When I framed the six engineering drawings for our stairwell (How to Hang a Gallery Wall), I cheated a little. Or maybe a lot. Either way, it was cheap – much cheaper than traditional framing and matting but with a similar look.
If you are a professional framing expert, perhaps you should look the other way, cover your eyes, or whatever might be necessary to protect yourself from the reality of this post. It’s gonna get ugly.
I purchased 32″ x 40″ pieces of white foam board at Hobby Lobby for $6 each. Boards for all six frames were cut from two pieces of foam board. $12 faux canvas for six frames. Unheard of until now, and feel free to share the news.
Here’s how to frame your artwork on the cheap with a professional look.
Paint the front and back sides of your foam board with Valspar Super Flat Interior Primer and Paint ($13 a quart at Lowe’s). You can paint before or after cutting your pieces to fit your frames. It doesn’t matter. But, it does matter about painting both sides. If you paint one side, you will have curled boards. Not good. Paint both sides.
Sorry about the picture – I forgot to get a shot before putting in frames, so this will have to do. But, you can see it’s painted on the back side – and curl-free.
I had my paint color matched to Annie Sloan Louis Blue. You can have yours made to match whatever you wish. It paints on smoothly, dries very fast, and looks like matte board because of the flat finish.
When you have your pieces cut and painted, it’s time to make some mounting corners out of paper. Mine are made from book pages. Visit DIY Framing with Bookpage Mounting Corners to see how to do it. Make your corners out of anything you wish – wallpaper scraps, fabric scraps, card stock, the possibilities are endless.
Center your art piece on your foam board and slide the corners in place. Lift each corner and glue to foam board. I used rubber cement. I don’t know why – just seemed like a good idea, since I love rubber cement. I’m sure Elmer’s would work just as well.
After your corners are in place, holding your artwork, you are ready for the actual framing.
By the way, while you’re at Lowe’s getting your paint, go to the glass cutting aisle and have them cut your glass. (I sure wish I was paid by Lowe’s for all this free advertising they’re getting here, but I’m not.) This is another cheap trick.
I went to HobLob recently to have the glass cut for the drawing I was framing for HH’s brother. One piece about 14″ x 20″ was $11, and with a 40% coupon even. I bought four pieces of 16″ x 20″ and one piece of 20″ x 24″ for a total of $24 at Lowe’s! (So, who’s your best friend now, huh?)
Step 1: Cleaning the glass. Place the glass inside the frame (facing down) and clean that side of the glass. Vinegar water works great, y’all. No streaking. And, guess what? Cheap. You got it.
Step 2: Securing it all. Lay your mounted artwork (face down) on top of the glass, and oops. Here’s something else for your Lowe’s trip: a box of glazier points. With a wide tipped flat screw driver, push the tip of the glazier points into the sidewall of the frame to hold the glass and foam board inside the frame. Place them every 4-5″ on all four sides.
Sometimes I have to use a hammer and tap the screw driver lightly to get the points all the way in, because I’m not very strong with my hands. You want to push them until the two tabs sticking up meet the frame wall.
Step 3: The professional look. To cover the back of your frame like the pros do, use your paper that Lowe’s covered your glass pieces with to get it home safely. It’s the perfect weight for this. If you didn’t save the paper, you can use a brown paper grocery sack.
Cut the paper 1/4″ – 1/2″ shy of the frame on all four sides. Run a bead of glue around the frame, lay the paper over the glue, and run a damp sponge over the paper to moisten it slightly. When it dries, it shrinks the paper slightly for a nice, tight fit.
Step 4: The hanging bracket. I like eye-hooks and wire for hanging hardware. Those little jagged-toothed bar brackets with the itty-bitty nails drive me batty. Who can hold onto those itty-bitty nails? Not me!
Measure down 3-4″ from the top of the frame on each side and mark the spot. The eye-hooks should be located at the same place on each side for level hanging.
Screw each hook into the wood. When it gets too hard to turn with your hand, stick a pencil through the hole, and turn until tightened.
Run one end of the framing wire through the first eye-hook, and twist it once around the wire.
Then loop the wire around the eye-hook a couple of times.
Loop remaining wire around the “running wire”.
Repeat for the other side, stretching wire taught between the eye-hooks. When you pull the wire, it will stretch, so don’t leave a lot of slack.
The more slack in the wire, the more the frame will come out from the wall when you hang it. That means the top of your frame will stick out from the wall and the bottom will be against the wall. I personally think it looks better flush against the wall, top to bottom.
To give credit where credit is due, PAM (Painter Artist MOM) taught me everything I know about framing. Except, she does a much more beautiful job with her framing – skilled she is at it. Practice helps, y’all.
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