I love hidden compartments. I also love paper. This photo frame has 3 Hidden compartments. One on the left side, one on the right, and a large one on the back. So there plenty of places to hide something while keeping your photos sat on your desk or hung on your wall. Even better, the photos can be removed and changed at will. If you want to learn how to make this then read on.
Step 1: Supplies
Glue and q tips to spread it.
2 Sheets of cardstock 8 1/2" by 11" (can be colored or white)
Scissors and a craft knife
Pencil and eraser
Paper Embossing pen or something like a bone folder that you can score paper with.
Paint (I used acrylic in matte black, Metallic black and metallic silver)
If you are using nice colored card stock the paint in unnecessary, I chose to paint mine because I don't like white and white card stock is all that I had.
Step 2: Planning It Out
Before I begin a project I work it out on paper. I try and think through problems before even constructing something.
I even use small scraps of paper to roughly sketch out ideas and designs to give me an idea of how things are going to come together at the end. I play around with folds and I keep track of failures by writing the word fail on them. I store these for use later because they can help in projects down the road as well.
My plan never exactly matches the actual steps but it is always my way of brainstorming and getting the idea down.
I work out a lot of the kinks using visualization as well, which is why what I wrote for the cuts doesn't match what I ended up cutting out as you will see in the next step.
The planning phase for me is more of a rough sketch of what my end result will be, rather than a complete step by step of how I will make it.
Step 3: Cut Your Pieces
Cut into two, 5 inch by 8 1/2 inch strips, then you will have one 1 inch wide strip remaining (3 Strips total)
Take the first 5 by 8 1/2 inch strip and cut it into two, 4 inch by 5 inch pieces.
Take the Second 5 by 8 1/2 strip and cut it to 5 inches by 8 inches.
Take the 1 inch by 8 1/2 inch piece and cut Four 1 inch by 2 inch pieces.
Cut one 6 inch by 8 1/2 inch strip, then the remaining piece will be 5 inches by 8 1/2 inches
Take the 5 by 8 1/2 inch strip and cut this to 5 inches by 8 inches.
Take the 6 by 8 1/2 inch strip and cut this to one 4 by 6 inch piece and one 3 by 6 inch piece.
I think I made that sound more complicated than it really is, so just to be clear when you have finished cutting you will have the following pieces:
1: 4 by 6 inch piece
1: 3 by 6 Inch piece
2: 4 by 5 Inch pieces
2: 5 by 8 Inch pieces
4: 1 by 2 inch pieces
There are 10 pieces in total.
The 1 by 2 inch pieces are not shown in the photos above because I did not cut them until I needed them as I didn't want to loose track of a smaller piece, So I just kept the 1 inch strip to the side until I reached nearly the end and cut them then. You can cut them now or you can wait, These are the last component that you will add to the finished frame.
Step 4: Score the 3 by 6 Inch Piece
Begin by scoring the 3 by 6 inch piece. Score one inch in from the left and right hand sides, and one inch up from the bottom, as seen in the photos above.
Then mark and cut a 1 inch square off of each corner.
Sit this aside for later.
Step 5: Score the 2, 4 by 5 Inch Pieces
Begin by scoring this into 1 inch increments as shown in the first photo. (1 inch wide by 4 inches long)
Then measure an inch down and in from each corner and mark these as shown in the first photo in pencil.
Then draw a diagonal line from the corner of the line you just made up to the edge of the paper within the second 1 inch increment that you previously scored. Repeat this on each corner so that you get something like is shown in the third photo.
Then cut this out and repeat this for the second 4 by 5 inch piece.
These are going to be the short 4 inch long sides of your finished frame.
Step 6: Score the 5 by 8 Inch Pieces
This is probably the most difficult step of the process, because there is a lot to score.
First start by scoring it into 1 inch increments (1 inch by 8 inch increments to be precise)
Then measure down from your outer edge 2 inches and score the outside 1 inch increment. Repeat this for all four corners.
Then measure 1 inch down from the top and score across the three interior 1 inch increments. Repeat this on the other end.
When you are finished you will have scored the lines as shown in the first photo.
Now you want to score diagonally as shown in photo two.
Once you have scored the entire page then you will need to cut along the previously scored lines up to the areas that you have just scored. This is drawn in photo three. Each of these will be glue flaps.
The fourth image shows you the cut lines on the left hand side and the score lines on the right hand side.
Score and cut both of the 5 by 8 inch pieces, then proceed to the next step. These will be identical to one another when finished (so don't score one and cut the other, you score and cut both pieces)
Step 7: Fold the 5 by 8 Inch and the 4 by 5 Inch Frame Pieces
Basically you just want to fold and crease you paper along all of the lines that you just scored.
On the 5 by 8 inch pieces.
I kept the parts that I had wrote on towards the inside, so I folded all but the center 1 inch increment to the outside of the piece while I folded the center flap towards the inside. Your flap folds don't have to be perfect at this point as you end up moving them quite a bit while assembling this, so mostly focus on the 1 inch increment folds as shown in the last photo.
On the 4 by 5 inch pieces
Just fold the 1 inch increments this is shown in the last photo.
Step 8: A Bit of an Explanation and Some Information on Adding the Frames Hidden Compartments.
The first time I made this I colored 3 of the one inch increments blue in an attempt to demonstrate where you will glue and what each increment becomes.
After completing the frame I thought of a better way to label and describe them. So above what you see in the photos are Each of the frame pieces, With the glue flaps rounded to make them easier to distinguish. You don't want to actually round your flaps though, keep them straight. The above is for demonstration purposes only. I also broke the pieces up into sections a, b, c, d, e (these are the 1 inch wide increments you scored on the 4 by 5 inch and 5 by 8 inch pieces) A is your inside, b is the back, C is the center (frame edge) and D is the front, while E is also the inside but glues under A. You can add secret compartments any where you want, Although adding them to the Front and the Inside was more difficult than I wanted to try, as you would have to cut through 6 pieces of paper on the inside of the frame and into the 4 by 6 inch piece that will become the front of the frame.
I would suggest adding secret compartments on b, the back, or c, the center. Both of mine in the finished piece are on C, which is the center. You can add them any where you want. If you add one where the flaps come together, As I did, then you will want to glue your flap into place first then cut the flap, Which I show in detail in the next steps.
Decide, where you want your flaps to be before proceeding to the next step, and mark them and cut them.
Also look at the second photo and you can see what each piece will become.
This will help you if you decide to put your hidden compartments in different places on the frame than I did. Otherwise you can probably ignore this step completely.
Step 9: Cut the Secret Compartments and Start Building the Frame.
Keep in mind that the blue is the first build and the white is the second demonstration build.
Start by laying your pieces out as illustrated in photo 1.
Next determine where you want your hidden compartment flaps to be and cut them out. You can put them in different places than I did, however keep them to the back (b) or the center (c)
At this point I actually glued the bottom of my frame together (The 5 by 8 inch piece). Glue flap e under flap A. Then I attached the center flap with glue to one of the 4 by 5 inch side pieces. Then I cut the Secret compartment flap. (Glue your flaps to the inside, not the outside)
I then cut a flap in my second 4 by 5 inch piece. This compartment won't cross any of the flaps when glued so I didn't glue the pieces down yet.
Step 10: Continue Constructing the Frame
On the Bottom frame piece that you have already constructed in the last step, Glue the diagonal flaps down. There are 4 of these on the bottom piece, so glue each of them as shown in the first two photos.
Then glue the second 4 by 5 inch side piece to the center flap. As shown in photo 3
Now you will have 3 pieces glued together by the center flap. This is shown in photo 4
Go ahead and glue the last 5 by 8 inch piece together on it's own. Glue flap e under flap a, like you did in the last step for the bottom piece, and then glue the diagonal flaps down on the top piece.
Then attach the top piece to your chain by the center flap. This is shown in photo 5.
Now attach the first 4 by 5 inch side piece to the top of the frame by gluing the last remaining center flap to the center of the 4 by 5 inch piece on the left hand side as seen in the last photo.
Step 11: Constructing the Frame Continued
Photo 1, on the inside from the top and bottom of the frame which is 4 inches tall by six inches wide now, you will find 4 flaps,
You will need to glue all four of these flaps together so that you end up with something like shown in photo 2. Repeat this on both the left and right hand side of the frame.
Next add glue to the triangular flaps you previously glued into place, and glue the edge of the frame these corners. Do the back left hand and right hand sides first as seen in photo 4 and 5, and then turn the frame and attach the front as seen in photos 6 and 7.
Now you only have two more flaps to glue down on the right side and on the left side. These are on the center of the frame so they can be a bit tricky to reach, but because you already glued the flaps together you can put pressure on the flaps to make them glue down just by pushing. So start with adding glue to the area shown in photo 8, then push the flap that comes from the front side of the frame (white side in the photos above) down into place. Add glue to the bottom of your last center flap that comes from the backside of the frame and push this up onto the flap you just glued down. As seen in photo 9. Repeat this on the right hand side of the frame.
Now you should have a finished 1 inch wide 4 by 6 inch frame with a hole in the center. In the last two photos shown you can see it from the front (white side) and from the back (blue side)
Step 12: Add the Front Piece.
Add glue around the edge of the frame and attach the 4 by 6 inch piece that you cut at the beginning to the frame.
Next take the 3 by 6 inch piece that we cut and scored earlier and add glue to the bottom flap, then glue this on the back of the frame.
Now I ended up painting mine, and I couldn't paint the inside of the flap, so if your picky and want everything painted I would paint the inside areas of the frame now, before gluing the last to flaps in place.
Otherwise you want to glue the last two flaps to the inside of the frame as shown in photo 5. If you find it difficult to get your fingers in there you can use the end of a pencil. Glue the flaps on the left and the right into place, at which point yours should look like it does in photo 6.
If needed as shown in photo 7 you can trim the top and then add a notch in the center as well. I forgot to take a photo of cutting the notch in this piece but you do need to add a notch too it, especially if you intend on hanging this on a wall, the nail goes through the notch when it's hung up.
Step 13: Finish the Frame
Take the four 1 by 2 inch pieces that you cut.
Go one corner at time, so that you get the curves and the edges placed correctly. The left hand side is going to be opposite of the right, and the top is going to be opposite the bottom. It's easier to see if you have it correct if you focus on one piece at a time.
Use the frame that you constructed and bend the 2 inch long piece around the edge to the front of your frame as seen in the second photo. These will be what holds your photos in place.
I decided I wanted to round my edges. So I used a bottle and made a curve. Then I cut the curved part out. The longer side is going to the outside of the frame.
Then I made a tiny cut on the longer side of my curve. see photo 5. and folded the edge up as seen in photo 6.
next I had to trim this piece so that it didn't cover the access point to the hidden compartment that I made, so if necessary trim yours as well.
Next glue this to the bottom edge of the frame as shown in photo 9.
Fold the top up and make a crease where it folds over the edge of your frame, then add glue to that edge as seen in photo 10. Do not get glue anywhere other than the very edge. Press this down and attach it to the side of your frame as seen in photo 11.
Then you repeat this for each edge. Remember that the left and right mirror each other, so the long side of you curved edge should be on the right side of the right piece but it will be on the left side of the left piece.
The top and the bottom are opposite as well but if you turn the frame so the top is at the bottom then it's the same. The photos above all show the right hand side being constructed.
I kept the bottom of the 1 by 2 inch pieces to the top and bottom of the frame, so they aren't visible from the left and right hand sides which is where my hidden compartments were cut. If you cut hidden compartments at different places that I did, then you may need to play around with positioning these on the frame before cutting a curve in them. Otherwise, just do to the top what you did to the bottom so it's symmetric.
When your finished you should have 4 pockets on the front of your frame that you can slip the corners of a 4 by 6 inch photo into.
Because of the back hidden compartment, you will want a 4 inch tall photo by a 6 inch wide photo, otherwise, what you put in the pocket won't stay in the pocket.
Also if you used a nice colored card stock then your frame is done at this point if not, I'll describe how I painted mine in the next step.
Step 14: Paint the Completed Frame.
So first I painted this with a Matte black acrylic paint. I covered all of the white up, paying special attention to the edge. I did this with my fingers because I am lazy and didn't want to have to clean up a brush. If you don't like making a mess then use a brush or use a q tip. Because I used my fingers I wasn't able to use my phone to take a photo. I'm not sure if you can get acrylic paint off a touch screen.
Next I went over the black matte paint with a metallic black. This might seem redundant but I have found that metallic paints tend to be less opaque than other acrylic paints, so if I had painted with the metallic black first I would have had to use several coats to get all of the white from the paper hidden.
Now is the fun part. I take a ball of tin foil. and a q tip and dip the tin foil into my paint, then I tap it onto the surface of the frame over and over again. Basically I'm using the tin foil like a stamp. This adds paint in random places, Then while the paint is still wet I carefully use the qtip to smear in some mid tones. I just roll it from a wet spot towards a black spot. If you end up with too much silver paint in one area you can add metallic black down again to that area and then reapply the tin foil with silver paint.
If you push too hard on your tin foil it will flatten, leaving paint in larger areas, so you may need to use more than one ball of tin foil. You don't need very large pieces of it however so just aim at a ball that is big enough to pinch between two fingers.
Stop when your happy with how it looks.
It's really easy to do and though it looks kind of odd up close, it looks like a roughly textured surface from a distance. It also kind of looks like it's made of silver, because I used silver paint. You can use other colors if you want and play around with texture that this gives you as well. It's fun to paint with tin foil so I use it on a lot of projects.
Step 15: All Finished
So your done, and it's all painted. Now just add a photo, and hang it on your wall. You can store some usb sticks in the frame or a pencil or some extra money in the back pocket. and unless someone looks closely at the sides or pulls it off the wall to look at the back, they're not likely to see the hidden compartments.
Plenty of secret places to store whatever you want to hide.
Oh and since I forgot to mention this previously to open the compartments you insert the tip of a pencil or a paper clip into the v shaped hole, the pop it open. A bit of added security so what you store inside them doesn't fall out, To close the hidden compartments you just push them in past the edge of the paper.