Art Show Ready – DIY Floater Frames

June 1, 2016Allison Murray
Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

I am ridiculously proud of Rob. He’s an amazing artist and he works HARD to achieve his dream of becoming a full time artist. Currently he teaches at Southmost College as the founding member of the art department and it seems like teaching is pretty rewarding for him. He mentors the art club and we often find ourselves spending the evenings supporting his students at local events while they paint faces and give amazing henna tattoos to earn money to fund their passion.

I think he’s an amazing instructor for a few good reasons. 1. He LOVES art and he truly wants to foster the same kind of love and respect for art of all kinds in his students. 2. He’s an amazing artist himself. While you can teach some thing without being an expert (my work here is a prime example!) the fact that he is so insanely talented inspires his students because they want to develop the skill that he has. They look up to him. 3. He doesn’t treat them like babies. These are college kids and we live in an area where it seems young adults are fairly immature but Rob treats them like adults and talks to them like adults. It’s pretty awesome to see these kids hold their own while discussing their own art with well known artists of the region.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

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But now it’s summer and with summer’s off it’s time for him to really push out the artwork. One of the best ways to get his art seen and get more attention to his budding career are art shows. Any show is a great thing and a good occasion to mingle with other artists and art supporters of the community but a solo art show is a sign of a career on the rise. So when Rob was offered a solo art show (not his first but exciting nonetheless) he put the pedal to the metal and got to painting art like man on a mission.

His last 3 paintings are all very, very special to me… they’re creek scenes of my family last summer in Sulphur Springs, Oklahoma. We played and talked and did what Okies do in a creek while he stayed off to the side to snapping pictures and documenting my family being, well, my family. This painting that we are framing for this tutorial is called Family at Sulphur Springs “Creekles” by Robert Andes. The creekles is kind of an inside joke – it’s creek people – a word dubbed by our friend Kevan.

Since we had to whip up a frame to get his last piece in the show, literally the day before the show, I decided that I’d make things go a little slower by taking pics of the process for a tutorial. Heck, I even took pictures of our trip delivering 22 pieces of artwork. Ha! Good thing Rob is so easy going :)

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

For this project you will need:

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

This is the first thing we’re going to talk about. It is a speed square and it is immensely helpful when cutting angles.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

 

The bottom of the speed square has a lip that you can easily see.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

You push that lip flush with the edge of your project and hold tight.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Now you’re able to mark perfect lines for straight lines or even angles. The square is at a 45 degree angle and that’s what we need to cut for this project. A pen or pencil is run along the angled side of the square (the right side in the pic above) and a perfect 45 degree line is ready to be cut.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

To start you’ll be cutting your 1×3 boards. Measure your painting and decide how much space you want on the sides of your work. I’ll use the painting we framed as an example…

Rob’s painting was 16×24″ The outer edge of our frame will be 3/4″ wide. We then need to have a space, or gutter, between that outer lip and the painting itself. Rob wanted half an inch. So with 0.75 lip + 0.5 gutter we added 1.25 inches to all four sides to get our measurements to work from. This made our frame measurements 18.5 x 26.5″.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Now a frame pieces together with shapes like you see above. See how both ends are angled? Every piece will be cut like this for your backing board. Now this is the 1×3 inch board. The measurements we just took will be for the LONGER side of the board. Now see that bottom piece? Our measurement was 26.5″ Along the bottom of that piece the board is exactly 26.5″

Cut your pieces at the lengths you need out of 1×3″ boards.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

You can get really close cuts if you use the first piece to mark the cut lines for your other pieces of the same length rather than using a measuring tape for each individual piece. (That’s a Bill Murray tip right there!)

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Next you’ll need to cut the lip pieces. Now you’ll want to cut them so when they lay on the frame they are tall. I know that makes no sense so hopefully the pic below will assist where my words are failing me…

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

The bottom piece is our 1×3″ base for the frame and the top is the lip. This is the 1×2″ piece of wood and it is sitting at the outer edge of the wood making the piece into an “L” shape. The pink line is showing you were the two pieces of wood meet.

Now these upper pieces will be the same length as the pieces below. Again, you can use the other pieces to mark your cuts and have each piece fit together pretty bang on.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Since we didn’t have a ton of time we wanted to double-check that our math worked out well and Rob placed the painting on top so we could measure and be sure our base was the perfect size. It was a huge relief when it turned out our math and cuts were good. Huzzah!

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Apply a small amount of glue inside of the angles and then staple together. Now here we used the CRAPPIEST staple gun we got at Harbor Freight and we made a mess with the darn thing. It didn’t want to push staples but halfway through the wood and that’s if we were lucky. Right after we got this sucker together we got tired of it and went and bought a better quality staple gun for about $18 and the difference it made was simply amazing.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

We were working on a very tight schedule but we’d normally let the glue dry for a good 2-3 hours before continuing. Since we had only a few hours total to make this we decided to keep on keepin’ on and pushed forward.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Flip your frame over and staple once again in the outer corner. Now this area will be covered with your lip but the middle of the angle will be visible. Use wood putty to fill any gaps or cracks in this area and allow to dry.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Now we’ve got another quick lesson for you. This is an adjustable bar clamp from Harbor Freight. It is one of the things that we bought from the discount hardware store that was an amazing value. The way this guy works is pretty easy. See the metal piece at an angle above my index finger? That is a lever. You push it upward and you can move the entire clamp upward or to a closed position or downward to a more open position. The handle on the right can be turned up or down to loosen or tighten the grip the clamp has.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Run a healthy amount of glue onto the backside of your frame’s lip boards. If you’re staining your wood take care as any glue that spills or squeezes out onto the wood will prevent the color from embedding into the stain.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Place the board along the outer edge of your frame and make sure your corners match up well. Tighten your clamps onto the boards to hold them securely in place. We like to clamp 2 sides at a time and hang those edges off of the table to allow room for the clamps to hang straight down.

You want your clamps to fit tight enough that nothing moves around but over-tightening can cause indentations in the wood so take care. If it feels like you’re going overboard with the tightening you probably are…

Allow the glue to dry, at least a few hours, and then attach the other 2 pieces of the frame’s top.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Once your glue has dried it’s time to stain or paint to your heart’s content! Now you might notice I stained this puppy (on a confetti covered floor no less) but in the images it’s most definitely black. Well, that’s very easy to explain.

You see, I finished up staining this beast and took it to the kitchen where Rob was cooking supper. He was curious as to how the stain turned out. Up to this point we had only painted his frames flat black to help cover up our not so great corners where we wound up using a lot of wood putty to fill the gaps made from our slightly off cuts.

Excited that this guy turned out better I hit it up with Rob’s choice of stain and he was scoping the piece out when he decided he wanted to place the piece inside to be sure the coloring suited the painting. I went to help and when we were walking back from his studio I Rob went “no, Mar, NO!!!” and then I heard the crash. It was seriously about 9 at night and Marla just broke our hard work trying to jump through it like circus lions jump through hoops. I guess you can tell that she didn’t quite make it.

Rob went back to making our super late supper and I went to piecing this business back together. Now our corners looked like hell warmed over. Crud. I wound up going out and painting this sucker black. At least it matches the others, I suppose! :) We went to bed super late with the alarm clock set to get up early and finish this painting, go rent a Uhaul truck and head out to deliver 22 paintings.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Now you probably can’t tell super well from this image but Rob is actually painting on panels right now. These are thin pieces of board that are primed on top that he then gets after with his oil paints. Now you’ll probably be painting on pre-made canvases so I’ll tell you quickly how to attach your painting to your new frame.

Place your painting in the center of the frame. If you have somebody to help you, that’s all the better. Using the appropriate length of screws attach your canvas to the back part of the frame by screwing straight through that board and into the wood stretcher for the canvas. Rob and I like to actually hold the canvas and frame up vertically and I push on the canvas by the edges and then he screws through the back. Alternatively you can place the painting on the ground and go through the back to attach by yourself. Be sure to protect the front of your painting by placing on a soft surface. It probably goes without saying that you’ll need the surface of your painting to be completely dry.

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Since we were attaching a painting on a board rather than a canvas we cut a piece of plywood slightly smaller than the painting itself. Screws then ran through the top of the plywood into the back portion of the frame made by the 1×3 boards. Glue was applied to the plywood board…

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

…and then Rob very gently placed the painting onto the sticky surface taking care not to touch the painting itself as the paint was still wet. YEP! The paint was STILL WET! Talk about cutting it close!

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

The painting was laid flat to dry on the journey and we headed out to our storage unit to pick up a dozen more paintings for the journey.

Rob’s show doesn’t open until mid-June so I don’t have any pics of his work hung for the show but perhaps I’ll remember to update this post with those pics in the coming weeks. Until then, check out that beautiful piece of art. See more of Rob’s work at Robert Andes Artwork.

This may not seem like the easiest project but it truly is not that difficult. There are many ways to make floater frames but this is how we devised to use a simple saw and mitre box to make many frames quickly and on a tight budget. Since the process works so well for us, and the results so nice looking we’ve just continued making the same frames over and over. It still amazes me what a simple floater frame can do to finish up a piece of artwork and make it look gallery ready for its very own art show!

Give your DIY art the professional art show treatment with DIY floater frames. Your work will be gallery ready with a little bit of lumber!

Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website

Comments (1)

  • Pat Schwab

    June 5, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    Allison, I remember photos of that family outing and at first (before I started reading) I thought you blew up a photo and were framing it. Excellent. Pat S

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