If you have a particular piece to frame, and that piece happens to be large or oddly shaped, you know how frustrating and/or expensive it can be to frame it. That’s where being able to build your own picture frame comes in handy. With a DIY picture frame, you can easily create it to your size and style specifications. This tutorial illustrates how to make a very basic DIY picture frame in under an hour (plus drying time for any stain or paint you choose) and can be used to frame a 3D object – specifically, sensory “mermaid tail” fabric that is quite trendy right now. Visitors young and old will love this. Here’s how.
Using 1×2 lumber lengths, cut two sets of identical frame sides with 45-degree corners. If you are mounting a 3D piece, such as mermaid tail to your frame, your final frame size should be 1”-2” larger than your mounting piece. For example, a 20”x30” mermaid tail piece will require a frame that measures 21”-22” by 31”-32” on the outside.
Be sure to measure your final frame lengths from the outside point of your 45-degree corners.
Lightly sand all frame pieces using 120- or 220-grit sandpaper. Do not sand the mitered corners.
Using a square as your guide, clamp together one of each set of your frame lengths in a perfect 90-degree joint.
Use a brad nailer to join the two frame lengths together. I nailed in two or three nails on each side of every corner.
Admire your 90-degree corner for a second, then repeat the square clamping and nailing on the three other corners.
Here is your perfectly square-cornered frame. It’s connected, but it’s not particularly secure yet.
Lay your completed frame, front side down, on a clean and flat surface. Use a heavy-duty stapler to secure the corners together on the back side, about three staples per corner should do the trick.
When the frame is secured with corner staples, it’s time to finish it. Stain or paint it as you want. This example uses a Krylon clear coat. Let dry completely.
While your frame finish is drying, it’s time to get your mermaid tail fabric or other 3D frame-able piece ready. For the fabric: lay your mermaid tail fabric face-down on a flat surface.
Place a piece of foam board sized to your frame’s specifications on top of the fabric with an inch or two of fabric overhang on all sides. This example uses a standard 20”x30” foam board, sold at any craft store. (Note: For even better results, spray the fabric-touching side of the foam board with adhesive spray before laying it on the fabric.)
Pulling the mermaid tail fabric taut as you go, wrap and tape the edges onto the back of your foam board with duct tape. Be sure there are no wrinkles in your fabric.
You will end up with a lovely, flat mermaid tail fabric piece, mounted securely onto your foam board. This is now ready to be framed.
Once the frame is completely dry, use your stapler to attach the mermaid tail fabric to the back of the frame. It should be centered so there is a ½” to 1” space between the fabric and the outside edge of your frame. Staple all the way around the foam board to attach it to the frame securely.
Attach mounting hardware to the back of the frame and hang it up.
This is a fun and even therapeutic sensory resource. Swipe the fabric one way for one color, swipe opposite for another.
The frame provides a perfect support and structure, not to mention style, to this fabric.
With a contemporary DIY picture frame, you can even add something youthful like mermaid tail sequins to a gallery wall. Just make sure to mount it at a height that’s appropriate for its intended audience (namely: kids or seated adults). Have fun! Enjoy!