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Beach Fence Photo Collage

So I was reading Coastal Living Magazine a few months ago and I saw a picture in one of their featured home articles of a photo collage on the wall that looked like one of those great weathered fences you sometimes see along sand dunes at the beach. I fell in love with it immediately!

I kept reading the article, trying to find out where to buy one. And then I read that the homeowner had made it herself. Even still, I had to have one. So I set out to make my own. That's mine pictured above. After 6 months of looking for just the right pieces and lots of trial and error, my labor of love is finally a reality.

Want one too? Here's how to make it, without a all of my missteps in the middle.

My "fence" is basically made out of 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 24" landscape stakes, which you can get at the hardware store for cheap. You can get other sizes that would work as well, like 1" x 2" x 18", etc. I think they come by the dozen, so buy as many as you need for whatever size fence you'd like.

While you're at the hardware store, you need a small can of paint or stain to color the raw wood stakes whatever color you want. I went with a dark brown because I thought it was very natural, and it goes with my couch that is below the fence (not shown). It may take 2 coats of paint or stain to get the color you're looking for. Paint all sides of the stakes and then decide which side will look the best facing out.

To connect them together, I used heavy duty wrapped floral wire from the craft store.  I got mine at Michaels, but I'd bet most craft stores carry it. Remember, heavy duty, because you will be hanging the fence by the wire. After the paint is completely dry, line up the stakes on a flat surface with the bottom edges all aligned (not in the wavy pattern as seen on my wall - that comes when you hang it). put the "bad" side facing up, i.e. the side of the stake that you want against the wall. Space them apart however far you want. The beautiful thing about this project is nothing has to be perfect.

Cut 3 lengths of wire to go across the entire fence. Cut extra to make sure it is long enough; you can always trim afterward. Using a powerful staple gun with 9/16" staples, attach the 3 lengths of wire to each stake, one near the bottom, one in the middle and near the top. This is where I ran into problems. First I used staples that were too small and they kept falling out. Then my staple gun wasn't powerful enough to penetrate the wood so the longer staples had a hard time going in. I eventually had to use a hammer to pound the staples in the rest of the way.

For the photos, I used acrylic plastic picture frames with a magnet on the back. I got them at Walmart. I ended up using all 4"x6" frames, but I have since found this multi-pack (pictured right) of 20 in all different sizes. If I had it to do over, I probably would have done that to add more visual appeal.

I recommend inserting your photos into the frames and arranging them on the fence the way you want them prior to hanging. But don't attach them yet. This way you will already have a general idea of how it will look and don't risk ending up with too much blank space or being too crowded in one spot. Now, take a picture(s) of the fence so you can reference back where each photo should be when you go to put them on the fence.

Now that the staples are in, the wire is trimmed to how you want it and your photo layout decided, the fence should be ready to hang. You'll need more than one person for this. I placed screws (you could probably use heavy duty nails also) under the top wire at the left hand side where I wanted the fence to start. Then, because the wire is flexible, I was able to create the rolling wavy pattern along my wall by letting some of the stakes fall lower and then raising others up and securing with more screws under the top wire. After you have it positioned the way you want it with those screws, you can add more in other places and under some of the middle and bottom wires for stability.

Here's where I made another mistake the first time around. Using the magnet on the back of these frames did not work well. The sticky back magnets that I bought at the craft store wouldn't hold to the wood well and then the pictures wouldn't stay on the magnet either; they kept falling down. So I switched it up and used sticky back velcro (at craft store) - 2 one inch pieces per frame. I mixed it up and put some on top and bottom to attach to a single fence post, and some on the top and bottom corners if I wanted the photo to span two posts.

You can use whatever photos you like. I decided, in keeping with the theme, to display photos of my family at the beach, which I have a lot of. One of the great things about these frames is that, with the velcro, they are easily removable so I can take them down and put in new photos over the older ones as my kids grow up without having to try to squeeze in new frames onto the fence.

I can tell you that I am not, by nature, a very crafty person. So I am especially proud of this project, which is why I wanted to share it. Good luck! If you do make one, I'd love for you to send me pictures of the finished product!

Article Author: Rebecca McKeich
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