The post in which we display gratitude on the wall.

Just for the record, I know absolutely nothing about art. There was a brief time of insanity when I considered becoming an art teacher. But then someone pointed out that you actually have to make art, not just not crafts, in art class. So, out the window that idea went.
Therefore, for all I know, the print that I am about to reveal is some famous work that I should have gotten assessed at an Antiques Roadshow. But when I saw it in an enormous frame for only $1 at a yard sale, it was all I could do to look beyond the disturbing image and to the frame (which is not in the picture) that would, no doubt, come in handy some day.

I'm not entirely sure what this print is supposed to be depicting. And I really don't know why she is plugging her ears. If I were in her unfortunate position, I would be covering my eyes. Maybe that's why she has such a creepy look on her face?

Anyway, Rick has been surprising me by hanging this work in various places around our apartment (bathroom, bedroom wall, foyer, etc.) since we purchased it, and as much as I would have liked to carry on the tradition, I finally thought of a project for which I could use its frame. Which means that it was time to tearfully bid adieu to the naked cherubs trying to put a thorny rose down their woman friend's dress.

But the goodbye was not permanent, because I decided to use the cardboard back of the print as the mat for my new project:  a collage of gratitude.

Before I give detail the step-by-step of what we did, I should say that this whole project was weirdly inspired by that commercial for Sharpie pens where the guy is writing all of his memories with his girlfriend on individual sticky notes, then arranges each one on the wall to spell "Will you marry me?"

All together now: "Awwww...."

Here's our loose interpretation of that romantic lad's proposal.

*     *     *

1. Rick and I made individual lists of all of the things that we are thankful for. Then, we read them aloud to each other, which actually made them sound like trendy little free verse poems (a bonus for the English teacher inside this crafty girl). Rick was a little resistant at first, but one of the first things he wrote was "a wife who is creative enough to make me write about what I am grateful for." That night, he admitted that it actually was a good little exercise. On that note, I think this project would be awesome to do with kids, and have them make their own list. Unfortunately, we don't have kids, and the cats were being uncooperative. Would we really want to put "having a non-stinky litter box" on the wall, anyway?

2. I prepared the frame. I sanded some rough spots and then, since I was going to be painting the dark frame white, covered the frame with a coat of spray primer. While that was drying, I took a roller and some leftover white paint to the cardboard back of the scantily-clad cherubs and their victim.


Once the spray primer had dried (which didn't take long because it has been in the 90s here all week), I lightly sanded the rough spots again before applying two thin coats of flat white spray paint. Once that was dry, I decided to distress the frame to give it a slightly worn look. To do this, I gently sanded the edges and raised surfaces of the frame, sanding some areas more heavily than others so that the purposeful wear-and-tear looked natural.

3. I formatted and printed our"gratitude" lists. After typing the lists into a table in Microsoft Word, I changed the fonts so that each statement would look handwritten rather than digital. I wanted the handwritten look because

I then cut 12"x12" sheets of cardstock in half (I selected some with a nice texture so it wouldn't scream "craft store" when all put together) and was left with 6"x12" sheets. I ran these through our printer and then cut out all of the individual rectangles to end up with a pile that looked like this:

4. I inked the edges of each rectangle. As I just mentioned, I didn't want little rectangles that screamed "I grew up in Michael's," so I decided to take them one step further by inking the edges. This is something that I have seen done all the time in my Paper Crafts magazine, but I have never actually tried it myself. Now, I don't know why--it was incredibly easy. You simply press the edges of the paper firmly into the ink pad...

...and you end up with paper edges that look like this:

I'm a big fan of the subtle texture that the ink adds:  it makes the rectangles look like little bricks.

*Side note about the inking: I found it helpful to place the ink pad on a non-skid cabinet liner so that it wouldn't slip around when I was pressing the paper onto it.

5. I arranged and adhered the new little "bricks" on the cardboard backing that I had prepared earlier. I didn't want the overall look to be super symmetrical or contrived, so I made the shape of the brick formation look uneven and slightly rough, like it was actually removed from part of a brick wall. I used Scotch double-sided roller tape (clean, easy, won't soak through cardstock...gotta love it) to adhere each piece.

6. Finally, I used my Cricut to cut out a 12-inch "Gratitude" in black cardstock.

This was then nestled among the "bricks."

And now the fun part: we hung the framed collage using two old hinges because we didn't have any wall-mounting brackets....

...then stepped back, and were, once again, thankful for our new, non-blank wall.

Some of our gratitude statements are serious, like "in-laws who want to go on vacation together" (it's true: we all went to Disney World together last summer and had a wonderful time), some are sweet, ("waking up next to my soulmate") and others are just silly, but, nonetheless, things that we are genuinely grateful for, such as "free stuff on the curb." (Although sometimes Rick isn't as grateful for that as I am, especially if he has to go pick it up with me.)

So if ever we forget and start to take things for granted, all we have to do is catch sight of our new collage to be reminded that, indeed, we are so amazingly blessed.

What would you put in your gratitude collage? And do you have any creative ways to remind yourself of all of the things you are thankful for? Do share. :)

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Amanda@The Hand Me Down House said...

Oh my gosh, I just LOVE this! Absolutely WONDERFUL idea! I love all your detail you added to it too! You did such a great job, Erin! :)

Erin said...

Thanks, Amanda; you're sweet! I had fun making it! :)

PMG Smith Family said...

This is a fantastic idea. I'm trying to come up with different artwork for our house and this would be so fun. Thanks for sharing!

Erin said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting, PMG! Glad you like it :)

Amy @ Journey Mum said...

Such an awesome idea! You could make money doing customised gratitude frames for people. :)

Erin said...

If I could swing the customized thing, Amy, I think I would try--I'll have to keep it in mind :) Thanks for the encouragement!

Katie said...

Just found your blog today.....LOVE IT!!! From another DIYer, thank you for your ideas and humorous documentation of them! Also as a fellow believer, thank you for your perspective! I'm so glad to have found someone else who shares my two main passions, DIY decorating and my faith!! Thanks again, looking forward to more posts!

Erin said...

Awww, thanks Katie for your kind words; glad you found us! :)

Aislinn said...

I LOVE this Erin.

Erin @ My Rented House said...

Thanks, Aislinn my childhood friend who I am grateful for :)

Rachel said...

I love it too, however if I asked Adam to sit down and write a list of things he was grateful for he would either A)look at me like I had sprouted antlers and grew a second nose...or B)write a list of things I am sure I would'nt want artistically portrayed on my living room wall...

Love the boy to death but he doesn't take sentimental creative things as well as Rick does.

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

I think this project is absolutely wonderful -I'm sure it was fun to really come up with what we are thankful for -we are always in a rush and this just gave the two of you time to reflect.:-)

Erin said...

Thanks, Kathy! That's really why we liked it so much-it was fun but also meaningful. :)

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