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Alice in the Church Pew

With traveling, attending to a variety of family matters and just dealing with things we all have to deal with in life, I haven’t had as much time as I might like for other pursuits.

I started this project several months ago, nearly completed it, but had just a few finishing touches left before I could put that final DONE stamp on it. I finally got around to it this past week.

Photo of church pew painted with Alice in Wonderland images
The finished Alice in Wonderland church pew**

I used to show my photography and artwork, and was involved in, a local nonprofit gallery. Sadly, it was forced to close after the Mississippi River raged over its banks and flooded a part of downtown Davenport, including where the gallery was located.

When dispersing with furniture, display cases and other items left behind, the gallery board of directors kindly allowed the artists and others involved with the gallery to request items they may want. I asked for the church pew that had sat out in the hallway, providing gallery customers a spot to rest their feet, and was fortunate enough to have been chosen to receive it. My great thanks to those who made that decision.

Image of painting, just beginning, of Alice in Wonderland characters.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum begin to take form on one end of the pew. **

Wanting to do something fun with it I chose to paint it in an Alice in Wonderland theme. Alice, along with the Wizard of Oz are two of my all-time favorite stories. Darling Daughter and I even had a joint “Down the Rabbit Hole” art showing a few years back. If you think about it, they’re the same exact story. In both, a young girl finds herself in a mysterious land, follows a path to get back home again, along the way meets up with all sorts of strange creatures, battles with a Wicked Witch/Evil Queen and eventually finds herself happily reunited with family.

How To:

If you’re interested in the How To on how I did the project, here's the quick overview:

-- I began with a rough sanding of the entire piece and filled in some cracks with putty. I followed that up by painting it with a good white primer and topping with three coats of black acrylic.

-- No, I did not free hand draw the images. Those are all from the internet. I copied them to my computer, enlarged them to the appropriate size and printed them off. I used blue painters tape to tape them to the pew, laid a sheet of transfer paper underneath and traced the pattern onto the pew. The paint is slick, and black, so there were portions of the outline that did not transfer or were hard to see but it was easy enough to draw in the missing sections where needed.

Image of completed Alice in Wonderland images on side of church pew
The finished Tweedle Dee and Dum. **

-- It's then really not much different than a paint by number. I just started choosing colors and painting in between the lines. All of the paint is simply acrylic that can be purchased at any craft store or Wally World. Sidenote, as I mentioned the black is slick so it took at least two coats, sometimes three, on every image to cover.

-- For the cushion I purchased foam padding, the thick stuff intended for furniture use, and furniture fabric from the local fabric shop. I cut the padding about an inch smaller, length wise, than the seat and matched it up with two sheets of corrugated cardboard underneath to help hold its form. I might normally use a sheet of thin plywood but the pew seat is curved. The cardboard is still pretty stiff and gives a little more when you sit on it, conforming itself to the curve of the seat.

Image of Cheshire Cat painted on end of church pew
The Cheshire Cat grins out from the other end of the pew. **

-- All you seamstresses out there will know this but for you others, to finish the seat, I wrapped the cushion and cardboard with the fabric, inside out, and cut off the excess. You can pin it up and take it off the cushion to sew it on a machine but I decided to just hand sew it while it was still on. Once sewn, I pulled the fabric back off the cushioning, reversed it and put it back on, right side out, just like a pillow case.

Sew up the ends and there you have it. Alice and the crew have found their way home once again.

At least, my home.


**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address,, or a link back to this page.


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