I sometimes think we overcomplicate things when it comes to decorating. I’m included in that statement! We think we need to buy new things and update along with the trends, but we really don’t. Decorating can and should be a simple, joy-filled process. It should be a journey of learning how to represent yourself and your story through your choices (I’m including other members of the household in that.) A significant part of telling your story is being particular and intentional about what is framed and displayed as art. Each piece is ideally personal and unique to you. And the best way to do that is to create your own DIY art.
This isn’t DIY art in the sense of getting out the paints and brushes, so don’t get scared if you don’t consider yourself artistic. This is DIY art that is about unearthing and displaying things that literally tell a part of a story. It can be your story, your family’s story, a story of a place, or just a story that speaks to you. I’m talking about framing old pieces of paper…letters, deeds, birth certificates, bills of sales, telegrams, postcards, and invoices.
A humble piece of paper might be initially overlooked as art, but if you really take the time to appreciate the handwriting, the language, the sentiment, they can be very evocative – interesting to look at and to read.
I am fortunate to have some beautiful old pieces of paper from my family that include letters, postcards, and telegrams sent home during WWII. I also have the benefit of being named after several relatives, so my name is on some of them.
The postcard above was written to my Oma when she was a girl.
I love gold and glass frames (similar to this one) for this purpose. They are simple to change out and look elegant. I think I bought mine at Hobby Lobby when they were discounted.
The letter below was written in 1896 and I found it when I was rummaging through my Oma and Opa’s attic. The author of the letter reminisces about the Virginia Conference in Petersburg, VA just a few years before the Civil Way siege that took place there.
This letter was written by my great-great-aunt Marian when she was a little girl. She was writing it to her grandmother, asking grandpa to visit, asking about her chickens, talking about being sick, and making a dress for her baby (doll, I assume.) I always loved that she signed it, “Your little granddaughter, Marian.”
And I framed some of my Opa’s WWII telegrams to his mom along with a picture of him in the army. I cut most of my own mats and you can find a tutorial for that HERE. Before I got my mat cutter, though, I would get custom mats cut at the framing counter at a local craft store. It’s nowhere near as expensive as framing and having a custom mat cut specifically for an antique frame and an odd-sized picture or piece of paper can unify found objects beautifully. You can even have glass cut.
So, go sort through your memory boxes, storage rooms, and bins, and find some old (or even new) pieces of paper worth framing to create your own unique DIY art. And if you don’t have letters, etc. from your family, then look for them at antique stores, while traveling, or even on Etsy. You can find all sorts of wonderful things to frame.