We had a flag hanging off our house for a while and it had taken a real beating. It had a lot of rips and tears and the colors had really faded. I had read that flying a torn and tattered flag is considered disrespectful to our nation. So ours definitely needed to be replaced. When I took our tattered flag down, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it but I didn’t want to just throw it away. I also knew there are lots of rules on how to properly dispose of a flag – you can read those here.
So I tried to salvage it and turned it into it’s own piece of art that hangs in an area where it will hang proudly and won’t be effected by the elements.
This country’s flag is obviously a strong image and during this especially crazy time I think it’s something we need to display more and show support of. And I think from a graphic designer’s perspective, it holds so much visual and graphic symbolism.
Here’s what I did to turn this old tattered flag into a new piece of art that we’ve hung proudly:
1. I channeled my inner Betsy Ross and I sewed the areas of our tattered flag that were badly ripped. I just used a needle and thread because the material was very fragile and I didn’t think it would go through a sewing machine well. I also liked the rough look to the hand sewn parts.
2. I needed a backing for the flag but I didn’t want anything too heavy. So I went with a piece of 1/4″ plywood and cut it to be just a few inches larger than my flag. I also bought pieces of 1-1/2″ lattice for the framing. I chose this simple, non-glass frame option because it’s being hung in our entryway/garage area. I couldn’t have the fragile glass around such a busy space. I also chose the simplicity of the wood backing and frame because it allows the flag to be the main focal point. Nothing too fancy.
3. I stained the frame pieces with a walnut oil stain and I painted the plywood with a few coats of white acrylic exterior paint. I sanded the plywood a bit after the paint dried for a more rustic look.
4. Once all the wood was painted, sanded and dry, I glued the frame pieces on with wood glue. Then I added some tack nails in the back for added support.
5. Now I needed to attach the flag. Since the newly sewn flag was far from perfect – or straight – it wasn’t able to attach the flag completely flat on the wood. So I used Tacky Glue and glued random areas of the flag to the wood backing. I loved how this made the flag look like it was almost waving in the wind.
6. I love how imperfect but strong this piece now looks. I just added hanging hardware to the back and hung it in our garage/entry area.
This project was a simple way to repurpose something that still has meaning and value but was no longer working as originally intended.
And even though I used an old flag, this idea could translate to any old piece of clothing, a special quilt or just a piece of artwork that needs new life. Or you could even purchase a flag from any home supply store and add the wood backing and frame and you would have a cool piece of art – with a more complete flag. I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great week!
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