Thursday, November 29, 2012

DIY Photo Framing on a Wooden "Canvas"

I know, it's been ages, and I do have lots of stories to tell you, but first a how to!

I've been doing yet more painting around the house and as I stare at my newly painted walls, their sad lack of artwork has been getting to me. I've been trying to figure out how to get something cool on the walls without breaking the bank when Pinterest came to my aid.

I found a little instruction on different kinds of mounting techniques and things related to engineering prints, but they don't seem to be as inexpensive where I live as the original posters have noted. Instead, whilst staring at a skinny blank section of wall, it struck me that there was a picture I wanted to put there and that the best way it would fit would be on a piece of scrap wood that was languishing in the garage.

I pulled out the 9" x 24" piece of plywood, eyed the spot and the idea all came together. For you, my step by step plan, with photos.

You will need:
  • scrap wood
  • ModPodge or other glue for decoupage
  • paint
  • paint or foam brushes
  • scissors
  • photo
  • measuring tape
  • sanding block
  • rags
  • pencil
  • picture hangar and a nail
  • level
  • needle-nose pliers
  • hammer

The piece of plywood I chose wasn't quite true on one side, so I had Eric give it a tiny trim.

After that, I sanded it down on the edges and the front side where I would be gluing the photograph. It doesn't have to be perfection, but splinter free is nice. You don't want anything poking you as you're smoothing your image down.

I wiped down the board with a clean rag and painted the edges. You could paint the entire board, but since the photo is going to cover the entire front side and the back will never be visible once it's hung, that seemed like a waste of time and paint.

After the paint was dry, I unrolled my photo to check out how much trimming it would require. I had it printed as a 20" x 30" poster (a standard size available at Costco) and then cut it down to 9" x 24" (a decidedly non-standard size). I trimmed it on my cutting mat with a rotary cutter and then switched to scissors as I got closer to the image.

Once almost all of the white space was cut away, I pulled out the ModPodge and slapped a coat onto the plywood face that I had sanded down and a coat onto the back of the photograph. I carefully laid the photo down onto the wood and smoothed it out carefully, to ensure there were no bubbles under the photo.

After I let that dry for about an hour, I used more ModPodge to coat the front of the photograph. I used all vertical strokes for the first layer. After that dried, a couple hours later I added a second layer of glue perpendicular to the first layer. The glue dries clear and forms a protective layer over your photo and will give it a matte look.

The next day, I picked up a self leveling hangar and hammered it down. You may need a pair of needle-nose pliers to hold the tiny nail in place, unless you have skinny, tiny fingers. You can use any hanging device you'd like, but my board weighed just under 3lbs and since I didn't want it to slide off the wall, I went with a heavy duty hangar.

Be sure to place something cushion-like under the photo when you go to hammer the hangar into place or you may nick your image. I grabbed Emma's blanket since it was begging to help.

Then it was time to pound a nail into the wall and hang that bad boy up.

I made sure to sign the back and wrote down that this image was of Igor Mitoraj’s “Tyndareus Cracked” from the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy, when Eric and I went for our 10th anniversary trip in May of 2006. It only took me six years to finally print it.

Since that turned out so well, I know what I'll be doing with the big blank wall when you walk in the front door. I see a series of large black and white photos hanging there. Maybe six? I might even use the thinner 1/4" plywood so it will be even lighter and easier to hang.

Total out of pocket cost? $11. The print was $9 (plus tax) and the hangar was a dollar and change. Everything else I already had on hand. I also learned that if you want to make your own ModPodge, all you need is equal parts Elmer's glue and water, shaken together in a jar. Clearly I'm going to need a lot once I start gearing up for 20" x 30" images!

Now to find some more pictures to print!
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