C is for Crafts: DIY Colored Pencil Frame
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I love seeing all the back-to-school photos posted on social media this time of year. All those cute little faces eager for a new year of learning showing off their new school clothes and backpacks just melt my heart. I can’t believe how fast my girls are growing up – we have one more year until Ava starts kindergarten. I started taking back-to-school photos last fall when she started preschool. It is amazing how much she has grown and changed in that one short year. I have been thinking that it would be fun to make a colorful frame that we could use every year for these traditional first day of school pictures, but couldn’t quite come up with the right idea. I recently came across a basket of colored pencils that I stocked up on when they were on sale for under $1 a box. I was inspired to use them for my back-to-school frame project. From there this DIY colored pencil frame project was born. Here is how I made it:
Craft frame with an 8×10 inch opening
Colored pencils – approximately 10 (12 ct) boxes
Gather your materials and wipe down your frame to remove any loose debris, dust and price stickers. I purchased my frame at my local craft store for under $10 using a coupon of course! The frame was a simple unfinished wood frame that was 2 inches wide on all four sides. I decided to make a frame to hold an 8×10 image as many of the free printables I have found online automatically print out of a standard size piece of printer paper.
Spend some time planning out your design before you start cutting your pencils. I decided to alternate the sharpened end with a non-sharpened end all the way across. I followed the same pattern on the opposite side so that it would almost appear as it the pencil stretched all the way across.
In order to get my pencils the correct size I calculated that it would work best to cut each pencil into thirds. I did this by using a ruler across my cutting board to help me make accurate cuts. Using my Xacto knife I scored the pencil all the way around and then gently bent it until the piece broke away. I then cleaned up the cut edges with the Xacto knife to ensure a smooth end. I did not worry too much about making sure all the pieces were exactly the same length. I had a few instances where the pencil split or chipped – I just made sure to glue the damaged side down when attaching them to my frame.
It is important to have a pencil sharpener handy to sharpen the mid sections of the pencils when you need a sharpened end for your pattern. I sharpened these pieces as needed during the gluing process.
I worked in a rainbow pattern starting across the top and bottom just above and below the glass. I then worked down each side from top to bottom. I alternated with dark red and light red, dark green and light green, and dark blue and violet to use as many pencils from each box as I could. I was left with black, brown and white pencils in each box. I am already thinking about a future project for these colors!
Using my hot glue gun, I applied a strip of glue for each pencil, pushing them up against each other as close as possible and allowing a little to hang over each edge of the frame. Again I did not worry too much if they were not exactly the same length. The variation added more character to the finished product.
This project becomes a little tedious as it can be slow going with all the cutting and sharpening. I think I worked on this frame for between 3 and 4 hours total. I would work for an hour at a time and then come back to it. All of the hard work was worth it as I do love the finished product!
When all your pencils have been glued into place, allow the glue to dry thoroughly. Pull off any loose strings of glue or pencil dust with your fingers or a soft clean cloth. Carefully remove the glass from the frame and clean both sides with non-streaking glass cleaner to remove any fingerprints, glue or dust that might have collected there during the project.
Insert your “First Day of School” print out into your colored pencil frame and get ready for pictures!
I can see us using this fun DIY colored pencil frame for many years to come. I will watch to see how well it holds up over time and may find it necessary to seal the pencils with some spray shellac to preserve them. For now, I will just see how it goes. I think it could be fun to use this frame as a count down to the first day of school in addition to taking the actual pictures. This would also make a darling teacher appreciation gift. Please let me know if you attempt this project. I would love to hear how your colored pencil frame turns out in the comment section! Wishing you all a successful back-to-school season this year and every year. Happy crafting!
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