How to Make a Paperback Picture Frame

26 Mar 2009

This little project was born on a recent trip to the Goodwill Outlet, locally known as The Bins. I stumbled onto a huge pile of paperback books with nice, lurid covers, and thought they'd make great picture frames.

Here's a view of the inside:

So, here's how to whip one up:

Start by measuring the book. Then, use that measurement to size a couple photos in your computer. They should be a little smaller than the page size. Print them out on photo paper.

Take your paperback and divide the pages in half.

Secure the top and bottom of each half with binder clips, as shown here.

Cut yourself a template for the frame opening. The size will depend on how your book is laid out, and whether you want any of the text to show around your photos. When you have a template you like, center it on each page and trace it in pencil.

Use a metal ruler and a nice, sharp craft knife to cut along your traced lines. Cut into the book a couple times - you want the blade to pass about 1/8" to 1/4" deep through the pages.

The beauty of this little project is, you can cut as many openings for photos in various sizes and shapes as you like.

Carefully remove the centers of the cut pages until you have a well as deep as you like. Save those cut-outs for collages!

Remove the binder clips. Position your photo under the window, and glue it in place with some glue stick.

Now, open the book at about a 45-degree angle. Put the binder clips back on, but in this configuration.

Depending on the condition of your book, you may need to place a binder clip in the top edge of each side, as shown. How can you tell if this is necessary? Take a look at the right-hand side of the book here. See how the pages are bowed out a bit in the center? We need them to lie flatter against each other. As you can see on the left-hand cover, a binder clip presses them together nicely.

Now, brush a generous coat of Mod Podge over the edge of the pages. The glue will seep into the pages a bit and bind them together. Let this coat dry, and add a second coat.

Don't worry about brushing any glue under that binder clip. Instead, put on two coats around the clip first. Once they dry, slide the clip to one side and brush two coats on the remaining area.

If you have enough binder clips, and a something to prop the sides of the book up with, then you can Mod Podge the top and bottom edges of the book simultaneously.

When the top and bottom edges are dry, then repeat the process to coat the sides in Mod Podge. Again, work around the binder clips initially, and then slide them aside to finish up.

Allow this step to dry, and then remove all the binder clips. The book is now rigid, and holds itself open at an angle. Voila!

The book cover/photo combination possibilities are endless. And you could also use this frame for artwork. Oddly, I can also see these frames, made from romance novels, bearing a photo of a bride and groom - and being used as table decorations at a (rather hip) wedding.

Comments

Great idea. And, in case of divorce, could place the once happy couple into a Stephen King chiller.. I'm just sayin'


I love the way your mind works- Romance novel=picture frame! Too funny!


Oh great idea, I'll be linking. LOVING your adorable pictures!


I'm thrilled you guys are using the book I wrote for such a clever picture frame. I only hope you read it first!

I've got some extras. For a small fee, I'd be happy to supply more...

Maybe some of my other titles might be appropriate, as well... How about TWO SISTERS or ARE YOU MY MOMMY?

Have fun--I may have to post a link to this from my web site!


There were tons of crappy paperbacks in the condos I stayed in in Kauai. Chris, you should TOTALLY DO IT. Just BYO glue and clips and photos (can't help ya on the knife).


Great idea! I did something similar with a hardback book for one of my 8-year old little brothers for Christmas. I left out the photos, made the well deeper, and called it a book safe. He was thrilled to have a place to store his secret stuff and it was super cheap!


Diane, I can't believe I am not taking this project to Kauai with me. Do you know how COOL it would be, to make paperback picture frames and LEAVE THEM all over the place? In the resort, in the lounge, at the beach club, on the hike!? All with photos of doggies or kitties in them! Or, scenic views of the San Gabriel Valley in California! The 405 Interchange! Oh, I can't believe I don't have this ready to take with me. A stack of little paperbacks, some glue/medium, some clips, and some photos.

I'd have to buy the knife in Kauai. It's probably only $17.50 there.

btw, the photo you show here? it makes me v. happy!


This is inspired -- you're hilarious!


this is a great idea! But I would have such a hard time cutting up a book, no matter how badly written lol


Niiiiiiice project. Puting a kiddo's photo into a "distressed" (read: destroyed) children's book is something I'll probably do for Mother's Day gifts for my childcare parents. Thanks for the inspiration.

The title of the book you used -- and the irony -- is not lost on me :-)


Wow - I've been trying to think of a gift to make for friends who just eloped! This is perfect - maybe in a science fiction book...Now if only I could get it done by Saturday...

(I've been reading your blog for a while, I'm enjoying the variety.)


How clever. I love the idea. I thought you were going to cut out the people on the cover and put the picture there! :o)

A word of caution- these novels usually aren't considered "photo-safe", so use copies!


Excellent point about the archival quality of paperbacks, Cami! I should also mention: the Aleene's Glue Stick I used in the tutorial isn't acid-free, but I saw an acid-free version at the Duncan booth at CHA. I believe it comes out this summer.


Awesome project - and your photos are super schmoopie!


that is GENIUS!! I really love this idea!


also? Those pics of you and Uncle Kate are SO GORGEOUS.


I'd love to mention this on my blog! Very cool and "green" project!


I was about to be indignant about the destruction of perfectly good books when I saw the title, but then I saw the picture... Since there is nothing perfectly good about a romance novel, go right ahead.

I might check my next local library sale to see if they have any desecration-worthy paperbacks so I can give this a try.


:-) In my defense, I found the book at our local Goodwill Outlet...
that's the last stop before the landfill, so in a way, I was rescuing
it.


I was about to be indignant about the destruction of perfectly good books when I saw the title, but then I saw the picture... Since there is nothing perfectly good about a romance novel, go right ahead.

I might check my next local library sale to see if they have any desecration-worthy paperbacks so I can give this a try.


:-) In my defense, I found the book at our local Goodwill Outlet...
that's the last stop before the landfill, so in a way, I was rescuing
it.


This is inspired -- you're hilarious!


Diane, I can't believe I am not taking this project to Kauai with me. Do you know how COOL it would be, to make paperback picture frames and LEAVE THEM all over the place? In the resort, in the lounge, at the beach club, on the hike!? All with photos of doggies or kitties in them! Or, scenic views of the San Gabriel Valley in California! The 405 Interchange! Oh, I can't believe I don't have this ready to take with me. A stack of little paperbacks, some glue/medium, some clips, and some photos.

I'd have to buy the knife in Kauai. It's probably only $17.50 there.

btw, the photo you show here? it makes me v. happy!


this is a great idea! But I would have such a hard time cutting up a book, no matter how badly written lol


There were tons of crappy paperbacks in the condos I stayed in in Kauai. Chris, you should TOTALLY DO IT. Just BYO glue and clips and photos (can't help ya on the knife).


Niiiiiiice project. Puting a kiddo's photo into a "distressed" (read: destroyed) children's book is something I'll probably do for Mother's Day gifts for my childcare parents. Thanks for the inspiration.

The title of the book you used -- and the irony -- is not lost on me :-)


Wow - I've been trying to think of a gift to make for friends who just eloped! This is perfect - maybe in a science fiction book...Now if only I could get it done by Saturday...

(I've been reading your blog for a while, I'm enjoying the variety.)


How clever. I love the idea. I thought you were going to cut out the people on the cover and put the picture there! :o)

A word of caution- these novels usually aren't considered "photo-safe", so use copies!


Great idea! I did something similar with a hardback book for one of my 8-year old little brothers for Christmas. I left out the photos, made the well deeper, and called it a book safe. He was thrilled to have a place to store his secret stuff and it was super cheap!


I love the way your mind works- Romance novel=picture frame! Too funny!


Excellent point about the archival quality of paperbacks, Cami! I should also mention: the Aleene's Glue Stick I used in the tutorial isn't acid-free, but I saw an acid-free version at the Duncan booth at CHA. I believe it comes out this summer.


Awesome project - and your photos are super schmoopie!


Oh great idea, I'll be linking. LOVING your adorable pictures!


that is GENIUS!! I really love this idea!


also? Those pics of you and Uncle Kate are SO GORGEOUS.


Great idea. And, in case of divorce, could place the once happy couple into a Stephen King chiller.. I'm just sayin'


I'd love to mention this on my blog! Very cool and "green" project!


I'm thrilled you guys are using the book I wrote for such a clever picture frame. I only hope you read it first!

I've got some extras. For a small fee, I'd be happy to supply more...

Maybe some of my other titles might be appropriate, as well... How about TWO SISTERS or ARE YOU MY MOMMY?

Have fun--I may have to post a link to this from my web site!


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