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Painted Glass Picture Frames

Source: Martha Stewart


When we look at daguerreotypes, those reddish-brown photographs from the 1800s, we can't help but feel a respect for the past and the warm glow of nostalgia -- even if we don't know the people in the pictures. Daguerreotype is a photographic process in which a picture made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine is developed by exposure to mercury vapor. Because these nineteenth-century images were made on a delicate metal plate, they were placed under protective glass in leather and velvet cases and were almost always elegantly adorned with decorative matting.

Inspired by these treasures, Martha created a way to frame photographs that captures the same timeless feel. When choosing a photo to frame, it's best to use black-and-white or sepia-toned prints, which complement the colorful decorative matting, but color photos in muted shades can also be used. Use the glass from an existing frame, or have a piece cut to size at a local glass shop; you can have the mat cut to size at a framing shop. Martha uses a paint color that’s close to the brown of the daguerreotype and a velvet ribbon to match.


  • Utility knife

  • Acid-free mat board

  • Glass (cut just a little larger than the photo's dimensions)

  • Window decal clear adhesive paper

  • Bone folder

  • Razor blade

  • Enamel sign paint

  • Photo

  • Copper foil tape

  • Epoxy

  • Velvet ribbon, 1/4 inch wide

  • Adhesive picture hangers


  1. With a utility knife, cut one piece of the acid-free mat board to the size of the glass you're using; this will be the back of the picture. Cut another piece for the front mat. The outer dimensions of the front mat should be the same as the glass. Cut out the inner piece of the mat so that it makes a frame that’s about 1 1/4 inches wide all the way around. Don't worry if it’s a little off; it will be sandwiched in between the photo and the painted glass, so it won’t be seen in the end.

  2. Download and print the Photo Mat Template. On a copy machine, enlarge or reduce the template to the size of the glass. Copy the template onto on window decal paper. Using the four corners as a guide, center the template on the glass, peel off the back, and adhere (it can be removed to reposition). Smooth away any bubbles with a bone folder. Using utility knife, trace over the outline on the template, and peel away the outer portion. Smooth the inner portion again with the bone folder, paying special attention to the edges. Use a razor blade to clean up any ragged edges.

  3. Using enamel sign paint and a flat brush that's at least 3/4 inch thick, paint the outer area where the window decal was removed. Allow to dry completely, about 2 hours. Peel away the center window decal.

  4. Stack the back mat board, the photo, the cut mat board, and the painted glass (with the painted side facing the photo). Wrap a length of copper foil tape around the stack to secure it. Apply epoxy to the foil tape, and adhere velvet ribbon to the tape; work your way around carefully, gluing as you go. Attach adhesive picture hangers.

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