Posts in Make
8 Easy Steps For Planning A Gallery Style Art Wall

I'm working together with to present a series of posts on cattledogs about planning and installing affordable, beautiful framed art at home with prints by artists far and wide. This is the first of three posts where I provide quick and easy advice on how I plan gallery style art wall because there is a rhyme and reason to it regardless of how many times you hear designers instructing you to just wing it. That may work, but only after your wall has a ton of nail holes and spackle marks.

To be fair, yes designers CAN wing it. But that's only after installing dozens of art walls for clients -- after awhile you can eyeball stuff and intuitively know where it should hang.  But there are still some ground rules that are followed in the selection and arrangement whether the designer realizes it or not. Because that designer had to learn in the beginning and you can believe they learned art wall 101 - the importance of balance, telling a story through the work, hanging the focal point piece at eye level, etc. And they learned through a ton of trial, error and spackle paste.

HOW DO YOU PLAN AN ART WALL? 

I don't know about you, but I rummage through what I currently own that hasn't been hung yet, or in this case, I go and buy it all at once because I have a deadline and need to get my work studio finished by the end of November. No time to build my collection over time. And I see no problem with that. I'm buying prints, not fine art originals, so there doesn't need to be a lot of thought behind each piece other than, Do I love it? Yes. Do the colors work? Yes. Does it work with what I'm already planning to use? Yes. Then it's onto size, type of framing, with it be matted, etc. So when it comes to planning, the first step is to love the work and find the right spot for it in your home.

HOW DO I SELECT THE RIGHT WORK?

My first thought for this particular project was: what do I want this room to convey? Energy and joy. This is quickest to achieve through color and works that don't take themselves too seriously. So no portraits of people, no black and white city views, nothing that makes you think too hard. I wanted a wall that you would look at quickly and simply feel energized and happy. Not much more. No story telling or deep emotional tales of love and war. I guess if you call my wall a person, she would be Cameron Diaz. Peppy, happy, fun, not too deep, a twinkle in her eye, feminine, free-spirited, energetic as all hell.

WHAT IS YOUR THEME OR MOOD?

Questions worth asking when choosing art for a salon style wall include: Do you plan to show favorite patterns and shapes, colors or a theme -like that you love to travel? Are you showing only family photos? Do you want to mix paintings with photography? Will you mix original works with prints and even three dimensional objects, like porcelain objects, old keys, rulers, etc.? For my wall, I'm going to mix in three dimensional objects after I install the wall, but for now I'm simply planning out the art and I'll fill the spaces after everything is up. I like to work backwards sometimes. My theme is around patterns and shapes but beyond that, it was a mood I was going for: energy and joy.

WHAT ABOUT FRAMES?

As far as frame colors go, neutrals all tend to work well together - white, natural wood and black. When you introduce metallics, stained woods, colored frames, etc. things can start to become visually distracting. In most cases, you don’t want the frame to be the focal point, but the artwork inside. I believe the frame shouldn’t contrast with the art too much, unless you are working with a monochromatic scheme (black art, white frame). So if you have a dark plum-color painting then having it framed in natural wood or black is more complementary and warmer - a stark white frame would make the contrast too great in my opinion.

For my project, I wanted to mix and match the frames, mostly white since I thought they'd stand out nicely against the slightly gray walls in this space and I wanted some with wooden frames to complement the sideboard. Frame width is also important. Do you want it super slim, a few inches wide, or wider? Lots of country-style frames tend to be wood and very thick - almost like four barn floor planks made into a frame. Modern art galleries favor super slim frames for works-behind-glass. Like pencil width. It's your choice and really about preference more than anything. If you like it, who cares if it's not typical or common.

HOW ABOUT MATTING?

I like work that is framed and matted but I also am happy with just frames. For these works, I went with just frames. I like the look of work filling the entire area.  Mostly, when I do go with matting I go with pure white or linen. It depends on the print and the room, but either works very nicely. White shows off the work 100%, linen adds texture and warmth.

HOW DO YOU PLAN OUT AND INSTALL A GALLERY WALL?

If you lack patience like me, you can “wing it”. Planning complicates the process for me. The only real planning I do is that I measure the wall and then use Photoshop to mock up how I see the art (not 100% to scale but somewhat). I usually gather all of the work together in front of where I plan to install it and lay it out on the floor, playing with the arrangement until it looks right. In this case, I used my dining room tables since the art wall will go above the sideboard. If winging it isn't your plan of attack, here are 8 steps so you can plan it like the pros.

minted_choosingart_2

HOW TO PLAN A GALLERY ART WALL IN 8 STEPS:

 

1.  SIZE MATTERS: Measure the wall area where you plan to install the art

2.  HUNT & GATHER: Gather large pieces of solid paper in white or brown -- so wrapping paper, butcher paper, any large pieces you can find, and tape them all together to form one very large sheet of paper. This will most likely be about the size of a bed when you are finished.

3.  GET LAID: Lay all of your art on the paper and move it around until it looks good. Until the arrangement speaks to you.(In my case, I laid all of my art out on the table directly in front of the wall where I plan to install it.)

4.  HOCUS FOCUS: Make sure the focal point of your salon grouping (the boldest piece) is hung at eye level either in the center of the arrangement or slightly off center- and then place all pieces around it from there.

5.  THAT'S TIGHT: For a tight grouping of art, try places them 3” apart. I don’t suggest planning your salon style wall in a symmetrical arrangement - it’s too hard to get right and a bit boring. I think the best spacing between frames is around 4-5” apart because then each piece can breath.

6.  TRACE ELEMENTS: After the art is laid out in an arrangement that you like, trace all of the frames with a black magic marker (quick drying).

7.  I'LL STICK YOU: The next step is to stick the massive sheet of paper* to the wall, in the exact position where the art will go. Tape it using painter’s tape so it doesn’t tear the wall when you remove it. Make sure the art heights and distances between pieces look right.

8.  WELL HUNG: Hang the art directly over the paper with nails and then carefully cut out or tear down the paper when all of the art is hung. You should be left with an art wall with work in all the right places. If not, then lather, rinse and repeat. It may take a little tweaking - my first gallery style art wall was a hot mess.

In my second post in this series, I'll link you up to all of the works that I selected at along with the frame styles and sizes. My final post of this series will be the big reveal, so stay tuned!

A big thanks to  for sponsoring my salon style art wall project.

* An alternative to a large sheet of paper is to use brown paper bags from the grocery store, cut them to be the same size as the art, and move them around on the wall until they look right.

(images: holly becker for cattledogs)

4 Affordable DIY Home Decorating Projects For Autumn

Looking for some Fall-ish DIYs for your home and patio? I used to LOVE when was writing for cattledogs. Her DIY column was one that I looked forward too and even though it's been forever ago, I still miss her posts! Since so many of them were warm and cozy, and Fall is but a week away, I thought I'd highlight 4 of my favorites in case you are in need of Autumnal decorating inspiration on a budget.

1 -- Branch Pendant DIY

2 -- A quick office nook transformation

3 -- Creating a cozy dream patio

4 -- Handmade fabric wall hanging

Would you like to try any of these?

(images: anna malin lindgren)

MakeHolly Becker Comments
Red Currant Cake Recipe

Have you ever tasted a slice of fresh red currant cake? Hi! It’s Liz from "" and I’m happy to share my grandmother’s Red Currant Cake recipe with you today. It’s been in the family for years now and most family members know this cake and are reminded of our grandmother when eating it. In July we were back in the Alps enjoying a week of vacation. My daughter was delighted to see that my cousin now has seven chickens that her 12-year-old daughter takes care of. I think this is such a great way to prepare a kid for real life! Not only does she have to feed the chickens, she also has to clean their shed and collect the eggs, which she sells to neighbors and friends. She gets to keep the money she earns, but has to buy new food from the proceeds, and learns about bookkeeping in her own little chicken business!'

While filming, the kids had fun looking for the eggs and feeding the chickens. They also used the freshly discovered eggs for the dough and beat the eggwhites and make the cake.

In my last little video I told you about our au pair Taylor, who was coming to spend the summer with us. Well, she’s here now and is wonderful! What a great experience: to let someone into your life, show them your culture, learn more about theirs and share so much with them. She also starred in this video, guiding the kids through the different steps of the recipe. Actually, it’s super easy to make this cake – just try it out with your kids, too!

Red Currant Cake 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon bakingpowder 1/3 cup sugar pinch of salt 2 egg yolks 1/2 cup butter

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the eggs and the butter. Knead with your hands until it holds together. Grease a cake pan with butter and press the dough onto bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set aside.

2 1/2 cups of red currants 4 egg whites 1 1/2 cups ground almonds 1/2 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Wash the red currants and pick them from their stems, it’s easiest using a fork. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold in the ground almonds and sugar, then add the red currants. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 50 minutes. If the top turns too dark, cover it with aluminium foil and continue baking. Cool and remove the cake from the cake pan. Enjoy! - .

(photos/text/video: Lisa Nieschlag)

MakeHolly Becker Comments
Petal Cupcakes Recipe

Ready to bake some cupcakes with me? Hi everyone this is with some pretty cupcakes for you to make on for August. Although I bake regularly, I'm not much of a cake decorator so I turned to the internet for some inspiration. I found lots of pretty images and decided to decorate my cupcakes with petal decorations made from coloured marshmallows. The base is a classic vanilla butter cake recipe and I decided to include some plain flour in the mix to prevent the cakes from peaking too much.The icing is my all time favourite cream cheese icing (frosting) which I whipped for 5 minutes until it was very light and fluffy. I refrigerated the icing for about 20 minutes until it was firm enough to pipe.

I topped each cake with a rosette of the icing then decorated the cakes with a chocolate button and 4 marshmallow petals. The petals are easily made by snipping a marshmallow horizontally and like magic, the marshmallow forms the shape of a petal. You can let your imagination run wild while decorating the cupcakes. I tried out a few designs and combinations using different coloured marshmallows and different coloured chocolate buttons but decided I liked a single colour petal topped with the same coloured chocolate button grouped together en masse. Here's the recipe and instructions for you.

PETAL CUPCAKES (makes 12)
CUPCAKES 3/4 cup self raising flour 1/4 cup plain flour 100 gm (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/2 cup milk
CREAM CHEESE ICING 30 gm (1 oz) unsalted butter, softened 60 gm (2 oz) cream cheese 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 1/4 cups sifted icing sugar 1 tablespoons milk
TO DECORATE 24 coloured marshmallows Coloured chocolate buttons or Smarties

Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake liners. Preheat a conventional oven to 180C/350F. Sift the self raising flour and the plain flour together into a small bowl and set to one side. In a large bowl cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Gradually mix in the beaten egg, adding a tablespoon or so of flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Add the remaining flour and sufficient milk to form a soft cake batter. Spoon tablespoons of the cake batter into the cupcake liners. Bake the cupcakes at 180C/350F for 20-30 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden and cooked when tested with a fine skewer. Allow the cupcakes to cool a little before removing to a wire cake rack. When completely cool decorate or store undecorated in an airtight container. To make the icing, cream the butter, cream cheese and the vanilla extract together in a small bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Mix in the icing sugar and sufficient milk to make a soft icing. Whip for 5 minutes until the icing becomes very pale and refrigerate until the mixture is firm enough to pipe.

To decorate, pipe a swirl of cream cheese icing over the top of one of the cupcakes. Cut 2 marshmallows in half horizontally. Pinch the ends to make petals. Place a chocolate button in the centre of the icing, then arrange 4 of the marshmallow petals on top. Put the cupcake to one side and decorate the remaining cupcakes. Set the cupcakes to one side to set before serving.

Today is my final Delicious Bites column for cattledogs. I've been contributing to cattledogs for 5 years now, initially contributing with photos to Holly's blog posts (since 2009) then with my own column shooting shops for the  (May 2012 - December 2012) before turning to writing about my great love, food, in February 2013 and wrapping up the column here today. So after all these years on cattledogs I will miss you all. I'll still be baking and photographing for though, so please drop by to see what I'm up to. Wishing you all the best, Jillian.

(images/text: Jillian Leifboff)

Red Cabbage Smoothie Recipe

Are you guys brave foodies? Me, not so much. But sometimes I have my moments. Hello everyone, this is Jewels again from Liz & Jewels with another episode for Food in Motion. Here in New York, I see people on the streets all the time with smoothies in unexpected colors - mostly green. So they must be putting things in there that go beyond berries and bananas. Word on the healthy street is that it’s kale and spinach. I did not grow up putting vegetable in my smoothie, but I am willing to give it a try!

So for this culinary experiment I've mixed red cabbage, cucumber, pear, pear juice, mint, and for optional seasoning I've added lime. As I was making this I kept thinking, “This will NOT be good. Colorful. Photogenic. YES. But not good (to taste). Why am I doing this.” I had a childish "gross-face" on when I finally tried it. But luckily my narrow-minded taste buds were happily surprised because this smoothie actually tastes AMAZING. I promise you: it is sweet, refreshing, minty - basically everything you expect from a smoothie!

This time I was having a little fun making the video by trying out stop motion for the very first time! Yay! Another first!!

And for those who still need a recipe after watching, here we go:

A large handful of chopped up red cabbage 1/3 of a cucumber, sliced 1/2 a pear, sliced 1 cup of pear juice a few mint leaves lime for decoration ice cubes

Throw everything in the mixer. Add some ice cubes. Be creative with the decoration. Enjoy! - Julia

(Video and text: Julia Cawley)

Strawberry Pavlova Recipe

Are you ready for a delicious Strawberry Pavlova recipe? You'll want to and make this one! Hi there, it’s here with this month’s column. I’ve just spent 5 weeks in Europe and I was there for the start of the berry season. I just love berries and I can’t tell you how many punnets of strawberries and raspberries I consumed while I was away. So with berries on my mind I decided to make a Strawberry Pavlova. Australia claims the Pavlova but our close friends and neighbours from New Zealand also claim it as their own. Whoever invented it was pretty clever because the combination of a crisp meringue shell, fluffy marshmallow interior topped with lashings of cream and fruit is a winner. I’ve seen many pictures of desserts claiming to be Pavlova but I’m pretty hard line when it comes to the definition. A Pavlova must be tall and it must have a marshmallow interior and if not, then it’s not a Pavlova.

Do you have one of those old fashioned common sense cookbooks on your bookshelf that you turn to time and time again? Well I have a few and one of those is I can’t claim this Pavlova recipe as my own, because it comes straight from the pages of this well used book, but I've changed the method a little. As long as you follow the recipe, it’s actually pretty easy to make but you need to allow plenty of time to make the meringue base and time to let it cool. The base can be made well ahead of time and stored in an airtight container. Once it’s decorated, the Pavlova loses its crunch quite quickly, so don’t decorate it too far in advance.

Don’t worry if the top cracks while it bakes– it’s amazing what a dollop of cream can disguise. Generously top with berries. You really need something tart with a Pavlova to counteract the sugar in the meringue. Raspberries, blackberries or blueberries work well or as my brother prefers, simply drizzled with passion fruit pulp. Once decorated, stand back and bask in the glory as every-one admires your creation. Here's the recipe for you.

INGREDIENTS: 4 eggwhites / Pinch of salt / 1 heaped cup (230g) caster sugar / 1 teaspoon white vinegar / 1 20 ml tablespoon cornflour / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  / 1¼ cups (300ml) thickened cream, whipped /1 punnet strawberries, washed and dried / Optional – icing sugar

METHOD: Preheat the oven (conventional) to 180°C/350°F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and using a 18cm (7 inch) cake tin as your guide, mark out a circle on the paper. Flip the paper over and use this as your template. In a large clean dry bowl, beat eggwhites with the pinch of salt until stiff. Add the caster sugar gradually, one heaped tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla extract. Pile or pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, keeping within the marked circle. Smooth the top so it resembles a flat cake. It needs to be at least 5-6 cm (2-3 inches) high. Place the Pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/275°F and bake for 1¼ - 1½ hours or until the Pavlova is dry and very lightly coloured. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool completely in the switched off oven. When cool, remove the baking paper from the Pavlova and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, top the Pavlova with the lightly whipped cream and berries and lightly dust with icing sugar if desired.

 

This recipe serves six. If you’re serving a crowd you could make 2 separate Pavlovas or one really large one as this is an easy recipe to upscale. For each egg white, you need ¼ cup caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of cornflour and ¼ teaspoon each of vanilla extract and vinegar.  If you’re making a larger Pavlova, make an 8 or 9 inch template and extend the cooking time by 15 – 30 minutes. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites recipe. -

(text/styling/photography: jillian leiboff)