Fun with Extra Prints: Decorating Your Space with Your Journal Sketches

May 29, 2010

A simple quick way to get some art on the wall.

BantamClock9857 Left: Enlarged print made from a journal sketch of a bantam which I turned into a poster. (Oh, yeah, and my Learning Clock! Don't you just love analog?) Click on the image and view an enlargement.

As readers know, I've been tidying things up and that means filing things away. Well I found a stack of prints I'd made of journal sketches. I scan journal pages to post on my website or blog, to make digital prints for sale, and also to enlarge (or reduce and crop) for use as reference material for paintings.

Sometimes my favorite drawings and paintings are in my journals and I don't get to see them because I am always working in the current journal. I'd love to have some of these images up on the wall to cheer me, or remind me to work harder—paint more.

Recently I've been using a lot of Command Strips from 3M. If you haven't tried this family of products I encourage you to do so. You can put hooks up all over your living space, simply, with no nails. And these strips really do hold things. I've got my rulers hanging on the wall over my cutting table now. I've got my bread peel hanging in the kitchen. I don't have to get out any power tools or look for studs to hammer nails into.

Seeing this batch of prints (which are on quality paper with archival inks), at the same time I was using the Command Strips made me think about how I could use the prints without frames—put some up on a temporary basis (or longer if I desired).

Here's my suggestion, and it's mighty fun.

Run the print through a Xyron, or apply Studio Tac, or PMA (Positionable Mounting Adhesive—also from 3M) to the back. Apply the print to a piece of archival foam core board. (I got mine at Wet Paint and I use it to back my matboards when I'm framing my watercolors.)


Right: Small chicken print which I
turned into a poster. With the Command Strip product I can position art anywhere, whether or not there is a stud present. You can fill up those pesky gaps on your "gallery" wall. (My brother gave me that Penguin sign—which I finally was able to hang up with a Command Strip HOOK!) Click on the image and view an enlargement.

Trim the print once it has been burnished down into place on the foam core board. (Don't trim before hand because you will have sticky Xyron edges and also it's just simpler this way to get a crisper result.)

Use the Command Strips that are simply strips—no hooks. You'll find them wherever the Command products are sold. They look like strips of Velcro. (They actually work like Velcro too, with one piece of each strip on your poster back and one on the wall.)

Attach the strip to the center back of your image, about 1 inch down from the top. For wider images you'll need to use multiple strips perhaps. Follow attachment instructions and attach to the wall.

Bingo, instant mounted poster dressing up your wall. They look crisp and happy, and are at home with painted canvases, canvas board, and framed works as well. 

Let's say you don't have any 3M Command Strips, can't find them, or have a "poster" you've just made with the foam core board that you want to hang on a non-flat place. Something like a CD tower perhaps, which is all shelves of bent wire.

Stringback9853 Left: Creating a hanging "wire" on the back of your foam core board poster. Read below for details. Click on the image and view an enlargement.

To create a "wire" at the back of your poster take a bit of gummed linen tape and sew the end of a short piece of Irish Waxed Linen Thread through the middle of the tape. Knot the end of the thread. (As shown at A. in the photo.) Allow sufficient length for slight curving of the thread (B.) and sew the other end of your thread through another piece of gummed tape.

Now you can hang your poster on a nail, a hook, or you can use two small lengths of wire to wrap around the wire shelving and catch the thread, to hold the piece even against the shelving.

Tip: you can also use strong paper (long-fiber Japanese papers would be a good choice), or small rectangles of fabric that you run through the Xyron or use PMA or Studio Tac on).

The great thing about mounting your digital images this way is that they weigh NOTHING. And of course you don't have to spend money and time framing them. And this is so simple and quick, and non-messy (no glue to get over everything or weight and dry) that you'll be enjoying your art in a heartbeat.

There is something very cheery about coming into the studio and seeing some of my journal images up on the wall.

I have a space above the door where the picture hanging rail has not been installed (don't hold your breath—it's a long story) and I thought that I could make a series of these prints to bridge that area.

ToucanRedo9867 Left: Remember this happy toucan? I'd printed him out to use on a birthday card for a friend. I printed it too large. Also since I don't sign my journal pages I added a signature digitally and the merging of the layers wasn't set up correctly (you can see a discolored rectangle around my signature). Instead of tossing this print away I now get to enjoy him every day, hanging on my CD rack right near my computer, below my favorite "30-birds" painting, which I kept. (I used the gummed tape and Irish Waxed Linen Thread technique explained above, on the back of this poster so I could attach it to the wire rack.) Click on the image
and view an enlargement.

Suggestion: How
to Reuse Your Foam Core Board and Your 3M Command Strips

Select images from your journal that look good cropped at the same
size (squares, or rectangles of the same size). Scan your images and
create digital prints. Prepare your prints as described above and hang
as a group. (Remember the grouping can go anywhere with the Command
Strips because you aren't dependent on finding studs to support any

Enjoy your journal work for a month, or two, or a year—then replace all the images in the following way. Take new digital prints sized slightly larger than your backing board and run them through your Xyron (or apply PMA or Studio Tac). (You will need to make sure that after trimming, the main part of the image you wanted is still showing on your foam core board.) Position the image sticky side down on top of the OLD IMAGE. (Make sure both are in the same top-edge orientation so that the Command Strip on the back will still be usable. Your new image will extend past the foam core board on all 4 sides.)

Burnish your image into place (with a protective sheet of paper of course). FLIP the poster so that it is face down on your cutting mat. Use the edges of the foam core board as a guide to trim the image to fit the foam core board—remember your new image's edges are jutting out past the foam core board right now. (I like to position my metal ruler along the edge of the foam core board so that I'm pushing my blade even with that metal edge and not running into the foam core board.)

Apply the completed poster to the wall where the other half of the Command Strip is still in place. Create a whole new grouping. If you replace all of the images at the same time the posters in the group will stay a consistent thickness (all will have the same number of layers) and you'll be able to do this many times with the same Command Strips and foam core board.

Something to keep in mind: Everything we've done so far is archival. We've used an archival print (you don't have to, but I happened to have those on hand), archival foam core board, and archival dry adhesive (either the appropriate Xyron cartridge or the archival PMA or Studio Tac). If you decide you want to frame your piece at a later date you still can do that!

So the next time you have extra or leftover digital prints on hand, or you just want to see some of your journal art up on your wall, give this a shot. I guarantee you'll be smiling. Journal images connect us with the moments of our lives.

  1. Reply

    Lots of great ideas Roz, thanks for sharing. Right, I’m off to print some of my journal pages 😉

  2. Reply

    Really cool ideas, as usual. The print came out great, btw. And those 3M things really are so nice. I was involved in an art-auction fund-raiser last month in a place where we weren’t allowed to pound holes in the walls. I was skeptical about whether the things would hold all that art (by other people, who would no doubt have been chagrined to see it fall and break), but the strips really held well and were easy to remove later that night when it was time to clean up.

  3. Reply

    Karen, so great to hear your experiences with Command stuff is good too. (I hung paintings at a sale recently with this stuff with no problem. I did however, have a problem with the little dab of UHU sticky stuff that you kneed up and use for sticking up posters—I used it to put up my artist statement. (Happily the site person wasn’t upset because it was a small spot and would be covered when the business sign went back up.) But I was thrilled that there were no problems with the Command product!

  4. Roz, may I ask what make & model of printer do you use?

  5. Reply

    Wow! I got so much out of this post. I’m excited to try some of these ideas and learn more about the products you described for mounting and hanging art.

    You raised an issue currently of interest to me: making prints of journal art.

    When you “make digital prints for sale” do you print them yourself? If so, could you say a bit about your printer/ink/paper and what you know about the print’s archival quality/longevity.

    When people ask to buy art in my journal I usually offer them a print, send my scan of the art to my local fine art printer who creates an archival giclee and ships it to the buyer. If I had archival ink for my inkjet that I was confident would hold up as well as watercolor I’d love to simplify by leaving out that middle step for small work.

    Thanks once again for great ideas!

  6. Reply

    Yepper Jennifer, it’s an Epson Stylus Photo R2880 which takes Epson Ultrachrome K3 inks. I love it.

    Before that I had another Epson Photo quality printer but I can’t remember the R—. I was happy with it as well, but it eventually broke (after hard use so I’m not upset) and the R2880 was one of the several new generation of Epsons that were out there when I got it. (I think I’ve had it for about 2 years.)

    Anyway it makes fabulous prints. I got this one because I have a lot of violet and blues in my work and this had vivid magenta of 2 types and was recommended for that. It can change from matte to glossy black (but that’s not what they are called—I don’t recall off the top of my head).

    People on the message boards often talked about problems with this printer and the cost of prints, but I’ve found it to be without difficulties and not expensive (as color printers go) to run.

    Good luck with your search for a color printer—it’s important to think of all the things you want to do with it. This printer can take thicker substrata so if I wanted I could print on things that have to remain flat. I haven’t done that yet—but when I got the printer of course I thought that was ALL I would be doing.

  7. Reply

    Jana, I do a couple of things with the journal art I’ve made into prints.
    1. print them myself on a printer that gives archival prints (see my comment to Jennifer about the printer.
    2. have someone else make a print run from their own scan of a piece that is too large for my scanner. (I can only fit legal size on my scanner.) (This is the most expensive option and it’s also getting harder to find commercial folks who’ll do this for small jobs. I tend to save this for prints that are going to be made in a batch and sold at a show or art sale.)

    There is a third option I haven’t tried yet but am thinking about:
    3. Using one of those on-line, print on demand services like Red Bubble (I think that’s one) where you can put your work up and people can order a print (you get to specify the paper and other specifics based on what the company has to offer and price ranges you want to keep the print within) and then the buyer deals directly with the on-line company and you get paid the “profit” after they get their cut.

    The problem with the latter is that there are so many great artists on these services that having people find your stuff is difficult. But I figure that if I decide to use it I’ll advertise on my blog. The beauty of it of course is the wrapping and postage and mailing is all out of my hands. I hate that part of all this!

    If you try item 3 let me know how it goes.

    Just a thought on giclee—it really is a term that means ink-jet (someone explained this to me, something like that) and many of the higher end (but not out of the range as far as price) printers can do prints that are as good as anything you’ll get in a “shop.” IF YOU USE THE ARCHIVAL INKS (always ask them what their inks are rated as some of the newer small machines for artists/graphic designers etc. have better inks than the older “giclees”).

    I think what you really get with a “shop” running the show is that they do a great scan, clean it up if necessary, and then do the prints with a perfect calibration between your screen, the digital file and the print out. So you are really able to deliver what you see in the original—and of course with archival inks if your studio machine doesn’t have that.

    All those steps—scanning, cleaning, printing with calibration—are time consuming and worth every penny you spend on them and if you can find a good local shop to do it then I say let them do it.

    But it can also price your prints out of the “quick” sale market. I’ve noticed that If I sell a print for $30 to $55 (depending on size) then people still buy them as impulse purchases. If I’d had them done by a shop I’d be in the $80 to $90 range for the same prints, at least, if not more—of course depending on volume (and always ask if you have buy all your prints up front to get a volume discount—some people charge extra for each printing even if it’s the same set ups).

    Since I can scan, correct, and print it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for me to have someone else do all this (esp. since I have inks that are highly rated) except on the bigger pieces, or the bigger print runs I don’t want to tie up my equipment on.

    Right now there are great inks that hold up to light/normal exposure of any artwork—i.e., not in bright sunlight—that range from 75 to 225 years (I think that’s the upper limit I’ve seen on some of the inks, but that maybe a bit inflated).

    I’m not sure what people are rating watercolors (with lightfast paints) at? 200 years, well there are inks that will do that so I say, dive in.

    But even if you go for the lower end of that for 75 year inks or something—it’s still, for a print.

    Just a few years ago I was STUNNED to walk into a store in Door Cty (a tourist area in Wisconsin I’d traveled to with a friend for her b-day) and find “PRINTS” done on a COLOR COPIER!!!!!!!!!!! That were selling in the $150.00 range for 8 x 10s, and which I knew, even with protective glass would fade in about 3-4 months!!!

    Some people who sell prints really aren’t thinking long-term and make it hard for the rest of us who want to sell stuff that will last.

    Make your prints and label them with the inks and the longevity spec so people you sell to can have confidence in what they buy.

    And don’t let yourself or them be cajoled by the word “giclee.” The word doesn’t have any real meaning in an industry scrambling for attention.

    Let me know how it goes!

  8. Reply

    Thanks Roz, That’s great info. I am also able to do a lot of the scanning and color calibration myself so if I could print smaller pieces (up to 8×10) myself with good inks then it would make selling the prints more cost effective. I have a standard form (Certificate of Authenticity) I include with each piece I sell that describes the work, the materials used, the recommended display/storage, and a thumbnail image of the work so could include info from the ink manufacturer on there. I’ll look into the Epson you describe. I guess the solution would be to use it for high quality printing and keep my nifty little Canon all in one for more office-y printing so as not to waste the ink.

  9. Reply

    Jana, I figured you could handle the tech stuff, at least on the smaller sizes of print—look into the R2880 (it actually does up to tabloid which I think is 13 x 19 inches or will do rolls which are 13 inches wide and 44 or 45 inches long), but also look at the other Epsons in that range because I know there is another one that came out at the same time (and both would have newer versions now) that did better with black for photographers, but the other thing is that some have special coating inks (my previous Epson had “gloss optimizer” which was a protective coating).

    The other thing is that my printer has draft modes for using less ink. I don’t use it for office printing however, but use a toner printer for that stuff, but if I want to make an enlargement of a journal sketch for the purpose of using it as the base of a sketch I’ll crop and enlarge it in Photoshop and print it out up to 13 x 19 inches in Draft mode and it’s pretty slick, if “low quality” and doesn’t seem to impact the ink costs much.

    So you’ll find things to do with it that the Canon won’t and you’ll enjoy having both!

    Let me know what you decide to do. Very exciting!

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