gift idea

Round Up of Inexpensive Wall Art

 Finding great looking things to hang on the walls without spending a fortune can be a challenge.

But NOT having great looking things to hang on the walls would be just SAD!

When we travel, I love to shop in all the fancy art galleries we see.
I should clarify the word “SHOP” and change it to “LOOK”.
Oh, how I would love to rationalize spending thousands of dollars on unique pieces of art!
Alas, I just can’t do it!
My thrifty alter ego reminds me that there are other ways to have pretty things on the wall.

I decided to do a post about the many ways and many places you to find great “art” for you walls.
Since I have been doing this for more years than I want to tell you….I will take you on a “art walk” around Sweetwater as well as share some great ideas from some other thrifty folks.

First though…..about frames and framing.
One of the best sources for frames is the thrift store. 
Look past the questionable “ART” in the frame and imagine it with your own.
A little spray paint or touch up with a sharpie can make a battered frame look new.
If you don’t have access to a mat cutter, look for standard sized frames.

One great source for art is those vacation photos you take.
This is an enlargement of the view from our hotel on our trip to Hong Kong.  I used a photo effect program for my iPad called Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect. 

Look for coffee table sized art books at the thrift store.  You won’t feel bad tearing out a page that has a fabulous image.  Adding an oversized mat allows the image to look larger than it actually is.

Note cards or greeting cards with a theme can make a nice tryptic. I have to confess that since I wanted the images from the purchased cards to be bigger, I scanned and printed them larger.  It probably doesn’t exactly follow copyright law…but I did buy them and didn’t make them that much bigger.

Wrapping paper come in many beautiful patterns.  A lot of boutiques sell single poster sized sheets of paper.  This chocolate themed paper will be perfect as subtle valentine decor…althought the “real” thing might be tastier.

Framing a tea towel is a similar way to have a large image on the wall.  Keep an eye open for these when you are boutique shopping. Here are two different towels switched out for the season with new mats in the same frame.

Those of you who are frequent readers know my obsession with fabric.  Using a fabulous print as a wrap around a frame is a simple way to create large interesting pieces of art.

I did a little looking for some other sources for interesting and inexpensive art.

Check out  https://www.posterhaste.com  
There are really wonderful options for personalized art here.

Mr. S got this print as a gift from the Sweetwater Daughter.

She ordered it from this site.
https://grafomap.com 

You just type in the place and a cool looking graphic is generated.


I think I might do one for our current location in blue.

Here are a couple of other people’s blog posts about “cheap” art!

www.apartmenttherapy.com/cheap-art-frame-ideas

https://www.pinterest.com/favillephoto/unique-things-to-frame 

So….anyway….that is my roundup of ways to have “luxury” art on a budget.
What are your suggestions?
I would love to hear from you!

Gift Idea: Tea Towel in a Frame

Two weeks until Christmas!
That means that there isn’t a lot of time around here for writing blog posts.
My goal is to do a few posts with a ideas that you might use to save time and/or money during the holidays this year.
Frame A Tea Towel for Statement Wall Art

Inevitably, you are going to be going shopping in one of those cute gift boutiques….
Inevitably, you are going to fall in love with lots of items that are way out of your price range….
Don’t despair!
Check out the tea towel section….you will probably find something very cute for a reasonable price.
AND…
Tea Towels make fabulous gifts….
BUT…
Why not take it up a notch and frame that tea towel to create a statement piece of wall art?

I found this towel at a gift boutique….yeah…I know I said this was about giving gifts…but I loved it so much I had to keep it for myself. (note to self: next time buy TWO of something thrifty that you love).
I already had the frame, but you can find deals on poster frames with the mat already in them.  Michaels and IKEA are good sources.

The HOW TO is simple:
1. Buy the tea towel.
2. Buy the frame.
3. Iron the towel.
4. Use spray adhesive to smooth the towel on the backing cardboard that comes with the frame.
5. Reassemble the frame.
6. Wrap it up!

Be sure to tell the person you are gifting how easy it is to change out the “art” for each season!

I have written about this before with more detailed instructions and some good sources for tea towels.

Tea Towel Wall Art: http://sweetwaterstyle.blogspot.com/2017/04/tea-towel-wall-art.html

Sources for Tea Towels http://sweetwaterstyle.blogspot.com/2015/01/wall-art-from-tea-towel-and-interesting.html

Remember when every 1960’s kitchen had a calendar tea towel? (well….some of you are too young to remember that….but trust me)
A framed calendar tea towel is an easy way to go beyond the ordinary…and way cuter than the one on your phone!

How cute are these towels from Spoonflower.com?

Hope this has given you an idea for a last minute gift if you needed one!

Have A Great Day!

Hostess Gift Tutorial Day 2: DIY Gnome!

Nothing says Scandinavian Christmas like a Tomtem, Gnome or Elf!
Why not make one of these charming little fellows for a hostess gift?

You probably have the supplies on hand.  If not, a trip to the thrift store will get you everything you need to make a bunch for only a few dollars.

Supplies:

Toilet paper tube or 3 inch birch log

Styrofoam ball

fiberfill

some kind of “beard material”….fiberfill, an old halloween wig, sheepskin

Old sweater sleeves

Wooden Bead

Hot Glue Gun

Sewing machine or needle and thread.

Directions:

  • Cut off a sleeve of the sweater you are using for a hat.  Use the bottom ribbing for the bottom of the hat and machine or hand stitch the side into a cone shap.
  • Cut a rectangular piece of the body sweater fabric to wrap around the toilet paper tube.  Tuck the ends into the tube opening and glue down. (Skip this step if you have access to birch logs)
  • Wrap fiberfill around the styrofoam ball and glue to the top of the tube or log piece.
  • Add a longer piece of the fiberfill to create a beard.  If you are going all out…you can purchase sheepskin remnants.  I got mine at Axe Man Surplus for $1.00.  You will want to glue the beard from the top of the head.  These Tomtens don’t have faces….just facial hair.
  • Stretch the hat on the head….position it so that your little guy has some charm.
  • Glue the wooden bead onto the center of the “face”.

In little or no time, you have a fun hostess gift.  If you want to go all out Scandanavian….you could head to IKEA for some Lingonberry Jam to add to it.  I am sure there are other Scandinavian treats that would make good additions….as long as it ISN’T Lutefisk.

Speaking of Lutefisk….I just finished a great book that will call to anyone with Minnesota roots…

A quirky and interesting read.

Have A Great Day!

Link Parties
Sunny Simple Life

A Week of DIY Hostess Gift Tutorials

Things are pretty much in full holiday mode around here….although since we are having a late Thanksgiving “gather and gobble” on Sunday….Mr. S has requested that I restrain myself a bit and leave a few remnants of fall decor….so the house feels a little like Thanksgiving.

Some of you may have noticed that I have been struggling to get posts written on a regular basis…
I have decided to change that!
I have a Goal: I plan to post EVERY DAY this week with quick tutorials for easy to replicate hostess gifts.  I hope this goal will motivate me to post more often….and inspire you to get your craft on!
So here goes!

DAY ONE
Coverless Book Bundles Holiday Style
Source
Coverless book bundles were all the rage a few years ago.
They are the epitome of “shabby chic”.
Shabby Chic is not for everyone….but…if you change it up to have a HOLIDAY theme….then these work for almost any decor style.
Do you know how hard it is for a retired “librarian” to rip the cover off of a book?
Well…I had to get over that for this project.
Since I promised you a tutorial….a tutorial you shall have…(even though I believe MY clever readers are all be smart enough to figure this out on their own!!!)

  •  Find some old books….the thrift store is a great source if you don’t have any lying around.  The older and dingier the better!  Look for groups of books that are similar in size. 
  •  Remove the soft casing of the book and make sure to remove any printed pages that precede the blank page. Most books have one blank page before the work of the book begins, so you want to leave that page as the top “page” of the book. When you remove the cover, don’t worry about peeling off the binding, the more weathered your binding looks, all the better for the look of your bundle. 
  • Play around with stacking your books.  It will all depend on the books you have.
  • Add your holiday sentiment.  I used the PRINT ON FABRIC technique to print the words on strips of canvas.  You can just use a fabric marker or sharpie to write your words.  Any kind of glue works to add the strips of canvas to the spines of the books. 
  • Wrap the books with a fun holiday ribbon just like you would wrap a  present. You can tie a bow or not tie a bow. It’s up to you.

You have just created a holiday themed vintage book bundle!
This is a perfect hostess gift. It takes little time and only costs a couple of dollars (or free if you use your own old books).
You will probably want to make a few so that you have one for your own!

Have  A Wonderful, Crafty Day!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Tutorial!

How To Cut Your Own Custom Picture Mats

Custom framing is soooo expensive!
Even when you take advantage of deals at the frame shop, a typical framing job will cost you a bundle.

I found this great website that has a princing estimator built in: https://www.framebridge.com/pricing
I ran the numbers for a 16 x 20 print….

YUP….$99!  Now that might seem reasonable to you….but NOT to me.  Especially because I am someone who wants to change out the stuff on my walls a LOT!

Here at Sweetwater, I have found a way to mat and frame things without spending this kind of money.

Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some money.

This post is all about that!

A few (or maybe many) year ago, I invested in a professional mat cutter like this one.

Okay…..$220 seems like a lot of money…..but remember how much ONE 16 x 20 picture cost?

You also need to buy matboard and frames.
I buy matboard at Dick Blick.  A 32 x 40 inch piece costs between $8 and $10 depending on how fancy it is…..
I buy my frames at the thrift store.  The array is pretty amazing.  You look at the FRAME not the ugly art that is in there.

Any new tool can seem intimidating…..but once you learn the basics….you can mat and frame your piece in less than 30 minutes.

So let’s get started on the tutorial!

I was “just gonna” go down to the craft room and do a step by step photo shoot for you….
And then I realized that….hmmm…..somebody probably already did that on YouTube!
Watch this and see how it is done!
(this is the link if the video doesn’t load)  https://youtu.be/PT1n0r_87tQ


It really isn’t that difficult after you have practiced a bit.

Now the fun begins!
With a few pieces of mat board and some thrift store frames….the sky is the limit!

Framed Projects Around Sweetwater

A spooky photo of a graveyard in a thrift store frame.  Instant seasonal decor.
  Favorite photos from Halloween past.  Mats only….displayed on the big chalkboard in the stairwell.
 

 Gallery style display of photos taken by the Sweetwater Son.

 This old window is from the childhood home of Mr. S.  The poster was a gift from the Sweetwater Daughter and SIL.  The Minnesota Home print from the Sweetwater Son and DIL.
My family always gives me fun things to frame because they know it can be done inexpensively.

Nobody wants to see ALL of our vacation photos….but making a quick collage is a fun way to display just a few.  This is an unframed mat with a foam core backing.  The back has magnets that let it hang on the refrigerator.  A quick way share without “oversharing”.  BTW….Ireland was amazing! 
This is a tea towel that I picked up in a fun boutique on a trip to Florida.  It can easily be switched out when I want a new look….or find a new tea towel!

More Minneapolis themed art….would you believe that I actually took the top photo….good for me!

A cluster of framed posters and photographs lean against the wall on Mr. S’s desk in the office.
I love the look of the vintage posters….The blue and green one was purchased on a trip to Voyageur National Park.

We have had this chalk pastel for many years.  I love being able to change the mat color to coordinate with what ever decor scheme we have.  No need for new art…..just $10 for new mat board.  I am always amazed that you can find a color in your favorite image that goes with any scheme.
These white mats look nice with the off white walls.  This is another photo by me and the New Orleans scene is another we purchased at an art fair in Memphis….go figure. 

These are just a few of the ways I have used the ability cut custom mats….
Even better….
Now that people know that I have the mat cutting system…they come over and either mat their own things or let me do it for them.

I always tell folks….”I MAT FOR WINE”….

Hope this inspires you to spend some of your crafting or decorating budget on a mat cutter….you will be glad you did.

Have a Wonderful Day!