• Belinda

Fun For Your Photos

Your precious memories in photographic form deserve to be displayed and enjoyed. In this digital age it is often the most neglected area of our memory making. We take the pictures, but then they live on a hard drive, or get printed to just sit in a forgotten and cluttered drawer. If they do make it to an album, the album often sits on a shelf getting dusty and, again, forgotten. I know it happens, because that sums up the majority of my own lifetime of photographic memories.

Innovative ways of displaying those precious memories are key to bringing them to the forefront of your daily life where they can be appreciated and thought of often. They bring us joy, warmth, a smile as we stop and take a moment to remember that person, event, pet, or location. That can only be good medicine for our daily lives.

So it was my privilege to work on one such item, which makes photos a feature of any living space, rather than a hidden and forgotten history.

Here is my process in putting together this most wonderful Ferris Wheel photo holder.

"Photo Wheel"

As usual, the project began by doing a dry run, that is, connecting all the pieces without glue to check how it all fits together and in which order it needs to happen. It was an essential part for this particular project as it highlighted issues in the way I thought it would work. I did reach a point, when trying to fit the center struts and wheels together, that I just couldn't proceed as it constantly fell apart. Even when it came to the actual putting together with glue it was still tricky. An extra pair of hands at that stage would have saved me some frazzled minutes. However reaching that stage in the dry run gave me enough confidence for the required order of construction and where my thinking on how it would work...wouldn't.

Dry run done, it was time to start on the decorating. I began with the sides and base: the foundation of the wheel. My colour scheme was chosen exclusively to fit with my brother and sister-in-law's palette they use in their home - white, silver, red, and black. The Ferris Wheel was a gift for them for Christmas.

Base and side structure of Photo Wheel
Base and Sides

The side pieces were given two coats of white paint, on both sides. The base was painted black on the underside and then 2 coats of white paint on the upper side. These pieces are quite large so while painting the underneath may seem a pointless step, it prevents the pieces warping too much. Wood, when painted on only one side, is always prone to bending - you may have seen this happen on a wooden fence which has been stained or painted on one side and left untouched on the other.

When the final white layer was dry on all three I used a damp cloth dipped into metallic silver paint and dabbed it all over to create a mottled metal effect.

Painting spacer rings on Ferris Wheel sides
Spacer Rings

The kit comes with some spacer rings - circles of MDF that get glued to the side pieces (refer to the photo). In order to glue these without having to hold them in place, and without compromising the glue of the already glued pieces I worked out a very dodgy method of supporting the structure. I do not recommend my method *blush*. Instead, glue these on BEFORE gluing the base and sides together - sometimes I just seem to like doing things the most difficult way it seems. I chose to paint these after they were glued on, and this part I do recommend.

Then glue the base and sides together. I used my trusty Helmar PVA Professional Woodworking Glue. I added felt feet - self adhesive dots - onto the underside of the base to help support the center of it and to protect surfaces that it is destined to sit upon.

Next I proceeded to paint the other pieces that I wanted to have the same mottled paint effect. The center bar pieces (on which the wheel spins) and the struts that connect the two sides of the wheel. Same two coats of white on both sides, followed by the metallic silver dabbing process.

I have to admit the next lot of painting was quite time consuming. The two wheel pieces are large and with lots of cuts outs. For me a roller does not work well on this type of piece, so a paintbrush is my preferred method of painting. But before the paint, came quite a satisfying process of masking off areas that I wanted to be a different colour. You could easily do it freehand without the masking, but I enjoyed doing this step and liked the resulting clean lines.

Two layers of white on one side, then remove the masking tape and paint the untouched areas a very cheery red. Then flip it over and do the whole process over again - mask, 2 coats white, unmask, red. Done.

The next step of construction is the most difficult part of the whole process - the fitting together of the struts and wheels. Gluing one end of the struts into one of the wheels is easy. However to ensure the pieces do not set in the glue crooked (which would create issues trying to match up to the second wheel), the second wheel needs to be glued in place while the glue is still wet on the first end. I strongly advise finding the closest pair of available hands to help with this step. As fast as I placed the tabs in on one side the other side would pop out. I went round and round for several minutes before I wrangled them all into their proper place. Then breathe, and let the glue dry thoroughly. Grab a cuppa and enjoy that you've managed to get it this far. It's at this point that I felt it was starting to resemble a ferris wheel.

Wheels and struts glued together.
Wheel part of Ferris Wheel

The second trickiest part of construction is suspending the wheel on the center bar. While it is not so difficult as the previous step, an extra pair of hands would come in useful here, too. Placing the bars through each side and lining up the slits (with glue on), whilst also holding up the wheel so the bar slides through the middle of it...well, you get the idea. Four hands would have been very useful here, but I did get it done with just my two.

Now it feels like you're on the downhill stretch, and it is time to get the photo frames prettied up. There are twelve frames and six center pieces, making a total of six double-sided photo frames to hold twelve photos. The center piece of the frame is flat and was the perfect time to bring out a paint roller and tray. These were painted up in next to no time. I chose a matte black paint here, intending to use blackboard paint as a second coat. However I discovered one coat of the matte paint was ample coverage and acted perfectly as a blackboard. Both sides need to be painted. I turned each one into a mini blackboard so little messages or information about the photos could be included in the display. I do like a bit of multi-purposing.

For the frame surrounds I reverted back to a paintbrush and painted half of them white and half red (2 coats each). Only one side of each piece needs to be painted. When gluing the frames onto the center pieces, only glue along one long edge and along the sides up to the level of the internal cut out. This will provide enough flex to be able to insert and remove photos from the frames, making it easy to update the display over time. Flip over vertically and glue on the second frame. This ensures the opening is always at the top of the frame, whichever side is facing outwards.

There is enough flex in the outer edge of the ferris wheel to now slide the frames into the circles around the edges - no glue required for this. I alternated the frames around the wheel: red, white, red white, red, white - a little bit of fun that I felt resembled an actual Ferris Wheel.

Lugs for frame ends painted in silver
Lugs in metallic silver

Time for the final stage. Each frame has two sets of interlocking pieces, I call them "lugs". I painted each lug piece in metallic silver before adding glue to the interlocking pieces to fix them together, as shown in the photo.

Apply a little glue in the U shape on one lug - just the tiniest smidge - and then slide it into place on the end of the frame. The circle of the lug should fit inside the circle on the wheel - but do not glue this or the frames will not spin in place. Then do the same for the other side of that frame. Follow the same steps for all remaining lugs. There we have it. One really cool Ferris Wheel to display twelve precious memories or a mixture of blackboard messages and photos.

Reinforcing wheel structure with extra glue
Reinforcing glue

One final step I recommend is to to reinforce the base and side connections with an extra bead of glue on the top side and under side. (refer to the photo) During the fitting together process there is a lot of wiggling and movement which is unavoidable. By the end I noticed more sideways movement in the whole structure than when I first glued it together. Adding the final beads of PVA glue re-established some rigidity. Painting over top of the glue would further strengthen the join, however I ran out of time to do this on my ferris wheel.

And here we have it, the completed PhotoWheel with blackboard message and an old photo of my niece (who turns 28 in a couple of months time) as I presented it on Christmas Day. I was gratified that my brother and sister-in-law made immediate plans for where it would reside in their home.

Photo Wheel display stand
Ferris Wheel Photo Display

Have I piqued your desire to create one of these stunning photo displays? I hope so. It is unusual, and grand, and totally a centerpiece for coffee table or cabinet, while also being decorative, practical, and functional. You can find this kit and many others over at Faith Pocock Craft Studio. Go pay the site a visit; I'm sure you'll find a project you'll love to make, even if it's not this one. You can view and purchase the Photo Wheel here.

Until my next project, on which work is already underway,

Take care and stay creative,


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