Another present: A custom Picture Frame

I have a dear friend who has a beautiful house. It's a lovely two story one, but the only thing that seems a bit strange about it is that the electrical panel is on the second floor in the hallway (I don't know if this is totally normal or not, but definitely strange to me). Not only is the electrical panel in the hallway, but it is quite large, (and as Electrical panels often do, the cover is not flush with the wall (but juts out slightly). This is all well and good, but my friend has been meaning to, for quite some time, find a piece of artwork that would cover it so you wouldn't see electrical panel when you enter their second story, but would notice all the gorgeous woodwork/painting they have done.

I decided as a gift to them, that I would go about creating a large piece of artwork to go over the panel, at least as a place holder. First, I measure the panel (using my arm as I wanted it to be a surprise)... Then I made a frame about 4 inches larger in both directions. I wanted to be sure it had plenty of coverage from the panel (as as my arm is not always the most accurate...I figured playing safe would be better).

I used a miter saw to trim pieces of 1.5 inch pine to the correct lengths (I got extra lucky, since I was doing this alone, that my freezer is exactly the same height as my miter saw bed...yay! Help was on hand for holding :)

Then I pre-drilled guide holes and wood glued and screwed the corners. I also added a cross bar in the center to ensure it stayed square on the wall. This cross bracket was put in so it would not be as deep as the rest of the frame, but recessed (to allow that jutted out portion of the electrical panel to be well hidden.

Once it was all dry (I didn't want to get any stray wood glue on anything). I brought it inside to stretch some burlap over it. (Yes, I did say burlap).

I found some wonderful close weave burlap in a nice tone that I felt would look good with the wall color of the hallway (they recently repainted, so I'm not worried that they intend to change it soon or anything). Burlap is pretty popular right now, and I was aiming for a more rustic look than white or cream canvas. I also didn't want to over paint this and have some color rub off on the walls. Stretching burlap works pretty much like stretching canvas. Start at one end, fold over, staple with industrial stapler, then pull, fold, and staple. The goal is to have a nice smooth surface on the other side, with a clean edge and nice corners. I'm sure there are tons of youtube videos out there for how to do a corner (I did a corner similar to what I would do if I was covering a book board corner...so I didn't really consult anything), so if you want to do your own and aren't sure how...go check them out :)

After this was done, I printed out the design I wanted to do. You see, my friend loves initials and loves fun typography, so I decided to do their last name, which happens to be one of the most popular in the US, so I was able to find tons of examples of beautiful typography for it. I also put the year their family came to be on it as I thought it gave it a nice homey touch.

First I took a bunch, drew the typography that I wanted on a piece of paper. Scanned it in to my computer, cleaned up the edges, spacing, and made sure it was centered on the size of the canvas. I then printed it out using the poster feature on my printer (this allows you to tile together images to do large scale items. I then traced the whole thing on contact paper. Once I had done that I trimmed out the letters, placed the outside area on the burlap (as a sort of screen).

The next step was to fill in the letters and lines. I used fabric paint starting on the contact paper and pulling in towards the center to make sure the edges stayed clean and didn't have paint seep under them. This was really important, because contact paper isn't very sticky, and burlap is hard to stick to (as it doesn't have a uniform surface. I used a fairly small brush to make sure the fine edges didn't get mucked up, or that I didn't accidently move one of the cut out portions that wasn't attached to anything else.  Once they were filled in, I carefully peeled off the contact paper and filled in any missing portions to close letters I had stenciled on. As you can see, the edges turned out nice and crisp. You can also see how you pull from the outside in on the contact paper to the right.

Here's the finished item.

I think they'll like it (and will be able to cover the electric panel quite well :) ) and I kinda wish I had a big wall that needed some artwork now for one of my own!

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