diy project: kate’s uncommon valentine

valentine’s day is right around the corner, and i’ve decided to make something for my boyfriend that is a little unconventional and can last beyond the holiday. i used some vintage jewelry pieces (read: ugly eighties earrings), and some other knick-knacks I have collected over the years. for a personal touch i also included a few souvenirs from our times together (you are either smiling or gagging right now, i know). I recommend using a monochromatic palette for this project because I think the image come across more clearly, but if you have some pieces you don’t want to mess with then I encourage you to lay out your image first before you paint anything. the great part is that you can do any shape you wish, or even play around with text. happy crafting, and happy valentine’s day! -kate

CLICK HERE for the full project instructions!

What You’ll Need:
1. one sheet of watercolor paper, any size you want (this is 11×15)
2. vintage jewelry pieces, knick-knacks, keys, buttons, etc.
3. paper punch (i used a butterfly punch from the martha stewart craft collection) (optional)
4. colored paper
5. hot glue gun
6. paint (i recommend spray paint)
7. frame

1. gather your pieces and make any paper punched shapes you want so you have all of your materials ready.
2. lay out your design on the paper. if you are not comfortable with freehand layout, sketch the shape on scrap paper and lay it down as a template. you can also trace it very lightly so you can erase it.
3. if you decide to paint everything, i recommend taking a digital photo of your layout so it will be easy to place back together.
4. paint your objects. if you use spray paint, do it outdoors on a piece of cardboard.
5. once dry, replace all your objects on the paper in your design and make sure your image is set out evenly on the paper.
6. pick up one object at a time and dab glue on the back. place back down and clean off any hot glue strands. you can also use a hairdryer to make them disappear (it works!).
7. once dry, frame your piece.
8. write a love note in the corner or on back of the piece and expect a great response for your beautiful work.



This is a great piece of art in general….I’m going to have to find some of my random knick-knacks and try this out!


I agree with Jennifer — this is a fantastic idea for any time, any one (not just Valentine’s). This is definitely going in my file for future projects.


So clever! The black paint is such a nice, dramatic touch. Makes everything look a bit more masculine and substantial. Oh, and I’d love to know about that tablecloth, too!


wow, my first idea when I saw this was to take your object arrangement and place it on sun-sensitive paper, then frame the sunprint. No spray paint or glue gun required! (though the nice 3D effect would be gone). love it!

Rachel Denbow

I love the graphic nature of this piece and how inexpensive it would be to make something a person will probably really appreciate.

Thanks for sharing!


ok i am totally going home and doing this. my husband, dan, and i are in the midst of buying our first home (oh my god stressful) and i haven’t had time for creative time recently. this will definitely help! i wasn’t sure what to get dan for valentine’s day since whatever i get we will have to move. i think he will like this!


amazing how you can unify unrelated objects with color… this practice can be used in many different applications; frames, display pedestals… even second hand furniture!


I love it! And there are so many other applications… What a great piece to create after a family vacation with objects you found along the way!


How nice! I usually don’t care for DIY projects, because they always end up looking so…DIY. This looks really lovely. Great idea, well-executed.

And you can add me to the list of folks who are dying to know more about the fabric on the table. It’s wonderful.


hey everyone! thanks for the kind feedback. the tablecloth is old school anthropologie, i got it in 2002. but i think has some really nice fabrics that might be similar.


Sooo cute! Did the frame you used have glass covering the artwork or is it too bumpy and uneven?


what a great idea! Hope you don’t mind, I posted about it on my blog, I’m definitely going to try this!


What a great idea! And painting it makes all the difference – really turns knick knacks into little things of beauty. I’ll be doing this – thanks for the inspiration!

peachy lefever

WONDERFUL!! I have a jar full of little objects that has been sitting on a shelf for months. I’m going to try it with white paint on a turquoise background. thanks for sharing!


So, does yours have glass in the frame, or no? I can’t figure out how to frame one of these if the objects have any height/depth.


What a great idea to make use of all those bits and pieces in the ‘junk’ drawer in my kitchen!

The design can be anything that strikes your fancy. I cannot wait to try it. Thanks


Excellent! It’s beautiful, and you can use items that aren’t attractive in there original color, but have great shapes. Love it!


What a beautiful idea! I love it and I am totally putting that on my to do list! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation to craft!


Great project! Love the idea! Really should try it out!!


The frame would be a boxed frame – thick frame with a deep box – this means you wouldnt be too restricted by size of your ‘treasures’


I love this…what don’t I love on this place?! I love jigsaw puzzles but I have one or two that are old and have missing pieces. I am envisioning trying to make something with only jigsaw puzzle pieces.


So lovely, I have so many useless keys at home. Will try to pick this idea to make a nice decoration.


I love, love this.
I am making this as an anniversairy gift (4 years :)
I am going to take poster board covered in hand made paper, and then frame it in a deep frame, I may have the frame silver. Not quite decided. And I wrote a ‘key to my heart’ poem for him.


I found this lovely yellow crane hanging on a stop sign on my street today and just wanted to say how lovely it is and how wonderful of someone so creative to do such a random act of kindness. I shared it with my friends at coffee this afternoon and now they will be looking for one. Thank you for sharing….(:


Beautiful! I just made one like this in a shape of an A. Thanks for the inspiration! :)


Your project is so cute and fun! This would be cute for other seasons special days or even initials!
Thanks for sharing! :o)


This is gorgeous & perfect for any holiday or special occassion…i cant wait to try this!!!


What kind of frame did you use for this? Did you keep the glass in?! Please let me know I love this and I’m planning on making one that says love with s m in it for me and my fiancée love it wonderful job!