Thursday, March 22, 2012

Frame Collage - My Project, and Tips for You!

This is a project I managed to finish in January.  It was probably 2 months in the making, but when it came together it happened quickly!

I have a pretty plain entryway wall that has been bugging me since I moved in to this apartment.  The hall is too narrow to allow for furniture, and the big bare wall was too sterile to me.  So I decided a long time ago that it would become my photo frame wall!

Here's the thing - don't ever try to create a photo collage without pending some time planning.  I had these frames laid out on my living room floor for roughly 2 months.  Every time I rearranged them, i'd take a snapshot to remember where I had left off.  Every time a visitor came bye, I took a picture and packed them all away (only to unpack them again the next day).

Here is a straight-on view from the opposite wall - its kind of hard to tell, but these frames stretch from the ceiling down to about 3 feet above the floor.

Here are a few things I learned:
  • Try to make some fundamental decisions up front, but be flexible with changes.  For example: are you going to go with all identical frames, or mixed?  All one color scheme or anything goes?  Do you want to limit to one size or many sizes?  Maybe even think about whether you want a perfect grid or a little helter skelter?  Do you want to use color photos or all black and white?
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!  Test different layout ideas on the floor before you start putting holes in your wall.  You never know what your ideas will look like until - well - you see them!  There is no harm in leaving the frames laying around a few days (or, erm, months?) and checking in again to make sure its a layout you love!
  • Don't be afraid to use photo mats.  I had never purchased mats for anything, but really liked the way they helped feature photos in the frames.  I even made some makeshift mats to save money by mounting a 4x6 photo on 8x10 white cardstock before framing - it doesn't give he depth, but visually it works!
  • Decide whether you want to use all photos or mix in other art and keepsakes - in my case I have a lot of photos, but also a few things that express me - you'll notice my "Home Sweet Home" cross stitch near the bottom left, a tiger print created at a nearby zoo, some Star Wars and Doctor Who fun, as well as natural silhouette plant prints.  I was glad I mixed in different things.
  • Consider hanging unframed mementos - I didn't do this because there wasn't one thing that stood out above others, but to add variety you can hang some of your favorite saved items - maybe your daughters ballet shoes, or a tassel from your high school or college?  A necklace that reminds you of a loved one?
  • Invest in some photo hanging tools - I purchased some really great/easy to remove frame hanging things (not sure what to call these?), a level/ruler/nail marker tool - all for under $20.  It made this project go up so quickly!  I really recommend these Floreat Hangers (not sure if that's a brand or a style) but I picked up a 30 pack for $8 at Home Depot in the frame hanging section and these things are amazing!  Strong, built just for drywall, and super easy to remove!  Very small hole when they are removed - and they come in different weight capacities.  Think about it!
  • Same concept as measuring wood - measure twice, THEN hammer the nails in.  Trust me on this one.
  • I didn't end up trying this because of time, but I wish I could have!  Lay out your frames, flip the whole thing upside down, then use wax paper to create a see-through map that can be taped to the wall for exact measurements.
  • I started with this and I'll end with this - set up some guidelines but don't be unwilling to change your mind.  I was determined at the beginning of this project to have all my frames end up in a giant perfect square (so, while the inside lines would be mixed up, the outer border would form one crisp square).  My stubborn adherence to this idea is what caused me to delay this project for so long.  Once I decided to play with mix-matching my lines, everything came together like a dream!  I'm much happier with the end result than I would have been had I forced myself into something...

And here are some of the inspirational sites that I bookmarked in the course of this project:
OK - that's all for now - good luck with your projects - feel free to share results!

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