(And, Yes, There are Going to be More Sequels than ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’)
By Paul Dunwell, writing for EasyFrame
© Copyright EasyFrame 2018
What This Article is About
In ‘Frame Academy I’ we provided a run-down of essential terminology as a prelude to further ‘Frame Academy’ pieces that are spanning more complex aspects of the dark art of picture-framing.
In ‘Frame Academy II’ we gave you a step-by-step idiot’s guide to making a picture frame. It served, alternatively, as a resource to help you understand the processes involved if you go to a 3rd party to have your frames made to your specifications.
In ‘Frame Academy III’ we explained how to gild a picture frame and add an ostentatious touch to framed work that is already precious to you.
Now, in ‘Frame Academy IV’, we retrace our steps a little and ask ‘Why would anybody bother with a frame?’ And ‘With so many options to choose from, what sort of framing solution should I be looking for?’
The Purpose of a Frame
Actually a frame fulfils quite a few purposes. Mounted artwork or photography might be compared with jewellery. Beautiful stones are set in gold or one of the platinum group metals because they need to be held protectively. Yet the contrast between the central gem and the precious metal is in itself attractive. Presented together the frame of the metal setting draws the eye to a single jewel, or perhaps a cluster of them, which it holds. And thus there is a symbiotic relationship. Each component enhances the other. Together the whole is better than the sum of the two halves.
If we continue that analogy then it’s worth saying that there are a variety of approaches to holding gems just as there are to framing artwork. So a jeweller might employ a ‘bezel’ or ‘prong’ setting, or ‘channel’, ‘bead’ or ‘burnish’ setting. Each has its advantages and might be more appropriate in certain circumstances that could be driven by, for example, the way in which the stone was cut. And likewise anybody who wants to frame work should pause and contemplate how best they might present and protect their piece.
In short, then, the frame is an opportunity to present artwork of any sort in its best possible light. It can greatly enhance that which it encapsulates. Though even the most sumptuous frame cannot do much to lift a poor exhibit. In the meantime great artwork can be devalued by a shabby frame. And yet, in all fairness, artwork doesn’t always need a frame per se anyway.
You may be aware that there is a system called ‘gallery-wrapping’, a system which is usually utilised for oil or acrylic paintings but nowadays photography and more can be printed onto canvas using silk-screening or similar. In any event ‘gallery-wrapping’ doesn’t utilise frames. Instead the canvas is stretched over a robust hidden frame then stapled, tacked or gaffer-taped at the back. So the edge of the work is on the wrapped-around canvas although occasionally the artist might prefer to paint the perpendicular outside edge in a contrasting or neutral colour. If you want to know a little more about gallery-wrapping see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallery_wrap
Another frame-avoidance approach is what’s called ‘box mounting’. Any work that is on hardboard, or even a flimsier medium such as paper, is going to be easily warped so it needs a rigid structure if you are going to display it. ‘Box mounting’ is one way to do that.
Going with Something More Traditional
As with art, with framing there are no rules. So, assuming that you are the owner of the art in question, it is up to you what you do. But in general the size and style of the work could dictate the size and style of the frame. Classical, period and timeless art is probably best-suited to traditional framing that might incorporate gilding (see ‘Frame Academy III’). Or a broader and heavier frame that might be in teak, mahogany or walnut. Yet more contemporary work will probably be complemented by lightweight and unfussy framing. Anything that’s in-between could go either way. In any event it’s worth considering the full-frontal and side views as well as how the work will look, given various framing options within the setting in which you intend to hang it – and in the context of other work there as well as adjacent furnishings.
You should also avoid having a frame that competes with what’s within it!
It is worth reminding you of scale. If you have a modest home (as so many people do) then anything with a really hefty frame is going to dominate a room to potentially ridiculous effect. Remember that the frame itself will, if we’re speaking of a traditional approach, add quite a few inches to the height and width of the work within it. And it will protrude into the room too.
Floater frames are on a more sensible scale for compact modern homes. And you can build them yourself if economy is important. But it’s still worth buying in the supplies you need.
Alternatively you can use a series of mouldings, with one inside another and possibly a liner that is likely to be white, to create a custom frame that might be ideal for your purposes.
DIY framing takes time and patience. But DIY-jobs aren’t always cost-effective. Your decision to have a go, or not have a go, will be coloured by whether this is going to be fun and a personal challenge that will teach you something.
The alternative to doing it yourself is, of course, to go straight to a professional framer like EasyFrame. You could have them either do the entire job or help with part of it (whatever has left you jittery!) EasyFrame can also certainly supply much of what you need to do the job if you contact them.
EasyFrame is on 01234 856 501 and emailable via firstname.lastname@example.org.