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Frame Your ACEOs By Cutting Corners

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I've talked about framing ACEOs (small art cards that measure 2.5 x 3.5) before, but I've always hated the fact that I had to put adhesive directly on the card itself to mount it in a shadowbox, effectively ruining any signature or writing there.

(Of course you can also frame an ACEO using a mat, but since the cards are so tiny to begin with I like to keep the edges completely visible.)

It wasn't until a reader recently asked me if there was any way to mount an ACEO without adhesive that I started brainstorming alternatives.

I'll spare you the whole list, and just get straight to the blindingly-obvious-in-hindsight solution:

Photo corners!

Why didn't I think of these before??


They come in standard colors like black, white, and a beautiful metallic gold. Since they're paper, you could also paint them to match your art exactly.

[EDIT: Oooh, and according to the comments you can find them in clear plastic, too! AWESOME SAUCE.]


The easiest way to use the corners is to stick all four on your art card *before* removing the sticker backs:

Then you can line up your card on your backer board or pretty scrapbook paper and remove all the sticker backs at once.

If you plan to mount your card in a shadowbox, like these, then use the photo corners to attach your card to a stiff piece of mat board justly barely smaller than the card itself. Then glue your foam riser pieces to the board instead of your art. Voilá! Your art remains undamaged!

You can also trim the photo corners to make them a tiny bit smaller. Just be careful only to cut the front of the corner, and not the back support:

Hold your corners like this, bending the back piece back, and then use scissors to trim off a quarter inch or so. (Not much, I know, but every millimeter counts with ACEOs!)

Here's the piece I just finished framing tonight:

These are original watercolors I bought from my friend Christie (the same one who painted me the steampunk seahorse.) I've never been much of a unicorn person, but I just love these - and the fact that they're in my favorite colors doesn't hurt. ;)


I already had the frame and blue scrapbook paper, so the only expense was the photo corners and the white mat, which cost a whopping $4 at Hobby Lobby.

Speaking of which, I'm never going to the grumpy lady at JoAnn's for mats again! A sweet gal at HL literally took less than three minutes to cut this custom size for me, and then redid it even faster - for free! - when I asked for a slight change. ALL FOR FOUR DOLLARS. I think I'm in love.

Anyhoo, hope this tip helps some of you art-lovers out there! Happy framing!

Posted by Jen at 7:35 PM Labels: ,

36 comments:

  1. My Hobby Lobby, at least, doesn't use acid-free materials, so I don't get anything framed there any more. The acid in the mats can yellow your pieces. Of course, this happened after I had spend hundreds of dollars getting some of my cross-stitch pieces framed. Drat.

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  2. Awesome tutorial, thank you!!
    P.S. I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time ever last night, and totally fell in love! The people were SO nice, and I can't believe the selection they have there! I was only going to get a few things and spend $20...an hour and $65 dollars later I left with tons more than I planned!

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  3. Don't you just love it when you over-think something only to come up with the most brilliant yet stupidly simple solution? (I had one of those moments when I was trying to figure out my curtains for an arch window .)

    Great idea! And you can even get those photo corners in clear if you want to make them more invisible.

    (Let's see if something besides openid will recognise my typing for word verification...)

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  4. You can also get clear photo corners if you don't want to see them at all.

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  5. many craft stores with a framing or scrapbooking section will also have clear photo corners (usually made out of mylar). they're often a bit shiny, but i really like them

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  6. @Arthemise - You mean they actually make mats that *aren't* acid-free? What the heck? Isn't that like surgeons offering non-sterile operating instruments? 0.o

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  7. I love Hobby Lobby and photo corners. I've used them for my portfolios in costume and baking, because it's more cost-effective to get a new piece of paper to mount them on than have the pictures reprinted if I want to reorganize the books. And Hobby Lobby's prices are the best, in addition to having the largest selection in a wide variety of items. I only go to JoAnn's if I'm specifically looking for fabric, because it's just not worth it for most anything else.

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  8. As a current JoAnn's framing employee I'd like to apologize... A lot of our grumpiness in situations like that comes from having to follow company policy regarding just cutting mats. We absolutely can't cut anything preexisting, so no trimming the mats already on the floor. Even our own scrap mats. If you want something custom from something we have in stock, you still have to go to the bottom of the work list for the day. It's likely we won't even have it in stock, though, so you have to order it. We also don't have control over the price to cut a mat, really. It's all in the computer system.

    We don't like turning you away, believe me! I feel bad about it almost every day. Them's the corporate breaks, I guess.

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  9. Creative memories sells CLEAR photo mounting corners in a variety of sizes (okay, med. and large I think) so you wouldn't cover any of your card at all, it would be visible. I use them in my scrapbooks on most of my professional pictures.

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  10. I found tiny frames that were sold as wedding placeholders/favors. I altered them somewhat, using Rub n Buff gold leaf to the black frame. I have them displayed in a group on a really narrow strip of wall between two bedroom doors. Yes, the edges of the ATCs (they were taken in trade, not ACEOs) are covered by the frames, but it suited my purpose beautifully to display them where I did. (Bought at Michael's if anyone is curious.)

    Framed ATCs, Displayed, 1, Displayed, 2

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  11. I've always loved unicorns, and those are beautiful. If you ever get tired of them, I volunteer to take them off your hands.

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  12. Awesome! Now I know how to frame my Katie Cook art card when that gets here. And any other art cards I may buy now, because after seeing those unicorns I need to go explore... my wallet will probably not thank you.

    And I sure wish there was a Hobby Lobby around here - I'd be a repeat customer for sure. Sadly I doubt they're considering branching out to Norway in the near future, so I'm going to have to keep getting my supply kicks elsewhere.

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  13. I. WANT. THOSE. ACEOs! I <3 Unicorns...anything to do with horses is my addiction! =)
    Hobby Lobby finally opened in my town...so much good stuff, not enough money LOL

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  14. OMG! Now I know what to do with my retro National Parks postcards! Awesome sauce! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  15. I once framed a metric poster into a US frame by taking a piece of craft paper and cutting diagonal slits into that to catch the poster corners.

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  16. Wow, those unicorns look AWESOME! I love them, great job with the shadowbox. :D

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  17. Photo corners - duh! Mine came in a perfectly sized plastic sleeve, so I just stuck the adhesive on the sleeve. It turned out great and the sleeve did not affect the look of the card. Photo corners would have been easier, though.

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  18. You are so awesome. I love your DIY projects!

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  19. I used to work in the HL framing department when I was first married (supplemented a substitute teaching job). They actually do make acid free framing stuff, you just have to specifically request it and it might cost a tiny bit extra. Also I suggest UV glass, it keeps any UV rays (from sunlight or interior lighting) from ruining your work. :) Some things you never forget. And yay for photo corners!

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  20. Aw, Jen. Sorry you had a bad experience! While the previous Jo-Ann's employee mentioned the restrictions we're under, that's no excuse! The one hard and fast rule is not to cut a pre-cut mat. As for your place in production, it really depends more on your framer's workload. Still, acting harried or being short with a customer (especially a regular, such as yourself) is never acceptable. I know which J's you frequent and I'll be passing along your concerns! And not in a "get someone in trouble" sort of way, but more of a "Hey, let's not let this happen again" sort of way.

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  21. I am so jealous of you fabulous watercolors!

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  22. I just love the fact that 2 of your favorite colors are mine, too!! Orange and Blue!! (are you a Gator fan?) My other favorite color is pink, I know some people would think they don't go together, but they totally do!!

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  23. And there is another solution- float frames. Just two pieces of glass in a frame, made to both sit on shelves or hang on walls.

    I've gotten a few, from small to hold one card or big to hold groups of cards.

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  24. As someone who has tried to cut acid free mats for my own cross-stitch - give anyone willing to cut mats a break. It is one of the toughest craft jobs on the planet! The corners never come out right, an edge is always crooked...instead i found a local frame shop near our university. They are fast, accurate and understand the finky nature of creativ people! But I do wish we had Hobby Lobby here in CT

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  25. Somehow I'm not finding the original mention of the photo corners, but a number of you probably remember seeing them in Grandma's photo albums. The ones she made before static plastic (and glue) albums became all the rage.

    I'll also point out that you can turn them around and stick them to the glass, which can be useful if you want the card to be floating in front of a memory box.

    I have personal calling cards that I've made up for anime cons. Some of the cards also have related artwork on the back -- the next time that someone admires that, I know how to suggest mounting the card for display.

    I also have celebrity autographs on the back of some of my own cards (ones designed for such use, having small bits of artwork on the back). Now I know how to mount those for display.

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  26. I bought photo corners at Michael's Crafts -- packaged assortments in gold, silver, copper and black.
    K.-in Hazelridge

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  27. Oooh, pretty!

    I love Hobby Lobby, but they are a bit pricey on some things (fabric and ribbon especially). When I have a project in mind, I like to start at Walmart, and get what I can there before moving on to HL or that kind of store. Oh, and thrift stores! Great place to find unique fabric really cheap.

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  28. I have been collecting postcards for years, and until now, have not known how to display them. You have the best ideas! Awesome.

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  29. @ anony 12:12 - Goodness, I'm not out to get anyone in trouble! We love our local JoAnn's; just never had much luck with the framing dep - and we always seem to be putting the lady out when we ask to see the mat choices. I wish they'd just leave those on the counter, instead of making the employee hover over you impatiently while you look. :/

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  30. I know I might sound naive, but what does ACEO stand for?

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  31. As a former framer for Hobby Lobby it is my experience that a lot of the problems people have are on a store by store basis. Because the stores are in a relative dark age of retail, there isn't a whole lot of standardization in training or whatever. In my stores, we emphasized giving the customer all of the information so that they could make the best decision (i.e. acid-free mats, and prices for every option). Not all the stores do this, but some keep a stock in the back of standard colors of acid free mats to cut on the spot for a walk in order. Some stores just don't have the budget to do that and can only provide the cheap (non-acid-free) alternative for same-day service.

    Something else you can do (and something we did in the frame shop on request) is to secure the artwork using clear fishing line. Similar in concept to the photo corners, we would use it like a needle and thread, attaching at the corners only making sure that the holes where the line was fed through were just barely behind the art. It takes some practice to make sure the ugly parts of the technique don't show, but if you don't like corners and want something basically invisible from a distance... it does the job.

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  32. @Jen, an employee should never be put out to wait on a customer...you're our reason for being there! And the job of the framer (besides actually building frames) is to help guide the customer and make design theory backed suggestions to help enhance your art.

    And for conscientious, artistic minded people, yes! come behind the counter, play with my stuff! It;s fun! But I have a hard enough time getting other framing employees to put samples away correctly, can you imagine people I can't yell at? :) Even without matting samples out, I still find mats, fillet and framing samples taken and squirreled away in other parts of the store. Nightmare!

    Framing rant over! :) I now return you to your ACEO tutorial!

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  33. Thanks for the idea!

    Here's what I did!

    I live in an apartment so my wall space is very limited which is why the placement is not what I want it to be...
    The frame in the middle is the Disney Stock my parents bought for me for my 20th birthday. The engraving says "Elaine, since you loved Disney World so much, we figured we'd buy it for you. Happy 20th Birthday"... My parents are awesome :)

    Thanks again for the idea! I got the clear corners from Hobby Lobby :)

    This also saved me a lot of money and time! And I didn't lose any of the cards from matting! The small designs around the borders make them look like they are matted though!

    I'm so giddy with excitement over this! And I have many more lithographs and other Disney drawings to frame... I need to buy a house to put it all somewhere!

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  34. I wish we had a Hobby Lobby.. *sad*

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  35. Love this piece AND HL! Make sure to use their weekly mobile coupon, just show it on your smartphone at checkout!

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  36. I'm in love with your friend's unicorn paintings. Great job framing them. : )

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