How To Shop For Picture Frames

How To Shop For Picture Frames

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Published by TOP4 Team

Focus on the art you want to display and the choice of frame will follow.

THE RIGHT FRAME… is one that doesn’t dominate the artwork. If you notice the frame first, it’s too strong. The art always comes first: the frame is there to protect, to present and to complement.

STARTING POINT First, think about the nature of the artwork itself. Are there archival considerations? Canvas artworks, works on paper and photographs need different methods of framing for conservation purposes and longevity.

MOUNTING POSSIBILITIES The ‘float mount and box’ is what we do most. This is where the artwork sits on a backing in a deep frame, with the glazing placed away from the artwork to allow airspace. This allows the artwork to shine. In a traditional window mount, the artwork is overlaid with mounting card. This gives support along all four edges and keeps the glass away from the artwork. For photography, we recommend dry mounting; the artwork is mounted on a substrate to keep it flat and protected, and we also use a box frame so the glazing sits away from the work. For works on canvas, we use a timber shadow box frame that sits proud of the sides of the work, providing air space all around. In these cases, we don’t use glazing.

BALANCING ACT Whichever frame and mounting you choose, it needs to be in proportion to the art it’s displaying. A small work surrounded by a large mounting board doesn’t do the artwork justice.

TREND REPORT Frames in natural timbers such as American oak are popular because they complement works without overpowering them.

PERFECT MATCH Frames should generally suit the period of the work they’re framing. Traditional frames work best for antique and traditional works. An ornate traditional frame can be painted white for a more contemporary look.

FOR CONTEMPORARY AND INDIGENOUS ART Keep the frame very simple. Pale timber works well with everything and looks especially good with indigenous art.

FOR BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY A pale timber box frame works well. If you want a black frame, we recommend a black stained frame that hints at the timber beneath to add warmth and richness.

FOR CHILDREN’S ART This looks best in simple box frames. Use removable backs so the artwork can be changed.

BOX OF TRICKS To make a frame ‘disappear’, we’ll use a box frame sprayed white to match the colour of the walls.

INTERIOR MOTIVES The frame should be matched to the art first, the decor second. Mixing styles of frames within one room can also look great.


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