Making Art of the Ordinary

One of the most interesting pieces of wall décor in my mom’s house is a grouping of yardsticks that my grandfather collected through the years, which she had professionally framed. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have a wealth of interesting items and art but these yardsticks never fail to grab attention and spark conversation. Same with the pencils she has saved or spotted at antique stores, then framed in a similar fashion. Things as ordinary as yardsticks or pencils, when arranged together and en masse, form interesting art. The collection tells a story, and draws people in to take a closer look. Included below are a few ideas for ways to display day-to-day items, which result in unique displays of the ordinary.


DSC_1054_edited-1DSC_1052_edited-1To ensure a proper fit in the frame, these pencils were arranged with intermittent ones flipped so the eraser faces the other direction. The color combination is vibrant and attractive when viewed as a whole, and instantly becomes a conversation piece as guests reminisce about memories stirred from the names and images of the business.


These shadow boxes filled with white and cream buttons are currently in my daughter’s room, but I have used them in various areas around the house for years. They are a sweet decoration in a child’s room, but can take on a more modern, grown-up feel simply by changing up the placement in the house and surrounding pieces with which you group it.


As with the yardsticks, pencils, and corks (below), when you are drawn in to take a closer look at the buttons, you see interesting variations in color and pattern. I love that upon closer inspection of these you see pinks and greens, textures and patterns (my favorite is the nearly zebra stripe button, which you would never notice unless examining closely).



Sometimes collections of these pieces can have special meaning and be a real keepsake, like the corks I saved over a few years of trips to Napa. I painted inexpensive canvas boards black and used a hot glue gun to secure the corks. Our “wine cellar” is not a cellar at all but a closet, so I certainly wasn’t interested in spending much money on anything to put on the back wall. This was quick and easy to do, and it’s fun to catch a glimpse of a cork from this-or-that winery, which never fails to bring back memories of the visit.

Reality Check. The original idea for this post included a step-by-step process with large, cute crayons to put in a shadow box. Note to self: do not leave large, cute crayons out in the open when you have small children. Small children who really love to color.

2 Comments on Making Art of the Ordinary

  1. Kris
    October 31, 2014 at 11:28 am (8 years ago)

    Kerry, I have a similar shadowbox up in my sewing area of buttons from my grandmother and mother. I love looking at them and oh if the buttons could talk……….memories!!!!

    • Kerry
      October 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm (8 years ago)

      I just love those buttons. I bet I’ve had them in one place or another in my house for 15 years or so.


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