Home > Mail Art, Recycled > Make Free Box Fold Frames Using Recycled Packaging

Make Free Box Fold Frames Using Recycled Packaging

How can you make a picture frame for free? How can you also fit the framed artwork in an envelope? I spent the better part of yesterday working on these problems for the Free Art Friday in Gloucester, UK group. I have been communicating with a member of the group and had mailed some loose linocut prints. The group really wants to present their free street art to the public ready to hang, and the costs of framing the donated art is prohibitive.

There is one art supply I have a great deal of and costs nothing: recycled food packaging (chipboard). I tried a few different methods over the day and feel these steps will give you a decent dimensional surface to display art yet can still be stuffed in an envelope and mailed flat. You need to make a basic box form and mount your artwork, print or photograph on the surface. Here are the 5 steps:


1. Take your recycled food box apart and decorate it. It used rubber stamps and pigment based ink on boxes that had white interiors. You can paste on decorative paper to the surface. If you use acrylic paint, I found that paint may crack during folding the sides, so apply any paint after step #3 yet before step#4. If the wetness of the paint warps the box material, press it flat in between sheets of wax paper using boards and weights or heavy books.



2. Measure the size of your artwork and add the sides. For example, if you have a 4 x 6 inch artwork and add a 1 inch border, you need to cut a piece of chipboard that is 6 x 8 inches. This will give you the front surface (4 x 6) and the folded 1 inch sides.




I used a thin permanent marker, a ruler and a t-square tool to mark the lines. Use a razor blade or pen knife (X-acto knife) to score the blue lines with a ruler. Just make a light score, do not cut all the way through the blue lines. Use scissors to cut all the way through the red lines at the top and bottom.




3. Fold up the cut through small flaps at the top and bottom. Then gently fold up the sides. I found it works well by hand and I did not need a bone folder or any other tool for folding. You will have a box when the sides are folded. It looks best if the small flaps are tucked under the longer top and bottom flaps.




4. Use hot glue to glue the flaps in place and keep the box intact. White glue or PVA craft glue can be used if you clamp the corners and give it a few hours to dry thoroughly. Tape was too weak to hold well, so I recommend strong glue. This is your finished frame. You can paste the artwork on the front of the frame now or after step #3. The folds will show the front area where there is room to place the art.



If you are mailing the box frame, skip using glue. Just fold the box and unfold sides, make it flat and mount your artwork, print or photograph on the front. Let the person receiving the mail use glue to complete the frame. You can fit the flat mounted artwork in an envelope easily.



Here is the artwork on the finished folded box frame!



5. Glue a tab with a string or ribbon to the inside of the back. The box frame with your art is ready to hang up on a wall!





There are ways you can diversify this idea. What if the box shape was covered in collage or mixed media art? I plan to draw directly onto the chipboard surface and make the box frame and artwork one item. Try adding spray paint stencils or silkscreen art to the box surface. Paste ribbons around the sides of the box frame. You can also try using heavier materials like corrugated cardboard. I was working for a display method for small, flat art to be mailed in an envelope. Assemblage and collage art with objects would be an interesting process if glued on a box frame strong enough to support the materials.


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Categories: Mail Art, Recycled
  1. March 26, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Shellie ~ I love the Box Fold Frame, this will be perfect for my kids art work! XO kmug500

    • March 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Awesome! ☺ I am thinking to do some street art again. You know, inflict art on unsuspecting people! ;D

      • March 26, 2014 at 11:47 am

        Sounds so cool. I am attempting to do an art project for our towns Art Festival in Aug. I am think of something along the lines of Zentangling, to show people that have never seen it. Do you have pictures of your already done street art? I would love to see exactly what you mean. Maybe I will do it too!

      • March 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        It was with the Art Patch Project protest effort. Input ‘art patch’ in the search bar for the images and prior posts. People were giving away silkscreen art in protest of street art sales being illegal in Chicago.

        Zentangle is great to introduce to new people! ☺ You need paper, pencils and a box of Micron pens and you are in business. I just got my aunt hooked. Maybe make photocopies of patterns to have at a table. My aunt looks up the different patterns on her smartphone.

  2. March 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I just bought the paper and the pens. My hubby bought me a book for Christmas but the internet has much better designs. I love your idea of having different designs on the table with me! The only thing I am having trouble with is the idea….it is a toss between an Angel in black and white or many overlapped hearts in black/white and colors. The hearts would be easier but I think the Angel would be prettier. Unless I come across something spectacular!! Okay ~ now I am going to google art patch!! Thank you…

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