A Victorian Photograph Holder
or Memo Board

This photograph holder is really much like a current day message board you might find in a department store. They can be quite expensive. This  version, published in Arthur's New Home Magazine in December, 1893, is simple to make and inexpensive as well.

 Photograph Holder

The board above is formed of a very stiff piece of card-board or a thin board cut into a escutcheon pattern. Over the frame is tacked a piece of plain silk or cloth, which is crossed by bands of broad braid or galloon tacked at some of the crossings, allowing room to slip in the photograph.

A piece for the centre may be worked if preferred, but that is optional; or brocade may be used in place of the plain material.


The green photograph holder at the top of the page is my version of this project. As you can see, I made mine a bit longer. I didn't have any cardboard the right size so I use some thin foam core board.  The fabric is actually part of a cloth shower curtain I had. The ribbon was some ribbon I also had in my "stash".

So, here are my tips if you use the same products I did.

1. Iron your fabric. I didn't. I thought I had picked a place that had no wrinkles. Wrong! No matter how I tried to tug them out, it didn't work. And since I was working on thin foam core board, I couldn't pull it too tight without bending the board.

2. Before cutting my ribbon, which I had limited amounts of, I used pieces of string and placed them on the board as I planned to do with the ribbon. That way I could adjust the placement and make sure what each length of ribbon had to be.

After cutting my ribbon, I placed it on the board where it was supposed to be so I had the placement of each right and then glued the ribbon on one by one, leaving the rest in their place so I would remember where they went.

3. When applying either the ribbon or fabric, DON'T stand the foam core or cardboard on its end. Duh! Yeah, I know. But I did it anyway bending the end of the board. Luckily I hadn't pressed too hard and was able to reshape it back into place. But it made getting a smooth edge of fabric there impossible (at least for me!).

You will need to clip the fabric at the curved sections but be careful not to clip too close to the board. You will need room for it to cover the side of the board completely. If clipped too closely, when you go to fold over the fabric, you will have your raw cut showing. If, even after being very careful, you have that problem, a little glue or placement of the ribbon can hide it.

4. The board is very lightweight so hanging it by a ribbon is easy to do. Although my picture doesn't show it, (I used tape on the back to hold it to the wall so I could take a picture of it) I have used the gold ribbon as the hanger.

5. To help keep everything in place, put some poster board or felt (even more fabric, glued on well) on the back. This will also helps it lay against the wall evenly.

This is an easy project to do. It just takes a little time and a little "persuasion" of the fabric to follow the curved contour of the board. Of course, you can use any shape you like but remember that the more intricate it is, the more time and care it will take to get the fabric to lay smoothly.

I hope you like the project. It can be used in about any room and inexpensive enough that when you want a change, you can make another.


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