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RI Custom Framing
Components of a picture frame

Why should I consider custom picture framing?

Why in the world should I pay extra for a custom picture frame, you ask, when I can buy a ready-made frame at the local discount store? This is a good question, and indeed, there are many times when a mass produced picture frame is appropriate. However, when you are ready to prepare your fine art or treasured heirlooms for display, custom framing is the best answer. A properly finished custom frame is the union of artwork, mats, molding, and other elements to create a presentation that is unique, that complements your personality, and enhances your home or office. It is a one-of-a-kind creation that you will never find in a department, discount, or furniture store. Your beautiful fine art, needlework, special personal object, wedding invitation, or hard-earned certificates should be framed in a manner that does them justice, and prevents their deterioration over time. Your custom framed artwork is a permanent investment in the decor of your home, which will outlast many of your other accessories. It is more personalized than most of your other furnishings. Our certified picture framer® and designers will recommend the best design techniques, and color coordination to make the framing itself a work of art. There are many design methods we can use to make your artwork uniquely yours. We will discuss some of these now:


Matting Combinations:

Aesthetic decision and functional purpose! It provides a spacer to protect paper art or photographs from direct contact with the glass. This is necessary, particularly in humid climates, to prevent the art from coming in contact with condensation or sticking to the glass and permanently damaging it. For example, if a photograph is framed in direct contact with the glass, in a few years, the silver oxide emulsion will adhere to the glass, causing unrecoverable damage to the photo. The spacing provided by the mat will prevent this while it also provides structural support for the artwork.

picture framing package

From an aesthetics point of view, the mats provide several design qualities that enhance your artwork. One or more mats can provide depth, width and color to your framed art. Two or more mats remove the flatness, giving your framed piece a three-dimensional look. This enhances any depth that the artist intended to create in the original work. Your artwork needs some space around it to prevent distractions from the surrounding wall treatment. Mats provide this space, allowing your art to be seen clearly. Matboards now come in hundreds of colors, textures and appearances. The choice of mat colors can be used to achieve several benefits. Carefully chosen mats can often enhance the artwork, while providing a transition to the room’s decor. Fabric mats can be used to add texture to your art. Mats covered in silk or smooth linen achieve elegance if your decor is more formal. Some of our customers change their mats when they change their decor, to maintain the coordination of their artwork. A discussion of matting options would not be complete without mentioning quality options. As recently as two decades ago, there were basically two options for matting – low quality/acidic paper mats (still referred to as “paper mats” in the industry) or 100% rag mats. Rag mats at the time only came in white. That is why one only saw artwork framed in white mats in museums and art galleries. Today, there are three main options – there are still paper mats and we still have rag mats, only now, rag mats are available in a full range of colors. The third option are archival mats, which are a blend of rag and paper, but which have been treated to remove most of the acid, lignins and other impurities. These mats are suitable for matting all but the most valuable artwork, and they come in a huge variety of colors and textures. Paper mats can be damaging to art, which is why we don't sell or recommend them. We use archival mats, and sometimes use rag mats when appropriate. You can tell whether your art is framed with paper mats or archival mats by examining the bevel cut in the mat opening. An archival mat will be a pure white without any perceptible layering. A paper mat will be off-white, and you sometimes will see the layers where the mat has been built up by lamination. The paper mats will usually turn yellow or darker after a while, due to the acidic materials used.


Multiple Openings:

There are many occasions where it is appropriate to mount more than one picture in a frame. Some examples are: collage of family photographs, graduation articles (diploma, tassel, pin, etc.), Wedding items (photos, announcement, etc.), or photos from a recent vacation. Collages of photographs can tell a story or cite a family history. Do you know someone building a new home or business? Collect or take photos in various stages of completion, then have them framed in sequence in a multiple opening frame, add appropriate remarks in calligraphy or on engraved plates, then present it as a house warming gift. It's guaranteed to be the most personalized gift they will receive. Multiple openings allow you to display many small pictures in one frame instead of many small frames, thus saving you space and money.


Special Design Treatments:

There are many special design treatments that can be applied to your custom framing job. Some of these are: French mats, carved mats, embossed mats, inlayed mats, V-grooved mats, and etched glass. All of these techniques can result in a unique custom framing job, but their use must be selected carefully to ensure that they enhance, rather than detract from your artwork. Usually, one or two of these embellishments applied in concert, will really create a novel work of art.


Selecting a frame:

The frame provides structural strength to enable you to cover your art with glass or acrylic and to hang it. But the color, style and texture of the moulding add its own ingredient to the recipe of your custom-framed art. We have a huge variety of mouldings available(over 3000), but your choice should coordinate with the art, the mats, and the particular effect you desire to achieve. For example, a bamboo-like moulding is great for oriental work, or a “Navajo” inlay works well for southwestern art. Mouldings made from natural woods and finishes are often used to coordinate with similar wood furnishings and to provide a “simple elegance” to the art. Mouldings can be used in combination to build a truly unique frame that will add additional width and color to your custom-framed art. A fillet, a narrow moulding inlaid inside the mat, coordinated with the frame moulding can be used to provide an inspired multi-dimensional look to your art. The possibilities are nearly endless, but we can help you choose the best combination for your very own presentation.The frame must be cut and assembled carefully to ensure tight corners and structural strength. Frames with bold, deeply embossed designs cannot always be cut so that the patterns match together at the corners. This is so because there is no industry-wide mathematical correlation between design spacing and even standard frame dimensions, much less the infinite sizes available in custom framing. In these cases, it is sometimes necessary to fill the patterns at the corner seams and blend the colors so the mismatch is not noticeable.


Shadow Boxes/Display Cases:

Three dimensional objects present no problem to our experienced framers. There is a way to encase everything from WWII military medals for your grandfather, sport jerseys, baby shoes, vacation souvenirs, or a china doll for your daughter. A shadow box can be very simple or it can incorporate rich fabrics and woods for a superbly elegant effect. Heirloom plates, spoon collections, coin collections, medals, and antique pistols are some examples of items that can be displayed in shadow boxes. Larger items, such as dolls, or an autographed football require display cases. Your design consultant can determine the best way to display and protect just about any object in a shadowbox.


Needlework/Tapestry Framing:

Needlework includes all needlework, embroidery, crossstitch, and crewel, whether they be from kits or original designs. Tapestries include hand woven rugs, handmade quilts, and batiks. Since these articles represent a considerable investment of skill and time, it is very important that they be displayed and protected from damage. There are many ways to display these items, and each may require special treatment to bring out the best in the work and to ensure its preservation.


Mirror Framing:

We can build a mirror frame to fit in perfectly with your decor. A mirror can be cut and framed to fit any place, to within a quarter inch. Department stores or furniture stores may be limited to only certain sizes or styles of mirrors, whereas, we have a whole arsenal of sizes from which you can select. We carry over 3000 mouldings so you'll be sure to find the perfect combination.


What is conservation glass and when do I need it?

First, let’s discuss the need. All sunlight and some artificial light contain an invisible electromagnetic component called ultraviolet (UV) light. These light waves are much shorter than visible light and contain more energy (the same energy that causes you to sunburn). This higher energy creates a greater degree of heat and causes more rapid deterioration of the molecular structure of the pigments used in printing. Conservation glass should be used whenever you are framing sentimental, valuable, limited edition and one-of-a-kind artwork. Conservation glass is clear glass (preferably float glass) to which an ultraviolet (UV) inhibiting film has been applied. Conservation glass blocks about 97 percent of the UV rays, compared to 46 to 50 percent blocked by regular clear and non-glare glass.


What should I use to clean my picture framing glass?

Most commercial window cleaners are good for cleaning framing glass. Avoid all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, or any cleaner that contains pumice, waxes, or harsh detergents. If your frame contains conservation glass, you should avoid using anything with ammonia (note that some commercial glass cleaners do contain ammonia). Windows cleaners with vinegar or vinegar-D work great, and tests indicate that they are safe for any glass. There are several new types of glass coatings coming on the market which make require special care. We will provide specific instructions for these special cases. You should always spray the cleaner on the cloth, then wipe the glass. Otherwise, if you spray directly on the glass, the liquid is likely to run down between the frame and glass, and could eventually wick up the framing package to the artwork.


Ten things to know before framing your picture:

  1. What and why to custom frame. - Whether you are framing a poster, your kid's handprints, or a fine work of art, custom framing will reflect your personal taste and protect your piece for years to come.
  2. Consider the surroundings. - While you should certainly consider the room's decor, you shouldn't match the frame to the room at the expense of what looks good with the picture. Keep in mind that the room decor may change in the future.
  3. Choose matting to enhance your artwork. - Matting is the term used to describe the "window-cut" material placed around an image within a frame. They can be made of a variety of materials such as paper, cotton and fabric in a wide range of colors. Mats serve as a spacer allowing the artwork to expand and contract with changes in humidity. Matting makes the overall size of the finished piece larger and provides a space for the eyes to rest between the art and the frame.
  4. An ounce of prevention. - Many times cherished art is damaged prior to arriving at the frame shop because it is improperly stored or transported. If it's a rolled piece such as a poster, serious damage can be caused by rubber bands, tape, paperclips and even a gentle squeeze. Make sure that the artwork is placed in a folder, protective covering , or a tube. To prevent accidental damage, allow us to remove the artwork from its packaging.
  5. It's all in the details. - Consider adding another detail. Fillets, beveled mat treatments, creative window openings, specialty paper or fabric mats can add a distinctive flair to your artwork. We are familiar with these options, and can help you decide what works best with your item. Sometimes it's the smallest element in framing your artwork that makes it stand out.
  6. Choose the best frame to enhance your art. - There are thousands of different frame styles and sizes that come in a variety of stains, glazes, and finishes. Let us help you select the frame that best suits your artwork and have it made to your exact specifications.
  7. Archival materials protect your art. - Some common framing materials such as paper mats and cardboard contain acid that will gradually destroy your art, and these materials are not used by Get The Picture. Using archival mats and backing boards will help protect art from the damaging effects of time and from common pollutants that cause yellowing, fading and deterioration.
  8. Mounting your artwork properly. - The dry and wet mounting processes bond artwork to a board to prevent artwork from bubbling or waving and are most appropriate for posters and photographs. Pieces of any value are generally not dry or wet mounted since these processes are irreversible and can greatly affect any resale value. Museum mounting, commonly known as hinging, attaches the art with paper hinges to the board. The art hangs freely, allowing it to expand or contract with changes in humidity. Hinging or archival photo corners are recommended for original artwork, delicate photographic's, and other irreplaceable items.
  9. Choose glazing to protect your artwork. - Glazing refers to the glass or acrylic material covering the artwork as a means of protection. There are many variations including regular clear glass, anti-reflective (chemically coated), non-glare (acid etched) and conservation glass (specially formulated to help filter UV light). There are also acrylic glazing products that come in the non-glare and UV filtering varieties. Acrylic is lighter in weight and is safer than glass but requires a soft cloth and a non-abrasive cleanser. It is ideal for oversized pieces, frames hanging in children's rooms, or items to be shipped.
  10. Find the right framer - A good framer will help you with all the decisions that go into properly framing your picture. Quality framers have years of experience with preservation framing and design using a variety of materials and methods. A quality framer will usually hold the designation of Certified Picture Framer; CPF®. The CPF exam is administered by the Professional Picture Framers Association; PPFA. This extensive exam covers all aspects of conservation framing techniques and methods. For outstanding customer service and the latest products, design theories, and techniques, you can rely on framers with the CPF® mark of excellence.

Note: "Ten things to know before framing your picture" guide is courtesy of FramerSelect(tm).


Andrew R. Langlois
Custom Picture Framer
149 Reservoir Ave
Lincoln, RI 02865



© 2001-2008 Andrew R. Langlois, CPF All Rights Reserved Worldwide.