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Elevate your home decor with this easy DIY Framed Intaglios tutorial! Learn how to create intaglio art framed to look like a luxury purchase, without paying the premium price!

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy.

A dresser topped with a basket filled with three plants, a buffet lamp, and two gold framed pictures on the wall.

Framed intaglios have made a comeback as a modern element of home decor. Many high end stores including Ballard Designs and Etsy are selling these beauties at high end prices. However, some start in the ballpark of $300 just for one!

For years, I’ve had my eye on home decor magazines and designer Instagram profiles showcasing gorgeous framed intaglios! I’m not entirely sure what it is that has me hooked. Perhaps it’s the elegant simplicity of the smooth white plaster framed over a simple colored background. Or maybe it’s how stunning it looks when surrounded by a gorgeous gilt frame.

Either way, I love the look and know it’s a timeless decor item that I will treasure for a lifetime. I’m all about beautiful home decor and creating a space you love. There are definitely times when it’s worth making an investment purchase for something you absolutely love. However, if there’s a way to get a designer look at a fraction of the cost, why wouldn’t you?

After months of dreaming to have my own set of framed intaglios, I decided there had to be a way to create them without spending hundreds of dollars. After a bit of research and some trial and error, I’ve come up with an easy way to create intaglio art framed on a budget.

A closeup of framed intaglios in two gold frames hanging on a wall.
I framed this DIY Intaglio set using a pair of 14 x 16 wooden frames I’ve had for years. By gilding the frames myself I not only elevated the look, but saved money!

What Are Intaglios

A Seal For Documents

The word “intaglio” is Italian for “carving”. Simply put, an intaglio is a depression carved within a gemstone or glass revealing an image or scene. The earliest intaglios were created over 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. They were used as a portable seal, imprinted in clay or wax to approve the signature for dignitaries on official documents.

Fashionable Jewelry

In later times from the mid 19th century to the early 20th century, intaglios became highly favored amongst the middle class and wealthy alike. They were prized fashion statements especially in men’s jewelry, and worn as rings, watch fobs, charms, and cufflinks.

The Grand Tour

Today’s plaster intaglios we know of, originated from the traditional trip of Europe known as The Grand Tour. Set about mainly by upper-middle class young men, the Grand Tour grew in popularity beginning around the 18th century. The Grand Tour was the traveler’s rite of passage towards an education and appreciation for culture and art. It could last anywhere from a few months to a few years,

Collected as souvenirs on the Grand Tour, plaster intaglios were intended to preserve the arts and culture from ancient times. Think of them as the original postcard or refrigerator magnets your parents collected on family vacations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are intaglios so expensive?

Depending on their age and condition, a collection of antique intaglios can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars! Due to the brand name and quality of framing, modern pre-framed sets can also set you back thousands of dollars. If you choose to frame them yourself, you can purchase plaster intaglios at much more affordable prices online.

Where can you purchase intaglios?

If you don’t want to make your own with air dry clay and wax seal stamps, you can purchase pre-made intaglios online with stores such as Etsy.

What are they made of?

As gems and jewelry, intaglios are made of various precious stones including garnet, sapphire, amethyst, rock crystal, chalcedony, jasper, carnelian, and agate. The Grand Tour intaglios were cast in plaster. Today’s home decor companies find their inspiration for intaglio art framed from the Grand Tour collections.

How are they made?

Early ancient intaglios were cut by hand using simple iron tools in combination with an abrasive powder made from emery rock. Plaster intaglios begin as a mold which is filled with plaster, hardened, and once removed reveals the image as a cameo.

Why You’ll Love This DIY

  • Easy to make
  • Affordable
  • Beautiful

Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

A closeup of a wax seal pressing into a ball of clay.
Press until the clay reaches the perimeter of the seal.
A closeup of 11 dried round intaglios laid out on a piece of cardboard.
Once dry, they are completely white.
A blue hot glue gun squeezing hot glue onto the back of an intaglio.
Use enough hot glue to secure it onto the matting.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t make the clay too thick. (You want it to fit under the frame).
  • Don’t press it too thin either. (It will crack and break under the glass).
  • Make more intaglios than you actually need. (In case some break. It happens!)
  • Make a statement! Choose card stock or scrapbooking paper in a color that compliments the room you will hang your framed intaglios in!

I’d love to hear from you! Do you enjoy simple DIY projects as much as I do? Comment Below!

More DIY Projects!

How To Make Framed Intaglios

DIY Framed Intaglios

Create high end looking gold framed intaglios on a budget!

  • Hot Glue Gun
  • 1 Tub Air Dry Clay
  • 1 Set Wax Seals (any image or design)
  • 2 Picture Frames (gold or any color of your choice)
  • 2 pieces Cardstock or Scrapbook Paper (any color of your choice)
  1. Roll 25-30 balls of air dry clay. Keep them around 1/2 inch in diameter.

  2. Press down on clay with your wax seal.

  3. Lay the clay on a flat surface to harden completely. (This takes a few days. Intaglios will be completely white once dry).

  4. Arrange your intaglios however you like on your cardstock or scrapbook paper.

  5. Mount your intaglio on the cardstock or scrapbooking paper using hot glue. (Don't use too much glue or it will seep out underneath the intaglio).

  6. Place cardstock with glued intaglios and matting into your frame.

  7. Frame your intaglio and hang it wherever you desire!

Always make more intaglios than you think you need. Some will break. (It happens). You can also purchase pre-made intaglios and glue them into a frame of your choice. 

Art, DIY, Easy Framed Art, Framed Art, Home Decor
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Love this idea, they look beautiful.

Kristen Stuertz
2 years ago

Thanks Elizabeth! They do look quite nice for how little effort it takes to make them:)

Jennifer Howard
2 years ago

I love these!! Great idea and fun little project!!!

Kristen Stuertz
2 years ago

Thank you Jennifer! They are fun, and super easy to make:)

Kristen Stuertz
2 years ago

Thank you Elizabeth!