A few years ago we moved to sunny Manchester from London. The complex factors involved meant that for a few (long) weeks we didn’t have a school place for Jonas, then six years old. So I home-schooled. Actually, I didn’t, because he was convinced that he already knew quite considerably more than me. So I tried schooling by stealth. We visited National Trust properties (history), played scrabble (literacy and maths) (relentlessly), and spent a good few hours in the park every day (outdoor games). The only ‘lesson’ which I was allowed to introduce into our home schedule was… weaving. Apparently, this was amazing fun and I just needed to buy some ribbons. Duly purchased, we set about creating all manner of different patterns threaded through paper. It wasn’t really at all skilful, but what with Manchester’s Cottonopolis heritage, and the stark lack of interest in any other craft activity…

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

When we do junk modelling, we like to let the materials speak for themselves.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

I lost the green lollipop stick legs on the way home, but I think you can see that quite clearly this is meant to be me.

…it meant we were at least ticking a few creative boxes.

Now we are quite considerably further advanced in school careers and all the boys have for some reason done weaving: clearly a basic life-skill — who knew? Generally the in-and-out ribbons slop out of position and buckle at one end, sometimes I just find lonely escapee strands curled on the floor. But every now and then we get an offering which is actually quite attractive. Not ‘maybe-they-have-a-future-in-this’ successful, but quite pretty nevertheless.

And when one arrived home tastefully mounted on some black cardboard, I had an idea. This would look fantastic displayed in a light box. What if I were to somehow able create an illuminated frame? It could hang in a dark area of the kitchen (a place where I wish we’d wired in some wall lighting) and bring some sparkle without us having to undergo expensive and messy wiring work.

Gloomy space

Gloomy space

As you may remember, most of my Pinterest craft moments are classified amongst the ‘fail’ or ‘humour’ categories, so I held off for a long time before deciding to experiment. However, in the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went ahead.

So here is how you go about making a light-box frame to preserve and display your child’s genius classroom achievements:

Do your shopping:-

Ikea Ribba picture frame

Ikea Ramsta string lights (battery operated) and appropriate sized batteries

Sheet A3 thick black paper (or whichever colour you prefer for the backing)

Glue gun and sticks (now you own these the Pinterest world is your veritable craft oyster)

Two of those useless novelty erasers you get in party bags or as part of football team membership packs (you need a couple that are the same depth and ideally also rubbish at actually rubbing out)

A very sharp knife (Stanley knife)

Masking tape

Gaffer tape

U-shaped small screws/ thick wire staples

Sturdy string/cord

Get creating:-

Place your Ribba frame carefully glass-side down on a soft firm surface (such as a blanket on a table top) so that it doesn’t scratch. Take it apart by unhooking the little clasps at the back.

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

What you get when you dissect a Ribba

You are going to remove the backing board (the brown one) but leave the (white) cardboard mount in position on the glass. Replace the little clasps again, this time only holding the glass and mount in place.

Pop your batteries into the string lights and check they work. Now take your backing board and at one of the bottom corners trace around the light battery box with a pencil. With a very sharp knife (on a chopping board or other handy surface) cut out this corner so that the battery box (and light switch) will be accessible once you’ve fixed the backing board back into the frame. Set the backing board aside and nestle the battery switch box into the bottom left-hand corner of the frame (so it’s hidden by the mount). Masking tape it into position, and then drape the string of lights loosely but evenly around the mount. When you have the lights equally positioned, masking-tape them into position. They should be hidden by the mount when viewed from the front, but obviously when they’re turned on will glow light onto your piece of genius art.

Back to the backing board: cover it carefully with your chosen backing paper. Neatly fold around the edges and attach at the back using the glue gun. Leave to dry, then turn over and attach the weaving masterpiece in position, again using the glue gun.

Using the sharp knife, cut the annoying novelty eraser into equal-sized blocks about the size of a pea.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn't chop these up. Spoiler alert - the reindeer wasn't so lucky.

The Disney Cars erasers are actually fit for purpose, so I didn’t chop these up. Spoiler alert – the reindeer wasn’t so lucky.

These are going to be supports upon which you will be laying the backing board, to keep it level. Arrange them around the mount board — amongst the string lights — at regular intervals, especially in the corners. Now glue them in position.

Get ready with your prepped backing board, pop little dabs of glue onto the top of each eraser stump, and press the backing board section firmly down onto the glue. Because you’ve now wrapped it, the backing board should be fairly securely wedged into the frame, as well as being attached to the little rubber chunks. Secure it further with gaffer tape, especially at the top and bottom.

It’s highly unlikely that the feeble mounting hooks or wire that come with your Ikea Ribba frame are going to support your now altogether more weighty creation. Instead you can use some u-shaped nails (staples)…

When picture hooks don't work.

When picture hooks don’t work

…and some strong cord or string instead. Tap the staples into the frame and tie the string through and around them with some tight knots. You can then drive the staples even further in to secure it all further.

Now switch it on and see your work of art subtly illuminated! It turns out that mine had some glittery threads running through it and these reflect the lights, making the whole thing even more impressive.

Proud creation.

Proud moment

Making the most of a boring space - weaving illuminated

Making the most of a boring space – weaving illuminated