Lucite (or generically known as acrylic) is a gorgeous, contemporary medium used for many items in home décor today – from coffee tables to cribs to utensils. The clear plastic-y material is visually lightweight, making its presence inherently understated but also chic. Lucite pieces can be expensive, however, so if you like the look but don’t have the cash to put toward Lucite, this is a wonderful DIY idea for you! Photo, or art, double frames with brass fasteners mimic the luxe look without breaking the bank.
This project isn’t hard, per se, but it does take some patience and the proper technique.
DIY Level: Intermediate
- Photo or piece of art to be framed
- Two (2) pieces of acrylic sheeting cut to size 4” larger than the photo to be framed
- Eight (8) #10 1/2″ round slotted brass machine screws
- Eight (8) #10 brass hex nuts
- Photo hanging wire or heavy duty fishing line
- Square ruler, clamps, pliers, large nail, candle, drill (not shown)
Project Prep: Decide on the photo or piece of art you want to frame, then measure it. (Tip: This tutorial shows two 24” square photos printed out as engineer prints at Staples. At about $4 apiece, this is a fabulously inexpensive way to customize your piece.)
At your local hardware store, in the plastic sheeting section, you’ll find various sizes of plastic sheeting. Choose the piece(s) that most closely matches 4” larger than the photo you’re framing, then have them cut to size. (For example, the photos used here are 24” square, so the plastic sheeting I chose to have cut was 28”x30”, I think.) You’ll want two identical pieces per photo frame.
Start by measuring and marking 1-1/2” in from each corner on one of the acrylic sheets. Make these marks on the removable protective plastic covers on your acrylic sheets.
Also mark 1-1/2” in at the halfway point on each side.
Carefully stack up your acrylic sheets, being precise in lining up the corners. (Tip: Four sheets are shown here; do not stack more than four.) Keep the marked acrylic sheet on top.
Taking care that the corners are lined up exactly, clamp the corner near the first mark.
Aligning corners as you go and adjusting as necessary, clamp the rest of the corners. Tip: Clamp diagonal corners first and second, then the other two diagonal corners third and last. This helps to keep the acrylic sheets from any shifting.
Several tutorials recommend melting holes in the acrylic sheets for your brass fasteners; others recommend drilling. I have done both, and I recommend a combination of the two – melt a little, then drill. To do this, tightly grasp a large nail with pliers and hold it over a heat source, such as a candle flame. Let the tip get hot.
Quickly yet very carefully, push the hot nail tip into the clamped acrylic sheets at a point you’ve marked. Push down as far as you want, but don’t worry about going all the way through. The idea here is to give your drill a good starting point to drill through the other layers.
Using a drill bit that is the size of your brass screws (or ever so slightly larger), slowly begin drilling at the melting point in the acrylic sheet. (The melting point helps the drill bit stay in place on the smooth acrylic surface.) You want to use effort but not force, because the acrylic sheets will crack if you try to go too hard and too fast. Repeat this melt-and-drill technique for all eight holes. Be careful with the drilling so there are no cracks!
Pull one side of protective plastic off one acrylic sheet. This uncovered surface will be inside your frame. Leave the protective plastic on the other side of this sheet for now.
Using needlenose pliers, gently clean up the holes of any melted or stuck acrylic bits.
Wipe off all acrylic shards from your sheet. Remember, this surface will be sandwiched, so you won’t be able to get to it later.
Center your photo on the acrylic sheet.
Take care to keep your hands and the acrylic sheet surface clean and dry as you’re doing this.
Now pull off both sides of the protective plastic on the second acrylic sheet. Remove shards with your needlenose pliers and wipe the inside surface with a clean, dry cloth. Align the holes of this acrylic sheet with your first one, and lay it on top, being careful not to shift your now-sandwiched photo.
Take a brass screw and push or screw it into the first hole.
Screw the nut onto the screw, securing the two acrylic sheets together.
You’ll want to tighten the nut to fit snugly (use a screwdriver and pliers) but DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. Too much pressure may cause your acrylic sheet(s) to crack. Do this for all eight of the holes, but don’t tighten the two side holes. These will be for your hanging wire/line.
I chose to use fishing line due to its transparency; a small amount of your hanging line will be seen on either side of your photo. To start, tie a 1” loop at the end of your fishing line. Hook this onto one of the side screws, between the nut and the back acrylic sheet.
Wrap the fishing line back and forth between the two side screws about ten times. You’ll want to keep the line taut but don’t pull it too tight, or your frame will bow and bend when you go to hang it.
After the tenth (or so) pass, tie another loop in the end of your fishing line and hook it onto the screw under the nut.
Carefully tighten the two side nuts now, if you need to. This should cinch down and secure your fishing line.
Congratulations! You’re ready to hang!
Don’t you just love the crisp, contemporary feel of a two-planed frame? The floating effect is so on point.
And the small brass details really give it a modern vibe.
We hope you enjoy making your own DIY faux acylic photo frames! Such a professional-looking way to frame large art or photos, and it adds so much personality to a space.