Great Art Blog June 2015- 3D Box and Floater Frames

Great Art Blog June 2015- 3D Box and Floater Frames


Hello and welcome to this month’s GreatArt materials blog!

This month is a bit different; the lovely team at GreatArt UK asked me to take a quick look at a couple of  types of frame and hopefully  help clarify how to use them.

I’m looking at two types of frame; ILA 3D Box Frames and Floater Frames, both of which are really easy to use, and don’t require any specialist kit.

ILA 3D Box Frames

ILA 3D Box Frame

ILA 3D Box Frame

Box Frames  are exactly as they say really; a frame with a deep internal space which allows them to take 3D items, or simply to add depth to set off a piece of work. They come in a range of finishes; natural wood, white and black…I’m showing a segment of the natural one on the right as it shows the depth of the ‘box’ most clearly. They are finished with a

sheet of glass which sits in the groove just inside the front edge of the frame-this is obviously useful for protecting work/ objects inside but can also be removed if you prefer. The natural wood finish is particularly flexible as it can be stained or varnished, or even painted to an exact shade to compliment a particular piece of work.

*Next month I’m going to be looking at a new product called ‘Sculpture Canvas’ which allows the combination of 3D and painterly effects…I think this might sit very nicely in one of these frames, without the sheet of glass,  and so will ‘post’ about it next month.



3D Box Frame in black-opened out ready to use

In the picture above you can see one of the 3D Box frames opened out ready to use, this time one in the black finish…oh and while I think of it, I managed to catch one of the corners with a craft knife, but found a quick touch up with a little undiluted black acrylic covered up the accident completely.

The frame comes with the usual metal clips; two per side which I raise and lower with a small flat blade screwdriver. On the right hand side above you can see the spacer which stops the back plate resting on the glass, creating the box effect…the spacer is painted on one side (in the case of black and white finishes) to match the frame, so make sure it goes in with the painted side nearest the glass, otherwise you will find yourself taking the whole thing to bits again! (Pic below shows painted side to match black box frame).


Black 3D Box Frame with the spacer shown wrong way up to show the matching painted edge


I always open the whole thing out and remove the spacer as above then give the glass a good clean on both sides with a window cleaning product…it’s definitely worth using a small brush at this stage to clear out any dust which can get caught up in the corners, as it  is very annoying when you’ve put the frame together.

These frames really are very flexible as they would take all kinds of art work, and also small treasured pieces or collections of related items.


Arrangement of objects on the base plate of a 3D frame


I found a handful of small bits and pieces that I had wanted to display for a while, but had been languishing in the bottom of a drawer forever….I cut a piece of dark paper to fit the back plate, using the white piece provided as a template, and began by playing with arrangements. It’s really worthwhile to try loads of different ones, until you are completely happy then fix them in place.

A quick note about fixing:

Do be very careful about your choice of fixing methods…there are loads of options but you need to be sure that whatever you choose won’t damage the items you want to mount. Double sided sticky pads can be great; they are surprisingly strong and can be cut to fit awkward and or tiny shapes very easily with a craft knife. Glue guns can also be effective, and the glue does peel off most surfaces if you ever want to dismantle your arrangement, but always test first just to be sure. Even blu or white tak can be fantastic for very light objects, and of course they have the advantage of being very easy to remove if you might want to refresh your frame after a while.

If you need to suspend an object in a frame or tie parts together, the most invisible and best option is clear fishing line…yes I know that sounds ridiculous but is an old trick used by window dressers, set designers and many others, where strength and invisibility are needed. If you buy a reel from a fishing tackle supplier it will probably last a lifetime and find tons of uses! *oh and just for interest it comes in loads of colours too, and is great for making jewellery.

Once you are happy with the arrangement, fix your pieces in place taking care with positioning….I always also glue my coloured backing paper onto the back board of the frame with some double sided sticky tape as this prevents it slipping or rucking up. Before you do this make sure that you have the base plate the right way up so that the vertical or horizontal ‘hangers’ are where you need them to be according to whether you are going to hang vertically or horizontally.

Working with the frame, glass side downwards, replace the spacer and then carefully turn over the back board with your arrangement securely mounted and lower it into place onto the frame. Be really careful with this, as it is easy and really annoying, to dislodge something at this stage.


Base plate of frame in place and secured with metal clips

Carefully press down all the metal clips to secure the base plate, using a flat blade screwdriver to save your fingers. Then turn over to check everything is how you want it to be.


Finally, unless I know I will change the contents frequently, I run a strip of masking tape

down each side. This is worth doing as it keeps the dust out and the objects inside clean and safe-it is surprising how easily flies and moths etc…can get in if you don’t do this…


Completed 3D Box Frame

 Think about the right choice of frame for your chosen art or objects, not only colour-wise but tonally-for instance here the sheen of the silver is set off well by the dark frame.


Simple is usually best too, these natural fragments of stone and shell are set off really effectively in the neutral ‘Natural’ finish


3D frame in setting

frame. Here I’ve mounted the objects onto a sheet of off white watercolour paper, which had a nice matt finish and a slight texture which harmonised well with the textures of the objects I wanted to use. As in the picture above, the box frames do

not necessarily need to be hung on a wall, I found they stand very securely on a shelf which also enables you to display related objects around the frame. If the frame is on a slippery surface or one where there are likely to be occasional strong drafts, it is worth securing the frame with a few dots of blutak, to avoid disasters.



ILA Floater Frames:

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 06.57.02

Floater Frame in ‘Natural Finish’


Floater Frames have been designed especially to take work on canvas, and they give a very simple clean and contemporary look which is ideally suited to framing a wide range of work.

These frames also come in Natural, White and Black finishes and additionally in Oak, and as above, the natural version can be stained, varnished or painted to give a precisely matching finish if desired.

These frames have a stepped profile and if using with canvases simply order the same size as your canvas, you don’t need to allow extra for the frame. They are glass free frames so particularly suitable for work where you want the texture of the finished piece to be clearly visible and not partially masked by the presence of a glass cover. In the image below you can see an upturned canvas, resting on a clean sheet of paper to protect the surface… I have attached the first of the canvas clips which will hold it in place…as this is a very small canvas, it will only need two clips, larger canvases need more; one one each side at least.


reverse of canvas showing clips





Screwing clips onto the reverse of the canvas fram



In the image above, you can see how the clips screw in onto the rear edge of the canvas frame. I found the screws went in very easily with just light hand pressure, but you could use a power screwdriver instead. Please note that the roughly triangular part of the clip is angled downwards towards the front of the canvas.


Clips secured on the back of the Floater frame

 When your clips are firmly in place, have your frame and canvas right sides up and feed the tails of the clips

Completed canvas in Natural Floater Frame

Completed canvas in Natural Floater Frame

through the hole in the frame so they go through and hold the canvas in place on the back, as above. This is slightly fiddly, but only takes a minute.

Once you have got the clips through, you can adjust the canvas, so it sits nice and straight within the Floater frame…and that is it, a vey easy operation and very quick to do too. It also allows you to swap same sized canvases into frames as they are of course removable.

You can also see in the image below, that you can use the Floater frame as a standard frame with a deep profile, simply by fixing work from the rear as usual. To do this mount any flimsy work or photographs onto a sheet of firm card which has been cut to fit, i.e slightly larger that the opening in the frame. Simply masking tape all around on the back to hold the piece in place.

web-DSCF4538 web-IMG_0026I decided to try another option; using the Floater Frame to mount with a ‘shadow gap’, which gives a very contemporary ‘gallery’ style feel.

To do this I made a block of foam board which is three layers thick and cut to size, slightly smaller than the piece of work I want to mount. I fixed the foam board firmly together using strips of double sided tape, which hold the sheets really securely together, (see picture right).

Next I held the foam board block in place from the back of my Floater frame with strips of masking tape, as in the picture below…


 N.B You can be doubly secure by putting a strip of double sided tape all around the front edge of the frame aperture and sticking the foam board block to this, before sealing the back with masking tape.


 In the photo above you can see the block glued in place within the Floater frame. Next I added strips of double sided tape to the back of my artwork. This piece is on canvas board so is fine as it is, but if the work is on paper or any flexible surface, it should first be mounted onto stiff card, or indeed a final layer of foam board, which has the advantage of being very light.

Having removed the backing paper, I turned the work over and positioned it carefully within the Floater Frame, pressing down firmly to secure when happy with the gaps all around.


Above: Finished result with the piece mounted within a black Floater frame, creating a subtle shadow gap all around.

 My Materials List:-

  • I Love Art 3D Box Frame in Natural finish  -range of sizes and depths available

  • I Love Art 3D Box Frame in Black finish      -range of sizes and depths available

  • I Love Art Floater Frame in Natural finish  -range of sizes available-if using with canvas remember to order canvas size.

  • I love Art Floater frame in Black finish        -range of sizes available-if using with canvas remember to order canvas size.

  • Canvas and Frame securing springs (pack of 20) see below                           code: 81727

  • Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.38.36

  • Pack of 10 screws, for fixing canvas to Floater frames with clips above      code: 81218

* For all Frames and accessories:

  • Masking tape-30mm                                     code:  2-33606042

  • Clairefontaine Foam Board pack of A4  code: 12885

  • Tesa Powerstrips tape, pack of 10           code: 22085( I used up some double sided on a roll, but this is ideal)

*All available from GreatArt UK on the following link:

I also used:

  • Glues and Blutak and double sided tape as required depending on choices of objects etc…

  • Backing papers- personal choice.

  • Window and mirror cleaning product for glass cleaning plus paper towel.

  • Tape measure or rule

  • Craft knife and scissors.

  • Old soft brush for sweeping away bits of dust in the frames.

  • Small reel of clear fishing line, available from fishing tackle suppliers.

Top Tips:

  • Work on a large clean surface and get everything together before you start. Disassemble the frames and clean before working on them.

  • Choose frames according to tonal value as well as colour to suit artwork or other items to be displayed.

  • Keep arrangements simple to showcase the objects you’ve chosen.



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