At the start of summer, we sold our DIY dino prints for a song, making back just enough to cover our supplies. (Can you believe we made those three years ago? Our living room has come a long way since then!) A few months before that, we were purging items from The (former!) Scary Room, and when a buyer came to pick up a little table we’d been squirreling away, he stopped in his tracks when he saw the dinosaurs. Are those for sale, too?, he asked. Admittedly, we had already begun tossing around the idea of something new – one big thing, we were thinking – so we told him we’d let him know when we were ready to let them go.
That time came amidst the renovation of the garden apartment (he was very excited, which made us very happy!), and for a good while, we lived with a big, bare space above the couch. The living room felt… sparse? We were spending all our days and nights in the garden, but we’d toss out ideas for artwork while we worked. At one point, we even had a mini photoshoot downtown in the hopes of capturing lazy Chicago scenery, but then it hit me – let’s use a photo from our Sawyer getaway! We sifted through the photos we had taken months before, and we kept gravitating towards images of sandy dune grass. I have long loved the deer bed print above Joanna’s television, and it was 100% my inspiration. We made a few small prints of the top contenders (going so far as to get your vote in our Stories), and we eventually landed on a winner.
I edited the final image using this awesome moody action set, and I had it printed to 36″ x 57″ (admittedly a strange size) on the same thick velvet paper I use in our Print Shop. Next, it was time to make a frame! You might be wondering, what makes this frame any different than our dino frames? Two really, really big things: 1) We eliminated the need for a router, and 2) for it’s size, it’s really lightweight!
Supplies used for a 3′ x 5′ frame:
6 – 6′ 1″ x 2″ primed MDF
4′ x 6′ 1/2″ foam board
3′ x 6′ acrylic sheet (available at most hardware stores)
8 – 2″ corner braces
Pack of 2 D-rings
photo hanging wire
Art print of your choice
Spackle / putty knife
Sandpaper / orbital sander
Drill / screwdriver
Nailer / nails
Plastic cutting tool (like this)
Right angle square
Clamps (we love these)
Anchors for hanging
What we did:
Before we spent any money on printing, we needed to come up with a size. The printing service I use has a significant jump in price for anything larger than 36,” so we were sure to stick to that for our height. We came up with a width of not-quite-60″ by taping the measurements onto the wall, and once we agreed we liked the size, I placed my print order. Note: There are several printing services online that can print poster sized images, but if you’re looking for something as large as we were, you may want to consider engineer prints or calling into your local print shop (think: shops that print banners).
In the past, we built our giant frame with 2″ x 2″ common board and used a router to create a lip for the glass, print and backing to sit into. In this case, we decided to stack two pieces of 1″ x 2″ primed MDF! Not only would this help achieve a deeper frame profile (which we love), but we could eliminate the need for a router altogether. After running a line of wood glue down the 1″ side of MDF, we lined it up and clamped it to the 2″ side of a second piece of MDF. Scott used 1″ finish nails and our nailer to attach the two boards, striking a nail every 8-10.” Because any wood you use will never be perfectly straight, I ‘walked’ the clamps down as he nailed, forcing the boards to be as square as possible.
This left us with three 6′ L-shaped runs of MDF, like this:
Next, it was time to get math-y. To get our frame measurements, I took our photo width and height and added 1/8″ (for wiggle room) and 5/8″ x 2 (to account for the MDF). For example, my math looked like this: 36″ + 1/8″ + 5/8″ + 5/8″ = 37 3/8.” The overall frame size for our 36″ x 57″ print was 37 3/8″ x 58 3/8,” and we used those measurements to create our mitered corners. Two of the L-shaped boards would be our top and bottom, and the third L-shaped board was used for the sides. Note: Even though we were using 1″ x 2″ MDF boards, the true measurements are closer to 5/8″ x 1 5/8.” You’ll want to use the exact measurement of the wood you’re using to create your measurements.
The hardest part of this easy frame? Finding a flat surface that’s large enough to work on! Luckily, we had a scrap piece of drywall that would work, and we set it all up on our saw horses. With our flat surface ready to go, we added a dab of wood glue to join the corners. Corner by corner, we used a square to align the frame, and Scott popped 3-4 nails into each one, with 1 nail on one side and 2 nails in the other, making sure to stagger them as he went.
The frame was already feeling really strong, but as an extra measure, we also added 2″ corner brackets:
To create a seamless finish, we smoothed on spackle to cover the joint and all nail holes. Once dry, I started by using a sanding block, but in the end, we found a quick pass with the orbital sander and a fine grit paper really whipped the frame into shape!
We ended up using an entire can of satin spray paint to give the primed boards a clean white finish, waiting a few minutes between coats. The entire frame received three coats, with a fourth coat only where necessary. The satin sheen was flawless!
We allowed the frame to dry overnight, and the following day, we worked indoors where it would be less dusty for the next steps. We took turns using a plastic cutting tool to cut our acrylic sheet to the frame’s inside dimensions, and although we’ve never used one before, we found that holding it at an angle and running the knife along a straight edge was the quickest way to slice through the sheet. We clamped the straight edge into place after the photo below was taken, which was extremely helpful in keeping us aligned and safe! Once we were halfway through the acrylic, we were able to bend and snap off the excess.
Using a fresh blade and a utility knife, we cut the foam board next, ensuring that it would be a snug fit. Note: Double check your inside measurement for this and cut it to that exact size. Finally, it was time to bring everything together!
After placing the acrylic and print into place (making sure to work quickly to prevent any excess dust and debris), we laid the foam board in last. I used a staple gun every 8-10″ into the side of the frame to hold the foam board in place, which has worked well for me over the years on various framing projects! Any rogue staples can be pulled and re-done, and if your staple ends up too high, you can push them down with your thumb or a screwdriver to keep things snug.
Even though the foam board and acrylic keep our frame light, we decided to hang our photo using two D-rings with one anchor per ring. Not only will eliminating a wire prevent the frame from tipping to one side or the other, this method will also keep the frame as close to the wall as possible!
The last step before hanging is optional, but we recommend it for the longevity of your frame. Using the remaining 4 corner brackets, we create a T-shape in the center of the top and bottom of the frame. We had spare hanging wire from a past project, and we used this to string the two Ts together, pulling the frame tight. Down the road, you won’t see any sagging or bowing that is so common with large artwork!
Framing artwork is one of those things that’s so exciting to see come to life! After having a blank wall for months, we were amazed at how the room immediately felt cozy again. Knowing that this photograph was from a memorable weekend makes us smile every time we look at it, and the natural texture of the dune grass and sand lends a subtle warmth to the room.
Overall, the final profile is 2″ deep, reminding us of an oversized version of everyone’s favorite IKEA frame:
The dinosaurs were fun while we had them, but change is just as fun, we think!