A couple of weeks back, someone who follows this blog mentioned that she could not face down a blank wall. Whenever she tried to hang art, it looked like a kindergartner had done it. If I could have climbed on a plane and flown directly to her house to help her out, I would have, except that I try not to show up at strangers’ houses uninvited with a hammer in hand. Instead (still wanting to be helpful without the terrifying armed part), I decided to create a blank wall in my own house and fill it with art, taking pictures and making comments along the way.
As part of this project, I also created some easy, inexpensive “found object” shelving. I’ll show you how to create those shelves next week.
The Before Shot
I was given this print several years ago after I said that “anything” from this woman’s Etsy shop would be an incredible Christmas gift. What I probably should have said was “get me the Napoleon and Josephine locket or the bloody little girls.” My bad. I feel a little bit guilty taking the print down, but it had a good run. (Plus, it’s a print.)
The blank wall.
As you can see, this wall is fairly small. There are basically two ways to approach a space like this: 1) hang one large piece; or 2) create a cluster of smaller pieces that will occupy the same visual area as a single large piece. Given the nature of the artwork I own, I will get much better bang for my buck by hanging several smaller pieces together, so that’s what I’ll be doing.
Creating a successful cluster of smaller pieces, by the way, is largely a matter of balance, so I’ll be using that word a lot.
This fabulous original by Dina Haskins will be my largest piece.
Yes, this looks weird. Don’t panic.
Why did I hang this piece so high up on the wall? First, I wanted to see if I could re-use the same nail. Second, the top of a cluster should hang at roughly the same height as the doors and windows. You can start high, low, or in the middle, but wherever you start, that rule remains the same.
Here I’ve added two original postcards created by Joe Cope.
Now I’ve gone from high to low, mainly because I wanted to delineate an area for my shelves, which I made from old 45s.
Postcards by Michelle Lydon and Joe Cope. Awesome antlered dude by wonderstrange’s own Sarah Trumpp.
Whatever they’re made from, shelves are awesome for showing off 3D artwork. They also allow for serious flexibility. Now, I want to display these amazing postcards, but in six months, I might have the overwhelming need to show off some 5x7s. Or a crocheted voodoo doll. Or a puppet head. Who can say?
The artwork on the shelves, from a distance.
Shelves also give me different shapes to play with as I’m putting together my wall. The rectangular shapes of the frames are fine, but since I have a rounded chair, it’s great to have some rounded shapes up above it.
Speaking of round, I got a stack of about 30 45s for five bucks at an antique mall, so I decided to use them not only to make my shelves, but also to serve as “frames” for these blind drawings (i.e. pieces the artists made without looking).
I love the combination of the song title and the visual, like “Captain Sad & His Ship of Fools” there on the left. (Brilliant!)
I also love that these let me echo the rounded shapes of the shelves. Now I have three rounded elements: My chair, the 45s, and the shelves. That’s the holy trinity of aesthetic happiness.
The 45s, from a distance.
As I surveyed this cluster, I disliked the amount of space between the top of the chair and the bottom of the 45s, especially since there was very little space between the bottom of the framed postcards and the top of the jewelry box. So! I added another postcard in another Goodwill frame underneath the 45s.
Postcard by Joe Cope. Again. We women of wonderstrange love us some Joe Cope art.
I liked this new arrangement a lot, but there were two issues I could see: 1) The jewelry box on top of the bookshelf is (visually) very heavy. I wanted to balance that weight by adding a small piece (pieces?) on the right side of the postcard.
ATCs by Andrea Melione and Melissa Scheu.
I tried the ATCs in several positions, and to my surprise, they looked best flanking the postcard. Having them both on the right seemed to tip the balance too far in the other direction.
With the ATCs in place, however, the zombie portrait wanted something to its right as well – something small and narrow, like . . . locks.
Yes, locks. I love locks. Whenever I pick one up, I tell myself I’m going to use it in an assemblage piece, but I’m totally lying. I’m keeping it in a drawer because I can’t bear to part with it – and what good is it doing in a drawer where I can’t even see it? Now, my two favorite locks are on the wall. They’re not art, but they make me happy!
Here’s one last look at the before and after. I’m pretty psyched that I went from displaying one print to displaying 12 pieces of original work.