Friday, June 14, 2013

magnetic bulletin board gallery wall

In my final days here at work, I was tasked with a decor project. Score!!! Using windows salvaged from Bauder Hall and "lounge art" that was used to decorate our temporary departmental offices, I created this {I apologize for the picture quality; the photos in this post were taken at work with a cell phone}:


We are very happy with the result. I was able to tie in two windows salvaged from Bauder Hall, and the frames around the "bulletin boards" used to hang in our temporary office space for the year and a half after the fire.

Initially, members of the department had requested that I purchase one or two large whiteboards to go on the large blank space in our study lounge. We would then print pictures from various departmental events and hang them on the whiteboards with magnets. I knew I could create something less expensive and more professional-looking. This is an office space, not a college dorm room! I was given free reign. Whoo!

For the past three years, these two collages created by my predecessor graced the walls. Not to my taste, personally, but it beat a blank wall space! However, as the years went by, the pictures from graduation 2010 grew increasingly dated, and soon no one but faculty knew any of the faces.

Can you see me???
I think the new version is a much better and more permanent solution. Photos can be easily interchanged since they're just stuck up with magnets, so we can keep the board updated with a quick print of some photos ( I picked up my magnets here; it was 50 for $5!). The multiple boards create visual interest, and the addition of the windows tie in variety and history as well.

Want to know the secret of how I went from lounge art to magnetic bulletin boards? Galvanized steel sheets, of course! Here's the process.

First, I combed through the art we had in storage and picked ones with complementary frames. I steered clear of black and leaned more towards the dark wood ones because of the brown tones in the lounge already. I also picked out two "good" windows; i.e. ones with good paint jobs and little water damage.


Then, I played with the layout. Once I'd landed on one I liked that would fit the space (10' wide by 9' high), I determined how much sheet metal I'd need!

We decided on the mirror image of this layout

1 24x36" Galvanized Steel Flat Sheet (I used this one, $9.34 each)*
1-36x48" Galvanized Steel Flat Sheet (I used this one, $16.34 each)*
1 can Spray Primer
2 cans Spray Paint
tin snips
Gorilla Glue
Drywall anchors and screws for hanging--you could use heavy-duty Command Strips to hang the bulletin boards but I wanted something stronger for the heavy windows.

*A note on purchasing Galvanized Steel: head to the plumbing department, not the Hardware department. The sheet that cost me $9 in the plumbing department was going for $19.99 in the hardware dept (a different brand, of course). No need to overspend!

After I purchased all of the materials, it was time to disassemble the frames. Mine were professionally framed, so I felt a little bad for taking them apart but that's the way it's gotta be! I peeled off the paper backing and removed all staples in the frame, careful to remove the entire staple without breaking it.


My smaller metal sheet fit the largest frame perfectly, but the larger sheet had to be trimmed down to size. I traced the cardboard backings of each of the other three frames onto the larger sheet, and then carefully cut along those lines using tin snips.


If you do this, be VERY careful. That edge is dang sharp!

The sheets made their way outside to get a fresh coat of paint. I gave each sheet one (thin) coat of primer, and three coats of spraypaint. I was lucky enough to find spray paint that matched our wall color almost exactly, which was a request of the department.


After the paint had fully cured and was no longer sticky (I left it overnight), it was time to attach the metal sheets into their frames. I used Gorilla Glue for this particular project, although my trusty E-6000 would have worked fine too. I made sure to wet the surface of the wood prior to applying any of the glue, since Gorilla Glue is water-cured.


I made sure to wipe up any pools of glue that were pretty large--remember that Gorilla Glue expands a LOT! Then, I placed the sheet metal into the frame firmly, painted side down.


Each side got weighted down, and 30 minutes later I had 4 magnetic boards!


The picture frames were hung using frame hardware (hooks and nails), but the windows we wanted to use posed a more difficult problem. Not only were they lacking any standard hanging hardware to begin with, they were ridiculously heavy! I eventually landed on flush mounts to hang them. 


The one against the wall was mounted hook-up; the ones on the window were hook down, so they could fit snug and firm against the wall. And Voila!

In the few days since they've been up, tours and studying students have been spending a lot of time in front of the bulletin boards, pointing out funny old photos of professors or current students they knew. 

They get the entertainment, and faculty and staff get the satisfaction knowing our little pieces of history no longer live in the storage room. That's enough for us :)

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