Tag Archives: how-to

How to Frame Art and Photographs

It’s How-To Wednesday!

Collection of Framed Artimage via skonahem

Today we’ll be learning some basics about framing art and photographs. Getting artwork professionally framed can be expensive and learning how to do it yourself is a handy skill for anyone interested in interior design and decorating. Of course, if it’s an original painting that needs to be framed or if you’re dealing with a large or awkward project it’s best to leave it to the pros, but for smaller everyday jobs you only need a few tools and materials to get your art and photos on your walls in no time. Let’s get started.

Via Art.com framed Woman Playing a PoppinWoman Playing a Poppin by Michael Kriggan via art.com

Choosing a Frame

Which frame you choose will largely depend on the image you are framing. The frame should complement the artwork, not compete with it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stick with a simple frame; an ornate frame can show off the right piece of art beautifully. Probably the best tip is not to pick a frame that is too small for the image. The image should have some breathing room.

via etsy.com antique framesimage via etsy

A Word on Vintage or Antique Frames

I love the look of antique frames, but here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing an older frame. Pay attention to how the frame is assembled, some frames are easier to get apart than others. If there is already a picture inside you don’t want to ruin the frame trying to remove it.  Look carefully to make sure the glass doesn’t have scratches. Bring the frame into a bright light so you can see small imperfections that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Map Picture Frame via Martha Stewart WeddingsMap Picture Frame via Martha Stewart Weddings


A mat is a piece of board that surrounds the image. It can give your framed artwork or photo a more professional appearance. Although matboard comes in a range of colours, white and cream are most often used because they allow the images to stand out best. If you decide you like another colour or pattern better feel free to use it. Matbard comes in a range of thicknesses, 2-ply, 4-ply and 8-ply, and you can choose to double mat or even triple mat.

Even if you’re not purchasing a frame most framers will cut a custom mat for you, and sometimes they will even have scrap pieces of matboard that you can get for free if you ask. Generally the rule of thumb for mats is that it should create a border that is equal on all sides, or weighted slightly heavier on the on the bottom side. How much space there is between the image and the frame is largely a matter of preference, but again, I would warn against going too small.

Cutting a Mat via Oh Happy DayCutting a Mat image via Oh Happy Day

Basic Framing 101


linen tape (you don’t want to damage the original so you need something that can easily be removed and won’t stain. Your local art supply store should have tape that is suitable.)

framing wire (you can get this at most hardware stores)

glass, if you’re frame doesn’t come with any (you can get glass custom cut at most hardware and framing stores)

eye screws for attaching hanging wire if you’re frame doesn’t have them

Soft cloth and glass cleaning solution

Small finishing nails and hammer if your frame doesn’t have fasteners to keep it together

optional: mat cutter (mat cutters are expensive and require some practice and finesse but if you plan on doing a lot of framing it may be a worthwhile investment.)

via Seesaw Designs United Measures FrameUnited Measures Frame via Seesaw Design

Putting it all together

1. Disassemble the frame. You should have a frame, backing board, mat board and glass. it’s best to do this on a towel or another piece of soft fabric so nothing gets scratched.

2. Clean glass and make sure everything is free of dust and debris. Put glass inside frame.

3. using linen tape attach the image to the back of the matboard.  This may take a few tries but you want to make sure the image is even within the mat and not crooked.

4. Carefully place the mat, image and backing board into the frame. Before completing the assembly turn the frame over and have a look to make sure the image is where you want it to be and there is nothing trapped between the glass and mat.

5. Secure the glass, mat, image and board with the frame’s built-in fasteners, or with small finishing nails.

6. Attach hanging wire using eye screws.

7. Hang!

Framed Collection on display via Isabel Pires De Lima

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Cardboard Dreams

The Bold Chair by SanSerif

Image via Treehugger. The Bold Chair can withstand 1 tonne of weight, can you believe!

It’s true that to a certain age, the box will provide more play value than the gift it stores. And that loveable kid Caine and his cardboard arcade both exalted this building material and brought us back the the carefree creativity of childhood (it really feels like genius emerges when we play, so why don’t we play more? But I digress…).

Even adults have been known to do  surprising and inspiring things with this durable, recyclable material.  Take a look:

Speech Bubble Coffee TableImage via Crooked Brains

Designers are having lots of fun constructing usable, interesting furniture from cardboard. This one is Leo Kemf’s Speech Bubble Coffee Table. Kemf’s designs are inspired by Frank Gehry’s conceptual furniture, but made sustainably, and accessible to the average consumer.

Toby Horrocks Image via Art Boom

Australian Architect Toby Horrocks designed this furniture set – a bench and storage – when he asked himself to conceptualize how urban and rural environments can converge in a piece of furniture.  I love the mix of strong and soft lines in this piece.  Certainly a conversation starter.

Karton Art Design

Image via Inhabitat

Karton Art Design, a husband and wife duo from Hungary, invented a technique for constructing cardboard furniture using only cardboard and paperclips.  She’s an artist, he’s a carpenter and together they’ve come up with some breathtaking designs that mimic techniques that include intricately carved wood.  The designers say their furniture is as strong as wood and as light as paper.  It’s pretty cool stuff!

Jason Schneider DrawersAnother Schneider creation

Image via CalFinder

I think these drawers by Jason Schneider might be my favourite pieces.  Such whimsy! And function!  While these aren’t entirely cardboard – he does integrate some wood that is finished with an all natural milk paint.

Cardboard furniture is an interesting concept for sure.  If you’re living somewhere temporarily or just don’t have the funds to invest in serious furniture yet, this is a unique alternative to the IKEA phenomenon.  Once you are done with this, if you don’t have friends clamouring for the hand-me-down, you can just put this stuff out with your other boxes come recycling day!

DIY Accessories Holder Roundup

It’s How-To Wednesday!

Screenshot from The Style Haul on YouTube

I had such a great time working on my project for the DIY Accessories Frame post a couple of weeks ago. I see the end-product everyday and am still thrilled by how well it turned out!

But I’m not the only one with a trinket dilemma out there, and the way I solved it is not the only way to skin a cat, so to speak (how do these idioms come about?). And there are a lot of other marvelous ways to do it. So for this week I’d like to hop around the net for some fabulous and ingenious ideas for keeping earrings and baubles.

First up, this lovely necklace hanger with a charming rustic twist — it’s made from a tree branch!

Here’s another woodsy take, this time from Shelterness, and it’s just as charming. The use of the drawer knobs make it a bit more sophistication, while keeping it raw and eclectic.

Image from Shelterness

And then here’s a project from Miss Modish that uses a piece of lace fabric stretched and held in an embroidery hoop. Put them together and you’ve got a pretty holder for stud earrings that doubles as wall decor. What a cool idea!

From Miss Modish

Another lacy DIY project, but kicked up a notch. I love the all white look! It can be as simple or as ornate as you prefer, depending on the type of frame and the type of lace trim that you choose. The end result for this one is exceptionally pretty, don’t you think?

Via The White Library

Hole-y kitchen implement! Who would have thought a cheese grater could be upcycled as an earring holder? The holes do make it perfect for the job.

Image from Factory Direct Craft

And finally, check out how this rake was used as a necklace hanger!

Rake necklace hanger

Via Iris Inspired

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DIY: Sketch all the time (or you know, whenever)

Cave of Chauvet

The Cave of Chauvet.  Image via The Ministry of  Culture and Communication, France

Two Things: 1) I like to sketch, 2) I’m not very good at drawing

I have heard it said that people like what they are good at. If this were true, then I shouldn’t enjoy the movement of pencil over paper, but I do, I really do. So what gives?

Sketching is indiscriminate. It doesn’t care if you are good or bad or that all you have to sketch on is the backside of a recycled essay on Kumashiro’s anti-oppressive pedagogy.

Sketching begs you to be bad. It wants you to be quick and messy. Sketching says: “Make mistakes, I dare you!” “Go ahead use that crumpled newspaper,” and most menacingly “I laugh in the face of your eraser.”

Sketching is frivolous. There is no finished project or end goal and because of this, sketching is a chance to play with composition, movement, texture, expression and light, without anxiety.  A sketch can’t be wrong; it’s just between you and the paper. Best of all, when you do like what you’ve sketched, it can become the blueprint for a shirt you want to design, or a chair you want to build, or the large canvas landscape you’d love to paint. Or maybe the sketch becomes the art itself.

Van Gogh's Study of Six HandsVincent Van Gogh, Study of Six Hands.  Image via Codart

Most importantly, sketching allows for anyone and everyone to include creativity into their life daily. It can literally only take up a minute of your day to sketch something.

Whether you are a novice sketcher or an old hand, here are some nuggets of wisdom to help get your pencil to paper (or pen to napkin, or charcoal to notebook, or conté to…you get the picture)

  1. 1. Pick your poison:

pencils on the table

I like to use a pencil and any available paper. I like a pencil because if I don’t like something I can just draw over top of it with more pressure. Other writing implements that work great for sketching are charcoal and conté.  I recommend keeping a notebook with you so that you can use it like a visual journal, especially if you commit to sketching on a regular basis.

2. Ditch the eraser

Jordan Ramsey nude sketchSketch by Jordan Ramsay

Sketching should be dirty and your pencil should continue flowing. Don’t worry about making mistakes. let the pencil move like a stream of consciousness. If you don’t like the curve of a particular line, then just draw over it.

3. Time Yourself

Gesture DrawingsGesture drawings

Try capturing a movement or a moment within a set time limit. This is a good way to capture action or mood or the whole picture without getting too boggled up with the tiny details. For example, give yourself four minutes to sketch kids playing ball.  OR give yourself four minutes to sketch something with as much detail as you can. Setting time limits helps eliminate the urge to erase or become focused on minutiae.

4. Don’t Look Down

sketch using blind contour drawing techniqueSketch by Jordan Ramsey. My friend Jordan often sketches without looking down, as seen above. It’s all part of her style.

Have a crack at blind contour drawing. While your sketching, try and get the contours of the subject on the paper without breaking your gaze with the subject…Just draw the edges of what you are looking at without looking down.

5. Sketch on the Go

Pelee Island Sketch Sketch I did while at Pelee Island

If you carry pencil and paper around with you, then you can try sketching in all sorts of locations with all kinds of subjects. Here are some ideas:

People on Public Transit

Dogs in the park

Sculptures in museums

Flowers in a garden

Food at restaurants

Nudes at the Gladstone (sorry, this one’s Toronto based, but I highly recommend it. It’s drop-in and uninstructed!)

What are your tips? Do you have any great places to sit down and sketch?

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Hold It: DIY Accessories Frame

It’s How-To Wednesday!

I am not a neat person. Anyone I’ve ever worked with or lived with can tell you that. Clothing, books, bags — objects in general — tend to strew and scatter. Oh I fix things up nice and tidy every once in a blue moon, but keeping things that way is a constant struggle with myself — one which I eventually lose.

But today I made an accessories holder — a place to hang accessories that hang and dangle. It’s quite uncharacteristic of me to make something that holds and organizes things. It’s definitely the potential for fabulousness that got me on this project. And it’s big — there’s space enough for a lot of earrings and necklaces. It motivated me to gather my earrings from drawers, purses, desk trays around the house. For a while there was a tangled up pile of necklaces and beads and ID tags on my dresser, and my just having made this new and wonderful thing motivated me to start untangling them. There’s still a knotted bundle that remains, mind you, but it’s much (or maybe just a little) smaller now.

I’ve seen a blog article some time ago that gave directions on how to make it, but I can’t seem to find it — just when I decided to make it! I had to figure out most of the process on my own, and I sure made a lot of mistakes as I went along, which I did my darnedest to hide.

So here goes.

Materials needed:

  • Old (or new) frame. I used a panel from an old closet.
  • Aluminum screen, cut to the size of the frame or slightly smaller
  • A lightweight but sturdy board to use as the back, cut to the size of the frame or slightly smaller
  • Foam sheet, cut to the size of the frame or slightly smaller
  • Fabric, cut slightly larger than the board
  • Something to embellish the frame, should it be too ugly to use as is — paint, stickers, fabric. I opted for fabric since I thought it would be easier and faster than painting.
  • Something that allows you to hang the finished product, although leaning it against a wall is also an option.


  • Staple gun
  • Hot glue gun

First I had to make the frame presentable, and I did this by covering it with an iridescent fabric I found. A glue gun helped me, but only after burning my fingers and palms many, many times.

Next, I stapled the screen behind the frame.

Then put the foam on the board, then the fabric over it, folding the excess over and securing behind the board with more hot glue. Then I placed this assemblage behind the screen and stapled it to the back of the frame.

Voila! It looks awesome. But the back is awful so I’m not showing it — haha!

I screwed in some hooks and hung the thing. Yay!

The finished accessories frame

All the images in this post by Nathalie Mariano

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