ChristmasHome DecorPopular PostsQuick Crafts

Picture Frame Luminaries

Create the perfect personalized home decor or handmade gift!

Need to create a meaningful project that is perfect for holidays, celebrations, centerpieces and more?  These Picture Frame Luminaries are your answer!  A wonderful handmade gift, keepsake or even decorations for receptions or showers!  Highly personal and highly customizable!  With the majority of supplies from the dollar store, they are inexpensive as well!

Four picture frames glued in a square with vellum photos. Candle illuminates the center.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy anything in this post I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you!

I am REALLY, REALLY excited to share these picture frame luminaries with you today.  They are perfect for your dining table or mantel.  They work wonderfully for events like wedding or baby showers, receptions, and graduations!  Really…any time of the year!  I am pretty sure I will find a place for this up year round!  :) Last year I shared my wine bottle luminaries…I tend to like things that light up during the holidays!!!

Easy and inexpensive tutorial to make these picture frame luminaries! 

Supplies for Picture Frame Luminaries:

How to Make Photo Luminaries:

I started off by finding four photos that I wanted to feature on my centerpiece.  I took some photos of my boys in August and so I used one of Michael, one of Ryan, one of both of the boys and then I had to dig back to the really, really archives and dig out a photo of Fred and I …FROM OUR WEDDING…(in 2008) because apparently, that is the LAST time we took a decent photo together (read: that is the last time I was not BEHIND The camera taking the pictures!).

I bought two pieces of vellum at Michael’s.  You can find it in the open scrapbooking paper section or I linked to packages of it above.  (In case you don’t want to leave the house or have multiple to make!)  


It looks like wax paper (opaqueness) but not waxy!  It’s awesome.  The only vellum I could find had a print through it.  I thought “Hey what will this faint vine print do to my photos…probably nothing”…WRONG!  It shows through!  (as you can see the vine pattern in the photo above)  So I linked to both solid and patterned vellums above.  Your choice.  I was happy with the surprise after I made it!

I printed my photos on my home printer directly onto my vellum…and then I trimmed them down to size.

Easy steps to make these awesome picture frame luminaries.

I took out the happy family that was in the dollar store frames and I replaced it with our family photo printed on vellum…ON TOP of the GLASS!  So it goes frame face down, vellum photo face down and then glass on last. You don’t not use the frame backing at all.  I did this so that when you place the candles inside…you don’t risk lighting your house on fire!  Just sayin…kind of important!

Once in your frames, glue them together into a cube.  NOTE:  Gorilla glue (which is what I used) expands when it dries…so be sure to apply a thin line and towards the inner side of the joint.

Assemble Picture Frames into a cube to form these awesome picture frame luminaries.

Then you are ready to assemble your centerpiece.  Simply put the cube frame over the square mirror.  This will help reflect the light from your votive making the photos clearer and more prominent.  Then place the votive inside and light! 

Add Mirror and Tea lights to make Picture Frame Luminaries

Even when not lit, it’s still a focal piece and something everyone comments on when they come over!

Update:  You may also love this Seasonal Luminary that celebrates the seasons!  Highly customizable and you can just rotate for the new seasy!  Multi-tasking home decor!

Photo frame luminary with added seasonal inserts made with the Cricut Maker

Uses for picture frame luminaries:

  • Handmade gift idea – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas
  • Centerpieces for Weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties
  • Home decor – mantel, side tables, shelves
  • Party Decor – Graduations, Birthday parties, retirement celebrations.

A photo luminary on the end table in a living room

And here it is lit at night!  How cool?!?!?  What a great centerpiece this will be on your holiday table or mantel!

A picture frame luminary illuminated and at night. Glowing.

Picture Frame Luminaries at thatswhatchesaid.com

Some other great handmade keepsake ideas to try:

Finished Illuminated Picture Frame Luminary as home decor.

This post was originally part of my yearly 25 days of Christmas Series!  Be sure to sign up for my emails so you get all the current year’s posts for free, to your inbox!  

You might also like this Thumbprint Christmas Light Frame

PIN THESE PICTURE FRAME LUMINARIES:

diy photo luminaries

173 Comments

  1. this is really cute!! i love easy – and cheap! – crafts, this may make a great xmas present for the in-laws!! thanks!!!

    1. Thank you! I was thinking perfect present for grandparents also! They would love this and you can make several and not go broke :) Thanks for the nice comment!

        1. If you are using real candles, I would recommend glass. Otherwise you can use whatever you’d like! The Mirror actually sits inside the square of the frames so that the frames sit flush on your table top. The frames do not sit on top of the mirror.

          1. Right, I just didn’t know if the wood would make it darker to see the photos meaning it wouldn’t reflect from the candle/light. Where did you get the mirrors?

          2. I’ve called OfficeMax and Staples and they’re unable to do it because it might melt the paper because they use higher power..I hope that doesn’t happen when I do it from a home printer..lol and can I use a regular printer or does it need to be a laser?

          3. That’s interesting Marlene. The Office Max by me has done it several times for me before we had our own printer. I brought them my vellum and they printed it no problems at all. I used inkjet to make these.

        1. Mary Lou you could got to a print shop like Office Max. They should be able to print them for you. I bet they even have vellum already, but I would call and double check first. Otherwise I have had them print on paper I brought with me before!

  2. How did I miss this yesterday? This would be a great Christmas gift for the grandparents! Lovin’ the creativity, friend!

  3. You girl have been busy and so very creative. Glad you shared this with the dollar tree party. We are almost up to 100 clever and inspiring Dollar tree Christmas ideas.

  4. This is a great idea for a graduation party too. Just use pictures from k through 12 and place on your tables. My daughter loved this.

    1. Thanks Janet. You just cut the vellum the size of a photo. Then just sandwich the vellum between the frame and the glass (just opposite than normal with the vellum on the outside of the glass) like normal. No tape or adhesive needed.

  5. Do you have a video tutorial on how to make this photo frame luminary? I love this and plan on making for Xmas gifts. Thanks

  6. Pingback: DIY Photo Gifts
  7. Did you use an inkjet printer or a laser printer? I have had unpleasant experiences printing onto different “papers” in the past :-)

      1. I have actually done the Martha Stewart version with the 3 frames. I did color, black & white, & sepia, all of them look amazing!!

  8. Hi! I love this idea for a Christmas gift!! But one question- do the frames just rest on the mirror? Or is the mirror glued on? And does it have to fit the size exactly? Thanks!

      1. Can you please provide detail on the placement and size of mirror? I thought the cube gets glued on. I’m having a difficult time finding amirror this size.

  9. I’m so glad I found this! I am making these for my sister, mom, mother-in-law, and both of my sisters-in-law for Christmas! Are the picture frames you used plastic or metal? Thanks!

  10. Please help! I can’t figure out how to get the frames glued together. I bought the same ones from dollar tree. The sides are flat but there is only one thin line of plastic to try to glue it to when you are putting them together. What am I missing?

  11. hi I love this idea and am in the making of making one. my question is how did you get the glass from the frame to stay in place?

  12. AMAZING! Just made 5 of these and they turned out beautiful!! You’re a genius and I am so glad I found this pin! Thank you thank you for your creativity!

  13. I made this over the weekend and I LOVE it! Thank you so much for the idea! It is so pretty. Now I just have to find a good place to put it so everyone can see my beautiful, glowing family! :)

  14. Pingback: Casablancaesque Red & Black Wedding: Megan + Michael
  15. Hi, Im trying to print the photos on the vellum paper that i got from Micheals. I doesn’t seem to show clear picture after I print. Please let me know asap.

  16. Hi there, I know this post is old, but I am getting ready to make this as a Christmas gift. I was wondering what kind of vellum paper to use? I was going to purchase it online and there are different weighted vellum papers. It’s pretty confusing. Thanks!

  17. Cute idea! I’m making these for my Mother in Law for Christmas! Question though. I have the vellum prints, then the glass, but what’s supposed to hold them in place? My frames are also from the dollar tree, did you glue the glass frame down?

  18. Hi Cheryl, I love this photo luminary idea and bought all of the materials yesterday. One problem though, when I print the photos on vellum, the ink doesn’t seem to dry. Do I need a different kind of ink? Or just let the photo sit and dry for a long time before using?

      1. Hi! I just saw this post…I printed mine in draft, it worked a lot better. Still took a little while to dry, but not nearly as long as regular or photo.

  19. Hi! I love this idea! I am attempting to make these for the grandparents as christmas gifts. I have actual color photos that I had printed at CVS. Can I use these or should I print black and images on the vellum? Also what size mirror did you use and are they supposed to fit perfectly? Thanks!

  20. Thanks for the awesome craft idea! I made two of these last night as Christmas gifts for family members. It is my daughter’s senior year so I included a baby picture, a kindergarten picture, and 2 senior pictures. I found everything as you said at the Dollar Tree and Michaels. I printed my pictures in black and white as yours looked black and white, and they look cool illuminated with the “fake” tea-lights I found at the Dollar Tree by the picture frames. No fires here – lol! One tip – make sure the picture frames are flat (no curves or indents) as the flat ones glue better. I used a bit of tape with one end folded for easy removal to brace the frames as they dried.

  21. For someone who is not crafty (like me)… maybe my mistakes will help you. The 1st picture frames I bought did not hold the glass in without the backing. The tabs did not reach far enough to hold the glass in by itself. The 2nd frames I bought were “fancy” and were almost impossible to glue together because there was only a small strip. So buy a straight edge for sure!!! Hoping 3rd time is a charm ; )

    Thanks for the awesome idea! Love it!!

    1. Lori, I’m not crafty either. Did you have any luck on your third try? I bought frames today and the best I can think of is to actually tape the photo along the edges to stay on the glass.

  22. Thank you SOOOOO MUCH for this idea! My boyfriend died unexpectedly 6 weeks ago…moneys real tight this year. We’re young…didn’t have life insurance. These are PERFECT gifts for family and friends!! Just wish he didn’t have soooo many!!
    Thank you again!!

  23. I found this on Pinterest and so glad I did. I made this for my mom for Christmas. I put all her grandkids in the frames.It was perfect. She loves it. She has a large electronic candle she uses. She was worried about melting and wax. Thanks so much for the idea!

  24. Hey is it okay to use regular photo paper instead of vellum? I can’t find the vellum anywhere but I have everything else.

      1. You can get vellum paper at Staples, either online or in a store. My problem has been holding the photo to the frame once the backing is taken out!

  25. How did you get the glass to stay in the frames without the backs. We’ve got ours all built but then we put the pictures and glass it and it just falls over.

  26. Hi Cheryl,

    I love your website. I have been trying to figure out what to do as a side business for fun, and I think maybe this could be it. I am going to make some of the picture frame luminaries for my friends event next month. I was wondering if you could tell me a good printer to purchase that isn’t too expensive.

    Thank you for your time and shares.

    Take care, Jenn

    1. Sandra, I have not tried it with color. The black and white works great because of the high contrast, the images are still able to be made out through the candle light. I am not sure if the color will be too much?

  27. Pingback: Old Photo Frame Craft Ideas – DIYs and Upcycling – ALL YOU | Deals, coupons, savings, sweepstakes and more…
  28. this is such a beautiful idea…we just lost our uncal and i was thinking of something to make as a rememberance of him at the get together and im on my way to the dollar store to get everything i need to make these thank you for sharing

  29. Hi Cheryl,
    This idea is very clever and I LOVE the accidental vine printed vellum. I think it looks great and if you hadn’t said it was a mistake, I would have never known. I am going to try this myself, but I am wondering if using a laser printer will work? I don’t have an inkjet.
    Thanks!
    Jody

  30. The picture frame luminaries…. I am stuck I have the image printed and trimmed. And the glass behind it. But how do I get the glass to stay without the black frame backing??? Did I get the wrong type of frames?

  31. I just bought vellum paper, but mine resembles more of a card stock. Is it supposed to be thick, or some kind of vellum tracing paper…I have seen both?

  32. Pingback: Picture Frame Luminaries - That's What Che Said... - Yo Santana!
    1. Sandy I used the existing clips on the frame. I inserted the vellum, then the glass then used the clips on the frame to secure that. Instead of glass then picture as you would do normally, I put the picture on the outside to keep away from the candles.

  33. Hi so I am making this but decided to put small pieces of quarter round trim at each corner to make it look more symmetrical, it’s looking nice

    1. Sounds beautiful Aaron! I am surprised that the non-symmetry of mine, does not drive me batty….because normally it would, lol! I’d love to see a picture if you have one of your finished project! You can email it or post to my facebook page!

  34. Just made 8 of these for family. They look amazing with color prints and I used a mirror board on the bottom so I could glue it to the frame and so it doesn’t break (I’m clumsy). Also, I used the LED tealights instead of real ones and it still looks so pretty! Thank you so much for the wonderful idea! I think everyone is going to love them. :)

  35. Hello, I LOVE this idea and can not wait to get started! I was wondering if you knew what weight your vellum was? I am a newbie to this sort of thing, and when I was looking online for some vellum i saw that it varies in weight anywhere from 17-100+ lbs and from what I can tell the weight is what makes the difference in the transparency…making some to thin to print on and others to dense to see through. Thanks in advance!

    1. Christina, I went and looked at the sheets I have in my craft room and they do not have a weight on them. I purchased them from the open stock paper at the craft stores. I would say they are less than 80lb card stock but a bit thicker than regular weight copy paper. I am sorry I can’t be of more help. If I happen to find a sheet that has the weight listed on it, I will be sure to come back and let you know!

    1. Hi cheryl, I’m new at blogging, but my aim of my site is to create a resource where people can learn different creative and craft skills through great tutorials. As an Occupational Therapist, I’m trying to add and element of the therapeutic and creative benefits of learning new skills to the posts I collect. I have written a post about your picture frame lamp and linked it back to you. I hope this is ok, after reading your “fine Print” I wanted to seek your permission to see if the post wasn’t breaking any rules or anything. If I am, I will gladly take it down. So, if you want to check it out and let me know your feedback.
      Thanks Karen

  36. Hi there!
    I have a silly question??
    So is it just the picture on then the glass? Or do you do the cardboard backung on too?
    Again probably an obvious thing. I don’t know lol
    Stephanie

  37. Someone has probably already asked this but I just didn’t read it and this is probably a dumb question anyway, but what is the size of the mirror used in this project? TIA

  38. Hi. I can’t wait to make these for family gifts this Christmas. What if we can’t find the vellum. Would printing on pictures still work or are they not transparent enough?

  39. I would love to make this for Christmas! However, I don’t have a printer at home to print on vellum. Whenever I need something printed, I go to Staples. Would it still work on regular paper?

    1. Hi Vicki!
      I originally made it with hot glue but found that the hot glue did not adhere to the smooth surface of my frames nearly as well as the gorilla glue does. It was so fragile with the hot glue. I hope that helps!

  40. Just got in Pinterest (I know, I’m late getting into this) and for my very first project, I made your photo boxes as centerpieces at my son’s rehearsal dinner. Printed the photos in color and used all the links you provided to purchase the votive lights and the mirrors. It was a huge success!! Thank you so much for providing links to all the materials and for the excellent directions!

  41. Can you update/replace pictures after this is put together? I want to be able to add more updated pictures as the kids grow.

    1. Kristine, it all depends on the width of the frame you use. If you can glue the frames together without overlapping the back any then yes you can certainly replace/change the photos out! I can on mine! If the frame itself has a smaller width edge and they overlap when you put them together that will be a bit harder to change out!

Leave a Response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.