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the annoying framing saga of my new favorite artwork

    Months ago I spotted the most striking watercolor birthstone artwork in the Minted catalog. The collection caught my eye and I kept coming back to it trying to decide where I could put a print or two in our house.


    I really loved all of them, as a whole set, and walked around the house looking for a blank wall that could feature 12 gem prints. Turns out, our front guest bathroom had just the wall. Blank, white, ready for art.


    The people at Minted were so kind to send the prints to me and I agreed to frame them and hang them and share how fabulous they look with all of you fine blog readers.

    Well, as I mentioned, that was months ago. It has literally taken me months to get these things framed and hung and ready to share.

    So here’s how the saga went down:

    The prints are 11×11 square. I could have opted to have them framed from Minted, but I envisioned a modern, streamlined, super simple gold metal frame and they don’t offer that as an option.

    So I just figured I would have them framed myself.

    I took the art into a local frame shop on a day when they were having a big custom framing sale. I picked out the thinnest (and I’m assuming cheapest) metal frame. The sales lady measured and typed some details into her computer and spit out a number for the 12 frames and glass and back hanging things.

    You know what that quote was?


    And that was with a 40% discount.

    My mouth hung open and then I politely let her know that I’d be looking for another option.

    I mean, I’m not the cheapest person in the world and I realize nice things cost money. But a thin metal frame with some glass should not, in my humble opinion, cost over $100. Especially when I needed 12 of them. Good grief.


    So the search began. What I wanted was an 11×11 square gold thin metal frame. And as luck would have it, that does not exist in the world.

    I bought a few different frame options and wasn’t crazy about any of them.

    When I found a pack of 4 12×12 album frames from Walmart for $9, I figured I would give it a try. I ordered 3 sets and when they arrived, one was damaged. So I ordered another set. One of those was cracked, too, but at that point I had a few extras so I just tossed the broken ones and kept the good ones.

    The frames came in black and are the cheapest, most poorly made frames ever created. But at this point I was just wanting to get the project done, so I stuck with them. I thought about just keeping them black, but decided I really did want them gold and took them outside one day and sprayed them with my favorite gold spray paint.

    Once the frames were painted, I put the art in them. The frames are 12×12 and my art is 11×11 and the lady at the frame store told me I couldn’t have mats cut with that small of difference so I went the easy route and just mounted the art on off-white 12×12 scrapbook paper. It’s not ideal, but it looks fine.

    Are you bored with my story yet? I am. The whole thing was annoying.

    Anyway, I finally popped them into the frames (which was a saga in itself as two of them shattered) and hung them in a grid on the bathroom wall.


    I hung them in a tight grid with one inch in between each frame. Using a level and ruler, I marked where the nails should go and started tapping them in. It only took me 19 holes to hang 12 prints :)


    But after all the drama, they are on the wall and look beautiful. I seriously adore these prints. I love their simplicity and their detail and how they are organic and fancy at the same time.


    And the frames, while not perfect, work fine. From afar, they actually look like just what I had in mind.


    Here’s the moral of the story:

    1. If your eye is drawn to a specific piece of art, go for it.
    2. Thin metal frames from the frame shop are not cheap.
    3. Cheap frames from Walmart are inexpensive and also terribly engineered.
    4. Pushing through with this framing fiasco was worth it. The art looks great.

    Thanks for reading my story and letting me rant for a moment. To reward your perseverance in getting this far, how about a chance to win $250 from Minted?! One lucky ready will win $250 and three more will win $100.

    minted + jdc giveaway. 1 winner will receive $250 to Minted, 3 will win $100 each!


    Good luck!

    *** UPDATE ***

    The giveaway winners are:

    Emily S.
    Lindsay B.
    Erica W.
    Gwen L.
    Congrats, ladies!

    31 thoughts on “the annoying framing saga of my new favorite artwork”

    1. Hi Emily, I love these watercolors! I’ve been staring at them for weeks… were the Minted giveaway winners ever announced? I’m on pins and needles! :)

    2. i did laugh out loud Emily this could be one of my framing projects but how I admire your resilience to get this job done come hell or high water!! It’s a shame they are in the guest bathroom though where you have to physically go and look at them. I loved this story and you are an absolute star, the pictures are beautiful and look really good so well done ?

    3. Oh, I feel your pain. You have an idea, which seems pretty simple (like plain thin gold frames) and it turns out no such thing exists – or at least at a price you can justify! Then the hunt is on for Plan B, or C . So annoying that the options are at each end of the quality/price-point spectrum . That’s when being really creative is on your side – it’s easy to spend a fortune to get just what you want – harder to figure it out with supplies from Wallie World!

    4. Hi Emily, I loved your story and the fact that we are not alone in our framing dramas. Your effort was well worth it though – the artwork looks amazing. Well done! Kath x

    5. Project turned out fabulous! After waiting several years to frame some poster sized photos I had printed, I just realized IKEA no longer has their RIBBA poster size frames. UGH. I feel your pain! I adore square frames and your art looks perfect in them!!

    6. I LOVE these prints!! In fact, I own an original from the artist’s personal website. I have a lot of custom framing needs and definitely suggest checking out AmericanFrame next time. Here’s another little secret: Although I highly recommend their non-glare acrylic, if money is still an issue, you can skip it and have your local hardware store cut some glass to size for less.

    7. I think they look amazing Emily!! I know the exact frames you are talking about!! I have them all over my house! LOL They are very cheap, but look the part! I love that you spray painted them!! Job well done!!

    8. YEP, I agree with Tracy’s comment above, the project was worth the wait! I’ve noticed that once and awhile, a seemingly-easy project IS complicated, and then I am grateful that I THOUGHT it was going to be easy…or I wouldn’t have tackled it!

      The grouping of birthstone prints is so pretty and unique, and I am happy that you like it! That’s all that matters, after all, right?!?

      Thanks for a chance to win some MInted!

    9. Emily, the finished project is fabulous! I have “prints in waiting” around my home simply because finding a frame to fit them has proven to be the impossible. I have, just as you did, found inexpensive frames, painted them and used heavyweight scrapbook paper to mount them on for framing. For the most part I have been very satisfied with the outcome. As you said, from afar, one cannot tell the difference and how many people will come into your home and inspect your art and framing with a magnifying glass. I think much depends on the quality of the prints, and yours are impeccable. I’ve had some prints I really liked, but the quality of the paper was not so great and it looked not so great in my attempt to frame it. The wonderful, exacting care and order you took with hanging your prints makes them look absolutely gorgeous and professionally done!

    10. This is the story of my framing life! No, seriously. Michaels has thin frames like that but I always break them trying to change out art and they’re plastic, so paint doesn’t really stick at all. Ugh. It looks so beautiful though, I’m glad you stuck it out. :)

    11. The finished product looks beautiful! A 12″ x 12″ frame is often advertised as a record frame. IKEA sells one with a thin frame. Perhaps it’s better quality than the Walmart frames? I use to live in Seattle 10 years ago and there was a self framing store in Ballard. You would buy the pieces from them, but put the frame together yourself. It was more expensive than a Walmart frame, but certainly cheaper than going to a framing store.

    12. Oh my gosh Emily. I cannot tell you how many times this sort of scenario has played out in my life. It’s shelves, it’s bins of some sort, it’s whatever, but it is SUPPOSED to be quick, easy, and super cute. But it’s not. I go from store to store wondering why no designer has ever thought about this perfect little something that I have in my mind–how could it not exist (or be affordable enough to exist in my home)? The WORST part is that about a year after I have traversed town and internet to no avail I see it at target! Like some designer read my mind A YEAR AGO and finally got it out on the market. So I suppose we should all be thanking you for the perfect, thin, inexpensive, gold frames that are going to be flooding the market in mere months :). Yours look fantastic. Also, not that they have those perfect frames, but decades ago a friend introduced me to and they are pretty amazing. Albeit kind of tricky b/c you can’t actually see your art in them, but if you know what you want they seem to be about half the price of michaels and such and they have a wide variety. The metal frames usually come unassembled but they are a piece of cake to assemble. And they come in any custom dimension you want–you order by the fraction of any inch. You can upload artwork and “see” how it looks, buy a custom mat, etc if so desired. I know the mat color I like, so I go with that, but again–tricky to order a mat color from a computer screen. Oh, and I always get the plexiglass instead of glass–that is what they use in museums so I figure it is good enough for me :). Anyway, worth checking out…next time. :) Happy long weekend!

    13. Looks great, Emily! Thanks for sharing! As I read this, I kept on wondering if you found the same solution as I did – and you did! Yes, the Walmart frames are junky and, yes, the process is a pain, but it is certainly an acceptable price point! You are, however, farther along than I am. The scrapbook paper was not laying flat, so I have to trim it a bit and the project is on pause.

    14. Hi Emily :)
      Thank you for sharing your framing saga with us, it is a journey I can sadly relate to as I have taken that same path more times than I care to recall(shudder).
      I enjoy making needlework projects and have found that professional framing is outrageously expensive and have resorted to many different framing/finishing options depending on the size of the piece.
      Your endeavor came out enviable beautiful!
      Thank you for all inspiring posts :) I wil continue to fight for creative satisfaction :)

    15. I love how your project turned out! enjoyed the story too:) a friend of mine got me started using the command hooks for hanging all projects. love them!! saves me the pain of nails and extra holes:)

    16. I absolutely LOVE these…and you did an amazing job!! I can’t believe people want so much for custom frames! It looks stunning :)

    17. can you tell me exactly what info I can enter to find those frames? I know you had bad luck, but I need 6 and those are just what I want. I’m not finding 4 packs online. Thanks. I absolutely love the look. You done good!

      1. I was about to comment and ask the same question and I finally tracked them down. Search for “format frames” and they should pop up!

    18. I found out once that the big box stores sub out their framing to local shops a lot (which is weird, it LOOKS like they do it in house). If you skip the middle man and go straight to a local hole-in-the-wall shop, it will be much less! Source: the local shop guy who worked for big box store told me.

    19. Hi Emily!
      the project was worth the wait, it looks wonderful. Good for you for figuring out a better way!
      would you mind sharing the paint color in the bathroom, it looks like what I have been looking for.
      Thanks for all the inspiration,

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