Let’s Talk Framing – Part 4

Earlier installments here:

  • Part 1 – General framing benefits
  • Part 2 – Value framing packages
  • Part 3 – standard mat design options

Putting the “Custom” into Custom Framing

Up to this point we’ve discussed the more typical framing designs that are selected – a frame and some mats, or no mat at all. These offer beautiful, elegant designs appropriate for nearly all types of art and destination spaces.

But what if you are looking for something different and unique?

That’s where the “custom” in custom framing shines. The only limits are the creativity and imagination of the customer and the designer, equipment available and skills of the framer, and the customer’s budget.

Here are a few examples of design options that we’ve put together.


Fillets (pronounced fi’-lets, not fi-lay‘ like the fish) can be an alternative to a second mat. It is installed around the top mat and creates a separation between the art and the mat. The fillet matches or complements the outside frame. The photo at the top of the page shows one example. Below is another.


Canvas and Metal Print Framing

In addition to framing the more common types of art, we can also frame canvas (that is already installed in stretcher bars) and metal prints. Frames can add a unique touch and enhance the beauty of the piece.

This example of a framed canvas piece covers the edge. We have other frame styles where the canvas is “floated” inside the frame to show the edges. This is appropriate for canvas art where the painting goes around the edge.


Here is an example where a metal print was framed in a rustic wood style frame. It complements the tree and adds a “finish” feeling to the piece. Depending on what kind of hanging hardware comes pre-installed, we may not be able to place another frame on it, or frames choices may be limited.


Float Mounting

Float mounting is a design style that allows all of the art to be displayed, including its edges. It was briefly mentioned during the canvas example, but its use can be extended to other types of art.

This example is an original sketch. The drawing came too close to the edges to allow it to be mat-mounted without looking overcrowded and awkward. Instead we chose to float the sketchbook page with the torn edge visible and then installed a double mat with a gap. There are spacers around the edge to float the mat above the art. The sketch is mounted directly to the backing board.


The next example is a photograph printed edge to edge. The photograph itself is floated above the bottom mat or backing board with some spacer boards. The border mat is another elevation above the photograph. Together with the gap between the mat and the photograph, this design offers a sense of depth not achievable with standard matting design.


This third example is another photograph floated above the bottom mat. In this example we chose to not use a floating border mat. Instead we cut a closed V-groove to add another border element.


Open V Groove

We’ve already shown a couple examples that use closed V grooves. Another option is to use an open V groove to show more of a second mat color. An example is shown below. This example is a bit non-standard for an open V groove since the red reveal is actually a third mat installed inside the second layer (same level as the grey).


“Shadow Box” Style

This next example is a “shadow box” style mount. It isn’t a true shadow box since since they are typically used to mount and frame 3D objects inside. But what is common is that the deep, inside edge of the frame is a vital component of the overall design.

In this example the print extended nearly all the way to the edge of the frame. It could have been framed without a mat but it felt like something was missing when we tried it that way. Adding a splash of color through the use of narrow strips of matboard to line the edge of the frame and mount the art at the bottom gave it what it was originally missing.


Lights, Custom Cuts, and More

This final example is our most complicated and involved design to-date. It is kind of a reverse shadow box. The most unique element is the backlight installed to allow the transparencies to be visible. We lined the inside edge and back with white foamboard to increase the light reflection and diffusion. The lights are provided by LED strips so temperature and bulb-life should not be an issue. We placed UV blocking glass on both sides of the art layer.

There are three mat layers used, although only one is visible. The top layer has three openings, the second layer has two (for the film strips), and the third layer to secure the inside glass sheet. This is an example of multiple openings and also an example of custom corner cuts on every opening. The top mat is suede.


In Conclusion

This concludes our four-part survey and discussion of custom framing and some of the options we offer at FireLight Gallery & Framing. We hope that this has been instructive and also sparking inspiration about how you might want to see your art framed.


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