Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY Chicken-Wire Photo Frame

My life and personality are brimming with repurpose inspiration. Two-thirds of my wardrobe is second-hand, handmade or made from something other than its original intention. I use flower petals in recipes, jars for drinking water, coffee cups for wine and silverware for wind chimes. The bottom halves of sweaters becomes skirts, their sleeves legwarmers. The mis-tinted paint section is a thrill to check out every once in a while. Stools are shelves. White twinkle lights fill our fireplace. Discarded photos I find in thrift stores become post cards. The part of me that clings to nostalgia and simplicity is responsible. It somehow feels healing, cathartic even, to make something new out of something that was going to be discarded. It feels less wasteful and there's a sense of pride in it too, I suppose.

When our Year of Transition commenced in 2011, I purged quite a bit of things I had been hanging onto, things I was sure that I would repurpose somewhere, somehow. I got rid of canvases, bolts of cloth, broken china, bits of metal, costume jewelry, vintage photos of people I never knew... it was slightly heart-wrenching actually. However, I did hang onto a few things -- one of which was an old gaudy, gold frame. I felt attached to it enough to lug it from Nebraska to Montana, back to Nebraska. 

About four months ago, I visited an amazing booth at our local craft fair completely centered around repurpose inspiration. For the life of me, I can't remember the booth's name, but the gal running it had turned aged books into unique flower-like wreaths (which I bought three of), old frames into chalkboards and vintage elementary flash cards into poetry. German glass glitter flashed from the backs of clothespins and old photographs clung to the wire of large photo frames backed by chicken wire. Basically, I was in love.

I kept eyeballing the frames she'd built, but as much as I loved them, I couldn't quite bring myself to buy one. I kept thinking about that gold frame I'd been saving. So, months later, I finally put it to good use. So here you have it, folks -- your (easy?) tutorial on how to make one yourself just like I did. I got the chicken wire from my dad, pilfered some pliers from Mr. Husband's tool stash and got a quick lesson on how to load, clear and oil a battery-powered staple gun. (Much to my relief, I learned it does not send a staple flying across the room when you randomly pull the trigger, like Kevin on "Home Alone 2" lead me to believe at the age of 10.)

I got this frame from the public library years ago in a collection clean-out sale. I considered spray-painting it a cream color, but loved the gold way too much so I left it alone.

I left this on the back. It was the library's tag on it. Believe it or not, you used to be able to check out artwork and sculptures from the library.


STEP 1: Procure a frame. It can be from anywhere -- an old window frame, the library, something you inherited with a hideous macro-may weaving inside it. Heck, it can even be from Hobby Lobby if you find a good sale! 

STEP 2: Flip the frame over and tightly stretch chicken wire across the back. It will want to roll up, so you might need a helper or a weight to keep it down and flattened as you get ready to staple. 

STEP 3: Start stapling! I used the cordless-powdered stapler because it was easier without me having to utilize a whole lot of extra downward force. However, an ordinary staple gun will still get the job done. Staple the chicken wire down every 2" to 3" or wherever it seems it needs extra reinforcement. Stay clear of the edges of the frame. 

STEP 4: Cut off excess wire, making sure it doesn't stick out on the outside edges of the frame. If it wants to scratch or cut into your walls (we have plaster walls, so it wasn't really an issue), feel free to duct-tape the "frayed" wire edges down to the back of the frame to protect drywall. I used cutters integrated into a pair of needlenose pliers. Do not attempt this with ordinary scissors. It will ruin your scissors. Yes, I've tried cutting wire with scissors in other projects.

And that's it! All done.

I thought my sister would be proud to have hers displayed, too. She bought an old window frame at The French Door Antique Mall, and we transformed it into a wire photo frame over her Christmas break.