I see these called by a lot of names like French Memo Board
, Ribbon Board
, Photo Board
, Memory Board
, etc. but whatever you call it, I recently made two of them for the first time. My grandmother passed away and we wanted a way to display photos at the service. I went to Michaels and Joann's and Target and Walmart...and no one had what I wanted! So I finally decided just to make my own.
(Click any picture for a larger version.)
I made the first one up and then realized I should have taken some pics. So please excuse the crappy cell phone photos I took during the making of the second one. Took me about an hour to make the first one and probably about 45 minutes to make the second since I knew more what I was doing. It really wasn't hard.Here's my supplies:
I bought inexpensive 20x24 artist canvas from Michael's. It's the kind that's stretched and with a wood frame. That's important for the stability of the piece. These were on sale 50% off so they cost $8.49/each. You could obviously go smaller or larger as your needs demand. Here's the back before I started to show you what I mean about the frame.
Next, I bought two yards of fabric from Joanns. If you're only doing one board, one yard should be enough. Depending on the size of your canvas and the width of your fabric, you might get away with less. (I needed both yards in length to cover mine even though I had some leftover in width if that makes sense.)
I also grabbed some poly batting (mine was in the remnant bin and not wide enough so I had to duct tape it together. I'd advise just buying the right size up front instead.
I used almost an entire roll of ribbon per board. (These were like $1.99 at Michael's and not as silky which I liked but any thinner ribbon you like would work.)
And then general things like staple gun, staples, scissors. Plus, I wound up buying a "Brad Setter & Piercing Tool" by We R Memory Keepers to punch the holes for the brads. It was a total lifesaver because there was no way the brads were going in on their own without pre-punching through. Any kind of sharp needle point tool would work though.How to make it
Pretty simple. Start with your batting. Wrap it around the canvas like you were upholstering something. I like to start in the middle of one side, then go to the opposite and pull it tight and staple there. Then do the same with the other two sides.
So for example, one staple in the BOTTOM middle, then pull tight and one staple in TOP middle. Then one staple on LEFT middle, pull tight and one staple on RIGHT middle. Then just keep going until it's on there securely. You don't have to go crazy with the batting since you'll be covering it with the fabric and adding MORE staples. For the corners, I sorta folded it down as flat as possible and just stapled it a few times.Here you can see I'm in progress of stapling it all down:
Repeat with the fabric. Same thing. Just go right over the batting and staple it down fully. This time feel free to use as many staples as you want to make sure it's pulled tight and secure.
Next I laid out how I wanted the ribbons to be and cut them, leaving enough overhang to ensure they would wrap around to the back side.
It's probably best to actually measure and use a ruler, but I just eyeballed it.
I then stapled them down on the back side. I stapled long-ways THROUGH the ribbon instead of going across it because I wanted to make sure it wouldn't slip out from under the staple.
I started with the first and longest going from corner-to-corner and then did the next largest, until I was done. Then you repeat for the other direction.
The final step was punching holes with my brad tool where the ribbons intersect. This is important or your ribbon won't have enough tension to hold the photos in place and they'll just slide around.
The tool comes in handy because remember, you're punching through ribbon, fabric, batting and canvas. After punching the hole, I inserted the brad and opened it (they have two "prongs" on the back) and pushed it flat against the back of the canvas.
Tip: Around the outer edges close to the frame and across the center, it's REALLY hard to get your brads in because the wood of the frame is in your way. The outer edge ones I didn't worry too much about. The center one, I would push the canvas up from the back, away from the wood frame a bit to make enough room to try and get the brad in there. It's hard going and takes some fiddling. It was the most frustrating part of the process.
I left the back of mine rough because no one is going to see it. But you could certainly stretch some fabric over to cover it, or even get a piece of heavy cardstock, poster board or cardboard and tape/glue it down.
Here's the finished project:
Everyone loved the boards. They were a wonderful way to celebrate our family and show off a wide variety of photos in all shapes and sizes. Of course, you could also put notes, memos, letters, paperwork, etc. on them beyond photos. But they made wonderful memorial boards and I was so pleased with how they came out. It also felt really nice to make something like this to help celebrate my grandmother.
As always, thoughts welcomed!