When a vacation was chock-full of Kodak moments, why not combine a few snapshots into one frame? To accommodate any number, size, or arrangement of photos, your best bet is to customize a piece of mat board yourself. No tape or glue is involved―just a few photo corners―so the images can be easily replaced with your new favorites.
What You Need
Mat board, cut to size
Cork-backed metal ruler
Self-adhesive photo corners
How to Frame It
Step 1: For the look shown here, use a cork-backed ruler (to avoid scratches) and position four four-by-six-inch photos faceup 3 1/2 inches from the outside of a 16-by-20-inch mat board.
Step 2: Apply self-adhesive photo corners. Leave each corner a sliver of breathing room so that after you slide in the photos, they won’t buckle over time.
Step 3: Cut a spacer the length of one side of the glass with a utility knife. Attach the spacer flush to the glass edge. (It will disappear under the frame.) Repeat for the remaining sides.
Step 4: Flip the glass over so the spacers provide a buffer between the photo’s glossy finish and the glass, then pop the whole shebang into a frame.
2 of 5Mark Lund
An Odd-Size Piece
Before cramming Junior’s finger painting into a frame that’s too small or letting a concert poster swim in one that’s too big, consider a sectional-frame kit. Available in inch increments between 8 and 40 inches, the kits allow you to pick a size that is perfect (or will be after a little trimming of the piece). There are two “sides” in each kit, so you’ll want one for the length and one for the width.
Piece of glass (prices vary; art-supply stores will cut to size for a small fee)
Utility knife, for cutting foam board
How to Frame ItStep 1: Assemble three sides of the frame by connecting a shorter section to each end of a longer section. Use a screwdriver to tighten the joints.
Step 2: Sandwich the art between a piece of foam board and a piece of glass (both cut to the size of the artwork), then slide them all into the metal frame.
Step 3: Turn the whole thing upside down, and attach the fourth side of the frame, tightening the joints with screws.
Step 4: If there’s a lot of wiggle room and the artwork and glass are rattling around inside the frame, use the included pressure clips to keep everything in place.
3 of 5Mark Lund
A Piece of Fabric
Aunt Gertie’s needlepoint or a scrap of vintage toile can become art if it’s properly framed. Besides, the best way to protect that special cross-stitch from the elements (dust, humidity, kids’ hands) is to have a layer of glass over it. Although it’s easy to go the DIY route, you’d be well-advised to enlist a professional framer for fragile, heirloom-quality pieces.
What You Need
White satin cloth tape (at art-supply stores)
How to Frame ItStep 1: Using a utility knife, cut the foam board to the size of the fabric you want to frame, leaving at least an inch of extra fabric around the edges.
Step 2: Stretch the fabric over the board. Secure it by placing a pin in the center of one side. Next, put a pin at each end. Then pin the centers of the gaps, alternating from end to end.
Step 3: Pin the opposite side of the board in the same way (see Step 2), pulling the fabric taut. Repeat for the remaining two sides.
Step 4: Fold over the extra fabric, and secure it with cloth tape. Before inserting the piece into the frame, attach spacers to the glass (see Step 3 in A Series of Photos) so the fabric won’t be squashed.
4 of 5Mark Lund
Framing a Rolled-Up Print
Even if that poster from the museum shop has spent ages in its tube―rolled up beyond recognition, seemingly never to lie flat again―there’s hope. One option: Bring the print to a framer and have it professionally dry-mounted. Most places won’t do this on the spot, so the job will cost you the mounting fee (about $20 for a standard-size poster), plus two trips to the store. Option number two? Buy a self-adhesive foam board and stick the print down yourself.
What You Need
Crescent Perfect Mount Self-Adhesive Mounting Board ($1.50 to $19.60, dickblick.com)
Cork-backed metal ruler
How to Frame ItStep 1: To make the print easier to work with, roll it out, using heavy books at each corner to keep it flat. Let stand for a few hours.
Step 2: Peel back a few inches of the adhesive foam board’s protective film. Line up the print with the edge of the board. Unroll the print onto the board while peeling back more film.
Step 3: Use the spine of a hardcover book to smooth out air bubbles. For larger air pockets, use a pin to make a few holes in the foam board (not the print) to help release the air, then smooth with the book.
Step 4: Trim excess foam board using a utility knife and a metal ruler, then insert the piece into a ready-made frame.
5 of 5Mark Lund
Do-It-Yourself Framing Tips
Before you put utility knife to foam board, take a moment to think color and design.
Keep it clean. “The whole idea of framing is to make the artwork sing,” says Brian Clamp, director of ClampArt, a gallery in New York City. Nix the loud colors and ornate frames. Unless the art is baroque or over-the-top, a simple, unadorned frame design will usually work.
Size matters. Pick a frame proportionate to the image. “Wider frames overwhelm small images, and a thin frame is lost on a large piece,” says Neil Klemz, manager of the Picture Us Galleries, in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Frames less than one inch thick shouldn’t be used on a piece bigger than 16 by 20 inches. The joints may bend, buckle, and even break.
Color smart. The art itself―not the walls, the couch, or the bedspread―should always determine the color of the mat and the frame. To play it safe, go with the classic white-mat–and–black-frame combination. If you decide to introduce color, Klemz suggests picking a tone from the artwork, avoiding the most dominant one. And never pair a light frame with a dark mat, says Clamp. You’ll draw more attention to the framing than to the art.
Think quality. Ready-made frames are mass-produced, so select a solid one. Check the corners for gaps and the sides for dents, says Klemz. Keep in mind that weight usually equals sturdiness and that plastic inserts scratch more easily than glass.