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February 27, 2012

I’m becoming one of the regular customers (or maybe one of the best customers? If you knew how much I’ve already spent, you’d definitely say that…) in a local framing shop. When I came there for the first time it took me more than an hour to choose the perfect mount and frame – so many colours and shapes, my head was spinning. Don’t get me wrong, the shop assistants were very helpful, but everyone has an opinion and it was up to me to decide what looked best.

They’d just ask – “how do you envisage this as an end result?”, I’d say “probably has to have a light (in other cases dark) passe-partout and a matching frame” and then the choosing would begin… Trust me it’s not easy and even a bit scary, as “good presentation enhances the art; bad presentation can kill it!”

One of my photo prints - Sage

I have put together some advice based on what I managed to find online, so if you ever decide to frame anything, this might save you some of your precious time. Before you’re going to a framing shop, do read this:

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Don’t frame the art to match a room in your house. Choose picture frames and mats that will enhance the work of art itself, so that if you move, redecorate, or decide hang the piece in another location, it will always look appropriate.

Avoid framing that overwhelms the artwork.

The whole array of art works on paper–drawings, watercolors, gouaches, pastels, etchings, engravings, woodblocks, lithographs, silkscreens and photographs – are almost always put behind a glazed surface for preservation. However, the work should NEVER be placed directly against the glazed surface. (By the way, works of art behind a glass or acrylic surface should be opened every few years to clean dust and allow the materials to air.)

The mat provides a rigid support for the work of art, to prevent bending and folding and other damages that might occur to paper when being handled and touched. It separates the work of art from the glazed surface, creating a “breathing space.” In addition, mats are used for their aesthetic properties, often strengthening features already present in the piece of art.

Depending on the work, you may want to have it matted to the edges of the paper, or have the image “floated.” Floating a work of art means exposing the whole sheet with its edges. This technique is not as secure, but is often chosen for aesthetic reasons, particularly if the paper has rough or unique edges that are part of the work of art itself.

Either way you decide to mat your piece, the bottom margin is generally slightly wider than the top to give the entire image a visual weight. The sides should equal the dimensions of the top margin. Standard margin sizes are 3″ to 4″ inches on the bottom and 3″ at the top and sides; these dimensions, however, will increase or decrease proportionally according to the size of the work of art.

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Another one of my photo prints - Wie ein Märchen

Strong vs Pale Colour Mounts

– Strong colour mounts are not commonly used by themselves as they tend to over shadow the art, drawing attention away from the image being framed. However, when used with black line drawings or etchings on a white background they can focus the attention onto your artwork. The strong contrast against the white background illuminates the artwork and intensifies the black lines.

– White mounts exaggerate highly colourful images.

– If in doubt choose simple classic mount colours.

– Some images benefit from a strong colour edge but can be swamped if the whole width of the mount is a strong colour. A double mount can be very effective in this situation.

That’s more or less it, but you can always look for more specific information on what you’re going to frame. For e.g. here you can find information on how to frame watercolour paintings and this link is on framing photographs.

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Information found on The Picture Factory and BIDDINGTON’S Art Gallery & Shopping.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 27, 2012 4:27 pm

    Really useful tips, thank you 🙂

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