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Framing on a Dime

Framing art can be costly! When I was in college this didn’t seem to register. I had all the tools that I needed to use free of charge (minus tuition) and all I had to do was purchase my materials. Buying large pieces of wood and using the table saw I was able to frame a lot of my canvases. I was able to use the nail gun and there was even paint that everyone shared. I had to buy very little out of pocket.

It wasn’t until I left college behind that I realized how expensive it would be to frame my own pieces. buying frames for art can be expensive, especially if you are creating large art. At one point I did price out how much it would be to have one of my 20 x 24 canvases framed professionally and it would have cost me more than I was going to sell the piece for!

All that to say that through the years I have learned how to frame my art with little to no cost to myself and without the need to have so many tools that I have no room for. I am going to lay out for you the two easiest and most cost effective ways that I frame my artwork.

Shop Thrift Stores/Garage Sales

I have a stock pile of frames in common sized that I paint in. I typically get them from thrift stores or the annual church sale. Typically the thrift store find are more expensive for the larger frames that I need ranging $3-$20. This is still a bargain especially if I don’t have to refinish the frame. All I need is to make sure the frame is wood and is deep enough for my frame. If the frame came with glass and backing I just recycle those. I only need the frame and offset canvas clips to hold it into place.

Once I have these items all I do is pop my canvas into the frame and use the clips to hold it in place. I only use 2 clips and screw into the frame. By doing this I save supplies as I will only use 2 screws instead of 4. If my canvas is not a tight fit in the frame I will add either 2 extra clips or will screw into the canvas as well as the frame.

Buy A Wood Lath Bundle

My go-to framing method is to head down to Menards and buy a wood lath bundle. These are approximately 4′ in length and 1.5″ wide. So of course they won’t work really well for extra-large pieces of art, but I rarely work over 4′ x 4′ anymore. Each bundle comes with approximately 50 pieces. I always take the time to look through the bundles because I am looking for straight pieces.

I then lay out the boards and spray paint them black (you could also just use black house paint). I try and get all sides only because that gives me more options when attaching to my canvas and it also looks better to me. When they are dry I then start with one edge and attach one plank at a time using finishing nails. You could use a brad nail gun also (mine broke and I never replaced it). I then use a hand saw and saw the excess wood. You could do this as you go or at the very end. The last step is then to paint the edges where you sawed the wood.