Framed! Conjuring the Ingredients for a Victorian Gallery Wall
If you’re anything like me, you don’t feel truly at home without at least two pairs of eyes belonging to some iteration of Dracula watching over you at any given time. This begets the question, “How do I go about artfully displaying my Hammer posters and/or numerous bat prints?” Rather than stick them directly to the wall or use poster holders, I like to go the route of framing. Why not give Vlad the shrine he deserves?
While taking your posters and prints to a framer is one method of going about this, a professional frame job can be both very costly and limiting in terms style. This is why I prefer DIY. Not only is it cheaper, you’ll have much greater freedom in terms of frame and mat selection, thus giving your lair a unique touch.
Basic Matting: Approximately one episode of Bates Motel per frame.
Matting with Embellishment: Closer to the duration of Psycho (1960).
- Ruler – Personally, I prefer an 18” drafting ruler since it makes it way easier make sure your angles are squared.
- Scissors – Self-explanatory.
- Pencil – Ditto.
- A Flat-Headed Tool – I’ve had good luck with a flat-headed screwdriver. This is going to be your tool for bending the metal bits that hold the frame backing in place.
- A Flat Work Surface Free of Cats – Cat help is, unequivocally, the worst help.
- Box Cutter – It’s easier to start cutting the inner square if you can puncture it with a box cutter, but a scissor blade will also do.
- Tape – Sometimes you’re trying to hold things down and you straight-up run out of hands. We’re all mortal. It happens.
- Frame – You can usually find frames at your local craft store. I tend to hit up Amazon since I’m into the kookier, more ornate frames you’d expect to find in a Victorian picture gallery. If your print happens to be an odd size it is sometimes cheaper to scale up and go with a larger frame with more regular dimensions. Don’t worry about the dead space; you’re going to be covering it with a mat. Also, you’re also going to want to take note of the frame’s mounting hardware. Many larger frames require a drill.
- Craft Paper – This is going to be your matting material, and your horizons are very broad. I often use wrapping paper. I’ve had great luck with discounted CVS Christmas wrap (when taken out of context, red foil is merely red foil), or, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll acquire some of the higher-end stuff from stationery stores. If you’re doing multiple projects, double-sided wrap is a solid path to consider. And I’ve found that in rooms with lower light those glitter-embellished papers pop nicely, even though they shed profusely when you’re actively handling them. The bonus to using wrapping paper is that, for the foreseeable future, you’re going to be ultra-prepared for any gift-giving occasion. (PRO TIP: Reserve the remaining glittery paper for any gifts requiring a light dusting of passive aggression.) *Editor’s note: Unless a paper is labeled as acid-free, it could potentially damage or discolor your prints long-term. If you aren’t worried about that, virtually any paper will work fine. If you’re framing a prized or expensive print, consider upgrading to acid-free card stock.
- Embellishments – You may choose to go beyond the mat and give your print additional pop. As long as it’s a material that can be pressed flat and won’t damage your print, you’re good to go!
Step One: Flattening
If you’re starting out with a print that has been rolled up you’re going to want to flatten it for at least a day before starting this project, otherwise it’s going to be like wrestling a small yet plucky Kraken. The best way to flatten the print is to put the print in the frame.
The blood is the life, ergo it’s in your best interest to be careful during this next bit. Many frames have little metal tabs along the back that you bend to release the cardboard backing. Use your flat-headed screwdriver to gently pry them. Once you have your print in place, you only need to bend one tab per side to hold everything together for now.
Step Two: Measuring
Remove the print from the frame and lay it flat. Measure from the edge of the print to the edge of the area you want visible as exactly as possible. If you’re working with a frame that’s larger than your print, tape your print to the center of the backing and measure from the edge of the backing to the edge of the area you want visible. It’s important to do all four sides since sometimes prints are not centered, and you don’t want to get to the end only to find you were off by an eighth of an inch. Note your measurements.
Step Three: Drafting
Roll out your paper on your flat, cat-free workspace. Measure and mark a box equal to the size of the whole print. Make sure your angles are squared! Then, using the measurements you took earlier, measure in from each side to mark the lines for your inner box.
Step Four: Cutting
Cut around your outer edges and then, finally, without tearing the paper or yourself, cut out your inner box. Congrats! You have your mat! And all your blood!
Step Five: Setting
Lay your newly cut, non-bloodstained mat face-down against the glass in the frame. Then lay your print face-down on top of it and the backing down on the print. Bend one tab per side. Marvel at your print in your frame. Make any adjustments. If all looks good, bend the rest of the tabs and you’re done! Unless…
“If It Doesn’t Gel, It Isn’t Aspic…Something’s Missing.”
If you’re a hoarder of scraps, then here’s where you triumph over the naysayers. Ribbon makes for a great, simple contrast border, as does additional paper (or the flip side of your double-sided wrap). Or maybe you want to incorporate feathers or Russian net. Or perhaps the frame itself doesn’t quite pop and you want to wrangle the craft paint or the metallic Sharpie. Go nuts!
Voila! Place Vlad somewhere prominent so he can artfully menace visitors to your Gothic home!
All images via E.K. Leimkuhler.