Thursday, October 8, 2015

DIY Wall Display for Children's Artwork

DIY Wall Display for Children's Artwork

I love to display our daughter's artwork, to me it teaches her that her creativity and expression is a gift and should be valued. But, I'll admit, I have struggled with the best way to display her artwork and crafts. 

There are lots of very cool ideas around the web but what initially worked great for me was a gallery wall of Ikea Nyttja frames in a variety of sizes and colors. I would just tape the artwork to the front of the frame, right on top of the glazing (acrylic), because I know myself... I would never ever have the patience to constantly be opening up the frame to change out the artwork! This was a great solution because it also allowed me to tape up thicker pieces of artwork, like paper plate crafts, things painted with 3-dimensional paint, paper crafts with flaps, etc.

Colorful gallery wall with walrus and chick crafts.

I still love the gallery wall but I grew tired of all the taping and really wanted something that was easier to quickly change things out or move things around. I still wanted something that could accommodate artworks of various sizes and thicknesses as well as hanging craft necklaces and little paper ornaments.

What I came up with was a vertical hanging display made out of tree branches and jute cord! The artwork is attached to the jute cords using colorful mini-clothespins. I made sure to select a branch with a bifurcation so I could easily hang crafts with cords. I love the rustic feel of it! It is 75 inches (190.5 cm) tall and 26 inches (66 cm) wide. The spacing between the jute cords is 2.75 inches (7 cm) and there are 9 cords total. 

Colorful young child's artwork hanging on wall displayChildren's artwork hanging on the wall.

Pink dog picture

Purple clothespin holding up child's artwork.

This is probably one of the cheapest DIYs I've done because I found the tree branches and only had to purchase the jute cord because I had the other materials on hand. Here's what you'll need:

  • Tree branches
  • Jute cord
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Polycrylic protective finish (optional)

I just wanted to mention safety before getting into the process. I used a saw, a utility knife, a power sander, and a drill to get the tree branches the way I wanted them. Please, always use personal protective equipment when necessary. Safety glasses or goggles, face masks, half-face respirator masks, gloves... be safe when using power tools, it's very easy for something to go flying and hit you in the eye. Here I am ready to use my power sander (I love this picture!! I put on my gloves after I took the picture.):
Holding a Makita sander

1 - Find some fallen tree branches in a public area.

2 - Define how wide you would like the wall display to be. In my case, I opted for 26 inches and marked it on my tree branches.

Three tree branches leaning up against a gray cinder block wall.Measuring tape laid out next to a tree branch.

3 - Saw the tree branches down to size.

4 - Remove the bark (optional).

Red saw cutting through a tree branch.Removing tree bark with a yellow utility knife.

5 - Sand the tree branches.

6 - Mark the drill points where the jute cord will run through the branch. I had 9 cords in total, spaced 2.75 inches apart. (Another option is to just tie the jute cord around the branches instead of drilling holes, but I believe this is a sturdier solution... there is no chance of the cords slipping around this way.)

Power sander laying next to a bare tree branch.Marking black dots on a piece of wood.

7 - Drill, drill, drill!

8 - The branches are now ready to paint! Painting is optional, I almost left them bare, but ultimately thought the display would look better in white.

Drilling holes in a bare tree branchThree tree branches laying next to a plate with white acrylic paint and a foam brush.

9 - I used white acrylic paint and watered it down a bit. I wanted to retain some of the characteristics of the wood, so I figured a white wash would be most appropriate.

10 - Paint!

Spritzing water on acrylic paint.Painting tree branches white with a foam brush

11 - Allow them to dry.

12 - Apply a sealer. I used Miniwax Water-Based Protective Finish.

Painted white tree branchesPolycrilic sitting next to brancc.

13 - Now it's time for the jute cord.

14 - I made a Bowline knot to create a loop for hanging the display to the wall. In total, I had two loops, one at each end of the display (at the ends of cords 1 and 9).

Jute cordTying a bowline knot

15 - Pass the jute cord through the drill hole in the branch and secure it with a Figure 8 knot.

16 - The top of cord 1. Tip: The end of the jute cord can fray and make it difficult to run it through the drill holes. Cover the end with some white glue and allow it to dry. It will be stiff enough to run through the holes without a needle and will not fray.

Tying a Figure 8 knotCompleted knots

17 - Space the branches evenly and run the cord through the drill holes. Secure the cord with a Figure 8 knot after exiting each drill hole.

18 - Repeat for cord 9. Cords 2 - 8 do not require a Bowline knot, only Figure 8 knots.

Tree branches spread out evenly on the living room floor.Detail of the knots.

And here it is ready to be hung up on the wall! It took roughly half a day to complete. The longest part was definitely getting all of the cords attached to it... The branch prep and painting only took about 2 hours to do.

Finished DIY waiting to be hung up on the wall.

While I was running the cords through the branches, I decided to dye some mini-clothespins! I used liquid watercolors made from dried out markers (I think these watercolors are absolutely brilliant and just about the easiest project ever. And as an added bonus you have a use for the piles and piles of old markers kids go through!).

I just dunked the clothespins in the liquid watercolors and let them dry. I repeated the process two more times.

Miniclothes pins and pink and purple liquid watercolors.Colorful clothespins drying.

The colors turned out beautifully!

Rainbow colored clothespins

I love how versatile this wall display is and I know it's going to get a lot of use! I still plan on using the frames, but probably for special pieces (like the Pressed Flower Children's Art) and this time around I will probably put them inside the frames!

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