People think I have so much spare time because I get to do a lot of crafts but in fact, I can only do these things when my girls are asleep. That goes double or triple when the task involves sharp tools like cutters and scissors. That means an hour or two in the afternoons, max. That’s also if I’m lucky enough that they nap at the same time! So I’ve learned to make the most of my 60-minute or so breaks when I get them. If I’m not napping myself, you’ll find me reading, painting, working on the computer or — you guessed it — crafts! That involves scrounging around the house for junk that I can turn into something pretty and/or useful.
A few weeks ago, I realised I have a stack of unused picture frames and I didn’t have enough prints to put in them. It occurred to me that maybe instead of photographs, I could make my own artwork to fill them. What I came up with is something that takes less than an hour to make. Anybody can do it as long as you have all the right materials.
I haven’t thought of a name for these things yet, but Kayo thinks that “Stencil Windows” works.
The very first one I made was an elephant paper mosaic. Materials and tools used were pretty basic: cardboard, a pair of scissors, blade or precision knife, cutting mat, a picture frame, old magazines or in my case, old calendars and double sided tape or glue. Tin foil and washi tape are optional.
1. Think of a shape you’d like the artwork to have. My first one was an elephant. Draw it on your cardboard cut to fit the frame size.
2. Use your blade to cut out the drawing. This is probably the part that takes the most time.
3. Gently pull out the shape you cut and set it aside.
4. Take your magazines or any printed paper material and cut strips of patterns, photos or colors you like. For the elephant, I tried to keep an African theme in my colors.
5. Using glue or double sided tape, stick them on another piece of cardboard that will serve as your backing/foundation. This cardboard should also be cut to frame size. You can line up your strips horizontally, vertically or diagonally, whichever way you like! You can even trim them into zigzags or scallops. Washi tapes work great too for this project, since you don’t have to worry about other adhesive. For my elephant, I added strips of aluminium foil to add some shine.
6. Once you have that second piece of cardboard covered with color, place your original cut-out on top. You may wish to secure them on the sides with double-sided tape. Insert the whole thing into your frame. And there you go! As easy as that, you now have something new to hang on your wall which you made yourself and did not cost you anything extra. You also got to put some of your junk to good use.
Later on, instead of a shape, I used quotes and chose key words to cut out. For these, I used washi tapes and my gold and silver paint brush tubes to add detail. These two were quicker to make. Each probably took me about half an hour as long as I didn’t worry about perfecting the lettering too much.
So if you’ve got photo frames lying around, junk to recycle, and 60 minutes to spare, try this out and add some color to your bare wall. Maybe even give it away as a gift. It’s quick, easy, cheap but can also be quite meaningful if hand-crafted with love.