I was at a friend’s home a few months ago and I asked her where she got her pretty thin wood frames. She laughed and told me to pick it up off the wall and look at the back. I was shocked to see that the “frame” was actually kraft paper tape. I’ve seen it a few other times here in France since but I think its ingenius. Framing gets expensive when you buy the frames then have the custom mat cut. With these tools you pay a tiny more up front but you’ll be able to frame a lot of artwork. There are two main limitations to this kind of framing. First, you can’t frame extra large pieces because the tape isn’t strong enough to hold a large piece of glass or plexiglass. Two, You can’t change out art easily. If you want to remove the artwork you have to remove the tape and take it apart. The bonuses are it is really cheap and you can make the thickness of each frame different. I even experimented and painted the tape black and it worked great, you can change the color very easily. This project is perfect when you just want a simple thin frame.
Materials Needed: Glass or plexiglass, mat board cut to the size of the plexiglass (from an art store), mat board cutter, a piece of cardboard cut to the size of the plexiglass, ruler, paper tape (from an art store), exacto knife, hardware to hang your artwork, superglue
First, I started with some leftover plexiglass we had from this project. Then I made all the dimensions based on the size of the plexiglass. Glass stores sell glass very inexpensively or if you have a lot to frame go to Home Depot and have them cut down a $20 sheet of plexiglass to the sizes you want.
Next, cut your own matboard. It is usually around $8 to have a piece of matboard cut to your specific size of art. If you are planning on framing more that a few pieces its definitely easier to invest in a matboard cutter for $15. It cuts the matboard with a beveled edge and is really easy to use. Measure where you want the opening and follow the instructions on the package of the mat board cutter. Tape the artwork on the back of the mat board so it is secure in place.
Now you are ready to put it all together. If you are using plexiglass remove the film on it. Then stack the plexiglass, mat and artwork, and cardboard on the back. Get the paper tape and wet the back of it. I used a sponge and it worked well. Once you get it wet you have about 30-45 seconds to get it placed right before it starts to dry. Place the tape gently starting in the middle and working toward the edges. Pull the tape tightly over the edge and around the back smoothing it nice and tight. Then repeat with the opposite edge and then finish with the last two edges. I usually eyeball the thickness of tape that I want and then try to match the last three sides to the first.
Once it is done let it dry for at least an hour before handling and wait several hours before hanging. Attach a piece of hanging hardware with superglue on the back and then mount an extra piece of tape onto it for support.
Here are some general costs of everything in this project: Glass or plexiglass $20, mat board $7, mat board cutter $15, paper tape $4, hardware to hang your artwork $5. It will cost about $50 to collect all these supplies but you’ll be able to frame around 10 different pieces.