How to make wrapped canvas prints

In the flurry leading up to the open house, the top priority (besides fixing the fire pole) was getting some art hung in our studio. Canvas wrapped prints are our favorite way to show off our work, but even at photographer prices, they add up quick. When we made the move to St Louis and opened our first stand-alone studio, we invested in a large format printer that has more than paid for itself thanks to numerous prints (for us and for clients). Printing is just the first step, so Aaron put together a little tutorial on how to make wrapped canvas prints.

First miter cut 1 x 2 pieces of pine to create the stretcher bars.



If you’re a perfectionist (which I say with love, because I am one as well), you can bevel the front edge so just 1/8″ of canvas touches the wood on the front of the frame, making for a nice sleek edge.


Nail each frame together.




Flip the print over (it’s good to have some Kraft paper down at this point to protect the image) and center the frame.


Wrap and staple, starting with the long edge.


A stretching tool will allow you to pull with one hand and staple with the other. Make the print as tight as possible.



After the edges are stapled, fold and staple the corners.






Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat (as necessary)



For the back, cut Kraft paper so that you have some overlap then attach it with hot glue.


Run an edge cutting tool set to 1/8″ along the side of the print to get a perfect edge.





Then add hanging hardware.


So, is this just a photographer skill or have any DIYers out there been dying to know how to stretch canvas prints?


Mechanical room shelving

The studio has a lot of rooms within a room. Most of them we’ve added (see: Viewing Room and Furnace room-ish thing that still needs to be finished off. We keep debating our options), but one was inherited: the mechanical room.


The construction of this room is very fortress-like. Seriously, you could repeatedly ram a firetruck into the room and the mechanical controls would still be safe. They were not messing around when they built this feature, which begs the question “How poorly do firetruck drivers drive?”

Long story short, the room had to stay and it seemed like the perfect place to store some of our frequently used office paraphernalia and camera equipment that might not enjoy or survive life in a basement.

While prepping for paint, Aaron covered the window opening with a piece of plywood and caulked the edges. He also removed any wires that he could from the defunct systems, like the fire alarm box.




Everything got a nice coat of white paint.



Aaron constructed the custom shelves from 2 x 4’s and plywood. It’s not the most elegant option, but this space is all about function… and one that will probably only be viewed by the two of us (save for this extensive post).









Originally we planned to purchase a new door for the space, but the opening turned out to be a very strange size. Plan B included covering the transom window with plywood and a coat of paint and adding a simple curtain (repurposed from the last studio).




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We can pack a lot into the space, making it super functional. It’s not the most glamorous project, but it precipitated some furniture swaps that I’m still pretty happy about. Is anyone else cramming storage into every nook/cranny/room-within-a-room?

Bowling locker = vintage camera storage

Aaron has long referred to himself as “an old film guy.” In spite of the fact that he has yet to hit the big 3-0, this statement is rather accurate. He spent his high school career up to his elbows in darkroom chemicals, and he was in the last wave of budding journalists to capture images on film for our college newspaper (where we met, but that’s a story for a different day). Aaron’s film-loving ways were temporarily set aside as digital cameras fueled the ramp up of our photography business, only to be reignited when his grandma, Grandma E, (She’s beyond awesome. Case in point: She taught me how to make bread.) gifted him with a vintage Polaroid camera she had laying around the house.

That act, that camera, the instant nature of film (no need for hours spent on the computer editing images), the feel of holding a print – it brought it all back. A collection of Polaroids started. At one point they had their own closet and we seriously considered a side business of restoring and selling vintage Polaroids, bouyed in part by the vintage camera trend and the resurecction of Polaroid film. Ultimately, the collection shifted, many Polariods were sold and rare/interesting/toy/just plain cool cameras were added. By the time we were on our second studio (we have moved way too many times in the past 3 years!), the cameras lived on open shelving in a dirty, unsealed basement. You might not know much about vintage cameras, but I’m sure you can guess that this was not an ideal set up. Unaware that we would be seriously considering moving AGAIN and buying the firehouse in just a few months, we sought out a storage solution that would be nice enough to ressurrect the vintage cameras into the studio space. A random Craigslist ad and a free Saturday led us to a used office furniture shop in Illinois (what? That’s not your idea of a good time?) and a set of bowling lockers.


We fell in love. Hello white rounded doors…


Hello individual locks with cool vintage Brunswick 2000 logo…


Hello retro “Notice” taped inside each door reminding university students (these lockers have had quite a life) not to leave valuables inside…


Of course we loved it. You know we have a thing for lockers.

After we lugged it to the studio, it sat. Life was busy and the wedding season was in full swing. Then we bought a firehouse and it’s been stored away in our dining room, waiting among lots of other studio furniture. With the viewing room done and move in in full swing, the bowling locker finally got a good cleaning and a home.

That only took a year…



The cubbies are so deep that all the vintage cameras, film and paraphenalia fit perfectly.






Ok, spill it. We can’t be the only ones who accidentally (ok, sometimes purposefully) hoard vintage/industrial furniture, right?

Furniture swaps

It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for the studio tipping point – the point when we actually move in, the point when the dining room starts to get cleared out, the point when we think “YES! This is why we bought this place.” I’m seriously enjoying the fact that it feels like we’re moving in. Nesting is at an all time high.

So it’s no shock that some unexpected furniture swaps have me doing a happy dance. First we moved our desks into the studio, freeing up space in the upstairs living room.


At the same time, we moved everything into the viewing, freeing up a media unit that has always lived in the studio. Our initial impulse was to sell it, but we decided to try it out in the upstairs living room first.


It turned out to be a great fit. We love that the TV is lower and therefore more in our line of sight from the couch.



This freed up the record cabinet turned media cabinet/bar turned put-the-TV-on-there-for-now. We plopped it down where the desks used to sit and promptly filled it with all our bar parephenalia.


It also gave us a chance to fill and display the decanters we’ve been collecting. Ultimately these will probably live in a bar downstairs, but it’s nice to use some of the fun things we own.






Now the upstairs living room looks like this.


It’s so much less “maybe you should do some work” and so much more “Relax! Have a drink!” Even the view from the stairs is better. Hello wide open goodness.


This, however, is my favorite view. Looking down the hallway from the bedrooms, all you see is living room furniture instead of our cluttered desks. It makes me happy on the daily.


Moving the alcohol back to the record cabinet freed up the white Ikea cubes and they suddenly looked like good temporary night stands.


So now, we have bedside tables! Beside tables that are not made of cardboard and threatening to cave in!



They’re definitely temporary, but the kind of temporary we can live with until we actually get to redo this room. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I grabbed one of our favorite lamps and pulled out gobs of milk glass to hold my jewelry.



There’s something about a jewelry in a retail display that makes my heart happy.





The closet, former home of jewelery stuck in plastic trays and piles of Aaron’s belts and watches, also got some milk glass. My inner storage geek rejoiced.


Can I get a ‘hooray’ for finally feeling a bit more settled?!?

Adding electric and how to install data keystones in 6 easy steps

Real exciting post, right? There are just some renovation tasks that aren’t sexy…. unless you’re a fan of super high speed network connectivity. If so, this post will totally be your jam.

Among the many, many (many, many, many) tasks that preceded painting the studio, Aaron amped up (hee, hee) the space with some new electrical outlets. It’s as if this space was being used as a garage and not a studio housing a variety of electrical equipment. So strange.



He ran conduit, added boxes, pulled wire and installed 21 outlets.


Tape blocked the holes and wires from being covered with paint.




After painting he installed all the receptacles.



Along with the electrical rough in, he also added conduit and boxes for a data network. A wireless network isn’t something you need in most normal residential spaces (though we would argue that it’s awesome to have). We needed it for 3 reasons.
1. The photography studio deals with lots of more data than a wireless network can handle.
2. Covering a masonry building this big with a wireless signal is nearly impossible.
3. Aaron has always wanted a hard-wired network. He’ll fly his tech geek flag and get excited over the speed and stability of this network. He’ll even toss around insults(?) like “Our network is faster than your network.” So there’s that.

We opted for cat 6 cable (instead of cat 5e) to get the most life out of it. Data requirements change so rapidly. We wanted the system to work at a high speed for as long as possible. We added 10 network drops in the studio and an additional run upstairs for our wireless network on that floor.

If you want to install your own data network, it’s actually pretty easy. Hang the conduit, pull the wires through and then install the keystones (what the wires plug into for us non techy folks). Gather up your tools and then follow these 6 easy steps for installing keystones.

Here’s what you’ll need (left to right): stripper, crimping tool for keystone/jack, punch tool for keystone, wire cutters, mini screwdriver


1. Strip outside sheath. Be careful with a new stripper. Ours was so sharp that it cut the actual wires and Aaron had to redo some of the keystones.



2. Separate and straighten the pairs of wire.



3. Place the wires into the keystone following the colors on the side.



4. Use the data punch to push the wires completely into the jumper. This will also cut off the access wire.



5. Add the cap


6. Insert the keystone into the housing. Pro tip – Label the keystone and jumper (which goes into the router) so each data run is marked.


Anyone else wiring their home (or business) with high speed data cables?