If you need a simple and classic way to get a picture or set of pictures framed for hanging, ready-made picture frames are a great, fast and easy choice. Using a high-quality frame can be all you need to display your artwork or photo memories.
But blank frames also provide the opportunity for you to explore your creative side and make the perfect border for any picture. Learning how to do crafts with picture frames opens up a whole world of options for art or photo display, as well as being a fun, creative and inexpensive projects.
Paint a Picture Frame
One of the simplest ways to enhance a frame is to paint it. Ready-made frames can be purchased in different colors and materials, but if you want a very specific color—chartreuse, anyone?—you may not be able to find a frame that fits what you have in mind. Both wooden and metal frames can be painted, but you may need to roughen up the surface with sandpaper and apply a primer in order to apply an even coat of paint that adheres well to the frame’s surface.
While you’re painting, remember that the whole frame doesn't need to be a solid color. You can use a small brush and add details in a contrasting paint color. Another option to give a frame some detail is gilding, which is adding gold or silver leaf to enhance the look of the finished frame. You can also use gold or silver or other metallic paints to accent the frame’s details. Use your imagination and remember that frames can always be repainted, so feel free to experiment.
Shabby chic, in which décor is made to look distressed, mimics the effects of aging on a piece. Distressing can easily be combined with painting—simply paint your frame and then use sandpaper and a light touch to remove some paint from the frame.
Wooden frames can be given character marks by lightly tapping them with a hammer or scratching them with a sharp tool before painting. This kind of work needs care, however, because you don't want to accidentally break the frame. Distressed treatments are not always reversible, so it's better to start carefully and avoid making any permanent marks you aren't sure about.
Add Surface Embellishments
In addition to changing the color of a frame, items can be glued onto a frame to give it both a unique look and some texture. Al types of small items can be attached to a frame with glue: beads, buttons, bottle caps, seashells, pieces of broken pottery, mosaic tiles or anything else that catches your fancy.
If you enjoy scrapbooking or unique papers, you can use scrapbook paper or old magazines and newspapers to embellish frames with a technique known as “decoupage,” in which you glue bits of paper onto objects. Look around your home for small items you could use as embellishments, or take a stroll through a local craft store to find dozens of inexpensive, creative ideas for DIY picture frames.
Making decorative frames is a great project for kids as well. If you are going to hang some pictures in a child’s room, they will love to have a say in the process by decorating their own picture frames. Grandparents and other family members also love receiving framed photos with embellishments from the kids as gifts.
With kid-friendly paint and painting materials, children can paint their own frames and add any surface embellishments they want. Buttons, large beads, foam cutouts, or small pictures drawn on paper and trimmed to fit on the frame edge are a few ideas of things that kids might want to use for decorating frames.
Frames are an important part of displaying art, giving pictures extra “oomph” and defining them against their background. By decorating picture frames, you can take your art displays into a new world of creative, personalized looks. You also can save time trying to find the “perfect” picture frame to display your art—you can make it yourself!
Last Updated June 15, 2021