Title:
Modular display frame
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular, easy to assemble, readily expandable, and fun to build display frame for cards, art, pictures, drawings, etc., is disclosed. The display frame comprises individual modular pieces, which may be assembled to form a multitude of different display concepts.



Inventors:
Moody, Thomas B. (Pearland, TX, US)
Moody, Kelly C. (Pearland, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/040681
Publication Date:
07/28/2005
Filing Date:
01/21/2005
Assignee:
MOODY THOMAS B.
MOODY KELLY C.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
40/729
International Classes:
A47G1/14; A63H33/08; (IPC1-7): A47G1/08; A47G1/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MENEZES, MARCUS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCDONNELL BOEHNEN HULBERT & BERGHOFF LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A modular frame comprising (a) a column having at least one side and a channel in at least one side, the column comprising a plurality of stackable column members; and (b) a horizontal beam comprising a plurality of horizontally connected members arranged such that the beam has a proximal end and a distal end, wherein the column is removably and substantially perpendicularly connected at its lower end to the beam.

2. A frame according to claim 1, wherein the column and beam are arranged such that the channel is aligned with a long dimension of the beam.

3. A frame according to claim 1, further comprising a second column removably and substantially perpendicularly connected at its lower end to the beam at a position different than where the first column is connected.

4. A frame according to claim 3, wherein the second column has a channel in at least one side.

5. A frame according to claim 4, where each channel is continuous and where the frame further comprises a cap removably connected to an upper end of each of the columns.

6. A modular frame comprising: a) a column comprising a plurality of stackable column members; the column members having a top, a bottom and at least one side, wherein at least one side contains a groove; wherein the top of a stackable member can interact with the bottom of a different stackable member; wherein said bottom can interact with the top of a different stackable member; wherein a plurality of said members interact to form a first column, wherein at least one groove from each member aligns with at least one groove of each other member in the column to form a channel in said column, wherein said channel is adapted for supporting a sheet member, b) a first group of stackable members, wherein the first group consists of from 1 to 100 members, wherein the members have a top, a bottom and at least one side, wherein the top of a stackable member can interact with the bottom of a different stackable member; wherein said bottom can interact with the top of a different stackable member; wherein the first group of stackable members interacts with the first column in an essentially perpendicular manner, wherein the combination of the first group of stackable members and the first column forms a frame with an inside, an outside, a first side and a bottom, wherein the channel of the stacked structure is in the inside of the frame.

7. A frame according to claim 6, which further comprises a second side, wherein the second side is made from a second column, which is made from a second plurality of stackable members, which is also attached to the bottom of the frame at essentially a right angle; wherein each member of the second plurality of stackable members has a top, a bottom and at least one side, wherein each side optionally contains a groove, wherein the top of each second stackable member can interact with the bottom of a different stackable member; wherein the bottom of each stackable member can interact with the top of a different stackable member.

8. A frame according to claim 7, wherein the second side is comprised of the second plurality of stackable members, wherein a) each side of the second plurality of stackable members optionally contains a groove, while at least one side must contain a groove, b) the groove from each member aligns with the groove of each other member in the second stacked structure to form a channel in the second stacked structure, wherein c) the channel is adapted for supporting a sheet member, wherein d) the channel of the first stacked structure and the channel of the second stacked structure both reside in the inside of the frame, e) both grooves are essentially parallel to each other, and f) both sides of the frame are essentially the same height.

9. A frame according to claim 7, further comprising a sheet member and/or a matte, wherein the sheet member and/or matte fits within at least one channel, and wherein the sheet member comprises at least one essentially clear, rigid, and planar structure (with two faces, and at least four sides) which fits within at least one of the channels in the frame.

10. A frame according to claim 9, wherein the sheet member consists of two essentially clear, rigid and planar structures, each structure having two faces, and four sides, wherein when the face of one structure is placed face to face with the face of the second structure, and the resulting sheet member fits within at least one of the channels in the frame.

11. A frame according to claim 10, wherein the sheet member fits within at least two of the channels in the frame.

12. A frame according to claim 9, wherein the frame further comprises a matte, which fits within at least one of the channels in the frame.

13. A frame according to claim 7, wherein a) at least one side of each member of the first group of stackable members must contain a groove, wherein b) the groove from each member aligns with the groove of each other member in the stack to form a channel in the bottom of the frame, and wherein c) the channel in the first group of stackable members is located in the inside of the frame.

14. A frame according to claim 13, wherein a) the channels in both sides are essentially parallel, b) the channels in both sides align with the groove in the bottom, and c) the channels in both sides are essentially perpendicular to the groove in the bottom.

15. A frame according to claim 14 wherein the sheet member fits into the parallel grooves in both sides and in the channel in the bottom.

16. A frame according to claim 7, which further comprises a top, which is made from a second group of stackable members, wherein the second group consists of from 1 to 100 members, wherein the members have a top, a bottom and at least one side, wherein the top of a stackable member can couple with the bottom of a different stackable member; wherein said bottom can receive the top of a different stackable member in releasable frictional engagement; wherein the second group of stackable members connects to at least one of either the first or second plurality of stacked members.

17. A frame according to claim 16, wherein the top of the frame is attached to both the first and the second columns.

18. A frame according to claim 16, wherein a) each member of the second group of stackable members further comprises at least one groove in at least one side, wherein b) each groove from each member aligns with the groove of each other member in the group to form a channel, wherein c) the channel is adapted for supporting a sheet member, wherein d) the channel in the top of the frame is in alignment with the channel in at least one of the sides, and is essentially perpendicular to the channel in at least one of the sides.

19. A kit comprising a first plurality of stackable members, wherein each member of the first plurality of stackable members contains at least one groove in at least one side; a second plurality of stackable members, wherein each member of the second plurality of stackable members optionally contains at least one groove in at least one side; a first group of stackable members, wherein each member of the first group of stackable members optionally contains at least one groove in at least one side; a second group of stackable members, wherein each member of the second group of stackable members optionally contains at least one groove in at least one side, in a package with instructions on how to construct a frame.

20. A method of constructing a frame of claim 1 comprising a) combining the first plurality of stackable members to form a first stacked structure, wherein the groove from each member aligns with the groove of each other member in the stack to form a channel in said stacked structure, wherein said continuous groove is adapted for supporting a sheet member, b) attaching the first stacked structure to the first group of stackable members, which optionally contains a continuous groove, thereby forming a frame, with a side, a bottom, an inside and an outside, wherein the continuous groove in the first stacked structure is in the inside of the frame, and c) inserting the sheet member into the continuous groove of the first stacked structure.

Description:

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/539070, filed Jan. 23, 2004, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to modular frames, kits containing components of such frames, and method(s) for assembling such frames. More specifically, it relates to such frames having horizontal and vertical members that are easily assembled from pieces that releasably connect to each other.

BACKGROUND

The framing of pictures, art, etc., is well known. But preparing a frame is often a time consuming and expensive endeavor that often requires tools and significant dexterity to accomplish. Children and the elderly often lack the required dexterity to assemble a frame. Conversely, a frame may be purchased, but such frames are of a fixed size, are not expandable, lack personal creativity and are not fun to create. There is a need in the art for an easy to assemble, readily expandable, and fun to build display frame.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides improved modular display frame assemblies. In particular, the invention provides improved modular display frames that are easily assembled, expandable, fun to make and allow for inherent personal creativity.

The invention provides frames having at least one horizontal beam and optionally containing one or more columns connected to the horizontal beam(s) and further optionally containing one or more cap members/modules. The column(s), beam(s) and cap member(s) are assembled from releasably connectable pieces or components. Generally, the beam(s), cap(s), and column(s) comprise pieces or components where the top of one piece can releasably, e.g., frictionally, interact with the bottom of another piece. As a result, the pieces can be assembled to form frames of many different shapes and sizes. The frames of the invention range from simple to complex and may be free-standing or hung on a wall. The inventive frames may be used to hold one or more of the following: art, pictures, prints, drawings, cards, photographs and the like.

In one aspect, the invention provides modular frames assembled from at least one horizontal beam and at least one column, where at least one of the beam and column comprise releasably connected component parts having grooves that are aligned to form a channel for holding a flexible sheet element or sheet member. Such frames may be individual frames or, in a related aspect, can be interconnected with other such frames. In the latter aspect, the invention provides modular picture frames connected to other modular picture frames as a unitary assembly of any desired configuration and organization. These frames can be constructed to be wall-hanging, or free-standing unitary assemblages of any desired size, configuration and organization.

The invention also includes methods of making the frames of the invention, as well as kits comprising the component parts for constructing the modular frame together with instructions for assembling said components, e.g., into a representative design.

In one broad aspect, the invention provides modular frames comprising a first column, the column comprising a plurality of stackable column members, wherein the column comprises a channel; and a horizontal beam comprising a plurality of horizontally connected members (“horizontal member”) arranged such that the beam has a proximal end and a distal end, wherein the column is removably and substantially perpendicularly connected at its lower end to any position, of the beam. Preferably, the column will be connected at or near an end of the beam. Further, the column and beam are arranged such that the channel is aligned with the long dimension of the beam. In this manner, the combination of the column and the horizontal beam forms a frame with an inner periphery, i.e., an inside wall, an outer periphery, i.e, an outside wall, and a bottom (“frame bottom”). The resulting frame has a channel in the inner periphery, i.e., in the inside wall of the column. If desired, a second column may be attached to the beam, where the column is removably and substantially perpendicularly connected at its lower end to another position, preferably at or near the other end of the beam. Typically, the second column is connected to be parallel to the first column. If desired, the second column may also contain a channel. Further, if desired, the channel in the second column may, but need not face the interior of the frame. Generally, the second column will be oriented with its channel facing the channel in the first column.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 shows a top view of a square module, which contains a groove in one of its sides.

FIG. 2 shows a side view of a square module, wherein one of the sides contains a groove.

FIG. 3 shows a bottom view of a square module, which contains a groove in one of its sides.

FIG. 4 shows a plan view of a square module, which has a groove in each side.

FIG. 5 shows a side view of either a square or rectangular module, where the groove is cut into the top of the module.

FIG. 6 shows a front view of a simple display frame consisting of a frame bottom, where the topmost members of the frame bottom each have a slot in their top. FIG. 6 also includes optional base pieces that may be added to provide additional stability to the display frame.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of a simple display frame consisting of a frame bottom, where a slot is cut into the top surface of the frame bottom. FIG. 7 also includes optional base pieces that may be added to provide additional stability to the display frame.

FIG. 8 shows a column made by stacking several modules, where the grooves from each module align to form a continuous channel.

FIG. 9 is a top-down view of a display frame comprising a frame bottom and two frame sides, where a channel has been made in each of the frame sides.

FIG. 10 is a front view of a display frame which consists of a frame bottom, two frame sides, at least one of which contains a channel, and a frame top. FIG. 10 also includes optional base pieces that may be added to provide additional stability to the display frame, or to enhance the frame's aesthetic value.

FIG. 11 shows a display frame comprising a frame bottom and a frame side, which are attached at essentially right angles, and where the frame side contains a channel.

FIG. 12 shows a front view of a display frame, which comprises two display frames attached at essentially right angles.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In a preferred broad aspect, modular frames of the invention comprise:

    • a) a first column, the column comprising a plurality of stackable column members; wherein each column member has a top, a bottom and at least one side, and wherein at least one side contains a groove, where the grooves in the members are arranged to form a channel and the column comprises at least an upper stackable member and a lower stackable member; wherein
    • the top of each stackable member is optionally capable of detachably coupling with the bottom of a different stackable member; and
    • the bottom of each stackable member is optionally capable of detachably coupling with the top of a different stackable member;
    • b) a first horizontal beam comprising a plurality of horizontally connected members (“horizontal member”) arranged such that the beam has a proximal end and a distal end, wherein
    • each horizontal member has a top that optionally contains a slot, a bottom and at least one side, wherein
    • the top of each horizontal member is optionally capable of detachably coupling with the bottom of a different horizontal member; and
    • the bottom of each horizontal member is capable of detachably coupling with the top of a different horizontal member; wherein
    • the lower stackable member of the column and the proximal end of the first beam are removably and substantially perpendicularly connected. In this manner, the combination of the column and the horizontal beam forms a frame with an inner periphery, i.e., an inside wall, an outer periphery, i.e, an outside wall, and a bottom, wherein
    • the channel of the stacked structure is contained in the inner periphery, i.e., in the inside wall of the column.

In this aspect, the beam forms the bottom of the frame. If desired, foot pieces may be added to the bottom of the beam for stability. The foot pieces may also increase the aesthetic appeal of the frame.

Numerous construction elements, modules, members, and/or components that may be used in the invention are described in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/117,847. In a preferred aspect, the modules or component parts used to assemble the display frame are square, rectangular, tubular, or a combination thereof.

Each rectangular module has dimensions on two respective pairs of sides that are the same as, or a multiple of, the dimensions on each of the sides of a square module. In one aspect, the module is a Lego™ or Duplo™ block. For ease of illustration, all of the representative configurations depicted in the figures are shown using Lego™ blocks.

The invention is not limited to the use of Lego® or Duplo® blocks or modules. Other types of blocks, modules or components can be used or adapted for use in the invention. Further, the modules can be connected in any of a variety of ways that allow them to preferably be disconnected if modification of the frame configuration is desired. Thus, modules can be connected using, for example, velcro, glue, or magnets provided within and/or to the outsides of the modules.

Each of the horizontal beam, cap, and column(s) typically comprise any appropriate or suitable number of component pieces. The size and shape of the frames of the invention are only limited by the requirements and imagination of the user. Generally, the column(s) consist(s) of up to about 10,000 members; and the beam and cap also consist of up to about 10,000 members. Preferably the frame will contain no more than about 1000 column members per column and 1000 beam and cap members per beam or cap. Smaller frames consist of from 10-50 column members per column and 4-20 horizontal beam members per beam or cap. Larger frames consist of from 50-200 column members per column and 20-80 horizontal beam members per beam or cap.

Preferred frames of the invention comprise two columns, the first column being constructed as defined above and the second column being constructed similarly, i.e., from a second plurality of stackable members. Preferably, at least one of the first and second columns is removably connected to the frame bottom.

The stackable members used to construct the second column may be of the same or different shape and material as those forming the first column. Also, the members forming the second column are optionally provided with a groove, have a top that can releasably couple with the bottom of a different stackable member, i.e., module, and have a bottom that can releasably couple with the top of a different stackable member.

While the channel(s) and slot(s) or furrow(s) are preferably located in the inside wall of the column(s), they may alternatively be placed anywhere on the column. If the channel(s) and slot(s) or furrow(s) are not located on the inside wall, then the sheet member is constructed in a shape that will allow its edges to be placed in the channel(s) and slot in a manner that permits the sheet member to be held without toppling.

In a more preferred aspect, all stackable members in the column(s) contain a groove and the stackable members are connected in an arrangement that results in a channel being formed in the column(s). In other words, the stackable members are coupled or connected such that the groove in each stackable member is aligned with the groove of an adjacent stackable member.

In preferred aspects, there is a continuous groove or continuous channel in each column and each channel is essentially parallel to the opposite column's channel. Further, the slot in the beam is continuous and aligned with the channels. As noted above, preferably the groove(s) are essentially perpendicular to the slot.

Thus, in preferred aspects, the sheet member is held in place by the channel(s) and the slot or furrow.

In another preferred aspect, the frame includes a cap. The cap comprises one or more interconnectable members, generally from 1 to 100 cap members. Each member of the cap has a top, a bottom and at least one side. Each cap member can releasably couple with another cap member in a generally stackable fashion. Typically, the top of one member couples with the bottom of a different stackable member. The coupling of the cap members to form the cap can be of the same nature as with the columns and the horizontal beam. Preferred cap members forming the frame cap are the same as the horizontal beam members and are therefore interchangeable with the beam members.

Preferably, the cap is attached to both the first and the second columns to form the frame.

In certain situations, the cap also comprises an optionally continuous furrow, disposed on its under or bottom side, for holding the sheet member.

The furrow in the top of the frame is preferably continuous and aligned with the groove(s) and/or channel(s) in the columns.

In particularly preferred frames according to the invention, the sheet member is made of plastic.

The sheet member comprises at least one substantially rigid and planar structure having two faces and at least one edge. Preferred sheet members have two substantially vertical edges. More preferably, the sheet member is rectangular, i.e., it has two substantially parallel first edges (e.g. “vertical edges”) and two substantially parallel second edges (e.g. “horizontal edges”); the first and second edges being substantially perpendicular to each other. An edge of the sheet member fits within at least one of the channels in the frame such that the sheet member is carried in an upright manner, i.e., parallel to the direction of the column(s). In preferred aspects, the sheet member is a rigid plastic sheet that is essentially clear and colorless. Preferably, both columns are provided with a channel, preferably a continuous channel, and the sheet member is carried by both columns. Typically, in a preferred aspect, each of the sheet member's two vertical edges is disposed within a channel.

In another preferred aspect, the sheet member comprises two essentially clear, substantially rigid and planar panels, each panel having two faces. The face of one panel is preferably placed face to face with a second panel structure, optionally with an item such as a photograph disposed between the panels, resulting in the sheet. The sheet member then can be fit within at least one of the groove(s) and/or channel(s) in the frame.

In other particularly preferred frames, the furrows and channel(s) are independently between {fraction (1/64)}th of an inch wide and 1 inch wide (in another aspect, ¾ inch wide, in still another aspect, ½ inch wide.) In another aspect, a sheet member is not used; the item to be displayed is inserted directly into at least one channel or the item to be displayed is attached to a matte, which is inserted directly into at least one channel and/or into the slot or furrow.

In still another aspect, the frame does not require the use of a sheet member or a matte; the object to be displayed is inserted directly into the channel and/or into the slot or furrow.

Optionally, a shim or groove insert can be inserted into the groove to more precisely adjust how the item to be displayed or the sheet member fits within the groove.

Preferred frames of the invention are picture frames, i.e., frames intended to carry or hold photographs or pictures.

Preferred frames include those where the column(s), beam, and cap independently comprise members that are square, rectangular, or a combination of square and rectangular. More preferred frames include those where the top of the members forming the columns, beam, and cap comprise at least one coupling stud or peg. The stud or peg can also be called a dowel. Each peg is capable of fitting into a receiving cavity on a corresponding member's bottom, preferably in releasable frictional or snap-fit engagement.

Still other preferred frames are those where the beam forming the bottom of the frame comprises at least two layers of stackable beam members. Typically the joints in between the individual beam members in a first layer are offset relative to the joints in between the individual beam members in a second layer.

Other frames of the invention are those wherein the cap forming the top of the frame also comprises at least two layers of stackable members. In a manner similar to that of the beam, the joints in between the individual members in a first layer are offset relative to the joints in between the individual members in a second layer. In this way, the beam and cap members forming one layer connect to, and more rigidly hold, the members of the other layers in a desired configuration and orientation.

The kits of the invention are contained in a package that includes a multiplicity of column members, horizontal beam members, and cap members. As noted, the column members are stackable and preferably contain at least one groove in at least one side. The beam members also are stackable and optionally contain a slot on an upper or lower surface. The cap members are preferably identical to the beam members (with the exception that, typically, the optional slot or furrow is on the underside of the cap member). The package further includes instructions describing and/or illustrating how to prepare or construct a frame according to the invention. Preferred kits comprise sufficient column, beam and cap members to create multiple frame configurations of various sizes and shapes. In certain kits, the members are all of the same color while in other kits, the members are of differing colors. As an example, a kit will contain about 200 members, 10% of which are green column members, 10% are yellow column members, 10% are red column members, 10% are white column members, and 10% are black column members. In addition, such a kit may contain 10% of green beam members, 10% yellow beam members, 10% red beam members, 10% white beam members, and 10% black beam members

Preferred kits further comprise at least one sheet member. More preferably, kits contain multiple sheet members. Particular kits contain sheet members of a single size while other preferred kits contain sheet members of different sizes. Other preferred kits contain a combination of sizes and/or shapes of sheet members.

As noted above, the invention encompasses methods of constructing frames of the invention. These methods comprise

    • a) combining the column members to form at least one column, preferably aligning the groove in each member with the groove of an adjacent member, to form a channel in the column; preferably a pair of identically sized and shaped columns containing a continuous or interrupted channel as desired;
    • b) combining a horizontal beam member with the column(s) such that the beam acts as a base with the columns projecting upwardly from the base and the column groove(s) and/or channel(s) residing on the inside wall of the frame, and
    • c) inserting either the sheet member or an item to be displayed, (e.g. a picture) into the channel whereby it is held vertically by the frame.

Preferred methods further comprise attaching a cap to the column(s) such that the cap is disposed above the beam whereby the sheet member(s) and/or item being displayed are framed by the column(s), the beam and the cap.

DEFINITIONS

As used in the application, “beam” refers to the structure carrying the columns and which is below the sheet member. The beam is optionally supported and/or stabilized by support member 105. The beam optionally includes a slot (when the beam is made from a single, large module), or the beam contains a furrow. The slot or furrow is adapted and arranged to carry an edge of a sheet member. Thus, one of the sheet member edges can be disposed within the slot such that the sheet will be substantially fixed in the slot with respect to angular and front to back movement. Preferably, the groove(s) provided in the column(s) are substantially aligned with the slot or furrow in the beam such that edges of the sheet will fit cleanly into the channel and slot, simultaneously.

As used in the application, a “groove” is a recess formed in the side of an individual module. The groove preferably extends from the top of the module to the bottom of the module, and is capable of accommodating the item to be displayed, and/or any protecting pieces associated therewith.

As used herein, the term “channel” refers to a recess or depression created by aligning the grooves in two or more stacked modules in a column. The channels may be unbroken (continuous) or may be intermittent. Preferred channels are continuous and are also referred to herein as continuous channels or continuous grooves; a continuous channel is created when the modules in a column are stacked in a manner that permits the grooves therein to be aligned and joined together. One of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that channels are vertical, but can be horizontal, such as when the stacked modules are rotated onto their sides. An example of a continuous channel is shown in FIG. 8, where several modules are stacked vertically and the grooves in each module align and join with each other to form continuous channel 25.

As used in the application, a “slot” is a cavity or recess formed in the top or bottom of a module. The “slot” preferably extends the entire length of the module and is capable of accommodating the item to be displayed. Slots are typically present in the modules forming the beam. Each module optionally has a slot, a groove, both, or neither. Preferred modules do not contain slots in both their top and bottom. In one aspect, the slot can accommodate the item to be displayed and any protective pieces associated therewith.

As used in the application, “furrow” means both a continuous furrow and/or a partial furrow. A furrow is alternatively formed in the long dimension of a beam by at least one pair of opposing rows of connecting pegs on the upper side or top of the modules that comprise the beam. Preferred beams have a furrow formed by two (one pair of) opposing rows of coupling studs, the furrow extending the complete length of the beam between the columns. In simple preferred frames of the invention, the item to be displayed is placed in the furrow formed between the pair of opposing coupling studs.

As used in the application, a “continuous furrow” is made when two or more modules, each with a slot in its top or each with a slot in its bottom, are aligned so that the slots are continuous. A continuous furrow typically extends from one end to the other end of the beam. One of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that while continuous furrows are horizontal, they can also be vertical, when the modules comprising the beam or cap are rotated onto their sides.

As used in the application, the term “partial furrow” refers to a furrow that extends less than the entire end to end length of the beam. For example, a partial furrow may extend from one end to the midpoint of the beam or may reside only in a middle section of the beam. As another example, a partial furrow may be discontinuous, i.e., it is present only in certain interrupted sections of the beam. Put another way, a partial furrow is made when two or more modules, each containing a slot, are aligned in such a way that a continuous furrow is not formed. A “partial furrow” is also formed when two or more modules with slots are prevented from forming the longest possible continuous furrow by the intermediacy of either at least one module that does not contain a slot, a module that contains a slot on the opposite surface as compared to the other modules, or a module that does contain a slot, but the slot is perpendicular to the direction of the other slots. One of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that while discontinuous furrows are horizontal, they can also be vertical, such as when the modules comprising the beam or cap are rotated onto their sides.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, each square or rectangular module 1 contains six faces (a top 3, a bottom 15 and four sides 7) and at least one groove 5 or slot 51, where the groove 5 is provided in one of the sides 7, the slot 51 is provided in the top 3 or the bottom 15 of the module 1. The modules 1 may optionally contain a second, a third, or a fourth groove 5, preferably in a different side(s) 7 than the first groove 5. In one aspect, there is only one groove 5 per module 1.

Preferred modules 1 contain male attachments, i.e., pegs 2 on the top 3 of module 1, a groove 5 in the side 7 of module 1 or a slot 51 in the top 3 of module 1, and a female receptacle, i.e., receiving cavity, 10 in the bottom 15 of the module 1.

When attaching one module 1 to another module 1, pegs 2 releasably connect, preferably frictionally or “snap-fit”, into the space 11 formed between the female receptacle 10 in the bottom 15 of the module 1 and the side 7 of the module 1.

It is also possible to have more than one groove in a module. FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of a square module 1 with male attachments 2, and a groove 5 in each side 7. It is also possible to manufacture module 1 with a total of two or three grooves 5 in the module 1. It is preferred that there is only one groove 5 per side 7 of the module 1.

The groove 5 or the slot 51 in the module 1 can be a kerf, or the module 1 can be molded with the groove 5 or the slot 51 contained therein. The groove 5 or slot 51 can be square, rectangular, rounded, wider at the top and narrower at the bottom, or narrower at the top and wider at the bottom.

FIG. 5 shows a side view of a module 1, where the slot 51 is between the male attachments 2, on the top surface 3. It is preferred, but not required that the slot 51, not impinge on the male attachments 2. Although not shown in FIG. 5, it is possible to put the slot 51 in the bottom 15 of the module 1.

FIG. 6 shows a front view of one type of display frame 100. In FIG. 6, the display frame 100 consists of a frame bottom 35, which in this frame, is the same as the frame 100, and is comprised of the beam 21 and the base pieces 105), wherein the frame bottom 35 has a furrow 26 in its upper surface or top 3. To increase the stability of this frame 100, stabilizing or “base” pieces 105 may be added to the bottom 15 of the frame 100. FIG. 6 also includes the item to be displayed 30 and protective sheets 50.

FIG. 7 illustrates a side view of a simple display frame 100, where the frame 100 consists of a frame bottom 35. The item to be displayed 30 fits within the furrow 26 and is held in a viewable position. The furrow 26 should also be wide enough to accommodate any pieces 50 that are protecting the item to be displayed 30. The bottom 35 of the frame 100 may consist of more than one layer of modules 1. If desired, the bottom 35 may comprise a combination of a single long rectangular module 1 or beam member 1 and several smaller square and/or rectangular beam members 1. Or, the frame bottom 35 in FIG. 7 (and all other figures and embodiments), may comprise several layers of variously sized beam members 1. Often, when preparing the most basic embodiment of the invention, it is advantageous to attach at least one stabilizing “base” or “foot” piece 105 to the underside 15 of the frame bottom 35 at an angle, preferably a right angle, thereby stabilizing the frame 100. Such a “base” or “foot” 105 is shown in FIG. 7.

In some instances, it is advantageous to protect the item to be displayed 30 behind a transparent, protecting piece of plastic or glass 50, by attaching the item 30 to the protecting piece 50. It is also possible to sandwich the item 30 in between two different protective pieces of plastic or glass 50. In either case, the item 30 and the protective piece or pieces 50 should all fit within channel 25. In a preferred aspect, the protecting piece or pieces 50 is/are made of transparent plastic (e.g. plexiglass™). Preferably, the plastic is scratch resistant.

FIG. 8 illustrates the vertical stacking of several modules 1 to form a pillar or column 20, where the pillar or column 20 has a continuous groove or channel 25 in at least one side 7.

Columns 20 and beams 21 can be constructed in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Preferably, in columns 20, each groove 5 in an individual module 1 is aligned with corresponding grooves 5 from other modules 1, thereby forming a channel 25.

While not shown in FIG. 8, a horizontal beam 21 may be formed from members 1 that have a slot 51 or furrow 26 in the top 3 of the module(s) 1. In some embodiments, the beam 21 does not contain a slot 51 or furrow 26. Preferably, in horizontal beams 21, each slot 51 in an individual module 1 is aligned with corresponding slots 51 from other modules 1, thereby forming a furrow 26, preferably a continuous furrow 26. The channel 25 and the furrow 26 are of sufficient depth and width to accommodate the item to be displayed 30 and any optional accompanying protecting piece(s) 50. The frame 100 can be arranged or set in such a way that columns 20 can form the top 45, bottom 35 or, preferably, a side 40 of the frame 100. Similarly, the frame can be arranged in a way that the horizontal beam 21, can act as the top 45, bottom 35, or one or both sides 40 of the frame 100. Preferably, a horizontal beam 21 will form the top 45 or the bottom 35 of the frame 100. As noted above, channel 25 formed by grooves 5 in modules 1 can be continuous or may contain interruptions, i.e., it may be intermittent. Where a channel 25 or furrow 26 is discontinuous, the item to be displayed 30 and/or the protecting piece(s) 50 will have an obverse pattern along its edge to allow for secure positioning of the item 30 and/or the protecting piece(s) 50.

FIG. 9 illustrates a plan view of a display frame 100, which comprises a frame bottom 35, and two sides 40. The item to be displayed 30 and the two protective pieces/sheet members 50, fit into the channels 25, which are in each side 40 of the frame 100. In FIG. 9, the frame bottom 35 optionally contains a furrow 26 in the top 3 of the horizontal beam 21. Although not shown in FIG. 9, it is possible to prepare a frame 100 comprising two sides 40 and a bottom 35, where only one side 40 contains a continuous groove or continuous channel 25. Likewise, it is possible to prepare a frame 100 where both sides 40 lack continuous grooves 25, but the frame bottom 35, contains a furrow 26.

FIG. 10 illustrates a representative display frame 100, which comprises a frame bottom 35, two sides 40, and a top 45. At least one of the sides 40 contains a continuous groove 25 in the inside 60 of the frame 100. Although not shown in FIG. 10, a furrow 26 may optionally be put in the top 3 of the horizontal beam 21, which comprises the frame bottom 35. FIG. 10 also contains at least one protective piece 50, but at the frame builder's discretion, it may be omitted. FIG. 10 also contains two “base” pieces 105 that are attached to the bottom 15 of the frame bottom 35 at essentially right angles, thereby stabilizing the frame 100; these base pieces 105 are optional.

FIG. 11 illustrates a display frame 100 which contains a bottom 35 and one side 40, wherein the side 40 contains a channel 25. Although it is not shown in FIG. 11, the frame bottom 35 optionally contains a slot 51 or furrow 26. In another aspect, the item to be displayed 30, as well as any protective piece or pieces 50 and/or any matte to which the item to be displayed is attached, fit within the channel 25 and (if present) a furrow 26 or slot 51.

In all aspects of the invention, when the display frame 100 is prepared, at least one channel 25, slot 51, or furrow 26 is available to hold the item 30 and any accompanying protective piece or pieces 50 and/or any matte to which the item to be displayed is attached. In the situation where more than one channel 25 is to be utilized in holding the item 30, then all of the channels 25 must be oriented to face the inside 60 of the frame 100. It is also understood that channel 25 must accommodate the item to be displayed 30 and any accompanying protective piece or pieces 50 and/or any matte to which the item to be displayed is attached. Of course the size of the assembled display frame 100 will dictate whether the item to be displayed 30 and any accompanying protecting pieces 50 will reach any additional channels 25 or furrows 26. The ultimate location of each channel 25 and/or furrow 26 is left to the imagination of the person preparing the frame 100.

In another aspect, a frame 100, comprising a bottom 35, a side 40 and a top 45 can be readily prepared. As is the case in all embodiments of the present invention, at least one of the pieces that make up the frame, i.e., the bottom 35, side 40, or top 45, must contain a channel 25, slot 51 or a furrow 26. If desired for support and/or aesthetic purposes, base pieces 105 may be added to the bottom 15 of the frame bottom 35.

The display frame 100 can be hung on a wall or it can be set upon an essentially horizontal surface.

In another aspect, the invention encompasses combining two or more display frames, as illustrated in FIG. 12. Two frames 100 are attached at essentially a right angle. The resulting combination frame 100 is free standing and can be placed on top of any essentially horizontal surface. This combination of frames 100 can optionally have one or more base pieces 105 added to increase stability or for decorative purposes (the base pieces 105 are not shown in FIG. 12.) This process can be repeated with numerous frames to form a step-like structure.

If desired, four display frames 100 can be attached to form a square or rectangular shape, thereby displaying pictures, etc., on each side of the square or rectangle. The resulting square or rectangular shape can have additional frames 100 attached to the frame top 45 and/or frame bottom 35, thereby forming a tower structure.

The invention and the manner and process of making and using it, are now described in such full, clear, concise and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, to make and use the same. It is to be understood that the foregoing describes preferred embodiments of the invention and that modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as set forth in the claims. To particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter regarded as invention, the following claims conclude this specification.