Learn how to make large DIY framed canvas art to fill a big open wall in your home!
If there's one area where I struggle when it comes to decorating our home, it has to be wall art. I want to be intentional about the things that fill our walls. I want them to have meaning and substance. And of course I want them to look pretty.
My struggle with filling our walls has been even more magnified since we moved into our new house because not only do we have more wall space to fill, but we also went from 7.5' ceilings in the townhouse to 9' ceilings in the new house, making almost all of the wall decor I already owned look really, really tiny.
I was especially having trouble with the wall space between the two windows in the living room that face the back of our house. I have tried several different pieces there over the 12 months we have now been in our house, and I haven't really liked any of them.
This was my first attempt shortly after we moved in, even before Donnie had trimmed out the windows:
Clearly everything was way too small!
By the time summer rolled around, I had replaced my original attempt with something a little larger (though still not large enough), but I found myself trying not to show this wall in my home tours because I just didn't love how it looked at all.
When I was getting ready for my fall home tour, then, I was determined that I would finally find the right pieces for this space. I didn't find anything at the store that was a perfect fit, but I had the idea to make something myself that I would love and want to keep around for a while.
How to Make Large DIY Framed Canvas Art
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
- 2 Canvases (I used 24" x 30" gallery wrapped traditional canvases and happened to get them at Michael's for only $11 each when they were having a big sale-- woot!)
- White Paint (I used Behr Arcade White.)
- Paint Brush
- Adhesive Vinyl
- Silhouette Machine
- Transfer Paper
- Scraper Tool
- Spray Adhesive
- 1x2s (I bought four 6' pine 1x2s at The Home Depot.)
- Miter Saw
- Stain (I used Minwax Dark Walnut.)
- Nail Gun
- Wood Glue
Step 1- Cut the Frame Pieces
The first thing I did when I started this project was recruit Donnie to help me cut the framing pieces. I did this first because I knew I wanted to stain them, so I needed to give them plenty of time to dry.
He used his miter saw to make 45 degree angled cuts at the length of each side of my canvases, leaving me with two shorter pieces and two longer pieces per canvas.
Step 2- Stain the Frame Pieces
I took my cut down 1x2s out to the garage and used a rag + Minwax Dark Walnut stain to stain my pieces. I ended up doing 2 coats to get the color I wanted.
Step 3- Paint the Canvases
While my stain was drying, I laid out my canvases on foam boards and gave them a quick coat of paint. (You could skip this step if you want to, but I like to do it because I think it gives the canvases just a little bit more "texture" to them.) I used Behr Arcade White, which is just ever so slightly off white, and I really liked how it turned out.
Step 4- Create Your Design
As everything was drying, I headed over to my computer to create my design in the Silhouette Studio software. I chose to use the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, How Great Thou Art, for my design, but you can, of course, use whatever you want!
I set my design page settings at 12" x 24" so that I could lay out my words next to each other to see how they would look. For reference, I used a font called Didot in 133 pt size. I was also sure to right align the words for my first canvas and left align the words for my second canvas so that they would line up neatly together.
Step 5- Cut Your Design
From there, I was ready to cut my design. I fed my vinyl directly into the machine, rather than using a cutting mat (so choose "Load Media" rather than "Load Mat" on the Silhouette machine)...
And I always just use their recommended cut settings for vinyl, which is blade at 1, speed at 5, and thickness at 10. Once my design was cut, I weeded away the excess vinyl.
Step 6- Transfer Your Design
By this time the paint on my canvas was dry. Because canvas can be a tougher surface for vinyl to adhere to, I always give the area where my words will be a light coating of spray adhesive. I let it dry for about 5-10 minutes after the initial spray so that it is a little bit tacky when I go to transfer over my words.
(Some people have asked if the spray adhesive stays sticky forever or dries eventually. I just use a very, very light coating of adhesive, this is my 4th canvas project using this method, and it has always dried out completely for me eventually.)
While I was letting the spray adhesive dry, I cut a piece of transfer paper to the size I needed it and lined up my design for one of the canvases with the grid marks on the transfer paper. I then used my scraper tool to make sure the vinyl was firmly adhered to the transfer paper.
As you can see, I was running a little short on transfer paper when I was doing this project, so I just used a few pieces of Frog Tape to cover the last little bit, and it worked just fine. Silhouette brand transfer paper is always my first choice for transferring, though, because I've found it's the easiest to work with of all the different transfer methods I've tried.
Before I put my words on the canvas, I put some books down under them so I would have a harder surface to transfer my vinyl letters onto.
Next I used a level on my canvas to make sure I was going to line up my words in the right place. Spacing was especially important on this particular project because if the words didn't line up exactly right on the two canvases, they would look odd hanging as a set. Putting a level across the two canvases (and making sure it was perfectly level) allowed me to line up the top of my design in the right place and also helped me to make sure that my words were the correct distance from the side of the canvas. (I left about 2" between the words and the edge of the canvas.)
(This was after I had it moved the level and put it back so I could take a picture, so it's not completely level here, but you get the idea. ?)
Once I was confident in the placement of my words on the canvas, I again used my scraper tool to try to make sure my vinyl letters were adhered to the canvas as firmly as possible. Even with all of my scraping, I was very, very careful as I peeled back my transfer paper because the vinyl will still want to stick to the paper sometimes rather than the canvas.
I typically peel my transfer paper away starting in the upper left corner and peeling back diagonally toward the bottom right corner. If my words try to come up with the transfer paper, I sometimes need to use my scraper tool or my nails to hold the letter in place on the canvas as I peel away the transfer paper. It can be a tedious process sometimes, but using the spray adhesive that I mentioned before helps to make it a little easier.
Once I had one set of words in place, I repeated the same process with the words on the other canvas, making sure the words on the two canvases lined up with one another exactly.
Step 7- Attach the Frame
I actually let my stained frame pieces dry for a few days before I attached them to my canvas because I didn't want them to smudge up my beautiful artwork if they weren't dry! When I was 100% confident that they were dry, Donnie used his nail gun to adhere each piece to the frame, putting a small bit of wood glue on each corner where the 1x2s met to make sure they would stay together.
Be sure to double check that your frame pieces line up perfectly around the canvas. Donnie had to cut a few of our pieces down a tiny bit with the miter saw right before we attached them to make sure there wouldn't be a big gap between the frame and the canvas.
We opted to put the back of our frame flush with the back of the 1x2, so there was a little big of overhang with the wood in the front of the canvas. We really liked the look it created.
Step 8- Hang Your Masterpieces!
All that was left to do was hang up our art and fill up that great big wall that has been bugging me for over a year now! We ended up hanging some flowy white curtains around the windows too, and the combination has me swooning!!
Let's take a look at the before and after of that wall that was giving me so much trouble:
I love it so much more, and I really don't even think the picture does it justice. They feel like a statement piece when you walk in the room, and I'm thrilled to finally have something in this spot that I love!
If you're looking for more canvas project ideas, you can see a few I've made in the past below:
Do you prefer to buy the art for your home or do you DIY it? And if you have any tips on filling big walls, I'd love to hear them in the comments below!
Hope you're having a wonderful week!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.