Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Poverty is the Mother of Invention

Or...Hacking Can Give You Quite a Rush

We're on a hacking roll over here!  Work on the patio chair cushions is nearly finished (if it would just stop raining so we could get the chairs themselves stained) and we're almost ready to begin the next set of window treatments.  But in between, I took it upon myself to finish a project I began several years ago and always intended to finish.

Three or so years ago, I made and framed up a pair of silhouettes of the kids for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift.  I had noticed she was partial to them, figured all grandmothers are thrilled to receive gifts that have their grandchildren as the theme, and, let's be honest, I knew it would be a relatively inexpensive gift.

I was right.  I was able to find an appropriate frame and some appropriate paper and mattes at very low cost.  And they looked wonderful and she loved them.

I was also smart.  I took the necessary preparations to make myself a set someday.

That day is today.  Or, rather, was yesterday.

I began (three years or so ago) by having the kids stand still and taking a profile shot of them.  Calvin wasn't having it and so he is sulking in his.  And, yeah, you can tell in the finished product.  I printed the photos (can't remember now if it was on our printer or at a place like Kinko's--probably Kinko's), then cut them out, like so.

I then traced the portrait onto thick, black paper (I don't know what kind; I'm not a "paper" person), then carefully cut it out.  And this is where I was brilliant: I traced and cut out two of each!  a-HA!  I used one set immediately for my mother-in-law's gift and squirreled the other set away for myself for later.

Fast forward to a week in June 2013.  I've been looking for something to put on the one bit of wall space I have in the upstairs bathroom that won't be holding shelves when all is said and done.  I know I need something black and white to cut the severity of the shocking green wall color.  And, whilst trolling through Pinterest, it hits me: BAM: silhouettes!  And then KABLAM: I have a pair already cut out!

Consequently, I found myself in a dollar store looking for frames.  I found the above.  I liked the matte and it was $1 and I thought I was home safe.  So I bought two.  And got them home only to discover that the matte and the "print" (to use the term loosely) are one piece and both are glued into the frame somehow.  There was no way to use just the matte and keep the frame intact, a fact I discovered when I accidentally tore the frames apart trying to get the matte out.

Ok, so $2 down the drain.  I realized I was going to have to kick things up a notch.

So I went to Walmart and spent twice as much and got two $2 frames.  I made sure they came apart easily before I bought them.  Sadder but wiser, that's me.

Now, some of you "paper" people would probably then go and get some really good quality, acid-free, organically pressed, moisture-proof, fancy paper on which to mount the silhouettes.

I am not that kind of person.

I cut the border that I liked from the "print" that I didn't from the dollar store artwork.  Then I flipped over the photo that came with the frame from Walmart and used that as my white background.  I know, the horrors.  It's a travesty.  Remember, I am not a crafty person!

From there, it was easy.  I buffed the glass clean (I think I used my shirt.  The one I was wearing) and positioned the silhouettes just so.  I didn't even use any adhesive.  I just stuck them in place and put the glass on.  I'm that kind of a maverick.  Oh, and I also used a black ball point pen to fill in some spots on the mattes where the blackness had worn off and the white layer underneath was showing.  You can't even tell.

Since I didn't feel like waiting around for The Vicar to find me a hammer and nails (and I didn't want to go rummaging around in the basement for them myself) I then used my mother's method of using straight pins and a high heeled shoe to mount the frames on the bathroom wall.  She told me that at one point in her life, everything on her walls was mounted using straight pins or sewing needles.  She says they leave smaller holes in the walls.

But looky!  Don't they look great?

Especially with the finished cafe' curtain and valance?  I tell you what, the hardest thing about this project was trying to get a photo!  With the light on, there was too much glare, with it off, it's too gloomy, and don't get me started on trying to position myself so I can capture the silhouettes, window, and a bit of the shower curtain all in the same frame!

There you go: my three-year but less than $10 decorating hack.  If I can do it, anyone can!

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