Cheap DIY Art and Free Image Sources

Thanks for your nice comments on my bedroom makeover! I’m back, as promised, with details on the wall art.

Bedroom Wall Art

As you might have guessed, they’re engineering prints. I first heard of them via Jenny at Little Green Notebook, who used Kinkos/FedEx Office’s large format blueprint printer to blow up a photograph for $4. She mounted it to foam board with snazzy painted edges:

Little Green Notebook(Image from Little Green Notebook)

Zandi over at Radical Possibility also posted about this super cheap giant art: she used Staples for her print and displayed it awesomely with a thumbtack border:

Radical Possibility(Image from Radical Possibility)

Finally, I took a cue from Anna at Door Sixteen for an inexpensive frameless frame:

Door Sixteen Frame(Image from Door Sixteen)

I bought cheap wood trim, which I cut to size (about a half inch wider than the 24” print) and then stained. I used my chop saw but this could be done very easily with a handsaw.

Trim Saw

Wood Trim

I found gold binder clips at OfficeMax – the metal color is cheaper looking than I would like and I thought about spray painting them more of a brass color, but that wave of craziness passed. They’re fine as-is.  Note to self: access your uncrazy side more often.

Gold Binder Clips

I simply clipped the prints to the trim at top and bottom and then used brass tack nails to hang the art.  The prints from Staples were $4 each, the clips were less than $5 with a coupon and the wood trim was also $5: under $25 all totaled for a wall of art.

Engineering Prints

As for the art itself: there are lots of great resources online for images within the public domain. The Library of Congress has a huge (overwhelming, really) collection that is thoroughly indexed: you can search their Prints & Photographs Online Catalog by keyword – “hygiene,” for example:

Library of Congress

My images came from the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection, thanks to Indiana University’s Digital Library Program. I upped the contrast of the photographs before submitting to Staples for printing, to help retain some of the details in the black and white conversion.

Cushman Trees

The black border from Cushman’s Kodachrome color slides works well for this display style, creating a natural frame for the image.


I love Cushman’s photographs. They hearken to a simpler time, when girls skipped rope and beer flowed from water towers and babies drank that beer while wearing berets without any fear of judgment.

Cushman Beer

Haters gonna hate, baby: you be you.

Cushman Baby Beer


Update: Pretty readers Erin and Megan report that print shops may be giving some attitude about using engineering prints for photographs. This is somewhat understandable, as photos certainly use substatially more ink than blueprints, but I would hope they simply adjust their pricing rather than banning it outright. I submitted my photos online and did not encounter any sass.

Bedroom Makeover

“Makeover” actually isn’t the right word because the bedroom was never maked to begin with.

Bedroom Before

We had an off-white carpet remnant rug that got dingy nearly immediately – terrible idea! We had a picture ledge that I always intended to style but never did. We had matching MALM nightstands that were too small. I later bought an old pair of nightstands (one seen on the right) on Craigslist that I refinished, immediately decided that I didn’t like and then sold for a profit.

Bedroom Before

I swapped out rugs, blankets, etc. as I honed in on what I wanted and didn’t want — the former is always much harder for me than the latter — and I finally gathered all of the pieces and put everything together in one exhausting weekend.

Bedroom To-Do List

And here’s where we are today:


I bought a new rug from Overstock and stained, painted and added hardware to a new pair of IKEA RAST nightstands.  The wall art and framing was less than $25 total, and I reupholstered our existing headboard with new fabric, adding nailhead trim.

Bedroom Wall Art

Bedroom RAST Nightstand

I swapped the dresser with one I had in the basement and plopped a plant in a basket.

Bedroom Window

Bedroom Dresser

Doozy is indifferent to the changes but I am pleased to finally have a bedroom that feels put together.   I will write follow-up posts on the headboard, art and nightstands, so check back later this week if you’re interested in details on any of those projects!

Bedroom Cat

The Framer’s Intent: DIY Scarf Display

A few months ago Design*Sponge posted a round-up of art scarves, including this awesome furoshiki from The Link Collective:

Furoshiki Scarf

Folded Paper Furoshiki designed by Lucinda Newton Dunn
(Photo copyright: Link)

Link says: “Furoshiki (風呂敷, fu-rosh-ki) is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. Each of our products has been hand printed in Japan, using traditional printing techniques.” Check out Spoon & Tamago for an interview and some great photographs of the production process.

Furoshiki Scarf Printing(Photo copyright: Link)

Because I have a gallery wall of black frames in our dining room, I thought something large, textured and non-black-framed would be nice above our sofa. This furoshiki seemed like a good bet.


Airmail is the best mail, no?

I wanted something more substantial than simply hanging the scarf on the wall, so I bought a 36″x36″ stretched canvas and set to building a frame to wrap around it. I used inexpensive pine lattice trim, which I stained with Minwax Wood Finish in Ebony.

Lattic Wood Trim

Wood Stain

I wrapped the canvas with some lightweight, neutral fabric I had on hand. It’s barely visible, but I think it’s a much more polished-looking background for the scarf than the bare canvas would have been.

Fabric-wrapped canvas

I used my chop saw to make simple right-angle corners and nailed the wood around the frame, staining the cut edges and using wood filler to disguise any nail holes.

Frame Corner

For the final step, I attached the scarf to the canvas with brass upholstery tacks. I punctured the scarf with a fine needle first, to avoid pulling any fabric threads, and then inserted the tack through the opening.

DIY Fabric Hanging

That’s it! Doozy worked his angles like a pro as I took these photos. Just kidding: a proper catloaf does not have angles.

Living Room Wall Hanging

Living Room

Living Room

Living Room Fabric Hanging