Dare to Make It: Holiday

Dare to Make It:  Holiday

How to Make a Multi-Photo Frame

comments (16) January 25th, 2013     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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So much more interesting than a traditional family portrait!
I used a couple of pieces of a map for visual balance.
I used seven 4x6 frames and three 8x10 frames, all unfinished wood.
So much more interesting than a traditional family portrait!

So much more interesting than a traditional family portrait!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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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.

You'll Need:

  • 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.

  I used seven 4x6 frames and three 8x10 frames, all unfinished wood.

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.

  If you already know what photos you want to use, be sure to arrange with the correct amounts of 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.

  If you plan to use a dark, opaque paint, you won't need to worry about the color of the marker.

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.

  Use one clamp for each pair of frame edges that are touching.

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.

  If one frame is glued to two frames, you'll need one clamp for each of the two.

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.

  A third clamp would have been helpful for the frame on the right.

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.

  I missed wiping glue drops in a couple of spots directly below where the clamps were.

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!

  It will be safest to do the painting step outside or in a garage, as paint can get on your surface even with newspaper protection.

Paint, paint, paint until all the frame surfaces are covered (except for the back). Go over with multiple coats if necessary.

  Color is fun!

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.

  Get down to ground level and check all those edges for full paint coverage.

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.

  To keep the viewer's eyes within the frame, position people photos so they are looking inward, not out of the frame.

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...

  I used a couple of pieces of a map for visual balance.

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.

  So much more interesting than a traditional family portrait!

 

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posted in: paint, wood, photo, frame, picture, wall, wood glue

Comments (16)

Mingyan writes: really like it
Posted: 11:56 pm on June 22nd
shelleydavis writes: What a fantastic idea. I have a suggestion though. Instead of using clamps, I would use wood glue and hot glue. The hot glue would hold it until the glue dried.
Posted: 6:38 pm on January 28th
photoricko writes: Hi Lee. Thanks for sharing your idea :). I'm a Photographer, wanting to make clocks with some of my photos to market. What you've built is just what I was thinking of doing. Thank You for sharing.
Posted: 7:30 pm on December 19th
PinkyAdwani writes: Hey itz very nice n seems easy too
Thanx for such a creative idea
Posted: 12:48 am on December 24th
primaluce writes: great design. i loved it...

framersblog.com
Posted: 12:50 pm on September 14th
BRITTisCRAFTY writes: OMG (OH MY GOD)THAT IS THE BEST CRAFT PHOTO FRAME I HVE EVER SEEN AND WILL TRY IT AT HOME. I WILL ADD SOME SPARKLES TOMAKE IT SHINE. PAINT IT MULTI COLOURED WITH MY COOL PAINT AT HOME. I HOPE THIT ONE DAY WHEN I AM OLDER I WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THAT AN DPOST IT IN THE INTERNET JUST LIKE YOU DID THANK-YOU. XOXOXO

PS. IT IS VERY PRETTY AND WOULD GO WELL IN MY ROOM!!!!!!!
Posted: 11:51 pm on August 15th
gavemyheart3162 writes: I had to create an account just to thank you! I love my new frame. I used the Ram frames from Ikea, but the size they list for the photos is off a bit, so measure any Ikea frames before you have photos printed!
Posted: 7:08 pm on March 1st
Toffy writes: I love it I love it....
Posted: 10:42 am on January 28th
crafty_1_2 writes: This would be a cute project with multi-colored frames as well; not just painted a single color! Think about it for a child's room...
Posted: 2:45 pm on December 8th
brooktrout writes: A great idea for a wall in my starway and entry way, I have just repainted and a red piece would look great there on the wall.
Posted: 2:01 pm on December 1st
LucyAdaire writes: *screams excitedly* Ah! I'm going to put on shoes, run to the craft store, and do this immediately! I'm too cheap for clamps, though, so I'm going to try using a hammer and long, skinny nails! I might glue flat marbles or painted and carved Play-Doh tiles to the frames, also, to make it even more spectacular, but glue wouldn't hold it together so nails should. I expect it to work just fine, but if it falls apart, I'll post again and let y'all know! ;)

Great idea, thank you SO much! :) My mom is going to love her new Christmas frame!

-Anna
Posted: 12:16 pm on November 30th
rheaganda writes: MY 3 BOYS HAVE SO MANY NICE PICTURES OF THEIR CHILDHOOD AND IT WOULD BE MUCH BETTER TO PUT ON DISPLAY AND YOUR IDEA IS REALLY GREAT. THANKS!!
Posted: 10:19 am on November 29th
alanapr1 writes: What a great idea! And I can just see using it to make up a "school days" frame for my new granddaughter! (Most have only 12 windows, and with Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten, we need 14). Now to buy some small clamps to use with little frames.
Posted: 9:16 am on November 29th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: Very cool! I was just in IKEA last week and saw these unfinished frames, but wasn't sure how to use them ... BONANZA, lady! This is fab!

And I love your tips on balancing imagery, etc. Fantastic!
Posted: 10:50 pm on November 24th
OTorres writes: What a fabulous idea, I cant wait to try it. Just hope I can find the all natural frames in my area, Thanks
Posted: 7:12 pm on November 22nd
Sister_Diane writes: Wow, simple and ingenious! Thanks for the great tutorial.
Posted: 2:12 pm on November 15th
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