Kingsway Baptist Church recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. As part of the festivities, the church held a banquet for current and former members. For each table I created three sided photo centerpieces.

Each centerpieces requires three frames. I used some simple 5×7 picture frames from Canada’s version of Dollar General. To class up the discount frames, I gave each a coat of brass spray paint.

First I prepped the frames by removing the glass. Then I lightly sanded the frames to help the paint adhere, and wiped them down with a wet paper towel to remove any grit on the surface of the frames leftover from the sanding. Those little particles look huge once they’ve been covered in spray paint and stuck forever to the frame.

My frames were of the cheap, shiny silver variety. If using plastic frames, it might be possible to paint them with spray paint made specifically for plastic and skip the sanding, but it is necessary to at least clean the surface before painting. I chose to use “brass” spray paint with primer. It costs a bit more, but all things are possible with a Michael’s coupon. When I considered the cost of additional paint and the time it takes to do the extra painting, it was worth it.

The images in the frames were culled together from photographs in the church’s archives along with more recent digital images, so this meant a real diversity in appearance. The oldest black and white 35mm photos, were still remarkably clear, while the Polaroids from the 1980s, like many things from the 80s, didn’t age as well. To present a more unified look, I adjusted the images in photo editing software, cropping and fixing contrast and giving them all a sepia filter. The warm tones of the sepia setting complimented the brass frames and fall floral stems, otherwise I might have just all of the images black and white. Either way, it was important to me to show the continuity and unity of the church and to emphasize that we were one body in Christ. I even made sure that the three photos on each centerpiece were from different eras. If I had been making a timeline of the church’s 75 years, then I might have just kept the diversity of looks to put the focus on the longevity of the church.

The most difficult part of constructing the centerpieces was attaching the three frames together. I knew I wanted to be able to take the centerpieces apart and reuse them later for a future event with different images and flowers, so gluing the frames together was not an option. What I ended up doing was using duct tape to fasten the three frames together. This was not ideal and didn’t hold as well as I would have liked. I had to give each centerpiece a pre-squeeze before the banquet to make sure they held, which thankfully they did.

The floral arrangements were wired together with floral wire into small bouquets and tucked into drinking glasses hidden behind the frames. The beauty of this was that I was able to reuse the flowers as window sill arrangements in the sanctuary for the remainder of the fall by gathering fabric (thrift store sourced of course) around each glass and tying it with some fancy cord which by that time was on clearance at Michael’s.

Everyone enjoyed the centerpieces. They looked nice and certainly spiffed up our dated fellowship hall for the event, but more importantly the centerpieces became wonderful conversation starters for those attending. It was a chance to reminisce about the good times, and the tough times as a church and to see faces in the photographs that were no longer around the tables.