Customized Art in An Afternoon

This art was easy to make, but if you don’t have an artist in the family, take a photograph, or scour the internet for images that are available for free download and sharing.

This month, I decided to tackle a few looming home decor projects.  One of them involved making a piece of art for a corner in our teensy weensy guest bath.  (Which, incidentally, is one of my favorite rooms in our home.)

I knew that I wanted to use the little green house doodle (in the sidebar of each blog post) that has been a part of this blog since the beginning.  Not only because mon mari drew it, but because the colors of our half bath are mint green and brown.  To go along with it, I decided to use one of my favorite phrases that I read in a magazine a few years ago — apparently it’s actually part of an Irish toast:

“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.” 

As the proud owner of a small house that is big on character, I thought it was appropriate.

If you’d like to view another blog post featuring the graphic, the phrase, and lessons I’ve learned, check out: Lessons Learned From Living in a Small House — So Far…

The first step in creating my own custom art was to buy a frame.  I found the thick, bronze frame for $9.99 at the local craft store.

Once I had the frame, I used it to figure out the size of the art and any mat board for the inside.  If the frame doesn’t come with a mat board already inside, some art and craft stores will sell mat board inserts in popular sizes for as little as 99 cents.  Definitely a bargain, and it saves you the headache and (as I learned) possible heartache of an inexperienced mat cutter at the framing counter!

Next, I took the doodle and transferred it into a photo editing program, but you can also use a word processing program.  This is how we made our custom wedding invitations years ago.  Be sure to center the image in whatever program you use, and scale it to the size of paper you will print on (ie: 8.5 x 11″, 5 x 7″, etc.).  Be sure to take into account any mat board you plan to put in the frame since it will create a border around your image.

Then, I added text in a font that I liked.  You could do a poem, a special date with an image, or whatever.

Save the entire file/document on your computer and on a flash drive and print a test sheet of the final design.

Then take the flash drive and the test sheet to an office/copy store.  If you have a special type of paper that you want to use, bring it along.  Bring a few sheets in case of an oops!  You may also want to bring the frame and mat board along.

Ask the store to print the file for you.  Most copy stores have the option of printing images in black and white or in color, and many stores offer special finishing touches.  If you are undecided about the type of paper to use, consider asking to see the store’s collection of specialty papers.  A sheet or two of paper is pretty inexpensive.  I had the little green house doodle printed on ivory card stock.

Next, make sure your custom print is scaled properly and that the final product matches the look of your test sheet.  A good way to check the scale is to place the print in the frame with the mat board, or to use a ruler.  Be sure to check the scale before paying!  The total cost for my paper and printing was about $3.

A final recommendation is to use archival or “acid-free” paper for your art if you can find it.  A good resource is an art supply store or craft store where archival paper is available in a wide variety of colors and styles.  I am not an artist by trade, but it is my understanding that archival paper resists yellowing and wears better over time than regular papers.

Finally, take the art home and hang it up!  The total cost of my project was about $14.  A stylish bargain, I think!