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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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“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.

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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.

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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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Let’s Talk Framing – Part 2

In Part One we discussed custom framing generally and some of the most common features and benefits.

In this installment we discuss a few of the ways we are offering local customers a way to receive many of the benefits of custom framing for a lower cost and faster turnaround time.

Time and Cost

A custom framing job where the customer and the designer choose and size every component results in a wonderful piece of art to hang in the home or office. But we realize that not every piece of art or memorabilia needs such extensive treatment. And sometimes you don’t have the two weeks or so that it might take to get the components ordered, shipped, assembled, and finished.

Remnants

We also have a dilemma to solve: what to do with remnants of custom framing jobs, especially mat boards. A custom framing customer pays for the portion of the mat board that is used for their job, but we end up with the remainder. Sometimes it is a large amount that we can use for another job, but often it ends up too small or oddly sized to be useful on another custom job.

Value Packages

As a result of some brainstorming and suggestions from patrons, we decided to order a stock of (unassembled) frames in a couple of set sizes that we could have on hand. These would be offered with mat options pulled from ones we already have on hand — the remnants. Because we aren’t ordering new stock and the costs associated with shipping them in, we are able to offer the packages at approximately 30-40% less than what the same order might cost otherwise. Since these are also using existing stock, turnaround time can be as little as a day.

No Compromises

The frames are from the same supplier that we use for regular custom framing orders. They are a selection of the more economical choices available, and they are simple in design and color choices are limited. But the quality is the same.

The mat boards are what other customers have ordered and used for their projects. They are the same conservation grade boards.

The glass, too, is the same 99% UV blocking glass.

We assemble and finish with the same backing board, dust cover, and hanging hardware.

Just because the price to you is lower doesn’t mean we are compromising on the quality of materials used.

Selections

Here are the options and recommendations, where applicable.

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Size

We offer two sizes: 9×11 and 12×15.

The 9×11 is good for smaller art, photos, and documents. It can frame a piece as large as 8×10 but we recommend 7×9 or smaller for this frame.

The 12×15 is good for 8×10 to about 10×13. It can accommodate 11×14.

Frame Colors

The 9×11 is offered in four colors: black, white, natural, and walnut.

The 12×15 is offered in three colors: black, white, and natural.

Prices

Here is the bottom line.

9×11

  • Single Mat – $49
  • Double Mat – $59

12×15

  • Single Mat – $69
  • Double Mat – $79

Other Options

Other mounting and framing variations may be possible, within reason, and for additional cost. If you have an idea of how you want your piece framed with these packages, come in and discuss it with us. We’ll let you know if it can be done.

Next Time

In our next installment we will discuss some of the variations on matting and give examples of each.

Let’s Talk Framing – Part 1

Custom Framing

What makes custom framing different from simply purchasing a ready-made frame is that we partner with you, the customer, to create a framing design that fits you, the art, and the display location. You aren’t limited to standard frame sizes and mat openings. The design fits around the art, not vice versa.

The materials and supplies are custom ordered from our suppliers once a frame design is finalized and the customer places the order with us. Materials typically arrive in about a week, although it might take longer depending on how the supplier ships and other factors beyond our immediate control. Most framing orders are started in about a week and finished within two weeks of placing the order.

Protection

Custom Framing can help protect your art, photographs, and memorabilia in ways that off-the-shelf frames typically cannot.

One of the most important parts in a framing job is the glazing (the glass or acrylic that covers the art). All our glazing is 99% UV blocking, meaning the work inside is protected from light that can fade and damage the art. Glazing can also protect the work from accidental physical damage such as something hitting it or splashing onto it. The glazing takes the damage, limiting what reaches the art. Glazing can also reduce the amount of dust and harmful environmental pollution from contacting the art.

For larger pieces where weight is a concern, or for pieces that hang where broken glass may become a concern (impact or vibrations causing art to drop, for example), acrylic glazing may be an option to consider.

A custom framed piece is typically matted or spacers placed around the edge to prevent the art itself from contacting the glazing. Prolonged direct contact may lead to damage of the art and by placing a gap, we are able to prevent this type of damage from occurring.

We use conservation backing boards and place dust protection paper on the back of most framed pieces (we don’t do it for metal frames and most canvas pieces). This additional step helps improve the protection and longevity of your art. (Side note: when you use off-the-shelf frames, please replace any cardboard you find with acid-free materials!)

Cost

Not surprisingly, custom framing is not inexpensive. A smaller piece, such as an 8×10, matted and framed typically begins at just over $100 using less expensive frame and mat choices.

Frame selection is the greatest determinant of cost. A simple, fairly narrow and shallow, flat-profile frame is less costly than one that uses lots of wood and/or features ornamentation. Metal frames typically run about the same price as wood frames.

Glazing type can also have a huge effect on cost. We offer the following glazing choices (from most economical to most costly): Conservation Clear Glass, Conservation Reflection Control Glass, Museum Glass, Conservation Acrylic, Conservation Reflection Control Acrylic, and Museum Grade Acrylic.

There are numerous types of mats available. Standard 4-ply conservation grade paper mats are the most economical. Additional cost can purchase textured mats, suede mats, 8-ply thick mats, linen mats, and more.

As much as we would like to offer lower prices, shipping materials up to Alaska is a costly proposition, especially for large and heavy items such as glazing and matboards. We hope you understand.

Future Installments

Next time we will discuss our value priced package which can bring many of the features of custom framing discussed above at a more economical price point.

And in subsequent installments we will discuss other features we can offer you to highlight the artwork you have.