Artist Canvas turned Inspiration Board

By Kate Riley November 9, 2010

Memo boards are just one of life’s necessities, at least for me.  I have a giant custom memo board that I built earlier this year for the mud room, that one is for all the *stuff* I need to remind myself when I take the kids off to school or head out the door.  Mail, Netflix movies, birthday party invitations, coupons, etc.

In my office, I needed something different, something just for me!  A spot to post calendars, mementos, postcards, kid art, fabric swatches, photographs, all my little treasures.  A place for those nostalgic keepsakes that I want to keep on display, not just to remind me of moments and memories, but also to inspire.

cg inspiration board


I’ve wanted a gigantic board for awhile now, and preferred the look of fabric over a cork board.  I considered building another one with plywood, but didn’t like the idea of how heavy it would be, and I’d have to drive big ol’ nails into my grasscloth wallpaper, no no no thank you!  Then I spied a giant 48" x 48" artist canvas for half price at Michaels and decided to use that instead ~ it was lightweight and the perfect size.  Unfortunately, an artist canvas doesn’t hold thumbtacks very well on its own, so I decided to reinforce it with some cork roll along the back.

It’s kinda like wallpapering . . .  you apply plenty of glue then smooth out the cork roll along the back of the canvas.

cork roll back of canvas


Work in sections, moving from top to bottom.  To hold the cork down on your glue, grab a bunch of cans of paint and let them sit for about 30 minutes per section.


paint cans on glue


When your glue is dry, wrap your canvas in your fabric of choice.  I like linen, so I went with that, plus in was on the summer sale rack.  I also glued on a ribbon border for a little extra detail.  As a final step, I hot glued the cork to the wood around the perimeter to secure it to the edges.


cg kates board


Over time, I’ll be adding all sorts of favorite things, both new and old.  For now, I’m loving the size and potential.  Call it organized chaos, or contained clutter, but personally, I see it as a place to keep everything that’s special to me.


canvas collage 

Have you ever made a memo or inspiration board for yourself?  Where do you keep all your little reminders of favorite things in life?



  1. I love it! I like the giant scale of it – it makes it easier to keep the open space between memories and inspiration and let the board breath while still having a place for so many things!

  2. Thank you! I have been trying to figure out a low cost way to make a cork board that looked different than just…cork. I was thinking about magnetic paint, but I’ve heard meh… results. How thick was the cork and where did you get the long sheets? I’ve only seen the 8.5 x 11 craft sheets at michaels. Maybe I missed it.

  3. So funny! It’s like you’re in my head! I wanted to turn one of my many under-utilized canvas boards into an inspiration board but thought I’d be stuck with boring old cork again. But putting cork BEHIND the canvas? hello! I didn’t even consider it! Genius =)

    Thanks for the tip. It officially made my life easier
    Inspiration board here I come!

    Jenn L @ Peas & Crayons

  4. I bought a couple of 18 x 24 corkboards, covered them in some leftover fabric that I got from Ikea to cover a couple of canvases – burnt orange with a visible weave, and mounted them side by side with Command mounting strips (the velcro like ones) which I stapled to the back of the boards – they are light enough to work just dont like sticking to the fabric. SO no nail holes.
    They sit butted up against another above my little desk in the corner of the family room. great for School stuff, bills, church notes and my favourite Keep Calm and Carry On sign.

  5. I’ve been wondering about that board since you mentioned it!

    One thing about artist canvas — I embroider on it and once you make a hole in it somewhere, that hole won’t “heal” like it will on cork. I know you have the cork on the back to help hold in tacks, but if you re-thumbtack a lot, you may find the canvas doesn’t help grip the tack anymore. That may be a non-issue if you don’t change out stuff on your board a lot, but I thought I’d throw that out there.

    That said, I *really* like this idea and have my thinking cap on to come up with a way to modify it so that I could change stuff out often without using tacks. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  6. Love it! I’m working on organizing my jewelry studio- little by little- and this would be a great addition!

  7. That’s brilliant! I’ve been wondering how I could turn one of my big artists’ canvases into a bulletin board and you just solved that puzzle for me! Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  8. I love this idea! So timely for a project I am beginning to undertake in my daughter’s bedroom and for my own office. I can’t wait to use your method to fashion a couple of these boards in my home!

  9. Oh I really love what you did. The accent around the edges is great. I have the same LOVE print from MadeByGirl (: I’ve made a few boards like this. I reupholstered the bulletin board above my desk at home with a fun coordinating fabric. I also just made 7 cork board squares with the names of the days of the weeks and a cute ribbon on them to put above my desk at school so I can stay organized (:

  10. Wow it looks great! The cork behind the canvas it a good idea. I have made boards out of fabric covered homasote. This is much lighter!

  11. Love your idea. I have an idea board in my bedroom that I made in college. It is essentially the same as yours, but it has a large wooden frame around the outside. Decopauge was kind of big when I was in college, so I got tons of retro style paper and did some fun designs. I LOVED doing it, and I still LOVE the board today. Just found your blog – super excited to follow it. THANKS!

  12. Love this! It turned out perfectly! I read the comment about using thumb tac in the same spot over & over… Probably no biggie because of the cork backing, and maybe use pins instead? (As they are a bit thinner.) Thanks for posting! Really great project!

  13. I have one that I made for my laundry room it is covered with photos of the people I love..I love looking at it when I am doing laundry..which is ALWAYS! I love the ribbon border around yours looks great above your new storage table!

  14. Looks amazing! Love the linen with the ribbon trim. I made one starting with a stretch canvas too, but layered the cork on top. Hmmm. I think I like your solution better. You will have to let me know how it holds up.


  15. This is genius! I would have never thought! I might have to ‘borrow’ this idea for my craft area aka our dining room, haha. The joys of apartment living! Thank you so much for sharing : )

  16. Beautiful board. Love the ribbon around the edge. My mom gave me a similar board for my office. I hang all of my favorite greeting cards from family and friends. It gives me a emotional lift when I look at it… reminds me of all those I love (and those who love me).

  17. Love the idea. I’ve also been looking for a large cork bulletin but the ones I’ve found and liked are too expensive. Do you think you can use spray adhesive to attach the cork instead? Thanks.

  18. This is a great idea, I was also thinking of using canvas so I can get the size but hadn’t figured out how to get the thumbtacks to stick, thanks so much for sharing!

  19. Instead of using a traditional cork or fabric board, I picked up an old metal garden gate from a local antique store, spray painted it and hung it on the wall with big pipe brackets. I clip photos, kids’ artwork, magazine tear-outs and other inspiring items to it with wooden clothes pins. I’ve also added some metal hooks (recycled from an old pot rack) along the bottom, and hang buckets, baskets, etc., for extra storage in my craft room. I love that it’s salvaged and re-purposed, but mostly, I love that it’s totally functional.

    Kate: I am new to your site, but I love what you do!

  20. Looks fabulous! I made mine from artist canvas also, wrapped in fabric and applied ribbon in the shape of X. Photos tuck in it nicely!

  21. Hi Kate-

    Since I am such a visual person – I love to see the things that inspire me or just make me smile. I have them all up on one wall in my studioffice. I edit it every once and a while, but still have some items on it that date back to my childhood and college days. The wall is such a nice reminder of times gone by, things I have done, and an inspiration of what
    I would still like to accomplish in my life.
    My best- Diane

  22. Very nice, Kate! The ribbon is a fun touch. I also see some pretty fabrics tacked up. Can’t wait to see what you do with those! I have been wanting a memo board so may try try out your idea. Thanks for sharing your tutorial.

  23. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!!!! How did you attach the linen to the board? Glue? Staples? Other?


  24. Talk about timing! I have a canvas that I set aside for memo board purposes but haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I was going to go in more of the French-style but I love the idea of using cork board! Can’t wait to try it out.

  25. I’m not sure if I could put something quite like this together, but I have space over my new office desk for an inspiration board and I would love to put something up to keep me smiling and motivated during the day.

  26. This is wonderful! I have an inspiration board right in my lounge (living room) and have a ball ‘redecorating’ it every month. I put my scarves, artwork, pretty letters, even random stuff I have found laying around.

    I built a wooden frame out of molding and stapled builders mesh to the back. I spray painted the whole thing white and clip my things on with big chunky silver clips. Some of these clips are antique and some are new but I love them all!

    Heres an image of what it looked like when I first put it up! Of course it looks entirely different now!

  27. Oh, i have one of those (smaller version) for my earrings and necklaces. It’s a really great idea and yours came out superpretty =) think I’m going to make some space on the walls in my room for a inspiration board.

  28. Oh that turned out nicely! I’ve got an old bulletin board that has ratty cork in it. I think I’ll try to recover it soon.

  29. Love it! I’m thinking I could make one of these and add vinyl lettering to the fabric. It just so happens that I have all three: a canvas, a roll of cork, and vinyl lettering! Thanks for the great idea! FUN FUN FUN!

  30. Great job! Never thought of the cork on the back!

    I use the artist canvasses to make memo boards. I just staple the fabric, batting and ribbon right onto the wood frame in the back, hand sew the buttons where the ribbons cross and cover the back with felt & attach picture hangars! This makes any sized memo boards in any fabric and boards that are all framed in for you and are lightweight.

  31. I love this!! I finally have my own Mom Cave room in our new house and I am looking for inspiring ideas on decorating it. This is a must-have for that room. Thanks for the great idea and tutorial. You never cease to inspire. :-)

  32. I have made my own memo board but it is very small. I use it in my kitchen and orginally made it to hold my menu plans for the week. Now I’m using it for announcements and pictures that are sent in the mail. After the event is over, I remove it from the board.

    Your board is marvelous – so large!


  33. Hi Kate

    Love your site – getting many ideas, one being this inspiration board. I found, and used on my first board, cork drawer liner (contact paper). But I noticed your’s is just a roll of cork, which would probably work better as the contact paper has that layer of thickish tack stuff. So…where did you find this cork?


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