It is beginning to be more and more customary for a bride and groom to participate in some sort of symbolic ritual during their wedding ceremony to illustrate the union taking place. There are many ideas like lighting candles, pouring sand, planting trees, and in this case, braiding rope.
This tutorial goes over how to turn an old door into a beautiful frame painted in the style of Mexican Talavera for use with such a Unity Braid or anything else for that matter...
... And a cord of three strands is not easily broken. (of course, translated into Spanish here)
It stands to symbolize that a couple who unifies with God is strong. It could also be used as double symbolism to include a child into the union.
Step 1: Trim Door Into Frame
First step is to find an old door. Good luck. Fairly easy or fairly hard, but try yard sales, craigslist, the dump, etc...
Next make a line with a square across where you intend to trim the door. This greatly helps visually to keep a straight cut.
Cut so that you can see clearly and so that the power cord will not get hung up and snag. Remember that paint that may be on these old doors most likely has led in it. For safety one should wear a dust mask.
Step 2: Remove Unwanted Wood
Clear the middle wood out of the way by drilling a hole in the center to make room for the blade of a jigsaw. Cut an "ex" almost to the corners and the unwanted pieces should break out just fine.
Step 3: Re-Glue Joints
Re-glue and clamp the frame if it has become loose with age and the process of deconstruction so far.
Step 4: Trim Gable Top
After the repair glue sets, measure and mark for the middle. Decide your margins for the gable like top and use a straight edge to mark angles for cutting. Then cut it.
Step 5: Cut & Remove Back Rim
Prepare the door segment to be a frame by removing the backing rim. You will see that the backing rim is what held the middle of the door in place. We must carefully mark, cut, and remove this portion of the back in-order for our new picture to sit flat in the frame.
You can see in the first picture that I measured how deep the channel is by sticking in a piece of wood, making a mark, and measuring it.
Take that measurement and use it to make a line to indicate how deep the channel is on the side of the frame.
Cut along this line carefully with a watchful eye on the saw blade to make sure you don't cut too far, just to the corners.
Now break away the unwanted pieces; you now have space for a new picture to rest flat inside the frame.
Step 6: Even Out Margins
Looking at the frame at this point I see that the borders are uneven. This is not ok with me so I cut a piece off of the left over scrap door parts:
1. To add to and thicken the base.
2. Create the "Roof" portion of the frame
After measuring and cutting your base piece, glue and clamp it while you screw it into the bottom.
Step 7: Create Roof-Like Top
For the roof portion make two more boards out of scrap door. I was able to use one lateral board and rip it in half with a table saw.
Whenever in doubt of design just set things on the ground for a mock up to help make decisions.
Use a square to get the correct angle to cut your top. Whenever cutting miters make sure to cut your board long the first time (like 1/8 inch long) to until you ensure the angle is correct.
Once the angle is correct on both boards you can cut them to the perfect length off the ends.
Step 8: Add Backing
Again, mock up some boards to use as the backing inside your frame.
Cut them to the correct size, then clamp and glue a cross board for support. Some short screws or staples help here for extra fastening power.
Step 9: Knock Back Contrast
Remember your mock up sketch of the project and begin painting.
I used some watered down white paint to knock back the contrast between spots of chipped paint and bare wood. It helps with readability of the Talavera designs and clarity when I get around to painting them next.
When painting lettering on rough bare wood be prepared for things not to turn out perfect. Sketch your letters as best you can lightly because pencil will dent the wood AND dissolve in your paint making it mucky. Try not to dilute your paint too much with water because it will leach into the grain of the wood if too thin. (this will cause a fuzzy appearance)
Step 10: Attach Rope for Braid
I made rope brackets out of steel banding like what comes on pallets or boxes or lumber for shipping.
1- Sand the paint off of the banding to a desired affect
2- Fold a right angle on one end with plenty of length
3- Bend your approximate arch needed
4- put the three ropes under neath the half made bracket at the edge of a table
5- Squeeze the bracket down around the ropes to know where the second tab should be bent.
6- Fold the second tab, clip the sharp ears at a 45º angle, and drill a screw hole in each tab.
Make sure you have plenty of rope for three strands, because you will need extra to account for the braid. you can trim the ropes later. To trim the rope you should braid it, hold it up to its intended location and mark it. Trim the rope and wrap twine around it to keep it from unravelling. Secure the rope strands together with the bracket and screws at the top of where the braid will start on the board. Now the middle part is done.
Its a good idea to put the lower bracket in a bag and tape it to the back of the frame for easy location after the ceremonial braiding.
Step 11: Paint Talavera Details
This will probably take the most time actually. Here are a few tips:
Start with lighter colors first and dark colors last.
Do a test for colors on a scrap board.
Have an open mind and be free to stray from your sketch. You can see I made quit a few changes between my digital sketch and my final product.