TOOLS NEEDED
  • Hot Glue gun and good supply of glue sticks

MATERIALS NEEDED –
  • Cardboard Laminated Styrofoam – if you choose
to make a removable frame for use on an existing
mirror or
  • Inexpensive wood picture frame or framed mirror
1 – Find or purchase a ready made picture frame to
encrust or make a styrofoam frame to cover an
existing frame you do not wish to actually glue, using
the diagram and previous discussion as your guide.  
2 – Gather together all your bark pieces and begin
arranging them so they fit together as closely as
possible while still varying colors and textures. Do not
worry if pieces overlap or go beyond the edge of the
frame.  This adds interest to your piece.
3 – Glue down enough pieces to completely cover your
frame.
4 -  Select several places on your frame and arrange
feature clusters of natural materials and objects and
glue arrangements to bark.  Be careful not to cover
particularly interesting features of bark such as knots
or holes.   
5 – Optional – spray finished frame with matte sealant.  
6 – Put frame around display art or mirror, hang and
enjoy.
Bark – All Sizes, Shapes, Colors, and Textures
Acorns and Caps
Pine Cones
Floral Fungi
Dried White Berries
Small Birdhouses
Dried Flowers
Dried Ferns
Buckeyes
Seedpod Husks
Bird Nests
Artificial Birds
Money Penny
Paw-paw Balls
Brown Seedpods
Grape Vine Twists
Dried Clover Flowers
Miscellaneous Dried Weeds and Flowers
Artistic Twigs
Dried Hairy Fern
Hickory Nuts and Pods
Silk Flowers
Martha has made frames or wreaths encrusted with just about
everything.  Over the many seasons her show was on I have
seen her use pine cones, pine cone scales and the flowers
made when pine cones are sawed in half.  She has also used
all acorns or acorn caps, nuts, buttons, shells, metallic
ornaments and just anything she could tack down with her
trusty hot glue gun.  Martha’s guest artisan used only bark
and bark alone makes an impressive display of textures and a
nice rustic frame.  This might be preferable if you intend using
your frame to surround a painting or print as my more
decorative method would likely be too busy and compete with
the art.  By choosing to frame a mirror I was free to make the
frame the art.  For me this project was a way of displaying my
collection of flora picked up on years of nature walks.  
This is the mirror I used for the project.  It is the mirror that
matches the dresser in my bedroom though I don’t use the
two pieces together.  It has been hanging over a table in
my tiny little apartment foyer alcove for years where it not
only reflects my living area but can be used to check my
appearance before one's departure.  
Hardly fine furniture, the dresser and mirror are just
inexpensive cherry stained pine pieces from an early
children’s set.  Even so I was not willing to permanently
commit the mirror to this craft project by irreparably
damaging its finish.  To keep from doing this I built a
styrofoam over-frame or box frame to fit snuggly around
and over the real mirror frame.  The finished encrusted
frame is light and portable and easily removed for mirror
cleaning.  This particular mirror has an overhanging
piece of top molding and other decorative details so I
had to layer the styrofoam until I had a level surface.  If
you choose to go with this method it is important that
your styrofoam be the type that is laminated to cardboard
to give you a glue ready surface.  If you can’t find this
type,  you can laminate it yourself with cut up pieces of
boxes and white glue.  I learned from experience that hot
glue, even the low temperature kind, instantly melts
styrofoam on contact.  If the color of the laminated
corrugated cardboard is brown you will only need to pre-
paint your white styrofoam edges before you begin to
glue the bark down.  
Back before Martha Stewart had her legal troubles and
re-invented herself as a talk show host, she had a
marvelous show called Martha Stewart Living.  It was easily
the best how-to show in history.  Besides teaching the
usual homemaking arts, she had shows devoted to the
really unusual.  In those fascinating shows her regular
viewers came to expect surprise from her unique choice of
topics.  In one episode she showed us how she hitched up
a team of her beautiful black Friesian horses and then we
took a driving lesson with her in an elegant carriage
through the fall countryside.  On another program she took
us to visit a distillery in Kentucky and we learned how they
made and bottled bourbon.  Afterwards a master mixologist
taught us the proper way to use the bourbon to make mint
juleps for serving at our next Kentucky Derby party.  
Another time we went with Martha to a county fair to see all
the different species of chickens.  We learned how they
were judged then went back to her farm and built a chicken
coop.  One day we learned bee keeping and another how to
make pop-up books.  Back then there was no studio
audience to distract the viewer or silly celebrities muddling
through a cooking or craft lesson.  Her guests were all
artisans or experts there to teach all of us something.  
It was on one of those great old Martha Stewart Living
shows that I watched a guest craft person make a bark
frame.  Of course I tinkered a bit with her original idea to
make it bigger, better and mine.  I saw the segment years
ago so must rely on my fading memories because no
amount of on-line searches produced an actual tree bark
encrusted picture frame.  From what I do remember, this
project’s creator used a simple inexpensive flat wooden
frame and glued her bark pieces directly onto the frame
until it was covered.  I don’t remember what her finished
frame was used for but I chose to use the technique for a
mirror frame.  
I never did  understand the criticisms and ridicule heaped
on Martha claiming she was just “too perfect” and both
her show and magazine set unattainable standards for
today’s woman.  For me it was an hour of escape back to
the more gracious time of our mothers and grandmothers
who did their best to make a beautiful, efficiently run home
for their families.  Yes, I know that time is gone and women
are busy now earning a living to support their families, but
I think it would be a shame if all of those skills were lost as
those generations pass.  I can't help but wonder, now that
we have lost Martha to talk and reality shows, who is left to
teach us how to fold an egg or a fitted sheet?  I just
recently read that in the fall of 2010 she will be leaving
network television all together for the Hallmark channel.  
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