Custom Miniature Minimalist Picture Frame




You.  You have a picture laying around.  It's an odd size.  It has much sentiment attached to could be a portrait of a long-lost love...or a rendering of someone (or some...thing) you've only dreamed of.

You'd tack it on your fridge, but magnets are so passé.  You have standards. Maybe you live in a minimalist highrise overlooking the twinkling horizon of Shanghai, and only the best will do. Or maybe you live in a transparent future-submarine, zipping around the Mariana trench, where opaque decorations are silly & verboten.  Well, have I got just the project for you.  

Step 1: Gather Your Materials & Tools

You will need:

Clear Acrylic (3mm thick)

Adobe Illustrator
Laser Cutter
Plastic Strip Heater

Step 2: Measure the Picture You Want to Frame

Break out your ruler(s) & measure away.  You only need 1 ruler, but I used 2. Why? Cuz YOLO.

This photo measures 49mm. x 72mm. 

Step 3: Sketch Out a Laser Cutting File

Our picture is 49mm x 72mm.  Using Adobe Illustrator, create a laser file with the measurements you'd like.  

The frame will be 49mm wide, like the picture.  

The length needs to be long enough to bend 3 times: 2 times for sandwiching the photo between 2 sides of acrylic + 1 time to shape a base.  Let's figure it out:

72 x 2 = 144mm (both sides of the acrylic picture sandwich)
5mm for upper curve (some give where acrylic will bend at the top)
15mm for lower curve (some give where acrylic will bend at the base, )
35mm (for the actual base)

So our total length is 144 + 5 + 15 + 35 = 199mm

Bend Guides
We know the total size of the rectangle will be 199mm x 49mm.  Now add light raster lines where you will be bending the plastic.

Things to Watch out for:
-Leave some clearance in the frame for the picture to slide in between the sandwiched pieces of acrylic. If you make the back piece too long, it will bump into the base & be difficult to open.

Step 4: Use the File to Cut Acrylic in Laser Cutter

Using the file we just made...laser away!  The laser will cut and engrave the acrylic to perfection.

Isn't she a beaut?  Look at the magical clean lines lasers make. It's truly beautiful, like a Neptunian sun gleaming on the iridescent skin of a lizard-human hybrid. know...beautiful like a flower or something.

In the future, everyone will have a laser, I just know it.

If I had a laser to call my own, I would create new decor that could turn any house into a super-future mod plexiglass palace.  As a self-employed lady, lasers are indispensable to my business - they're immensely practical, and infinitely cool.

 Now, on to the 3-dimensional portion of our tutorial...

Step 5: Bend the Acrylic With the Plastic Strip Heater

Place the acrylic on the strip heater at the first engraved line (the one that turns 2 pieces into an acrylic sandwich).

Cool the acrylic by blowing it with the airline. This will help it retain its shape (faster than just waiting for it to cool).

Things to Watch out for:
-Don’t leave the acrylic on the heater too long, or it will bubble and turn brown...or worse - melt into the machine.  Keep checking to see if it’s ready to bend.

Step 6: Bend the Base.

Place the frame on the strip heater, aiming to warm the area between the lower 2 engraved lines.  When it's ready, bend into shape, by sight, or by placing it against a tool to keep the acrylic at a certain angle.

Cool the bent area by blowing it with the airline...and...

Boom! Frame!

Things to Watch Out For:
-Don’t bend the angle of the frame back too far, or it will become off balance, or the top acrylic pieces may bump into the base, not giving enough space for the picture to slide in.

Step 7: Slip in the Photo. Rejoice.

Now, slip in your photo.  Congratulations, you are from the future.

This was made at TechShop, a place where unicorns frolic, angels sing, and dreams come true.

XoXo.  Peace be with you. Yours Truly,




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16 Discussions


3 years ago on Introduction

Very snazzy, but I wonder if one could make it with more ordinary tools which the ordinary hobbyist has access to? Maybe cut the acrylic with a fine saw and buff the cutting marks away, and using a more common heat source for the bendy stuff?

I believe that's actually Twiggy. Edie's eyebrows were thicker and her hair a little blonder and she had a mole on one cheek.



Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Oh my gosh! They must have read my instructables?! How exciting! ^____^


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Yeah back in the 1970s as I have several of these frames that I bought in the 1970s.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Woah! They had in the 70s??? What a long company - so cool they took inspiration from me! ^___^


5 years ago on Step 7

nice, but too much expensive from me, cause i don't have lazier cutting machine :)

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Alas, golmaal...! I'm sure someday they will become as commonplace & easy to obtain as desktop printers...I'm sure of it! ^___^


5 years ago on Step 5

All of a sudden there's a plastic strip heater??? Where di that come from?

1 reply

5 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for sharing , to bend acrylic with a laser cutter you can use the same technique on the following link :
The full documentation on the this link:

1 reply

5 years ago on Introduction

This came out nice. Have you seen the technique to use the laser cutter to make the bend? I'm looking for the video I saw it in for reference.

1 reply

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Thanks mikeasaurus! Woah yes - I've seen a video where they use the laser to make bends ("laser origami", I believe?), but I haven't seen documentation on how to actually put it into practice...would love to try it out! ^__^