A GUIDE TO FRAMING CONTEMPORARY ART
We want to share with you a short guide on how to frame contemporary art and all the different variables to consider before going to your local framer.
The purpose of framing is not only to be able to exhibit the work in your home but to keep it protected and prevent it from getting damaged.
We recommend getting your artworks framed straight away - it is all too easy to buy art online and let it sit gathering dust in our homes, promising ourselves to get it framed and never getting around it.
We can deliver the artwork straight to the framers for you so it can be hung on your walls as soon as possible.
THE 4 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN FRAMING
(also known as a Mat in the US)
We recommend using a mount with any work on paper. However there are a few exceptions - we recommend no mount for large format photographs, diptychs and triptychs as these looks better when the artworks are as close to each other as possible without the mount getting in the way allowing the artwork to be read as one.
Not only does a mount highlight the artwork it also gives a physical distance between the glass and picture which is key for conservation.
White or off white mounts will look good with most artworks.
Matching the mount to the colour of the paper can work well.
Another option is to match the mount to a colour in the artwork.
WINDOW MOUNT OR FLOAT MOUNT
A window mount is card that has a bevelled hole cut out of it to reveal the artwork behind. This is best to use when you want to cover the edges of the artwork. It is slightly cheaper than float mounting and gives a more traditional look. One can have multiple mounts when using window mounts, choosing two colours layered on top of each to create an even more dramatic look.
If your artwork has a straight clean edge you might want to go for a window mount - but there is an exception: if your artwork goes right to the edge of the paper you will want to use a float mount.
A float mount is when the artwork is placed (floated) on top of the mount board giving the artwork a more contemporary feel. This type of mount it best to use when you want to reveal the edges of an artwork. Float mounts are only possible in a deeper frame.
Small delicate pictures might require a larger mount in between the artwork and the frame to give it space to breathe.
WHY NOT OPT FOR A COLOURFUL SPACER?
The spacer is the section that goes around the inside of the frame between the mount and the glass, seen in orange in the frame on the right.
If you want to keep the mount in a simple white or off white, you can have the spacer in a bright colour or in a colour that brings something out in the artwork itself.
We recommend wooden frames for most of our original artworks.
These can either be stained in a natural wood finish or painted in a colour to match the artwork - you could go for the classic black or white frame or natural finish, a classic look that often works well. We also love brightly coloured frames that really make the artwork pop.
WOOD OR METAL
The moulding is the actual frame itself.
It is best to choose the right frame for the artwork rather than the right frame for the room or to match a different frame. We also always recommend that the mount be wider than the moulding.
You want a modest amount of contrast between the frame and the artwork, for example opt for a dark frame with a light artwork.
You could choose a colour from within the picture that matches the frame or go for something bold and bright.
If the dominant colours of a work are very clearly apparent - why not match your frame to with these colours. If in doubt black or white frames almost always work well.
We recommend a floater frame for canvas. This is a frame that needs no glass and goes around the outside of the canvas usually at the same depth as the canvas.
Acrylic paint or oil paint on canvas can often be framed using this method.
MUSUEM GLASS, REGULAR GLASS OR PLEXI GLASS
This will depend on where you are hanging the artwork, your budget, and also the price of the artwork (which might also dictate how much you are willing to spend on the frame).
You don’t want to cover an oil painting or a work on canvas with glass unless you really have to - its best to leave the texture exposed.
All watercolours and textiles should be framed with UV protective glass as daylight and artificial light can takes it toll on the materials.
£ - REGULAR GLASS is the least expensive option but it doesn’t block any UV rays and is highly reflective.
£ - PLEXIGLASS is a great option for large artworks and is safer than a very large pane of glass. It is lighter than glass so better for shipping and it can come in a regular format or with UV filtering.
££ - CONSERVATION CLEAR GLASS is a bit less reflective, blocks 99% of UV rays and is more expensive than regular glass.
£££ - MUSEUM GLASS is non reflective, blocks 99% of UV rays and is the most expensive.
SECOND HAND FRAMES
You can buy second hand frames from Ebay or from antique stores. You can then take these to your framer and get them to fit your artwork in the frame with a new mount.
If you have a series of artworks that are unframed you could try the SEAM Solution’s Picture Ledge that is available exclusively through the website soon. This allows you to exhibit multiple unframed artworks in your home.
Canvas is hardier than most other mediums. It can withstand UV light and in a lot of cases you will want to see the texture of the canvas up close as opposed to behind glass. To smarten up a canvas you can just have a moulding/frame around its edge.
READY MADE FRAMES
They never look quite as good as a bespoke frame and often don’t come with UV protected glass but if you are on a tight budget and want something for the time being then you can use a ready made frame. They are great if your artwork is a generic paper size like A4, A3 or A2. Your local framer will also sell ready made frames which they can put the artwork in for you and make a mount to fit.
With frames it all comes down to personal preference and if in doubt you can always ask your framer for advice!