Wall o’ Places

by Karen

Not every project goes according to plan…

Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,

New York, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

These are all the places we have lived between the two of us. We have lived in four states since becoming a couple (of incredibly charming peeps) and will continue to rack up places as time goes on. I have been wanting to incorporate the documentation of places lived into our decor for quite some time but never got around to it. I have seen the plaques exclaiming Home is Where the Army Sends Us, complete with each base the family had been stationed at, but that is not for us. Because we have lived places the Army hasn’t sent us and Clay’s military career (so far) as been a mix of active duty, active guard, guard, and now (probably) reserves. Talk about variety!

So this idea just came to me while I was watching Same Time, Next Year. For whatever reason, the movie (originally a play) reminded me of my mom. Not because she carried on a multiyear affair but because she listened to the theme song (The Last Time I Felt Like This) a lot when running errands while I was a young lassie. This got me thinking about growing in Arizona and then about all of the places I have lived since. And then an idea was born.

I started out by printing all of the places we lived (400 serif black font) on medium weight watercolor paper. It was then that Clay reminded me that I forgot a state. I was born in Michigan and lived there for the first two years of life. Oops. I also didn’t like how dark the black was…it was too much contrast with the white.

So I reprinted the states (being sure to include Michigan this time around) in a light grey. I also increased the font size to 425. Exciting times around here.

I wanted to put the states in a weathered frame like the one above.

But I didn’t want to pay $20 per frame. Yikes!

So I bought eight 5 X 7 frames from Goodwill of various texture and size.

The grand total was $6.90.

I bought a jar of sample latex paint from Home Depot – a beige/grey. I also grabbed tubes of black and white acrylic from my paint stash. I sanded the frames to ensure the paint would stick and then proceeded to paint the frames using a water-wash type method.

(in progress)

I just continued to paint until I was able to arrive at the desired ‘weathered’ effect.

After I put the states in the frames, I liked it but didn’t love it. Something wasn’t working…

So I printed the states on the medium weight watercolor paper again, only doing an outline. Then I painted each state with varying degrees of black, white, and grey. I chose the four states that came out the best and switched the original printed grey with the new painted ones. I also put them in the frame slightly askew, just for more visual interest.

The frames are seen here with my beloved H (the first letter of our last name) just to illustrate one of the various layouts I am thinking for display. But here is the problem – we have only lived in 8 states. This poses a problem because I LOVE things in 3’s. If I had it my way, I would have three rows of three states. But I can’t. Clay has spent over 26 months of his life in Afghanistan,  so I suppose that I can justify including it in our Wall o’ Places but I think afg would look odd among the two letter abbreviations, don’t you?

So I am not completely sold on my Wall o’ Places. I love the idea behind it – an art piece that isn’t easy to get upon first glance. I may put the frames even closer together so it isn’t clear that it is a hodgepodge of states. I’d rather have someone think it is a random sampling of letters. Maybe I will mix in some other items. Or not. I think the states will go above the desk in the family room. I think. Who knows? I have been known to change my mind on occasion. Only time will tell. We move into the house in just a little over a month and a half. Excitement!