Leafy Picture Frame

by Deborah Slater

This project was inspired by a photograph that my sister took of her son, my nephew. I decided that it needed an appropriate frame so I made one from a sheet of 5mm Polystyrol using the Hot Wire Foam Factory Engraving Tool and Hot Knife Tool.

The first step was to acquire some leaves for reference. I could have looked online however a walk around the neighbourhood was more productive (good exercise too) and, after assessing various leaves, I returned with a pocket full of Oak leaves. I chose them partly because of their quintessential Englishness and also because, although they have a distinctive shape, there's also a huge amount of variation. It'd be pretty hard to get the shape wrong when cutting the foam.

Having acquired the leaves I tried out various arrangements to see how I might, in the design of the frame, hide the fact that they are not attached to twigs. I also marked a rectangular area in the centre of the polystyrol to indicate the area that would absolutely have to be clear in order to display the picture. I then drew around the leaves, one at a time, onto the polystyrol using a felt tipped pen.

The next step was to go over all of these lines with the engraving tool before cutting out the shape with the Hot Knife. It's better to do it this way round because the edges are harder to shape with the engraver if you cut them first. Engrave first, and cut second. Of course the big advantege of the Hot Knife is that you don't need to disconnect and reconnect wires to cut out areas such at the centre of the frame and can plunge it in where you want to begin cutting.

The final step was to paint it and for this I used water based acrylic paint; which does not affect the foam.

The finished frame is a very simple single layer and the photo is held in place with masking tape. However with a little more work it would be easy to make a frame from multiple layers of foam such that there was a rectangular opening, possible glazed with clear plastic sheet, and perhaps with additional leaf shapes attached on top of the first to give a more three dimensional effect.