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Display Your Junk Drawer Stuff as Artwork: How to Transform Common Family Clutter into a Wall Hanging

Sunday school pins, Girl Scout patches, name tags, handmade pom-pom necklaces and ID cards are just a few of the items typically found in the family junk drawer.

Here’s an idea for a colorful wall decoration that will show off your family’s unique style and clear out the junk drawers at the same time.

You can create a great wall hanging that will enhance your room, and provide a great background for when you are sitting on a chair taking a photograph.

Gather Your Stuff – Think Outside the Junk Drawer

Start with your kitchen junk drawer. Pull out any item that has someone’s name on it, as mentioned above. Also gather stuff that has the name of your school, church, neighbourhood, or other organization. Then take a leisurely trip around the rest of your house and garage, gathering items that have sentimental value but don’t fit into the photo album or scrapbook category. If you are really energetic, go ahead and venture into the attic or basement.

You will also need a piece of heavy fabric such as burlap, canvas or denim and a dowel rod. The size of your fabric and dowel will depend on how much stuff you have gathered. You can cut your own dowel from a broomstick or buy one at a crafts store. Also, you’ll need an upholstery needle and some heavy thread (or heavy-duty staples or even a sewing machine).

Decide on a Theme – Or Just Display What You Have

When you’ve gathered enough memorabilia to cover the top of a card table, you’ll be ready to get started. Decide whether your display will have a theme, such as Family Sports or Girls Only or The Nineties. If your stuff is a hodgepodge of things from many places and people, just go with the flow and use everything. Virgie Goodson of Brazoria County, Texas started her project more than thirty years ago with a small assortment of her daughter’s Brownie patches, for example, and it has grown into a wall hanging measuring five feet across and four feet tall. She says “this was such a popular idea; my kids keep bringing stuff to add to it even though they are grown”.


Now Comes the Fun Part – Attach and Hang

Let your creative spirit out to play as you arrange the items on the fabric, using stainless steel straight pins on things that don’t already have a pin. You could also use needle and thread, small pieces of chain that you thread through the fabric, or colorful pieces of costume jewellery. Avoid using any kind of tape or glue, because they will eventually dry out and fall off. You are making an heirloom and you want it to last for decades.

At the top of your fabric, fold over a section about three or four inches and sew across, using heavy-duty upholstery thread, to make an opening (casing) for your dowel rod. Add something decorative to the ends of the dowel if you wish, and hang the finished piece on the wall by placing the dowel across two nails. You could also tie a pretty drapery cord from one end of the dowel to the other and hang the cord on a nail or maybe a decorative picture hook.

Adding and Re-arranging Items on Your Display

This wall hanging will be an instant conversation-starter and a hit with kids young and old. Eventually, you may have to switch to a bigger piece of fabric and a bigger dowel rod as more things are added. One of the fun things about the project is watching it grow through the years. Let the children and old folks participate in the fun as the years go by, and your small junk-drawer project will grow into a cherished family heirloom. Who says scrapbooks have to be books?


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