Monday, February 9, 2015

Chinoiserie Chic Art: Kathleen Millay Portrait by Joseph Stella

The guest room is coming together at a snail's pace, but I can finally cross "hang art" off of my to-do list. I'm so happy, because I've been waiting so long to display this piece! Five years ago, I completed an internship at Cheekwood and received a large collection of beautiful and rare prints as a parting gift. For five long years, they sat in the back of my closet. Last weekend, I finally framed and hung this beautiful portrait of author Kathleen Millay. Yes, Kathleen is Edna St. Vincent Millay's sister. 

The original is in Cheekwood's permanent collection. Isn't Kathleen fierce and sexy? I love her piercing gaze!
Kathleen Millay by  Joseph Stella. Circa 1923/1924.
I apologize for the reflection in the glass; it's hard to photograph framed art!
The print is an odd size (22'' by 28''), and I couldn't afford custom framing, so I DIY'd it. I found a 22 by 28 backless frame on clearance at Michael's for $20. I had a mat custom cut for $7.50 from an Amazon seller, The shipping was $9, which stung a bit, but it was still cheaper than custom framing. Last, I bought a framing kit with a 24'' by 36'' sheet of plexiglass and backing board. I believe it was $10, but I can't find the receipt now. Derp.


The frame was originally black, and it drew attention away from the art itself. It needed to be a softer color, and some shine wouldn't hurt. So last week I applied multiple layers of Rub 'n' Buff, over three days, to make it silver. On Saturday I cut the plexi and backing board with a straightedge and razor blade and assembled everything. It's not an archival, fancy framing job. The backing board is held in place with masking tape! Yes, you can laugh at me. I'm laughing, too! But it looks great from the front, and the print is safer here than in my closet. Since it cost MUCH less than professional framing, I'm pleased with the result.


In the future, I'll avoid the plexi/backing board kits. The backing board was just a piece of cardboard! It wasn't acid free or archival. It was exactly like any old piece of a cardboard box. Next time I'll buy plexiglass, cut it to fit, and use a piece of cardboard box as a backer. Come to think of it, the cardboard box they shipped the mat in is the perfect size for this, and it (slightly) justifies the shipping price.

I'm amazed by how much better the room looks with a single piece of art on the wall. Next I'd like to hang something on the wall over the bed (but what?), replace the godawful light fixture that came with the house, and sew pillow shams and throw pillows. When the weather warms up and I can work outside, I'll paint the nightstands and dresser. It's so hard to pace myself--I want to do it all now!