25 Nov

How to Frame Mosaic Art


This gorgeous mosaic floral piece of art was created by my friend Arlene. After hours of cutting and gluing (and drinking and cursing no doubt) it hung proudly on her lower level bathroom wall. When she and her husband, Paul, decided to sell nearly everything in their home to move out West, they asked me to come help.

DIY Mosaic Art

As we prepped for the estate sale,  a few private sales were conducted and another friend quickly claimed the one-of-a-kind piece.

Tina wanted it to hang just inside her guest bathroom off of the garage. She was worried about doors slamming causing the heavy artwork to vibrate against the wall. Already, areas of grout had broken away from the frame and she didn’t want to risk ruining it entirely. So, she asked if I could reinforce the original frame.

When I got it home I realized that Arlene had mosaic’d right over the original sheet of glass abutting the frame. A quick web search revealed DIY versions of stained glass mosaics. Unfortunately, none of them called for removing the glass from the frame prior to grouting in place. To remove the glass art from the frame I had to break the grout seam – without damaging the piece or cracking the glass.

As usual, what should have been a simple project had gotten hairy.

add hangers to plywood backing

I measured and cut a 1/4″ thick piece of plywood to serve as the new backer board. Thinking ahead, I preinstalled D-ring hangers. And selected a decorative chair rail for the new frame.

Since there was a 1/4″ portion of un-mosaic’d glass hiding under the original frame I’d removed, I had to get creative with the router. I notched the back of the chair rail enough to fit the raw glass and some of the uneven grout lines.

route chair rail edges

Then I measured and mitered the corners at 45 degrees. Because each cut was specific to the side of the glass I was working on, I made sure to mark both trim pieces as I went along. This made final assembly much easier to complete.

miter & label corners

A quick dry-fit to confirm measurement accuracy and I was ready to attach the glass to the backer board.

dry fit frame

But I noticed that some of the plywood grain was visible through the mosaic glass chips. So, I put some black and white paper under the glass to see if it made a difference.

choose mosaic base color

Can you see the color differences? Straight down the center I noticed a complete change in the way the green glass looked. The white on the left seemed to wash the colored glass pieces out. But the black made them pop.

black painted plywood

So, I rolled on a coat of black paint leaving enough raw wood surface for later. When that dried, I squiggled on some epoxy to affix the glass to the wood surface.

apply epoxy

After setting the glass on the glue, I painted the frame white.

Apparently, I was in such a hurry to get upstairs for TGIT that I forgot to take a photo of the glass drying on the backer board so you’ll have to use your imagination. I let everything dry overnight before gluing the underside edges of the picture frame to that unpainted edge of the backer board. You’ll get much better adhesion by allowing direct wood to wood contact when using wood glue.

band clamp corners

A band clamp works well to tighten up and hold square project pieces in place as the glue sets. I had to raise the piece up to get the metal corner clamps positioned correctly. When it was dry, I sanded the joints, filling in with putty as needed.

spackle & paint

And then I added a metallic white glaze coat before waxing for the final finish.

frame mosaic art

After we got it up on her wall, Tina added some felt bumpers under the lower frame backing. That way, if someone does slam the door, she doesn’t have to worry about any damage to the wall or Arlene’s lovely artwork.

how to reframe art

17 Apr

Oversized Message Center (PBT knock off)

Pottery Barn Teen

Jenny and I used to be neighbors and our boys were friends. Her youngest daughter, Natalie, was crazy about My Littlest Pet Shop and you know how I feel about my pups so we were instant buds.

Somewhere along the line, this little girl sprouted up and was in need of a tween bedroom makeover. They asked me to work some magic and create a message center a la Pottery Barn Teen. Apparently, Nat had been drooling over their Blue Bubble Dottie Style Tile Set but the $300+ price tag made Jenny gag.

Luckily, I didn’t have to start from scratch. Jenny had already picked up the whiteboard and cork tile squares. So they were covered in fabric and batting or chalkboard paint accordingly.

style tiles

If you feel like you’ve seen this all over Pinterest you probably have. The difference between those projects and mine is that I didn’t conveniently scale this down to fit ready-made frames. I couldn’t since I had to build around what I was given.

I checked my wood bin and pulled out some furring strips along with (4) 48″ base mold trim pieces. I boxed out the tiles, securing the corners with glue and hardware then prepared to install the face frame. Sidenote: Anytime I catch baseboard molding on sale I scoop it up – you should too.

build a box

Now listen, mitering wood trim doesn’t have to be hard. I’m all for shortcuts to save time and frustration and alleviate complicated mathematical equations (like addition and subtraction).

Here’s my simple solution for mitering these (and any) 45 degree angles – no math necessary.

measure molding

…the up close & personal view:

miter corners

The trick is repeating Step 2 twice with the bottom board on top the second time around. I like to use arrows to remind me which way to set up my cut at the chop saw. Bonus: If someone else is cutting your wood you’ll save a good 15 minutes of arguing about who screwed up the direction of the cut with this tip.

After all the cuts were made, I glued up the corners and sank in some staples for good measure. If you want to get technical here you could use biscuits to join the wood, pulled tight with a Bessey clamp until the glue sets. Or you could get really fancy and make your own picture frame jig. But that would probably be overkill for this project.

staple corners

Overall, this piece measured 4′ x 4′ and was quite heavy. For extra support I added horizontal braces across the back before screwing in extra-strength hanging hardware.

add backer braces

I admit, it’s not beautiful from behind but it does allow for easy dismantling should Natalie ever decide she doesn’t like it and wants to re-redo her room.

Message Center

Which she’s probably suggested a few times since this knock-off was delivered.


03 Dec

DIY Shell Christmas Tree

DIY shell tree

Brrr! Have you been outside today? Yowza – my morning curb surfing activities weren’t much fun since it’s well below freezing here in my neck o’ the woods. Do you have any idea how hard it is to unscrew hardware bolts with frozen fingers? (and my gloves weren’t much help) This is about the time folks around here start making plans to head south to warmer climates.

Us? We’re getting ready for a trip to Denver. Go figure.

Anyhow – in light of the frigid temps I’ve got a special treat for ya’ll today. Give a warm (get it?) welcome to my pal, Alyson. (Hi Alyson!) She talks her own kinda trash over at The Shitastrophy. I’ll warn you though – she tells it like it is so put your big girl panties on before clicking through (then make sure you have a second pair handy because you’re sure to need a spare once you get to reading the shit she writes.) Oh, I took the liberty of censoring the first F-bomb she tossed out. The rest is full-on Alyson so consider yourself warned! Continue reading

25 Sep

This Project’s In the Bag

Burlap Bag How To

Since they closed up shop on my local java haunt I’ve been scoping out other places in town to get my caffeine buzz. A couple of months ago I popped in to this little place a few miles away and knew it could easily become a favorite.

In fact, while Sonne was here we stopped in for brunch and they made a cameo on her ‘Do Tour footage.

I stopped in a few days ago and the owner, Jennifer, was up on a padded bench near the windows. She was talking to a lady (her mom) in a foot cast who was just about to join her on the very unstable bench. Foreseeing disaster, I hurried over to them, hopped up on the bench and said “What are we doing?!?” They laughed and said they were trying to get an idea of what it might look like to use some of their jute coffee bean bags as window dressings.

So, I safely modeled the bags while they ooh’d and ahh’d over the possibilities. One of the bags in their stash was too pretty to cut up so I told Jennifer I was going to take it and make something for her. I really didn’t give her any time to object. And this morning, sans coffee, I set to work. (Caution: Operating power tools prior to excessive doses of caffeine is dangerous and not recommended.)

I cut the bag in half (front/back) and sawed off the ends of my garage sale sign stakes (good thing the season’s over). A few rounds from the nail gun and I had a working frame.

DIY canvas frame

I cut some craft paper (also called contractor’s paper) to size and secured that to the frame for a backer and additional support. Since the bag was torn in a few spots, the brown paper helped mask those blemishes too.

Paper Backing

Then, I went to town pulling and stapling. I started at the top then the bottom finishing side to side. It’s always a good idea to pull on opposite sides as you go to get a taut fit around the frame. Don’t forget to check the underside as you work to make sure things are lining up correctly.

wrap fabric

When I was done, I trimmed off the excess fabric and flipped ‘er over. Annoyingly, the bag wasn’t stamped perfectly so I had to stifle my OCD and just roll with it. This is where being uncaffeinated worked in my favor. My give-a-damn wasn’t primed yet.

DIY Coffee Bean Bag Frame

Because Jennifer is a responsible restaurant owner, she was worried about the bags ‘shedding’. So, I took one final sweep of the vacuum over the front and back and then sealed it with clear spray enamel. That hardened up the fabric and kept the loose threads in place. To finish it off, I added two eye screws and tied some twine between them for hanging. Then I hopped in the car to deliver the piece.

She was so pleased with how it turned out that I got a super-sized iced vanilla latte out of the deal. Hey, that works for me! Now, next time you pop in to the Daily Dose you’ll see my bean bag on the wall.

29 Jul

DIY Mantle Mirror Wreath

DIY Oversized Wicker Mirror

Remember when I built up and painted the wall over the fireplace & mantle? Well, I’m happy to say that it is now completely complete. And by that I mean when I sit across the room staring at the fireplace wall, I no longer frown and wonder what the heck else needs to be done for it to be perfect.

See? It’s great right? I know.

DIY wicker mirror

That large, wicker circle thingy in the center came from GoodWill ($1.99). When I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it but I didn’t know what it had been in its previous life. I spent hours googling ‘large wood charger’, ‘huge wicker circle’, ‘stupid round bamboo job’ until the kid set me straight. He took a 3-second glance in my direction and informed me that it was the lid to a laundry basket (duh!) and sure enough, Google concurred.

So if you have one of these already (the basket lid, not the snarky teenage son) you can save yourself $2 bucks and a trip to the thrift.

wicker basket lid

The center circle was held in with a few wicker sticks that were easily removed before shooting it up with white spray paint. The plan was to doctor it up to resemble the crazy expensive pieces found at high-end home interior stores. I already had a round mirror to mount from behind.

Now, before you break out the glue let me warn you – E600 isn’t going to work on a project like this. So, you have to be creative and resort to the stack of “Do not discard under any circumstance” crap you’ve got hiding in your closet, in the garage or in the basement. Upon searching my pile I found an (empty, thank goodness) old Christmas popcorn tin.

popcorn tin

And wouldn’t you know, that 10″ mirror (HobLob $3.99 – don’t forget your 40% off coupon) fit perfectly on top of it. (Here’s where you can use the glue.)

tin lid mirror

Using a 3/4″ drill bit, I drilled tiny holes into the lip of the tin lid and threaded fishing line through then wove the line in and out over the wicker to secure the two pieces together. It wasn’t pretty but it’s clear so who cares? Exactly.

Bonus: The lip stuck out from the finished piece just enough to rest on a 3M Command Hook. Score! Now, the mantle looks every bit as posh as the ones you see on designer blogs and in magazines but I have plenty of cash left over for a latte. Which I am definitely going to need if my corner office shelves are ever going to be finished.

Seriously, this DIY stuff is never-ending.

14 Jul

How to Dress Up Boring Flower Pots

stocking cap planter

When you live in a place that has cold weather 8 out of 12 months you spend a lot of time putting on and taking off layers of clothes. Your hall closets are overrun with jackets, boots, gloves and hats. Shades of grey monopolize the landscape so savvy clothing designers temper the chill with bright pops of color. Outerwear in pinks and greens and oranges tease Midwestern folk with notions of warmer weather to come. By mid-March, we are drunk on the idea of summertime and all but begging the weatherman to issue 95-degree daily temps without regard to the heat index.

knit hats

Once the warm weather hits, the clothes are thrown on the floor and outside we go. Since I’m about as lazy of a decorator as you’ll find, I’m not about to sweat the way my house looks for one season out of the year. Seriously, what’s the point when A) summer lasts all of 42 days and B) no one is inside to appreciate it anyhow? Exactly.

So when I came across a huge bin of brightly crocheted stocking caps at St. Vincent De Paul last winter I had a brilliant idea. Somewhere in my psyche it resonated that a kid’s head was about the same size as the average flower pot, give or take, so I grabbed a few and tossed them in the front closet. Yesterday, I pulled them out along with a few nondescript wicker planters and solid colored vases I had stashed away, too.

basic planters

In less time than it took to select a few hard-to-kill plants at the local garden center, I created warm-weather-friendly flower pot cozies. And while the fun pops of color are pretty, what makes them so great is they are intended for snow and rain so it’s totally okay to over water – the yarn will soak it right up! Plus, I don’t have to worry about scratching the top of my freshly painted bookcase.

plant cozies

If you’re handy with crochet hook and yarn you could whip them out yourself. Otherwise, check your local thrift store. Or, better yet, scope out your front hall closet – chances are you’ve already got a few laying around.

stocking cap planter

And seriously, aren’t they much cuter on my plants than some kid’s noggin? Speaking of needing some more color, where did I put that swimming suit…

08 May

Smell the flowers: An exercise in patience

bridal bouquet

Yesterday, I decided to do something with the bushel of flowers laying on the dining room table. When I saw them at the hardware store, I broke my ‘no retail’ decorating rule and scooped them up. They were clearanced out at 75% so I justified tossing them into the cart. That was over a month ago. And while I have been down with the sick lately that’s not why I was slacking. I picked up the perfect vase at Goodwill (for $0.99!) a few weeks back and my plan was to put them up on the fireplace mantle. Remember that disaster? Well it made a killer comeback from the infamous chalk paint fail so what the heck was I waiting for?

Truth is, I was scared.

I had never attempted to put together a floral arrangement from start to finish. Sure, I’ve doctored up half-assed faux flower jobs, pruning and shaping them to my liking. I even got crafty and swapped out the rose heads in my wedding bouquet after my online order wasn’t quite as described.

bridal bouquet

Annuals and perennials don’t intimidate me in the least but something about these delicate wood-stemmed, styrofoam buds made me sweat. So, I did what any grown woman would do and avoided them. But yesterday I got brave. Camped out on the living room floor, half listening to Wendy dish the Hollywood gossip I cut all the individual stems down. Then, I cut them in half doubling the amount of flowers I had to work with. The vase had a bit of residual foam and newspaper from it’s previous owner so I worked with that. I plugged along sticking and poking until I had this beauty as the first pass.

DIY Flowers – Take 1

flowers take 1

Not bad right?? I was so excited I immediately uploaded it to Facebook for the world to see. Deb, a friend of mine from blogland (though, next month I get to meet her in real life!) offered up some tips to make my awesome arrangement even better. I debated for a bit before sucking up my pride and completely disassembling my masterpiece.

Now, normally I don’t take instruction well. And, truth be told I’m not one to care what other people think especially when it comes to something I’ve created for my own purposes. It could have had something to do with the ego strokes that preceded her constructive critiques but probably not. We already know what happens when I try to follow directions so the only obvious conclusion to make from all this hooha is that I was overmedicated and high. I mean, why else would I be trying to produce a frou-frou floral arrangement in the first place? Exactly.

For the sake of time I’ll link out to her informal instructions and resort to a photo of my second {failed} attempt.

DIY Flowers – Take 2

flowers take 2

Okay. So this was proving harder than I planned. I blamed my discontent on bad photos and poor lighting and called it a night. But today, I was right back at it determined to get this damn thing right. And, while I don’t think I played by Deb’s official flower arranging rules I’m pretty happy with the final result. I’m happy enough to be done anyway.

DIY Flowers: Final Cut

final cut

I’m entirely too exhausted to care much about how the rest of the mantle looks so it will just have to do for now.

full mantle

But before you tell me how great it looks and how proud (some of you – Evey) are of me for branching out (see what I did there?) and playing with more than power tools let me show you what it *really* looks like.

Real Life: Take 3,783,401

Fireplace Mess

I think it’s a safe bet that since I DIY’ed my own flower bouquet the kid and hubs can get by with a card and a cold case of beer this Sunday. I’m going to need it. Happy Mother’s Day! {check out how Deb’s decorating for the holiday!}