Ages ago, long before the hiatus, I fell in love with toilet paper rolls. It was a match made in heaven -- something free that could be turned into something beautiful with just a little creativity, elbow grease, and spray paint.
I collected for months and then, inspired by the turquoise tp art by The How-To Gal and the faux metal filigree frame by Suzy's Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom that I stumbled upon thanks to Pinterest, I cut and glued and made my own. This hangs right by my front door, and everyone remarks on it and is completely astonished that it is made from toilet paper tubes.
Instead of having the frames sit on top of the cardboard filigree like Suzy's, I wanted to have the frames blend right in so that the whole frame looked like one continuous piece of (faux) metal. I already had two of these thin black front-loading "quick frames" kicking around, and, after much searching, I finally found a matching one at Hobby Lobby so I could have one large (11x14) frame flanked by two smaller (5x7) frames.
I followed the same basic construction steps as The How-To Gal: collect toilet paper (or paper towel) tubes, flatten them and cut them into slices, and then start gluing! I cut the slices the same depth as my frames -- just over 1/2 inch. I used white tacky glue and glued my flattened circles into flower shapes first, 4 slices coming together at the center.
Once I had a significant number of flower shapes (close to 50), I laid out my photo frames and determined how many flower shapes it would take to span the width/length of each frame, and how many to put in between the frames and above/below the largest frame. I put one row of flowers above and below the largest frame and one row in between the frames, so I ended up with a design that is 11 flower motifs wide by 6 flower motifs tall.
The 11x14 photo frame is just wider than 3 flower motifs, but the open work of the design allows for some flexibility to stretch a bit, so it's not even noticeable.
The 5x7 photo frames are 2 flowers tall but only 1.5 flowers wide, so I had to have a few partial flowers to fill in the extra halves around the outside edges of the frame.
After everything was glued and dried, I very carefully transported the frame outside for 2-3 very light coats of black spray paint. The frame is surprisingly sturdy when laying or standing, but any twisting will tear it right to pieces and put me to tears. (When we moved, this frame and my intersecting circle art were personally transported by me in the passenger seat of my car, my most prized possessions and the ones that I would have been devastated if they had been ruined!)
To mount the frame on the wall, I first hung the frames where they should be, starting with the largest frame in the middle of the wall at the height I wanted and then using the cardboard part of the frame to determine where the smaller frames should go. The frame sags a little bit, so hang the frames just a little higher than the frame determines, or have a second pair of hands help hold up the sides of the frame while you mark where the frames should go, so that it will be level on the top and bottom.
Once the 3 photo frames were hung, I just slipped the cardboard frame right over the top. It stays put nice and snug, but over time gravity took a bit of a toll and the bottom started to sag (it happens to all of us, right? darn gravity). To remedy this, I put a small support nail on the outside bottom corners of the two 5x7's and the bottom corners of the 11x14. I used a black Sharpie to color the head of the nail so that it blends in to the black frame. If I were to do something like this again, I would either use 3M mounting squares like The How-To Gal or build a thin balsa wood support frame just around the outside edges of the photo frames like Suzy did for her faux metal wall art.
Since I only had to buy the one 5x7 frame (with a coupon) and the black spray paint, my total out of pocket cost was $6! Buying all 3 frames (such as from Hobby Lobby) would only set you back $12, so even if you had to buy the spray paint and glue, you're still looking at under $20 for a great piece of statement art -- and much less if you can use coupons and catch a sale! And it didn't take too long, either -- I'd say 3-4 hours total time, plus the time for the glue and spray paint to dry.
After I made this, my husband was thrilled to not get in trouble for throwing away (in the recycling bin) toilet paper tubes. But now that we are in our new house with more wall space, I'm back to religiously saving every tube. I think my next project will be a mirror like this one by Made2Style to hang in our master bedroom:
(You can find this and more great ideas for using toilet paper tubes and other recycled materials on my reduce reuse recycle board on Pinterest.)
Thanks for reading!