Thursday, August 12, 2010


Almost everyone has one or more large old picture frames that have sat in the back of the closet awaiting to be used as wall art in some undetermined future. (The one I'm working on is 14 X 24 inches, but any good-sized rectangular frame will do.) If you don't have an extra picture frame, make a trip to the thrift store. The frame doesn't need to be in good condition. On the contrary, if your frame isn't already sufficiently distressed, you'll have to beat it up a bit to make this rustic, 2011 calendar. This is a simple and cheap recycling project. It will be great as a Christmas gift for someone special. Plan to make two barnyard-style calendars - one to give to a friend or family member and another one for your home.

After distressing your picture frame as much as you like, paint it with a thin wash of your choice of white, cream-colored, or pale green paint. This gives the frame a look of being old and weather-beaten. You'll need enough chicken wire to cut a frame-sized rectangle and staple it flat to the back of your frame - with no wire showing on the front. There's no backing on this calendar, so you'll see the wall behind the chicken wire.

You'll need 12 small, thin oval or rectangular wood pieces (medallion-style, available at craft stores) for the months of the year and 31 smaller - but different-sized round wood pieces - for the days of the months. Use a stencil and markers to write the months and the days on the pieces of wood. Numbers and letters can be different sizes to further the rustic motif. You'll probably want a few extra circular, oval or square pieces of wood to add as decorative hangers. The decorations should represent traditional barnyard symbols like roosters, pigs, cows, etc. Amish signs also are also appropriate. You can hand draw, stencil or glue on cutout pictures for your decorations.

A light semi-gloss varnish will make your natural wood pieces prettier and easier to keep clean. Drill a tiny hole in each piece. String through and tie a light-weight cord (any color that you like) to each piece - like Christmas tree ornaments.

Once the chicken wire is in place and the wood pieces are assembled, place a paper behind the frame to provide a pattern that will divide your frame into 7 rows of numbers and text. Use wooden clothespins to clip the pieces to the chicken wire. Hang the month in the middle over the first row. Then skip a row. You arrange the 31 days of January on the next five rows (seven-day weeks). Allow the days to hang in a casual style with each day slightly above or below the rows as marked on your paper. The uneven numbers add to the calendar's rustic look. Decorative wood pieces can be added wherever you like. If this is to be a Christmas gift, attach some seasonal cards or photos using extra wooden clothespins.

The calendar owner will recreate the following months with additional seasonal items according to his or her own artistic criteria.

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