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What to Look For in a Quality Framing Job
“Picture framers are not all the same; framing has its standards but it is also an art. You can rely upon period designs, color relationships,
and materials preservation standards as being the same, but the innovation and creative work will not be the same from shop to shop. Do
not count on every framer having the same materials sources, or in house standards of quality.” From artfacts.
Are you confused about picture framing? Not sure you know good framing from poor framing? Not sure you know the ‘lingo’? Not sure how
to choose a framer? Not sure how much it costs? The following discussion should help you get comfortable with the process.
DESIGN. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder - it’s true! A good designer will incorporate your personal style. A good designer will also
gently steer you away from a design faux pas, unless of course, you just insist! Art without a frame looks unfinished. Inappropriate moulding
and mat colors and styles don’t flatter the art. Balance and scale are important in the design. When mouldings and mats are being
determined for art, each component must relate well to the rest to bring an overall sense of balance and cohesion to the completed design.
Well designed framing will enhance and beautify the artwork – unity is created. Frames surround art creating a unit while setting it apart
from the rest of the room. The frame creates a visual separation between the artwork and the wall that will gently lead your eye into the
artwork. The mat board creates a resting place for your eye as it moves on into the artwork. If you find your eye drawn to the frame or mat
board rather than the artwork, additional work is needed to find the perfect design.
MATTING. Mats should be cut out of the board you chose and not substituted without your knowledge or approval. Once the framing is
complete, mat boards may appear to have a subtle color change. Glass has a slightly green tint and will therefore change the mat board
color every so slightly. Acrylic glazing will cause the mat board color to darken just a bit. Our manufacturers do an excellent job of quality
control, so there is rarely any difference between the sample mat board and the actual mat board. So, any significant difference between
what you chose and what you got should raise a red flag.
The cut edge of the mat board openings is called the bevel. A quality mat board will have a very clean cut opening. The bevel should exactly
meet in the corner that is without ‘overcuts’, “undercuts’, or ‘hooks’. See illustrations at right.
The mat surface should be free of defect – no scrapes, gouges or irregularity
FRAMES. A well constructed frame will meet tightly with no gaps across the entire miter of each corner. Matching putty is often used to give
the corners a more finished look. If correctly applied, the putty is not noticeable to most people. The top surface at the miter should be level
across with the exception of some moulding designed in such a way that the two sides will not meet in a continuous pattern. An example is
a wavy moulding where an up and down part of the moulding meet in the corner. A good framer can usually minimize the effect so it is barely
noticeable. Alternatively, you can request that the pattern of the moulding be matched at the corners. But, this is generally very wasteful and
expensive. It can often take more than double the moulding requirement to match the pattern, plus extra labor is involved to fit it all together.
Check the frame finish. It should be free of flaws, uniform in color and shape.
No nail holes should be visible from the sides of the frame (except for some tall thin frames where nails may be required to properly hold the
frame corners together. Our shop uses an underpinner that drives V-shaped metal wedges into the frame from the back. Frames made in
our shop are also glued as this is what really gives strength to the corners.