DIY: frame art at home

custom picture framing tutorial diy

I worked as a picture framer at a craft store the year after I graduated. It was exciting, hands-on work, and if it weren’t for the corporate environment and poor hours, I may have kept it up a bit longer.

This post was a long time coming. It’s my reply to the hundreds of Pinterest tutorials that suggest I hot glue twine to the back of my frame, use poster board as matting, or just ModPodge the heck out of everything. There is a tested and approved process for picture framing and it’s not too difficult to master the basics.

What you’ll need:

  • Ready-made frame (I thrifted mine)
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Scrapbook tape gun or double sided tape
  • Pre-cut mat (I had Michael’s cut one for me out of matboard I had on hand)
  • Artwork
  • Paper backing (butcher or craft paper)
  • Staple Gun (mine is a small upholstery gun)
  • Razor blade or pocket knife
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Picture hanger
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Painter’s tape
  • Carpeted surface (this helps prevent scratching your frame or artwork)

ed1a1. Remove paper backing from frame if it has one. Use needle-nose pliers to remove staples or pegs from back of frame. Remove any previous hardware.

2. Take the glass out of the frame, spray a small amount of glass cleaner, and carefully wipe both sides. Taking the glass out of the frame ensures that particle buildup from the frame is removed before art is placed inside.

3. Remove packaging/backing from art, flip it, and place a line of painter’s tape along the top edge.

4. Extend the tape a little beyond the art to ensure that it doesn’t roll at the corners from humidity over time.

ed2a5. Turn the artwork right side up and carefully align the matting over it. Once it’s in place, press down over the tape edge to secure it.

6. Check for any lint and loose particles, then flip the matted artwork over and place it in the frame. Holding it secure, face the frame toward you and double check for debris and dust that may be stuck under the glass. Turn the frame back around.

7. Hold your staple gun at a slight angle 1/8″ to 1/4″ away from the lip of the frame and insert staples. They can be spaced 2-3″ apart depending on how secure the backing feels. Stapling at an angle ensures that the artwork and backing fit snugly against the glass.

8. Place a line of scrapbooking tape or double-sided tape along the edges of the back of the frame.

ed3a9. Roll out your craft paper over the back of the frame. Feel for the edges of the frame with your hands and press the paper securely over your tape lines. To keep it taut, secure the paper at the top, pull it down tightly and secure it to the bottom, then smooth  it out and secure it on either side.

10. Once the paper feels secure, use a razor blade or small, sharp knife to remove excess paper from around the frame. Slide blade down edge at a 45 degree angle for the cleanest line.

11. Find the top of the frame where you’d like to place your picture hanger. Measure the width of the frame and mark the center top of the frame, making sure the hard frame surface is directly beneath it (you wouldn’t want to hammer into your cardboard backing).

12. Hammer in your picture hanger. It’s sometimes useful to prepare a guide hole with an awl if you have one on hand.


framed artAdmittedly, framing at home requires quite a few tools and a little bit of patience, but once you have everything you need, you can save yourself money and stress by framing things the right way all by yourself.

Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to see your projects if you end up using my tutorial.

(p)inspiration saturday


I had a hard time getting inspired to accomplish much of anything this week. My new work schedule has totally shifted the way my week runs, so I’ve been fighting physical and emotional fatigue to acclimate to the change.

Pinterest was created for times like these. It’s a sensory escape. I’ve been drawn to girls in glasses, all things mod, spring-colored shoes, art, and quirky home decor.

I’ve glanced at The Lovers by Rene Magritte over and over again in the past few days. The image is startling, eerie, romantic, and insightful. In a sense, we must approach interpersonal relationships with bags over our heads; we never see a person objectively and we never fully know them. But we take the plunge anyway. It’s a harsh truth that while we long and seek to be fully understood – fully known – we can never achieve it. It’s a testament to our will to thrive that we continue to seek it out anyway, that we devote so much of our lives trying to get to the core, the essence, of ourselves and our loved ones. We sense that if we could just see into people’s souls, if we could whisper their true names*, we’d have arrived at a place of peace. Of perfection.

*Eragon reference. 

Image sources: one, two, three, four, five, six

images & inspiration

The weather was blindingly cold today (that will make sense to you if you had to walk outside facing the wind for any length of time), so I felt no desire to venture out once my shift at work ended. Instead, I’m sipping my second cup of Oolong tea and enjoying some quality time with pinterest while Daniel reads excerpts of his school reading to me.

pinterest collage

  1. A little house with a yellow door
  2. Eley Kishimoto for Clarks Desert Boots
  3. Leather jacket and polka dots (no link available)
  4. Shallow dof + storefront + love
  5. Swedish design is so in right now
  6. I want to stay in that house for awhile
  7. American Eagle Tie-Dye Denim Corset Dress

images & inspiration

  1. I love the composition and timeliness of this photograph by Elizabeth Messina for The Huffington Post.
  2. Stripes and polka dots in fall colors appeal to me.
  3. Inspired by Downton Abbey’s Season 3 wardrobe.
  4. I’ve seen a few building projects that use unfinished crates from Michael’s, but this is one I might actually do.
  5. The setting of this image makes very little sense, but I like the outfit and the stacks of books.
  6. A photo by Paper Crowns, a Charlottesville blogger!

It’s almost time to write a four months in Charlottesville post. Isn’t it weird that it’s practically December?

pinterest roundup

I don’t care much for the social aspect of Pinterest and I never search for images within the site itself. But I love it for organizing my favorite images from around the web. I’ve been particularly interested in home design and art photography as of late, in addition to personal style inspiration photos.

sources: graphic shirt and dress/kendi everyday/coffee bar/mountaintop wedding/living room/unconventional needle art/ballerina project

  1. I enjoy discovering style inspiration images that align with what I already have in my closet. I wore an outfit similar to this Monday and plan on doing so again with a vintage dress I still need to alter. My personal style is all about casual polish.
  2. That Leah Goren cat print is everywhere. I’m glad to have the same name as the cat-obsessed artist and print maker.
  3. I think I could just fit a coffee bar in my tiny kitchen. If I end up purchasing an espresso machine and a proper grinder, I’ll practically need one.
  4. Mountains + wedding = perfection
  5. I like every component of that little sitting area: the eclectic, simple frames; the chair and throw; and the industrial lamp are design elements that would easily fit into my current living space.
  6. I saw needle art all the time when I worked at a craft store. Company wide, it was the single most framed item. And I never liked any of it. But this woman gets it. She’s manages to make needle art very cool.
  7. I am always intrigued by beauty among broken things. I love the juxtaposition of grace and elegance with grunge and utility in this Ballerina Project photograph.