More Photo-Framing Tips: No Matte? Use Fabric

Maker Faire PosterYou may have noticed from previous blog posts that I like framed artwork. You may have also noticed that I often use pre-made frames and pre-cut mattes. They’re less expensive and less time-consuming than getting a custom frame made (or cutting the matte yourself). What if you can’t find a matte in the right size or just want a different kind of look for your framed art piece? Why not consider fabric? Fabric can be a relatively inexpensive material (you’ll need less than a yard for most projects), and once ironed or steamed flat, it looks great in a frame. Bonus tip: A steamer is a great way to flatten out a poster too. Just be gentle and don’t over-apply steam. You want to smooth it out, not to dampen it. Once flat, let it dry for an hour.

For this Maker Faire poster, I used a contrasting polka-dot fabric that was leftover from another project. I love that the lime green color picks up on details from the print. This is a print from my first Maker Faire, almost 5 years ago.

What I’m Currently Working On: Silk/Linen Sleeveless Top

TopAwhile ago, I picked up some silk/linen blend (perfect for summer) for a stylish sleeveless top from my friend, Kristina McGowan‘s beautiful book. I’ve been planning on working on this project for months, but have only finally gotten my plan together for it this year.

With her simple, and intuitive design aesthetic, I know that it’s going to be a quick top to make, and I’m looking forward to wearing it for years to come.

If you’re looking for an addition to your crafting library, and you love wearable wardrobe pieces, I would highly recommend this book.

Fast Fridays: What to Do When Your Matte Is the Wrong Size


Awhile ago, I purchased a photo by artist Jen Zahigian as a gift. Now generally, I believe that a gift should come in usable form, without putting extra burden on the recipient. In Tuesday’s post, I told you to add a cord to a pendant; today, I’m telling you to frame your art. Yes, if your recipient is picky, you can forgo this step, but for most people, it’s a welcomed addition, and you can find well-priced options at craft stores and even places like Ikea.

So, I bought the photo, the frame, and a matte. I took them home, tried them out and realized the opening in  the matte was about 1.25 inches wider than the photo. Now, I have a matte cutter, so I could have gone out, purchased some matte board and custom-cut it, but I am resourceful (read as: too lazy to go shop again), so I figured I could come up with a crafty way to solve the problem. I took some half-inch ribbon I had lying around the house and affixed it to the backside of the matte to create a border all the way around, and then slipped the photo in place and closed up the frame. Problem solved! Best part: no one’s the wiser.

Wrap it, gift it, and you’ve got a happy gift-recipient with a lovely piece of art for their home (or office, or wherever)!

Terrific on Tuesdays: Chinese Knots

In case you haven’t already noticed, this week is all about last-minute up-to-the-wire ideas for holiday gifting. Today’s ToT features a craft that can help you add that finishing touch to your gift and/or wrapping. When I was a kid, my mom had beautiful books of different kinds of arts and crafts, and I remember being so incredibly impressed with the intricacies of Chinese knots, which could look like geometric flowers, butterflies, and even Chinese characters. At Chinese camp (yes, I did that!), we learned how to make barrettes and necklaces using the most basic of these.

As an adult, I’ve found that it can be a nice way to finish off a cord for pendant. Many times, you purchase a pendant and it doesn’t come with a cord, but if you purchase some silk cording at your local fabric or jewelry store and use some double connection knots (the kind that allow the cord to slide back and forth for adjustability), you will have a nice gift immediately.

Shown is a cord for a pendant I bought at a craft fair, made of a piece of vintage lace, preserved in glass; the cord is tied with those connection knots. As you can see, it makes for a quick way to make your gift wearable right away, instead of making it a project for your recipient to find a cord on which to put it.

You can also use knots to create beautiful decorative ways to decorate your packages that can be turned into decorations or necklaces. Try a cloverleaf knot or a good luck knot. Tutorials abound online, with nice illustrations that have arrows indicating the weaving patterns, so Google away and get crafting!

How to Spruce Up an Old Table (Or Other Piece of Furniture)


I’m a bit of a bargain hunter; I love finding a good deal. I found the above table in the clearance section of a Target a few years ago. A bit beat up, with scratches on the surface and a big chip out of the base (but with great lines), it was a serious steal at only 25 bucks.

Now, I’m into rustic things sometimes, but a scratched up, but table wasn’t really ideal, so I spruced it up. Here’s how:

  1. Fill in any scratches or chips with wood putty and a putty knife. Let it dry and sand it down for an even surface.
  2. Paint the table. I used leftover paint from my kitchen/hallway at the time. You can leave the surface un-painted if you’re going to apply a piece of decorative paper like I did, or you can paint it and skip the next few steps.
  3. Prepare a piece of (pretty) heavy duty paper. Take your piece of paper; trace the top of the table and cut it out; carefully wet the paper to make it more pliable.
  4. Apply Mod Podge to the table, then apply the paper to the surface. Seal with another layer (or three) of Mod Podge.
  5. Let it cure, and then enjoy!

DIY Upcycled Wine Rack

Usually, I like to keep a few bottles of wine at home. They’re useful for cooking, as well as for the last minute guests coming to dinner. Unfortunately, in my small NYC kitchen, I just didn’t have the space for much of a wine rack. However, I believe that with a little elbow grease, you can solve most any problem.

DIY Wine Rack |

Lucky for me, I had a shipping tube in my recycling bin, from which I decided I could create a small microwave-top-sized wine rack.

You’ll need:

  • 4″ or 5″ inch diameter shipping tube that’s at least 16″ long
  • craft sealing tape, masking tape, duct tape, or gaffer’s tape (not painter’s tape) or hot glue gun
  • scissors
  • measuring tape
  • pencil

First, measure, mark, and cut the tube into 8″ lengths.

Next measure, mark, and cut the tube into to halves.

Lay out the tube halves on a table next to each other, bowing up. Tape each tube half to the ones next to it, along the entire length. Flip the entire piece over and apply tape on the back.

Optional: You could paint it (I’d recommend a fast-drying spray paint), but I think it’s nice unfinished, plus it’s more eco-friendly. The kraft sealing tape, being the same color and papery texture as the tubes, will give you the least contrast, but you could also creatively apply colored duct tape for interesting looks.

Enjoy your wine rack! It will hold 4 bottles of wine in the rack (you could extend the concept to a longer length if you want), as well as a second layer of 3 bottles on top.

Update: Because of the website reformat, I’ve lost some of the photos on the site including the ones that used to be above. 

Make Your Own Photo Canvas

CanvasesBy now, most of us have seen photo canvases either online or on TV that you can order from a service that will print your high res image on canvas and then wrap it on a frame and send it to you. The advantage of this service is that it is generally less expensive than having your photo printed at a large size and then framed by a traditional framing services (at least here in NYC). The disadvantage is that they are still not that cheap and that you’re only dealing with them online and therefore can’t be guaranteed the exact results that you want. There are limited canvas sizes and you have that much control placement of the image–they generally just center the uploaded photo as is.

A few weeks ago, I got an offer on LivingSocial for discounted photo canvases, so I tried them. I got my canvases last week (above) and they are very sharp. However, I had asked for the yellow lily picture to be mirror wrapped (where they reflect out the edges of the photo and wrap that around the frame) to preserve the photo’s original proportions, and instead, it came gallery wrapped (where you lose the 1.5 inches of the edge of the photo since it’s wrapped around the canvas)*. Bummer. Plus, even at deep discount, each 11 x 14″ canvas was about $30 plus about $12 in shipping.

Here’s a quick DIY version that allows you to play around with placement and will cost you about $25:

Update: Because of the website reformat, I’ve lost some of the photos on the site including the ones that used to be above. 

  • Supplies: a ruler (or measuring tape and straight edge), a pencil, a hot glue gun, a photo printed up as a poster (CVSPhoto has great prices and a quick turn-around time, but I’m sure your local photo place can do this too; tip: look for a coupon code before ordering), a canvas that is at least 4″ narrower and 4″ shorter than your image. For mine, I got the 20 x 30″ poster and reused a canvas I already had that was 16 x 16″ and 1″ deep.
  • Lay out your poster and place the canvas on top to see which area you want to end up using.
  • Once you’ve decided where the canvas goes, measure the distance from the edge of the poster to the edge of the canvas. You’ll want to do this from at least two edges so you now how to replicate it on the back of the poster.
  • Using those measurements, you’ll want to mark the back of the poster with a rectangle the size and location of your canvas.
  • Then mark out the extra room for the edges of your canvas. Tip: mark out a 1/4 more than the depth of your canvas, since the fold over the edge of the canvas will take up some extra space. You’ll want it to look something like the image on the right.
  • Cut your poster along the outline of this shape. Using your straight edge, run your fingernail (or a butter knife) along the lines where you’ll fold the edges up. This will help make it easier to fold the poster.
  • Run a bead of hot glue along an edge of the canvas and glue the poster’s corresponding edge to it. Repeat all the way around.
  • Hang on your wall and enjoy!

*The company did react quickly to my e-mail and are sending me a new one done to the correct specs.

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