Framing Project

2015 is the year of finishing projects around the house that I have wanted to do for quite some time.  I figured I would share many of my projects here.  Prior to becoming a photographer 12 years ago, I painted portraits, landscapes, and turned that into DIY home decor.  I just feel the need to be creative in everything that I do… and it’s a challenge to me to learn new things, and I enjoy the accomplishment.

When I met my husband in 1994, I was the assistant manager of an art and framing store.  I picked up bits and pieces of framing, and just simply applied them.

A few years’ back, Dean and I bought some watercolor paintings from the John Stevens Gallery in Shrewsbury Pennsylvania.  While looking at his work, I spotted a painting of the Muddy Creek Forks area – it’s the same spot that I photographed my daughter Erynn in this post, and we pass it every time we drive to the farm where we board our horses.  We needed this giant painting for the large wall in our family room…. and there was a red mill painting that we needed too.  We brought two paintings home.

One problem.  I have always disliked the frames.  There was nothing wrong with the frames, they were of decent quality, but they just didn’t go with our house.  Every time I walked into the family room for the past few years, it plagued me that I had not made new frames yet.  I wanted a rustic look…. a homemade look.

We went to the home improvement store and picked up three different types of pine.  I bought a pack of knotty pine wainscoting (cheap, but I wanted the lines in it), approximately 3-inch wide pine pieces and 1-1/2 inch wide pieces, wood glue, finish nails, and corner metal pieces (in the same area as the hinges).

(Penny wanted to check everything out)

I did this frame in three parts.  I began by gluing the 3-inch pine to the back of the strips of wainscoting – held together with clamps until dry.   This creates the lip that will hold the glass and image into the frame.  I wanted to cover a little more of the mat than usual, as I felt that there was a lot of space there.


Once dry, I glued and nailed in the third piece of wood (1-1/2 inch pine).  Notice how it butts up against what will be the entire outermost part of the frame (below).  I felt like if I didn’t include this piece, the frame just wouldn’t be substantial enough.  I really wanted this frame to be more like a piece of furniture.  Below:  Now I have long strips of frame moldings that will be cut to size.


Here’s where everyone gets scared – mitering corners.  We have a mitre saw, so I just used that.  You can use a hand saw and mitre box, but that will require quite a bit of muscle.

Be careful when cutting these corners.  When measuring, you want to measure inside area, not the edge of the lip.  The picture will be inset, remember that.
Match your corners as close as possible.  If you plan on painting your frame and end up with a little bit of gap, you can always use some wood filler – push it into the crack, smooth it out, and then when it dries, you will be able to sand it.




Typically when framers assemble their corners, they will use a little glue, and they have a special tool that will shoot little metal pieces along the corner (on the back)  – kind of like staples that will hold the corners together well.  I don’t have that tool, so I glued the corners, then placed these to reinforce the corners.  I also ran finishing nails into the corners from the outside just to make sure I had as much stability as I could.


Next is what I enjoy the most – painting.  I get right in and get my hands (and usually everything else) dirty… my daughter is the same way.  We don’t always paint with paintbrushes – for me, sometimes it is my hands, a rag, whatever gives me the result I am looking for.  For these two frames, I wanted a barn red one for the larger piece (almost 6 x 3 feet), and a gray frame for the smaller piece (almost 3 x 4 feet).  The red one here is a bit more obvious to see what exactly I did – here is the step by step…

I didn’t have to purchase any paint.  I’m a bit of a paint hoarder (you’ll see in a future post).  I have ridiculous amounts and different shades of black, white, gray, maroon, brown, and beige – it’s funny because you will see most of those colors in my portrait work – these are the colors I am drawn to, so you will see them all through my photography and my house.

This red over pine is BRIGHT.  No worries, I expected that.  I planned to do some mixing.   If you are mixing paints, make sure you are mixing water based paints with water based paints.  Don’t mix an oil based paint with water based.  This black I wanted to paint over the red is actually acrylic paint.  Acrylics will blend with latex paints, just fine – the latex I am using here is Behr flat enamel – Cherry something or other – sorry, I try to remember the paint colors – this is actually a color I used at my first studio, 10+ years ago – if you remember the first of the three studios I had – this one was next to the NCR trail in Monkton Maryland (historic hotel building).  I saved this red paint from that long ago!  If you are the creative type, you never know when you are going to need some paint.


Beware – sometimes when using latex or water based paints on thin wood, the wood could warp.  What happens is when the paint is drying, the water evaporates out, and it can tighten the paint on the wood, causing warping.  I wasn’t too worried about this in this case, these frames are thick and substantial as a whole.

Okay, back on task – I put some black acrylic in a bowl and added water.  I also had a bucket of water and a rag that I soaked.

I painted the diluted black acrylic overtop of the dry red paint.  There, just ruined the frame, right?  Nah….. before the black paint had a chance to dry, I wipep it off with the wet rag.  I continued this all the way around the frame.  This left some black in the crevices of the frame (this is why I wanted the knotty pine wainscoting – so that there were some crevices to take advantage of)

I did this same technique with the gray frame as well.  I let everything dry.  I took apart the other frames, and inserted the glass, mats, and prints into the new frames.


And here are the before and after shots….

BEFORE (both had this same frame):


AFTER — Barn Red frame….

AFTER — Gray frame



I absolutely love these frames now.  NOW they are a part of my family room and work well.

EDITED:  Some people asked me about costs involved – here is what I spent.

Two large frames – (approx 6×3, approx 4×3 feet)

  • One package knotty pine wainscoting…………………. $18
  • 8 foot sections 1-1/2 (or 2) inch pine x 5 ($3 each)… $15
  • 8 foot sections 3-inch pine x 5 ($5 each)………………$25
  • Wood glue………………………………………………………$6
  • One package finish nails…………………………………….$6
  • Corner hardware……………………………………………. $5

TOTAL:  $75

No cost on paint, brushes, etc. as I always keep a stock of them.



On a side note….. this happened while I was assembling the frames.  If you know us, you know we have a very animal friendly home.  Petey is one of our cats.  I’m always amazed at the different personalities animals have.  Petey is our hunter.  He will find anything that he’s not supposed to have and take it.  The minute you walk toward him to retrieve it, he looks at you, grabs it, and runs as fast as he can.  Bet you have never seen a cat carry around a Ramen noodle bag!!!!













About Jodie Otte

Maryland Newborn Photographer and Child Portrait Artist, Jodie Holstein-Otte, specializes in unique photography of newborn babies, kids, and families. She works on location in Harford, Howard, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and other areas throughout Maryland. She uses both both natural lighting and soft studio lighting techniques.

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