Introduction: ‘Worth a Thousand Words’ Frame

About: I'm a graphic designer who likes making stuff.

For any wordsmiths or reading-enthusiasts out there, this is the project for you. If you’ve got a tattered book lying around, you can repurpose it to make it last rather than throwing it away. In following these steps, your frame can say as many words as your pictures.


  • Blank wooden frame
  • Old, deteriorating book
  • 2 Brushes
  • Craft glue
  • Mod Podge
  • Plastic bowl
  • X-acto/box cutter knife or scissors
  • Decorative paper
  • Decorations
  • Glue dots/tape (optional)
  • Newspaper/throw-away paper to work on

Step 1: Remove Some Pages of a Book and Tear Up Some Pieces.

Remove some pages of an old book and tear up some random pieces of page (what I’ll call ’backdrop pieces’) making a pile. If your book also contains illustrations you’d like to feature, plan out what images you think will fit onto your frame. (You can either use your knife/scissors to cut them out or tear them with your hands.)

Step 2: Locate Some Interesting Phrases or Words in the Text and Extract Them.

Locate some interesting phrases or words in the text (separate from the pile of random pieces you made in the first step) and use your knife/scissors to carefully extract these small phrases/words from the rest of the page. (I’ll refer to them as ‘focal phrases’ in these instructions) Set this group of focal phrases aside, too.

Step 3: Pour Some of Your Craft Glue Into Your Plastic Bowl.

Step 4: Brush Craft Glue on Pieces and Place Them on the Frame.

Use the first brush (I used a foam brush) to brush the craft glue onto the back of each piece in first pile of backdrop pieces, and stick them to the frame one by one. Wrap around any edges with the overlapping paper. Make sure you cover every exposed portion of the frame.

Pro tip: If you have tricky corners to get around, make sure you first have plenty of glue on the piece of paper you’re using to cover it. If you saturate the paper with a good amount of glue, it will bend and adhere easier to edges/corners

Step 5: Plan the Location of Your Focal Phrases.

Once the entire frame (I worked on both front and back sides throughout the project) is covered with your backdrop pieces, locate your group of focal phrases and plan out which ones will fit best on the frame.

Step 6: Tear/cut Pieces of the Decorative Paper

Take your decorative paper and begin to tear/cut pieces of the decorative paper (with either your hands or knife/scissors, whatever you’re most comfortable with). These pieces of decorative paper should be just big enough to frame each individual focal phrase. I estimated the size and adjusted it accordingly.

Protip: Tear pieces of the decorative paper decidedly larger than the focal phrase and tear/cut away room as needed. It’s easier to take bits of the decorative paper away than it is to add it on in this case.

Step 7: Carefully Glue Your Focal Phrases Onto Their Decorative Paper Framing Pieces.

Step 8: Plan Where the Decorated Focal Phrases Now Fit Best on the Frame.

Arrange on your frame where each piece will fit best. The amount of focal text that will fit on your frame will of course depend on the size of your frame. Since my frame was a bit smaller (approx. 6.5x8), smaller phrases/words fit best.

Step 9: Glue/tape the Back of Each of These Decorative Focal Phrases to the Frame Over the Backdrop Pieces.

Step 10: Gather Your Decorations and Decide Which You Desire on the Frame and Where They Will Go.

If you want to specifically make my twine border, continue to Step 11.

Step 11: Roll Out a Piece of Twine or Ribbon Across the Length of the First Edge of Your Frame.

Make sure the twine/ribbon piece hangs off both ends of the frame edge by a few inches on each side. Cut it at the proper length with your knife/scissors.

Step 12: Glue the Portion of Twine/ribbon That Will Touch the Frame.

Take this piece of twine/ribbon and dip it in your bowl of craft glue so that only the length of the frame’s actual edge gets glue and the few inches hanging off each end remain dry.

Pro tip: If some of the twine from the hanging inches gets glue on it, not to worry! It will still work the same, it may just be a little messier for you.

Step 13: Line the Twine or Ribbon Along the Edge on the Front-facing Side of the Frame Like a Border.

Run your finger or brush along it to smooth out the glue and stick the twine/ribbon down well.

Step 14: Repeat This for the Remaining Edges of Your Frame, Remembering to Always Leave a Few Inches of Twine Hanging Off Every Edge

Step 15: Give the Glue on the Twine/ribbon Time to Dry So They Don’t Move Around While You’re Trying to Tie Them

Step 16: On Each Corner, Tie the Two Pieces of Twine Hanging Off the Edge Like You’re Tying a Bow.

If you prefer knots to bows, go for it!

Step 17: Once All the Corners Are Tied, Clean Out Your Bowl of the Craft Glue.

And you can either clean your first brush or use your second brush instead.

Step 18: In Your Clean Bowl, Pour in the Mod Podge.

Pro tip: Mod Podge is similar to glue in that they act similarly as a bonding agent and are both white, but Mod Podge is much looser and more easily spreadable than the craft glue. It also creates a glossier, cleaner finish than craft glue.

Pro tip 2: Right now is when you’ll definitely wanna set down some newspaper to work on top of, if you haven’t set down paper already. I used leftover pages of my book. This is the messiest part of the project.

Step 19: Cover the Entire Project (backdrop Pieces, Focal Phrases, and Twine/ribbon) in the Mod Podge.

Apply it liberally. If you are afraid of the bows/knots coming undone over time, add an extra drop of Mod Podge over the knot portion to seal it in place.

Step 20: Prop the Frame Upright to Dry, Especially If Both Sides Are Covered in Mod Podge. Wait Until Dry.

If you don't prop up the frame, it will get stuck to your surface underneath.

After it has dried, you're done! You’ve now got a frame that’s worth as many words as the lovely image you’ll be putting inside it.