Quick Change Artists

Quick Change Artists

Photography: Lucas Allen

Source: Blueprint, March/April 2007


Rebecca Roberstson, senior home editor, first created these innovative temporary picture frames in her apartment. "This method allows you to experiment with different looks and make a big impact without spending a lot of money on frames," she says.

A Clear Idea
Pantry items become pop art when displayed in clear vinyl "frames." Shop for ideas at offbeat places, like a Korean grocery, suggests Robertson, who cut labels from candies, jam, and other provisions, matting them on patterned paper. Matching sleeves complete the montage.

Fashion Plate
A bold statement doesn't have to involve pricey framing and a hardware store's worth of screws and molly bolts. Retro periodicals look chic slipped into simple red sheaths (as does our model, senior editor Valerie Rains). Robertson was inspired by a similar gridlike display created by Boston designer Cheryl Katz at a client's home. "Framing 62 drawings would have been crazy," Cheryl says of the series of 1950s botanical sketches. "Sleeves let me hang them across a whole wall. Repetition is so powerful."

Just remove the covers and slip them into 11-by-14-inch sleeves and pin up in a grid. "Camilla" cotton cady dress, $280, Giselle Heel pumps, $275, for stores.

Up-and-Coming Artists
Install a changeable showcase, and family masterpieces will be neat, protected, and seasonally up-to-date (see ya, four-month-old hand-traced turkey). "Kids produce art in high volume," says Rebecca, whose 20-month-old son, Luca, is already making abstract scrawls. "When they, or more likely you, get tired of the pictures, just swap in something else." This gallery can even hold certain nonflat creations (good news for that paper-bag puppet).

When your objets d'art have little in common, the right arrangement helps them hang together. Here, alternating 12-by-9-inch and 18-by-14-inch sleeves in a vertical row keeps the display tidy. These dimensions also accommodate the sizes of art paper kids often use. Pintuck dress, $90, Bu and the Duck, 212-431-9226. "Lillberg" rocking chair, $109, for stores. "Windows" fabric by Josef Frank on chair, $225 per yard (minimum order 3 yards),

Why These?
Meant to hold mundane items like inventories, job jackets are simple to slide art into and hang with tacks. Yellow, red, and navy job jackets, $38 to $91 for 25, from Lineco, 800-322-7775.

Temporary Frame How-To
For Food Labels
Look for logos that vary in size but share a color scheme. Using a utility knife, cut them from boxes, bags, wrappers, or cans (can labels are easy to remove because there's not much glue). For tiny motifs, like candies, cut multiples to frame together. Mix and match a few sizes of sleeves and use the knife to cut patterned paper to fit inside. Arrange labels on the paper using double-stick tape, and slide into the sleeves. Hang using map pins like the ones shown above. (Moore Push-Pin Company large map pins, $6 for 50,

For Magazine Covers
Find vintage magazines on eBay or at used book stores, or order from Gallagher's Fashion Archive in New York (212-473-2404). We removed the covers with a utility knife and slid them into 11-by-14-inch sleeves (or you could hang whole magazines). A vacuum effect should keep them centered -- if not, use double-stick tape. Hang framed covers in a grid using map pins or, if hanging whole magazines, small nails.

More Ideas
Elevate these everyday items into art.
Calendar pages: Cut apart a pretty letterpressed or illustrated calendar and enjoy all 12 months at once.
Origami: Wee paper swans, flowers, and planes have an interesting 3-D effect.
Correspondence: Frame greeting cards or postcards you've saved.
Children's books: "Many are light and thin enough to hang, and they look so cheerful," Rebecca says.
Digital photos: "We accumulate photos so rapidly, it's tough to choose which to frame," says Rebecca, who suggests displaying all black-and-white or sepia ones. Swapping shots takes just seconds.
Seed packets: Hang the illustrated envelopes, or pages from a vintage seed catalogue.



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