Sunday, June 27, 2010

Embellished Picture Frames

Do you have a "go to" gift that is a great choice for almost any occasion?  I do:  the humble picture frame.  I've found over the years that it you're stuck about what to get for a gift, whether it's because the gift is for a guy (I think in general that women are easier to buy for), for someone you don't know very well, for a person at work (such as a gift for Secretary's Day) or for an occasion where you just aren't sure what to get (such as a baptism or First Communion), a picture frame almost always makes a wonderful gift.  While some frames can be incredibly expensive and easily suitable for things like wedding gifts, one of the great things about picture frames is that they generally won't break your budget.  A nice frame is great on its own, of course, but one of my favorite things to do is buy a frame that comes with a wide mat, and personalize the frame by embellishing the picture mat.

I made the frame in the photo above for my husband for Father's Day.  I found the cool weathered wood frame at Michael's and once I combined a couple of coupons, it was 60% off!  I loved the sage green color of the frame and the mat, so when I took the kids outside to shoot a photo to go into the frame, I told each of them to wear a tee shirt in a muted green color.  I really love the final results.

For the Father's Day frame, I used bold black rub-on letters from Making Memories.  I chose a font that had a somewhat distressed look, because I thought it would go well with the finish on the frame itself.  I was going to put the kids' names along the left side, but eventually decided to just go with "Father's Day" because it was simple and everyone looking at the frame would know immediately what occasion it was meant to commemorate.  I added the date along the right hand side.  For embellishments, I chose a 3-D butterfly embellishment and some grey self-adhesive pearls, as well as a small square acrylic embellishment that I positioned following the date.  I liked the butterfly because it added a note of whimsy and specialness without being too feminine.  All of the things I used to embellish this frame were things I already had in my scrapbooking stash.  I'm sure you have tons of suitable things, as well.

Although we haven't decided yet where to hang the Father's Day photo frame, my husband just loved it.  He's getting to that age where it can be hard to buy him gifts because it seems like he has everything that he wants or needs.  But he always cherishes a nice new photo of the kids.

As I mentioned, an embellished frame makes a great gift to commemorate almost any occasion.  I made a really pretty frame for my son's girlfriend as part of her graduation gift, but naturally, I forgot to take a picture of it before we gave it to her!  What I liked about the graduation frame was that I found embellishments in her school colors, brown and gold, and I used those to decorate the frame.  Below is a frame I finished just yesterday, to present to a woman that I work with on her retirement.

Although she is not technically in my department, we had a little retirement brunch for her in our offices last week, and that's when I snapped these photos.  In case you're wondering about the feather boa, sunglasses and red carpet, the honoree works with people in the movie industry, so we chose a "Hollywood" theme for the brunch that we had for her.  In keeping with the glitz and glamour of our theme, I chose self-adhesive gemstones and glittery flowers to embellish the photo mat.  Here's a close-up of some of the flowers.

The rub-ons I used are from American Crafts, and I chose a font that was bold but also had an element of whimsy to it.  I think it goes great with bling of the rest of the embellishments.  Oh, and another little thing I love to do, if there is an "i" in any of the words I'm putting on the mat, I dot the "i" with a gemstone.

Although you could certainly use stickers or chipboard letters for these kinds of frames, I really like rub ons because of their seamless look.  They end up looking like they were actually printed onto the mat, rather than added later.  Most photo mats are made of smooth, heavy mat board, and rub ons generally go onto these mats with ease.  No fighting like you sometimes have to do with a textured surface.

If you want to make an embellished photo frame, your best bet is to select a frame with a nice, wide mat.  You can usually spot mats that are constructed of actual mat board, because they will "rise up" above the surface of the picture (you can see this in the close-up shot, above).  Really cheap frames will sometimes have mats that are just made of heavy paper, and I would avoid these because they don't look as nice and the surface isn't as perfect for using rub ons.  If you don't want to spend a fortune on your frame, both Michael's and Jo-Ann's carry tons of frames that are reasonably priced, and often on sale.  You're sure to find a frame that will fit the occasion, and of course, you can find tons of suitable embellishments there, as well.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Music Themed Mini Chipboard Book

My older son has been taking private oboe lessons for about four years, the last three of those years with a wonderful young woman, Rachel, who is now a Ph.D. candidate at the university near us.  Rachel has taught Brandon soooo much in the time that she's been teaching him, including music theory.  Because of her influence, he started not merely playing music, but composing it as well.  At the end of this month, Brandon will have his very last lesson with Rachel, as she will be getting her Ph.D. and moving out of state.  Sad for us, but life marches on, doesn't it?

I've been thinking for awhile about a gift for her.  I really wanted it to be something special, to show our appreciation for all that she's done for Brandon and all that she's taught him.  After a lot of searching, I finally found a wonderful print of a snippet of a Mozart musical score, very minimialist but very cool-looking.  Very Rachel.  So I had it framed, and right now, we're waiting for that to be finished.  Along with the print, which is of course the primary "thank you and congratulations" gift, I decided to make Rachel a little chipboard album to sort of remember Brandon by.  Last year, I had taken a bunch of photos at one of Brandon's lessons, so I thought I'd use a few of those to make the album.  Since Rachel has devoted her life to music, I wanted to combine the photos with a few meaningful quotes about music.  I easily located dozens of suitable quotes with a quick online search.

I used an inexpensive chipboard tag book I found at Michael's, and covered the pages with some Autumn Leaves papers from my stash. The soft blues, greens and tans in the papers somehow reminded me of Rachel's gentle yet forceful personality.  I kept the page layouts very simple, with one quote and a couple of photographs on each page spread.  I managed to find a couple of great quotes from actual famous composers, and one of those is featured on the page shown above.

For embellishments, I used a package of glitzy, glittery 3-D flowers from K & Company.  They added just the right note to the quotes and photos.  I searched through my stash and found some word stickers in shades of blue and green (also, coincidentally, from K & Company) and I added a few appropriate words to each page, as well.  Here's another page layout:

Because I kept the pages and embellishments so simple, this little book didn't really take much time to make at all.  Tracing the tag shapes onto the back of the patterned paper and cutting the shapes out probably took more time than any other step!  In any case, you can make a book like this as simple or as elaborate as you'd like.  I've done a few small books for gifts where I really went all out on embellishments and used lots of fun techniques.  But this was just supposed to be a little "extra," a kind of "side dish" to the main gift, so I didn't want to make it into to a super complex project.  Also, because this little chipboard book is the kind of thing that Rachel might keep on her desk in a basket, it could potentially be handled a lot, so I wanted to make sure there weren't too many things that could fall off or wouldn't withstand repeated handling.

The photo above shows the very back page of the book, which includes a sweet photo of Brandon and Rachel posing together.  (Yep, at 16, he's a good foot or so taller than she is!)  I finished off the book by tying a few ribbons from my scrap basket onto the binding ring.

I try not to become obsessed with things like finding the "perfect" ribbons or embellishments -- for small projects like this, I like to "shop my stash," as they say.  I like to make use of odds and ends of things that otherwise might never get used up.  I think the project came out very nicely, and I'm really looking forward to giving Rachel both the framed print and the book next week.