As London Art Month draws to a close, Joanna Pilch (above), Guild Commended Framer and the Operations Director at eFRAME, shares her top tips on how to frame your art like a pro…
You’ve received your beautiful new print. Be it a personalised piece of word art or a treasured family photo – now to frame it beautifully to display it properly. When choosing a frame for photos, original art or a print, start by asking yourself “What am I framing and what do I want this piece to say about me?”
There are 7 elements to consider when choosing the right frame for your art:
Size matters. It’s the starting point for any design. Once you know the size of your artwork you can begin to weigh up the frame options available; standard size pieces (such as A4, A3) will fit a ready-made frame, other sizes will require custom framing.
The size will also determine the type of frame moulding (the wooden lengths needed to make the frame); I would never recommend a very large frame that uses a skinny moulding – it wouldn’t have the necessary structural strength!
Along with the frame moulding you’ll also have to decide whether to include a mount (that’s the bordered card insert). This can be an exceptionally powerful weapon in your armoury. Mounts give your picture ‘breathing space’ and introduce an intriguing aspect of depth into your design – giving a strong focus on the artwork.
Many top galleries like to have wide mount borders to help draw their visitors’ eyes into the painting at the heart of the frame.
You’ll also have to choose your preferred glazing type; Clarity+ Acrylic or Float Glass. Clarity+ Acrylic has the same reflective properties as glass, is much safer and has a higher UV resistance. Aquariums all over the world use because of its excellent transparency, even when it’s many inches thick.
If you are framing an oil painting, I would recommend not including any glazing as it might end up smudging the art work! A glazeless box frame will be much more effective.
Traditionally it is best to match the orientation of your picture (whether it is portrait or landscape) to the dimensions of the wall you’re planning to hang it from. If the wall is relatively tall and narrow, we’d recommend hanging something portrait. Likewise, if the wall is quite wide then we’d recommend a landscape image. The end result will feel more logical and comfortable to look at.
If you have multiple framed images to hang, interlock several frames in various orientations to create a picture wall – like a giant game of Tetris!
The material you choose can have a profound impact on the overall look and feel of your art and interior. An aluminium frame will look truly contemporary and will work very well in commercial environments and modern homes. Wooden frames are much more varied in style and appearance, offering a range of classic, retro and modern looks, even shabby chic. There are wooden frames on the market which mimic the presence of aluminium and wooden frames that would sit proudly on the walls in the National Gallery.
If you cannot decide, a simple flat black or white wooden frame will suit most interiors and artworks.
When it comes to frame colour you have to take into account lots of different variables. Which colour will complement your existing décor? Which colours will bring out the best in your print? Do you want to make a feature of your artwork or do you want the finished effect to be more subdued? What’s on trend? How would my personality manifest itself in colour? The list goes on…
This also applies to the colour of the mount, although the most popular mount colour is white. It’s an unobtrusive colour that allows your eyes to settle on the picture without distraction. Don’t underestimate the effect a double mount can have on the end result. Introducing multiple layers into the design can really give your design a ‘wow’ factor.
Framing a poppy field? Try experimenting with a red frame or mount to create the feeling that your picture is ‘popping’ out of its surroundings. Striking effects can be achieved by matching colours in your print to the design of your frame.
There is endless choice when it comes to the finish of your mouldings; ornate, painted, stained, natural lacquered, distressed, brushed, foiled… For some art the choice is obvious: if you are framing classical or reproduction art, go ornate. Got an Art Deco piece? Go with a lacquered frame as it will complement the art. You can also match the moulding finish to the room you plan to hang your art in; a distressed driftwood moulding might look great in your bathroom but be aware this might limit you if you decide to move your art around!
If you are framing a poster or piece of word art, we recommend using a simple painted or stained wood frame in black, white or bare oak. These simple but classy frames with a simple mount will give any art a classic look.
You can also pair the frame finish to the art itself. A distressed wooden frame would accentuate the a beachy photograph, but beware making your art look too ‘themed’.
7. Location location location
Connection and separation, similarity and contrast, grouped and ungrouped are all placement techniques that can be used to tell a powerful story.
By framing a set of different images the same way, you can broadcast that they are related (for example family photos). Categorising pictures this way can bring order to a set of disparate prints, and help to tell your story at a glance.
Alternatively, you can create a show stopping centre of attention by framing one print differently to the rest, or by giving one frame more space than the others, or hanging it in a prominent location in the room.
Good quality frames will protect your artwork, but to make your piece last a lifetime make sure you hang your frame away from strong light sources.
Will your frame be too heavy? Modern building techniques mean that interior walls aren’t as strong as they once were so make sure your walls are sturdy enough to carry the added weight.
To make the most of your artwork we’d recommend hanging your frame so that the centre of the artwork is at eye level. That’s roughly between 1.5m to 2m in height.
Finally, don’t forget your toolkit to put your frame on the wall. You’ll need a spirit level, pencil and ruler. These will all be able to help level up the edges, and straighten the frame as a finishing touch. Never hang a frame or canvas from a single nail – either use picture hooks, mirror plates (which can be painted over, so they vanish onto the wall), or two nails – this will ensure your artwork is never wonky!
Etsy readers can get 15% off any standard or custom frame at eFRAME.co.uk using code ETSY15 until December 10th, 2014. Find out more here.