Monday, January 14, 2013

Converting Frames for Seasonal Display

This past fall, we took a road trip to see my mom - crossing Nevada, Utah, and half of Colorado. On the way there, we toured Arches National Park and Colorado National Monument; on the way back the Colorado River Byway into Moab and the northern part of Canyonlands National Park. I like buying postcards as souvenirs, and found some that were replicas of old posters. I liked the look of them so much, I wanted to display them somehow after we got home. The refrigerator display is already pretty much full, and besides, these particular postcards were the perfect colors to go with my then-autumnal living room decor.

I inherited a couple of long, narrow, cream-colored wooden frames from Aries' mom, that held sets of Aries' baby pictures. Even though the photo sets were the same, the frames were similar but not identical. One is a bit wider, one a bit longer; they're both painted a creamy color, but not quite the same shade; the wooden framing is pretty much the same width, but different patterns. I figure they must have been given to each set of his grandparents, so the minor differences wouldn't matter. Anyway, I always liked both frames, in a shabby-chic sort of way, but they were so long and narrow I never had anything that would fit in them.

Until now, anyway. Hung vertically, off-set side-by-side, they were the perfect size to display three portrait-oriented postcards each. I even had the perfect spot to hang them, too. So I set to work. One had brown paper glued to the back - I ripped that off. The backing was just corrugated cardboard, held in place with lots of rusty little brads. I used pliers to pull enough of them to slide out the cardboard, a thin piece of matting paper, and the baby photos mounted on a matboard. I just flipped the matboard over, lightly glued my new postcards plus a couple more I found that fit the color and display theme, and hung them up.

Just a little note regarding hanging pictures on wallpaper. My husband has fits about me putting holes in the walls, so I keep my frame-hanging to a minimum and always try to make sure things are hung in the place I'm sure I want them to stay. But, to placate him, I also use a nifty little technique when I want to put a hole in the wall.

Once I know where the nail will go, I use an X-acto knife to cut a little upside-down "V" just barely into the wallpaper. Then, using the tip of the knife, I peel that little "V" down, leaving it still attached at the bottom, and put my hanging nail or screw in the little opening. This is all hidden behind the picture, but should the time come that I want to change the arrangement, it's easy to just remove the nail, dab a bit of glue over the hole, bend and paste the cut bit right back in place - a practically invisible repair I know will match the pattern exactly.

Anyway, I was thrilled all autumn long, looking at my beautiful display. Until December, when I changed my decor from golds and browns to reds and greens. The orange-themed display now clashed with the rest of the room.

Years ago, Mom had given me a bunch of vintage postcards. Luckily, in that collection I found six vertically oriented Christmas-y ones. I could make a new display, specific to winter-time, then maybe Valentines, Spring-y flowers. Oh, this was going to fun, once I got it all set up to be easily done!

But, I now wanted to do this right. Pulling and replacing those little brads was going to mark up the wood, besides being a real pain to deal with. I needed to find those little turning things that are on the back of changeable display frames and convert my old wooden frames to accommodate an easily changed seasonal display. So, I asked in my local framing shops, craft stores, even the hardware and frame sections of chain big box stores - picking up empty frames there to show them what I was looking for on the backside. Everyone just gave me blank looks - "duh, I never heard of anyone buying anything like that."

Eventually, at the very bottom of a rack of picture-hanging gadget packets at Michael's Crafts I found what I was looking for. They're called turnbuttons - four to a package, one-inch long, screws included, $1. Alrighty, then! A wet rag was enough to soak the backing paper enough to scrape it away. I pulled all the little brads, and then found out the frames had been painted without removing the glass. Well, getting those out was a bit tricky, but I carefully managed. And then I broke one glass trying to scrape the paint off when I hit a jagged little bit where it had been poorly cut. Since I had to replace that glass anyway, I paid a local frame shop to cut a couple pieces of non-glare acid-free acrylic - it's lighter, better in earthquake country, would offer a bit of protection to those vintage postcards, and would just look so much better. It's more expensive than plain glass, but I'd received some Christmas cash from Mom, so that seemed the perfect present to myself.

Installing the turnbuttons, I had to make sure I put them far enough out to the edge of the frame where the wood was thick enough that the tips of the screws wouldn't come through the other side while still making sure they reached the display backing and didn't show in front when turned. They had to be tight enough to stay put, but loose enough to turn. Since the frames are so long and narrow, I used one pack per frame so I could have a pair near the top and another pair near the bottom.

The old corrugated cardboard backing was warped and bent, so I cut new backings from a piece of foamboard. I used the old cardboard, though, to make a folding storage portfolio for the baby photos and autumnal postcard display, by taping the long edges together. A 12" x 12" sheet of scrapbook paper is the perfect size to make six little mats, and then a bigger sheet of colored paper can be cut to make matching backgrounds. I use a scrapbooking glue dot dispenser to hold my display in place. I figure that way I can dismantle it if necessary without damaging those vintage postcards.