Justin Newcombe shows us how to frame all those odd bits of art and collectables we love.

There are plenty of frames available off the shelf to show off your photos or artwork. But for any of the more unusual shapes (and I'm not talking about a weird amoeba shape here, just a slightly longer landscape than normal) a custom-built frame is required. Store-bought frames are also radically constrained in their choice of materials.

Framing shops do a fine job with a good range of materials available for you to choose from but these can get pretty expensive if you've got more than two or three items to frame. Building your own frame is a great alternative. With a little practice and imagination you'll be able to frame some of those things you might have left untouched or lost in an album.

A few years ago I found a pack of Maori-inspired playing cards and I've always wanted to display some of them on the wall. Now is time to do something about it. The cards will be free floating rather than on a matt. Free floating means the image hangs suspended in the frame. A matt finish has a cardboard matt sitting over the picture like a cardboard window. While this tidies up the edges, you'll not be surprised to hear that I like them more on the untidy side.

I'm cutting my archival box, lining it with ply and suspending the glass on the lining inside the frame. Then I'm sandwiching the glass with a bevelled frame, which will sit on top of the archival box.


Step 1

Choose your framing material. I want to create a series of archival-looking boxes, which are the kind of thing you may find in a museum. The timber is not very thick but comparatively deep. The edge of the box will be covered with a moulded frame. Choose a backing board. I'm using a plywood off-cut that I'll paint, otherwise you can buy some archival cardboard which is PH neutral and won't harbour mould spores.

Step 2

Arrange the piece or pieces you wish to frame on the backing board. Think about how you would like to suspend the images. I'm using double-sided tape on small blocks that are glued to my backing board. This means each card will sit proud of the backing board.

Step 3

Using a mitre box and handsaw, cut the timber for the frame. This must be exactly 45 degrees to get a square or rectangle. Many framing materials have a bevelled lip, inside which the glass sits. You can achieve this with a router before you cut your framing timber, or you can buy a moulding that is already bevelled.

Step 4

Glue the corners of each piece of the frame, then use a picture framing clamp to hold the pieces in place. Insert the framing staples into the back of each corner. The clamp kit and the staples are available at Bunnings.

Step 5

Cut the glass using a glass cutter (also available at Bunnings) or make your frame then take it to a glass supply shop and get them to cut it for you. Of course there are plenty of things like paintings that don't need to be covered in glass.

Step 6

Assemble the frame, image and backing board. Use small screws or clasps, secure the baking board to the frame then tape securely with an archival tape (it usually looks like brown paper). Attach eyelets and string.