Custom Framing a 3-D Fish Between Two Pieces of Acrylic

Our newest custom framing project was to frame a fun three-dimensional work of art, a painted and lightly stuffed paper fish! The customer wanted to float the fish in between two pieces of acrylic and have it hang down from the top of the frame with a string. For this tutorial, we will demonstrate how to frame a 3-D object without using a shadow box. In fact, we will be creating a faux shadow box. (Check out our 'real' shadowbox frames)

Step 1

Gather all your supplies. We have a metal frame, 2 pieces of acrylic, EconoSpace spacers and the artwork.

framing supplies laid out on table

Step 2

Peel the protective paper off of one side of the acrylic. Use an anti-static cleaning brush to wipe the area clean of dust particles. Place the fish face up onto the acrylic.

placing the fish on the acrylic

Step 3

Measure and cut your spacers. Cut the spacers for the long sides first, then measure for and cut spacers for the shorter sides. Use electrician’s pliers, Stanley knife, scissors or wire cutters to cut the spacers.

cut the spacers with pliers

Step 4

After the spacers have been cut, peel off the protective paper and attach them to the edge of the acrylic. Take note: the spacers have a shiny side and a matte side. We recommend placing the matte side facing inward if using a matte frame and placing the shiny side facing inward if using a shiny frame. For this project, we are stacking the spacers 3 high, so that the fish is not smashed by the two pieces of acrylic. Be sure that the frame you choose is deep enough for the spacers, artwork, and acrylic. Find measurements of all the frame rabbets and thicknesses of framing materials on our website.

stack the spacers on the acrylic

Once all the spacers have been stacked, you will have a faux shadow box.

stacking all the spacers creates a faux-shadow box

Step 5

Peel the protective paper backing off the remaining piece of acrylic. Again, clean the surface using an anti-static brush. Place the exposed face of the acrylic down onto the stack of spacers.

adding the top piece of acrylic

Step 6

Since the fish has a string attached to it, and we want it to hang from the top of the frame, we made sure to put the string on the outside of the frame stack. To keep it secure, we taped it to the spacers with a piece of linen tape and cut off the excess.

cut the access string from the fish

Step 7

Finally, remove the remaining protective paper backings from the front and back of the frame stack. You should now have all the paper removed.

remove the protective paper from the top of the acrylic

Step 8

Double check for any dust or debris on the acrylic. Clean as needed. Assemble three sides of the metal frame. Then, slide the stack into the track of the metal frame.

slide the artwork stack into the metal frame

Attach the remaining piece of the metal frame.

attach the final side of the metal frame

Step 9

Tighten the backing angles to secure the final side of the metal picture frame.

tighten the backing angles

Thats It!

And you’re done! The fish is now suspended between the two pieces of the acrylic and secured into the frame.

finished frame treatment on display

Have any questions about DIY frames? Leave a comment below!

AubreyK | 2/5/2014 9:00:00 AM | 4 comments
American Frame
Thanks for reading Deanna!
3/12/2015 7:47:53 AM

Deanna R. Jones
Thanks for the information! I've always wanted to learn how to create art using acrylic. The last time I tried to create art using acrylic, it didn't turn out very well. I suppose it's because I didn't use protective paper backings between my art and the acrylic. I'll be sure to do that next time. Thanks for posting!
3/11/2015 2:08:07 PM

American Frame

You can also frame children's art with frames or mats in fun, playful colors. Let them help pick the mats or frames for to help them feel included.
3/10/2014 8:25:02 AM

sara giresi
Wow! what a great idea! I have so many art projects from my kids that I didn't know how to frame!
3/8/2014 4:12:17 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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