Continuing on with our focus on reusing and recycling this month, let’s talk about old picture frames!  I have a lot of ideas about old frames, which is why there are a stack of picture frames that I continue to collect in my basement.  Some may call it hoarding.  I call it being prepared.

Let’s start with something short and simple: the hand-lettered frame.

Hhand lettered picture frame art: reuse and recycle old framesave any frames lying around with the glass still intact?  Perfect.  Give those frames a dusting and maybe a layer of spraypaint if need be, and clean up that glass.  First things first is to create a background, and because it’s reuse and recycle month at The Crafty Cats, scrap fabric seems to be the perfect choice.  I chose scraps with subtle prints, ironed them out, and cut to fit my frames.  Don’t have any fabric? Any paper will do the trick, including scrapbooking paper, maps, and yes, even printer paper.


Once you have a background, use a paint pen to letter a quote, word, or letter on top of the glass.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Rubbing alcohol can tahand lettered picture frame art: reuse and recycle old frameske the paint right off to start again.  Don’t feel like your writing is up to snuff? The beauty of glass is that it is see through.  Print out your phrase in your favorite font, put it behind the glass, and trace it!  It’s the cheaters way to hand-lettered artwork and it’s the method I used to quickly create a seat assignment window for my wedding.

My very favorite part of this project is how temporary it can be.  Rubbing alcohol can always be used to remove the paint, so nothing you choose to put on it is set in stone (which makes choosing quotes so much easier!)  Easily change up your decor to keep things topical (Nevertheless, she persisted), or maybe even more so, to keep things “appropriate” for houseguests. It’s just as easy to change out the color of your fabric or paper background as well.


Speaking of temporary decor, let’s continue with that trend and move on to our second old frame project: the chalkboard.

Yes, you can DIY chalkboards out of old picture frames.  It’s so easy that I personally feel that buying a chalkboard is for suckers (no offense).  Step one, choose a frame.  It needs to be fairly large, keeping in mind that chalk art is not the finest of mediums, give yourself some space.  Step two: Use the backing or cut a backing to fit the frame.  This should be some sort of thin, but sturdy, and most importantly, smooth material.  A trip to your local hardware store should give you some options, particularly in the plywood section. Step 3: paint your backing with chalkboard paint.  Chalkboard paint is available in spray paint or a can.  I’ve only ever used it from a can, and I would recommend rolling it on rather than using a brush, to avoid grain.  Step 4: Let dry and attach to frame.  And now you have your own DIY chalkboards.  Take that, suckers.

Chalkboarding supplies

So here you have a blank canvas for some chalkboard art, grocery lists or monthly family calendar.  For tips on creating  art, check out my post on chalkboarding. Using a temporary fixative allows your chalk to stay in place, until you don’t want it anymore.

Photo Credit: Krista Brevan

Photo Credit: Krista Brevan

For our third old frame project: the wine cork board

I started making these corkboards several years ago and have given them as gifts in the past.  They are the ultimate reuse and recycle project: an old frame and some collected wine corks.  Understandably, you may not have a plethora of wine corks lying around.  That’s ok, we all need goals!  Buying wine specifically for this purpose would defeat the reuse and recycle purpose, however, we won’t judge your reasoning. In the meantime, ask your family and friends to save them for you, or check with a local restaurant.  Using a glass vase in your kitchen is a good looking way to watch your collection grow.

Once you have the corks, you have the option of stretching your collection by cutting them.  The first cork board I ever made, I used a steak knife to  slice the corks lengthwise and made a pattern with them. (Full disclosure, I did stab myself with said steak knife and had to get 4 stitches in my left hand….Perhaps not the best method but in my defense,  there’s hardly a scar and I still have my original corkboard on display).  For my later corkboards, I used a CLAMP to hold the cork (instead of an ill-fated hand) and cut corks both length and width-wise.  This allows for a more interesting pattern.  Regardless of your pattern, use a hot glue gun to secure each cork in place, directly on to the backing of the frame (or cut a backing similar to that of your DIY chalkboard).  And there you have it, a grown up cork board (cat not included).

Wine Cork board