Introduction: Rolled Paper Picture Frame

This instructable will teach you how to create a picture frame out of cardboard and strips of rolled paper. Newspaper and construction paper can work with this project, but I used scrapbook paper because it's stiffer and holds its shape much better once it's glued to the cardboard. You can adjust the steps to make a frame for any size photo, but I constructed mine to display a 10"x10" piece of art. I dismantled cardboard boxes that I had around the house and used just under 10 sheets of scrapbook paper.

To make the frame, you'll need the following supplies:

  • Two large pieces of thick cardboard (Use whatever size you need; mine were a foot on each side)
  • 10 pieces of scrapbook paper in colors of your choice
  • A hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • An X-Acto knife
  • Scotch tape
  • A writing utensil
  • A ruler

Step 1: Measure the Frame

The first step is to create the front piece of your frame. If you begin with two pieces of cardboard that are pre-cut to the size you want them, like I did, you'll only have to cut out the middle of the front piece. If they aren't, you'll first have to use the X-Acto knife to cut the cardboard into equally sized squares that are at least two inches longer on each side than the size of the art or photo you want to frame. For example, my art piece was 10"x10", so I created a 12"x12" frame.

Once you have the right size pieces, put one aside for later. Take the other piece and, if you took it from a box with printed material on it, turn the cardboard so that the side with print on it is facing upwards.

Place the ruler at the edge of the cardboard and use your writing utensil to make a small line at the 2" mark. Repeat this step for all four sides. Then, use the ruler to draw a straight line on each side that is perpendicular to the edge of the cardboard and 2" inward from the edge. See the image above for an example of where the lines should be placed.

Again, you can readjust this size to fit the needs of your specific frame. You can make the border of the frame smaller than 2", but keep in mind that this will make your strips of paper smaller as well and they'll be much more difficult to roll.

Step 2: Cut the Frame

Warning: When using the X-Acto knife, pay attention to what you're doing at all times to avoid being cut.

After measuring your borders, you should have a square drawn in the center of the cardboard. This middle section is what you'll be cutting out to create the frame around your image. Using the X-Acto knife, trace the blade carefully along the lines you've drawn. Trace each border lightly at first, and then press down harder with the blade to cut through the layers of cardboard.

Once you've cut through all four sides, the middle piece should pop out easily. In certain areas, it may be necessary to bend the cardboard back and forth to dislodge it or you may need to use the X-Acto knife again. After removing the middle piece, you will be left with the top part of your frame.

Step 3: Measure Your Paper Rolls

The pieces of paper that you'll be using will need to have a width the same size as your border. Using the ruler and your writing utensil, measure and trace straight lines in 2" intervals on the back of the first piece of scrapbook paper so your lines aren't visible on the printed side.

Use the scissors to cut carefully along these lines. If you use 12"x12" scrapbook paper, like I did, you will end up with six long strips. Cut these strips in half so you have 12 pieces of scrapbook paper that are 2"x6".

You can either cut all 10 of your pieces of scrapbook paper at once so you have a large pile of strips to work with or roll the strips from each piece of paper before cutting another one. I chose the latter method because folding the strips gets very tedious, and it was easier for me to switch back and forth between Step 3 and Step 4.

Step 4: Roll Your Paper Strips

Once you have a pile of strips, take one and fold the edge of the shorter side inward so that you can see a small section of the printed side of the paper. Make sure the edges line up and that the fold is not crooked. Run your thumb along the edge of the fold so that it holds.

After making the small fold, hold the strip of paper on each corner where you've folded it and begin to roll the folded side over and over until you reach the other end of the paper. It helps to hold the paper between your thumb and forefinger in one hand and use the fingers of the other hand to twist the roll of paper in tightly. Make sure to roll the strip as tightly as you can and make sure the edges of the paper align at the end of your roll.

Hold the completed roll tightly between the thumb and forefinger of one hand and use the other to tape the edge of the paper down. To avoid the tape showing in the final product, use a very small piece and tape it parallel to the length of the rolled paper.

Continue this step with the remaining strips of paper. If you need to, switch back and forth between steps 3 and 4 to avoid rolling paper for long periods of time. My frame used almost 120 strips of paper, so it will take a while to fold them all, depending on how large you are making your frame.

Step 5: Glue the Paper Rolls on the Frame

Warning: When using a hot glue gun, be cautious and pay attention to what you're doing to avoid burning yourself. Make sure it is placed firmly on a flat surface.

Plug in your hot glue gun and place it on a sturdy surface to let it warm.

While the glue is warming, arrange the strips of paper along your frame. I arranged the differently colored strips randomly along the side without a particular pattern.

Using the hot glue gun, carefully glue each roll of paper with the taped side down against the frame. Glue the rolls as tightly up against one another as possible to avoid the cardboard frame showing through.

Step 6: Glue the Frame Together

Retrieve the piece of cardboard you set aside earlier. This will serve as the back of the frame. If there's printed material on the cardboard, make sure it is facing inward and that the blank side is facing outward. Place the piece of artwork or the photo directly in the center of the frame and tape it down.

Place the top half of the frame against the base with the rolled pieces of paper facing out and glue the pieces of cardboard together with the hot glue gun. Be careful to line up the edges exactly and not to shift them while the glue is drying. It is easier to glue all four corners first and then go back and glue the middle sections.

Let the glue set for a few minutes, and then your frame will be complete! You can use sticky tack or hanging strips to hang it up. If you have any improvements or adjustments to this project that worked for you, let me know in the comments!