19 November 2013

DIY: faux wood-mounted map art

Our apartment has plaster walls. Have I mentioned that yet?

Oh. How about how nervous I am to hang anything, for fear that the entire wall of plaster will collapse with the single tap of my hammer on a nail?

I’ve mentioned that, huh? Ok. How about how I can’t hang any heavy frames or mirrors because I envision the item yanking a chunk of plaster out of the wall as it falls to the floor, shattering the glass into a million tiny pieces I’ll never be able to vacuum up?

It seems I’ve already covered my neuroses here thoroughly!

Then perhaps you’ll understand why I’ve taken nine (NINE!) months to hang up and enjoy birthday present I received earlier this year. My sweet sister-in-law and her family sent me this poster for my 30th birthday:

It’s so nice, I almost received it twice – Mr. P purchased the same print for me (I’d had it on my wish list), and after I opened the package from our family, he had to try to cancel his order with the seller. Fortunately, the guy wasn’t a jerk and accepted his cancellation so I didn’t have two identical posters! I’ve never met him, but I think that shop owner is a pretty cool dude. And he’s also from St. Louis, so we’re supporting local sellers!

Although I was thrilled to receive this poster (and even more thrilled that I only received one), I didn’t hang it up for the longest time because I had to consider the weight of a frame, even a frame for only this modestly-sized poster. I looked for lightweight frames and couldn’t find one I liked that didn’t convince me it wouldn’t rip all the plaster off the lathe in the walls and cause us to forfeit our security deposit and live in abject SHAME for DEFACING a HISTORIC PROPERTY UGH.

Finally, months later, I decided to use what I’ve found best for large, lightweight art: a canvas. Yes, another canvas. But this time, I decided to do it for FREE by covering up an older canvas that wasn’t really my style anymore.

I bought it at Hobby Lobby about six or seven years ago, deep in the heart of my red phase. Because it was mass-produced, I wasn’t too concerned about violating original art (that can get you in trouble with the blogosphere – check the comments here – if not the law). And in a huge stroke of luck, the canvas was exactly the same size and dimensions as the poster. Hooray!

The only problem was, I didn’t necessarily want to adhere this poster to the canvas forever and ever (like I did here with a poster and canvas from from Hobby Lobby). Someday, when we’re in a house without plaster walls or at least walls I own and feel free to destroy, I’d like to frame that poster properly. Until then, the canvas could be a temporary solution so we could enjoy the map art in the meantime. And nothing says temporary like double-sided tape and my Xyron adhesion-strip thingy.

So, I set to attaching the poster to the front of the canvas with lots (LOTS) of double-sided tape. I also found some black ribbon I had was exactly the right width to wrap around the sides of the canvas!

This all seemed well and good.... except it didn’t adhere. At all. None of it. The poster made it only a few hours on the vertical canvas before drooping and falling off. The ribbon didn’t even make it that long. The shiny surface of the canvas just wasn’t holding the double-sided tape, and the shiny ribbon was having none of it. Sad face.

Fortunately, I had a moment of inspiration (thanks to this pin) and decided to wrap the canvas with this wood-grain contact paper as a plan B.

Funnily enough, I ordered the contact paper ($5 from Amazon) for another project, hoping it would look enough like wood to cover some furniture.

It.... didn’t, really. So this poster-mounting project turned out to be a Plan B for the contact paper, as well. Funny how these things work out!

I wrapped the contact paper all around the edges of the frame:

The corners I dealt with as naturally as I could. First I folded under the corners, gift-wrap style:

Then covered the folded bits with a flat surface of a new sheet, paying attention to the direction of the grain for a fairly seamless result.

I also tried to cover enough of the top and bottom of the canvas to give the poster and its double-sided tape something to adhere to. And low and behold, it worked! Not to mention it looked super snazzy.

You really have to get up close to realize it’s not mounted on a big, thick slab of wood. I’m not sure that it looks as snazzy in the photos as it does in real life, so you’ll just have to trust me that it looks awesome. Love it!

You can even see a bit of the “wood” peeking out from the sides when you look at the poster head-on, so it doesn’t completely blend into the wall:

While it is ridiculous how long it took for this project to come together – especially considering how simple the final solution was – it was worth it for the final result. Let’s break it down, shall we?

Time spent:
Not counting the nine months of dithering and false starts? About fifteen minutes to wrap the canvas edges with contact paper and apply double-sided tape to stick the canvas on it. Easy-peasy.

Poster: a gift, therefore free to me! Get your own here!
Canvas: already owned
Double-sided tape: already owned
Contact paper: $5.37 (with free shipping) from Amazon
Total cost: $5.37

So while wood-grain contact paper is usually pretty cheesy, in this case, it was totally worth the five bucks to spiff up this canvas (and a small price to pay to learn I couldn’t use it for the larger project I had in mind). It’s making me want to wrap all my other canvases edges so they can all appear to be on chunky blocks of wood!

Even though the plaster walls and their limited weight restrictions drive me a little nuts here, I’m glad to be in our apartment, with Mr. P, in this new city. And I’m especially glad to add this art to our collection to reflect our new home!


Rachel C said...

Love the poster and your creative way of hanging it. But...where is it hanging?? I was so excited to see how you worked the finished product into one of your rooms. Maybe you didn't do a full reveal on purpose? Maybe this is part of a larger room make over...I guess it's in the office with the Nashville art.

Sarah said...

@Rachel, you're right, it is in the office with the Nashville art (and the bulletin board, as well). In real life it's just leaning against the wall behind the desk; I only hung it temporarily to show it on the wall for this post. I want to do a gallery wall in the office, but goodness knows, I'm not making any holes the wall until I know that's where it's staying! A post on that has been in the works longer than I've had this poster :) In the meantime, I've been collecting the art and will eventually get it on the wall.