How to Frame 3D Artwork

How to Frame 3D Artwork

It is not only 2D artwork that can be framed. Three-dimensional (3D) objects such as flower bouquets, medals, pieces of porcelain, sports memorabilia, and even jewelry can also be framed. Framing these 3D objects gives you room to decorate your home with those things that you wish to display.

Framing packages for 2D artworks such as glazing, frame, matboard, and backing board are no different from what you need for 3D artworks. However, the type of object you plan to display, especially in relation to its weight and depth, determines how you may have to frame the 3D object.

Framing an object like a sports jersey is quite similar to framing an artwork that is in two-dimension. It is so because jerseys lie fairly flat and are not very heavy. When you want to frame a flower bouquet, you’ll need a very deep frame because of its depth. To frame heavier collectibles like coins may require you to use sturdier backing boards.

The Frame To Use

The Frame To Use

The frame (also called a shadowbox) you should use for a 3D object should have a deep rabbet. The mounting board, glazing, matboard, and artwork are all contained in the rabbet. The depth of the rabbet indicates the amount of space that is available for all the components mentioned.

Frames used for flat artworks and photographs usually have rabbets below one inch; this is very small for 3D objects. It is recommended that you make use of a shadow box whose rabbet has a depth that is over one inch. Such a frame will give more space for different objects.

The Mount To Use

The Mount To Use

To hold the 3D object in place, the backing (either an extra-thick mounting board, foam board, or a mat board) is used. The foam board can also be covered in fabric to help hide pins or thread or to elevate its appearance. In case of heavy items, the fabric may detach from the backing board if not properly attached to it.

Attaching The Items

It can get tricky when attaching items to a frame. You can choose to have the object attached to the backing board or allow the 3D objects to be loose (that is if you are making a do-it-yourself holiday shadow box). The choice of fasteners and adhesives to use depends on the material, weight, sentimental or monetary value of the item.

Fabric or craft glue:

Often PVA adhesives, the commonly available multipurpose glues can provide a strong bond for different kinds of materials. They shouldn’t be used for items that are valuable, as they are permanent and can cause damage or leave a residue.

Double-sided tape:

A double-sided tape is commonly used for lightweight and replaceable items. It is one of the easiest and fastest ways of creating a shadow box.

Hot glue:

Hot glue is a must-have item for DIYers. It can be used for various types of materials, including plastic and paper. Hot glue is not very strong, so it is best used for items that are light in weight, like plastic toys.

Needle and thread:

Invisible thread (or transparent nylon thread) can be used with heavier items that are of the right size or shape as well as fabric. One of the most secure and least damaging ways of attaching items in a shadow box is to stitch the items to a backing board. To stitch these items, you can make use of a nylon thread.

Plastic mounts:

Specially designed mounting hardware is accessible for items such as plates, silverware, and coins that are frequently on display. The items these mounts support are heavy and so they are used often with thicker backing boards and not foam boards.

Silicone adhesive:

Silicone adhesive differs from other glues. It is used often as a household sealant. Silicone adhesive is used to mount different items, including glass and stone because it can be removed easily without any residue left behind.

Silicone adhesive does not damage items it has been used to mount. It is the go-to adhesive for many framers. Outside the framing package, it has to be cured for about 24 hours. The reason for this is that it gives off certain gases.

Stainless steel pins:

Dressmaker pins or stainless steel pins are slender and do not corrode. They are appropriate for fabric items that are light in weight as they don’t cause damage to these items. Pins used may be noticeable in the finished frame when used with foam board.

Assembling A Shadow Box

Making sure that the items in the shadow box are secured should be your priority when planning on assembling a shadow box. Also, you need to consider the best method for attaching the items. To lessen the probability of heavier items falling, they should be laid at the bottom of the frame. This will also make it easy for you to secure them.

Steps For Framing 3D Artwork

Using the steps below, you’ll be able to frame your 3D objects.

Step 1: Make a design layout that goes well with the sizes and shape of the item. The layout should also tell the story.

Step 2: Select mat colors that will complement the tones in the 3D objects being framed.

Step 3: Raise the outer mats to protect them from the glass touching them. Decide on which objects and layers will be placed in a window, or raised, or recessed.

Step 4: Select a frame that is based on one of the color tones in the art pieces you want to frame. The frame you select should amplify the finished product.

Step 5: Think carefully about the type of glass to be used, bearing in mind the 3D nature of the finished product.

Step 6: Cut, join, and put together all the pieces of the frame.


3D artworks can be framed in a similar manner to how you frame 2D artworks. The frame package is the same for both, but for 3D framing, you have to consider the item you plan to display, especially the weight and depth. The process of framing a 3D artwork will be faster and easier if you follow the tips mentioned in this guide.

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