22 March 2003
Materials: Two sheets of cut plexiglass, 8 washers, 4 wingnuts, and 4 bolts per poster; an electric drill; a permanent marker; a measuring tape and ruler; hanging wire; picture mounts; adhesive mounting squares; Windex; several large binder clips or equivalent; and a vacuum.
Time: 2 hours, including cleanup.
Approximate Cost: About $33 per medium-sized frame → $30 plexiglass, $3 hardware.
College left me with a bunch of irregularly-shaped posters which I liked enough to take along to my next apartment, but not enough to tack up on the wall in all their battered glory. While I didn’t have enough money to get them professionally framed, I also didn’t want to stick them into those disposable $25 frames that you can find at discount stores. Inspiration struck at the bottom of an article on framing alternatives at Digs Magazine.
First, measure the dimensions of your work-to-be-framed. Write the numbers down. Then add at least four inches to each measurement, cross out your former numbers, and write the +4″ dimensions even larger. Unless you plan on drilling through the poster itself, you’ll want a nice clear border around the outside; but more importantly, the plexiglass will crack if you try to drill it too close to the edge.
Visit your favorite home-improvement center and round up an employee to cut the glass to your specified measurements. It won’t cost you any extra, and most stores have a cool slice-and-dice machine for this express purpose. Be sure to keep a few of the resulting pieces of surplus material to practice your drilling technique, and don’t remove the plastic coating on the glass — you’ll want to mark on it later. And while you’re there, make sure you have access to the above ingredients. (If you don’t own a power drill, though, you probably know half a dozen people who do.)
Once you’ve brought all of the necessary pieces back to your work area, place the two sheets of plexiglass on top of each other and hold them in place with the clips, making sure that they’re even. Then use your favorite measuring implement and a permanent marker to mark an X at each corner at least an inch from the edge for your drilling points. (Yes, I’m being empthatic about the edge thing for a reason.)
Next, clip together two scrap pieces of glass and practice your drilling technique. It’s easy to crack the surface by going too fast. Think finesse. Once you’re ready for the real deal, carefully drill the holes that you’ve marked on the top of the stacked sheets. You’ll want to check the tip of your drill bit periodically to make sure that it’s not dulled by nubs of caked-on plexiglass shavings, like ours was.
Peel off the plastic, Windex the surface, and use a level or a ruler to center your poster in the middle of the bottom sheet of glass. Attach it with bits of removable poster adhesive.
Once you’ve attached the poster, sandwich it between the plexiglass and screw the sheets together through the new holes with a nut-washer-glass-washer-bolt combination. Now you can attach some wire for hanging around the top two fasteners. At this juncture, you’ll probably also want to vacuum the curls of shredded plexiglass stuff off the floor.
Find a strong, stable stud — human or foundational — on which to hang your art. The finished product will most likely be surprisingly heavy, and bound to bring down some drywall if you don’t attach it to something appropriately secure.
Step back and enjoy yourself some art!
The nice thing about these frames is that you can switch out similarly-sized posters as often as you like without having to worry about the dimensions being exactly right for the size of the frame. Although we have lease-mandated white walls, these frames would probably look pretty sweet against a painted surface — or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, you could always découpage a mock-mat around the inner border.