Dust off those greeting cards: here’s a tutorial on framing!
Today, we will learn how to make a lovely piece of art out of a greeting card or other small print, without the expense of professional framing. For our project, I used two greeting cards designed by Ottawa’s Mad Mother Designs. We love the Edith Died Laughing series, and have wanted to frame these two adorable cards for a while, but were having the hardest time finding attractive frames of the right size. I had given up for a long time, figuring the right idea would come to me…and it did.
-greeting card(s) you want to frame
-cool paper. We used scrapbooking paper left over from our wedding.
-scissors or an Xacto knife
First, I found two mats. These can be expensive, but you can find them in old picture frames; some really cheap, ugly, and even broken frames can provide you with lovely mats. In my case, I had made these two in high school: in grade twelve, I had a teacher who made us make mats for every piece. I hated it, because it’s miserable slow math-heavy work, so that’s why I’m encouraging you to find old mats instead of making your own. If time is money, your time is worth more than all the work it takes to cut a mat. So…I freed my old mats from the high school lino prints they’d been holding. Separating the mats from the prints took 5 minutes.
Next, I went through my stack of cool papers and chose two that had a Victorian feel, to match the greeting cards. When you see scrapbook paper on sale, grab a sheet or two; it’s a simple thing to store neatly away, and if you’re crafting you will, guaranteed, find uses for it. I picked one for each card. This would act as the backdrop to fill in the space around the card that was left empty by the oversized mat. I then cut the paper to be about the size of the mat’s empty middle, plus a minimum of .5” on each side. This is important for easy taping. Cutting the paper took 5 minutes.
Next, I taped the paper in place. This can actually be tricky. You want to be sure that, if there’s a repeating pattern on your paper with vertical and/or horizontal lines in it, they should line up in the frame correctly. If you mount your sheet of paper a little crooked, you will really notice if, like the black paper I used, you have clear light horizontal lines suddenly running slightly on a diagonal. I like to place a small piece of tape on the back of the paper and mat, then flip it over and double check how it looks. Once it looks right, tape all four sides of the paper into the mat. Checking and taping the paper took 5 minutes.
The next step was to prepare the greeting card. These cards have an artfully frayed edge on the opening side, which is a nice design bonus. I used tape to tape the card shut—I don’t want to risk any buckling of the paper by using glue, and while a glue stick won’t cause buckling, it will dry up and eventually stop working. Tape is just best, and I always prefer good ol’ fashioned, nasty sticky super-clear tape. Not that ‘magic tape’ nonsense. Who is it magic for? People who like sandy-textured plasticky unsticky tape, that’s who. I actually cut off half of the back of the card, so that instead of making tape loops and sticking them inside the card, I tape the card shut by taping the new (shorter) edge of the back fold to the back of the front fold. (Sorry if that’s confusing…you can always just make tape loops and adhere the card shut from the inside.) Regardless of how you do it, you are now ready to centre the card (carefully, now!) and tape it down to the scrapbook paper. I used loops of the super-clear tape for this. Taping the cards closed, plus taping the cards to the backdrop, took 5 minutes.
And lastly, we prepare the piece for hanging. Simply, I took some yarn (cut from the fringe of a scarf, as I didn’t want to go find my knitting box), made two fat knots, one in each end. I then tape the string behind the mat, being sure to have the knots either taped, or sticking out the far side of the tape. The knot will help the yarn not slip through the tape and let go. If it keeps slipping, you can tie a toothpick or piece of straw to the end of the string and tape that to the mat instead…anything that adds some grip. Stringing the piece took 3 minutes.
And voila, you are done. You now have a really cool piece of art that you can hang and enjoy. Finally, a greeting card that won’t moulder in your desk drawer. Oh, and best of all: next time you’re at an art gallery or museum and see a cool piece you wish you could own, this is a nifty way to have a small print of it at home. Some of you may be collecting Artist Trading Cards; this may be a lovely way to display your favourites. This entire
project took 23 minutes!
One more bonus tip for you: if your piece hangs crooked no matter how many times you adjust it, tape a dime or penny to the edge that’s hanging high. With our crooked apartment, I can tell you that there are various pictures around here that now have bolts, quarters, and buttons taped to their edges. Ah, the joy of old houses. Our bookshelves are also shifted on one side by pieces of moving boxes.