Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cheap-Ass Art

For a long time I have struggled with how to fill the blank walls in my place. I am not one to frame a collection of randomness (spoons, shot glasses, snail shells*) and call it art, but I was looking for things to put on my wall that were #1: cheap, and #2: attractive. I have discovered a few ways of doing this that work really well in my space, and maybe they would in yours too.

Cheap-Ass Solution #1
Fabric Panels
I have been doing this for a long time. I find some fabric I like (preferably home decorating remnants at the fabric store) and staple it to a canvas stretchers from the art supply store. End of story. When I get bored, I just staple some new fabric over the old stuff. They are very versatile because you can spread them out to fill up space or scootch them closer together in a smaller wall.

Fabric Panels in the living room....

Fabric Panels in the dining room... do they look familiar? The used to be over my bed in my old place!
Cheap-Ass Solution #2
Pictures from magazines
These photos were in a gorgeous spread of Kate Moss in W Magazine several years ago. There is something a little sexy, very mysterious, and oddly creepy about the pictures, so naturally I framed them in $3 frames from Big Lots and put them on the wall in my bedroom. (Sorry about the glare, but that just gives you a glimpse of the next idea!)

Cheap-Ass Solution #3
Steal an idea from someone else and make it for cheap!

Do you know the Subway Sign art that Restoration Hardware sells? No? I will show you!
I just love how these are graphic and bold and feel kind of antique. HOWEVER, I would never pay $800 for one of these (honestly that's not a completely unreasonable price because these are taller than I am). And I didn't want subway signs. So with the help of Illustrator fonts and some pretty printer paper, I made this (much smaller version at 3' tall) for my bedroom:
One day I will figure out how to do this on card stock, but for now I am actually really happy with how it turned out. I tried it with lots of different fonts but that just looked confused, so I just stuck to two of them, changing the size and proportions a little to fit the space. I typed out all of the calming and sleep related words I could come up with and then played to make them fit.

Cheap-Ass Solution #4
Use the rasterbator.

I know it sounds vaguely dirty, but this free internet tool lets you upload any picture you want and then makes it into a rastorized image (think little tiny dots like old-fashioned newspaper print) and you can make your picture HUGE. It will turn out fuzzy close up and easier to see from far away. Like modern art!
This is the dead-laziest piece of "Art" in my house. I found a picture of a dandelion gone to seed on google images, copied it into the rasterbator, then printed it onto 6 sheets of paper. I trimmed the edges, taped them together, and taped it to the wall. I had an empty frame lying around and I literally just put it over the image- no backing or glass or anything. It might sound a little tacky (and look a little wonky in pictures) but in real life it looks really cool! Especially when I am coming up the stairs and I can see this hanging in my workroom. And it was FREE.

(Not really a cheap-ass solution but a freebie)
Make your collections pop.
I made this display cabinet when I was 12 or 13 years old, and it's been on various walls in various houses for years now. It is a good place to put little things but it was sooooo dim that anything you put inside of it would get lost against the dark stained oak back. Last weekend as I was contemplating where to (finally) hang the sucker, I remembered that the shelves aren't glued in there- they're just held in with a little tension. I took them all out, taped in some starched home-dec fabric, and popped the shelves back in. Presto! A workable display cabinet for odds and ends. I keep things in there that came from somewhere else- either things family brought back for me or things I picked up in different places.
So that's pretty much it. In the past I have also hung old quilts and tapestries from the walls, and in the near future I would like to use this idea for cards and postcards too. But for now I think my walls are looking good and not feeling naked anymore.

Do you have any good ideas for cheap-ass art solutions? Share them!

*As I was trying to come up with a list of truly random things I was thinking crayons, keys, and seed pods and decided that no, those would all make really cool shadow-box art so I guess I'll have to take that back.

1 comment:

Jeremy (as in Ball) said...

I was just talking you up to some friends of mine about how you're one of those amazing people who can furnish an entire house from flea market finds and make it look stunning. You're dying on the vine, love--you could name your price as an interior decorator. We should all be so lucky!