We have a surplus of art projects at our house. Left to her own devices, Addie would create something with every sheet of paper in the house EVERY DAY. Plus there are all the holiday art projects the girls make that we pull out to display every year. They usually end up looking kind of messy, and leave the wall with an excess of holes. I've wanted to do something to organize and display them better, but hadn't really found something that truly inspired me. Then I saw an idea to create a bulletin board gallery wall in the November 2011 issue of Family Fun magazine. Perfect.
First I needed to collect some frames. Thankfully, I just discovered a wonderful thrift store in my neighborhood where I was able to get 8 frames for $10.
Next I took everything out of the frames and gave them a coating of spray primer. I've recently learned what an important step priming is for any project. A light coating of primer--it doesn't even need to be even--makes the rest of your painting go so much better. You'll need less coats and will get better coverage. And if you're using certain brands (Design Master, I'm looking at you), it keeps the paint from rubbing or scratching off as easily. A very handy tool to have while spray painting is that clip on handle you see lying below the frames. They retail for about $3 and will save you major finger cramping.
After priming and letting them dry, I painted all my frames. The yellow ones were for my gallery wall, the others were for other projects.
After the paint had dried, and I mean really dried, not just dried to the touch, I decided to antique them. I used Minwax Express Wiping Stain in black and it worked really well. For the frames with finer detail, I thinned it with water. For more helpful hints on antiquing and glazing, you must check out this blog, All Things Thrifty. Very inspirational, and detailed, with videos, which is why I'm not going to take the time to explain the process here.
Once my frames were dry, it was time to line them with cork. I had picked up a huge roll of cork at the hardware store for much cheaper than they sold it at the craft store. Using the glass from the frames as my template and a box cutter, I cut out the cork in the sizes I needed. Since my cork was pretty thin, I used a double layer in most of my frames. Then I reassembled them, using spray adhesive to glue the cork layers to the original backing from the frames. You want to make sure the backs of the frames are securely attached since you will be pushing pins in from the front, but how you do that will depend on the type of frame you're using.
Then I laid out the finished frames on the floor, rearranging them until I found the pattern I liked. I hung them on the wall using a level and two parallel nails per frame. That way I wouldn't have to worry about the frames getting all crooked as they were used, and I could adjust them from side to side if I needed to.
And, voila, my finished wall, complete with monogrammed M for Mannion.
Which will soon be M for Mess as we fill the frames with an overabundance of art. Which is fine, because then it will better blend in the the rest of the house.