To Frame or Not To Frame

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To Frame or Not To Frame

To frame or not to frameA debate on whether to frame or not to frame paintings has been going on for quite some time now.  While most enthusiasts perceive that frames make paintings look more professional and finished and increase their value, others doubt and say they are not always the best option.


Of course, like everything else, there are always two sides to every story; the advantages and disadvantages. Let us delve first the advantages of framing a painting.


Thoughts on to frame or not to frame


To frame

It is often looked that a frame enhances an artwork. When it is rightfully framed, the painting will get full attention as it hangs on the wall. It will wrap the painting and conceal unnecessary accessories such as staples, nails and paint drips that give a painting an “incomplete misconception”. They have become an integral part of a painting and an accepted accompaniment to the image portrayed in the artwork.  Frames also give paintings a more sturdy quality and an added higher value on the artwork.  Most designs of frames are even works of arts in their own right.  They add visual beauty to a painting aside from protecting the artwork from natural elements like dust, heat, insects and light that can be detrimental to the artwork.  Because of this, paintings in frames tend to sell more compared to unframed artworks.

For a small piece, a mat and frame, make it a large piece and the frame can often enhance and draw more attention to a smaller piece which might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Not to frame

On the other hand, framing a painting has its drawbacks.  Whenever an artwork is framed, the viewers can no longer see the process done by the artist. There are particular paintings that have paints flowing to the sides creating a wondrous combination of texture and mix of colours similar to the artist’s palette and give the painting a unique touch. This messy but beautiful outcome is often left by artists to allow viewers to take a glimpse of his course of action. Framing painting needs to be appropriately done because if not so, the frame will only ruin the whole concept of the artwork or might distract from the painting.

The other big drawback of a frame, especially a quality one, is that the frame often costs more than the piece.  They can be downright expensive.   Decades ago I used to do tapestries and they took hundreds of hours to complete, but the killer was the framing cost.   However, it was a necessary part; once properly starched with a non-reflective quality glass, those pieces still hang in my home as beautifully and in as good quality as the day I finished them (which was BC – before children).

However, if your resolution is to keep the painting for a long time and make it complementary with the rest of the interior decorations, then it’s time to look for the best frames and the most professional framing services.

Remember, a frame can absolutely enhance an artwork only if the best frames are chosen. You need to become aware of the framing techniques so that you will have a well-informed and satisfying conversation with your designated framer.

So, when it comes to framing paintings, these are the basic but essential queries to ask them.

1.  How will you keep my artwork safe in your hands?

Of course, a quality piece of painting does not come cheap. And they are generally of high sentimental value. That is why when it comes to trusting your artwork into the hands of strangers; your artwork’s safety must not be compromised, and must be of utmost importance.

For framers with in-house framing facilities, make sure to get an idea of how they work. Meanwhile, if your painting will be shipped elsewhere, identify what’s involved in the process such as the quality, expertise, workmanship, equipment and technology that will be used. Also, make sure that your framer provides an insurance protection for your paintings; in case of any unintentional misfortunes, you will be compensated for any losses.

2.  What quality materials are you going to use?

The type of framing techniques and the quality of materials used will deeply affect how your artwork will look and how durable it will be. Acidic elements can damage and break down the paper and weaken colour pigments.  Up to date and systematic processes make use of materials that are acid-free when it comes to matting and backing purposes. In addition, high-quality mats are also 100% acid-free just like the foam boards that are used in a raised surface.

3.  What is the mounting process used and what mat and glass should I choose for my artwork?

Do not just trust your framer with everything about framing your artwork. You should certainly consult with him as to what the best mounting technique for your art is. Dry mounting works best with prints and posters because it stays flat and does not wrinkle providing your artwork with an aesthetic appearance. For valuable and rare art pieces, hinging is ideal because it uses Japanese paper or acid-free adhesives with organic starch adhesives.

Framing mats are complicated to choose. There are so many factors to consider such as the colour palette, size, the place to hang it on and the overall harmonized look you want to specifically achieve. It is best to consult with the framers for options and to select the perfect mat.  Make sure to pick the acid-free one.   Select a colour which compliments your piece but remember that the décor of the buyer is an unknown.

The type of glass to choose highly depends on your preference of level of UV and glaze protection. Regular glass is the popular choice but it is remarkably heavy and does not provide better UV protection. Anti-glare variants offer protection against glare but have a frosted appearance. Museum glass is the most likely better option in the market but comes with the expensive price tag. It is ideal for artworks that are highly valuable.

4.  How much will it cost?

There are times when the frame itself costs more than your artwork. The cost of labour and materials are taken into consideration when costing.  There are materials and processes that are of premium price and services.  Make sure that you get an all-inclusive estimate before you handover your artwork to your framer.  Be sure to clarify that it includes GST.   Remember also, that a piece which is framed is going to cost more to ship, and especially if glass is involved; will be more fragile to ship.   With more art businesses going online, these are also considerations

I’ve got some art paintings myself that you can purchase.  Choose from my portfolio of art pieces.

Read this article Benefits of Having Art in the Workplace.