How to Glue and Frame a Jigsaw Puzzle
Read this if the thought of dismantling your completed 1,000-piece project is just too much to bear.
The upside to spending so much time indoors? We have more opportunities to test out new hobbies and crafts—like puzzles. And while a 1,000-piece jigsaw can feel like a daunting, complex undertaking if you're not familiar with the pastime, putting one together is actually a meditative craft that can even result in a piece of art, something you can hang in your home forever. At least that's how Rachel Hochhauser, the co-founder of Brooklyn-based company Piecework Puzzles, feels about it. "We find puzzles to be a calming—and often communal—experience worth commemorating," she explains.
Approaching the project with the intention of gluing and framing it also eliminates that impending dread of having to break up a ton of hard work. As for the best types of puzzles to frame? Look for options, like Piecework's "Life of the Party" ($36, pieceworkpuzzles.com) and "Forbidden Fruit" ($36, pieceworkpuzzles.com), which have plenty of negative space, says Hochhauser—but it's more important to choose something you love. "We like to think all [puzzles] are frame-worthy!" she shares. "But when the image depicts a scene you'd gravitate towards anyway, why not frame a piece of art you had a hand in creating?" Ahead, Hochhauser shares her best tips for gluing and framing your final product.
Complete the puzzle first—don't glue as you go.
"We encourage people to look at puzzles as experiences," Hochhauser explains. "It's about fitting something together by hand, working it through, piece by piece—instead of the outcome." And sometimes, when you're especially proud of the work you've completed, "the act of gluing the puzzle can become an extension of the activity." However, Hochhauser doesn't recommend gluing each piece down one by one, since that disrupts the fun nature of working on puzzles in the first place.
Protect your surfaces before you begin building.
Your process should look like this: "Start by building the puzzle the same way you usually would," with the pieces face up, Hochhauser notes. "But do it on a surface you don't mind getting a little glue on. A big piece of cardboard or foam board works well. You can also use sheets of wax paper for ease and flexibility." Once you've completed your puzzle, make sure it's as flat as possible. "Press it down with books or use a rolling pin," she suggests. Then, brush any dust off the surface.
Choose your glue wisely.
After your puzzle is nice and flat, it's time to glue it down—and some formulas work better than others: "We prefer liquid glue as an adhesive; Mod Podge ($4.99, target.com) is a good standby, but does have a shinier finish," notes Hochhauser. When you're ready to begin gluing, "start on one edge and work glue onto the puzzle, covering the top and making sure it gets into all of the cracks. You can use a regular brush, but a small piece of stiff cardboard or old credit card can also work well to prevent pooling and excess," she explains.
Make sure the puzzle is completely dry before you frame it.
Your glued puzzle should dry overnight, or even longer if needed. "From here, you can either use a spray adhesive to mount it on an appropriately-sized foam board, or, if you're careful, put it directly into a frame," Hochhauser says. "We like to treat puzzles like you would any other piece of art—consider matting it and using a frame that complements the imagery."