I’ve been framed.

If you asked me what I buy more of than anything else while yard saling or thrifting, the answer would easily be picture frames. They’re so doggone USEFUL. If you have a booth, and you’re not buying them, you should start immediately!  They’re almost always inexpensive — I just bought two box fulls at a thrift for $21.00 — a total of around 20 frames of all shapes and sizes. You often have to look past the hideous, 1980s print or the faded cross-stitch inside of the frame (or the dated oak finish to the frame itself )  and imagine the frame gussied up with paint.

I spray paint all of my frames that I use for the prints I sell in the booth, and the color I use most often is, hands down, Rustoleum’s Heirloom White. I have tried all of the other brand’s cream colors, and none of them compare with this one — the perfect cream, the perfect consistency.

My prints are one of my biggest sellers at my Daisies and Olives booth, and they’re really fun and easy to do. I don’t create the art that I use — I am not at all talented enough to do that. There are incredibly gifted artists that sell their work online — my favorite sources are Creative Market and Etsy. You can search for “digital downloads” and just start clicking through. The art is affordable and you can download it immediately after you pay. If you’re re-selling, you have to pay special attention to the terms of use — some of the artists require you to purchase a commercial license to re-sell the images (it’s usually pretty affordable to do this), though a lot of them do not require that as long as your print run is small (under 100) or as long as you’re not selling digital downloads of the art yourself. These people put a lot of time and effort into their designs and sell it so affordably — I try to be very careful about following the rules and making sure I’m not violating any of the terms of use.

Choosing fonts are one of my favorite parts of the process — I have always been a font fan and currently have nearly a thousand on my computer. There are a bazillion wonderful free fonts out there (dafont.com, fontsquirrel.com, ,etc.), but, like the art, often they require a fee in order to use them for commercial purposes. Be sure to check the terms of use on each one.  One of my favorite combinations is Janda Stylish Script  and Always Here — for $7 total I got a commercial license to use those fonts. Totally affordable and worth every penny. If you click on the name of the font, it will take you to a page that explains the font artist’s commercial policies.

I use Illustrator to design the prints (though you could use any program you’re comfortable with) and have them printed at Office Depot. When we first moved to Fayetteville, I did print tests at Kinko’s, Office Max, and Office Depot — Kinko’s was TERRIBLE and Office Max was a tiny bit superior to Office Depot. They’ve since consolidated with Office Depot, and the printing there is perfectly fine. I use an 80lb or 100lb white matte cardstock. (Years ago, we had a really expensive, professional-grade printer; the cost of re-filling the ink cartridges was astronomical and even though it was way more convenient for me to print at home, it wasn’t cost effective. I get these printed at Office Depot for under $2 each.)

If you’re going to be framing your own prints, a point driver is an invaluable tool. This is the one I have. Once you have your print and a sturdy backing in the frame, you use this tool to drive framer’s points into the frame to hold the print securely into the frame, giving it a professional look — if the print isn’t securely placed in the frame, it will buckle or bubble. To finish, I use Kraft paper I found at Home Depot for super cheap, a sharp xacto knife, and a hot glue gun to cover the back neatly. It makes it look a bit more professional.

This year for Christmas, I asked family members for their favorite quotes so that I could design a print for them — the results were really cool and I loved that they were customized for each family member. My mother-in-law’s choice:

I made her promise to tell everyone that the quote was her choice when she tells them that her daughter-in-law made this for her! (Artist is Jorgen McLeman)

For my Sister-in-law:

(Artist is marushabelle)

For Justin’s cousin, a young, hip, adorable twenty-something:

(Artist is morethangraphics)

For another of Justin’s cousin, who is expecting a baby soon (yay!):

(These were separated in two frames meant to hang next to each other.)

(Art by Miss Tiina and decorartist)

And, finally, for my other sister-in-law, who shares my love of the song Three Little Birds:

(Art by TanglesTreasures)

(This is supposed to represent Michelle and her own four little birds.)

The prints went over really well (I’m lucky to have family that truly appreciates handmade gifts) and I loved being able to customize them for each person.

Office Depot can only print up to size 12X18 without going to the large format printer which 1. won’t print on cardstock and 2. is WAY more expensive than having them use the regular printer. However, if I find frames larger than that size at a reasonable price, I still buy them, because you can use fabric or decorative paper to re-cover a mat (if the old print includes one) or simply mount your print on top of the paper or fabric if a mat didn’t come with the frame.

For the really big frames, you can do fun things like use Staple’s inexpensive engineer prints to do black and white quotes:

(Pardon the cheesy Instagram filter)

OR frame inexpensive wrapping paper (Cavallini Paper Co. is my favorite company for this — I think I’ve said this before, but if you ever find any half-price Cavallini calendars, buy those suckers up, because every page is suitable for framing):

(Another cheesy Instagram filter. SORRY!)

And if none of that tickles your fancy, you can also frame pages and illustrations from vintage and antique books. I only do this if the book is in bad shape and about to fall apart. Framing children’s book illustrations are a perfect way to decorate a nursery.

Vintage greeting cards: why keep them stashed away in a drawer? There are so many adorable vintage cards that NEED to be framed and displayed. Also great decor for a nursery or children’s room.

Or think outside the box and frame vintage doll clothes or children’s clothes.

And don’t pass up the larger frames even if they don’t have glass — chalkboards are easy to make and are usually quick sellers.

Thus ends my public service announcement: FRAMES. BUY THEM FOR THEIR MANY USES.

Unless, of course, you live in Northwest Arkansas, in which case DO NOT BUY THEM. Leave them for me. 🙂



January 7, 2015 - 4:08 pm

Anne Holcomb Great info Lara, I loved it and your work. If you could make me the I love in the morning and the afternoon, I would greatly appreciate it and will gladly pay you. That is my grand daughters and my song we sing all the time. Do your magic girl.

January 8, 2015 - 8:52 am

Pam @ House of Hawthornes Ok, you’ve convinced me. I’ll buy the ugly frames and gussy them up! I love the ones with the vintage doll clothes in them. Super cute.

January 10, 2015 - 6:57 pm

Shara But what if I buy them FOR you? 🙂 All your prints are so darned cute! Our dimly lit FFYS booth would be nothing without your fun prints!

January 18, 2015 - 7:05 pm

Heather Ok, I am pretty computer illiterate..when you say you use illustrations from outside sources and download them digitally and have them printed at Office Depot…how is this done? Your stuff is just brilliant and I would love to try it out for myself … How do “bring” them to the store? And how do you make them?

January 25, 2015 - 2:17 pm

Lara Jo Hey, Heather! First, thanks so much for your sweet comments — I really appreciate that. The clip art I buy from Etsy or Creative Market comes in a variety of file formats — .eps, .png, .jpg — and I use Adobe Illustrator to design the prints (I used to use PhotoShop, and before that even used MS PowerPoint, so I think you could use just about any program that allows you to import images). Once the print is designed, I save it as a .pdf, put it on a flash drive, and take it to Office Depot to be printed out. You can also upload your files to Office Depot’s website, but my files are sometimes too big, and there were a few times when they were printed incorrectly, so I just started going down there in person with my flash drive. Does that help at all? PLEASE let me know if you have any other questions or if I can help in some way!!!

January 25, 2015 - 2:19 pm

Lara Jo Please, Shara, my prints would be nothing without your delightful vintage wares!

January 25, 2015 - 2:21 pm

JunkHunk Absolutely gorgeous. And the projects are nice, too.

January 25, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Lara Jo Thank you, Pam!!

January 25, 2015 - 2:22 pm

Lara Jo Hey, Anne! I will be happy to do that. I don’t have two frames that are the same size, which are necessary with that design, but I could make you one print with both quotes on it if you want me to. Let me know! Thanks for the compliments!

January 25, 2015 - 2:32 pm


January 25, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Heather You are awesome, thanks!

February 5, 2015 - 9:29 pm

Shannon I am in LOVE with your print designs. You have a gift for these designs! I can see why they are flying off the shelves!