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Easy Shabby Photo Holder Tutorial

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As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I tried very hard to use up paints and theoretically non-shipable items before leaving Hawaii.

As it turns out, the actual movers and the person doing our survey weren’t really on the same page. The movers ended up packing things I expected them to refuse, but then didn’t pack some things I wanted. (They also did some weird things like pack the shower curtain and rings, which were supposed to stay, but then left our pretty nice memory foam bathroom floor mat.)

Anyway, this easy shabby photo holder was designed to use up some of my paint and turn an unfinished board into a ‘something’ so they’d pack it. Funny thing is, they ended up packing my remaining paints and some boards! Oh, well, at least I got to make this easy shabby photo holder and now I’m sharing it with you!

Easy Shabby Photo Holder TutorialAlthough I, of course, went with a slightly beachy vibe, this photo holder is easy to customize to match your decor. You could even use stain instead of paint – may I suggest my nontoxic wood stain from this tutorial?

Materials needed for an easy shabby photo holder

  • A board. I used a 10″ length 6″ “clear” pine (pretty straight, no knots).
    • 6″ pine boards are generally actually 5.5″ wide. This means my photo holder board was actually 5.5″x10″
    • You can get the folks at the store to cut a board for you. Most larger stores (Lowes, Home Depot) have a hand saw for customer use, too. If you have a power saw you’re comfortable with using then, by all means, use it
  • Paint. I used turquoise chalk paint.
  • A paintbrush. Just a cheap foam craft brush will work.
  • Sand paper. You don’t need a full sheet – just a scrap will do. I used 100 grit.
  • Twine.
  • Scissors, for cutting twine and ribbon.
  • Any additional embellishments desired. I used this 7/8″ jute ribbon to make a small bow and a starfish. A paper flower from Hobby Lobby is also pictured below, but I didn’t end up using it.
  • Hot glue. (Not sure what the difference between high temp and low temp glue is or when to use which? Check out my guide to picking the correct hot glue for the job!)
  • Sawtooth hanger or other hanging hardware, optional.

If your board has any really rough edges, you can sand it a bit before painting. I didn’t sand mine, but it’s up to you! Paint your board, allowing the paint to dry between coats. When working with chalk paint, I like to use two or three thinner coats of paint. I wrap my brush up in plastic wrap between coats so that I don’t have to wash it each time!

Once all paint layers are completely dry, lightly distress the edges and corners with sandpaper to reveal a bit of the wood from underneath. This step is optional, but adds a bit of interest. You can also scuff up a few areas on the board’s face, like you can see below.

Make several tight wraps of twine around your board an inch or two in from one long edge. Tie tightly in place on the “back.” Make the wraps as snug as you can because they will be holding your photo in place.

Make several wraps around a short end, as shown, making sure you knot it off on the same same side as in the previous step. If you’re planning to set your photo holder flat on a surface instead of hanging it, make sure the wraps are flat along the bottom edge (not overlapping).

Attach any additional embellishments you’d like. I tied a small bow where the pieces of twine intersected and hot glued a starfish in the opposite corner.

add embellishments to easy shabby photo holder

As you can see, the twine made my photo holder sit at a little bit of an angle, but it was able to stand up on its own. If you’re having trouble, you can always just lean it against something, use an easel, or attach a hanger to the back. Sawtooth hangers are super easy to attach to pine.

Add photos or other art and enjoy your awesomely easy shabby photo holder! If you like the look of the watercolor moonscape within a moon shown below, there’s a version of it available as a free printable. Stop by this post to see it!

Although I did just get a replacement backdrop in the mail (hooray!), I still don’t really have any photo props. The photos above were taken in Hawaii, even though I didn’t write this post until right before publishing it a month after our move! I’m looking forward to getting our household goods back, hopefully within the next month, because I miss my random props and I can’t wait to have our bed back, but I’m also kind of worried because I don’t know where we’ll put everything!

What have you made lately?

Natasha of The Artisan Life-01

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Sarah June 8, 2018, 14:54

    I don’t know if I’d call that shabby – it looks totally perfect! And you still have your Hawaii feel too with all the shells 🙂

    • Natasha June 9, 2018, 07:25

      Thank you! I mean shabby as in the ‘beautifully imperfect’ aesthetic with bits of paint sanded off and imperfect, natural materials. It’s a favorite of mine!

      Luckily the beachy vibe still works for us in our new location, too. We’re not as close to the beach, but we’re still in a warm costal state.

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