Fixing the Collage Frame

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

I made these collage frames a few years ago for the home office.  They have not stood the test of time.

I used wire and hot glue.  Slowly, some of the wire broke away from the hot glue and I was left with this:

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Being the lazy person I am, I left it like this for at least a year.  Maybe two.  I finally got a bee in my bonnet a couple of weeks ago and took them all apart and put them back together again.

I swapped the wire for twine.  I modeled the new frames after a Christmas card holder my talented sister-in-law made for me.  Starting at the top, I wound the twine around the outside of the frame.  This method leaves some unused rows of twine in the back of the frame.  I thought it was neat and added some visual interest.

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

This redo wasn’t without disaster.  I was halfway through the first one and realized I wasn’t winding tight enough.  If I added the pictures, they’d just drag down the twine.  Do over.  Naturally, the second time I wound it as tight as I could.  I forgot I was using cheapo Ikea frames.  Putting that much pressure on the frame almost broke it.  Do over.  The third time, I kept it at medium tightness and it worked!

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Some of the photos have faded a bit.  I picked out some new ones to bump up the color and display more recent stuff.

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

All done!  After this tuneup, I hope it holds up for another couple years!

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

The Modern Collage Frame

Photo Art Frame

Consider the collage frame of yore.  I’m talking about frames like this – giant frames with multiple openings where you stick pictures of all your friends and family.

Meet my version of the collage frame.  It’s visually interesting, has room for a ton of pictures and the pictures themselves are easily swapped out!

I came up with this idea for my uninspired, undecorated office.  It’s pretty funny because I do some of my most crafty work in there.  I needed a “statement” piece for the big wall that didn’t darken the room since the room doesn’t get much sun.

The idea was inspired by this.  I loved how lots of little pictures worked in the display and I adapted it to use supplies I already had.

How to Make a Modern, Interchangeable Collage Frame

Supplies:

  • Picture frame(s), guts removed
  • Wire
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pliers
  • Mini clothespins
  • Lots of little pictures

Quantities needed will vary depending on size of frame(s) and how large you want the pictures to be.

Step One: Prepare frame(s)

I used three 20×30-inch Ikea poster frames that I had leftover from our move.  They were already spray painted black.  All I had to do was remove the insides and clean them.

Old Ikea poster frames.

Step Two: Picture Size and Quantity

I printed draft pictures of various sizes to see how they would look in the frames.  I settled on 2.75 inches wide by 1.85 inches tall, 5 pictures per row.  Laying them out, 7 rows would fit nicely.  That meant 35 pictures per frame or 105 pictures total.

Step Three: Select, Print and Cut Pictures

I went through my entire 22,000 picture collection and tried to keep an even balance between scenery and people.  I also tried to feature at least one picture from each trip we’ve taken.  Since I love weddings, there are lots of pictures of friends getting married.  If I’ve been to your wedding, there’s probably a picture of you cutting your wedding cake on my wall.

Proportion Matters: crop all pictures so they are a proportionate size before you size and print them.  Not all cameras take pictures in the same proportion of length and height.  I used Picasa to crop all the pictures to the same 4×6″ proportion.  Then I laid them out in an MS Word document and resized them to X for printing.

Next, print, print away!  This is why I love my photo printer.

I cut each of the pictures with a 1/8-inch white border.

Mini photos for wall art.

Step Four: Practice Hanging the Frames

Yes, decide where you want these frames to go and practice hanging them before you add the wire and pictures.  It is much easier to move the frames around the wall and get them just right when they are empty.

Practice hanging frames.

Step Five: Measure and Attach the Wire

I used 20 gauge wire from Michael’s.  Glue the wire onto the area where the glass would normally rest – this way it won’t be seen.  I started with a big glob of hot glue on one side.  Be patient and let the glue dry.  If you try to stretch the wire across the frame before the glue is fully dry it won’t work.

Stretch the wire across the frame,  hold it in place with pliers, and glue it on the other side.

Note: Hot glue worked for me, although it was a bit finicky.  I’m not sure how it will work if you live in a hotter or more humid climate.

Gluing wire to frame.

Step Six: Attach Pictures, Hang and Enjoy!

Using the mini clothespins, I clipped the pictures to the wire.  I spaced out scenery and people and put some of my favorites near the bottom so I could see them when I was sitting at my desk.

Attach pictures to frame.

The best part about this is that the pictures are easily interchangeable!  You don’t have to take the whole frame down and open it up just to change one picture.

Finally.  Office wall, meet personality.

Photo wall art.