Hi everyone! Since we’re in the season of patriotic holidays (Memorial, Flag, and Independence Days), I thought I’d pass on a crafty wall art idea. In the past year or so since I started putting them together, I’ve made over a dozen of these vintage framed flags for myself, for friends, and to sell in my shop. Sometimes it seems like the American sense of patriotism is waning. Growing up, my father never failed to hang the flag for these holidays, and I remember the sense of pride I always felt when participating in a Girl Scout flag ceremony. On our street of about twenty homes, we were the only one to hang a flag last week-end for Memorial Day. So it always makes me happy when someone buys one of my flags because it means there’s one more flag hanging somewhere to remind us of the special nature of our democracy.
And for the record, I don’t believe we’re perfect or that all the decisions made by our government are “right,” but I do believe the guiding principles of our nation reflect moral, godly ideals. But I’ll be stepping of my soapbox now…on to craftier things.
Whenever I see flags of any size or in any condition at garage and estate sales, I buy them, if they’re cheap (you know me!). I also buy any vintage black frame that I find (ditto: cheap). The idea is that I mix and match them by size, usually several at a time. Most of these smaller flags come attached to dowels with staples. Carefully remove the staples and save the dowels for a future project. Sometimes I frame the flags as is, if I feel they have a nice, aged look.
However, I often tea dye them to create more character for framing. To make a tea bath to accelerate the aging process, add two cups of boiling water to four standard black tea bags.
After the bath gets good and dark, add your flags (this amount of “dye” is good for several flags), and let them soak for about 15 minutes, or until they are the color you want.
Then, squeeze them out and lay them on a towel to dry. Squeeze some of the stronger tea “dye” from the tea bags in splotches on the flags and lay the bags down randomly on the flags to dry with them. This process will create some nice “splotches” or browning that I like.
Here’s a tea dyed flag ready for ironing.
Give it a good spritz of water to make the ironing easier.
Then iron it nice and flat.
Here you can see some of the effects of the tea dying. [It’s hard to see the dyed areas in photographs of framed flags, due to the reflections on the glass.]
The final step is to frame your flag with one of the black frames you picked up. This is one of the largest flags I’ve framed (12″ x 16″) and I was happy to have this wider, more ornate frame for it (16″ x 20″). Some gold paint is showing through the black on this one, a nice touch.
I typically use narrower, simpler black frames like the one you see here (sold at the Shaker Christmas Craft fair in 2015).
I use scrap booking, double-sided adhesive tabs to hold the flag in place on a piece of cardboard–usually the one that came with the frame(!). I don’t get too picky about the cardboard–gray is fine, black is best, beat-up is better. Insert your mounted flag into your frame and then back it with some brown craft paper, and you’re done.
Ready to use for the next flag-related holiday–Flag Day on June 14th.
Flags conjure up all kinds of images, like parades, strawberry shortcake, and Uncle Sam.
I’ve probably mentioned before that the Uncle Sam character came into being during the War of 1812. As the story goes, Samuel Wilson, a butcher in the nearby city of Troy (NY), supplied beef to American troops in barrels marked “U.S.” The soldiers began referring to the meat as “Uncle Sam’s,” and the character was born. [You can read more about Troy in Historic Homes of Troy’s Second Street and Troy Night Out.]
It’s a simple, but powerful image. To me, a symbol of freedom and democracy, it rouses all kinds of memories: of pledging allegiance in elementary school, marching in 4th of July parades, attending emotion-drenched high school athletic events, witnessing flag presentations at the funerals of veterans, and living through tragedies like 911–and their aftermaths, that seemed to pull us together, if only for a time. I consider it a privilege to raise the flag on a few special days of the year.
You may also be interested in this post:
How to Create a Patriotic Gallery Wall
Thanks for the feature, Andrea!
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New merchandise added over the week-end!
Our vintage link party goes live again this Thursday at 8 am–