.
  • Wait for it to dry and peel the painter’s tape.
  • Do the same with the other diagonal line.
  • And Voila! You have created the Union Jack shape!

Making the Union Jack5. Now you need to fill in the rest of the canvas with the background color. (In my case, it was Tiffany blue.)

  • To make sure I didn’t paint over any of my crisp, clean lines, I taped over them, leaving about a 1/4 inch border of white between the edge of my line and my soon-to-be background. (hopefully that makes sense…haha)
  • Then, simply paint all the remaining white areas.
  • Avoid getting paint on the edges of the canvas. Those will be a different color.


6. When all of the background paint is dry, peel the blue painter’s tape.

7. Let’s move on to the edges.

  • I painted my edges with a gold, metallic, acrylic paint.
  • Go around the edges of your canvas with your paintbrush, being careful not to get the edge paint on the front of the canvas – you wouldn’t want to ruin your beautiful Union Jack!

Glittered Canvas Edges


8. Once the paint has dried, go over it with a thin coating of Mod Podge.

  • Cover the wet Mod Podge in plenty of glitter.
  • I did this step one-side-at-a-time to avoid making a huge mess.
  • Let all of the glitter dry before moving onto the next step.



9. Cut the letters “K-E-E-P   C-A-L-M   A-N-D   ________   O-N” out of your thick scrapbook paper.

  • I printed out “KEEP CALM AND AXΩ ON” and used it as a template for all of my letters.

10. Lightly coat the back of each letter with Mod Podge and place it on the front of the canvas.

One last, optional step: Add a symbol to the top of your phrase.

  • The traditional “Keep Calm and Carry On” image has a crown above the text.
  • Since my sorority’s symbol is the lyre, I painted one with the gold paint and coated it with gold glitter.
  • Get creative and have fun with this part.


You have just completed a DIY “Keep Calm and Carry On” Canvas!

And just in case you still have no idea what this whole “Keep Calm and Carry On” thing is, here’s a brief little history from

  • Keep calm and carry onIn late 1939 after the outbreak of the war, the British Ministry of Information was appointed by the British Government to design a number of morale-boosting posters that would be displayed during the testing times that lay ahead.
  • With a bold coloured background, the posters were required to feature the symbolic crown of King George VI along with a simple yet effective font.
  • The plan in place for this poster was to issue it only upon the invasion of Britain by Germany. As this never happened, the poster was never officially seen by the public.
  • It is believed that most of the “Keep Calm” posters were destroyed and reduced to a pulp at the end of the war in 1945.
  • However, nearly 60 years later, a bookseller from Barter Books stumbled across a copy hidden amongst a pile of dusty old books bought from an auction.
  • Sadly no record remains of the unknown Civil Servant who originally came up with the simple and quintessential Britishness of the Keep Calm and Carry On message.


There you have it – a DIY Project and a mini history lesson all in one!

The best thing about this project is that it’s easily under $20 dollars – especially if you already have some of the supplies on hand!

Comment below if you have any questions!

Have a wonderful beginning to your 2013, and remember to Keep Calm and Carry On!


2 thoughts on “DIY Keep Calm and Carry On Canvas

  1. Pingback: Gratitude Journal Day 36 | Martha: The College Years

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