Frugal Paper Wall Art


Studio apartment: unfurnished. Top floor, lots of windows, tall ceilings. New paint. Close to college. Available now.

The keys land in your hand. The threshold of your new home is now guarded by your few boxes of stuff. Not long after, you’re unpacked. You look around, and your walls are still bare. Art, you decide, is the best option, but really, what do you know about art? You can’t afford to buy anything but posters, and you quit art class because of paint inhalation. Now what?

Welcome to Art for The Rest of Us, a brief foray into the world of creating art, where you can decorate your world without the messy involvement of green dough or paint.

The Rustling Joys of Paper

The stuff your housewarming /graduation / groceries were wrapped in and your mailbox is filled with are excellent sources for media (not the news, but material for art – though you could read your materials before you destroy them). Use your scissors and some good old-school glue and recreate something fantastic on a piece of an empty cereal box. Here are three ideas:

1. Cut paper into strips and weave everything back together. Paste it down to a piece of paperboard. On another piece of paperboard, cut out a silhouette of a shape that moves or interests you: food, beer, leaves, animal, Saturn, handprints. You can generally print a decent shape off the Internet to trace. Place the paperboard with the negative space (the part you cut out from) over the top of the woven pattern. Trim, frame, and you’re done. If paperboard isn’t your style, use the cork from an old pin board for your silhouette, a sheet of your newspaper, or maybe a piece of canvas or denim (old jeans). (Time: two hours. Cost: Free with recycled materials, $10 with new.)

2. Old calendars have remarkable images to start from. Cut a square around your subject in an appealing symmetry or asymmetry (off center). Using clear plastic wrap, generously wrap the square until the wrinkles and the subject have the right balance for you. Soak some ink from a permanent marker into a piece of toilet tissue and rub over the plastic wrap. Allow to dry before trimming, framing, and hanging. An alternative to this would be to rub different color inks on each layer of plastic wrap, and allowing to dry before moving on. (Time: 1 hour. Cost: $.50 of plastic)

3. Save your shiny papers: magazines, catalogues, junk mail. Flip through your collection with a color scheme or shape to highlight. Cut squares and rectangles or circles from the pictures. Arrange on a paperboard or cardboard, and decoupage down (this is a generous coating both under and over the paper with thick glue; school glue works). Allow to dry, and decoupage over the top again. When it is tacky, use brush strokes, sponges, and crumpled paper or plastic to add character. Alternatives to this project include cutting the paper into long, thin triangular strips and rolling them into beads, arranging them into a thick layer of decoupage as a mosaic. You may also strip and glue the faces of the paper together like a layer cake until it is as high as it is long. The end result a piece of art featuring the edges of the paper layered together. (Time: 3 hours of work time. Cost: $3 in glue)

When you finish, your fingers should have a couple of paper cuts, a nice layer of glue, and some scissor-impressions encircling your thumb and finger, but you’ll also have some great home-made art to decorate your walls for practically nothing.

Image courtesy of Cat Sidh

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2 Responses to Frugal Paper Wall Art

  1. deana says:

    I’m afraid if I tried something like this I would end up with a house that looked like children lived there. I think you’d need some artistic talent to even consider this.

  2. Pingback: Frugal Decorating with Wire Art - Blog

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