Creating Your Own Pictorial Family Tree Using Inexpensive Frames, a Little Paint and a Photocopier

Updated on April 26, 2018
alifeofdesign profile image

Graham is a former magazine stylist with a passion for crafts. She writes for various magazines and blogs when she's not playing with glue.

Many people decorate their homes with photographs of their family. There are endless ways to display beloved photos and not all of them require expensive frames or leather bound albums.

I had several old family photos that my mother had given to me that for the longest while remained tucked in a small box in the back of my closet. I wasn't certain how I wanted to display those pictures, but I knew they were much too beautiful to be hidden away where no one else would ever have the pleasure of seeing them.

While I was trying to decide how to show off these pieces of my family's history, I was also in the midst of researching my family ancestry. That's when I decided to use these photos as my own family tree.


I chose frameless picture frames from Michael's craft store. I wanted the pictures to be the focal point of this display, not the frames. Each came with a plain sheet of thin cardstock to protect the glass and tiny silver clips that held the glass to the backing. I used that paper as the matte for each photograph.

I used three coordinating paint colors and painted each of the card stock sheets using several coats of latex craft paint. Using bright colors for each frame would be a very bold design. Painting the frames all the same color would also be quite dramatic.

I arranged all the frames on the floor and lay each photo atop a frame. This allowed me to get a rough idea of which photos looked best next to each other. Once I decided which pictures I would use, I traced the outline of the photograph onto the card stock and then using an X-Acto-knife I cut a hole large enough to show the photo, hence, using the paper as a matted frame.

The most difficult stage of this particular project is hanging the frames. It is very important that the frames hang evenly and that the spaces between each frame are identical. When I worked on this project I hadn't yet purchased a laser ruler and therefore hanging the frames was a tedious task. You can see that my frames are not perfectly spaced.

I cut the hole for this picture a bit too large. To remedy this, I simply painted a small slip of paper and taped in to the back of the 'matte'.
I cut the hole for this picture a bit too large. To remedy this, I simply painted a small slip of paper and taped in to the back of the 'matte'. | Source
Here is a front view of that same picture, shown above.
Here is a front view of that same picture, shown above. | Source
I liked the idea of using these clip frames. They were very inexpensive and once hung, they looked rather attractive.
I liked the idea of using these clip frames. They were very inexpensive and once hung, they looked rather attractive. | Source

Several of the photographs that I wanted for my 'family tree' were borrowed from my aunt. A few other were simply too important to me to risk any potential damage so I opted to make copies of the pictures I would use for this particular project.

At most print centers they offer a few methods for copying pictures. My local FedEx store has a machine that can re-print photographs for very little money. I would recommend you try a color copy of your original picture, as well. Although your photos may be black and white prints, there are slight nuances that remain undetected by the human eye. If you create a black and white copy of your black and white picture it will very likely not look like the original. Therefore, I suggest you make a color copy of your black and white photo.


Designing With Odd Numbers

In design, it is often considered best to use odd numbers. Items placed in groups of three or five look better than groups of two or four, for example. This concept, called "the rule of odds" assumes that an odd number of objects is visually more interesting to the human eye and therefore more appealing. You may, of course, choose to hang any number of frames that you think look best (which is the whole point of design-is it not?)

I've gotten many lovely compliments on my family tree. Having the photographs where my guest can see them allows me the opportunity to share different family tales. I'd like to eventually add more pictures. I think an entire wall would look amazing. Perhaps that will be my next project.

Comments? Questions? Please Leave Them Here. Thank You .

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    • alifeofdesign profile imageAUTHOR

      Graham Gifford 

      7 years ago from New Hamphire

      Hi Millionaire Tips, thanks for stopping by! I have always disliked the idea of my photos stashed in a book and kept in a closet. We also change a few of the pictures out from time to time to keep it interesting for us.

      Best Regards,

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      These are wonderful ideas. I have been trying to think of ways to display my older family photographs. Voted up.


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