Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Gypsy Love Song- Framed

I shared a photo of a framed player piano roll in a recent post, and I wanted to share details today on how I went about framing it.  Like I've said before, I had a custom frame shop inside the gallery, so it was easy for me to get the frame.  Frames are available online, and most every city has a local frame shop...just look around. If you are really lucky, maybe there's a frame to be found in your thrift shop or at local yard sales.  If you ever do see a shadowbox type frame that already has something in it, think about taking it apart, even painting it, and putting something new inside.  

In case you missed it, or haven't followed the link above, here is the picture that I shared-

The paper piano roll was in pretty good shape, and the print on this one is extra pretty!  Most are not this fancy, and when I saw the title of the song, my heart skipped a beat!   Gypsy Love Song-  I love gypsy style anything and everything, and even have a Pinterest board dedicated to Gypsies!  Go see here-

Framing Instructions-
*Sources for tools are listed at the end of the post.

You will need to first design the project.  

I picked out a lavender mat board, but any color of your choice would work with the neutral color of the paper.  The shadowbox needs to be deep enough to accommodate the roll without the paper touching the glass.  This is the molding that I used- 5971 with extender.

Shadow Boxes, Stackables, Extenders, and Rabbet Cuts

If you don't feel confident enough in your framing skills to do it yourself, your frame shop will help you with everything, to include the design of the job.  You can also do parts of the job...you could order the frame already assembled, or order it assembled with the glass cut to fit...Most frame shops will work with you.  If you have a Hobby Lobby or Michael's, look in the Sunday newspaper for a coupon, or go online to their websites for a weekly coupons.

First, cut the back mat board to size.  This will need to be measured directly off the frame opening.  Most frame shops add an allowance to the measurements, so you will need to double check to get the size right.  Go ahead and cut the foam core backing to the same size.

Now, position the roll where you want it to be and using an awl or some tool to make holes, punch holes (two on each side) through the mat board.  Keep the holes as small as possible, to keep things pretty. Using fishing line, loop the line around the wood end of the roll and tie it through the mat board, knotting on the back to secure.  Now, for added assurance, I always tape over the knot on the back.  Tie both sides in place and then do the same with the bottom, pointed part of the paper roll.

Once the glass has been cleaned and is in place, you will need to build up the sides to cover the inside of the wood frame.  You could also paint it instead of using mat board for the sides. Some shadow box frames come already painted on the inside, in which case you can totally skip this step.  Measure the depth of the remainder of the frame, after the glass is in place. Now, subtract the depth of your foam core backing (1/4") and mat board (1/16").   This will probably look something like this:

Frame:          4.00"
Glass:         -   1/8"
Foam:         -   1/4"
Mat board   - 1/16"
Total          3  9/16"

The materials (glass, foam, mat) in this example added together come to 7/16", so subtract this from the depth of the frame (4") to get your measurement for the side mat board strips. 

So, your side strips of mat board should be cut at this depth (3  9/16) and whatever length the sides of the frame measure.  You will need four strips, and if the frame is square, these four strips will all be the same size.  If it is rectangular, you will need two strips of one size and two of another.  Now, using double stick adhesive, you should put plenty on the back of each strip and stick them in place.  You will stick the first two across from one another, then the next two will have to be trimmed to fit perfectly.  Just put them in and trim to fit before putting on the adhesive.  Then, stick them in.  Press firmly in place.  You should be able to now lay in the back with the roll attached and it should fit nice and flat, up against the side strips of mat board.  

There is a special tool that we use at frame shops to attach everything once it's all together in the frame (see source at the end of the post), but a DIYer could use small nails, or glass points if you don't want to make this purchase.  After the mat board with the roll attached is inserted into the frame, back it with the foam core and nail or fix into place. For a professional look, finish the back with brown kraft paper.  Paper can be attached by putting the double stick tape around the outside back of the frame, and then pressing the paper into place. Trim excess paper away with razor blade or exacto knife, being careful not to cut into the side of the frame.   Add a wire hanger.  Measure approximately 1/3 of the way down from top to bottom and mark with a pencil.  Put screw eyes where marked, and then put the wire through the screw eyes.  It is now ready to hang.

If you need to find a piano roll, just go to Ebay- There are many.  Keywords should be "player piano roll", or if you are looking for a certain song, use those keywords.  Make sure to get a pic of what the roll looks like partially unrolled, as some are plain and not pretty at all.  

I hope this has inspired you to create your own "artwork" from a discarded player piano roll.  I appreciate you spending a few minutes with me today, and would love it if you followed along with all of my fun!  You can follow by e-mail...just scroll all the way down and there should be a space at the bottom of this page.  


ATG 700 Tape Dispenser
Available at Dick Blick here
Dual Drive Elite Point Driver
Available here.

Check out the extensive array of framing supplies available at Dick Blick.

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  1. great tutorial, I've framed out lots of prints in the past, and it's rewarding, but takes a lot of patience and diligence. love that wonderful player piece, I've not seen any that detailed or embellished. beautiful!

    1. Thank you Debra. It was a special find...just so decorative. I appreciate you taking time to drop in and comment!