Today, I’m going to show you how to make a changeable art gallery frame. A few years ago, I saw a frame similar to this one and fell in love with the idea, but was unwilling to spend $90-100 on it. So, I decide to make my own for a fraction of that ($15 or so, depending on what materials you have on hand). So, let me show you how!
Picture Frame, any size (but you will want the frame to be at least 1.5-2″ thick)
Plywood, 1/4″ thick (cut to the size of your picture frame)
2 Plywood shims, 1/4″ thick (1/2″ x 1″ each)
Caulk or glazing points
Bolt and Nut
First, find a frame that you want to use to make your changeable art gallery. You can re-purpose a frame that you already own, buy one that you love full price, or buy one on clearance at a craft store. I bought the frame below on clearance at Hobby Lobby for $6.
Next, remove the hardware and glazing points from the frame using a screw driver and needle nosed pliers to reveal the bare structure of the frame.
Now, lay your frame down on a piece of 1/4″ thick plywood (no thicker or the frame will be really heavy) and mark around the edge of your frame. Cut the wood to the size of the frame (or, if you’re me, wait for your husband to get home and have him cut it for you).
Next, screw your hinges into the top of your frame. It doesn’t matter how far the hinges are from the edge of the frame, as long as they are both the same distance (equidistant) from the outer top corners. (I will talk about those two little wood pieces attached to the other side of the hinges a few steps later…so, don’t worry about them for now.)
Then, super glue the magnet to the bottom of the frame in the center (check out the next two pictures for placement).
Your frame should look like the one below now (minus the caulk). Now, let’s talk through a few options. This frame does not need to have glass in it. If you decide to make your frame without glass, skip this step and proceed to the next one. If you decide to put glass in this frame, you’re going to need to affix it somehow, so that when you open and close the frame, the glass does not fall out. To do this, you can run a bead of caulk (any kind) between the edge of the glass and the edge of the frame (like I did below). Or, you can insert glazing points (which can be found at craft stores) into the edge of the frame along the glass using a flat-headed screw driver.
Next, screw the other side of your hinges into the plywood. Notice that I placed a small shim (about 1/4″ thick by 1″ wide by 1/2″ high) between the hinge and the plywood back. I did this because my screws were about 1/2″ long, so if I would have omitted the shim and just screwed them into the plywood…they would have went through the entire thickness of the board and stuck out the backside. You can cut these shims from the 1/4″ thick plywood you used to make the back of the frame.
Now, super glue the washer to the bottom of the plywood frame in the center. To get the washer to exactly line up with the magnet, I recommend closing the hinges, marking around the magnet with a pencil the best you can, and then super gluing the washer into the marks you’ve made. Alternatively, you can let the magnet “attract” the washer, super glue the backside of the washer very carefully while they are still attracted (if you’re too messy with the super glue here, you could get the wrong things glued together…you only want the glue to meet the washer and the plywood…NOT the magnet or the frame), and then close the hinges allowing the plywood to meet the super glued washer. I hope that was clear. Please feel free to ask questions if you have any.
Next, gather your D-ring, paper clip, nut and bolt. I have a washer here, too, but it’s not necessary.
Screw a hole (slightly smaller than the diameter of your bolt) into the top center of your frame. Make sure the hole is far enough down from the top of the frame so that the “D” part of your D-ring does not extend over the top edge of the frame. For my hardware, this meant that I placed the hole about 1.5″ down from the top edge of the frame and in the center (left to right).
On the backside of the frame, place the bolt through the hole in the D-ring and screw it into the hole you just made.
Tighten the bolt into the D-ring, so that your assembly looks something like this.
Now, move to the interior of the frame and place the paper clip on the back side of the bolt. Then, place the nut over the paper clip to hold it in place.
Tighten the nut onto the backside of the paper clip and bolt, so that your assembly looks something like this. The paperclip will hold the art on the inside of the frame in place.
Your finished changeable art gallery frame should look something like this! Go find a young, willing artist to fill it up for you!
Sadly, I bought most of the items for this project a few months ago (and am just now getting around to finishing the project!). So, I don’t have a detailed cost analysis this time. However, I do remember buying the hardware for about 10 changeable gallery frames and that the total was around $30 ($30/10=$3 in hardware per frame). The frame itself cost $6, as mentioned above. And, the plywood was $10 and easily enough for 10 frames ($10/10=$1 in plywood per frame). So, that brings my total to about $10 for this frame! The art gallery frame in the link above retailed for $90, so I just saved $80…and I was able to tailor the frame to my design and size preferences!