American Foam Technologies Balsa-Foam
DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint: Snow White, Dragron Fruit, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Irish Moss
Paintbrushes: medium chisel, round
Sharpened wood dowel or orange stick
Pencil and transfer paper
Container for water
Large plastic paper clip (optional)
This idea was originally published in our 2016 Garden issue. Subscribe today and save off newsstand prices! You’ll get ALL the projects delivered to you in six jam-packed issues per year.
1. Print full-size patterns and cut along outside lines of pattern. Trace pattern onto foam using pencil and transfer paper.
2. Cover work surface with newspapers. Use craft knife against ruler to trim off foam along bottom of frame. Continue to cut away sides and top in sections. Score lightly first and then press more firmly for deeper cuts with several passes of the knife. If an area is hard to reach, simply cut away excess around it to get in closer. Save scrap pieces of foam for sanding later.
3. Trace over and deepen all internal lines using a mechanical pencil with lead retracted. Work on one area at a time, pressing deeper with several passes of the pencil. Turn over foam and gently pat to remove dust.
4. Carefully scoop out photo area with spoon. Start with inside edges of the line and scoop down ¼”. Smooth foam by evenly scraping edges with spoon. Use short end of plastic ruler, held upright to pull across area and lightly against edge to even out foam edges.
5. Round off all edges on frame using dowel and scrap pieces of foam. Rub with fingers or soft cloth to finish smoothing everything. Dust off with cloth.
6. Paint top and sides of frame white, smoothing paint as you go. Apply second and third coats if needed for opaque coverage.
7. Apply colored acrylic paints to high (not recessed) areas on front of frame. Dip ends of chisel brush into paint and dry brush from center of area out so that edges are feathered. Repeat in all colored areas as shown.
8. Cut out picture-area shape pattern, trace onto back of photo and cut photo. Use tape on back of photo to hold it in frame. To create hanger loop on back, hold frame between fingers to determine balance point. Slightly separate curved ends of paper clip ½”. Place frame on table. About 2¼” from top at the balance point, insert shorter, rounded paperclip end into foam, angled up, creating a hanger loop with longer end of paper clip. Hang or display upright.
*tip: Balsa-Foam is very easy to carve, which means it can be accidentally gouged or marred. Trim fingernails and handle carefully. After painting or applying a finish, Balsa-Foam is sturdier.