A Father

Monday, June 11, 2001 at 1:00am

Dads today do it all. Cooking. Cleaning. Caring for the kids. (Well, some of the time, right?) So they deserve the same extra attention that Mom gets on her day.

Here's a Father's Day project from Joseph Slattery at the Mary Engelbreit Studios that Dad'll proudly show off on his dresser or desk at work: hinged "screen door" frames filled with photos and mementos.

To start, you'll need eight 8-inch lengths of matching frame stretchers (the kind that fit together without glue), craft acrylic paint, a small brush (approximately 1-inch wide), scissors, aluminum door screening (one 8-by-16-inch piece), a stapler or staple gun, five small eye hooks, 2 feet of aluminum craft coil, pliers, craft glue, two small silver-tone hinges with screws, a screwdriver, four small glass doorknobs and a hot glue gun (optional).

Fit the frame pieces together. Brush frames with paint, applying as many coats as needed to achieve desired coverage. You might go for a "hunting lodge" color like forest green or bark brown. We aimed for a lighter-looking nautical style and thinned the paint with water so that the wood grain on the frames could show through.

With scissors, cut two 7-by-7-inch squares of aluminum screening to fit the backs of the frames. Staple screening tightly in place.

Screw in the eye hooks, two on top of each frame for supporting handles and one on the face of the right-hand frame for attaching a latch hook.

Snip an 8-inch length of aluminum coil. Using pliers, create a swirl at the end of coil. Insert the straight end of the coil through both eye hooks, pulling upward to create a curved handle.

Finish the handle with a matching swirl on the opposite end of the coil. Repeat the process on the second frame.

Now snip about 2-and-3/4 inches of coil to make a latch hook, as on a screen door. Insert coil through the eye hook and bend to close around it so that the coil hangs freely. Create a swirl to finish the latch hook.

Now glue the knobs in place as "feet." Place two on the underside of each frame, let dry.

Attach frames to one another with the silver-tone hinge, using the screwdriver to attach the screws.

Here comes the fun part: decorating the frames. To do so, pull out a few single wires from the leftover screening. To attach objects to screen frames (photos, shells, miniature race cars), thread wire through the screen, wrap around the objects, then thread it through the back, twisting the ends to secure. Heavier items can be hot-glued in place. Some items, like fishermen's flies, can simply be dangled from the screen.

You could use your screen frames as an opportunity to tell a story about Dad. Maybe it's a tale of his glorious college baseball career

Filed under: Lifestyles