Category Archives: Framing Process

Permalink to Frames for artists

Frames for artists

gilders tip with gold leaf

I always welcome the opportunity to work alongside artists whether they are budding amateurs or established professionals. Being an exhibiting aritist myself I am uniquely qualified to see framing from both the artists and the framers viewpoint. I understand the need to present your artwork in the most appropriate way to optimise the chance of being exhibited and ultimately selling your art.

For established professionals making consistent sales, the position is perhaps clearest. Normally, in this instance, even the cost of a high end framing represents only a small percentage of the resale value and the full cost of having the picture professionally framed can be justified. The artist’s time is freed up to create more artwork and everyone benefits – the artist, the framer and the art buyer.

For the artist earlier in their career things are a little trickier. You know that to secure more sales your work must be presented in its best light. You may even realise that by investing in better framing you will increase the perceived value of your work and increase the chance of securing that sale. But if the piece doesn’t sell quickly (or at all) what about all that capital tied up in frames? With doubts like this it is no wonder I see so many exhibitions where perfectly saleable pieces have been shoehorned into cheap, ill fitting, readymade frames that send out totally the wrong message about the piece and its creator.

Before we explore some solutions now would be a good time to explain a little bit how picture framers work and how this impact on the price you pay.  Ignoring the amateur framer working from his garage, broadly speaking there are three types of framer who will make frames to your individual requirements. Contract framers, high street bespoke framers and more specialised framers working out of their own workshops.

Contract framers tend to work from units away from the high street. They work on smaller margins per frame but to get their best price you will need to order a number of frames of the same size and style. If you are someone who works to the same format and you are producing sufficient work this may work for you.

The typical high street bespoke framer, on the other hand, makes individual frames to order. Typically, they will offer mouldings and mounts from several manufacturers and in many styles. Without the economy of multiples and with large overheads of high street rent and business rates this is probably the most expensive option.

The third category is is bespoke framers working from their own workshops. These may be specialists in one particular area such as water gilded frames or sports memorabilia framing or they may be more generalists offering a full range of styles and types of framing to all who come through the door. In common with the high street framer their income is derived largely from their labour. This is a very important point to understand. A large proportion of the amount you pay to a framer will be for his time and frame making is time consuming. It follows then that if you can reduce the amount of time that a picture framer has to spend on your frames the better price he will be able to offer.

Obviously I can’t speak for other picture framers but I am prepared to work with an artist any way he sees fit. Here are some suggestions as to how you can reduce the amount of time I spend on your frames:

  • Order skeleton frames only – you do the rest. This represents the largest saving. This option is probably best reserved for works that don’t need glazing such as oil paintings.
  • Order fame and glazing – you cut the mount and assemble
  • Order frame, mount and glazing but you mount the picture yourself
  • Learn frame finishing  – a lot can be done with waxes, stains and colourwashes on relatively inexpensive plain wood mouldings. For the more adventurous and determined there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained by learning to gild your own frames (if you are interested in this I may be able to help – give me a call)
  • Order multiples – once the guillotine and the mount cutter is set it is much quicker to produce several frames of the same dimensions

    gilders tip with gold leaf

    Gilding can be very rewarding to learn

Permalink to Caring for your artwork

Caring for your artwork

Where to hang pictures

Try to avoid hanging pictures above radiators or fires.  Rapid or extreme changes in temperature can cause paper and wood to dry out and adhesives to fail prematurely.

It is always best to avoid hanging framed pictures in humid conditions. Damp can cause pictures to ripple and encourage fungal growth. Certain conservation techniques can mitigate against damp so if in doubt speak to your framer and he will be able to advise on the most suitable framing methods,

Where possible, it is better to avoid hanging in strong direct light (opposite a large window for example). UV light will fade works on paper. Anti UV glass is available but expensive (although probably worth the extra for works of value).


Don’t use cleaning fluids or water on frames – a gentle dust is all that is needed. When using glass cleaner apply it to the cloth rather than spaying it directly onto the glass. This will prevent it from running down the glass and potentially damaging the frame or your artwork.

Regular checks

It is a good idea to check your frames periodically to make sure the fixings are secure and that the brown paper tape sealing the frame is in good order. If you find that sealing tape has come unstuck, return the frame to the framer. Do not attempt to replace the tape with masking tape; it is not up to the job! Oil paintings on stretched canvas may become loose over time but can be restreched by your framer if necessary.


Permalink to Framing workshop / studio

Framing workshop / studio

I thought I would post some images of the framing workshop / studio. After what seems like an eternity designing, planning and building the new studio and combined picture framing workshop was completed a couple of months ago. I had meant to post pictures before now but there has always been something else competing for my attention!

Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures.




















Permalink to Why use a custom framer?

Why use a custom framer?

Frames on angle in detail

Choice is a good thing. In choosing we are making decisions that represent who we are as individuals.

Displaying artwork in our homes is an act of visual communication that speaks of our taste, style and culture. How then do we go about choosing a suitable frame? Let’s say for argument sake that you have a treasured watercolour painting that you would like to have framed or perhaps a movie poster. What are your options? You could hope to pick up a suitable readymade frame from a national hardware store. Sadly, a visit there might leave you to believe that the only things people wanted framing were standard sized photographs or certificates. Never mind, perhaps you would fear better at the international furniture and home wares store. Granted, you would have a few more options there. If you were lucky, after eliminating all those that were the wrong colour or wrong shape, you might have three or four frames to choose from.

A pre-cut mountboard would be supplied with the frame. More than likely these would be cream or white – not necessarily a problem- but what about the size of the window in the mount, would this be an exact fit for you picture? I think you get the message. Choice would be limited. Conversely, with a custom or bespoke framer your choices are virtually limitless.

Let’s continue with the example of the watercolour painting. To keep things simple I will assume that you have already decided that you want a simple frame with a single mount and glass. With over 500 frame styles, 100 different colours of mountboard and 3 types of glass I would be able to offer you 150,000 possible combinations to choose from. Would that be enough choice for you? Moreover, because each frame is made individually to fit your picture you are assured that it would fit perfectly.

Perhaps you would benefit from an experienced eye to help you narrow down your options. That would be my pleasure.