I’ve actually had this so long, that I made a new one this year to replace it.
I have a mild obsession, like most people, with coffee, so my kitchen as been coffee themed at every place I have lived on my own. In keeping with that theme, I had this idea to create artwork out of coffee beans.
It started with an off sized frame I found in the clearance section at Michael’s and grew from there.
I decided to make artwork that said, what else, Coffee!
I created the type on the computer and printed it to size. I then cut that out to use as a template to draw onto the backing of the frame. For the first one I drew this onto the cardboard backing, but for the new and improved version I used a new trick.
(I sincerely apologize for forgetting to take photos as I was making this – I was a woman on a mission.)
I created a sort of tray out of foam core using one piece for the back and then cutting small strips to build up the sides. I made them tall enough that once the coffee beans were inside, it would be flush with the sides. I just hot glued these strips to the back.
To transfer the artwork onto the foam core, I printed the lettering out in reverse. Then using regular white chalk, I tracked the letters. Then, placing the chalked printout into the tray – right reading, I rubbed the art to transfer the chalk onto the surface.
Note: The reason I switched to a foam core tray style backing instead of just the flat cardboard is because in the old cardboard version the beans eventually loosened and fell out over the years. The tray gave something from them to sit into and a place to fill with glue to cover them completely and secure them in for good!
For the coffee beans, any whole beans will do – so just get something cheap – you’re not eating these and you won’t be able to smell them after all is said and done, so it really doesn’t matter. One bag should be plenty to create the whole piece.
Before gluing the beans into the tray, I took a handful of them and painted them white. It is much easier to do this before you assemble. I just put a few beans onto a paper plate and roughly painted them with white acrylic paint. Then let them dry.
You have to start with the letters first then work your way out. For the first version I used Elmer’s glue, but that eventually dried and cracked, so for the 2.0 version I used Modge Podge. Apply a generous amount of Modge Podge to a small area with a paint brush (not your favorite one as the glue will likely ruin it) and then using chopsticks, move each white bean into place, carefully filling in the letters. Once all of the letters are filled in, then start with the unpainted beans, filling in the rest of the space.
I tried to place them all right side up with the crack showing, since I thought that side was more interesting, but do it however you like.
Once all the beans are in place, cover them all with a layer of Modge Podge to seal them in. You might have to let it dry and do a layer or two more. I wanted to ensure all the beans were under a thick layer of glue so that they wouldn’t fall out again.
Once it’s dry, then you can add the frame. Obviously with the foam core tray, it turned this in to more of a shadow box, so I couldn’t just assemble the frame normally. Instead I glued the glass into the frame and then hot glued the frame to the foam core tray edges. I simply added a picture frame hanger to the back of the foam core – putting some clear packing tape underneath it so that the paper of the foam core wouldn’t tear.
This art has hung in my kitchen for 10 years now, and going strong. It’s one of my favorite pieces. Hopefully I won’t have to remake it again for a long time.