As an artist I constantly have more art than frames handy to hang them in,  so I am constantly on the lookout for inexpensive framing options.

Last year during our neighborhood’s annual yard sale, I managed to pick up this frame –along with a bag of clothes, shoes, and assorted other goodies for a very small donation at one of the churches in town. During the last couple hours of the sale they were selling as much as could be stuffed in a bag for a requested donation for their youth program. The frame  needed some cleaning up, a new back, and a different color of stain to go well with one of my paintings, but it was a great deal.

Frame from a yard sale

close up after some cleaning and sanding

close up after some cleaning and sanding

It looked much better after sanding it down and  cleaning it up with some mineral spirits to prepare it for re-staining.

The frame fit this painting nicely with the addition of a large sheet of mat board leftover from a previous framing project.

another painting I considered putting into this frame

Midsummer Daydream would have looked good in this frame as well, but I decided to frame Michael at the Water Pump instead since it had been waiting to be framed for longer and has more sentimental value.

I also had a large sheet of  foam board on hand  (and by large I mean it just barely fits behind the piano, but it was cheaper in the long run to buy it in that size). In this photo I am laying out the frame on the board to check which direction will give me the best use of the remaining board.

After re-staining it with several layers of Bombay Mahogany (also from another framing project) to get the right shade, and following the directions on the can, I went on with cutting out the mat board and foam board. The frame did not need a top coat, lacquer or shellac, because this was a one step stain.

using the frame to mark a straight line

using the frame to mark a straight line

After measuring the opening carefully (making sure to account for the lip of the frame) and marking my measurements, I used the edge of the frame as a straight edge (lining up the bottom of the frame with the bottom of the board, and the side with my marks.

After repeating this process for the other sides it is time to cut it out with a mat knife. Use a slow steady pressure to avoid problems. It will probably be necessary to make several passes in order to cut all the way through. Once the mat is cut, trace it’s outline onto the foam board, and cut that out using the same slow, steady movement, repeat passes and a little patience.  Next align the painting with one corner, and mark half the distance between the other side and the edge of the mat. Repeat with the opposite corner.Mark 1/8 inch inwards from there, so the mat will overlap your painting slightly, and then cut on those lines.

If the mat board does not fit all the way  in the frame ( and it probably wont if  since it is difficult to keep the blade perfectly perpendicular while cutting), then just shave some very thin strips off any problem areas until it fits snugly. Here are some of mine that just happened to fall in such a way that they look like a sad boy in a funky feathered hat.

Copy  your measurement from the mat to the foam board, place your painting on the foamboard with the painting  lining it up with the lines you previously measured. Use a little acid free tape on the back to hold it in place on the foam board (use the tape to make a T hinge and only attach to the top backside of the painting.–I have been told this is to let the painting expand and contract with the weather without damaging it….) and then set it in the frame to make sure it fits (if you already have some glass or,  preferably in my opinion , UV resistant plexiglass –since it is less likely to break if you have young persons who insist on playing ball in the house etc.–then go ahead and put that in 1st.)

For now I just have mine hanging without the glass, until I get a chance to get some at the local hardware store.

When it came time to hang the picture I did encounter a problem…

the frame leans out far from the wall

The top of the frame leaned a good 3 inches or more from the wall.

The problem was the screws it was hung by stuck too far out  as well as being placed in the in the exact middle of the frame vertically.

The solution was to take out the offending screws and attach the cord much closer to the top, shortening the string considerably.

I did this by stapling it down firmly, pulling the short end up and stapling it again–followed by tying it with a secure knot. Doing this on the first side was relatively easy, but the second side took some trial and error in making sure I did not leave the cord too loose.

For my purposes I wanted the cord slightly above the edge of the frame, to accommodate the hook I was using. This only works because the framed work is relatively lightweight having used plexiglass, and in the long run I will probably need to use an anchor screw instead and adjust the cord shorter. Still, it is a far sight better than hanging the unframed painting up with thumbtacks. ( As a side note here, the tacks go next to rather than into the art. usually two above an two below. My DD once thought she was “helping” by rehanging this painting when it fell off the wall, only she poked a hole in it 😦 luckily it is a water soluble oil rather than watercolor, and I was able to fix it by applying a little glob of matching colored paint on the front and back to fill in the pinhole.)

Now my framed painting hangs flat on the wall, and I only have to get some plexiglass and secure the foam board in with staples to finish the project.

This is what it will look like when it is done.

Images and content on this blog are the intellectual property of  Dawna Morton.
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