I think the idea of “making art” is intimidating to a lot of people—myself included, as I’ve said before. But I just couldn’t take looking at the big, bare wall in my living room any longer, and I am too cheap to spend the exorbitant amount that it would cost to buy a piece to fill the space. And so, necessity, invention, etc.
This project is even easier than the gelatin prints, and it’s infinitely customizable: any size, any style, to fit any space that just needs a little pick-me-up.
Stretched Fabric Art
Canvas stretcher bars or blank canvas
Fabric (plus optional muslin backing)
The first step is the frame. Most art supply stores sell stretcher bars for canvas in sizes ranging from 6 inches to several feet long for very cheap—the total for all four frame pieces for a larger piece shouldn’t be more than $10; for a smaller one, under $4.
Since I had a specific size I wanted for the empty spot in my living room, I just made sure to have those measurements with me when I went to the art store. I also grabbed an assortment of other sizes, plus some smaller pre-made blank canvases. If you’re planning on doing multiple pieces, just be sure the number of bars you buy is divisible by 4 (lesson learned the hard way—what can I say, I was an English major).
Next step, fabric. You can obviously hit up a Jo-Ann’s or any other fabric store for inexpensive remnants or a single yard of a good print, but I happened to find my favorite fabric at World Market in the form of a shower curtain for $20—I liked that the print was big and graphic enough to stand on its own as a piece of art. You can use any fabric you have—a tablecloth, some cute napkins, even a t-shirt that’s been taking up space in a box but you can’t bear to trash. Two tips here: iron your fabric before framing to get rid of any wrinkles, and if the fabric you’re using is thin, buy some cheap muslin for backing so you don’t see the outline of the frame under the fabric once it’s hung.
I started with one of the smaller pieces. Looking at the shower curtain, I found a shape I liked and started putting framing pieces around it to see which sizes would work. Next I cut the fabric with a few additional inches on all sides to make sure it would be long enough to wrap around the frame, plus some muslin for backing.
Then it’s just a matter of stapling. I started in the middle of one side, stapled, pulled the other side taut, stapled again, and continued around until just the corners were left. I folded over the edges, stapled them, and that’s it! More art for under $10 a piece!