Artists and crafters alike love the control that canvas stretching gives them over their project, from start to finish. It can be more economical to stretch your own, and allows you to use materials you may not be able to buy pre-stretched, like fine Belgian linen.
You can take complete ownership of the project by framing it yourself, too. Whether your work is a commissioned piece of fine art or a gift for a friend or family member, doing it yourself from start to finish is ultimately gratifying.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 3 DIY framing options you might consider for your upcoming projects: scrap frames, recessed frames, and floating frames. Each gives you a different look and feel, and each option might be appropriate for a different piece of art or photo print. Let’s get started!
THE ULTIMATE CHEAP SOLUTION: DIY SCRAP FRAME
This is a good choice for a piece you don’t have a lot invested in. In the example we’re going to show you, the artist had created a piece on a $22 canvas that turned out well enough that she wanted to hang it in her home.
Laura shares her step-by-step tips for creating the ultimate rock-bottom cheap canvas frame. Photo source: The Turquoise Home
Laura felt that her canvas looked unfinished without a frame, so she decided to make one herself. She was able to completely cut out any cost by using strips of lattice from a previous home decor project, but you could buy thin strips at the hardware store if you don’t have scrap laying around.
The only tools she used were a circular saw and brad nailer. If you’re looking for a budget home decorating project using budget quality canvas, this DIY canvas framing option might be for you. See how it’s done on Laura’s blog.
RECESSED MOUNT DIY FRAME
This next DIY framing solution will give you a more solid and substantial frame with a traditional look and feel.
In this frame, the canvas sits behind the frame on a rabbet and a small portion of the edge of the art is hidden by the lip. That’s something you’ll want to keep in mind as you’re choosing a frame type, particularly if the edges of your canvas aren’t finished.
Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess shares step-by-step instruction on building a DIY recessed mount frame in this blog post. As you can see, what you end up with is a clean, traditional looking frame:
A completed DIY recessed mount frame. Photo: A Beautiful Mess
You don’t need power tools, but should be confident in your basic carpentry skills. Precise measurements and cuts are the key to bringing a DIY frame like this together. Something else to keep in mind is that the contact between the lip of the frame and your canvas can damage your print or painting over time. We saw a dramatic example of this recently on a canvas in a handmade frame that was found in an old farmhouse (you can see the damage and how the piece was restored here).
The two DIY framing options above are therefore great choices for your prints or works on cheap canvas frames–the kind you might have picked up at the craft store, or ordered online from one of the popular canvas photo printing services. The stretcher frames underlying those canvases are budget quality and not built to stand the test of time.
If you’re looking for a longer lasting, higher quality DIY frame for your better quality prints and paintings, this is one you want to consider:
Floating frames give your canvas a polished, gallery-quality aesthetic and you might be surprised at the affordability of this option.
They’re also great for canvases with unfinished edges, and make it appear as though your canvas is “floating” over the frame. You’ll be glad to know this type of effect doesn’t always require custom framing; you can achieve it as a DIY frame project, too.
Floating frames are an excellent choice for DIY framing projects, giving the perception of a custom job without the expense.
When you’ve taken the time and care to stretch your canvas over a professional quality stretcher frame–one that is keyable and constructed of quality, kiln-dried wood like clear white pine–you need a quality frame to ensure the longevity of the piece.
Our floating frames come precision-cut to any length you need, within 1/32 of an inch (always measure your canvas already keyed out to ensure the right fit). Your order includes the frame bars and glue, dovetail keys for the corners, and eye-screws for mounting your canvas.
They’re simple to assemble and still give you the satisfaction and cost-saving benefit of a DIY frame. Give your best photo prints on canvas and paintings the treatment they deserve, from start to finish.