DIY Extra Large Art: Part 1

I love large, I mean HUGE, pieces of art. It commands your attention and immediately makes a statement. But really large art is hard to find and/or super expensive. I knew I wanted something large (greater than 50″ x 50″) in our living room. It has a large blank wall that needs some visual interest.

I found a downloadable print from Etsy that I loved and thought would work well in the room. I was also encouraged when I read in the description that it could be printed for any square size (more than 30″ x 30″| & up). The image itself was inexpensive, so I had very little to lose.

I noodled around a bit with different ideas including having it printed and framed from an online framer or making the frame myself. However, I couldn’t find a local store that sold glass or Plexiglas large enough to cover my desired size and ordering a custom one online was a minimum of $500. I sat on the print for a long time and then it just occurred to me to print it on canvas and stretch it on wood frame. We also plan on building an outer frame (Part II), but right now I’ll check give you the step-by-step directions on how to make a the internal wood frame and attach the canvas. (Quick note: the art could totally be hung without an outer frame).

The first thing I did was tape out my desired art size (60″ x 60″) on the wall (no picture– sorry this was a year ago) and I lived with the outline for a couple of months. I felt confident that the size was good and I then ordered the custom printed canvas from Contrado. I printed it on the Woven Canvas 14.75 oz fabric. One of the thinner fabrics may work but I wanted to ensure that it was completely opaque. The fabric arrived in a sturdy tube and the canvas was wrapped around an internal tube. The canvas came out completely wrinkle free (yes!! small victories). In addition, the quality of the print was great!

My husband designed the inner frame. We decided to make the frame 58″ x 58″ which will give us 1 inch on each side of the canvas to wrap around the frame. To help support the frame, my husband added internal corner pieces ( the blue pieces below). I’ve linked his Onshape model here, if you are interested.

We purchased premium pine lumber and cut four 58″ pieces for the main outer frame (pink) and four 30″ pieces (blue) for the internal stability. The end of each piece was cut at a 45 degree angle (opposite ways on each end), so that the two ends will come together to create a nice corner (see diagram below).

My husband used the Kreg Jig to attach all the pieces together. The first picture shows the holes that you drill using the Kreg Jig guide and the second picture you can see that the screws fit into this pocket and will attach to the two pieces of wood together when screwed in place.

After we attached all pieces by using the pocket holes and screws, viola, we had a completed frame. The internet makes it look much faster than it is in real life!

We then laid the canvas picture faced down on the carpet and put the frame in the approximate place. As I mentioned above, I initially planned on doing a 1 inch wrap on each side, but after looking at it and measuring the actual picture, 1 inch was not possible because the image was not exactly 60 x 60. So we decided on .5 inch wrap on each side. My husband carefully drew a line a half inch into the picture. I didn’t take a picture but here is a quick diagram of the set up.

I aligned the frame with the guide, pulled back the fabric and stapled it to the frame. I don’t have any pictures of this because both my husband and I were pretty involved in pulling it straight. We continued this around the entire frame and took a care when folding in the corners. I approached the corners like wrapping a gift (see image below). I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do the corner–I think 3 out of the 4 corners are wrapped slightly different than each other!

After all the staples were added, we flipped the frame around and, to my relief, the canvas looked great! We are currently working on part 2–the outer frame. I’ll share this project with in you sometime over the next month.

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