Thrifting and Upcycling Picture Frames

Picture frames are an abundant item at thrift stores. Most of the time they are priced reasonably. One of the tricks to making a mish-mash of frames look cohesive in your home is to spray paint them all the same color. In my house, they all get a coat of glossy black.

But what about those treasures you want to frame that aren’t a regular size? A matte can help an odd-sized print to fit into a standard frame, but mattes can add to the cost, and sometimes the color or size available still isn’t right.

This is a circumstance when a floating frame is the perfect solution. Here’s a floating frame I purchased from Michael’s for an odd-shaped print I had. I bought this cute panda bear from a local Jr. High art exhibition a few years ago, but just got around to framing it.

floating frame for a panda

Saving Money by DIY Floating Frames

You can see how this floating frame works…there are two pieces of glass with the print sandwiched between. The four frame pieces clip on top of the two pieces of glass. This frame is 6 in. by 8 in. and was priced at Michael’s for $14, but I had the 40% off coupon, so it cost me $8.40.

That’s not a huge amount of money, true. But if I have a half dozen pieces of art in all different sizes I want to frame…it adds up. And sometimes I don’t have the patience to buy one frame at a time so I can get 40% off. Truthfully, I never have that patience, lol.

I went thrifting and and found some good usable frames. I made a floating frame just the right size for something I had for under $2.

I feel good about thrifting because it not only saves money, it keeps things out of the landfill, and it supports my local charity stores. Habitat for Humanity, and Salvation Army are my go-to’s and I always find something cool.

Supplies Needed for Floating Frame Dupe

🖼️ A simple frame. I paid $1.00 for this 6 in. by 8 in. wooden frame from the Salvation Army thrift store. The glass was in good shape. I forgot to take a picture of it before I painted it, so the picture shows it already painted.

🖌️ Black spray paint, or whatever color you have chosen.

🔍Clear contact paper. I bought a roll from Wal-Mart YEARS ago. It’s great to have around for lots of crafts. (More of those later)

🎨 Art. Your idea of art is unique to you. I used the front of a thank you card we recently received. I love the colors and it will always remind me of the people who gave it to us.

✂️ Scissors and 📏 ruler. (Actually, I didn’t even need a ruler because the back of the contact paper has a grid.)

Simple Steps to Follow

First – Cut the contact paper about one inch larger than the glass, so you have some extra for wiggle room. This way, you don’t have to be so precise in your placement of the art. There is margin for error. I’m a big fan of building in some margin for error!

2. Place the card face down on the contact paper with the glass centered underneath. (or you can use the cardboard insert that usually comes with the frame.)

This helps you make sure your art is centered as well as possible. Press out the bubbles with a plastic credit card or store card.

3. Turn it over and place it centered on the glass. Press any air bubbles out from the edge of the art to the edge of the glass with the plastic card.

Getting all the pockets of air out is what makes this a successful floating frame dupe.

You can see the red line showing how much larger the contact paper is than the glass. It’s a good thing, because I didn’t have much left at the bottom once I centered it.

4. Trim the contact paper to the edge of the glass. A rotary cutter is a nice tool to have for this, but scissors are just fine too.

5. When you put the glass back in the frame, you will find that the staples show in the front because you don’t have a matte hiding them anymore.

Take a large screw driver and smash them to the side just until they don’t show from the front anymore.

You may loose a few, so try to tap them a little deeper into the frame before and during the smashing. This when something like a small upholstery hammer comes in handy.

6. Reassemble. A floating frame works well with an odd-shaped print. Your wall color will also have a big say in how well the print shows against the background.

Here is my $14 floating frame next to my (less than) $2 DIY frame. So cute!

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Categories:   Mid-Century Thrifting