How to Make a Multi-Photo Framecomments (16) January 25th, 2013
Gifts involving photos are always extra personal and special, and this frame project is a totally unique way to present those photos to a loved one who has some blank wall space. The frames can be put together to make any kind of shape-long and skinny would look super cool, too-and you can make the piece bigger or smaller with your choice of number and sizes of frames.
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- Several plain, wood picture frames (Ikea is great for these!)
- Light-colored marker or pencil
- Wood glue
- Two or more clamps big enough to clamp twice the width of your widest frame
- Paint of your choice and brush if necessary
- Photos to fill the frames
First, you'll need to take all the glass and cardboard out of each frame, and be sure to bend the back parts down so the frames will lie flat on the floor.
Position your frames on the floor until they look good-you'll probably want to play around with different arrangements to get the best design. If you doubt your artistic sense with a more random look, you could go for a repeating pattern, like a checkerboardish style, with rotating horizontal and vertical frames.
Now use a light-colored marker that will show up on the wood, or a pencil, to mark where the frames meet-make a mark along the side of each frame where a frame edge hits. This will assure that your design stays as you arranged it.
Start gluing and clamping! Protect your surface with newspaper, of course! I try to keep my projects as low cost as possible, so I only used two clamps and it worked fine; I just had to spread out the gluing process over a couple of days. The more clamps you have, the less steps you'll need here. Glue according to your wood glue's instructions-in my case, it said the clamps only needed to be on for a half hour.
Be sure to wipe off the glue that will squeeze up on the frames with a paper towel, so you'll have a smooth surface to paint over.
The only time I ran into a problem with having just two clamps was when a frame must not have been a perfect 90-degree angle, because when I glued the second side, the first side that had already been glued but wasn't yet dry came apart. A third clamp would have easily solved this problem, but I was able to fix it by switching one clamp back and forth between the two spots that needed clamping, about every 10 minutes, until they both felt securely affixed.
Once every frame is glued, let it sit overnight, or following your glue's instructions, before the painting step. When it's dry, check for any glue spots you may have missed wiping off, and scrape them off with a blade.
Lay out your frame over several layers of newspaper where you'll be painting. I used acrylic paint, with some water for a thinner wash, so you can still see some wood grain beneath the paint. I'm guessing spray paint would work great for this project. Choose your paint based on the look you want for your frame-you could even use wood stain instead, or go extra crafty by decoupaging the whole thing!
Paint, paint, paint until all the frame surfaces are covered (except for the back). Go over with multiple coats if necessary.
Be sure to get all the inside and outside edges! Get in all the corners and make sure it's completely covered-this can make the difference between a really handmade-looking finished frame and a polished, impressive final gift.
Let the paint dry, moving it carefully off the newspaper so it doesn't stick. You can just reposition it on the same paper, as long as it's not going to dry stuck. Once it's dry, it's ready for you to replace the glass and load up with photos! Like the arrangement of the frames, you'll want to arrange the photos so they are visually balanced-it's a good idea to lay them on top of the frames and reposition as needed until the placements look best.
Another way to maintain balance is to use a variety of photo types and subjects-some group shots, some people close-ups, some nature or inanimate objects...
If you're having a hard time getting an uncluttered look, try using some solid colors or patterns in a few frames. Experiment with framing pieces of fabric to soften a busy design. Also, think about incorporating nonphoto pictures, like drawings, mini-paintings, or prints, into your piece.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
Dare to Make It! Holiday
We dare you to make your own gifts and decorations this holiday season!
Find inspiration and exciting how-to projects to get you through the holiday season in DIY style.