Saturday, September 1, 2012

so far so good: using handmade plate hangers

You're going to see some primer starting to cover the yellow milk paint on my kitchen wall in these photos, but this post isn't about paint (that'll have to wait); it's about hanging things on the wall (fish, in this case) using handmade wire plate hangers.

I have a ceramic fish on my wall that we picked up at Jeff Chang Pottery on a trip to Oahu when we were twenty-one. It's a pretty blue, tropical thing I don't know the name of, and it hangs from a hook applied to the back by the artist.

The plan for awhile has been to add some additional fish as time went by. At my niece and nephew's birthday party in 2008, I painted the little blue fish spoon rest at a "paint your own pottery" studio, intending to hang him on the wall with his Hawaiian friend. But I couldn't track down a plate hanger small enough, so I put him to use as an actual spoon rest instead.

Finally, the large fish dish was a summer piece from Target . . . thankfully discounted after weeks of stalking it, waiting for the price to drop. It came home with us, then sat on the counter for a week while I researched how to make my own plate hangers, since nothing short of a miracle was going to turn up anything heavy-duty enough to securely hold this heavy dish on the wall.

So there you have it; two common plate hanging problems: the dish is too big, and the dish is too small. The solution is a $3 spool of wire, a pair of needle-nose pliers/wire cutters, and some help from good ol' Martha Stewart.

Martha's instructions recommend 18 gauge annealed iron wire, which I'm totally sure is an actual thing, but I couldn't find it in three different local places, or Amazon. So I looked for a good alternative, something a similar gauge (thickness) that bends easily enough with pliers and fingers, but stiff enough to keep its shape when holding a heavy plate.

I tried a couple of different things, but ended up settling on this one: plastic coated 18 gauge steel wire.

I ended up choosing the plastic-coated steel to solve another common plate hanging problem: chipping plates. The plastic coating on the wire is transparent and subtle (on my blue fish, anyway) and protects the ceramic from the hard edges of the wire.

Cut two pieces that are longer than your plate (I used three for the big fish).

Twist a loop in the middle of one piece, and make a "v" shape in the middle of the other.

Connect on the back of your plate, then wrap the wires tightly (but not too tightly) around your plate.

On the front, use the pliers to twist little loops at the ends of the wire. Make sure your plate is held securely before hanging. If any part is loose, your plate could slip and break!

Use the hoop on the back to hang your dish on a picture hanger that's rated to hold the right weight . . . or a little more. I used a 3-pound hanger for the small dish, but a 50-pound hanger nailed into a wall stud for the big dish. Better to go for a little overkill, I think.

A simple little project, cheaper than buying readymade hangers, and more versatile, too.

What have you been saving to hang on the wall? What's your obstacle?

Thanks for reading!

p.s. you can make these photos larger just by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that.

1 comment:

Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm said...

Well that is really clever! I have a couple of odd shaped seasonal plates I can try this on! Thank you!