Monday, November 15, 2010

Chop! (aka The DIY Karate Board Photo Gallery Wall)

Creative Every Day/Flickr Project 365 photo for 11/15/2010:
 From Hi-ya! to Ta-da!
My crew used to take karate classes. 

At various times, mostly to advance to the next level, they broke boards - with their hands and feet!  It was totally awesome and empowering.  

It created a lot of boards.  
And, us, being the sentimental fools we are found it difficult to part with even one of them.  Lots and lots of boards.  I kept thinking I'd come up with an idea of how to upcycle them, but gluing them together to make book ends just didn't ever happen.  After several rounds of decluttering this summer and early fall, those boards were marked for destruction.  We all agreed to keep the "first break", but the rest were going to go in the wood stove when we fire that baby up in another week or so.  For weeks, the boards had been in a pile (that continuously fell over much to my agitation) in front of the wood stove awaiting incineration.   

And then I saw this:
Easy Photo Wall on a Shoestring Budget
and this:
Design Sponge Best Gallery Walls

and others which I cannot now for the life of me find to share
and my mind's wheels starting whirring.

Paul had already indicated he would like to see some of my 365 project photos displayed in our home and now I knew I'd be using those karate boards to do it.
First, I spray painted the fronts and sides of the boards, not at all worrying about perfection.  Any drips, chips, splotches just added to their overall character.  
I preserved the markings on the back of the boards indicating when they were broken.
Then, I decided to use the 3M Command adhesive tabs for hanging so I wouldn't have a zillion holes in my newly painted wall.  I tend to move things around quite a bit and wasn't sure how long I would want to remain committed to the photo wall.  What if the whole idea just didn't work and I needed to scrap it?  Better to not have all those holes in the wall.  Plus, the boards are preserved this way too.
I measured the overall space I wanted to fill and recreated it with newspaper.  I laid out all the boards so they filled the space in a nicely shaped grid.  I had not sanded or resized the boards, so they create a cool and funky grid with varying sizes, widths, and edges.  At some point my brain froze up on me and after some whining and near crying, Paul stepped in and did helped with the measuring and measuring and leveling and measuring and marking and leveling and measuring and measuring of where all those little 3M tabs should go.  
He made the marks and I stuck them all up on the wall.  Thanks, Paul!
This is the layout for the other side of the corner.  It incorporates the "chalk tray" which used to hold music on our old piano.  The chalkboard wall in the dining room is on the other side of this wall, so it is a great spot to store the chalk and highlight this cool piece of "found vintage".

So, finally, the wall was up.  It was this awesome blank canvas.  
It is a real work of art all on its own.  We were enjoying it so much blank that we contemplated leaving it that way.  
The blocks make cool shadows which Paul enjoyed photographing.  
Here it is partially done.  I put up a photo just to see how it was going to look and the family decided we all liked it better blank.  Sigh.
I was way too crabbed out from creating the thing and now was trying to acclimate to the idea that the PHOTO wall would not have any PHOTOS.  I generally don't change gears quickly or gracefully.  I hadn't even yet solved the problem of how to attach the photos so they could be changed out from time to time (thereby ditching spray adhesive or modge podge which were other ideas at one point).  I did not want to permanently adhere them to the karate boards.  So, part of my brain was still percolating a solution to that problem and the other part of my brain was trying to detach from the idea of my photo wall actually holding photos.  
I was not a happy camper. 
I needed some time and space from the project.  So for most of the week it just stayed blank and looking awesome while I worked out some gunk and waited for some more inspiration.  I found it a bit too modern looking for our "vintage, shabby, sentimental, cottage meets coastal cabin in the woods" style living room.  I checked in with the family for their input and while they did like it blank, they also loved the idea of the photos.  
I had decided, after searching for other items and tossing other ideas, to use plain old binder clips to attach the photos.  It took me a couple of days to secure the right sized clips a la Goldilocks (small ones were too small, the big ones were too big, and the medium ones were almost just right).   As it stands now, I'm using a combination of small and medium clips.  This may change if I come up with a better plan.

(Note: Deciding to permanently attach the photos would have made it much easier.  I would have just used spray adhesive or modge podge.  I think that would be a great idea for folks with kids in karate...adhere a photo of the child breaking the board onto the board and hang it on the wall!  Awesome idea, right?)

Choosing photos is another huge endeavor, so for the time being, I am using a set of flower photos I had already printed and keep on hand to use for handmade note cards that I sometimes give as gifts.  At first it just felt way too weird for me to display any of my photos.  I was feeling uncomfortable and was tuned into the mind chatter channel which plays re-runs of  the old classics "Its not good enough" and "Who Do I Think I Am, an Artist?!" 
I'm grateful for Paul and the girls encouragement and enthusiasm in this.  

After all that, here's the wall:

I am now looking forward to adding more photos and periodically changing them out for others.
 With the photos up, it fits into our funky space so much better. 
I'm really loving it!  What do you think? 

Linking to:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch 
Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T.
mmm button
Motivated Monday at Becolorful
DIY Showoff Project Parade at The DIY Showoff  
The DIY Show Off

Making the World Cuter Monday at Making the World Cuter 
Funky Junk's Saturday Night Special: Picture Frames
A Crafty Soiree at Katie's Nesting Spot
Check out the other projects!  
Aren't people amazing?


  1. Such a great idea! Not only you recicle all those boards but you also obtain a beautiful result! (and keep those memories on your wall)

  2. I actually like the clips holding the pictures on... would be great for an office space. Found you @ Skip to My Lou {Your link didn't get me to your post FYI. Not sure if it was a problem on my end or a problem w/ the link}

  3. i love how your family contributed!

    i wonder what other possibilities await for your photos also.....

  4. I think this is a great idea, and even though it's more work, I like how it can be a revolving photo display. It's fun how you incorporated meaningful material.

    PS: I cohost a linky party on Thursday and we'd love for you to join us!

  5. Oh yeah. Creatively going green but with a nod to sentimentality and your past. Fabulous. :)

  6. Now that is just awesome! I never in a million years would have thought of doing something like that with the boards! Looks great on the wall with your pictures on them!

  7. Wow, that's super cool, what a neat idea!

  8. I LOVE this idea - so creative!

  9. This is a great idea. And I love it that the boards were so personal too.


  10. great way to do ongoing displays. pictures are pretty. rose

  11. Great idea! Thanks for your nice comment on my blog about the "thanks" banner. You should make one, it was so easy. The thick chipboard letters really make it stand out without having to add in additional things to jazz it up.

  12. I enjoyed this post when I saw it on the internet and I am so glad you linked it up to Motivated Monday at Be Colorful. BTW love your blog name.

  13. Thanks everyone for making this post such an amazing adventure! I really appreciate all of your fabulous comments. Blessings to all! xoxo

  14. This is a fabulous idea! My kids are both in karate and I have been wondering what to do with this pile of boards. I am picking out pictures tonight and by the weekend I will have a cool display in each of their rooms. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this idea!

  15. Yes its a great idea! I appreciated your idea. It is great use of this board in the Mixed Martial Art.


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