Squaring Off

Well well well, if isn’t those little photography note cards again. You know, the ones we bought on our anniversary from a local art gallery to hang in our bathroom? You might not even have registered them in that post since everyone went bananas over the whole Sherry-haircut thing.


Anyway, hanging them in the bathroom was the initial plan. Until I noticed some of the photo colors were in the same neighborhood as our framed $5 scrapbook paper. That neighborhood being Sue-the-Napkin-ville. Or is it Sue-the-Napkin Heights?

We figured that maybe our $4 a pop Sherri Conley note cards were destined to live in these eight frames (plus we couldn’t decide on a configuration for the bathroom, so we liked the idea of enjoying them out in the living room). But it meant we had to get four more of them first, so we shucked out another $16 to round out our “local art collection” (from Crossroads Gallery here in Richmond).

The idea was to add the small square of art into the middle of the colored paper square that already sat inside the square frame. Thereby making the colored square of paper into a fun little colored square mat. Wow, lots of squares going on. We’re one do-si-do short of a square dance.

First we had to cut our rectangular note cards into… you’ll never guess… squares. I used an exacto and a ruler to keep my lines straight, but was brave enough to just eye the placement of my slice. Yup, my middle name should be Danger. Or soda. Or both. John Danger Soda Petersik. I like it.

As you can see, we left a thin white border on the pictures to, I dunno, further emphasize their squareness? They sort of looked like little polaroids to us.

Then one by one the frames came off the wall so the photos could be scotch taped into place on each colorful background which essentially became the “mat.” To get them centered we eyed them, then used a yardstick to make sure they were actually centered. To do that we just lined up the yardstick across two opposite corners, and then repeated that with the other two corners to make sure they seemed to intersect equally.

Finally, everything was reframed and ready for our viewing pleasure.

Only problem, we weren’t totally psyched by the result. We didn’t mind the small size (it just makes us want to lean in and take a closer look) – although I know some folks might think bigger is better (that’s what she said). Our issue was that something about them was really interrupt-ish and busy and, well, just too square-y (it honestly looks better in pictures than it did in real life). And yes, the reflection on the glass totally bites for taking pics, but we’re not quite ready to splurge on eight panes of museum glass just yet.

We realized the white borders I left on when trimming the note cards might be the problem. It made the distinction between the photo and the colorful mat so defined that we kind of lost the fun coincidence that each pairing was sort of linked by color. So rather than the paper feeling like an extension of the art’s hues, it just felt like a tiny picture on top of a thick bright mat on top of a thick white mat. It was a square vortex and it was threatening to eat our brains.

So after a few days of living with it (and not growing any fonder) Sherry took it upon herself to remedy the situation. And since she has a much steadier hand than I do, she didn’t even use a level and an exacto (just a regular old scissors). Cocky much?

Of course her cuts were great. And now we’ve got this:

We like it muuuuch better – especially in real life. Although we’re the first to admit that for some reason the white framed note cards didn’t photograph as crazily as they looked in person, so there’s not as much of an obvious improvement from the square-on-square-on-square action that was going on before. But in person it was such a relief. We worried we might have to scrap the whole note card idea entirely, but once they were trimmed down and put back in place, all was right with the world. Or at least with the left wall of our living room.

We like that they feel less busy and that subtlety is much preferred. They don’t scream “check-me-out!!!” but are nice when your eyes meander around the room and happen to land on them. So for a total of $4.64 per frame (64 cents for the scrapbook paper backgrounds and $4 a pop for the photo note cards) we’re psyched.

I still wouldn’t go as far as to call this our forever art solution for these frames. We’ve learned our lesson when it comes to making those sort of giant declarations since our house is always a WIP (work in progress). Not to be confused with an ORB (even though Sherry is definitely demonstrating her undying love of all things oil-rubbed-bronze). So we think adding these small photographs are a good warm-up for us since they might end up laying the ground work for something else that we may want to transition to a bit further down the line. So let’s call it a baby step. We’ve introduced some small photography, so maybe in a while we’ll try some larger photography, rehang the note card photos somewhere else, and scrap the 60 cent scrapbook paper altogether… who knows.

What I do know is that looking at some of these photos makes me want to go on a ferris wheel. Oh, and eat funnel cake. Yeah, definitely that.

Has anyone else made any art-y updates lately? Or used note cards as wall decor? Or gotten sucked into a square vortex, never to be seen or heard from again? Well, if you have, I guess you wouldn’t be able to comment…

Psst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you (plus the $15 discount code for everyone is still valid until August 31st).






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  • Diane says:

    I love how the whole project turned out. (In fact, I liked it so much I pinned it. LOL)

    I think notecards and postcards are an awesome source for affordable artwork. My favorite wall in the living room has four notecards that we brought back from a trip to Santa Fe (three from the Georgia O’Keefe museum and one from a local artist who draws Dia de Lose Muertos-inspired art). I love them doubly since they’re not only pretty but remind me of a great trip too.

    We also just acquired these postcards: http://psc.disney.go.com/eventservices/artofdisneyparks/media/SHAG_POSTCARDS.jpg (We’re big Disney geeks). I haven’t had a chance to do anything with them, but the plan is to pick up some Ikea Ribba frames and hang them along with some other art we have floating around in our bedroom. Should be fun!

  • Lisa says:

    Love what a difference some small shots can make. I loved the colourful squares on their own and was unsure about you guys adding pics – but you really coordinated the photos to each colour block. Love it!

  • Kristen says:

    Very cute! I framed some vintage looking Hawaiian postcards that I picked up on vacation and hung them in my guest bathroom. I love them and they’re actually pretty good conversation piece. I’m going to try to attach a link, cross your fingers that it works! (Does html work in these comment boxes?) :)

  • Amanda P says:

    Hmmm, not sure if I’m a fan. They seem too small for the frames maybe? I think I like the scrapbook paper in those frames by itself better. Maybe use the small pics in some other type of framing collage/area/etc? I’m sorry, I’m not being a hater, I love you guys! Just giving an opinion. :)

  • brooke cox says:

    i just did a little artsy update in my dining room:

  • Rachel Tatem says:

    I agree, I much prefer it without the white border. Great idea though!

  • I still have cards that I framed and hung on the wall wayyyyyyy back in my college days. Big fan. But recently I’m back on the wagon. I got these cards from Heather Smith Jones on etsy. And I’m so in love, want to put them in my office. And bring something “organic-y” to the computer environment.

  • I love them. I think they look fantastic!

  • Valerie says:

    My favourites are the ones where the pic is almost the same colour as the paper (the lime green ones)! I love that look!

  • Love that inexpensive way to jazz up the frames. Looks great!

  • Alex says:

    I have been saving a vintage Italy travel poster calendar since 2006 to use somewhere, just never had the right place. Been re-doing the family room and bam! Finally put them up in some Ribba frames with an extra mat and they are perfect. And I am finally able to prove to my hubby that I WAS saving that calendar for 5 years to actually use it! Ha!

  • Pam the Goatherd says:

    I have a set of notecards from a local artist http://www.papercutters.info/SA/ByName/Gilbert_Gudrun/index.php who does scherenschnitte (silhoutte paper cutting) that I plan to use in my future sewing/guest room someday. She did a series of children in the children’s garden at our local arboretum as a fundraiser for the garden. Since they are black and white I can’t decide if I want to put them in black frames or white. I’m leaning more toward white frames, thinking the black would be too overpowering in a room that has all white furniture and trim. We are very much blessed with some excellent artistic talent in our small, rural community and I like to buy local art whenever I can.

  • tamrah ryan says:

    Love it! I especially like the fact that the art is from a local shop vs. a big box shop. Nice work!

  • Kate says:

    I’m working to curate an art wall. I’ve collected a few vintage maps (Paris, Edinburgh, Prague), a great whale print, a watercolor, and this cute Etsy typography (linked below). But I can’t decide…matching frames or mix it up? I do love my symmetry, but…what do you think?


  • So I love love love the way they turned out! And I had a random dream that your rug was on the news for causing some huge controversy. Weird.

  • Melanie says:

    I like this so much better! I wish the pictures were a bit larger but I think it’s such an improvement. Perhaps even inspiration for a project to use those notecards again since you aren’t totally inlove. But I do love the colorful matte idea.

  • Marriah says:

    I’m currently putting together a gallery wall in our bedroom. In order to add some smaller items to the mix, I went through all of our wedding/shower cards and picked out my favorites to frame and add to the wall. I was able to even leave the cards together so that I could pull them out and still read the notes from our loved ones. It’s nice how a frame can turn something so simple into art.

  • Amanda J. says:

    Glad for you guys, but I couldn’t live with it…even temporarily. The scale just looks too disparate for the space.

    That said, I like the prints, but I’m not a fan of the format.

  • Kim says:

    Ok, this is a very serious question for you two. We are planning a small vacation to Charlotte with kid activities planned, and a trip to ikea for much needed items for our newly renovated house. The problem is that we are 3 hours from ikea, so we have to make this trip count. On our list?couch. Bookshelves. Frames. Desks for kids. Help! How do we strategize this? How do we measure for the Billy bookcases? It seems overwhelming and I’m afraid we will miss important items! How do you guys do it when you are planning a trip to ikea?

  • I finally tackled a wall collage project for over our sofa that I was putting off for months! I’m really happy with the results. Love the colors and the frames you used!

  • Barb says:

    Nice job you two!

  • Jessica says:

    Yeah, I don’t love this. They’re like art eye charts. Hoping for something bigger when ya’ll move towards the forever solution.

  • Corinne says:

    I may be stealing this idea! I have some adorable dog-themed and fashion-themed note cards from the $1 bins at Target that I’ve been trying to find a use for, along with some random scrap paper….just need frames now! I like the artwork you have much better without the white around the pictures. The original colored paper alone was a great little fix, but I think adding the pics really brought it up a level!

    I haven’t done anything really art-y lately, though I did bust out my own version of a book page wreath (photos on the blog). I’m stuck on where it should live, so right now, it’s hanging on the side of my stair case!

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