How-To: Memory Mirror Frame

Home Photography & Video

By Tiffany Threadgould
Preserve your favorite photo memories with this sentimental sepia-toned mirror. It makes a great gift – especially for weddings and anniversaries.



Photos, in digital form
Mirror with wide frame; I used the Malma design from Ikea
Computer with Photoshop
Printer and photo paper
; optional
X-Acto knife
Cutting mat
Glue stick
, acid-free and archival quality
Polycrylic varnish in brush-on form, or similar protective coating
Sponge brush


Step 1: Choose 8 photos to tile around your mirror.
Step 2: Create a Photoshop template by choosing File/ New and setting your width at 6″, height at 4″, resolution at 150 pixels per inch, and color mode as RGB.
Drag guidelines onto the template, creating a 3 1/8″ square in the center of the rectangle. Create a second template with the same settings, except drag guidelines creating a 3 3/4″ x 3 1/8″ rectangle in the center.
(Note: if you’re using a different mirror frame than I am here, then you may need to size your templates differently to fit.)
Step 3: Bring in your first photo to the Photoshop template you created. Scale it so the image portion you wish to use appears inside the guidelines. To convert the image to sepia tone, go to Image/ Mode/ Grayscale. Once the photo has turned to grayscale, select Image/ Duotone. In the color selection box that appears, make sure the Type is set to Duotone. For Ink 1 choose color # EB8B23. For Ink 2 choose #000000. Select OK. Convert the image back to RGB and save the file.
Repeat this process for all of your images. Then print out all of your photos. I took my digital files to my local photo developer, but you may choose to print them to photo paper on your home printer. If you choose this option, you may want to test the Polycrilic on your photos to make sure the ink doesn’t run or discolor.
Step 4: Use your X-Acto knife, ruler, and cutting mat to cut out your photos.
Step 5: If you can, remove your mirror from its frame and set it aside. (If the mirror can’t be removed, try protecting it with a piece of paper or some masking tape.) Lay the frame on a flat surface and place your photos around the perimeter. Make sure they all fit in their spots. Trim any parts of the photos that extend off the edges of the frame. Then use your glue stick to glue the photos into place.
Step 6 Use your sponge brush and Polycrylic to give the photos a thin protective coating. It’s always a good idea to test a small part of a photo before coating the whole frame. Once the varnish is dry, put the mirror back in its frame and your sepia-toned snapshots will be ready to display.
Variation: Instead of using photos, try this project with food wrappers, like beer labels. Cut them out on an angle. It’s a good way to show off your favorite brands, plus it’s a great mirror for hanging over a bar.

About the author:
Tiffany Threadgould is a design junkie who gives scrap materials a second life. She’s the head of design at TerraCycle, a company that collects and creates products from waste. She also keeps up her own green biz, RePlayGround, where you can find ReMake It recycling kits and oodles of DIY projects. Tiffany thinks that garbage has feelings too and can sometimes be found talking to her pile of junk at her design studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. For more DIY upcycling projects, check out her book, ReMake It!, from Sterling Publishing.

8 thoughts on “How-To: Memory Mirror Frame

  1. Kerry says:

    This is a great idea – my parents’ 40th anniversary is coming up so I may make this for them! I like the label idea, and may make one for myself too! Would you recommend trying it with Modge Podge? I haven’t used varnish before in this fashion, so I was curious if it has any perks over modge podge. Does the finish look nicer?

  2. Tiffany Tomato says:

    Hi Kerry – this would make a great anniversary gift! I’ve made several of these for weddings and they’re a big hit. Modge Podge would definitely work for the labels. I just did a little google research on photos and it looks like traditional photos are fine. Inkjet may smear – so I’d recommend testing out a corner before committing to the whole thing.
    Good luck! We’d love to see photos of your completed project, too!!

  3.! says:

    SO cute!! I think I’ll make one for myself and if it turns out well, I can start making some for others :)

  4. picturebook says:

    Nice idea my people store there memorable photos

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