I also have a bare wall next to the mantle that at one time has a piece of art on it, but I then moved it to a different location. I don't mind having the bare wall, except with how the other walls are decorated in the same room, it didn't look balanced. I had to put something on there that was small and light... if I put something that was dark and heavy, it would have just been too much. I spent less than $8 on the embroidery hoops and I used some of my favorite fabrics from my stash. I trimmed off the excess fabric on the back and hot glued the salvage onto the frame. So far so good.
I have some other projects in the works, but with the craziness of the season and an upcoming trip, it might be a while before I get to them. Until then, Happy crafting!