Monday, May 16, 2016

DIY Rope Art | Tutorial

Today, I'm sharing a project that will be installed in a model home that I designed - I photographed on the floor because I didn't want to take the time to measure and hang just for photos - though I'm pretty obsessed, so maybe I'll make a pair for myself!

I was inspired by this gorgeous art - super pricey, so instantly I thought I could make something similar - for much much less! 

They are pretty large, 42"x42" - so not a typical frame - I could have custom framed them - but that would have still been pretty expensive. I decided to go to Ikea - I remembered that the 19.75x19.75 Ribba frame was a shadow box style (though not all Ribba frames are like this, if you'd like to use a different size) - $120 for a framed piece at around 80"x40" is pretty good! 

To get started, David and I spray painted a piece of 1/4" plywood with a light, even coat of white matte paint - we wanted the wood grain to come through a little. 

We took the back off of the Ikea frame and traced it on the wood (we left a little extra room on the edges to do the final cut) We traced it 4 times - to make one large square. 

To account for the table saw blade thickness, David used a scrap piece that had been cut and spaced in between the four squares. The previous step and this step were completed a second time on the other side of the board. So we had two large squares.

We cut the two large squares out (a straight line, but leaving a little extra to make the final cut at the end) 

Next, starting at the center, we wound the rope around and glued with hot glue. I've never been a big fan of hot glue (due to burning myself severely in the past), but after trying a few options, this was definitely the best option. We also used a quick grab glue (purchased at Joanns) in spots, just to make sure it was extra durable, but I don't think this step was essential, the hot glue held well. I would recommend a standard size or large hot glue gun (the mini one didn't cut it) The rope was wound about 2" from the edge. 

Luckily I didn't burn myself, I was able to keep away from the glue with the thickness of the rope, but remember hot glue burns HURT, so please be careful, or you'll be icing your finger all day! 

Each circle took about 250 ft of 3/8" rope. (Tip: look online to see if that is a better price than Home Depot / Lowes) A bag of 40 standard glue sticks was sufficient. 

Also, I'd recommend placing the board on a tall surface so you aren't hunched over - your back will thank you. 

Once the glue dried, we lined the center up with the table saw blade and cut down the center. Remember to wear your hearing, eye, and respiratory protection! 

Repeated again to make quarters.

To make the final cut, we removed the square insert from the Ikea frame (pictured in photo below) held it in the corner and marked the edges - it should sit perfectly flush inside the insert. We just cut the outer edges (without the rope)

Next, the plywood/rope will be glued to the back of the Ikea frame - we placed a heavy duty adhesive on the inside side of the back of the Ikea frame - we roughly centered it and then placed the insert from the frame around the plywood/rope to make sure it was perfectly centered. The insert does not need to be glued to the back - it will float in the frame. We placed weights on it to make sure it dried evenly (check to make sure it didn't shift!)

(Tip: before attaching to the back of the frame, take notice of the hanger and keep the wood grain of the plywood in the same direction - lay all four pieces of the circle out together before gluing)

You'll notice below that the back of the Ikea frame sits out slightly - it will rest on the insert.

To frame - place the insert back in the frame and make sure all the tabs are straight - vacuum the rope (it will probably still leave a little mess when framing, but that didn't bother me) and place the back on the frame - you will have to wiggle the frame a little - I suggest getting two sides in and then gently tug the other sides until it is flush.

It's hard to get a sense of the scale without seeing it with furniture, so Charlotte graciously offered to model (for a treat!)

We used Manila rope (left) and Sisal rope (right) a cotton clothesline would be a good option too!

That's it!

I hope you'll give this a try or that it will inspire you to use something basic and turn it into something unique!


  1. those are awesome! i can't believe the $5k price tag on the inspiration!

  2. These are gorgeous, Sarah! You are so clever! I love them.

  3. Wow! These are incredible! I love your take on the design - I think I love the circle split into quarters even more than the original inspiration!

  4. Viewed the original "five f***ing grands for that?!" :O


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