Canvas on a picture rail?
May 14, 2016 12:32 AM   Subscribe

How do I create an ever-evolving wall space to stick art & postcards on if I'm not allowed to use Blu-Tack but do have a picture rail with hooks?

So my landlord/agent doesn't let me Blu-tack anything on the walls (this is not uncommon in Australia). There is a picture rail with a bunch of hooks on it already in the apartment. (that's not my house but that gives you an idea of what I mean)

I would like to have some kind of wall space where I could put up a collage of stuff that grows over time - art, postcards, memorabilia, that sorta thing. Given this restriction, how can I recreate this with the picture rail and the hooks?

I was thinking maybe finding a big canvas and hanging that off the hooks, and then Blu-Tacking everything else onto THAT. is that practical? Where do I get the canvas and how do I get it hang-ready?

(I'm in Melbourne)
posted by divabat to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not hang a cork board and use tacks and sticky putty on that? Large canvases can be very expensive and heavy. I'd use some thick wire and figure out the best way to hang it but it hard to decide how I'd do it unless it was my wall. Eta you can paint cork board.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:38 AM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't know how to wire things! (Well, without them crashing to the ground anyway) So advice on that aspect is especially appreciated.
posted by divabat at 12:45 AM on May 14, 2016

Canvas would work. Or a cork notice board. Or even a stiff bit of cardboard. I'd just use string or strong fishing line to hang the canvas off.

I've seen canvases at Target, Big W and Spotlight. Pretty sure I've seen small ones at the supermarket too.
posted by poxandplague at 1:14 AM on May 14, 2016

Get some fishing line or some thin coloured yarn or string or whatever you like, string paper clips or binder clips onto it with simple knots to hold them at regular intervals, and hang several of these contraptions from the picture rail. If you want something more substantial, you can get narrow chains with clips already attached like so, just attach one end to the picture rail and let them hang down.
posted by cilantro at 1:47 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did a DIY version of this several years ago. I bought a gigantic and extremely ugly picture at a thrift shop and then attached sheet metal from a chain home improvement store to the canvas using liquid nails. (Make sure it's magnetic! Bring a magnet!) Voila, instant magnet board. For magnets I used those tiny strong ones. I covered mine with fabric but you could also paint it with normal or chalkboard paint.

To affix such a thing to a wall using a picture rail, I would just suspend it from two locations to distribute the weight using a standard picture hanging kit.
posted by xyzzy at 1:47 AM on May 14, 2016

Staple some wire across the back of an empty picture frame and hang things with clips or pegs, then hang the frame from the picture rail. You could also use chicken wire.
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 2:10 AM on May 14, 2016

I've done things like that with corkboards and with a sheet of card covered in hessian. Card is good in the sense that you can tape, staple, glue and pin, and then take it down in one piece later if you want to. Card is also basically free.

I'd need a pic of your actual rail, but two lengths of cord at either end should do it.

You could also use 3M hooks like these guys. I've used them in a few places I've lived at - including on wallpaper - with no fuss at all. I'd stress sticking to the brand name ones as I've tried knockoffs and they aren't as good.
posted by Jilder at 2:31 AM on May 14, 2016

As Cilantro said, use fishing line, not wire. Get fairly heavy monofilament nylon line. It's rated by how much weight it will carry, and you don't care that the weight they're talking about is fish, not art. The stuff is almost invisible in use, and is much easier to knot than wire is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:20 AM on May 14, 2016

Hooks (that aren't already on the picture rail) will have to be preapproved by the landlord, so I'm trying to avoid them.
posted by divabat at 4:28 AM on May 14, 2016

Blu-tack is out, but how about Command products? I'm assuming the objection to the Blu-tack is that it leaves residue, but the Command products really, really don't. And they're easy to use.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on May 14, 2016

What about DIY-ing this type of decorative clothes-peg frame. I've done this with the largest size IKEA RIBBA frames, which allows you to hang multiple rows of postcards or photographs. I wasn't able to source the minature "clothes-pins" supplied with that product, I used small bulldog clips from a stationery shop instead.
posted by almodis at 6:25 AM on May 14, 2016

Picture wire is really easy to work with. If you get a cork board with hooks already mounted, you just make a loop and twist it around like a twist tie.

Those hooks should be movable without creating any additional holes. That's the point of a picture rail.
posted by advicepig at 6:27 AM on May 14, 2016

I would suspend a thin elegant shelf, maybe with a backboard attached, then lean the postcards etc. on the shelf. You might have to make the shelf: two pieces of wood attached together, basically, with maybe a small piece of molding along the front edge to provide a stop.

First piece of wood: 1/2" x 2-3" x 3-4' (forgive my American units) - base/bottom of shelf
Second piece of wood: 1" x 6-8" x 3-4' (same long length as above) - back board of shelf
Small piece of molding to go along front edge, also 3-4' long (same length as above)
4 screw eyes
10' picture wire
2 metal rings that will fit over existing picture hooks

Attach pieces of wood together to make a long, right-angled shelf, with the backboard eventually going above the bottom piece. Attach the (thinner) bottom piece to the edge of the (thicker) back board, since you'll want to drive screws into the edge of the thicker piece. Use glue first, then make pilot holes and use wood screws to attach.

Glue molding along front edge if you want, stain if you want, then hang with picture wire from the existing hooks.


| ,
posted by amtho at 6:59 AM on May 14, 2016

What about a single white flat bed sheet? Use safety pins to stick stuff on to it and bulldog clips/clothes pegs/ picture hooks to hold it to the picture rail.
posted by taff at 7:00 AM on May 14, 2016

I would plead ignorance at the hardware store about picture handing wire and hooks for the picture rail, though the idea of using a cord instead of wire is attractive. Cork board is good for pinning things, but maybe not for adhesive solutions.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:01 AM on May 14, 2016

I got my cousin who's a cabinet maker to put up pin up boards floor to ceiling. Not a great pic, but you get the idea - I've since filled the walls with postcards, menus, exhibition/band posters, travel memorabilia, badges, even framed things [if you don't mind putting velcro dots on them.] I just love it, and it's my AirBnB room and my guests love it. They add their own bits to it. Every single thing on the wall [2 walls, 2400Hx1200W panels x6] is a memory carrier and gives me hours of delight.

You could probably hang them on hooks? Or you could lean them against the wall. When I move, which is imminent, I am going to unscrew them from the wall and take everything, as is, to my next place.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2016

honey-barbara's pin up board is EXACTLY what I was picturing when I wrote this, but assume I don't have the know-how or resources to do much DIYing (so solutions like amtho's are unworkable). Do they come pre-made? How would I hang that off a picture rail, since it seems heavy?

The last time I had a wall like this (which I could Blu-Tack to my heart's delight) I have all sorts of stuff of differing sizes, from receipt-size papers to A3 paintings, arranged sort of mosaic-like. Clothespin-related solutions wouldn't be ideal because there would be way too many of these and some would be obscured by the clothespeg just by sheer size.
posted by divabat at 7:28 AM on May 14, 2016

You could use a large sheet of foamcore board or heavy corrugated cardboard. You can get panels up to 8 feet x 4 feet. A printing company that does oversize signs would probably sell you a panel or tell you where you can get one.

You could suspend the panel at 4 or more spots using big binder clips to attach the wire or twine to the sheet. If you buy the panel from a printer, they can put grommets spaced along the top edge to run the wire or twine through.

You could get a blank panel or get something printed on the whole thing, maybe a picture of a brick wall or a landscape or a sky full of clouds or anything that would make a background for all your pictures. In the US, I usually pay around US$100 for a 8x4 printed sign with grommets. I'm not sure how much cheaper a blank would cost.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:45 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think you could ask a/your cabinet maker. I paid cost plus (material at cost, labour $50ph) and in AUD it was about $1000 for six panels, five years ago. You don't need that many, and although it's a lot of outlay, it's a transportable massive piece of art. Mine have a relatively solid enough substrate that could probably withstand leaning. You could ask the cabinet maker about fixing constraints.

One thing I've learned is that DIY is not a cost saver to me for things like this. DIO is my motto now Do It Once. And that means outsourcing the transport of materials, site preparations, grunt labour and fixings. If I was you I'd go to one of the many tender sites online eg I've used OneFlare - and write out the dimensions and what you want and the constraints. You'll get a bunch of offers and quotes and solutions within a few days.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:35 PM on May 14, 2016

This is a long shot, but if there are any surplus stores in your area, be on the lookout for a large standing chalkboard on wheels. You might be able to get one for cheap. I had one growing up in my bedroom that my parents got at a surplus school sale that was amazing, and it would work really well for this purpose.

You could also consider getting two large easels and use them as a stand for a piece of MDF or something similar, which you could then cover in burlap, but easels might be out of your price range.
posted by sockermom at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2016

« Older Toronto For First Timers!?   |   Hard lumps under the skin Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.