A rectangular wooden frame inlaid with hessian is on a blue sheet leaning against a white wall. There are many earrings hanging off the frame. There is a small wooden bowl with rings in the front.
DIY, DOWNTIME DIYS

DOWNTIME DIYS #1 – DIY Jewellery Frame

And here we go with the first DOWNTIME DIY!!!! Excite! This one I have made many times and can be used for many things besides jewellery.

So. I have a lot of earrings. Like, a LOT. And many of them have hanging parts or interconnected sections and when they’re all lumped in together in a box, they get tangled and break. As I rent, I cannot install things into my closet doors (they slide anyway, so it’s a moot point), and I needed a solution to both maintain the quality of my earrings, as well as keeping them organised and within easy reach.

A rectangular wooden frame inlaid with hessian is on a blue sheet leaning against a white wall. There are many earrings hanging off the frame. There is a small wooden bowl with rings in the front.
This is a smaller frame I made to take to Sri Lanka, so that I have a place to hang my jewellery when I am there. I don’t take a lot when I travel so it’s alright for it to be smaller. The bowl I bought at a local shop in Colombo called Paradise Road. Good for rings and hair gadgets.

I don’t know where this idea came from, but I happened across a massive frame tossed out on the street, and thought to make into something new. Which resulted in many, many frames being made and gifted (ok only like 4 in total), and an idea for DOWNTIME DIYS came along with it. You may have seen similar things. That’s OK. I’m not claiming that I own this idea, I’m just telling you how to do it.

MATERIALS:

  • wooden frame (wood is a must, unless you can work out how to use a metal frame?)
  • hessian (also called jute, or gunny like gunny sacks. Maybe even sacking material)
  • paint or wood stain
  • staple gun
  • paintbrush or staining cloth
  • sanding block or sandpaper
An empty wooden frame sits on a bamboo stepstool, and leans against a balcony railing. A staple gun, pot of wood stain, a paintbrush, and some hessian fabric sit in front of it. There is a leafy tree in the background.
Lookit that tree! I used a pretty big brush for this, but stain is hard to remove so I’d recommend using a brush you don’t want to use for anything else, AND one that you are happy to sit in turpentine for awhile between uses. I think this photo was taken halfway through the staining process.

STEPĀ 1: Start by cleaning your frame. Make sure any dirt is removed, and any frayed strips are snipped. Then, starting with a rougher grade sandpaper (or block), sand your whole frame. As you go on, you can use finer and finer sandpaper for a really smooth finish. I admit that I am quite lazy with sanding, as I generally stain my frames, and the roughness soaks up the stain quite well. Stains also double as light sealants, I find and help to smoothen out the finish. Though I recommend an actual sealant if you want to make your frame waterproof.

If your frame is already painted white or a pale colour, or has a coat of primer on it, you can go over the top with your paint choice, provided that it is thicker/more saturated and darker than the existing coat. Painting/staining will take time as you need to flip the frame over to do each side, and dry in-between each application.

Leave to dry. Preferably overnight. This DIY really extends over at least two sets of downtime šŸ™

STEPĀ 2: Flip your frame so that the back is facing you, and lay it down flat (try and find a clean surface, though I tend to put some fabric down on my carpet. DO BETTER PEOPLE.). Most frames have a groove along the back to fit a picture in, and this groove is where we’ll set in our hessian.

Measure out your frame, using the grooves as the edges of your quadrilateral. I like to stretch my piece of hessian over the frame to gauge the size, or, if the frame is thin enough, I use the whole frame as a measuring guide. Before you cut, make sure that you have a bit of excess – a 2cm seam allowance all the way around should be plenty.

STEPĀ 3: Once your hessian is cut, stretch it over the frame (groove side still up), and choose a point for your first staple. There are two ways to go about this, I feel. Either start in the centre of the top or bottom grooves, and work your way across before doing the other end and then the sides; OR start in a corner and work outwards. There are many ways, of course, but these are the two I use, and I choose which one depending on where my hands fall naturally.

Whichever way you staple, make sure to stretch the hessian taught as you go. Do not be afraid if it rips a bit – hessian has this remarkable quality of simultaneously being fragile as anything, and tough as shit. It will hold. If in doubt, add another staple.

One thing to look out for if you’re new to staple guns, is the recoil. While this is not a major shock to the system like in guns (ew. guns bad. BAD.), it can be a little jarring if you don’t expect it.

Best thing you can do is take your time, and stretch each section as you go, and maybe stretch other parts too! Employ some clamps, or useful assistants! Find a way that works for you. Hessian is forgiving, and the frame will be fine.

STEP 4: Before you tidy anything up, always stand up your frame, and check the tension of the hessian. Tap lightly, but surely on the back, then the front, and check the amount of give (or bounce, shall we say), in the fabric. This will tell you if you need to remove a few staples and reset. You can also do this as you go, and gradually build up/maintain the tension.

Once the hessian is securely attached, take a scissor (or a razor or set of clippers if you’ve got them), and carefully cut away any excess that might stick out over the height of the groove.

Then check over the frame for any little extras that might need fixing. This is such an important step in any project, I cannot stress this enough. This is the difference between a professional quality job, and one that looks homemade. I’ve had a few problems with the staples cracking the wood on the outside or pushing through, but I’ve chosen to either paint over them, or leave them be (depending on aesthetic), and so far, they’re holding well.

STEP 5: And you’re done! Almost. Now you wrap it up (if it’s a gift), or take it out to where it should be and start hanging stuff on it! Be it jewellery, badges, postcards, mementos/souvenirs, whatever. The best is that you can change this up whenever you like, and if you treat it like an art installation, it can provide both relaxation and decoration. šŸ™‚

A tall, rectangular wooden frame, backed with hessian, leans against a white wall on top of some shelves. It has many earrings of a variety of shapes and colours hung on it. There are other pieces of jewellery in the foreground.
TA DA! I have a lot of earrings, so it’s lucky I have a big frame. This is the first one I made, and the only time where I didn’t have to buy the frame. The little indents and weird holes are filled in with a coppery-bronze paint. It’s also a bit scuffed, but I like the aesthetic.


WhereĀ ToĀ Get:
Frames: Object recyclers/found object resellers such as Reverse Garbage, or look out for a council cleanup in your suburb
Hessian: fabric stores such as The Remnant Warehouse, gardening stores, Bunnings Warehouse and other retailers
Staple Gun: I got mine from Officeworks, but you can get them in hardware stores or possibly even Kmart. Kmart is magical.
Wood Stain: Hardware or paint store, timber store, resellers like The Bower might have small amounts

An arm on which five white rectangular frames are being carried
I got five frames for I think $2 each at Reverse Garbage.


So that’s it from me. I hope you enjoyed this DIY, and feel inspired to try it out yourself. I enjoy sharing these with you, so there’ll be more to come. Please send feedback. I like feedback.

Follow me on instagramĀ forĀ allĀ theĀ extrasĀ andĀ sneakĀ peeks!

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