Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Updating Framed Art

Several years ago, we purchased two, coordinating art pieces from a home decorating store.  The artwork was priced right and went well in the dining/living room - the black frames and silver mats picked up on the other accents in the room, and the scene was reminiscent of my beloved marsh.  After a year or so, I began to feel the muted tones and intentional fuzziness of the picture were depressing.  I took the prints down, stashed them in a closet, and replaced them with metal, sculptural wall art.

As we unpacked and decorated our new house, I rediscovered the prints.  Short on art and heavy on walls, I tried the old prints in the new dining room.  New house, new walls, new vibe, right?  I still liked the frame and mat, but the pictures continued to remind me of trying to see through the windshield during a foggy rainstorm (oddly, this is a recurring nightmare of mine).  The prints also seemed too traditional for what I wanted the room to feel like.  I had to make a change.  Determined not to pay retail for more generic art, I looked for inspiration everywhere - art fairs, thrift shops, estate sales, etc.

This past week, I found my inspiration in this tablecloth:

Inspiration for new wall art
The fun, whimsical, yet sophisticated art on this Merimekko tablecloth made me smile as soon as I spied it.  In the store, the tablecloth fabric was stretched over a canvas and hung on the wall as art.  The motif reminded me of a decorative platter I already have in my dining room, and speaks to the framed, black-and-white sketch art in my living room.  I bought a tablecloth and three napkins and headed home.

Originally, I figured I would cut up the tablecloth and staple it to stretcher frames.  Ultimately, I decided to use the tablecloth as designed (on the table) and frame two of the napkins instead.   Keep reading to learn how to I did it:

How To Update Artwork from Framed Print to Framed Fabric:

  • Fabric - in my case, I used a 20" x 20" napkin for each frame
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pencil
  • Tape Measure or Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Framed Print
General How-To:

  • Iron the fabric.

Napkin before ironing

  • Place the framed art on a large work surface, front-side down and carefully slit the paper backing on three sides using scissors.Note:  I worked on the dining room floor.

Slit paper backing on three sides.

  • Peel the paper backing.
    Note:  You should notice small metal tabs hold artwork in place.

Peel paper back to reveal metal tabs.

  • Bend back the metal tabs, and remove artwork.
    Note:  Leave the glass in the frame and clean it is necessary.

Remove artwork, but leave glass in place.

  • Gently pull mat free from print.
    Note:  In my case, the mat was attached using double-sided tape.  Be very careful to not bend or damage the mat.

Separate mat from artwork.

  • Run the mat over your fabric (napkin) until you determine the desired arrangement.  Mark with a pencil and cut fabric to desired size using scissors or a rotary cutter.
    Note:  I cut a 13" x 13" square of fabric, which left a 1/2 " selvage on all sides.
  • Tape fabric to mat on back side.
    Note:  Pull fabric taut before you apply tape.  Depending on the fabric weight, you may want to use duct tape.

Cut fabric to size and tape to back of mat.

  • Place mat back in frame and top with flipped over artwork.  Press metal tabs down to hold everything in place.
    Note:  Placing artwork back in the frame strengthens everything.  I flipped mine because the white backing of my artwork is white - it will not bleed through the white fabric.  Adjust according to your specific artwork/fabric combination.

Place artwork back in frame, front side facing back.

  • Fold paper backing back over your work and tape.

Tape paper backing to secure

  • You're done!  Hang back on the wall and admire your work.

New Artwork
I love how this simple update brings a smile to my face every time I walk through the room.  I cannot believe I did not update those frames sooner - it was such an easy project.  I had the frames on hand and spent less than twenty dollars on the napkins.  When my tastes change (and they will), I can easily update the frames again.

Want to try this, but don't have a piece of artwork you need to change out?  Garage sales and thrift shops are full of gently used  frames/artwork.  If the artwork is not your taste, but the frame is in good shape, buy it and change out the art!  Or, just pick up a new frame at a craft shop and frame away!

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