Sand and shells picture frame

sand texture smoothfoam picture frame

I have always loved the addition of texture in art, whether it’s the tiny brush stokes of Van Gogh or the addition of fibers, rusty metals, embossing powder or glitter to my current craft project.

But this not a case of adding texture. It was a case of covering up an error. Yes, I know that’s hard to believe, but I occasionally make a few mistakes, and while you might never notice them, they drive me crazy. In fact, while some designers are the Queens of Creativity, or the Divas of Design, I am Her Highness of Hiding Mistakes.

This shells and sand picture frame started out as a simple tutorial on how to make a little frame for one of my favorite quotes about the beach. It got ugly quick.

I use an awesome heat foam cutter. It cuts Smoothfoam like butter, but that’s my problem. I tried to zoom through the inner cuts and wound up with one side not only crooked, but ¼” smaller that the opposite side. When I tried to correct the error, I made the cut too long, almost cutting the entire side off.

So here’s what I did…I got out the heat tool, went outside and heated up the whole thing, using the side of a pencil to mush the edges into a semi-straight line. I liked the look, and instant texture was born. The effect reminded me of the beaches near Charleston, South Carolina where they aren’t white sugar sand, but have bits and pieces of beautiful granite mixed in and huge chunks of it protruding from the beach.

Once that part was done, I was officially in love with this project, and I became positively giddy as I added to it! Learn how to make your own DIY beach picture frame below.


Smoothfoam sheet, 1” x 6” X12”
Golden Acrylic paints—Titanium White and Yellow Ochre
Sophisticated Finishes metallic paint—Bronze
8-½” x 11” piece of muslin
Computer and printer
Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue
Chipboard or corrugated cardboard
Assorted shells, beach glass, embellishments
Heat tool
Paint brush and sponge
Adhesive tape

Safety note: Wear a mask when melting Smoothfoam; do it outdoors or in a large room with plenty of ventilation.

1.  Cut Smoothfoam to 6” x 8″ and remove the center area (3-¼” x 5-¼”, reserve this inner rectangle).

2.  Heat this frame with heat tool, moving the heat around quickly as it starts to melt. If you have a large uneven section that needs to be straightened, heat it and quickly roll a brayer or the wooden part of a pencil over the area to flatten it. Allow to cool.

3.  Paint the frame, front and back, with a mixture of two parts Titanium White and one part Yellow Ochre. Be sure to get down into the crevices. Allow to dry.

paint smoothfoam frame

4.  Working on a small area at a time, apply the bronze paint and quickly wipe it off with a paper towel. Using swiping and dabbing motions to get a nice mottled look. Allow to dry and apply more of the white/gold paint with a sponge to highlight some areas.

5.  Create a quotation on the computer and center it inside a rectangle that is the size of your frame opening. Tape a piece of muslin fabric to a sheet of computer paper. Place the fabric/paper in your manual paper feed tray and print the quotation on the fabric.

6.  Use a foam cutter to slice the depth of the piece of Smoothfoam you removed from the frame’s center to about 5/8” – this creates the sunken look when placed in the frame. Center the muslin on the rectangle and wrap it around the foam like a gift, secure with  adhesive tape. Place it inside the frame; it should fit snugly without  adhesives to hold it in place.

7.  Cut a sheet of chipboard or cardboard to 5-½” x 7-½’ and glue it to the back of the frame.

8.  Embellish as desired with shells and beads, etc.

And here’s how I discovered how handy those little scrap pieces of Smoothfoam can be…the 3/8″ sliver that I cut from the inner frame to make it thinner was laying on my worktable, broken into two pieces, when the mailman arrived with a very hefty package for me. It contained three huge vintage spools from cotton mills, which were used for the spun threads. Several pieces of silk thread in a yummy beige color were draped artistically across the spools. No way that was going in the trash! I picked up the scrap Smoothfoam and began winding the thread around it to keep it from tangling. I pressed the end of the thread down on the edge of the Smoothfoam and it held instantly.

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