Main Project Plans and Inspiration: Industrial Nine Photo Frame

Main Project Plans and Inspiration: Industrial Magnetic Nine Photo Frame

By: Michael Gray

Growing up, I remember seeing a collage of school photos similar to the one below [1] in the home of a friend. I thought the idea of a collage featuring a centered photo, surrounded by supporting ones was fascinating, and I have desired to own one for myself ever since. However, I was not sure what kind of photos I would fill it with, as I was not interested in having my elementary and high school photos displayed on my bedroom wall.

In order to simplify the design and place slightly more emphasis on the supporting photos, I will be designing and manufacturing a nine-photo collage, similar to the one below [2].

Inspired by the industrial aesthetic, which includes flat, grey, metal faces with 90 degree angles and corners, I look forward to opposing the rustic aesthetic of my upcycled picture frame by creating a nine-photo frame collage with removable photos. I will be creating a 17″ x 17″ exterior frame, with a centered, stationary photo and mini-frame backing featuring magnets. The magnets will be mounted in a rectangular pattern surrounding the stationary frame, so that they allow a maximum of eight other mini frames to be mounted, surrounding the stationary one. These magnetic mini-frames will allow users to switch out the photos featured in the piece without removing the entire nine-photo collage from the wall.

Above is my preliminary design sketch. Indicated in black are the exterior frame and stationary center frame. The colorful mini-frames will be magnetically interchangable, and more than eight will be manufactured, allowing for many combinations of photos in the collage.

One challenge that I forsee, beyond the large number of parts involved, is designing the mini frames in a way that they can easily be detached from their magnetic mounts. I plan to design some sort of ledge on each frame, but I am still working out how to make each frame uniform without a completely flush face, preventing detachability.

I plan to manufacture most of my project from aluminum, utilizing waterjet cutting and a mill. Additionally, clear acrylic will be laser cut to form the panes that sit between the frames and the square photos within. I intend the color and shape of the frames to be that of dull metal, emphasizing the industrial aesthetic, like the frames pictured below [3].

As I have grown deeply in my spiritual life throughout college, I have saught to include more Christian artwork into my home decour. This nine-photo collage will feature the word “God” as the center, immovable photo. Surrounding it will be images of metaphors which the Bible [4] describes God as. I plan to include at least ten metaphors (each with a mini magnetic frame), resulting in two metaphors stored away from the piece to be swapped in at any time. Below is a tentative list of the Biblical metaphors describing God, which I plan to portray within this project.

  1. Shepherd (Psalm 23:1, John 10:11).
  2. Bread (John 6:35)
  3. Shield (Proverbs 30:5, Genesis 15:1, Psalm 18:1)
  4. Fortress (Psalm 18:1, Psalm 91:2)
  5. Light (John 1:5, Psalm 27:1)
  6. Vine (John 15:1)
  7. Rock (Psalm 18:2)
  8. Path (Psalm 119:105, John 1:1)
  9. Lion (Revelation 5:5)
  10. Lamb (John 1:29, Revelation 5:6)
  11. Foundation (Matthew 7:24-27)
  12. Stronghold (Psalm 18:2, Psalm 43:2)

Overall, I will be reaching out of my comfort zone in this ambitious project. I will be manufactuiring well over 25 parts, and I look forward to becoming familar with the machines in the metal shop over the next portion of the semester.


  1. – School Years Photo Collage Mat – 1 Pre-K to 12th Grade (15 Photos, No Frame, Black).                                   Link
  2. – Melannco 18 x 18 Inch 9 Opening Photo Collage Frame, Displays Four 4×6 and Five 6×4 Inch Photos, Black. Link
  3. – Small Metal Frame , Metal base , Metal Rectangle , Simple Frame , Industrial Metal Frame , Geometric Shapes , DIY Frame , Thick Metal Frame.                                                                                                                                                                Link
  4. The ESV Bible. Crossway, 2001,
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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Michael,

    I just finished reading your latest project plans, and I must say, I’m thoroughly impressed by your creativity and ambition!

    Your idea of creating a nine-photo collage with a centered, stationary photo surrounded by interchangeable mini-frames is both innovative and practical. I particularly admire your decision to incorporate a spiritual theme, with the central photo featuring the word “God” and surrounding images representing various Biblical metaphors.

    Your attention to detail, from the industrial aesthetic of the frames to the careful selection of materials like aluminum and clear acrylic, demonstrates your dedication to both form and function. I’m especially intrigued by your plan to manufacture well over 25 parts, which will undoubtedly challenge you to expand your skills and knowledge in the metal shop.

    While you anticipate challenges, such as designing the mini-frames for easy detachment, I have no doubt that your determination and problem-solving skills will see you through. Your willingness to step out of your comfort zone and embrace new challenges is truly commendable.

    I’m excited to see how your project progresses and how it will enrich your home decor with both aesthetic appeal and spiritual significance. Keep up the fantastic work, and I look forward to hearing about your progress!

    Best regards,

    • Michael Gray
      March 4, 2024 12:02 am

      Hi Jon,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I am working on altering the design to cut down the number of metal components, but nonetheless, it will be a big project that I hope will benefit my enigneering skills as well as the decour in my home and future homes!

  • This is a really cool project idea! When I saw the title of the project and that it would be a photo frame, I was curious what the dynamic component would be. Once I learned about your magnetic attachment idea, I was really excited! I think that it is such a fun way to add some variety to a type of decoration that is usually very unchanging.

    • Michael Gray
      March 4, 2024 12:04 am

      Hi Katie,
      Thak you so much! I initially thought of the picture frame idea and wanted to use it as my project, so I came up with the magnetic attachment idea to make it interactive! I agree that this should spice up the otherwise “set and never touch again” picture frame strategy. Overall, I am super excited about the project despite the inevitable heavy workload.


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