Tuesday, February 23

Box Frame & Float Mount Tutorial (a.k.a Frame Pimping)

When the lovely Stella Vine sent me an original 'Rainbow' painting I knew I wanted to frame it to show off the torn edges of the paper. I also know that specialist framing is expensive and I've recently been spending way too much money, so rather than having it sit around in an envelope until I could afford to send it to my framer, I decided to pimp a frame to turn it into a box frame, and float mount it myself.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

A float mount allows you to see the entire piece of paper that your artwork is on, as it's mounted on top, as opposed to a traditional mount that hides around 5mm of the paper all round because your art is hinged to the back of the board, with an aperture or opening covering the edges.

By using double sided sticky pads on the back corners of the artwork, it will be held away from the mount board, and appear to float.

I'm also adding 'fillets' or 'spacers' into the frame rebate, to hold the glass away from the mount board and artwork, thereby turning it into a box frame.

The rebate is the lip inside the frame moulding where the glass sits - the glass and backing board of a frame will always be slightly bigger than the actual front opening of the frame. Depending on the frame moulding, it's usually just a few millimetres to a couple of centimetres.

Essentially I'm making a small frame within the frame, and the result is a high end frame on a teeny budget.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

What you'll need:

Don't be put off by this long list - you probably have at least 3/4 of it already!

Balsa wood strip that is the right width to fit the rebate on your chosen frame. It's important to check that it won't stick out past the rebate.
Cutting Guide (optional)
Wood Primer
White Eggshell Paint (or any colour to match to your chosen mount or frame colour)
Liquid Nails or Wood Glue (optional)
Frame with a rebate to fit your fillets or spacers*
Mount board
Cutting Mat
Scalpel or Stanley Knife
Double sided sticky pads or tape
Your chosen artwork
Frame backing tape (optional)

* Please note that the frame should be larger than the piece you're framing - how much larger is up to you, but I chose a frame that's 1.5cms larger on each side than my painting as the painting is quite small. If I was framing a larger piece I'd go for more space around it.

Start by marking and cutting your balsa wood to size. You'll need four pieces - the top and bottom pieces should be the full width of the internal frame size, and the two side pieces should be the height of the internal frame size minus the width of the top and bottom pieces of balsa wood.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

Once they're cut to size, give them a coat of primer, and one or two coats of your eggshell. You can paint all sides or leave one of the wider flat sides/back unpainted as you won't see it.

When the paint is completely dry (no tackiness at all), you can either just place them into the rebate or glue them in place. You may find that glue is totally unnecessary as the top and bottom pieces will be held in place by the side pieces.

Cut your mount board to size. You can use the backing board of your frame as a template and just cut around it.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

Stick one double sided foam pad on each back corner of your artwork. Make sure you don't stick them too close to the edge - you don't want to see them from the front. Mine were quite thin so I doubled them up for a more exaggerated float, but make sure that it won't actually touch the glass.

Stick your artwork onto the mount making sure it's centered!

Put your mounted artwork into the frame. It should sit on top of the fillets/spacers and not touch the glass. Before you close up frame check for stray hairs and dust.

Add your backing board (make sure it's the right way up if it already has a hook on it), close the frame, and tape it up. Taping is optional, but it does make for a more professional and secure finish, and if you're working with a larger frame it will prevent bowing, so I highly recommend using it.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

Before you embark on this DIY, it's worth noting that your frame probably won't have been made to allow for the fillets, so make sure it will work. The metal tabs on my frame were just long enough to bend over the very ends once I had added the fillets, mounted artwork and backing board. So save yourself a lot of frustration by checking first.

DIY Box Frame And Float Mount - French For Pineapple Bog

So would you give it a try and save some serious money? I had nearly all the 'ingredients' already, so the only thing I needed to buy was the balsa wood from my local craft shop, which cost me a grand total of 65 pence!



  1. Love this idea! I'm all about filling our house with my own paintings (more for budgetary reasons than any talent or visionary reasons), but frames are always either crazy expensive or horrid. Will definitely be giving this a shot.

    1. Thanks Arielle! Yep it can be stupidly expensive to fill a home with framed art. I think the key is to mix it up and spend bigger on the odd one, but save on most. I'm glad this was helpful!


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