Do-it-yourself picture framing

Gallery Framed Art for Only Dollars!

by Jennie von Eggers

Anyone who has ever paid for a print or photograph to be professionally framed knows all too well that this luxury comes at a high cost. I learned this lesson first hand many years ago.

Wanting to give my husband (a chef by trade) a birthday surprise, I purchased an inexpensive print of a popular chef artist from an Internet auction site. I won the bid for around $10 and was thrilled about how much money I was going to save on his birthday present. My savings were, so I thought, even better since I also had a coupon from a well-known craft store that also had a framing gallery. With my 40% off coupon and print in hand, I went to the framing department excited to get my print clothed in a beautiful frame. After picking out the perfect matching matte and the most complimentary frame, I plopped my coupon on the counter and was ready to buy. My excitement soon turned into the worse case of "sticker shock" I have ever experienced when the sales clerk informed me that it would cost $278 plus tax. My head was spinning from confusion and disbelief. Surely there must have been some mistake! I calmly asked what the price would be when he took the 40% off. He assured me that the price quoted was with the 40% off! Being young and inexperienced with how to handle "sticker shock," I paid and walked out of the store with a huge case of "buyers remorse." The framed picture turned out beautifully and hangs proudly on our wall as a focal point of our living room to this day.

Needless to say, I have never had anything framed since that time. However, my house is full of gallery framed pictures for which I only paid a few dollars. What's my secret? I let others pay the expensive framing costs and I supply the picture. This is possible through yard sales, second hand stores and even clearance priced pictures at your local furniture store. There is an abundance of these "treasures" waiting to be found because far too many people throw out the "baby with the bathwater" or, in this case, throw the picture out with the frame. Take a look at your local thrift shop. Often times, you can find these hidden treasures of expensive framed art, sitting there inconspicuous and unappreciated just because it happens to be displaying an ugly picture. You can get prints for around $10 to $20 that will look fabulous in a used quality frame. With nothing more to supply than a print or photograph, some duct tape, a screw driver and glass cleaner, that used picture frame can have an extreme make-over in just minutes for only dollars.

Tips to a framed picture make-over:

  • Carefully disassemble back using a screwdriver for screws and to ply up any staples.
  • Clean up dirty glass on both sides with glass cleaner making sure not to leave fingerprints on inside glass.
  • If matte is dirty or a distasteful color, try painting it or covering with fabric for a unique look. Fabric can be tacked to back of matte with a glue gun.
  • Position the picture where you want it and secure to back of matte with duct tape.
  • Reassemble picture using staples or duct tape to secure cardboard backing to the frame.

Jennie von Eggers is a homeschool mom to four children and co-author of Times Tales (

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