Hanging art without a frame (but staying away from thumb tacks and scotch tape)

April 1 |

Frames are all well and good, but aren't always an option. Sometimes it's because of an oddly-sized print, sometimes frames just cost too damn much. How do you hang a print when you can't find a suitable frame?

Binder clips or clothespins and string

bathroom art
Photo by ereyui. Posted in the Offbeat Home Flickr Group.

A few Homies posted their clippy solution in our Flickr group, and when paired with the right surroundings, this technique works beautifully. This looks like a textural oil painting — a fantastic juxtaposition against shiny office clips.

Mount it

Chris Roberts' Batman print is shellacked to a plywood board.
If the art is thin enough, it can be mounted. There are lots of options, depending on how permanent a solution is desired. Starting with a piece of plywood from a lumberyard (birch ply is nice, and about $8 for 24"x24") or a blank canvas from Plywerk (or cardboard or acrylic or masonite), you can adhere the print using spray adhesive, double-sided tape or photo corners.

Shelve it


Just liked Dale did in her mantle makeover, you can lean art against the wall on a shelf or mantle.

What else you got? When frames failed you, what was your solution?

  1. great ideas! i used binder clips, hung on binder rings, hung off a curtain rod….it was great to show off my son's prolific art work!

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  2. Caution! If the artwork is worth anything, do not use spray adhesive. It is not archival and will damage paper in the long run. If you plan to mount original artwork, vintage maps, etc, opt for another non-chemical option.

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    • Good note. It does sort of depend on your definition of archival — reverse-able? No. But 3M Spray Adhesive won't damage paper or cause discoloration.

      BUT. There are better options — stuff like adhesive films.

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  3. I never thought about using binder clips! Doh! I've been an artist for how long, and it never occurred for me to try that in my home! I have a totally bitchin' print by Chris Sanders that has been aching to be seen. Now I can display it!

    Other ideas for hanging art that isn't framed is to use L shaped nails. We used them in my senior exhibition. We also bought plexi glass sheets, cut to the size of the art (most pieces were really flat or on illustration board) and then we would hang them up. The plexiglass was for protection, and it really is inexpensive for a huge sheet if you have a number of pieces you want to protect and display.

    The nails look like this – http://www.euro-machinerycentral.com/images/zhiti/nails/18.jpg

    And here's how it looks displayed… sorry the photo is kinda dark. The three pieces on the right not in shadow boxes are the ones displayed with plexiglass and L nails. – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dulum3Q4xqE/TZYRK1DffWI/AAAAAAAAAF8/A6hXMHqMh4M/s1600/25752_1338101386503_1650192537_803357_3253855_n.jpg

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    • That's pretty amazing. I imagine that if you are going for large scale, you could do magnetic paint and fridge magnets, too.

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  4. I liked the recent home tour that had in the hallway, two wires running top and bottom and several peices attached to the wires in a row. I think it was their brothers art? That looked like a really clever way to hang paper art.

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  5. like binder clips, bulldog clips are a nice option.

    and, in the category of mounting things, i reused the parquet squares that peeled up from our entryway as mounting material for a series of small photos.

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  6. I really like to use the photo corners on plywood or even just poster board. We also have a surplus of art and no place to hang it and keep a scrap book on our coffee table that we just slide the art into. Its getting a little full so soon we will either need to rotate or get another one but everyone who comes over loves looking through it!

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  7. Anyone have some idea for how to hang stuff at a college setting? Most colleges don't let you use nails and I doubt some of the sticky, non-paint removing tape will be able to hold up most of my stuff.

    I have canvases, framed posters and photos, as well as regular posters I need to be able to display on walls effectively without damaging them… Any suggestions?

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  8. I'm going to be a bit square and say framing has never really failed me. If you do want to frame something but save some money – look in your area for DIY framing. The designers help you choose the framing and matting and then teach you to put it together – you can save A LOT of money doing it this way and they help you do it properly. Also stay away from big box stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc – they can offer huge 60% off coupons because they jack the prices up so much to begin with. If you are an art collector, avid photographer, etc there is nothing more important than finding a good framer you can establish a relationship with. That being said, there are many books out there that can teach you how to frame and the equipment itself isn't all that expensive. I LOVE framing my own artwork.

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  9. If you want to temporarily mount something command strips are your friend. My girlfriend brought home 2 irregularly sized prints from Vietnam and while our future goal is to frame them, we are BROKE, and wanted to enjoy them now. I mounted them on black foam board using 3M command strip refills. It stuck great (they were really rolled and are painted on a sort of thin cardboard and it still held them) and when some money rolls in they can harmlessly be removed and sent to the framers. The key is keeping most of the strips close to the edge so there's no rolling.

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  10. I'm a fabric and sewing junkie so i've incorporated what my life is filled with to hang pictures…fabric and pins! hang up fabric on the wall and then pin posters and pictures to it.

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  11. We have a lot of sheets of chiyogami paper and batiks and calicos from around the world…and cement walls (it's an Asian apartment). Hanging frames is impossible, and anyway putting batiks under glass ruins part of their allure, which is their cloth texture. I don't care for the binder clips, to be honest, but even if I did they wouldn't stay on our wall.

    At the moment we just use rolled-up packing tape behind the batiks so it doesn't show, but 3M has this awesome mounting glue that you smear on a wall, stick whatever you want over it and it stays (they tell you how much to use related to object weight). When you want to take it down, you pull off the object and grab the glue smear at the bottom and tug – it just pulls off.

    Whenever I stop being lazy we're going to start using that.

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  12. Right, but i have 7 small pieces of art that is mounted and now i want it on the wall. It's super light-weight since the backing is foam-type tiles but this doesn't solve my problem of how to hang it. I thought about 'craft dots' but don't want to ruin my newly painted walls, nails would ruin the art, I imagine binder clips would also have to be stuck on in a manner that'd mark the wall unless I'm missing something obvious. My last resort in my head is getting a magnetic board, painting it to match the walls and sticking magnets to the back of each piece? I suppose then the can be rearranged.

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    • According to a poster above, they make magnetic paint. So you could skip a step.

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      • Ah I missed that. Magnetic boards in the colour I want were coming up over £65 and painting a white ikea one seemed to be an option. I'll definitely look more into the magnetic paint though :)

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  13. For temporary stuff, I agree w/ Command Strips. I have two 3 ft by 3 ft by 3 ft "posters" so to speak that I stuck up using two different strengths of mounting tape. To protect the pictures from tearing when taking down, I put clear packing tape on first then the mounting tape. They have been up for a year. :)

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