Inspiring words: A tutorial

In trying to come up with a little gift for someone, I made up this little wall hanging and thought I’d share with you how I put it together, though it’s really a pretty intuitive project. It was cheap and quick and–with the end of the school year almost upon us– it might make a great teacher’s gift, too, especially if for the background you scanned a child’s drawing or painting, and then added a quotation about teachers or kids. Just thinking out loud here . . .

However you envision your version, you’re going to need:

  • A computer image of piece of artwork you can use for the background. You want the text you’re going to add to be as readable as possible,  so extremely dark or bright colors or very busy patterns might not be suitable.   Be sure, of course, that you have the right to to the piece you choose–stealing other people’s images is bad karma.
  • A few words you find inspiring, appealing, funny, ironic–your call.
  • A good quality printer.
  • One or two (depending on the size of your artwork) binding bars, those plastic thingies you slide over the left edge of a stack of papers to bind  them together. I get mine here (fastest shipping ever, these folks) and buy them in a box of 100 (that sounds like a lot, but wait until you start making these–you’ll find you really do want to keep them around, and they don’t cost much).
  • An X-acto razor saw or something similar that will cut through the plastic binding bars without also cutting through your fingers (adults only, of course, for this step)
  • scissors
  • A nice piece of cord or ribbon

First, select your photo/artwork/what have you. If it’s not already on your computer or your flickr site, start by scanning it in. Then, using your photo editing software of choice, rotate and crop it to the size you want. I’m starting with this piece of suminagashi (floating ink!) that I did back in the winter, and I have in mind a long rectangle about 4 x 11 inches, so I’ve used a cropping tool to make it the right size:

Second, select the quotation you want to use (I collect all kinds of these in a Word file) and just type or copy your chosen words into the text tool. Select an appropriate font and size for your artwork, and play around with its placement until it looks right to you.  I’m using a quotation from Carl Sagan, in 28 point Tempus ITC:


Next, print the image on your trusty color printer (can you tell I’m enjoying my new one?). I’m using a soft gloss printer paper designed for presentation reports, but a good quality matte printer paper will work, too.

Trim away any unwanted white parts using either a ruler and a sharp blade,

or a paper cutter:

I did one side with the paper cutter and one size with an x-acto knife–each did a serviceable job–thank you to my Better Half for the photos–that’s his sneakered foot there. I’m not trimming the white edges from the top or bottom–they add a tiny bit of extra length and they’ll be hidden by the binders anyway.

Now measure the width of the piece you end up with, and mark one of your pieces of report binder to indicate the cutting point. Now use your little craft saw to cut two of these, so depending on the width of your artwork, you’ll need either one or two binder thingies.

Be sure to save the cut-off parts of the binders. You’ll get around to using them on smaller wall hangings, and they can also be used to protect your saw blade when you’re done:

Now take your cord or ribbon or string or a licorice lace or whatever skinny thing you’re going to use to hang the work, and cut a piece about 2-1/2 times the width of your artwork and your binder thingy.  Thread the cord through the binder thingy (you only need to do this for one of the two pieces) and tie the ends of the cord together in a knot or a bow, leaving whatever you consider to be the right amount for a pleasing hanging cord.  I’m using a piece of waxed linen cord here. Allowing for differences between your cord and mine, it should look like this:

Take your artwork and slide the top edge of it into the binder thingy as nature intended:

Slide it gently along so the ends of the binder line up with the sides of the artwork. If your binder is very tight, you can get the piece started by inserting the tip of a sturdy table knife blade (don’t try this with a sharp or pointed knife) to open it up a bit.

Now slide the other binder piece, the one without the string, onto the bottom edge of the artwork. This bottom piece weights the paper to keep it from curling, but it also adds a certain finish to the piece.

Hang it on the wall, pat yourself on the back, and go and make other ones for everybody you know. If you want to mail one, you can roll  it gently and slide it into a paper towel tube.


8 responses to “Inspiring words: A tutorial

  1. This is absolutely a wonderful idea! I’ve recommended this to Whip-Up as the perfect answer for giving to our kids’ teachers as a celebration of them surviving our kids for another year! What a great way to thank a teacher!

  2. Wow, this is so cool! I saw it on Whipup via the pp and I’m so glad I did, now I can explore your gorgeous blog! I’d love to link to this as well if you didn’t mind.

  3. Pingback: Floating Ink on Whipup! « Floating Ink

  4. Ok, this is a craft that’s even easy enough for me to do!


  5. Pingback: A little wall art « Floating Ink


    I was suggested this blog via my cousin. I am not positive whether this submit is written by him as nobody else understand such precise approximately my trouble. You’re wonderful! Thanks!

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