BY KAILEY TEDESCO
Many practicing witches enjoy setting an altar in their homes, sometimes over a table or fireplace mantel. I usually keep my crystals and some special objects on my window sill, in the moonlight, but I’m especially partial to my altar hanging above me as a gallery wall. I love the idea of walking through the door after a long day, and immediately facing photographs and paintings that inspire me. Guests, too, come through the door and immediately comment on the strange images adorning my walls. This is a form of magic to me. It’s conversational; it breaks down barriers between strangers, and it lets me bare a bit of my inner self to all who enter my home.
The gallery wall has become increasingly popularized on Pinterest, and places like Pier One or Anthropologie tend to boast golden framed artwork over their living area displays. I’ve also seen them popping up on Instagram with a "witchy" touch, like @darla_tea!
There seems to be a misconception that to curate a proper gallery wall, you have to spend a fortune. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are some tips to create your own gallery wall in a short amount of time with affordable materials.
Be Open-Minded When Selecting Your Images
You do not need to purchase all new artwork or prints unless you want to. When I moved into my first apartment, I went through boxes in my childhood bedroom and found a myriad of strange things that I could hang. Now, my wall comprises postcards I got for free after staying at the Algonquin Hotel in college, postcards that were sent to me, photographs of my own pets, artwork from my childhood bedroom, and one centerpiece that I purchased ("Fowl with Pearls" by Michael Sowa) for $14.99 at art.com. I also have some art I found at the flea market and goodwill, and then some smaller oddities that were gifted to me over the years. An added bonus of curating affordable art is that it’s an excellent way to support your favorite independent or local artists.
I also like to add dimension to my wall, so I hung up a strange jackalope plushy I found and a faux pinned butterfly.
It’s important to keep in mind that your wall can evolve just like an altar. To start, choose just 5-10 pieces (depending on how large your space is) that inspire you. You might change them out in a month or add new pieces as you go, and that’s all great!
Thrift your Frames!
Framing gets everyone frightened. New picture frames can be super expensive! Especially if you’re looking to give your wall an ornate, baroque-ish feel. This is where your local thrift store comes in handy.
When curating my wall, I went to Goodwill just one time and walked out with about 6 or 7 beautiful frames for only 10 dollars total. The artwork section at stores like these is so extensive. Sometimes, I buy a full framed image and hang it right up. Usually though, I’m not interested in the work within the frame, so I simply take it out or place some of my own pieces over it. I also bought plastic frames at IKEA (for like, $5) and spray painted them gold.
Another tip is to be sure that you get frames of various shapes and sizes. The more variation in your wall, the more eye-catching it will be. Personally, I like to also vary the materials. I have wood frames, gilt frames, floral frames…It depends on your personal preference, but the more open-minded you are about the frames you use, the more you’ll be able to purchase at an affordable price.
You Don’t Need to be Super Handy to Hang Your Art
I have friends who insist on tracing each of their frames onto poster board, cutting the shapes out, and taping them to the wall in the design they’d like to hang the photos. Then, all you have to do is hammer your nails so the images perfectly cover your taped poster board.
BUT, I’m a little messy as a human, so I prefer to just wing it. I haphazardly hammer away and let my pieces hang as they may. Sometimes, they’re crooked, but I think that gives my house a Tim Burton-y feel.
Also, if you live in an apartment or space that doesn’t allow you to put holes in the walls, command strips or heavy duty velcro (both can be found at the craft store) also work wonders!
Kailey Tedesco is the author of These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) and the forthcoming full-length collection, She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications). She is the co-founding editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a member of the Poetry Brothel. She received her MFA in creative writing from Arcadia University, and she now teaches literature at several local colleges.
Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her work in Prelude, Bellevue Literary Review, Sugar House Review, Poetry Quarterly, Hello Giggles, UltraCulture, and more. For more information, please visit kaileytedesco.com.