How To Make A Fast & Easy Floating Frame

Let’s make a floater, shall we? Somewhere Katie B is chuckling, because I just used the term “floater” (the video at the bottom of this post might explain that weird maybe-you-had-to-be-there-joke). Anyway, the point is that I did a little frame-hack that’s super easy, free if you have a few basic items on hand, and only a few bucks even if you don’t. So for anyone out there who likes the look of a floating glass frame but doesn’t want to pay around twenty bucks for one, you can probably use an old frame that you already have to whip one up.

This frame started out like any other normal backed-in-that-wood/cardboard-type-stuff that most frames are made with. See it there in the top middle (without any art, so you’re literally looking at the back board of the frame through the glass).

We already shared how this little frame grouping turned out here

… but since some of you guys asked more about the floating frame (and requested a tutorial when I explained that I DIYed it) here you go.

Well, first, I colored this cool printable that I mentioned in that original art-hanging post (which I got here, printed on card stock at home, and colored with regular old colored pencils).

Then I was about to run out and buy some large paper to use as a backing or mat when I thought… what if I just let it float behind the glass? Sort of like the art in Clara’s nursery that floats in a store-bought frame from Target (it’s the frame on the bottom-left of this old pic).

But instead of changing gears and running out to Target in the hopes of finding another floating glass frame, I took apart the regular old frame that I had and looked at it. And I realized that if I removed the backing, added a hook to the top of the frame so it would hang, and secured the art to the glass and the glass to the frame, I’d be good to go. So I gathered just a few materials…

Material #1: A sawtooth hanging attachment, which I nailed into to the top of the wood frame (make sure it’s centered so your frame hangs straight). These guys are usually four for 99 cents at Michael’s, by the way.

Material #2: Super glue, which I used to glue the glass to the front lip of the frame. This picture is like one of those “reenactments” on TV (you know the ones where the reenactor looks nothing like the original person being interviewed in one of those crime or ER stories). The reason it’s a bad reenactment is because I got too excited and glued the glass to the front lip of the frame and then realized I forgot to take a picture of the process…

So just imagine that the cap is off of the glue, and the glass is actually lifted out of the frame. Yup, I just ran a thin bead of glue around the entire outside lip of the wood frame so that when I dropped the glass back onto the lip it would be glued in place. If you look closely at this picture you can actually see the dried glue along that lip, which isn’t visible from the front of the frame since the lip is there. Note: this doesn’t change anything about being able to clean either side of the glass – you can just lift the frame off the wall and wipe the back of the glass if you’d like.

Material #3: Nada. You’re done.

The result? Well, once it was all dry, I had a floating glass frame. As for how I attached the art, I used regular old clear scotch tape applied to the back of the art. I just overlapped it ever so slightly so the very very tiny top edge would meet the glass along the top of the printout and the very tiny bottom edge would meet the glass along the  bottom. Lo and behold, it actually worked. Since it’s such a thin sliver it’s not noticeable from the front – even when you get close (I was pleasantly surprised that the tape didn’t show). And I only needed that one piece on the top and one along the bottom, so it was held nice and smooth.

If the tape was all awkward and obvious, my next plan was going to be trying spray adhesive – lightly spraying the front of the printout and carefully sticking it to the back of the glass in a nice centered position. Although I would only do that to something that’s not valuable or one-of-a-kind (so a free printable is a good example of something I’d dare to spray right in the face).

Speaking of that, my suggestion for this little frame hack would be to avoid using it to hang anything super valuable or irreplaceable since there are two notable differences:

  • there’s no back pane of glass or piece of cardboard protecting the art from the rear (instead of being sandwiched like the art in most frames, it’s backless like a Carmen Electra dress). I’m not sure how much of an issue this poses, since it’s essentially just sealed in a box made by the the frame that touches the solid wall behind it on all sides, but it’s a difference so I thought I’d mention it.
  • you’re putting a bit of clear scotch tape on the back of the art (which is actually something I do a lot when I frame things the traditional way as well, but it’s not the recommended method whenever you’re framing anything that’s especially valuable or irreplaceable).

That being said, for hanging a free printable that you printed and colored at home, well, it’s pretty darn perfect. I figure since we’ve got approximately nine million and seventy eight traditional frames in the house, two floating glass ones are a fun little twist. Have you guys added anything (or subtracted anything) from a frame or some other item of wall decor to give it a fresh spin? Spill the frame-hacking beans.

Comments

  1. Cathy says

    If truth be told, I’m actually focused on the toy alligator on Clara’s changing table-obviously never noticed it before. Any chance you remember from whence it came? It would make a perfect baby gift for a friend. Thanks!

  2. Sandi Maxwell says

    This is super cute and looks quick and easy. Thank You so much, I have been looking for ideas for grandaughters room. This is perfect! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Megan says

    I recently floated pictures in an antique window and bought clear corner adhesives to attach them to the pane. They’re hardly noticeable and for a couple of dollars I got a giant roll of adhesive corners that will last through any future projects I want to complete.

    • Jaimee says

      Megan – I was just getting ready to post the EXACT. SAME. THING! I have an antique 3 pane window and put a picture of each of my 3 kids floating in the panes and used the adhesive dots! I always get so many compliments on it – great minds think alike ;0

  4. Koliti says

    I transformed a shallow light-weight wooden box. First I decoupaged scrapbook paper to the back. The box edges were thick enough to allow small screws – wrap wire around one screw, add a colorful bead alternating with a clothespin (leave plenty of space between beads and clothespins), wrap wire around other screw, shorten wire, tighten screws and VOILA! Ever-changing shadow-box display.

    I’ve also seen frames transformed with wire and clothespins.

    Sherry, love the floating frame look. In your thrift/yard sale adventures if you happen across “glaser points” pick them up – they are little pointy metal things that you push into the side of a frame with a screw driver to secure the glass. Then you don’t even have to wait for the glue to dry!

    Also if someone should have two frames with the same size glass – they could take the two pieces of glass to make the floating frame look in one frame and do the wire & clothespin look in the other frame.

  5. Elise says

    This may have been mentioned already, but you could also use Washi tape to attach the picture to the glass. Of course the back of the Washi tape would be visible, but that might look cool depending on what tape you use :) Thanks for the hack – I need four floating frames for artwork in our pantry and this may be just the thing I need to do!

  6. says

    if ONLY i had seen this a week ago before i ordered a custom mat for a strange-sized print of a painting that i bought. next time for sure!

  7. says

    Very cute! I have that printable sitting out on my desk all ready to color…I’m a little late to the whole Valentine’s Day thing, but I guess it applies throughout the year, right? At least most of the time. ;)

  8. Heather says

    I found four old windows in our attic. I am dying to pull them down, clean them up a big, maybe paint over the yellow with white, distress, and hang. I can’t wait to get them up in our bedroom. It’s been in the back of my mind for almost a year. I NEED to do it sometime. :)

  9. Mrs.M in MI says

    We’ve made a few floating frames in our house by going to Lowe’s and buying a extra pane of glass, which they cut to size for free. The last one was 16″ x 20″ and I think it cost less than $5.

    Also, Carmen Electra went to my high school. Back then her name was Tara Patrick.

  10. Annie says

    There was an old Mad magazine cover from the 70’s that I wanted to put in a floating frame without having to go buy one of course, so I used some translucent contact paper (wait, is all contact paper translucent? or is some of it clear?)on the back of the glass, sandwiching the print between the two. It gave it the floating effect I wanted, but also added an element of vintage to compliment the print. Holla for (less than) a dolla!

  11. says

    Awesome tip! My parents love floating frames, so we’ve bought a million from Michael’s (okay, more like 10). It is a really fun look.