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Use Construction Paper to Make "Modern" Art, Fool Everyone

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My boyfriend and I have been searching for framed art for our still-new apartment for about six months now, to no avail. There are such beautiful pieces out there and many new fantastic sites for buying art, but it all seems to cost a pretty penny. Often what is affordable measures something like a mere 8-inches square.

You can make this!
You can make this! Photo by Mark Weinberg

But recently, I was standing in the check out line at J. Crew and saw a geometric framed print hung salon-style behind the registers. Its simplicity struck me and reminded me of the work of Ellsworth Kelly: straightforward, beautiful, contemporary-yet-timeless. I realized the piece I loved so much was the perfect quick, affordable DIY.


Here's how to recreate the look at home—though the exact end design is completely in your hands. Make a series of pieces that play off the same less-is-more geometric pattern, or create one large work to be long-admired in your home.

How to make tiny uniform triangles (you can do this). Photos by Mark Weinberg

What you'll need:

  • A few pieces of colored construction paper, in a palette you like
  • A glue stick or double-sided tape
  • A simple frame (like this one, or this one—in white)
  • White drawing paper or heavy stock measuring at least the width and height of the opening of the chosen frame

How to make art from paper pieces:

Like this! Cut, glue, and frame—or scroll down for the full how-to.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

1. Cut out the rectangles.

Cut a rectangular strip of paper (roughly 3 inches wide) into smaller rectangles (roughly 1 1/2 inches wide), and then slice each of those diagonally from corner to corner for a uniform selection of triangles. Repeat with other colors of paper you'd like to use.


2. Design them into a pillar.

On a flat surface, mix and match triangles to form a vertical, stacked pattern. I like using the same color as an anchor all along one side (here, the blue ones). Be sure it's not too perfect—either bump out sets of triangles in alternating directions to give it a jagged look, or let the whole column stray a little to one side at either end.

Once pattern is determined, I recommend taking a picture of it so you remember it!

From clippings to composition. Photos by Mark Weinberg

3. Adhere.

Take the large piece of white drawing paper and, using a pencil, draw a very faint vertical and horizontal line down the center of the sheet, determining where your column will go.

Lay out your pattern so that it's centered, then, using the glue stick or strips of double-sided tape, carefully flip each triangle over and adhere it to the white paper. Continue until the entire pattern is secured, then any visible pencil lines.

4. Frame and hang!

Simple frames like the ones linked above don't require much assembly—just slip the artwork in, put the backing in behind it, and hang!

When was the last time you said "I can make that!" and actually did? Share your DIY success stories in the comments.

Tags: diy, crafting, construction paper, art, glue