January 9, 2014

DIY Foam Frames of Awesomeness

I am so excited to show you this project - honestly when I started I wasn't sure it'd turn out that great, but wowza, I amazed myself!  Can you guess what these frames are made out of??

I made them out of Foam Core Boards - really!  Inexpensive, regular foam board.  And it's one of those projects that looks even better in real life - it's hard to see the faux texture in pictures.

Want to make some? Of course you do!  Let me give you the run down....

First you're going to want to trace or freehand (I trace - I can't draw!) a frame.  I used a frame from my wall, plus a template of a frame I found on my Silhouette software, plus just a few straight shapes (square, long rectangle, etc).  Just draw what you want:

I was nervous to work with foam board because I can never get nice edges and I wouldn't even think about curves.  But then a thought came to me to try using a hot knife - so I ran out and grabbed one from the store - this is what I bought:
I tested it on some scraps and wowza, it was AMAZING!  Hot knife through butter - where has it been all my life?!  And I was able to work around curves and everything.  The key is to just move slowly and let the knife melt through the foam instead of trying to push hard and force it through.  I felt so professional using a heat tool - -

For the curvy edges, I picked up the board and moved around my lines.  For the straight edges, I put it on a flat surface and ran the hot knife right along the edge of a metal ruler.  I used my cutting board to make sure my lines were straight and square.

To give it a little more depth and feeling of real wood, I tried to angle the knife, kind of like you would see a routered edge on wood.  You can kind of get a glimpse of that in the picture below (the edge on the right of the picture has been angled and the edge on the left-ish side of the picture hasn't been yet) -

There might be ridges from your cuts, and you can simple sand those down with sandpaper:

Part of what makes these awesome is the layered feature - each frame is actually two frames I made separately then glued together - -
I think the layers really take the project up a notch:

So, now you've got your frame, but it still looks like you cut it out of foam core.  To solve that problem, I added texture to it - again, really taking it up a notch.  I used the stucco stuff I happened to have on hand, and just brushed it on haphazardly -
Here's what it looked like after it dried:

I think the texture also helped the paint color adhere to the board.  I watered the paint down just a little with antique glaze, but I'm not sure I could tell that I did in the end.
A couple coats of paint (some only took one coat - depended on the color) and let them dry.  That's it!  Here's a couple up-close:

I am a part of the Elmer's Craft It! Crew, and so I made these for them to display in their booth at CHA.  It makes me feel half-famous - a craft of mine on display at the Craft and Hobby Association Convention - so cool!  If any one of you happens to go to CHA, visit their booth and let me know how they looked with all the other stuff.

Can you picture these frames in your house??  You could do a whole frame wall in bright colors in a playroom.  Or you could use more subtle grays with a small pop of color in a bedroom.  The possibilities are endless with these - and they're so affordable, especially compared to buying large frames (the pink one below is pretty big - it was basically the whole foam board).  I know I'll be making more in my future!  You can make these - give it a try!


About Author:

Mandy is a craft blogger who loves to blog and enjoys all things crafty, sewing, and DIY - she feels that if she can do something, you can too, and provides tutorials to help you along the way. She loves being a mom to 4 awesome kiddos and blogs from the Kansas City Area. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or Google +

42 Fabulous Comments:

Those are so cute! I would have never thought to use foam board - so creative.

That is one off the smartest ideas I've come across. I plan on trying this. Thanks!

that turned out so cool! very great!

These are so cool! I really need to make some of these for my daughters room!

You are awesome, what a great idea Mandy!! LOVE!!

These are awesome! I've been looking for 8x10 frames to use in my office to spell the word "counselor". These will be great!

Love these! I actually tried a similar project, but didn't have the hot knife. I struggled to get good cuts with a regular cutting blade. I may have to try it again now!

I remember cutting foam board with a hot knife once when I was working on one of my high school homecoming floats. That was years ago, but I can still remember how awesome it was! Great tutorial! I love the frames.

These look really cute but how do you make it work as a frame? Did you use a piece of foam as a backing?

I love to hang empty frames on the walls, etc, so I didn't need a back. But yes, if I were putting in a picture I would use a piece of foam board as backing and probably duct tape it on instead of glue so that I could take it on and off

I have been looking for a BIG frame that was kinda fancy to put around the hideously ugly whiteboard calendar in my office (NOT my home office, or that white board calendar would have been gone long ago).... I can't believe I didn't think of making one like this!! I think I may even be able to make it to cover up the plastic edges on the white board? If it works as fantastically as I think it will (famous last words!), I will send you a picture. THANK YOU for the amazing idea!

A hot knife- that's the secret! I have tried lots of different ways to cut foam core before. Thanks so much for figuring it out for me! The frames look awesome1

You've got to be kidding me!! I've been trying to cut foam core board forever and it comes out horrible with ragged edges and ripped paper. All I needed all this time was just a hot knife? I didn't even know a hot knife existed. OKAY! LADIES, start your engines. I already know what I'm going to do with it. YAY!!! Won't you come and link up to my party also? Linda

Hi Mandy, saw this at Think Pink Sunday. FREAKING GENIUS, seriously, you are amazing. This is so cool, I can't wait to try it and save myself a lot of money on frames too. Thanks for sharing :)

So awesome Mandy!! I love that you thought to use the hot knife, great idea!

These are amazing! I would never know they weren't actual wooden frames!

I'm one of the hosts over at the Awesome Things Tuesday blog hop! Feel free to check out other projects and link up yours while you're at it! We'd love to have you!


This is such a good idea!
I love the shapes you chose and the bright colours

Mandy, I love this idea - it is so ingenious. I have painted foam core in the past and it has warped... what do you suggest? Cathy

Hmm, mine hasn't warped yet, but that was a concern I had - I think it helped that the frames are double-layered, so they're less likely to bend. Also less is more when painting - I think if they get too wet that might cause warping too.

I love the vibrant colors! Fantastic tutorial - I'll have to share this!

What an amazing idea! Love this!

this idea is genius! You did a great job, Mandy. Was wondering how much is the hot knife and where's the cheapest place to buy one, please?

Hey Paula - - I can't remember for sure, maybe $10 or $12? and then I used my 40% coupon to get a better deal. I grabbed mine at Michaels.

awesome DIY! Would never had thought of it!

That's a really unique idea! Especially if you have a frame/size in mind but can't find it. You can just make your own :)

These look great! I'm always looking for frames for oddly shaped prints I have, and never would have thought to do this. I'm going to feature this in my weekly wrap-up on my design blog (violetgreens.com).

I just had to pin this! Loved it!

Really cute frames. Thanks for sharing:)

Stopping by from SITS. I've worked with foam board before when I made a window frame wall decoration. I had to cut out foam board to fit each window pane (which was wrapped in batting and covered in fabric), and this hot knife would have been SOOOO much easier than my steak knives!!! Haha. Great ideas and good job!! I was thinking to make things pop even more, you could even paint each frame a different color before gluing them together for dual colors. :-) Awesomeness.

I love using foam board for photo booth props, and I usually just use a box cutter type razor, but a hot knife? Well, duh - why didn't I think of that?

Oh my gosh, this is AWESOME. I need to reframe so many pictures and am going to try this....!

Great Visual Post... I have a few nice pictures that I would like to do a frame, to try how it turns out. I will pin this because I'm really interested in doing this project.

WOW I thought these were wooden frames! You did amazing!

Will use this for my students art work for the end of the year art show! Way cool....

These are so cool. I'm always eyeing those curvy frames at Hobby Lobby. Who knew I could make them out of foam core. i'm assuming you can find a hot knife at the craft store, right?

This is just what I have been looking for. I got a fab calendar for Christmas with the most amazing pictures and I needed a frame for some of them and this is it.
Thank you so much for sharing. These frames are wonderful

These are so great! I've been looking for some bright colored frames for my bathroom and doing something like this will be perfect! Thank you!

How fun are these?! Love them!! And I totally never thought about using a hot knife on these. I HATE cutting these boards and we totally have one of those hot knives. I am going to have to pull it out next time I cut it.

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