Trash to Treasure: Pumpkin Wall Art

I love to decorate for the seasons of the year.  I think the fall decorations are my favorites.  I love pumpkins, and when Thanksgiving is over and it's time to bring out the Christmas decorations, I like to take my pumpkins outside and decorate the back border of our property with them, setting up colorful vignettes that I can see from the windows in my house.  Throughout the remainder of winter, I don't have to wait for spring blooms to make their appearance in order to see bursts of color among the dead leaves or blankets of snow.

I took photos of my pumpkin displays, and all of a sudden the idea hit me to recycle these pumpkins yet again by having a photo of one of my own pumpkin displays enlarged for framing.  How exciting!  I love it when an idea like that strikes me! The real fun was searching for the perfect "trash to treasures" frame.

In the end, these recycled pumpkins served as decorations for our home for a third time. First, the fresh-picked pumpkins decorated the inside of our home in the fall. Then they decorated the outdoors behind our house throughout the winter months.  Finally, they re-entered our home as an image captured and a memory that lingers.  If you're interested in the step-by-step how-to's, read on.

First the print: A 20"x30" enlarged photo that cost next to nothing:

Many of you probably use a photo organization website for creating albums and other products from your photos.  I use Shutterfly.  It just so happened that I recently received a coupon on a Target register receipt for $20 toward any purchase at Shutterfly.  Wow!  Perfect timing!  I ordered a 20"x30" enlargement of my pumpkin photo for $22.99 and tacked it onto another order so I didn't have to pay additional shipping.  Using my $20 coupon code, my enlargement only cost me $2.99.  It really pays to keep an eye out for coupons and sales. (By the way, Shutterfly often has sales of up to 50% off. I never pay full price.)

Next, finding the right frame .... or did the frame find us?

Once I got my pumpkin print, I needed to find a suitable frame for it.  I knew "rustic" would be the only way to go.  A few years ago, a friend gave me a couple of antique doors to use for my hen house.  We used one on the front as a man door, and we cut another in half, using one half as a clean-out door on the back of the coop.

The remaining half-door has been sitting behind the shed for three years, waiting for a good use for it to be determined.   It has been determined! It would make a great picture frame!

Step-by-step instructions for turning an old door into a rustic picture frame:

Here we go, turning trash into treasure again.  I so love it!  First, a power-washing to remove dirt and moss and unwanted paint, without stripping the half-door of all its aged and weathered beauty.

There are a couple of pieces of rusty hardware still attached to this old door:  half of a latch and a hinge.  Of course I will leave them there.  They add to the unique character and rustic charm of this frame.

We removed the inset panels of the door and measured the center opening.  It was not the exact size we needed for our print, so we had to take the frame apart and cut the boards down to the right size.

These are pieces that we cut off of two of the boards.  Look at the dowel joints that were used to hold them together. They are impressive! We drilled new holes in the boards and reused the old dowels.

This is one of the ends that we cut off.  Again, the craftsmanship of this routed draw joint is so impressive!

The door frame had a traditional frame-and-panel groove to hold the center inset panel. We used a table saw on each board to cut away the backside portions of that joint, forming a ledge (rabbet joint) to hold the print. We also used the table saw to cut a slit (a kerf) in the board above the ledge so that when the picture is assembled, the backing clips can be turned into the wood to hold the print in place.

We re-assembled the frame, using wood glue to reinforce it and clamps to hold it together while the glue dried.

The clean ends of the cut boards don't have the aged patina, so we had to darken them.

I examined the aged wood to pick out individual craft paint colors that could be blended to match.

Using an art brush with a wide, flat tip, I stroked the colors on in thin lines. Wiping the excess paint off the brush frequently, I blended the colors together, adding a little more of one color or another as needed until it matched the old wood.  It's not a solid color application.  I used thin strokes of color and blended them together with a dry brush.

I applied a coat of satin-finish polyurethane to the whole project to seal the porous surface.

I needed to come up with some glass to protect the print and a backing for the frame.  After getting some pricing for custom-cut glass, I came up with a less expensive solution.  I saw that Michael's was having a 40% off sale on picture frames.  I also found a bonus coupon on Michael's website for 25% off on any purchase, including regular and sale priced items.  I found a frame in the size I needed.  The original price was $49.99, but with the sale and bonus coupon, I paid $22.49.  The total cost of this trash-to-treasure project was $25.49.

I used the glass and the backing from the picture frame I bought for my rustic door-turned-picture frame.  Someday I will find a good purpose for the unused store-bought frame as well.

It was so exciting to reach the point in my project when the enlarged photo print was inserted into the frame.  Notice how the frame already had a traditional routed inside edge that once retained the door's inset panels.

The final outcome, Trash to Treasure:

You be a judge.  Which is the more suitable frame for the pumpkin print: the store-bought frame on the left, or the aged door frame?  I know my answer.

Now these recycled pumpkins are serving as decorations for our home for the third time. First, the fresh-picked pumpkins decorated our home last fall.  Then they decorated the outdoors behind our house throughout the winter months.  Now they re-enter our home as an image captured and a memory that lingers.

And the rustic, old, antique door has been recycled too, to serve another generation.  It once opened and closed for those who passed through it in some long-ago home.  Now it divides its place in my heart as a service door on my hen house and as wall art above the fireplace in my family room. It's no longer trash.  It's a treasure!

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  1. Very neat, Katie! I'm not one for leaving the pumpkins out for the winter, because I think they look really sad covered with before I take them to the chickens for a treat, I think I'll try your idea. Again, very neat!! Thanks for the idea.

    1. Thank you Meredith! They don't look so sad in a group; they have company! haha Enjoy your pumpkins! ~Katie

  2. It is a beautiful compliment to your fireplace. Are you going to switch out the photo seasonally?

    1. Thanks so much Becky! I do switch out the hanging above the fireplace seasonally. Did you see the flag I made for the summer season? It goes well with the national holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July.