Framing Artwork between Two Pieces of Acrylic

During this session, we are going to show how to float a piece of artwork between two pieces of plexi-glass leaving a transparent border around the art. This is a design trend that is becoming more and more popular in home décor.

Instead of using a mat, the artwork has “clear” borders. This means that the plexi-glass and frame are larger than the artwork and the wall is seen behind the artwork when it is hung, like so:

artwork framed between 2 pieces of acrylic
gather supplies

Create a clean working surface and gather all the materials for this DIY picture framing project. For this tutorial you will need:

  •  frame
  •  2 pieces of plexi-glass
  •  artwork
  •  ruler
  •  wood strips for spacers (or some other type of method to secure the pieces in the frame from behind)
  •  paint or stain (depending on the look you’d like to achieve)
  •  saw tooth hanger and hammer

center artwork on acrylic
Peel off the protective paper on one side of one piece of acrylic. Here, we are using standard acrylic so it makes no difference which side of the acrylic is facing inwards or outwards. However, if using non-glare acrylic, be sure that the correct side will be facing outwards (the protective paper will say which side should face out).

Use a ruler to center the artwork on the plexi-glass.

fold hinging tape in half 

Take a piece of hinging tape and fold in half to create a hinge. Hinging tape is preferable to scotch or masking tape which can harm the art over time.

place tape on back of print
Holding the artwork in place with one hand, carefully lift up on the top of the artwork and apply the hinging tape on the back (near the top) of the artwork with the other hand. 

press artwork down onto acrylic

Gently press the artwork down onto the bottom piece of acrylic. The reason for securing the artwork to the piece of plexi-glass is to prevent the artwork from shifting or sliding over time.

static whisk

static whisk

Take the second piece of acrylic and peel one side of the protective paper off. Using an anti-static cleaning brush, clean the surface to rid it of dust particles and debris.

place acrylic on top of art stack
Place the exposed side of the acrylic down on top of the artwork and set aside.

cut balsa wood to length
Now we have to use a method to hold the acrylic and artwork into the frame. Framers points are typically used to secure artwork into a wood frame. However, in this case, points would be seen from the front of the frame since there is no mat board or mounting board to “block” them out.
We decided to use balsa wood. Balsa wood is a very soft and light wood. Narrow strips can be found at hobby or craft stores.

For our purposes, the balsa wood happened to match the natural frame color that we chose to use. In some cases, you may want to paint or stain the wood to match the coloring of the frame, or paint it the same color as the wall, or be adventurous and paint it a contrasting color. The possibilities are endless! Just remember, whatever you choose it will probably be somewhat visible when viewing from the front and sides.

Place the balsa wood in the rabbet of the frame and using a blade, cut strips to fit inside the rabbet securely.

strips of balsa wood
Here are the four strips of balsa wood for use in the rabbet.

peel protective paper from acrylic
Carefully peel off the top piece of protective paper from the “stack.”
place art stack into back of frame

Flip the assembled “stack” over and place into the back of the frame.

peel paper from acrylic

Now carefully peel off the last piece of protective paper from the acrylic.

place object ontop of art stack 

Place something (not TOO heavy) on top of the “stack” to push the artwork and acrylic downwards, toward the face of the frame.

add glue to balsa wood
Take one strip of your spacer and apply a thin strip of wood glue to it. Place it inside the rabbet of the frame, pressing gently to secure it to the frame. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and cause glue to ooze out. Continue this process until all four strips are in place.

hold wood strips in place with clips
Hold the strips in place with some sort of clamp. Check the glue bottle to determine drying time.
find center of frame

After dry, use a ruler to find the center of the top of the frame.
gently hammer saw tooth hanger on back of frame

Gently hammer the saw tooth hanger in place. Once secure, the frame is ready to hang!

Keep in mind that this method is not recommended for artwork that is valuable. This is because the artwork is pressed against the acrylic, which over time, can damage the artwork. If the frame is deep enough, a spacer can be used to keep the artwork from coming in contact with the acrylic.

To learn more, see our related articles:

DIY Picture Framing: Techniques for Properly Peeling Acrylic
Custom Framing a 3-D Fish Between Two Pieces of Acrylic
How to Repair Scratched Acrylic

AubreyK | 9/10/2014 11:46:53 AM | 3 comments
American Frame
Thanks Emily!
9/22/2014 9:07:55 AM

I love this idea!
9/19/2014 4:31:38 PM

I like the idea of balsa wood instead of metal hardware. Very insightful!
9/12/2014 1:42:01 PM

About this blog

Mike Cromly
So, who’s Mike? He is the man behind the mission of getting your picture frames produced and out the door quickly, correctly, with custom frame shop quality. Once your order is placed, it is in the hands of Mike and the many people he has trained over his 35+ years with the company. A natural teacher, he loves to tinker and experiment. Of course he has a nice office, but we rarely find him there. Working in the plant and improving our processes is his passion. Outside of American Frame, Mike is an outdoorsman, avid fisherman, devoted family man and Ohio State Buckeye fan. Mike's Twitter
For more tutorials and articles, take a look at our other blogs - A Good Frame of Mind or At Your Service

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