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How-To: Framing Your Artwork

Mar 5, 2009

by TheSeed handmade and vintage goods
Siiri Poldmae is an new artist on Etsy (TheSeed) and the owner of a Baltimore picture framing business by day. Please welcome her and bask in the wealth of framing knowledge she’s sharing!
I know I can’t be the only one who tends to buy artwork without getting around to the framing and hanging part. Here’s a quick tutorial to help you put a dent in those piles! For a successful framing project, remember to handle your artwork as little as possible, never eat or drink while framing, and always use acid free materials (use conservation grade for very valuable art).
You will need:
  •  A frame
    • For canvases, choose one with extra depth to accommodate the stretcher bars.
    • For works on paper, you’ll also need glass, foam board, matting or spacers, and mounting corners.
  • Brads for securing the artwork in the frame.  There are 3 ways to do this:

Hammer: difficult but cheap


Brad Pusher: easy and a moderate investment

Brad Gun: easy and great if you’re going to be doing a lot of framing or sharing it with friends

  • Dust Cover: Use brown Kraft paper, shopping bags, or scrap booking paper — anything that won’t tear easily.
  • A way to make the dust cover stick to the back of your frame:


Glue: messy but cheap

Double-stick Tape: fairly easy and cheap


Double-stick Tape Gun: easy and great if you’re going to be doing a lot of framing

  • Hanging Hardware: For smaller frames, use a sawtooth hanger.  Anything 8″x10″ or larger should have screw eyes and wire, for which you’ll need an awl or other sharp pointy object to make starter holes.  Very large or heavy frames need mirror hangers for maximum safety.
Let’s get started with an 8″x10″ print. 

  • If you don’t want to use matting, you’ll need to use spacers in order to keep the glass off of the artwork.  This is vital for photographs especially.  Glass on artwork + moisture = everything’s ruined!  If you do use matting, determine the dimensions of the frame you’ll need to purchase.  I like to show a little bit of the white border around my work, let’s say 1/2″ on every side, and 2 1/2″ of matting will look nice for this size so:
1   1
5   5

  • Have your mat cut for you or, if you’re handy with an Exacto knife or razor blade, cut it yourself:
Turn the mat upside down and use a ruler and pencil to draw a line 2 1/2″ from the edge onto all four sides, making sure they intersect.   Press the ruler to one of the lines firmly with one hand, and hold the razor blade at an angle in the other hand.
Cut along the line, overlapping the intersecting lines by about 1/8″ (work on a self-healing cutting mat.)  Repeat for all 4 sides.
You may need to touch up the corners from the front to completely free your mat (until you get the hang of it.)  You can purchase
a mat cutting tool to make this step easier. 

  • Cut a piece of foam board to 14″x16″ and place the artwork so that it centers under the opening of the mat. 

Position your mounting corners and press them firmly into place. Your artwork should now be secure!   Place your glass on top and clean that side, then flip it over and clean the other side (please don’t handle large pieces of glass if you’re not comfortable doing so!).  Check to  make sure you haven’t trapped any lint, streaks, dog fur, glitter, etc., then add the frame and flip the whole thing over.


  • Place a brad every 3 inches or so, making sure you get them close to the corners too. 

Apply double-stick tape (or glue) all the way around and then place your dust cover on top, pressing down all around. If you’re using glue, spray your Kraft paper with a little water and let it sit for a minute.  When the paper dries, it will be nice and taut.  This might not work if you’re using something besides Kraft paper, though.  Trim the excess paper using a ruler and Exacto knife.


  • For sawtooth hangers, simply center and hammer the nails in.

For screw eyes and wire, make a starter hole 1/3 of the way from the top of the frame on each side and attach the screw eyes (larger frames use larger screw eyes).  Before cutting the wire, make sure you have about 4″ excess on either side, and wrap this around itself after you’ve looped it through each screw eye in a pretzel pattern.  You can also add bumpers to the bottom corners to help keep it from shifting around on the wall.

Finding supplies is easier than you think.  Most art or craft supply stores sell everything you need, but also check your local hardware store for cheaper glass, and garage sales for old frames (don’t forget, ugly frames can be painted) — try searching for wall frames in Etsy’s Vintage Category.  See if you can rescue an old window from a salvage yard, it will be forever grateful and will make a great frame!  You can even find custom cut frames and supplies right here on Etsy!

We know you’ve found some great artwork in the Artistic Endeavors series — now show us how you’ve framed and displayed it in your home! Join our flickr group There’s No Place Like Here.
If you want to get more ideas for framing projects, check out this How-Tuesday video


  • BululuStudio

    BululuStudio said 11 years ago

    Nice project Thanks so much for sharing :D

  • juliebcreative

    juliebcreative said 11 years ago

    Framing is an art within itself!! I use the eyebolts and wires for my hangin hardware on my paintings....I never thought to possibly add a dust cover on the back...great tips!!!

  • wireddesign

    wireddesign said 11 years ago

    Fabulous how-to! (And I really want that WINDOW frame!)

  • bbbennyandthejet

    bbbennyandthejet said 11 years ago

    Beautiful, beautiful "related items" list! Love that repurposed window.. Great article! Just the kick I needed to frame some of this stuff.. *grin*

  • MetalheartDesign

    MetalheartDesign said 11 years ago

    i am one of those people with a bunch of wonderful etsy artist prints that i haven't gotten around to framing yet! i would also love to hear ideas for framing or hanging prints that don't involve the traditional matte and frame format...any suggestions?

  • niTeBecOmEsdAy

    niTeBecOmEsdAy said 11 years ago

    What a great how-to! This is such useful information. Thanks so much for the great article!

  • fricdementol

    fricdementol said 11 years ago

    This is great! Thank you for this tips! Maybe I'll able to frame my own artwork :P

  • 4TheSparrowsNest

    4TheSparrowsNest said 11 years ago

    Love the diy approach to framing. Afterall, aren't we Etsians all about the handmade aspect of life? This seems much more fun than just going out and buying new frames...unless you can find some really neat old ones to use, or something like that window for

  • jenniferdennispotter

    jenniferdennispotter said 11 years ago

    Nice article. I never do the dust cover on the back of my frames but you make it sound easy!

  • TheLaLaLaShop

    TheLaLaLaShop said 11 years ago

    Great article! Thanks! :)

  • CwButcher

    CwButcher said 11 years ago

    awesome framing ideas thanks

  • travellingcircus

    travellingcircus said 11 years ago

    Excellent article & extremely useful! Thanks!

  • pambranchdesigns

    pambranchdesigns said 11 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. I am an artist and I have a few paintings in a gallery here in Georgia. I have an opening coming up in May and I will use your tips.

  • lynncyrart

    lynncyrart said 11 years ago

    This is wonderful!! Although I use most of these tips when framing my own artwork, I did learn a few new techniques that would make framing easier. Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!

  • waltersbeads

    waltersbeads said 11 years ago


  • slinkymalinkicat

    slinkymalinkicat said 11 years ago

    Fantastic article, thank you!

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy said 11 years ago

    So, I guess I'm not the only one with unframed art accumulating.

  • theclassicfarmhouse

    theclassicfarmhouse said 11 years ago

    great advice! I actually purchased a matte cutter which makes it sooooo much easier to make clean cuts. Well worth the investment for an art lover like me.

  • jkldesign

    jkldesign said 11 years ago

    Wonderful advise :)

  • LeftHandHats

    LeftHandHats said 11 years ago

    My husband and I were just discussing how to do this! Thanks for the great info!!!

  • thebabykitties

    thebabykitties said 11 years ago


  • sadlyharmless

    sadlyharmless said 11 years ago

    This is amazingly helpful! Thank you so much for this article!

  • sungazer

    sungazer said 11 years ago

    Well done!

  • uncharted

    uncharted said 11 years ago

    Very helpful, thanks!

  • Xenotees

    Xenotees said 11 years ago

    Excellent tutorial- thanks Siiri & welcome to Etsy!

  • That70sShoppe

    That70sShoppe said 11 years ago

    Very helpful!

  • BluCille

    BluCille said 11 years ago

    What a great how-to. I love making nice frames, I never bother to buy in the stores.

  • HaughtonHandmade

    HaughtonHandmade said 11 years ago

    Great tutorial. Don't forget to use acid free foam core and acid free mats to preserve your precious artwork! And yes, a mat cutting tool will make your life MUCH easier!

  • beyeler

    beyeler said 11 years ago

    That's just what I needed to know, thanks!

  • IcingOnTheCupcake

    IcingOnTheCupcake said 11 years ago

    Great resource, thank you!

  • waysideviolet

    waysideviolet said 11 years ago

    thanks for all the info!!

  • PrairieGarden

    PrairieGarden said 11 years ago

    This is a wonderful resource!

  • beckybrocato

    beckybrocato said 11 years ago

    great tips! framing info is always welcome!

  • HistoryofArt

    HistoryofArt said 11 years ago

    I feel this is a little beyond my skill, but this stuff is great-great to know!

  • MeadowbelleMarket

    MeadowbelleMarket said 11 years ago

    Thanks for the step-by-step how to. Perfect and much needed for all those great works of art available here...

  • voleurdebijoux

    voleurdebijoux said 11 years ago

    Great how to! Thanks for sharing. :)

  • ReneeRobbins

    ReneeRobbins said 11 years ago

    Great article! The pictures really help to explain the process. Thank you!

  • amysfunkyfibers

    amysfunkyfibers said 11 years ago

    Love the article, thanks for the tips!

  • JesseMosher

    JesseMosher said 11 years ago

    great , this will help everyone to frame all of the amazing Art on etsy .

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 11 years ago

    Useful info!! Thanks for sharing! I love the black filigree frame.

  • buckscountyframes

    buckscountyframes said 11 years ago

    I am a big fan of framing your artwork! haha! Well written article and a great how to! thank you.

  • AnnieandOlive

    AnnieandOlive said 11 years ago

    This is awesome! :) Thanks for the steps - now it doesn't intimidate me so much.

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 11 years ago

    This article is definitely a keeper! Thanks so much!

  • livefunky

    livefunky said 11 years ago

    Excellent article that takes me back to my framing days! My point shooter and ATG gun are some of my favorite tools in the studio. Three cheers to DIY framing!

  • catsongstitchery

    catsongstitchery said 11 years ago

    Very straight forward with good, clear info. Thank you!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 11 years ago

    good 2 know, thanks 4 sharing!

  • vantiani

    vantiani said 11 years ago

    Inspiring, really inspiring for an art print junkie like me:) Thank you so much!

  • modernfigurative

    modernfigurative said 11 years ago

    Nice article! I have too long been using that Elmer's for my backing and will be glad to try switching to the double sided tape dispenser! I had no idea the thing existed! thanks!

  • JoOliveWorkshop

    JoOliveWorkshop said 11 years ago

    Excellent, thanks so much for the article. Any tips for framing bleed prints - how to secure them to their backing board successfully - acid free tape?

  • artistRD

    artistRD said 11 years ago

    Clear and useful info, thanks.

  • Rhiannon228

    Rhiannon228 said 11 years ago

    Thanks for the info. I've always wanted to mat and frame my own stuff, someday I'll be ambitious and just do it.

  • stephanietberry

    stephanietberry said 11 years ago

    Remember to always use archival materials on anything original! Very Important!

  • leafprintstudio

    leafprintstudio said 11 years ago

    Great article! It's great to be able to at least fit your picture (put it together) For even better results, have a shop custom cut your mat but do the rest yourself.

  • ManoCelebrates

    ManoCelebrates said 11 years ago

    This is a great article, I'm going to have to save it, and read it again and again. Lots of good information framing your art. I'm going to try that for my art. thanks a lot.

  • tiedyedmonkeys

    tiedyedmonkeys said 11 years ago

    Thank you for the clear and easy to understand instructions. I am learning alot on etsy!

  • Liyana

    Liyana said 11 years ago

    simple but clear explanation.. I've to try this one. thanks for the info

  • capcuu

    capcuu said 11 years ago

    Clear and useful info, thanks.

  • kristinenoel

    kristinenoel said 11 years ago

    Again another inspiring tutorial! Man so much to do so little time;)

  • mybirch

    mybirch said 11 years ago

    It great to see fellow custom framer!

  • mackenzieframes

    mackenzieframes said 11 years ago

    We will be having an 'empty frames' section in our very new Etsy shop soon. We have only started stocking it this last week, but it would be worth bookmarking us for the future if you are looking to frame your artwork.

  • ourfrontyard

    ourfrontyard said 11 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing the instructions!!! I love tutorials. :)

  • ladaworks

    ladaworks said 11 years ago

    As you can see I'm a big fan of framed art. Thank you for this article.

  • VictorianInspired

    VictorianInspired said 11 years ago

    Great tips ! Thanks so much for sharing

  • Blubeary

    Blubeary said 11 years ago

    very helpful

  • ebbandflo

    ebbandflo said 11 years ago

    sigh! i have no excuse now! thanks for a great informative step-by-step - i look forward to cheering up my walls now

  • coltsgroovies

    coltsgroovies said 11 years ago

    Hello! Thank you for a great how-to! I can't wait to add to my hobbies! Thank you! Niki

  • funkeyfinds

    funkeyfinds said 11 years ago

    this is a great article!!

  • deebeale

    deebeale said 11 years ago


  • SparklePaw

    SparklePaw said 11 years ago

    Great info - thanks!

  • thelittlebrownwren

    thelittlebrownwren said 11 years ago

    Fabulous tips! Thanks!

  • alwaysadorable

    alwaysadorable said 11 years ago

    I can't believe I didn't see this article sooner. Such great tips! Bookmarking as I type!

  • AaishaShaikh

    AaishaShaikh said 11 years ago

    Great article!

  • gretchenmist

    gretchenmist said 11 years ago

    really helpful article, thanks for sharing :)

  • urbandesign

    urbandesign said 11 years ago

    This is a great article and I'm bookmarking it for later! Thanks!

  • amytrimble

    amytrimble said 11 years ago

    great information !

  • DisabledVet56

    DisabledVet56 said 11 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, I'll try a couple of these ideas on the Diamond Willow Frames I have been making and Alaskan Pine..

  • GnageyGallery

    GnageyGallery said 11 years ago

    Thanks for sharing!

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