How to Frame a Handwritten Letter: Steps + Ideas

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The modern digital age has made communication so much easier. You can correspond with friends, family members, and even strangers across the world in a matter of moments. But while instantaneous communication is convenient, it can also feel impersonal. Even the most heartfelt words don’t always feel as meaningful on a screen. 

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On the other hand, handwritten letters often carry a lot of significance. There’s something undeniably special about being able to see the handwriting of a loved one scrawled across a page. Whether it comes in the form of a sweet post-it note or a lengthy love letter, some messages are worth holding on to. Framing your most beloved messages is a beautiful way to preserve memories.  

What Supplies Will You Need to Frame a Handwritten Letter?

You could certainly visit a professional frame shop to ensure a beautiful framing for your letter. But when it comes to framing such a personal artifact, many people prefer to do the work themselves. There are certain supplies you’ll need to assemble in order to best showcase your letter:

Framing materials

The most crucial element you’ll need for this project is a frame. There are countless frames available to buy already, in every style you can imagine. You can also work with an artisan or frame shop to make a custom frame.

Either method should allow you plenty of room for personalization. If possible, you should look for frames that come with UV protective glass in the front. This addition can protect your letter from potential sun damage. 

If you want your letter to look professionally framed, you’ll want to incorporate a mat board. This board will separate the letter from the frame and help showcase it to its best advantage. Look for archival-quality mat board, typically consisting of cotton or alpha-cellulose pulp.

These materials are acid-free, which means they won’t degrade the quality of your letter over time. Look for something with a mild adhesive, like masking tape. Some people also find tape to be helpful during the framing process.

Hanging materials

Some hanging materials are pretty obvious: for example, you’ll need a hammer and a nail to hang up your picture. But several other items can help enhance your art. A tape measure can help you make sure your artwork is centered in the right location, while a pencil will help you mark the perfect spot once you find it. Meanwhile, a level will help you ensure that your framed letter hangs perfectly even. 

If you want to take your display to the next level, you should also look for an art light. An art light is positioned above artwork to distribute light downwards perfectly. Art lights can be mounted to the wall or directly to the frame. They allow you to (literally) highlight your framed letter. 

Creative Ideas for Framing Your Handwritten Letter

While you could just pick up a frame at a department store and call it a day, there are so many creative avenues open for you to explore. When planning your DIY framing project, be sure to take inspiration from these unique ideas:

Make a new letter feel old with vintage touches

There’s something so sweetly old-fashioned about a handwritten letter. It adds texture, color, and character. If you want to antique the letter, you can paint its edges with tea to give it that crinkled, faintly stained look. Avoid letting the tea creep onto the actual inked portion of the letter, making the ink run. Finally, choose an antique frame to round out the look. 

Utilize floating frames to make your letter stand out

We talked earlier about the importance of using an archival-quality mat board to preserve your framed letter better. But if you end up using a floating frame, you can skip the matting altogether. A floating frame is a minimalist glass frame that will make it look like your letter floats in mid-air. Its simplicity makes it extra-striking. 

Create a gallery wall

Can’t decide which letter to frame? You don’t have to choose! Consider installing a gallery wall if you have several letters you’d like to display. A gallery wall is a collection of artwork hung together in a group. You can also intersperse framed letters with photos of the loved ones who wrote them for a truly unique and special decorative display. 

Steps for Framing a Handwritten Letter

If you’ve never framed your artwork, it may seem like an intimidating process. But there’s a lot of joy in doing this kind of project, too. Follow these steps to find out just how fun and simple framing a letter can be: 

Step 1: Select your frame

Earlier, we talked about the supplies you need to assemble to frame your letter. But let’s talk a little more about the frame selection process. There are several factors to consider when choosing your frame and other supplies.

Start by looking at your current decor style to get an idea of what frame styles will best complement it. For example, If your style is more minimalist, look for a sleek and understated frame. Or, if your decor embraces the farmhouse trend, look for frames made of reclaimed barn wood. This technique extends to all styles of decor.

You should also look at the letter you’re framing to gauge what style of frame will help it stand out. An ornate gold frame would be an excellent option for a love letter. If you’re framing a brief note, a floating frame could help it have more impact.

Step 2: Assemble your remaining supplies

Once you choose your frame, you’ll be able to select coordinating supplies, including a mat board and art light. When it comes to a mat board, we’ve already talked about the importance of sourcing archival quality materials. But you’ll also need to choose a color that will play well off of both your decor and the frame itself.

Similarly, your art light should also blend in stylistically. Once you’ve picked out the more decorative items like the frame, board, and light, you should also ensure you have all the other supplies you need. 

Step 3: Frame your letter

Sit down with your assembled supplies in a workspace that allows you ample space to spread out. Ensure that your mat board is the correct size for the frame. If it’s too large, you can cut it down to fit. 

Separate the front of the mat that features a cutout from the back mounting board part of the mat. Place your letter in the middle of the mounting board, then place the top part of the mat over it to make sure everything lines up correctly. Once you’re happy with the position, you can use a little masking tape to secure the letter to the board. This technique will help keep it in place in the long term. 

Next, put the matted letter inside the frame and close up the back of the frame if necessary. Before hanging it up, you should stand back to ensure everything is symmetrical and secure.  

Step 4: Choose the right spot  

Now it’s time to figure out where you’d like to display your letter in your home. If it’s something you want to see every day, place it in a more widely-used area, like your living room. If it’s a more private message, you may want to keep it in a less-trafficked area, like your bedroom. 

Next, narrow down which area of the room you’d like to place your letter. It’s good to look at the room in daylight and in the lamplight to get the entire picture of where it will look best.

Then, use your tape measure to ensure the letter is in the center of your chosen wall. Use your pencil to mark a small “x” on the wall to avoid losing your space. The frame should cover the “x,” but you can also erase it once the nail is in place.

Step 5: Hang up your letter

Place your nail in the center of the “x” you marked, and use your hammer to pound it into the wall. Hang your framed letter on the nail, and then use your level to make sure that your framed art is evenly placed. If you opted to select an art light for your letter, you can go ahead and install that in a central location above the frame. Finally, step back and appreciate your handiwork!

Don’t Just Hang Onto Your Letters - Hang Them Up!

Much like fingerprints, handwriting is unique to each individual. You can tell a lot about a person’s identity and state of mind from the way they write. Entire scientific disciplines have arisen around handwriting analysis. But you don’t have to be a handwriting expert to feel deeply connected to specific handwriting samples.

Many of us can instantly identify the handwriting of our friends and loved ones. Keeping their written words in our possession allows us to keep a part of them with us, even if they can’t be with us for whatever reason. Framed letters can make beautiful keepsake gifts that you can continue to treasure for years to come. 

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