Easy DIY Ways to Frame Art

I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour.  The rain lasted all morning and the light was flat and gray.  Intimations of the Oregon winter to come, for sure.  It was a cozy morning to be inside, and I sat in the living room with Dean on my lap and coffee in hand.  I am very pleased (and a little bit relieved) to report that the Crystal Ball paint did not turn cold or stark, but was bright and cozy and reflected what little natural light there was.  I have a feeling I’m going to be choosing to spend a lot of time in there this winter, and I’m motivated to get the stacks of art off the floor and onto the walls.

Just the tip of the neglected art iceberg

Just the tip of the neglected art iceberg

I have some really lovely pieces that are already framed, but I’ve also amassed quite a collection of art from thrift stores and garage sales that are irregularly sized and don’t fit into standard mats and frames.  Custom framing is out of reach, so I decided to get a little creative with how I display things.

You might remember seeing this pretty lady when I showed you the living room paint last week:

oil portrait 2

I bought the little oil portrait on eBay awhile ago, but hadn’t found a good way to display her.  I had a brainwave when this incredible room popped up in our Pinterest feed:

farrow and ball wallpaper

Man, Farrow & Ball really has my number.  This photo is from their recent collection of wallpapers, and it manages to instill in me an ineffable longing.  Let’s zoom in:

I decided to try and recreate this on a much smaller scale – to slake my yearning and quell my avarice by creating a little vignette reminiscent of this beauty. I carved a stamp and printed an old piece of mat board I had laying around.

Stamping the background

close up of piping

The frame is one of many I have dragged home from thrift stores, and I used a piece of piping to border the painting and give it a little depth.  I just used scotch tape to affix it to the back of the portrait:

attaching the piping

Then I used double-sided tape to stick the portrait onto the mat board, put a little plant in front to mimic the one in that original image and voila!  A very inexpensive Farrow & Ball-inspired moment.

Red House West//Inexpensive ways to display art

I bought this abstract pen and ink drawing for $0.99 and really like it, but it was stuck in a closet for ages while I waited for inspiration to strike – which it finally did!

framing supplies

Using poster board, black fabric, spray adhesive and a cheap thrift store frame, this little baby is finally ready to see the light of day.  To start, I cut the poster board to fit the frame then cut an opening to display the drawing.  I read somewhere that matting looks best when it’s slightly wider on the bottom than on the top – something about the eye seeing it as centered – so I did that and I’m happy with the result.

cut frame

Next, I cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the poster board.  I took everything outside, spread out a sheet, and sprayed the poster board with spray adhesive (below left).  Then I flipped it onto the fabric and smoothed out all the wrinkles.  I trimmed the edges then cut an ‘x’ in the middle opening so there were four triangle-shaped flaps (below right), trimmed the excess and used spray adhesive to glue the edges.

Red House West//Inexpensive framing

I waited for it to dry then reassembled the frame (full disclosure: I actually had to reassemble it three times because not once but twice I noticed cat hair trapped beneath the glass).  I’m really happy with it!  I like the texture of the fabric and think the depth of the black looks nice with the drawing. The edges look far better than any  of my previous attempts at cutting mat board at home.

Close up of the fabric mat taken without the glass.

Close up of the fabric mat taken without the glass.

Red House West//inexpensive ways to frame art

I’m happy to have these images on display, and feel inspired to get to work framing some more things.  I know we have some artists who read the blog – do you frame your own art?  Any tips you can pass on?  Thanks so much!

15 responses on “Easy DIY Ways to Frame Art

  1. Katy Gilmore

    Absolutely love what you have done – and very inspiring! Would never have thought to combine the printing and the painting and it’s lovely! I am inspired – framing is not my favorite thing, and I always find some little chunk of gunk after I screw it closed! I hope you will show more of your solutions as you go along.

  2. Susan

    I don’t know about the “easy” DIY but I love the artistry! You have a great eye for color and design and instead of cats, your plants are migrating into photo ops!

    1. k80bennett

      Keeping Dean and his tri-colored fur (nothing is safe!) off the fabric and out of the frame was no small feat. I also have a ridiculous number of outtakes that feature – prominently – his tail and his ample haunch. The plants are so much more obliging…

  3. michellet2013

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas Katie! I think I’d best not even take a peek at the Farrow & Ball site. Your print would be really lovely fabric too!

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    I like to buy old frames to use – some thrift stores have piles of them, and I bring them home for those times when there’s a new photo or painting to frame. When my second-grader grandson brought me his new school photo a few weeks ago, I found in my pile just the right frame for it. I love what you did with both pictures. The background paper you printed looks very Bloomsbury/Omega – like. Especially with that portrait on it. And the fabric covered mat is beautiful. Pictures always look so much better out in the open than they do tucked away in a drawer.

  5. y2knina

    Oh, how timely! I just threw my hands up in disgust trying to wrangle a thrift store frame back together after taking it apart to clean it (filthy!) and toss the silly greeting card that someone had framed, but couldn’t get those itty-bitty prong doohickys back in the wood. I decided to take a step back and a deep breath and hang out with more capable and creative types online.

    I have something at the framer (pricey!) that should be ready to pick up in a week or so and while there I will ask him for some pro tips to make my life a bit easier. I certainly have donated enough of my dollars to his retirement fund that he owes me! In the meantime, its great to see some alternatives (although, I agree with Susan that they don’t look particularly “easy” – – remember, I can’t put prongs back into pre-existing holes because I am all thumbs!) and your think-outside-the-box ideas. Very nice!

    1. k80bennett

      Some frames can present a serious engineering challenge. I disassembled one and finally recruited Cameron to help put it back together–and it really did take all four hands and both brains to do it. Definitely collect on your framing investment and please share any pro tips you can garner!

  6. papict

    Genius! I am inspired. We shipped lots of unframed art work (my own and pieces by artist friends) with us from Scotland and now I need to set about framing it all. I had one small drawing of mine custom-framed and gulped at the price so I need to get thrifty. I have so far not spotted any frames lurking in thrift stores but I will have to cast my net wider.

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