The Picframes Blog

The latest news and updates from the picture framing world, plus competitions, special offers and great advice on framing your pictures.

Hanging picture frames: distance and space

Written by chris pink on June 26, 2015 in Picture Framing

Let’s say you’ve just finished re-decorating your living room. You want to start brand-new, now, and hang paintings so that the space emulates a smart gallery room.

But stop right there: have you considered the effect of spacing the paintings, or how much room you have to play with?

In this week’s blog, we’ll consider the various things that affect how you hang pictures and what makes them look good on the wall.

Space is opinion

How many paintings or photos you decide to hang depends on the biggest factor: space and how much of it there will be between each painting.

You can either go for the sparse approach, and have only a few select works with plenty of room between each of them, or you can position a number of paintings on the wall.

Providing there is equal room between each painting, the latter approach can work equally well. Which brings us to point number 2…

Viewing distance

In order to work out how many paintings you would like to hang, consider how far away the paintings will be viewed from. If there is a fair bit of room to stand back and admire the pictures, you may wish to have less paintings.

That way, the eye will focus only on specific works of art.

If you have a smaller room, however, you may want the intimate approach of looking at lots of different intricate paintings.

This works very well with small pieces that demand a lot of attention, or when you have a theme that flows throughout each one, telling a story.

Framing consistency

The main thing to remember is that if you have just a few paintings on show, you won’t want too many frame types to distract from the art.

On the other hand, if you have many different paintings, you may well be able to use lots of different frames, and make this a feature entirely in its own right.

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Simple versus complex: how to decide which frame is right for your painting

Written by chris pink on June 19, 2015 in Picture Framing

You’ve decided on the wood. You know where it’s going. There’s just one more thing to consider: your frame’s profile, and how it’ll affect the art-work that will go inside it.

Take a picture frame moulding and turn it so that you’re looking along the length of it.

What you’re seeing is the frame’s profile, which shows a cross-section of how many grooves the frame has, if it’s rounded or if it’s square.

Here’s our guide to choosing the right profile for your picture frame:

Step 1: take a close look at your art-work

Forget the colours of your painting for a moment, and focus on the texture. Are there intricate lines?

Does the painting feature buildings? Does it depict a grand, Victorian theme or is it a pen-and ink sketch of a busy market one-hundred years ago?

In that case, you may want a frame with more detail and grooves within its body.

Step 2: deciding on squared-off or round edges

Take another look at your art-work. Is there a softness about the piece?

Is it a landscape which has woodland, or a painting that speaks of natural pleasures like a walk amongst some woodland?

In that case, you may want to go for a profile which is rounded as well as made up of grooves.

Step 3: or should you go with a frame that slopes in?

If you’re looking for a frame that leads the eye into the middle of the picture, a flat frame which descends towards the picture could be a nice idea.

These frames often have a narrow inner edge that’s gold or can be painted gold or another colour, adding contrast and enhancing the piece as it hangs on the wall.

Step 4: when to go with something more complex

Some picture frames have very complex mouldings which have many deep grooves, high and low elements, and intriguing corner sections with swirls and patterns.

These frames are rarely cheap and can be very heavy, but if you have a particularly special family portrait, for example, they can be the ideal choice.

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3 personal questions to ask yourself before you frame those pictures

Written by chris pink on June 12, 2015 in Picture Framing

Send us an email or give us a ring and we’ll happily advise you on picture frames, different mounts and all the rest. But as experienced as we are at what we do, there are some things that only you know!

Here, then, are 3 personal (but not too personal!) questions to ask yourself before you begin the picture framing process. Give these a thought and you’ll be making the right choice, with confidence.

Number 1: does everyone agree on the frames you’re considering?

If you’re hanging a picture in your study, and only you use it, chances are that you can get away with framing that print exactly how you want to.

But if the art-work is set to hang in a more public area like the living or dining room, you’ll need to make sure everyone agrees! If opinions are divided, you’re better off waiting until you can reach a compromise with the whole family.

And if the problem seems to be style, with everyone wanting something different, consider something modern like a wide, flat wooden frame.

That way, your piece will be the focus of attention, and instead of everyone arguing about the frame, they’ll be looking at the art instead!

Number 2: are you sure you’re not going to redecorate that room soon?

One of the biggest reasons why people have pictures re-framed is that they have decided to change the style of a room. This means that, suddenly, the new style doesn’t work with the old frames.

Our advice is to think well into the next couple of years.

Do this and you’re sure to take future ideas into account, giving you the chance to frame pictures so that they will work with the room as it is, and as you would like it.

Alternatively, we can frame your art-work in simple frames for the time being, and then you can upgrade to new frames in the near future.

That way, you won’t waste too much money and you’ll ensure everything is in-keeping.

Number 3: are you listening to your own mind and not your friends?

With everyone having a different idea of what’s stylish and in fashion, it’s easy to get swept away with trends and end up with an all-white living room that contains only 1 large painting, framed so minimalistically that you can barely see it.

The key thing here is to listen to your own mind and what makes you tick!

Lots of people secretly want to make a real feature out of their paintings, so don’t be shy about using colour just the way you want it.

After all, you’re the one who has to live with the art on a day-to-day basis. Why should you compromise?

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3 (of many) questions we’re happy to answer about picture framing

Written by chris pink on June 5, 2015 in Picture Framing

Here are 3 exceedingly common questions we get asked quite a lot. Ask us these and you’re very likely to get answers to much more, and gain expert insight that you didn’t have before.

Don’t have time? Then this blog post should help you out plenty for now!

Number 1: “how custom is custom?”

A very good question to start with. Allow us to put it like this: we frame whatever comes our way.

That really could mean anything!

One day it might be some treasured jewellery, displayed in the centre of a frame, seemingly levitating in a void, while the next it could be a very narrow portrait-style frame that requires special attention to its mount.

Think it can’t be framed? We can’t claim to be able to frame absolutely everything, but we will be honest with you and always do our best.

Number 2: “can you guide me as to what kind of

wood and finishes you care to offer?”

Yes we can, absolutely. We understand that our website is big and that not everyone wants to (or can!) spend hours looking through all its pages.

In this case, allow us to really narrow down your options. One of our expert framers will discuss some options with you and give you a great starting point.

That way, you’ll start off with solid options and may even be exposed to ideas that you had never previously considered…but that work really well!

Number 3: “I’m not sure how to frame this watercolour

we found, can you please advise?”

My, you are polite.

Yes. No problem. Some things are very easy to frame. Others require a bit more thought. Watercolours, in general, need to be considered with specific care.

We could just shove one in a frame, but would that ensure it longevity? We don’t think so. Watercolour paper can be incredibly fragile…

The key thing to take away from all this is the following: framing isn’t just about making something attractive and wall-worthy, it’s about maintaining it in as good a state as possible, for as long as we possibly can!

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Many shades of white: custom frame painting inspiration

Written by chris pink on May 29, 2015 in Picture Framing

White is a brilliant colour, and anyone who has ever bought white paint will know one thing for certain: where white is concerned…there’s more than one kind! In fact, there are hundreds.

If you apply this thinking to custom picture frames, it’s easy to see how many varieties of white can be created. All you have to do is take the smallest splash of blue, red or yellow paint and add it to emulsion.

Stir it in well and you’ll have some lovely new white paint with a very subtle hint.

Here are a few ideas to get you started, along with an idea of colours that work well for certain kinds of art and photography.

Blue tinted white paint, for bright Mediterranean themes

For bright Mediterranean themed art, plain white can be a little too plain, and a bold colour like dark red would be much too overpowering.

This is where light blue steps in. It’s a pastel shade so it goes very well with most contemporary furniture, and it’ll add a level of interest that white simply can’t achieve. A great way to compliment oil paintings or photos.

Grey tinted white – a great way to darken white

without adding too much mood

Grey tinted white? I know, it sounds a bit dull. But in fact, when you place a simple, light grey frame on a very-white wall, the effect can be very appealing indeed.

The trick here is to only use the barest trace of grey paint when you create the original mix.

Even a light shade of grey will do a lot to add interest, and this colour works excellently with black and white photo prints.

Pinky-white adds smile-inducing character

Looking to brighten a white frame up but not ready for the bold colours we spoke of at the start of this blog post? If terracotta is your thing, then light pink or even subtle orange could be a wonderful way to go.

This colour is ideally suited to sunsets and will work well with most wood furniture.

Be careful not to add too much orange to your paint, though. There again, if you have a sunset painting with a burning orb as the star attraction, that could be exactly what’s needed.

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What kind of picture frame and picture is right for your home?

Written by chris pink on May 26, 2015 in Picture Framing

Here on this blog we like to think we’ve covered quite a bit by now. That being said, there’s always something else to consider, and this week it’s the pictures themselves…when you have so many, how do you choose which to frame and which to leave out?

It isn’t simple by any means, but here are 3 pointers which always make things easier.

Frames (and rooms) love themes

We know that it’s possible to frame lots of different types of thing in one place. The question is more if you should choose to do that. Some homes work well with lots of different art-work on the walls, but generally speaking, we think it’s fair to say that art and frames go hand-in-hand with themes.

A theme will give you a dominant colour that compliments your furniture, and it’ll also enable you to use the same kind of picture frame throughout, which means that you won’t spend forever choosing different ones. If you still want to frame lots of different things it may still be possible, of course. In this case, try to use similar mounts and frames which are different, but not strikingly so in size, width and profile.

Colour considerations

Let’s say you have a series of Vietnamese paintings. They’re bright with red and yellow colours, and will really make an impact on your walls. Got lots of red and yellow in the room already? In that case, the impact will be big.

If you don’t want the impact to be quite so forceful, we’d recommend you tone it down a bit. By all means feel free to employ colour, but be careful – sometimes the brightest colours need to be used in moderation (unless you want the impact they give!).

Format and spacing

Chances are that, without you even really registering it, your room is dictating a certain kind of picture and size of frame go on the wall. Examine your furniture. Is it chunky, delicate, traditional or dark wood? The size of the objects in the room will go a long way towards influencing the frames you can hang within it. For example, if the room already contains a lot of old wooden furniture, be careful not to use bulky wooden frames that add too much extra of the same thing.

That concludes this week’s blog. Feel free to get in touch if you have a query, would like a quote or simply have a burning picture framing question!

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Insight week: what happens when you order a picture frame?

Written by chris pink on May 15, 2015 in Picture Framing

2015 may be the age of automation, but that doesn’t mean our craft people just shove some wood in a machine and get a frame out the other end.

Far from it, in fact! In this week’s blog, we take you through the process – from what happens when someone orders a frame, to every practical step along the way (OK, not every practical step, but most and everything you, as a customer, need to know).

1: your enquiry/order

Often, the order is simple. A photographer needing basic black frames of the same size for their photography business, perhaps, or a standard metal frame set.

Then there’s the enquiry which needs assistance. Like when someone needs specialist advice on colours, where they are putting their frame, or the type of wood they might use.

We’re happy to get on with the job as specified, or give it some proper thought and give you our expert opinion.

It’s worth noting that we make a lot of custom sized frames, too. We couldn’t possibly list everything we are asked about here, but suffice to say that it is a lot!

2: sourcing the goods

The way it works is this: we keep materials on-site, and when we don’t have a moulding that we need, we order it in. The key here is quality control.

We inspect every moulding that comes through the door. And not just for dents. We make sure wood isn’t too warped, discoloured, or low quality.

We also make sure that when a frame is being put together, all the pieces are similar, so that it looks right and nothing is out of place.

3: frame creation

Where do we start? An average day might see us assembling dozens of sleek metal frames, piecing together tricky wood custom orders, or framing a difficult to house item (like a football shirt or a children’s toy).

Once again, it’s an opportunity for us to keep an eye on quality and keep you, the customer, happy.

4: package and send

What good is all that hard work if not protected at the end? All our frames are wrapped appropriately.

Have a question? We’re here to help, so feel free to email or give us a ring and have a chat.

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Top 5 things to consider when hunting for a wooden picture frame

Written by chris pink on May 8, 2015 in Picture Framing

Wooden picture frame, anyone? We sell everything from metal picture frames to pewter picture frames, but clearly wooden picture frames are our biggest seller, and something we get asked a lot about.

With such an industry staple, you’d think you could almost close your eyes and pick a frame. But alas, some care needs to be taken. Here, in this week’s blog post, we show you what to consider when hunting a suitable wooden picture frame down.

1: not all wood of the same kind looks the same

Looking for some new cherry wood picture frames for the house? Keep in mind that grains differ in all types of wood, and that means that although your new picture frame will look very similar, there may be slight differences in tone and colour.

2: deceptively simple wood picture frames are the way to go

There are lots of ornate wood picture frames on offer to the public, from mouldings with high detail, to frames with deep profiles. However, simple flat frames are always a good bet. Failing that, you could always select a curved frame.

With their smoothed, rolled-over edges, these look classy and come in an array of wood varieties.

3: there are bargains to be had

Found a frame that you love, but that’s slightly too expensive? In that case, consider a narrower frame, or a slightly different type. You’ll be surprised by some of the deals we can do.

4: narrow frames with large mounts work very well

If you’re on a tight budget, but have a large picture that you need mounted and framed, your best bet may well be a narrow frame and a wide mount.

Chunky frames often cost a lot in large sizes, so this can be one way to make a compromise without ending up with something a million miles from what you intended.

5: don’t forget about the dark colours!

Dark woods may not be quite as popular as the lighter varieties, but they can work just as well.

Be sure to look at everything from walnut to virtually black – coupled with an eggshell or off-white mount, these can make for visually arresting combinations with excellent high-contrast.

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Cheap wooden picture frames: how do you tell good from bad?

Written by chris pink on May 1, 2015 in Picture Framing

We don’t like to boast, but here at Picture Frame Studio, we know a thing or two about picture frames (you’d expect us to, wouldn’t you?!).

And one thing is certain: you get cheap frames that work (ours) and those that don’t (we’re not naming names!). Here’s our quick guide, packed with info about how to tell the difference between quality and…everything else!

Wood quality matters

Wood, clearly, is not all made the same. You have hard wood and soft wood, and a million grades in between…

How do we select our wood? Well, we use affordable wood that has nice grain and is nice and sturdy with it. You can tell good wood from bad by flexing it and looking at what happens.

Pine is a prime example – if you pick up a dodgy picture frame, you’ll find it flexes all over the place and doesn’t offer enough support to the art-work inside it.

Wood doesn’t have to be very expensive to be good, but it does have to have the appropriate qualities we always look for.

It’s all in the corners

Take this example: picture frame 1 has 2 staples, while picture frame 2 has 4 staples. 2 staples might be enough for a narrow frame, but the key thing is to use enough to cover a corner’s surface area.

This prevents flexing and means that if that frame does ever hit the ground, it won’t fall apart on impact!

Beware (some, not all!) painted frames

It can be hard to take two painted picture frames and tell good from bad. Our advice? Turn the frame over, first, and make sure that there are enough staples. It should also have been glued, ideally, to add extra adhesion.

Otherwise, examine the surface and have a look at where each frame corner meets another. Is one side higher than the other?

Is there an ominous crack opening in the paint? Both of these things in the same frame probably don’t mean great things…

Summary? If you pick up a cheap picture frame in a shop it could be the best thing you ever did for your art work. But equally, it could be bad news, so stay one step ahead and keep those eyes wide open! (Or…buy from us.)

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Unusual picture framing ideas worth talking about

Written by chris pink on April 24, 2015 in Picture Framing

The world of picture framing can be a formal one at times, and with measurements and room dynamics often taking centre stage, it’s easy to go the same route as everyone else.

Look beyond the usual, however, and there are all kinds of ways of using picture frames to present work in a more adventurous manner. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at a few.

Reconsider the way you think of mounts

Standard mounts are absolutely ideal for things like formal portraits, but what do you do when you feel like mixing things up a bit? The answer is…experiment!

Delve into our archives and you’ll discover a host of bold colours and intriguing effects that could really bring out your subject’s personality.

If you’re feeling really daring, you could even hand-paint your own mount and then cut it at home with some simple mount cutting equipment.

Distressed frames are fully customizable!

Ever wanted to put your own spin on a frame? In that case, you could buy a gold leaf frame and then take some wire wool to it, revealing the layers of paint underneath.

This gives an immediate aged quality to a frame, and makes it look interesting without it being scruffy. If you’re really up for challenge you could even have a go at gold leafing a frame yourself.

Frame something truly unique

Typically, it’s art-work and photos that get the picture framing treatment. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options.

For example, we can frame anything from a pebble collection to a wrestling outfit, and we’ll do it in a box frame that will make a wonderful gift.

Box frames are wonderful because they’re modern, sturdy, and they make a piece stand out from the wall they are hung on.

So, next time you think about going standard, give some consideration to doing something a little bit different. Colour is your friend, and the only thing limiting your creations is creativity!

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Which picture frame for a beach scene? Advice to keep you inspired

Written by chris pink on April 17, 2015 in Picture Framing

It’s here, there’s no denying it: our days of cold and rain are (hopefully! Please?!) behind us for this year, and summer is upon us. And with that realisation comes another one – it’s time to head down to the beach and snap away!

That’s all fine and well, but how do you frame a beach scene? Good question. In this week’s blog post, we’ll show you how, offer inspiration and give you some picture framing food for thought.

1: light coloured mounts work well

The Beatles. A solar eclipse. Some things are great and always will be. Enter the off-white mount. This has been a firm favourite with beach photos for many years, and there’s no reason to change that now. The white contrasts really well with the stunning blue sky, and it also offers enough contrast with the sand at the bottom. Job done.

2: natural wood frames are just the start

Natural wood picture frames are the obvious choice for these kinds of pictures. Then again, you may want to be bolder. For example, if you have a sunset, you could go with a bright colour frame that matches the burning sun, or a dark blue one for a stormy beach night.

3: metal frames have their uses too

The silvery sands and metallic rocks in some photos make metal frames a great option if you want something hard wearing, smart and with enough smoothness to shine under lights. These also work exceptionally well for black and white photographs or monochrome images.

4: wide frame, anyone?

Slim frames are great, and can allow the picture to become the star of the show. Wide frames, however, should not be forgotten! They lead the eye in and really make the piece in to a stunning feature that jumps out from the wall.

That’s all for this week. Look out for more picture framing advice in the weeks to come!

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Step by step: 3 steps to choosing the perfect mount for your picture frame

Written by chris pink on April 10, 2015 in Picture Framing

If there is any subject within the realm of picture framing that causes confusion and alarm, it’s got to be that of the mounts which accompany picture frames. Do it right and you’ll enhance the image, creating a match made in heaven. Do it wrong and you’ll dampen the allure of the art-work inside the wood exterior, resulting in a look which won’t enhance anything!

This week, here’s our 3 step guide to selecting the best mount possible.

Step 1: know your colours

The way to bring out the true personality of a painting or photo is to select a dominant colour from the painting. This may sound simple, but when there are several, it certainly isn’t!

Achieve the best look by choosing a colour which will both match your art and go well in your home. If in doubt, over anything, select a colour which will work well in the room you intend to put the painting in. Nobody will notice if the mount colour is slightly different to that of the painting’s main colour, but eyes will notice if you choose a colour that doesn’t fit in the chosen environment!

Step 2: double mounts can work wonders

Many people opt for a very plain mount, fearing that too bright a colour will look strange. In truth, a bright colour, as long as it’s appropriate, can work wonders! Double mounts, equally – where there is a thin slip of a bolder colour on the inside and a lighter one on the outside – can look fantastic.

The key, as with anything, is moderation. So go easy on having too much bright colour showing.

Step 3: opinions are divided…so trust your instinct

Want a certain colour mount? There are no hard and fast rules here! While we give advice constantly about the best colours and textures, sometimes breaking the rules works well in itself. This is particularly true if you are mounting abstract work. Sometimes, choosing the right mount can be as much about the personality of the painting or the person who’s hanging it on their wall, so don’t be afraid to break away from the pack!

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How to select the best picture frame for your canvas

Written by chris pink on April 3, 2015 in Picture Framing

Getting a family image or holiday photograph printed on a canvas is a fantastic way to put a smile on a loved one’s face and share some memories at a special time.

The way canvases are printed, with the image often wrapped around the sides, means that many people decide not to have the gift framed.

Putting a frame around a canvas can look stunning, though. In this week’s blog let’s take a look at the most suitable picture frames to choose from, and think about where colour fits in, too.

Depth is important

The first important thing to remember is that depth plays a vital part. Some canvases are thin, while others are blocky and sit two or three inches from the wall. Be sure to choose a frame which is deep enough to accept your canvas – simple box frames work very well.

Thinking outside the box!

While the box frame is the go-to option for standard canvases, it is possible to be more adventurous. There’s no reason why your canvas can’t be treated to a more ornate frame, and frames with texture compliment the surface of a canvas very well and continue the theme.

Multi-frame options

Have a canvas that you want to make a real feature of? In that case, it’s entirely possible to put a thin, simple frame round the canvas, and then place a bigger main frame around this.

Doing so really allows the canvas to jump out of the wall, and leads the eye in and out of the art-work beautifully.

Colour is your friend

If you’re trying to achieve a high-contrast look between colourful walls and a colourful canvas, we’d recommend framing with a paler-coloured frame, such as cream.

If your walls are white, though, and you’re looking to make a big impact with your canvas, then it could be a great idea to choose a very bright frame.

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This week: what to look for when buying a ready-made picture frame and mount

Written by chris pink on March 27, 2015 in Picture Framing

Here at Picture Frame Studio, our business is in making custom size frames fit for any purpose. That said, we understand that sometimes people come across picture frames in high-street shops and find that these work well for images and photos that are standard, basic sizes.

So, with standard in mind, here’s our check-list of what to look out for to make sure that your new frame is a decent buy.

Is the frame too narrow?

Narrow frames can work very well, but if a frame is too narrow – for example, less than 2cm wide – you may struggle to put screws in the back without them bursting out of the sides. You can use very small screws of course, but even these can be a problem, so this is a factor to keep in mind.

Do the frame and mount really go together?

Ready-made mounts and frames often work well. But beware strange or obscure colour combinations, and remember that even if your art-work matches these colours, the whole thing needs to work when it’s up on your wall at home!

Construction wise

That cheap picture frame you picked up for very little money may seem like a great deal, but if the frame hasn’t been properly put together, it won’t last very long. Turn the frame over and have a look at the corners. Can you see at least two V shaped staples holding each one together?

If the frame flexes a lot, or you can’t see evidence of both staples and glue, then that good deal may be one you might live to regret.

Acrylic or glass

There’s a place for both materials in picture frames, but beware the wrong material in the wrong frame! If your picture frame is going to stay in one place then we’d always recommend glass. But if you think you might move the frame around, or you’re at all concerned about it being dropped, then acrylic is the superior choice.

Now for the mount…

The last thing on this check-list is the mount (or matting). As mentioned in previous blog posts, you’ll want to have a look and see if the corners have been cut well. Over time, badly over-cut corners can attract dirt and dust and look anything but attractive, so always opt for a mount which has been cut well (…or mention this to the person at the checkout and see if a discount is forthcoming!).

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Give the gift of a picture framed photo – 4 ideas for all ages

Written by chris pink on March 20, 2015 in Picture Framing

A framed photograph is a gift that’ll put a smile on the face of anyone, any age. That said, one size – and type – does not fit all! Read on for some classic ideas to suit new parents, youngsters, teenagers and older people who have seen it all.

The classic look – ideal for new parents

When you’ve just received the greatest gift of all-time, a child, the last thing you want is a present that’s more of a feature than your new little one! So, for new parents, we suggest giving a classic white or dark frame that won’t upstage the new arrival.

White frames are available in every size to suit, and both black and white picture frames work well with adorable black and white photos of babies.

The best picture frame idea for teens

For teenagers, we’d steer clear of gold and go with a light natural wood. Alternatively, you could apply a generous coating of liming wax and let the grain show through.

If your teen is a fan of bright colours, then by all means go ahead – and if you’re going this route…don’t hold back!

The brighter the colour, the more of a statement.

Picture frames for young children

Young children are probably the easiest to please on this list – you can’t go wrong with bold, bright colours, and a frame with multiple windows is bound to work well, because then they can have a series of lovely pictures to look at.

Alternatively, you could create a montage look, and stick all kinds of objects to the surface of the frame. Either go with a theme, or choose a selection of fun items and get DIYing!

What to do for older people

For the older more discerning person, your options are plentiful – choose a gold frame for that pure, established look, or go with a slightly more refined pewter frame.

Alternatively, dark wood frames always save the day, and if all else fails, you can choose a narrow metal frame that’ll work a treat with vintage photos in black and white or sepia.

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How to choose a white picture frame with a difference

Written by chris pink on March 13, 2015 in Picture Framing

If we said to you “what springs to mind when you think about white picture frames?” you might have a vision of a frame that melts in to the background, pure white and very simple.

Well, while it’s true that white frames don’t come in quite as many varieties as dark, gold and pewter frames, it’s also surprising what you can find when you delve a little deeper.

Here’s our guide to what’s on offer and what each style will do for your art-work or photo…

That old favourite, classic white

The one that works well on prints, baby photos and, to be honest, virtually anything (especially black & white).

Classic white frames are hugely popular with print-making artists, because they don’t distract and allow the viewer’s full concentration to be on the art-work within the frame. These are usually box or square frames, and it’s popular to have them deep enough that the image literally pops off the wall.


We’ve covered liming wax in this blog before, and there’s no reason not to revisit this finish if you like the look of a frame that allows the wood’s texture to show through. True hand-finished limed frames are sometimes more expensive than others, due to the physical work that goes in to creating the look and rubbing the wax in.

Painted & polished

Similar to the classic white frames we first mentioned in this blog, painted and polished white frames have always proved popular. If the lighting is right, these frames look lovely as they glimmer in a hall-way or high up on a wall.

Off-white colours to liven things up

Want white but fancy a change? Enter off-white frames, which are available in cream, egg-shell, and all kinds of types with a hint of colour. This is a great approach if you need to match furniture, or just want frames that won’t be as stark and bold as otherwise.

Why not add a bit of texture to proceedings?

White may at times seem a bit dull, but choosing a frame with texture will change all that. The contours will add shape and dimension, and the result will be a frame that adds just enough interest without taking over.

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Picture frames for kids: ideas to keep the little ones happy

Written by chris pink on March 6, 2015 in Picture Framing

This blog has been going for some time, but one thing we haven’t done much on is picture frames for kids.

Have you got children who are quickly amassing lots of photos, or drawing more pictures than you know what to do with? In this week’s blog edition, we bring you 3 great ideas for creative little people…

Colour and glitter is the way to go!

It doesn’t take much to transform a picture frame. We can supply you with a host of different mouldings, and then all you have to do is add the finishing touches – or have a fun afternoon with your child and some paint!

Glitter fixes well to PVA glue and can be found in all kinds of varieties, while a splash of paint in different colours will put a smile on every face that sees it.

Badges and the stick-on effect

If you’re looking to create a picture frame with texture, then we’d recommend buying a plain wooden frame and sticking badges and other things to it. Once again, PVA glue is what you want to use, and creative is what you want to get!

Badges, leaves, beads and fabric can all be stuck on to make for an intriguing patch-work of a picture frame.

  Box frames with things inside…

Our custom frame service isn’t just about custom sizes – we can also house objects inside frames for lucky children. Boys might like a football shirt as the feature, while girls could have a doll or anything else they are madly in love with.

We’ll be back next week with more ideas and something different once again.

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Pewter picture frames for that classic look

Written by chris pink on February 27, 2015 in Picture Framing

Every frame material has its place. Wood is the all-round winner, of course, while metal picture frames are the ideal solution in an environment where things need to be tough.

But have you considered buying a pewter frame? When we say pewter, we should say now that we are talking about pewter effect frames which are actually made from wood.

Here are 3 reasons why you might want to consider adding a pewter style frame to your collection…

Black, with more interest

Black is a popular colour for picture frames, but not everyone wants something so dark and unforgiving. This is where pewter comes in. Pewter effect frames come in various shades and all of them have that iridescent charm that exudes quality. This makes pewter an ideal alternative.

Pewter frames are synonymous with class

Pewter is defined as a metal alloy which is malleable and between 85 and 99% tin. It also comprises of copper and other materials. Because of this, pewter has a finish that isn’t quite silver, and not quite copper.

This colour matches the same dark shades of burnt umber found in many old black and white photos, and thanks to this it has long been associated with sculptures and that classic antique look.

Looking to get a wedding photo framed or give something that timeless quality? Pewter may just be the way to go.

Pewter lends interest to simple frames…

One of the big weapons in pewter’s arsenal is its remarkable ability to turn any object into something more fascinating. That’s why simple picture frames with hardly any features and a smooth finish look so good in this finish.

If you’re looking to put a mount inside a pewter style frame, we’d recommend an off-white colour, as this always works very well.

See you next week for another picture framing blog!

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Make the picture frame the feature…

Written by chris pink on February 20, 2015 in Picture Framing

On this blog, we’re all about the importance of making the picture stand out. Very often that means emphasising the art-work or photo with a frame that compliments its surroundings and doesn’t take over.

This week, however, we’re turning that logic on its head. Have a look at these two diagrams:

Wooden picture framesThe pair are obviously extreme examples of picture frames we don’t see every day. On the left we have a very thin frame that is really only there to hold the art in position and on the right we have a frame that seems to dominate the space within it completely.

On first inspection, the frame on the right seems too wide for its picture. Yet, when we place an oil painting inside such a frame, something magical happens…instead of the frame taking over the art within it, it both compliments it and becomes a piece of art in its own right!

In other words, rather than taking away from the small painting, the wide profile of the frame actually draws our eyes in. Instead of overpowering the art-work, the frame becomes an extension of it – both literally and aesthetically, too.

Wide frame choices galore…

Some picture frames work better than others for this scenario. Our advice would be to go with a wide, flat, wooden frame. Something fairly uncomplicated with a traditional feel. Gold can also work well, providing that the moulding isn’t too elaborate and the gold itself is fairly even across the grain of the wood.

That’s all for this week’s picture framing blog. Next week, we’ll be back again with something completely different to inspire you and keep you guessing!

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How to: keep your picture frames in good condition

Written by chris pink on February 13, 2015 in Picture Framing

If you’re paying good money to have a picture or two framed, the last thing you want is to examine those frames in a couple of years’ time and discover troublesome issues.

There’s a lot you can do to keep your picture frames in sound condition. And, with that, here we go with this week’s blog…

Go easy with the chemicals

Much is said about the conservation of paintings, but not so much is mentioned about keeping frames in good order.

While it can be tempting to spray frames with the same stuff you use to polish the furniture, go easy – particularly if the wood is waxed. Polishing wood is usually a good idea, but most frames are waxed to some degree, and too much cleaning can destroy this layer, causing discolouring in the wood at a later date.

Location matters

Picture frames can be tough, but not all are! Thinner frames will suffer if you place them directly above a fireplace, and even some thick frames will warp if they get moved from a cold location to a warm one.

Frame finishes are often the first sign of a problem. A change in heat or atmosphere can create tiny fissures which will slowly open up a crack in the wood. The best advice is to keep your frames in a room-termperature environment, or at least a steady one.

Hanging woes!

Tempted to hang a picture frame on a tiny nail? Don’t do it. If that frame falls down, it’ll likely incur some damage. A lot of frames look fine after a fall, but will have suffered damage inside the corners, jarring the staples that holds the frame pieces in position.

Notice a crack, gap or wibbly wobbly bit? Filling it is usually a wise idea, as it’ll keep everything tightly together and prevent further problems.

Get some tape on it

Tape protects both the painting inside and the frame from the elements, preventing moisture and bugs from getting in. Keep the water out and your frame should stay in better shape for longer.

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Put a smile on your partner’s face this Valentine’s Day with a picture frame

Written by chris pink on February 6, 2015 in Picture Framing

We’re close to February 14th now, so it’s time to get moving with those romantic gifts!

A picture frame may not immediately spring to mind when it comes to romance, but don’t be fooled. Combine the right colours with the most appropriate kind of framing and you could have something far better than just a typical bunch of flowers.

Here’s our quick guide to the best ideas this Valentine’s Day 2015:

Small and colourful wins the day

Why go with one big frame when you could opt for a collection of small ones? Take some of you and your partner’s favourite holiday photos and put them in colourful plain wood frames that jump off the wall.

One frame and a dozen ideas

A scrap-book style collage picture frame could be the answer if you have too many pictures and not enough space. All you’ll have to do is arrange them into a lovely collage and place them in the frame. And if that’s not the answer then…

Go gold, or DIY it

Gold frames exude charm, and could be the answer for the man in your life. Alternatively, buy a basic frame from us and cover it in pebbles, shells or even rose petals!

We have a vast selection of picture frames on offer, so feel free to browse the various categories. Or, if you haven’t found what you’re looking for, give us a ring. We’ll be happy to help.

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Why choose a distressed wood picture frame? Here are 3 reasons

Written by chris pink on January 30, 2015 in Picture Framing

Smooth frames have their place – that’s for sure. Galleries all over the world are packed with smooth, classy picture frames that exude luxuriousness, and nobody can argue with a quality finish. That’s something that will never go out of fashion.

All that considered, it may not seem obvious why someone might choose a distressed picture frame. But look a bit deeper and, as the texture becomes more interesting, things become a lot clearer, too.

Here are 3 good reasons to go with distressed.

Number 1: rustic charm is priceless

Rustic and wood go together beautifully. So why not select a wood for your picture frame that has a top class grain? Wood varieties like oak have a special appeal, and it won’t take much work to bring it out for all to see.

With this natural appeal, rustic picture frames are nicely in tune with our natural surroundings, making them a great option for framing paintings that reflect the natural world around us.

Number 2: doing it yourself works wonders

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we have plenty of options for you if distressed is a finish you’re looking to get. But don’t let that get in the way of your creative flourish!

With some wire wool, or even something a little more aggressive to create distinctive streaks and intriguing lines, it’s easy and fun to remove just the right amount of paint, allowing that grain to show through just as you want it.

Number 3: match your furniture and add interest to the walls

Distressed wood has always worked well with furniture. A distressed picture frame will also stand out from a wall painted in a flat colour, creating a great point of interest. Two quick and easy ways of adding both texture and an interesting touch to any room.

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How to: get the most out of chunky wooden picture frames

Written by chris pink on January 23, 2015 in Picture Framing

There’s a place for subtle. Subtle works well with romantic watercolours, or cherished wedding memories where you want clean with a hint of class. Sometimes, though, you want chunky, bold and to make a statement. That’s an area where chunky frames excel!

3 reasons why chunky can be best

If you’re looking to make your art work really jump off the wall, a thick wooden frame can be ideal. Because these kinds of frames are bold, yet simple – and without any fuss or detail – they give an attractive border that enhances any image.

More often than not, chunky wooden frames are surprisingly light too, which makes hanging them nice and easy for the average person with limited picture framing knowledge (which also means that they hang beautifully on plaster walls where heavy fixings are a no-go).

Lastly, chunky wooden picture frames are extremely adaptable, resistant to damage and good at not flexing. You can paint one the shade you like for a bubbly child’s portrait, or you could have one gilded to give it a classy edge (of course, we have lots that come ready-made and are fine as they are).

With out without mounts is fine

Looking to float-mount a piece on paper, an inch or so away from the glass? Chunky wooden frames are deep enough to allow this (you’ll need to have a custom frame made if you’re doing this, but don’t worry, we can do that for you). Equally, if you need to have a wide mount for a watercolour, a chunky wooden picture frame will do the job nicely and give a quality, contemporary feel.

We’ll be back with another blog next week. Until then, feel free to have a look through our previous posts for picture framing inspiration!

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How to: frame a watercolour in 3 different ways

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2015 in Picture Framing

If you’ve ever wandered around a gallery and taken in the watercolours on show, you’ll no doubt have been struck by the surprising range of styles on offer. Although watercolours have a traditional reputation here in the UK, the huge number of colours on offer means that a watercolour can be bold and colourful, or subtle and unassuming.

This week’s blog is all about taking advantage of framing, to ensure that your watercolour gets the presentation it deserves.

Go the historic route

Natural wood such as pine or oak has long been a favourite for framing watercolours. Match a simple frame with a plain coloured mount and you’ll be able to let your painting do all the talking. Want to lend the frame a bit more personality? A layer of wax will bring out the grain.

This option is ideal for seascapes, church paintings and landscapes.

Less traditional…more regal and bold!

While watercolour painting isn’t known for its daring brush strokes in quite the same way as oil painting, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with colours. A wide, flat, gold frame with a distressed finish will add an impressive spark to a pen and ink drawing or painting. Match this with a colourful mount – blue works well – and you’ll have a painting that pops off the wall, easily becoming the centre-piece of any room.

This option will suit quirky, dramatic or inventive paintings. Or any painting that needs to make a statement.

You can’t argue with black and white

Oil paint may have the edge when it comes to texture, but no other medium touches watercolour when it comes to the opportunity to experiment with different kinds of paper. The wonderful range of thick, textured paper on offer means that black paint can form a wonderful contrast.

That’s where a sharp black frame comes in. Match a simple wooden frame with a smooth, clean mount and you’ll have the makings of excellence in no time at all!

Black frames often suit simple, one or two-colour paintings where black is the dominant colour. They can also be a wise option for potraits, too.

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How to: create a special memory with a custom picture frame

Written by chris pink on January 9, 2015 in Picture Framing

Standard size picture frames have always been enormously popular. They’re easy to find, affordable enough and simple to insert your own photo or art-work in to. Great for when you need something basic, and you don’t have the time to consider much else.

Custom picture frames, however, reveal a wealth of new possibilities. In this blog post we’re going to explore a few of them, starting with unique sizes.

A frame fit for every purpose

Standard frame sizes often do the job, but the beauty of a custom picture frame is plain to see. Have a painting that you bought on holiday? Chances are it wasn’t made to fit a standard frame! Rather than cramming it into a standard sized frame that’s just a bit too small, it makes more sense to have one made especially (particularly because you won’t have to cut the painting down!).

That way, you get a mount that matches that painting only, and a frame that does the painting or photo justice – a much better way to do things, we think, and a solution that isn’t much more expensive than an off-the-shelf version.

Finishes that match precisely

Buying a standard picture frame is so often a compromise. For the most part, it means getting a frame and mount that are almost but not quite perfect. Have a custom picture frame made and you can match it in a way that simply wouldn’t be possible any other way. Sometimes, it’s better not to compromise.

Combine an accurately proportioned mount with a frame made for the job and you have a combination that will do your memories justice.

Have something special in mind? We’re always happy to advise, chat about ideas or inform on what we have in stock, so do feel free to give us a call or send us an email.

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How to: frame a baby photo

Written by chris pink on January 2, 2015 in Picture Framing

Now Christmas has been and gone, we’re sure of a few things. The first is that you’ll be wondering where the time has gone. The second is that you’ll likely have heard about a baby being born to a friend or loved one. And they don’t come much more special than a Christmas or new year baby now, do they?!

You can never go too far wrong when it comes to framing baby photos – cuteness wins over everything, after all – but follow our series of simple pointers and it should be even easier.

Step 1: setting the tone

Colour should be your first consideration, starting with the mount. Most people go for a light coloured mount, so you may want to choose white, off-white, or something similarly easy on the eyes. Light yellow, pink and blue also work well, and you’ll need to consider the décor of the house/room in which the picture will be hung (or make a good guess with something neutral that can go happily anywhere).

Step 2: frame considerations

There’s a reason why simple black frames work so well for this kind of photography: they focus the attention on the subject. With this in mind, we’d advise against frames which are too busy or complex, and suggest that unless it’s a narrow frame profile, gold might be too much colour.

Wide, flat wooden frames do tend to work well, however, as they sit flush against the wall and make a nice statement.

Step 3: it’s the small details

Lastly, if possible, you’ll need to consider the home in which the picture will be staying. For example, you may not know exactly where the picture will be hung, but you may know if your friends have a penchant for bright lights and minimalist features. If this is the case, avoid frames which might be too reflective in such circumstances.

Similarly, before you make your final framing decision, consider the colours that are prominent in the photo. If there’s a lot of black and white, consider choosing a black-core mount to create a sharp box in which to view the subject.

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Great picture framing ideas for New Year’s

Written by chris pink on December 19, 2014 in Picture Framing

The chances are that as you read this, we’re either mere days away from Christmas 2014, or we’re all in the full-flow of Christmas Day food extravagance.

And, aside from indigestion and an over-load of TV specials, that means one certain thing: New Year’s day is approaching, and with it, the promise of change and a brand-new start!

With change in mind, and being cheery everyone’s priority, here are a few ways in which picture frames can make a difference for you in 2015…

Celebrate in panoramic style

Panoramic frames are wonderful. You can frame a huge group work photo with them, or a lovely snowy landscape that needs to be seen in its full size. We produce panoramic frames to suit literally every taste, so feel free to make an enquiry. See our website for more on the various kinds of materials we have to offer.

Frame something memorable

Memories and picture frames go together like…hmm, Christmas and socks for presents! We routinely frame things like signed football shirts, but we can also frame lots of other kinds of memorabilia too. Each time we do so, attention to detail is high so that we can present your memories in the way they should be.

Keep it varied with a collection

Forgot to give someone a Christmas present? In that case, January is your chance to make amends! A collection of framed photos, each in a similarly sized frame, is a wonderful way to turn an ordinary wall into one that will earn you more than a few hugs. Yipee!

Make it bold with a new colour scheme

Looking to re-paint in February? Great. Your only issue is that some of the frames from last year now may not work. We can help with that, and we’ve always done our best to offer picture frames at reasonable prices. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

And lastly…Merry Christmas to you!

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Christmas picture framing fun ideas

Written by chris pink on December 12, 2014 in Picture Framing

We’re getting close to the 25th now. Got the tinsel up? Good! And if you haven’t, there’s still time yet.

Speaking of which, if you’re looking to have some pictures framed just in time for the festive period, you’ve come to the right place. This week we’re covering both fun picture frames that we sell, and frames you can make at home.

Go for glossy

The words Christmas time and understated just don’t go together. Fortunately, glossy finishes can turn an ordinary picture frame into something that sparkles and shines with the lights. The ideal way to finish a lively child’s portrait or a funky set of contemporary prints.

Feeling bold? Don’t forget the glitter!

Glitter is cheap, can be found everywhere – not to mention if you spill it – and can be a great addition to a picture frame. Just mix it in with the paint and let your creative streak rule!

Just be sure not to get it on the floor…or on the cat, come to think of it…

Gold and silver are Christmas winners

Gold is an excellent picture frame finish, and it comes into its own at Christmas time. Not only does it work magnificently well with red tinsel, but it gives that regal look which makes the house look extra special. Don’t forget silver frames, too. We have wooden frames in silver, flat frames, box frames, and metal ones as well.

Have an idea for something we haven’t mentioned? Luckily, that’s exactly what we’re here for, Christmas time or not. If you have a faint image of what you might like, allow us to help you make it reality. If you know exactly what you want…then…even better! Our craftspeople are always happy to help, so do feel free to give us a ring or email your enquiry.

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All about buying panoramic picture frames

Written by chris pink on December 5, 2014 in Picture Framing

Browsed our online shop recently? Then you’ll likely have noticed that panoramic is something we can do. And when it comes to this unique way of presenting images, the only limits are the ones your camera has. Fortunately, most cameras nowadays have a panoramic mode, wide-angle lens, or can produce images that can be manipulated with easy-to-use software.

What your options are…

We could write a dozen pages about this, but instead we’ll keep it simple: we can make you panoramic frames in wood with grain, or wood that’s simple, no fuss and painted. Equally, we do black frames, antique-looking frames and contemporary box frames.

Have a look at this page if you need some inspiration!

Don’t forget, too, that we can put a series of photos in a panoramic frame for you. That way, you can collect all those lovely Christmas photos of the new baby in the family, or your siblings, and put them together in one frame – a better solution if you have less room, or your photos are part of a specific collection.

Landscapes take on a whole new meaning

Have a number of photos from that trip to Greece last year but would really like to put them all together into a single picture? If your snaps line-up appropriately, why not stitch the images together and frame them as one expansive vista? Nearly all photo-editing software programs make this fairly simple.

Don’t panic if your size is a little out of the ordinary!

We get lots of enquiries from people who want a panoramic frame, but are worried it’s unusual. This is probably because the standard frames you can buy in shops are things like 10 by 8 inches, and 10 by 12.

However, have no fear. If you require a very wide, but not very deep frame, we can do it easily. The only thing you need to bear in mind is that firstly you have enough room for it to hang and look right, and that your mount (matting) gives enough of a window that your photo or image won’t appear too thin and out-of-proportion.

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How to choose a silver picture frame – a simple formula

Written by chris pink on November 28, 2014 in Picture Framing

We may have been framing pictures for years, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have indecisive moments when every frame out there seems like the best choice.

Fortunately, we’ve been baffled enough times that a handy formula has risen through the confusion. Read on to discover how to choose a silver picture frame in a quick-smart, straight-thinking way.

The basics

Before you get lost in a sea of styles, forget the colour. Instead, focus on (probably) the first thing you need to decide – what kind of mount you should have, if you’re having one. Should it be wide to make a feature of the picture, or should it be narrow to merely serve as a neat finish?

Shapes and textures

Now you know about the mount, you need to consider the various mouldings. Here, it’s time to bring silver into the equation. Are you looking for contemporary? If so, you’ll want a non-fuss silver frame that works with modern furniture.

Considering a classic picture frame? In that case, something with more flair and traditional features might work better. We’ve got various solutions, all in silver, and don’t forget to think about how the silver is presented…read on for that.

Silver leaf, metal leaf or painted finishes

The final consideration – which may also be the first, to make things even more confusing! – is what material makes the surface silver. Silver leaf is reflective, whereas silver paint might be matte and duller in comparison.

In reality, it’s hard to consider just one of these things in isolation, but this formula should at least help. And remember…silver can compliment wood nicely, so if you want the grain of the wood showing through, that can be arranged, too!

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How to: select the right dark wood picture frame

Written by chris pink on November 21, 2014 in Picture Framing

Traditionally, and for as long as pictures have hung on walls, dark wood frames have been used to adorn prestigious paintings around the world.

While light wood offers a popular relief effect, and a way to enhance a painting or print by making it stand out starkly from the wall, dark wood lends a class and quality of its own.

This makes it the ideal choice for oil paintings, and, consequently, has made it the natural favourite for both landscapes and portraits.

Dark doesn’t have to mean shapeless

Selecting the right dark wood frame for your painting or print begins with considering all the options. Once, you’d have struggled to find anything but classic dark oak, but nowadays picture framing offers a wide range of options. Be sure to discover them all!

Our advice is to go with a profile that has an interesting shape to it. If you’re looking for blocky dark wood frames, we do those, but we also do smooth, curved picture frames where the grain comes through.

We also offer a range of picture frames which sit somewhere between light and dark wood, as well as frames which are finely polished.

The matching effect and why gold works so well

Another big reason why dark wood frames have remained so popular, of course, is that they perfectly match dark wood furniture and décor. This allows them to easily work in many rooms of such a home.

Looking for something in dark wood but a little lighter and slightly more striking, perhaps? In that case, our suggestion is to take a look at the wide variety of dark oak and gold frames we do.

Just like frames you’ll see hanging in famous galleries, these frames have a gold slip or inner that reflects the light of the frame and gives a nice edge to your art-work – perfect if you don’t want your dark oak frame to overwhelm both the piece and the wall it adorns.

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Why you should consider box framing a shirt

Written by chris pink on November 14, 2014 in Picture Framing

We know – we’ve heard it all before. Isn’t framing a shirt difficult, strange, or a little out of the ordinary? In fact, the framing of materials, garments included, goes back hundreds of years. In theory you can frame any object, so why not a shirt?

A fantastic and original Christmas gift

When Christmas comes around, it’s all too easy to go the electronic route. A better option for some children, however, is to have a favourite football or other sports shirt framed. Box frames allow these kind of shirts to be presented beautifully. The result is a gift that both maintains its value and looks good hanging on the wall.

The ideal option for signed memorabilia

The place for a signed shirt isn’t the back of the clothes drawer, surrounded by old clothes, it’s up there…on that wall! Presenting a shirt in a box frame is the ideal solution to keeping memorabilia – including toys, antiques and other things – in pristine condition. Because they are sealed behind glass, they are also sufficiently protected from heat, water and other elements that can damage pricey things.

Different options for showcasing…

When it comes to framing a shirt, you don’t have only one option – you have a few. Choose to show the entire garment, as if laid out flat, or opt to have the arms folded in so that it’s smaller and the focus is on the signature or player’s number.

Whichever option you go with, we have a range of custom box frame options and we’re refining them as we go, so that you get a product that makes someone special smile.

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Handling canvases: tricks of the trade

Written by chris pink on November 6, 2014 in Picture Framing

The art of wrapping a canvas used to be something known only to a select picture framing few. Nowadays, the internet demystifies all, canvases included – you can quickly learn to stretch one over a frame yourself, or you can order them pre-printed with images you took on holiday last week or month.

Choosing and ordering canvases is all fine and well, but what about maintenance and handling? In this blog post, we cover a few things that help keep your canvases looking better for longer.

Care with corners and edges

Printing techniques in 2014 are sophisticated, with vivid colours and realistic imagery. But that doesn’t mean that your canvas will be invincible! To ensure it stays in prime condition, be careful when handling corners and edges where the paint may be easy to wear away.

Likewise, take care when wrapping a canvas for a friend this Christmas. Even more so…don’t place anything heavy on the image side when the canvas is on its back! This could cause the material to sink, ruining that all important tension in a matter of seconds.

Temperature considerations

Modern canvases are hardy. That said, hanging one above a source of heat won’t bring best results. Try and keep your canvas at a steady temperature at all times. Avoid hanging your canvas in a porch or somewhere that suffers from serious temperature fluctuations.

Use those corner wedges

People who are new to canvases are often bamboozled by the small plastic bags that tend to be found inside the inner corners. These odd bags, containing strange mini wooden wedges, serve an important purpose…so be sure not to throw yours away! The name of the game with these is keeping things taut, of course.

When the canvas becomes slack, as is inevitable over a period of time, slot these into the applicable spaces, which can be found in the inside corners of the back of the frame. Bang these a couple of times and you’ll be amazed at how much your canvas comes back to life.


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Staining and waxing ideas: DIY finishes at their best

Written by chris pink on October 31, 2014 in Picture Framing

We’ve gone to great lengths to fill our online shop with picture framing options to suit everyone, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t also like the custom touch from time to time. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at staining and waxing ideas (for those of you who don’t have the time, we make custom frames as well!).

Looking to take a plain frame and transform it? Read on for ideas which have stood the test of time with pride…

Show off that grain

While some frames have very little in the way of grain, making them ideally suited to contemporary work where the frame provides a plain backdrop, other kinds of wood excel at adding texture and interest.

Enter oak, which has some of the best grain going. How you choose to reveal the grain depends on you. Go for a lighter shade of walnut wax if you don’t want to make too much of a thing of it, or select mahogany wax/paste if you want to bring out the intricate detail.

Reinvent your frame with stain

Staining is great because it can completely alter the colour of a frame very quickly (with practice!). For example, you can turn the wood from plain wood to mahogany, dark oak, teak or chestnut. Leave the grain looking as natural as possible without waxing it, or add wax to further enhance the overall look.

Liming wax is a framer’s friend

Liming wax is an excellent material. Frames can be lightly limed, or the lime can be applied in a heavy layer which can then be polished at a later date. If you like, you can even bring out the grain of the wood with a dark wax first, to give your frame a unique appearance.

Painted finishes can look lovely

Emulsion paint lends itself well to frame finishing. For best results, we’d advise carefully adding thin layers at a time, before starting the process again. Remember to sand your frame down with rough paper first, then fine-grade sandpaper after. Add a light polish of wax to finish and your frame will be unrecognisable (in a good way!).

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Need to know: advice on metal picture frames

Written by chris pink on October 26, 2014 in Picture Framing

Wood might be considered the hallmark of picture framing, but there’s a lot of good to be found in metal frames as well (last week’s blog also mentioned this). In this blog post, we look at safety when putting them together, what kind of art they suit, and a few other burning questions which we sometimes get asked.

Safety when handling

If there’s one thing to be wary of when assembling metal frames, it’s those unforgiving edges – they can be razor sharp at times. If it’s your first time handling them, we’d suggest some thin gloves. These will afford you a level of protection, as well as the rather crucial ability to feel what you are doing.

Art that suits metal frames

Any art can be framed using this method, of course, but it’s fair to say that best results are had with photographs of the family, portrait shots in general and also etchings. Contemporary paintings which feature a lot of silver and black can also be a very good match.

Size is crucial when it comes to glass

Unlike wooden frames which more often than not tend to have a bit of give in them, there is no such thing where metal frames are concerned. The size they are is generally the size they are, so be sure to get the size of the glass or acrylic just right (particularly if you’re replacing what was once in the frame!).

A perfect fit

In order to ensure there are no gaps in the corners, you’ll need to push the two corners of your metal frame together – with the necessary joining piece of sliding metal – until they are perfectly flush. When you tighten the screws, don’t over-tighten them but do make sure that they hold the frame firmly.

Dusting is sensible

Metal frames come in a wide range of shiny and duller finishes, but be warned that like all picture frames they do attract the dust. A good going-over every couple of weeks should do the trick nicely.

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Best striking picture frame solutions

Written by chris pink on October 17, 2014 in Picture Framing

Picture framing has always had a reputation for being traditional. While it’s true that more simple wooden frames are sold every year than anything else, that doesn’t mean you can’t go a slightly different route and buck the trend. Choosing a bright, striking or sharp frame is one simple way to do this. The best thing? There’s plenty available for every budget out there.

Metal frames

Need a bit of simplicity in your life? Generally, metal frames shun all the detail and opt for a far more smooth and simple approach. And metal doesn’t have to mean limited. Gun metal grey is available, and there are a wide variety of other shades that add a decent level of diversity to this framing genre.

Bright contemporary wooden frames

White is a popular colour for contemporary frames, mainly because it works well in any room and allows the framed piece within it to stand out from the wall. That said, the only limits here are your imagination, so there’s no need to shy away from colour. If you can’t find wooden frames in the bright colour you’re looking for, you can always paint your frames. Emulsion paint is easy to mix and a light shine of wax over the top will keep it looking good for ages.

Classic gold

Gold frames have been around for hundreds of years. The antique look might frequent England’s stately homes, but gold comes in plenty of other options and even different shades, too. For the most striking result, we’d recommend going easy on the detail and the moulding and selecting a wide, flat frame that really gives the gold a chance to shine.

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“What can I do to prevent my art-work getting damaged while inside a frame?”

Written by chris pink on October 10, 2014 in Picture Framing

It’s a common question we get. And it occurs, time and time again, because people sometimes frame a picture without being aware of what might damage it later. Of course, not everyone is concerned about such things, and a cheap print that sits in a frame may never be re-framed. But sometimes it pays to be sensible – for example, if you’re framing a limited edition print or a piece of art that is priceless and may need re-framing at a later stage (such as a painting bought from a gallery on preview night).

Step 1: be careful when applying tape to art-work

One of the biggest offenders of this kind of damage is the wrong kind of tape (usually this means tape that is too sticky and not designed for the task). When fixing a watercolour to a mount, for example, tape is largely unavoidable. The key is to use acid-free fixing tape that can be removed in the future if need be, leaving the paper unscathed.

Step 2: keep those summer flies at bay!

Anyone who has ever had a frame with glass in it will know what those tiny little black (so-called) thunder-flies look like. Not only are they a blight on the mount, particularly if light in colour, but they ruin the appearance. How to keep them out? Easy, in fact. Always make sure you tape up the back of the frame with gum-tape (the kind whose glue is made adhesive using water). And remember, even if you do tape-up, flies can still sneak in, so every couple of years their removal is often a necessary evil.

Step 3: beware of the light

The last obvious thing that attacks paintings behind glass or otherwise is light. So have a good think about where to hang that watercolour with the vibrant colours, and avoid direct sunlight at all costs. Light is sinister in this scenario because it does the damage very gradually over time. You may not notice it for a while, but if you’re not careful it’ll be too late by the time you do!

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How to choose the right wood for your picture frames

Written by chris pink on October 3, 2014 in Picture Framing

how to choose picture frame wood mouldings

Above: an example of the beautiful grain found in cherry


If you don’t know much about wood, learning about picture framing can be a daunting experience. After all, frames don’t come in just one kind of wood, they come in many!

Here’s a basic overview of the different types and what may be suitable for your project.

Soft-wood frames

Often the cheapest, these frames are easy to paint, minimal on the grain and are also usually very light-weight. Be warned, though, as they’re not as hardy or durable as some woods. That said, the cost factor makes this type of wood attractive for artists/consumers who need to frame a lot of things.


Love to see that grain? Then oak, considered by some to be the benchmark of fine framing, is often the answer. It’s heavier and sturdier than soft-wood, making it ideal for framing weighty mirrors and large oil paintings. The cost factor obviously shoots up though, as you might expect.

Ash and cherry and other smooth woods

Cherry frames look incredible just as they are, and often only require a layer of wax to bring out their potential. Ash, on the other hand, is incredibly hard and very fine in its grain, making it the ideal answer when you need something contemporary to go with prints, etchings and simple, modern paintings.

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Top 3 things not to do when framing a picture

Written by chris pink on September 26, 2014 in Picture Framing

Taste is taste. You know it, we know it. Everyone likes different things. And that’s what makes the world go round, right?

Then again…there are a few things that we highly doubt the collective picture framers across the planet would advise you do. Here’s the top 3. Avoid these and you’ll end up with a much more pleasing end result.

Don’t go over-board

With so many options, it’s easy to get carried away. Framing a simple watercolour? Then go with something simple and classy to surround it, as is the rule that has always worked. What’s more, ornate gold frames come in numerous varieties, so be sure to go with a style that’s not overly ornate, bright or wide for your piece. The same goes for mounts. Double mounts can be very effective, but should be used only when appropriate (and you have a desired look in mind!).

The “I’ll take anything” route

Being easy-going is a wonderful character trait. It can bite you in the rear quite painfully, though. Like when you decide to choose a frame just because you like it, without first ensuring it’ll work with both your art-work/photograph and the room in which it is to go! People also tend to run into problems when they are in a rush and pick whatever looks good at first glance.

Too dark for your room

People like using dark coloured frames and mounts because they can create a sharp contrast between your painting and the frame. We’d advise you think carefully on this – what you don’t want is a frame and mount combination that completely sucks the life out of what you’ve created!

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How to use bronze powder to enhance your frames

Written by chris pink on September 19, 2014 in Picture Framing

Looking to get the golden touch but don’t have the budget for genuine gold leaf? Using bronze powder is often an excellent compromise, and in this week’s blog post we look at a few ways in which this magic metal powder can be useful.

Finishing touches

Let’s say you have a plain black frame and you want to add an extra edge to it. Some sharp detail which will help to create striking lines. Here, bronze powder is an excellent option.

Many framers apply gold size and then, when it’s at the right level of tackiness, apply bronze powder. The result is a finish that mimics gold surprisingly well. Additionally, bronze powder goes a long way and can be used on a wide range of woods and materials.

Covering up

Ever wondered how it is that certain frames appear to have been gilded with one large sheet of gold leaf? If you can’t see any joining gaps, there’s a good chance that bronze powder has been used to cover them up!

Achieving the antique appearance

Bronze powder is an exceedingly versatile material. It can be mixed in to other mediums such as paint and gesso, or applied over the top in different densities.

This powder is so versatile, in fact, that even people who can afford to use gold leaf choose to use it instead. That’s because it’s easy to control and can appear much flatter and more consistent than gold leaf – the perfect solution when a uniform end result is precisely what’s needed.

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How to: DIY painted frame

Written by chris pink on September 12, 2014 in Picture Framing

We’ve got a wide range of frames here on our website, but every now and again we think it’s nice to take the hand-made approach.

Ever wanted to paint a frame but didn’t know how? With today’s blog post, we’re going to put that right.

Step 1: choose a suitable frame

What we mean by this, really, is choose a frame that is manageable. If this is the first time you’ve painted a frame, we recommend you start on a small one which has a simple profile. Flat or slightly curved frames without a great deal of detail are ideal.

Step 2: get the materials in

Lots of paints can be used for painting frames, but the one which will get you the best results is emulsion paint.

You’ll also need a couple of decent paintbrushes, some newspaper or rags to lay the frame on, and sandpaper. We strongly recommend you have both rough and fine sandpaper standing by.

Clear wax will also be needed, if you want a smooth and semi-shiny finish.

Step 3: painting and finishing

You’ll need to begin by filling in any holes and cracks. Then you can start painting.

The key here is layers, and you’ll want to do long strokes up and down the frame’s length. To create a strong finish you’ll need to leave the frame after each layer has been painted, so it can dry fully. Keep going until you have created a solid finish – be careful of brush-marks! – then leave overnight for it to properly harden.

Once your frame is dry, go over it with the rough sandpaper to remove any blobs or inconsistencies. Then use the fine stuff to create a mirror-smooth final finish.

For that perfect last touch, take a piece of rag and go over the frame with some clear wax. You’ll soon see it begin to shine and look great.

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How to frame the economy way

Written by chris pink on September 5, 2014 in Picture Framing

Picture framing can be very expensive or nicely affordable, depending on quite a few different things. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall into, this week’s blog post is all about framing on a tight budget. Follow these tips and you’ll end up with a quality end product that looks anything but cheap.

 Go for a classic frame and mount combination

Class is timeless. So our number one tip for budget framing is to go with an overall finish that mimics high-end quality. For example, simple black picture frames don’t cost the earth and do look great. Matched with a crisp white mount, it’ll emphasise the photo or art-work and come in at a decent price too.

Avoid overly elaborate moulding, mounts with gold lines and gilded frames, as this is where money generally needs to be spent. You’ll also need to give expensive archival quality mounts a miss (for the most part).

Smaller is obviously cheaper

Bigger and more involved frames cost money. That’s just the way it is. So if you’re not spending too much, be careful not to let your art-work get too big. If your piece is slightly too big then you may want to consider cutting down the size of the mount or using a thinner frame. We’ve lots to choose from – follow our first tip for best results.

Plastic can look good

Some people are against plastic frames, but in reality they serve a distinct purpose and can work well – depending on what it is that you are framing. Another trick is to buy in a cheaper/simpler frame and then paint or gild it yourself. Paint can be picked up for reasonable prices, and metal leaf has always been affordable, giving you a few more options (avoid true gold leaf, as this is out of the question!).

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Quick Friday tutorial: how to stain a frame properly

Written by chris pink on August 29, 2014 in Picture Framing

Stain is a wonderful thing. It’s readily available in hardware shops, it comes in numerous different colours, and the spirit-based stuff dries incredibly fast. You can also polish it with wax to give it a smooth, shiny appearance.

Why, then, do beginners find staining so hard to get exactly right?

Staining mistakes

Stain works on nearly all woods and the beauty of it is the deep tone it can give. The only problem, however, is that it’s easy to make a mess of. Brush stain on in the wrong way and it’ll appear inconsistent and stripey. While you can cover stain and even it out with wax, it’s advisable to get it right at the first application.

How to get staining right in 3 simple steps

Step 1: use an appropriate brush

Staining a narrow frame that has detail and depth to its moulding? Then use a brush which is as wide as the frame and versatile enough to get in those gaps. Staining a wide, flat frame? Then use a wide, smooth brush that will apply an even layer of stain in one go.

Step 2: speed and accuracy are your friends

Staining isn’t easy to get perfect, so you’ll get the best results by practising on off-cuts first. When it comes to the real thing, you’ll need to work fast. The best technique is to do long brush strokes the length of the frame, then start on the next line before the previous one has finished drying. This will enable the two to merge together, minimising any brush strokes or striking differences in colour.

Step 3: don’t be tempted to go over old ground

See a bit you didn’t quite get right? You really are better off leaving it to dry first. If you have to, come back to it afterwards.

Be aware that while you are applying the stain, it may not look quite right. However, most of the time the end finish is much better than expected – especially some time after all the stain has dried and evened-out.

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Friday tutorial: all about burnishing

Written by chris pink on August 22, 2014 in Picture Framing

If you’re familiar with picture framing, or even if you’re just a frequenter of art galleries, you may have come across the concept of burnishing. The simplest way to describe burnishing is as follows: it’s a polishing method of turning hard surfaces shiny and reflective of light by means of applying pressure.

Tools and techniques

Peruse an online shop and you might get the feeling that you have to spend money on expensive burnishing tools to be able to use this ancient method. In fact, you can burnish with anything you can apply direct pressure with.

That said, using tools on frames is a great way to get into those hard-to-reach places which other things cannot.

What are burnishing tools, exactly, and what do you use them on?

Burnishing tools are available in many different materials and shapes. They’re ideal for bringing out the shine in gold, or for improving the mirrored surface of a smooth painted frame. When you apply pressure with a burnishing tool or even with a finger and a rag, the action physically changes the molecules, making the surface more resilient and closing the pores.

How to do it

Burnishing sounds simple, and in many ways it is. But anyone who has ever tried it while say how you need to be careful. Apply too much direct force and you may damage the integrity of the surface. So, instead, the key is to build up heat and friction gradually.

For example, if you were burnishing recently applied gold leaf, you’d have to be much more careful than if it had been adhered for some time. Begin with smooth, slow movements, until you can feel the tool gliding over the surface. At this point you will be able to apply more pressure. As you do so, you’ll see the colour and surface texture begin to change. This is one of the most satisfying things about burnishing.

Keep going until you achieve the level of smoothness and reflectiveness that you require – and remember to use all sides of your burnishing tool or implement. That way, you’ll ensure the most contact and the finest finish possible.

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Quick guide to using Gesso

Written by chris pink on August 15, 2014 in Picture Framing

How to apply gesso to picture frames

Some picture framing materials have died out as technology has progressed, while others have flourished and stubbornly refused to leave the trade. Gesso is one of the lucky ones that has transitioned through time with ease, allowing framers, artists and hobbyists numerous opportunities to get creative.

In this quick guide, we’ll explore why Gesso can be useful, and give you some tips on application and use.

 Gesso is fantastic at acting as a primer

How many materials can you apply to virtually any hard surface, then paint over? Bought as a ready-made substance, Gesso is a kind of thick-paste like thing – with a very particular smell – that can be brushed or poured on to wood or canvas. Use it on canvas to even the surface texture out, or paint it on thickly to a frame if you’d like to smooth out any rough bits for sanding over later.

Gesso can also be carved, sculpted and moulded – or polished to a fine and impressive shine. It dries very hard too, which means it also lasts a long time.

Heat it up and pour it on

Available in numerous varieties – and in white and red colours – Gesso can be bought ready mixed or as a powder. If this is your first time dabbling, we’d suggest the ready-mixed variety. Then again, if you’re adept at mixing paints, you may want to go with the powdered type. This is much more adaptable, as you get to control how thick the substance gets.

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How to tell a true gilded frame

Written by chris pink on August 8, 2014 in Picture Framing

In a world where manufacturing processes are now advanced enough to replicate almost any finish or material, it’s easy to buy what you think is the genuine article – only to discover much later that it’s not.

Want to know if a gilded frame is made up of true gold leaf? This article will explain it all.

Check the back of the frame

Start with the basics. Turn the frame over and see if it’s plastic or any material other than wood. If it’s not wood, there’s a good chance that the gold is not real gold leaf. That’s because plastic and composite frames are nearly always fabricated to imitate the real thing.

If you’re lucky, you may also be able to spot where gold size (special glue) has been applied at the back – a good sign that real gold has been used.

Price is crucial

Is the frame’s price too good to be true? Then it probably is!

Perfection is imperfection!

The funny thing about genuine gold leaf is that it generally isn’t perfect. Gold, by its nature, is a hand-applied material which has scratch marks, lines and folds within its make up. For that reason, be wary of frames which appear almost too gold.

Different kinds of real

Another very confusing thing is that there exists a kind of gold leaf imitation which is not paint, but made up of metal. Metal leaf can be shinier than true gold leaf, so that may be a way to tell it apart.

 Look at the layers…

Lastly, genuine gold leaf frames are made up of layers. Most will have overlaps and you’ll be able to clearly see where one fold of leaf joined another.

We hope that helps you out.

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Which style of frame should I choose?

Written by chris pink on August 1, 2014 in Picture Framing

Picture frames come in countless styles, sizes and colours, and the result is that nobody has to compromise with their art. But choice poses a problem, of course…which style will work the best?

Here’s a quick guide that should remove some mystery.

Ornate gilt frames

Gold has long since been the frame of choice for stately homes, but there’s nothing stopping you from selecting this style for your smaller dwelling. Gold frames have always worked well with dark, polished furniture and lovers of oil paintings (traditionally, gilt frames haven’t been used with watercolours, but there’s nothing stopping you from breaking the rules!).

Wide simple frames

Wide frames


Wide frames usually have a minimal profile. This lends them well to contemporary art, pen and ink sketches, and photography. With this style of frame, the effect is more subtle, allowing the art to speak for itself.

Metal frames

Metal frames aren’t loved by everyone, but they have always served a purpose. Usually silver in colour, black and white is also available, and these frames – which work wonders with photography – are ideal for those who will be taking the frames apart in the future for transportation, or who need strong, rugged frames that will stand the test of time.

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Tips for using a simple mount-cutting device at home

Written by chris pink on July 25, 2014 in Picture Framing

At one time, if you wanted a mount cut, you had to invest in very elaborate equipment or ask a professional picture framer to do it for you. In 2014, things are a bit different. There are tons of affordable mount cutting devices readily available on the market.

The only issue with that, of course, is getting it exactly right. You may have studied the instructions, but are you getting the most out of your cutter?

Here are a few tips which should help anyone out, no matter what device they own:

 One: make sure you apply enough pressure

A lot of people cut mounts and wonder why their lines are wonky, or the blade doesn’t appear to be working correctly. Most of the time it’ll be because the cutter is very light and they aren’t putting enough weight on the ruler part of it (or on the blade). So, if you haven’t got enough hands to both hold it down and cut the mount, ask someone to lend you a pair.

When you do cut, be sure to make a definite single gliding motion. No good mount is cut from repeated attempts at the same cut…

Two: be sure to change the blade every once in a while

It sounds silly, right? Well, it is in a way, yet people still don’t change their blades when they’ve had enough. Be sure to do so as soon as you feel the metal developing a burr. If you don’t, you’ll ruin that mount card. Not good. It can be expensive!

Three: take it apart for maintenance purposes

Over time and prolonged use, mount cutters of any description tend to accumulate card-dust and dirt in general. It never hurts to dismantle your equipment and give a good sharp blow to those areas where dust gathers.

Four: blade depth is critical!

Blade only cutting half-way through your mount? It might be because the last card you cut was thinner, and you haven’t changed the settings.

Our advice is to always do a test cut or two before you commit to cutting a new mount.

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How to buy cheap canvases: what you should be looking for

Written by chris pink on July 18, 2014 in Picture Framing

A while ago, we blogged about how to stretch your own canvas at home. Well, while that’s wonderful for people who have the confidence to have a go, others will feel more confident with buying affordable canvases directly from stores.

The question is…how do you know that what you’re buying is worth it? How do you know it’s going to really last? Here’s how to work all that out, in a few simple steps (note: this is really for when you’re buying your canvases in a physical store, as opposed to buying them online).

1: the canvas has been put together properly and is taught

On first inspection, most canvases look decent. But what about the back? Have the corners been folded neatly and does the stapling look good and neat? Are there enough staples? These are all questions you should keep in mind.

Once you’ve checked the back out, you need to discover if the canvas is taught enough. The best way to do this is to hold it firmly and try to wobble the canvas. Don’t worry about breaking it too much. If the canvas makes a flapping noise or simply does not feel stable, don’t buy it. A canvas will only become less taught with age, which brings us to…

2: you need corner shims, and the canvas should have slots for them

Look at the rear of the canvas – specifically the corners. Are there slots inside the frame? If there are, this is good, because you can hammer wooden wedges into them. If the canvas doesn’t come with wooden wedges, and the frame lacks those all important slots, then you should give it a miss. These wedges (very often found in small clear bags taped to the backs of frames) are vital, and will later allow you to regain the tension the canvas once had!

 3: consider the thickness of the material itself

Lastly, have a feel of any excess material you can get your hands on. How thick is it? Will it tear easily? One popular trick is to make canvases using very cheap material, and try and sell them for a good price. Don’t fall for it! Very thin, paper-like canvas loses its tension rapidly, and no amount of wooden wedges is going to change that fact.

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A quick guide to staining and waxing picture frames

Written by chris pink on July 11, 2014 in Picture Framing

How to wax a picture frame

When applying wax, be sure to glide over the wood quickly, so you don’t tear the wax off the frame before it has a chance to adhere


Got a picture frame at home that’s plain and boring? Then in this week’s rapid-fire DIY blog post, Picture Frame Studio have the answer! Read on for a quick guide to staining and waxing frames.

1: you’ll need some methylated spirit based stain. This is made by a number of manufacturers, can be applied with a standard brush of your choosing, and isn’t overly expensive. You’ll also need some clear or dark wax (other colours are also available).

Note: applying dark wax will increase the depth of the colour by twice the amount or more.

2: next you’ll need a frame that will accept the stain gracefully. Generally, soft woods work better than hard woods for staining, and frames with grain showing through will look even more attractive (in contrast, the stain will be stronger and darker where the grain is).

3: before you begin, you’ll need to strip any remaining wax off the frame – be aggressive with that sandpaper – and then apply the stain generously. Staining isn’t a job to be laboured over or left half-way through. Do this and you’ll end up with highly visible brush marks. So the key here is to be fast and careful.

4: are you happy with how the frame looks? Most stains look lighter once they are dry. If you need to apply another coat, you should do so now.

5: once it’s all nice and dry, it’s time to get that wax on. Apply it with a clean rag and ensure the frame is covered. Then leave it for several hours, or until the wax appears more or less dry to the touch. Finally, go over it gently to begin with, building up the pressure as the wax begins to harder. Repeat the process as in this previous how to, then there it is, you are finished!

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Basics: which picture hanging fixture should I use?

Written by chris pink on July 4, 2014 in Picture Framing

Back when all you needed was a hammer and a nail, hanging a picture was a thing of simplicity. That doesn’t always seem so in the modern age, where one foul move can have you bursting a pipe, ruining some complicated electrics or destroying some cutting-edge plaster-board!

This week’s blog post covers all the basic fixtures you’re likely to use. So you don’t accidentally do that bad thing we just mentioned.

When a hammer and nail is appropriate

Let’s start with the picture framing staple of them all. The good news is that this technique is still just as effective as it ever was. You can bang a nail into brick, concrete, or any other hard surface which is solid all the way through (you should not use them in plaster-board…even if does sound thicker than usual! See below illustration).

The advantage of using a nail, of course, is that you can hang pretty much anything off it. That list includes everything from watercolours to canvases, clip frames and large oil paintings. Just watch out for any concealed electrical wires or pipes!

 Plaster-board fixtures explained

These fixtures can seem daunting, but in reality they’re simple devices designed to safely spread the load across a wall. For the most part, they come with 3 to 4 prongs that need to be banged in, securing themselves in place.

Best plaster board fixturesThis illustration shows 2 examples of nails used in plaster-board. The first is obviously a bad idea, but the second seems better. While there may be more to hold the nail/screw in place and some success may be had with the second technique, we would always advise you use the proper fixings for that particular type of wall.

Always be sure to check how much they can hold and use a hammer that is easily manageable to put them in. Not to mention, reading the instructions is a good idea!


The screw has long been viewed as something which can be used in any situation. In fact, this is wrong, as we’d hope most people would know by now! For a screw to be able to work effectively, it needs a good, solid foundation (for example, ancient brick won’t qualify). Unless you have that, there’s very little point wasting your time drilling.

That said, screws can be very helpful, and will be beneficial for hanging a large, heavy picture. Of course, wherever screws are involved you will need to be certain about the position of the art-work, so that’s always something to bear in mind!

Other techniques

Along with all the common ones listed in this blog, there are likely dozens more concepts that are coming out all the time. As the building industry progresses and creates new materials, the picture framing industry does its best to keep up. So, if you’re unsure what kind of wall you have, always ask an expert first. That way, you can hang your picture with the knowledge that you’re doing something that won’t get you into trouble.

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How to repair a picture frame at home

Written by chris pink on June 27, 2014 in Picture Framing

Wondering about that old frame in the attic? Well, once you’ve established that you’re going to fix it, here’s how to do so – in a way that’ll keep it lasting for many years to come.

 What you’ll need

A bottle of PVA glue, it doesn’t matter if it’s cheap as long as it’s PVA.

Some nails (the length of which will depend on how thin or wide your frame is, so use discretion as you don’t want to split the wood or have nails poking out everywhere).

A good hammer.

A flat surface that can take a few hammer hits, preferably at at least waist level to save your back.

Some sandpaper. Having rough and smooth to hand is never a bad idea.

An extra pair of hands. And a person connected to them!

Carefully break the frame apart

Most old picture frames don’t completely fall apart. Instead, the corners become loose and the joins lose their integrity, leaving an unattractive frame that can be used, but isn’t at its best. So, gently, prise the corners apart until you have four pieces.

Apply the glue

You may liken PVA to the cheap stuff you used way back in school, but in fact it’s an incredible tool that nearly all framers use on a daily basis. When you’re happy that you’ve pulled any old triangular staples out of the frame, you can sand down any rough bits and then apply a generous amount of PVA to both sides.

Now join two sides of the frame

Push them together tightly, allowing them to fit together neatly. Wipe off any excess PVA glue but don’t worry too much if it stains the wood.

It’s nail time

This technique is a little rough around the edges, and lacks the finesse of using specialist staples, but it works very well for the person at home. Drive the nail through one side of the frame as in the illustration. Then repeat this process with the other side of the frame, and continue until you have completed the job.

How to repair a frame at homeSand it down

Now you’ve removed any excess glue, it’s time to ensure the frame is sturdy. So flex it slightly and see how it feels. You can always use more nails if necessary.

Your next task is to sand down the frame at the corners, then everywhere else, too. You’ll find that the PVA glue is still wet and absorbs the saw dust, allowing any cracks to be filled quickly and easily. Do the same with the entry points of the nails and you’ll soon find that they quickly disappear.

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How to stretch a canvas at home

Written by chris pink on June 20, 2014 in Picture Framing

Canvases are so popular nowadays that an entire printing industry has grown up around this unique art-form. The attraction is obvious, of course: canvases look great, they’re affordable and they don’t require glass or framing. On top of that, it’s now very simple and affordable to order printed canvases online. It is this list of unique attributes that makes them a firm choice for anyone looking to hang both photographs and oil paintings on the walls.

It’s worth saying, before we go any further, that this particular how to is aimed not at enthusiasts with all the specific canvas stretching equipment, but at amateurs who’d like to have a go at stretching a canvas at home. Because of this, you won’t necessarily need all the professional equipment usually associated with canvas stretching.

One last note: we’d advise anyone following this tutorial to practice with a blank canvas first. Stretching is a skill which takes some time to perfect. But that’s OK. You can always tear the staples out and start again if you need to.

 Step 1: what you’ll need

How to stretch a canvas

To stretch a canvas at home, you will need the following things:

A wide wooden frame over which to stretch your canvas (we’d recommend sticking to something no bigger than 24 inches by 24 inches to begin with).

Some wide, heavy duty, metal pliers.

The canvas itself (this can be low or high quality, but for the sake of learning, we would suggest some mid-range stuff which will at least hold its tension).

A sturdy table which you can move yourself around fairly easily.

Someone to help you, should you need an extra pair of hands!

A staple-gun of some description.

Some scissors capable of cutting canvas.

 Step 2: how to prepare

Firstly, ensure that you have staples for your stapler and that it works when you flip the bottom back on itself and staple down on wood.

Now, take your frame and lay it over your canvas. The key with preparing canvas for stretching is that you must have enough left over at the edges to be able to pull on it with the pliers and create tension. Leave at least enough space to cover the side of the frame, and preferably the same again, making it double the width. Ensure, when you cut, that you have left an even amount of canvas all the way around the frame.

 Step 3: how to do the stretching…

Stretching a canvas is one of those things. There are a few ways to do it, but you must stick to the same method as you go along, and you must be systematic about it as you do so. The reason for this approach is obvious: you want to create the same level of tension all the way around the frame, so that it isn’t baggy on one side and overly tight on the other.

A: Lay the canvas down and then place the frame on top of it, as you did when you initially cut your canvas. Your next move is to take the top edge of the canvas and pull it down towards you (you may need someone else to put their hand on the frame to stop it from moving). Now, take your stapler and staple the canvas to the back of the frame. Ensure that you staple as close to the top edge of the frame as you can.

B: Next up, turn the canvas 180 so that the opposing side is now at the top, and you are still working on the back of the canvas. Take the canvas in one hand and pull it just as you did before – and staple in the same way.

C: A common mistake at this stage is to keep on stapling all the way round on one side. Do not do this! Instead, turn the canvas 90 degrees and pull that side taught, stapling as before. Now repeat the process with more staples, one at a time. By this point, you should have stapled all four sides of the canvas down. You will notice that the canvas is in no way tight, but don’t worry, there’s no way it can be at the moment!

D: It’s at this stage that your pliers will begin to come in handy. Start at whatever side you like, and pull the canvas as you did before, placing a staple an inch or so along in the same way. Now repeat this process on the other three sides, stapling on the same side each time. By the end of this, you will notice that the canvas is beginning to tighten. Be sure to pull the canvas with the same degree of strength as you go around, keeping the canvas nice and even.

E: Repeat this process until you have put five or six more staples in each side – or until you are within 3 inches of the corners (you will notice that you have to pull harder each time on the canvas to keep it taught). And here’s a very important tip you should take note of. Instead of blindly pulling the canvas and stapling, keep a close eye on how the canvas feels, and turn it over to look at the front of it. Is it tenser one one side and not on the other? If so, you may need to position your staples more closely together to compensate.

Stretched canvas tutorial

This illustration gives an idea of what the canvas should look like as it nears completion, before the final staples are put in at the corners


F: Struggling with getting enough tension? Try getting someone to hold the frame in place, while you allow your body weight to do the work. You’ll be surprised at just how effective this technique can be.

G: Now you’re close to the corners, it’s time to take a good look at the canvas to decide whether or not you are happy. If you’re not, now would be the time to remove the staples from one side (with some scissors) or put some more in. Another way to ascertain the tightness of your canvas is to bang it gently like a drum. Does it sound right to you? Is it too baggy? If it’s too tight, you probably don’t have much to worry about, but if it’s too loose, you could well end up with a canvas that will sag significantly over time.

H: Why did I ask you to wait when you came close to the corners? Now you can probably see! If you’ve been following this tutorial correctly, you will see that you now have some material gathered in each corner. The key to getting rid of this is to fold the material in a triangular fashion so that it lays against the side of the frame. Do this by pressing one side of the canvas and allowing it to fall naturally where it wants to. It will soon become obvious how to fold it neatly into a triangle, doubling it up as you go. You need to do this part now, because when you start stapling very close to the frame, you will need to staple over two layers of canvas in certain places.

I: After successfully stapling one corner down, you should have a good idea about the end result of your canvas. If it feels good, chances are that the other corners will feel the same. Keep going with the other corners you have left to finish, being careful to pull hard with the pliers where necessary. And don’t forget to tuck that canvas in so the triangular edges are nice and neat!

J: After you’ve done all the corners, you should notice a significant difference in the tension of the canvas. This can happen very suddenly, and is a great surprise to beginners who didn’t know what to expect! And don’t worry too much if you have some canvas overhanging. You can always trim that off with some scissors or a craft knife, leaving you with a canvas that looks good and feel great to work on.

K: A word of warning: we’d advise you leave your canvas to settle before you start painting or working on it in any way. The reason? After becoming initially very taught, some canvases lose a small amount of tension. This is particularly true of cheaper/thinner canvases which aren’t as easy to staple to the frame. Give it 24 hours and you should be good to go…or you may have to start again…especially if you’re looking to get a really professional finish!

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How to: frame a watercolour painting correctly

Written by chris pink on June 13, 2014 in Picture Framing

Watercolour painting tips onlineIf there’s one thing most picture framing outlets do a lot of, it’s framing watercolours. While those painting with oils are afforded more options, including painting straight onto a standalone canvas, anyone working with watercolours will have to get used to having them framed and safely kept behind glass.

 Basics: why it’s essential to frame your watercolour

In theory, you could put your watercolour in a clip-frame. Then again, in theory, you could also drive your hatchback through a deep stream. Much like this mistake that has a tendency of ending up on YouTube, framing watercolours in any way other than behind glass is a bad decision. Watercolour paper, even when thick and strong, is a sensitive thing which needs to be treated properly. Spill tea on an oil and it’ll require a simple wipe-down. Spill tea on your watercolour and you can kiss goodbye to all that work…and, most likely, the motivation to create any more. (At least for a while!)

So, quite simply, putting a watercolour behind glass keeps it safe from any accidents, ensures that it doesn’t attract moisture, and maintains the integrity of the paint. All good things which allow your watercolour to live on for years without incurring needless damage.

 Presenting the watercolour inside its frame

When it comes to mounting options, there are plenty. It’s not essential to mount a watercolour, we should add, but it is desirable: you don’t want to have your watercolour contacting the inside of the glass, and a good way to do this is to mount it, creating a void. Without mounting a watercolour, framing would be significantly more difficult – and glass, or acrylic, is a difficult thing to do without.

In addition, mounts provide far more than just a practical way to frame your water-based pieces. Mount board (or matting) has long been a staple of picture framing, simply because it enhances the look and feel of the painting, and provides a pleasing contrast between the painting and the frame that adorns it.

 Choosing the right kind of mount board

In past blogs, we’ve focused extensively on how to use mount board. See here and here for two such examples. So, in brief, it comes down to what kind of effect you are looking to achieve. Have a beach scene with a bold sunset in the background? If so, white or cream is a sound favourite with most artists. Failing that, any other colour can be used, and the best results are usually had by choosing one that matches the main theme of the painting (for example, if you were framing a watercolour of a Spanish dance festival where orange, red and yellow were obvious highlights, you’d want to go with one of these).

As for the width of the mount, that’s something else we’ve covered in detail. As a quick tip, though, it’s fair to say that most people favour a wider mount with a narrower frame, or a narrower mount with a much wider frame.

As you can see, mounting watercolours is incredibly subjective.

Selecting the appropriate frame

If we said that mounting is subjective, then know this: framing watercolours is even more open to debate! As a general rule, wooden frames are a firm favourite. Then again, gold modern frames and black frames are a winner for others. It all comes down to what you’re framing and a number of other variables. For example, if you were framing a beach scene that featured wood on a camp-fire, or a close-up detailed depiction of an article on the sand, you could use rough-looking driftwood, which would work wonderfully.

What has always been true is that wide, flat, wooden frames work wonders where watercolours are concerned. The grain tends to lend a certain something to the finished piece, and that’s hardly surprising when you consider that the grain of some kinds of paper offers watercolours a very specific texture.

Other considerations…

One: double mounting can work well.

Two: non-reflective glass can be a worthwhile addition, as it removes a lot of the glare the sun produces.

Three: limed wooden frames and pale mounts can work well together. However, be wary of using this technique for paintings which comprise mainly of pastel colours. You don’t want your painting to disappear from view!

Four: another mention about the sun…put a watercolour in a place where it gets a lot of sun and you will regret it. Sun tends to rapidly alter/destroy the pigment. Your best alternative is to use special UV sensitive glass. Your cheaper solution? Find another wall!

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5 top picture framing mistakes to avoid!

Written by chris pink on June 6, 2014 in Picture Framing

Picture framing is such a specific thing, and such a unique art, that it’s bound to present challenges at times – particularly to those who don’t have much experience, are working with a low budget or who simply don’t realise their mistakes until it’s too late. In this week’s blog post, we’re moving away from our usual how-to format and focusing on the top 5 mistakes to avoid.

For the most part it comes down to common-sense, but as with everything, if you’re not sure, consult someone who knows, or at least do some research to make certain that what’s in your head is really a good idea in reality.

1: hand-cutting mounts with a knife, instead of using the correct equipment

Possibly the most common mistake on this list, the world is heaving with poorly-cut mounts that do their accompanying art-work no justice whatsoever. It may be tempting to just head down to the craft shop and buy some paper or flimsy card and use that as a mount, but in truth you’d be better having one professionally cut. There are alternatives, of course – mount-cutting equipment is readily available and even the cheaper models generally do a good job of cutting the 45 degree bevelled-edge that is so essential.

Mount board online picture framing

still The top illustration shows a badly cut paper mount, which has perished after some time behind the frame. The second illustration depicts a professionally cut mount which will stand the test of time nicely.


And if you’re still wondering why you can’t just cut a window out of some paper yourself, consider this: when you attach your art-work to the paper, it’ll likely be heavier than it, which will drag it down when it’s held inside the frame. Even if that doesn’t happen, the fact that there is no bevelled edge means that a gap will form between the paper and the art-work, which won’t look good at all.

That’s why professional artists and framers use quality, archival standard, acid-free mount board. Not only is it thick enough to be sturdy for a long time, but it presses against the art-work in a way that leaves a clean contrast between the image and the mount board.

2: putting things in clip-frames that really deserve to be treated better

As with everything in life, clip frames have their place. They’re ideal for college students looking to quickly showcase their work, and for certain other things – such as posters – they can be perfectly suitable. The problem comes, however, when you try to use the clip frame in the place of a true quality frame. For example, if you’ve slaved over that watercolour for hours, the last thing you’d want to do is house it within two sheets of clear acrylic…

Why? For one thing, the gaps around the frames will make it very easy for tiny black flies to get onto your art-work in the summer – and damage it – and for another, putting paint against plastic is a bad idea. Even if it’s dry, it’ll eventually become stuck to the surface. That’s a big problem for you – particularly if you ever want to remove the art-work and put it inside a proper picture frame.

3: Taping-up with too-sticky tape that later becomes a nightmare

When it comes to taping-up art-work, it’s hardly surprising that amateurs fall into this trap. The correct kind of archival quality tape (used with water) isn’t always available, which is one thing, and the other thing is that other kinds of tape look perfectly fine as they are. After all…if you’ve used them around the house then why shouldn’t you use this tape on the reverse of your picture frames?

The answer, of course, revolves around design and practicality: most kinds of brown tape are either too tacky or not tacky enough, and they contain a glue. This glue either won’t be strong enough to stick to the back of your frame, or, as in this example, it’ll be far too sticky. This means that you may be able to get it on, but you’ll very much struggle to get it off! Not great news – particularly when you consider that a lot of picture frames need to be replaced.

 4: buying frames which haven’t been correctly put together

There was a time when picture framing shops were in limited supply. Nowadays, however, things are changing in many cities. More and more picture framing shops are springing up – many of them with a focus on very cheap frames which come in an abundance of styles, textures and sizes.

The problem with this bargain-bin growth is that it can lead to a decrease in the quality of picture frames on offer. Wondering what to look for when browsing through picture frames? Here’s a quick guide.

First you need to ensure that the thing feels secure…has it had proper picture framing staples in all of its corners? If not, why not? Equally, consider if the glass or acrylic is a comfortable fit, and look very closely at the corners (and the mount inside, if there is one). What you want to see is decently cut edges where the two pieces of frame join. Is there a gap of more than a couple of millimetres? If you can get a car key comfortably into this void, then the frame hasn’t been put together well.

Buy quality picture frames online

Another thing to check is the finishing at the edges. Most picture framers give the frame a quick rub down with sandpaper where the angular edges meet, but when people are in a rush to get frames out, this doesn’t always happen. You could do this later at home, but that may be a mistake: many frames have lacquer finishes, and when you sand it down, fragments may fall off, revealing the stark colour of natural wood beneath…

That said, you could always try and negotiate some money off the frame. Then, you could fix it up later if you have the tools and the know-how.

 5: ordering too large a picture frame!

This sounds all too obvious. Everyone orders the right size of frame, right? Well…not exactly. While we here at Picture Frame Studio have a policy of replacing frames which have been incorrectly ordered, it’s always safer to ensure that your measurements are correct to begin with. So check and double-check, and remember that your frame (the rebate, that is!) should always be at least 2mm bigger than your image on every side. You can sometimes get away with your frame being slightly bigger than this, but generally speaking it’s a good rule to follow.


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How to: find economical pre-cut mounts and mount card

Written by chris pink on May 30, 2014 in Picture Framing

How to cut mount boards at home

When acquiring any kind of pre-cut mounts, you need to be looking at those corners. In the illustration above, Figure A depicts a mount which has been wildly over-cut at its edges. This may be due to a blunt blade (the reason why the cut-lines have gone off at an angle) or incorrect use of the mount cutter. Figure B shows a mount which has been cut perfectly. In any kind of mount, a very small amount of over-cut is inevitable, but you’d have to be looking very closely to spot this. Just the way it should be.


This blog has been running for a while now, so we’ve covered a lot of things to do with mount board (also known as matting). Things like how to get the most out of multiple window mounts, and how to measure up your art for mount board.

What we haven’t covered, however, is how to track down quality mount board if you’d like to cut mounts at home, or where to find cheap pre-cut mounts. Having new mounts is always a good idea – which we can obviously help you with – but finding a good source of affordable card is worth the effort too. Particularly if you have to get a lot of work framed quickly.

The benefits of pre-cut mounts

Does much of your art-work fit inside a standard size picture frame? In the case of pre-cut mounts, that’s a very good thing, because with a little bit of ingenuity and focused attention, anyone can locate quality mounts for their art or photography work. You may also find slightly obscure sizes, too, and although not all the mounts may fit your art, it’s good to keep a stock of them. That way, in the future, you can tailor your watercolours (for example) to fit.

Where to search for mount card and mounts

If you’re looking to take home a big bag of mount board off cuts or ready-made mounts, you’re in luck, because a few different types of businesses may be able to help. These include craft shops, gift shops that do their own mounting, picture framing shops and picture framing supply shops (which supplyspecifically  to the trade). All of these frequently use and dispose of mount board off-cuts on a daily basis, and many of them bag the stuff up – either for recycling, or for future use (some even keep the off-cuts for lucky people like you!).

That said, it pays to be inventive, because we know for a fact that there are other places to look. For example, one good idea might be to put an ad up on a free listings directory like Gumtree. Don’t forget about shops that process photographs and have a need for mounting them, either.

When it comes to finding bags of free mount board, all you need to do is ask. You’ll be surprised at just how many people have this card lurking at the back of their premises.

What to look out for

The expression You get what you pay for comes to mind. And when you pay nothing, it’s wise to remember that quality control will be a necessary evil! People throw away scrap mount board and pre-cut mounts for obvious reasons: either they don’t have a specific need for it, it’s the wrong colour, or it’s damaged. Then again, that doesn’t have to be a cause for concern. As long as you check your mount board properly, you should be able to walk away with good stuff that will somehow be usable.

Things to look out for include the following four main things:

One: pre-cut mounts which have been so over-cut at the edges that they are now useless! These cut-lines, which are most visible on dark coloured mount board, won’t do you any favours. Don’t take these home unless the mount is wide enough that you may be able to cut a new mount in it yourself.

Two: damaged or badly scuffed mount board. Some will be just on the right side of usable, while other card will be an obvious waste of your time. Fortunately, if you’re looking for dark mount board, you’re likely to have generally better luck. The darker the mount board, the better it will be at disguising any scuff marks.

Three: small pieces that won’t be any use to you. When faced with a big bag of off-cuts and a happy looking shop owner, it can be tempting to take the lot. But hang on a minute…aren’t they a bit on the small and useless side? Unless your art-work really is that small, we think you’re probably best off giving it a miss (or at least leaving behind anything that isn’t any good!).

Four: soggy or damp mount board. Never a good thing, for obvious reasons. For starters it’s difficult to cut while in that state, and even if it does survive and dry-out, chances are that it’ll be warped or discoloured. It may even attract mould in the future, too, which is another good reason to give this stuff a miss!


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Ornate versus modern: the many faces of gold picture frames

Written by chris pink on May 9, 2014 in Picture Framing

Buy gold frames onlineUnsurprisingly to most, the origins of gold picture frames go back many hundreds of years. By the 18th Century, gilt frames were a staple of France — one associated with riches, monarchs and the prestige of luxurious living that only a select few could afford. By combining a dazzling look and a sense of elegance, gilt picture frames have always been popular, and their identity has stood the test of time.

With today’s modern manufacturing methods making gold – and, more to the point, gold appearance – frames more accessible than ever, the choices are virtually endless. As a result, knowing where to begin can be…somewhat of a challenge!

The good thing is that today we’re giving you a helping hand. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at the various options available to the modern consumer, weigh-up the pros and cons and examine which styles meet the various budget requirements of all consumers.

Want a gilt frame but not entirely sure which style will suit your home? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

 Acrylic and machine-made

 Looking to have a piece framed in gold, but low on budget or looking to make a saving? The latest manufacturing and machining methods excel at creating low-cost, high appearance frames that look the part. Gold appearance may be the second choice of gold purists, but that doesn’t mean they don’t also serve a distinct purpose. While an expert or anyone with picture framing experience will know a faux-gold frame from across the room, these frames are enormously popular, just as ornate as many of the more expensive true gold frames and worth your consideration.

 Better still, acrylic and machine-moulded frames are available in styles to suit all kinds of images and photographs, from traditional to modern.

 Ornate gilt frames for mirrors

When it comes to mirrors, almost nothing looks as captivating and exciting as gold. The dazzling shine is reflected in the mirror glass, while the frames range from narrow and flat to very wide and festooned with detail. The truly wonderful thing about ornate gold frames for mirrors is the sheer range of choice for every single budget out there.

Looking to pick up a gold mirror frame for cheap? They exist in antique shops and at jumble sales all over this country and the world. Or, alternatively, to get precisely what you want, why not peruse our online shop and see what we have to offer?

Handfinished metal leaf picture frames

Looking for a compromise between gold appearance frames and something top-end? The good news is that you can get this for a reasonable price, and the increase in quality is substantial. Metal leaf is far cheaper and more available than gold leaf, so while its price is reflective of its make-up and it handles differently to true gold leaf (it does feel noticeably heavier), it can also look fantastic when handled properly. It also comes in a huge choice of colour tones.

Metal leaf frames can be bought as standard straight out of the factory, or metal leaf can be applied by a picture framer to give a more hand-made, rustic appeal. In other words, it’s the ideal compromise between quality and performance and a great way to test out your love for true gold without jumping straight in.

Handfinished real gilt picture frames

Sitting right at the top of the genre – for want of a better word – is the true gold, or gilded, picture frame. Looking to make a serious impression? Gilded frames come in many different forms (as well as many different carats) but one common factor which runs through them all is the sense of prestige and awe they deliver to a room.

In a dull room, where gold isn’t so easily able to flourish, an expensive, hand-gilded frame may look similar to a gold appearance frame. Open the curtains, however, and you’ll see virtually a miracle take place. Amongst gold’s many positive attributes is its intrinsic ability to reflect light, emitting a spectacular glow. The cost of gold may be going up all the time as this precious commodity comes ever closer to extinction, but here at Picture Frame Studio, we don’t see demand dying out any time soon.


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Picture framing how to: keep the summer flies out the right way

Written by chris pink on May 2, 2014 in Picture Framing

Most of us have experienced this at some point in our life: we tape up a picture frame, hang it on the wall, and three months later discover that hundreds of little black flies have made the piece their home. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s annoying…

With the good weather increasingly more frequent, it’s time to start thinking how to prevent this year’s occurrence. While stopping these little critters isn’t always easy, it can be done. Here’s how to minimise the risk as well as possible at home (note: the very best way to ensure this doesn’t happen at all is to have your picture framed by us, your picture framing experts – but these handy tips should certainly help keep the flies at bay).

1: Understanding why it’s good to keep the flies out

You may be thinking that keeping the flies out is purely an aesthetic venture, but that would in fact be wrong: besides making your fine-art or photograph look ugly, those little black flies you get in summer can be a real pain when it comes to damaging your art-work for the long-term. This happens when they settle and leave unsightly droppings on your mount board, art-work or photograph. The flies themselves will do enough damage on their own as the months go by and their inners seep out – we know, not pretty! – but their droppings will increase the effect, and ruin things even more.

Not great if the piece they decide to settle on is antique or worth a lot of money. Art-work can be cleaned, of course, but you’ll need to replace the mount board as well. The cost of all this soon adds up.

2: How to do it!

Ever looked at the back of a painting, all sealed-up, and wondered how on earth the damn things found their way inside in the first place? You surely won’t be the only one. What you have to remember is that these flies are tiny – small enough, in fact, that they’ll easily fit through the smallest gaps that the human eye can’t easily see. This basically means that your taping-up has to be extremely thorough to prevent this from happening. More to the point, the frame has to have no openings – including gaps between the frame and the glass – and the art-work needs to be properly fixed to the mount board.

Picture frame help, tricks and tips

Figure A shows how not to do it. The glass is too small, allowing those pesky black flies easy access. Figure B on the other hand shows how it should be done


So here’s how to do it right:

A: First of all, remove the art-work from the frame and check to see if the glass lies flat in the rebate. Are there any gaps? Is the glass too small, allowing the flies through at the edges? In that case, you’ll need to have some more glass (or acrylic) cut to the exact size.

B: Now we’ve sorted out the glass issue, you need to fix your art-work to its mount. Opinion is divided here. Some framers will only use one piece of tape at the top – this is particularly the case when the piece is expensive and a framer doesn’t want to attach too much tape to the paper – and others will tape it up all the way around. If you’re concerned about flies getting in, and you’re OK with taping up all the way around, this is a good idea. It provides another barrier and gives the flies another big challenge to overcome. Whatever you decide, conservation-grade tape is your best bet here.

C: Glass sorted, mount done, you now need to place your art-work in the frame – having cleaned all the previous flies off the mount and glass, of course! – and seal it up.

How do you do this? The best way is with brown water-adhesive gum tape that is specially designed for sealing up frames with – this is always the best way. However, if you don’t have this, you could use any kind of sturdy black plastic tape, or similar brown tape that is sticky enough. While Picture Frame Studio wouldn’t suggest doing this, we understand that this kind of tape is easier to get a hold of and generally does a good job (particularly if the piece is inexpensive and you just want to get it on the wall) in some cases.

The key here, whatever the tape, is to use a tape which creates a tight seal that cannot be easily broken – a tape which also won’t be adversely affected by the summer heat, making it peel away to reveal gaps that the flies can fit through. This is why brown gum framing tape is used widely for all taping-up purposes. It creates a quality bond which largely prevents insects from getting in, while at the same time allowing for a bond that can be broken if the piece inside needs to be accessed at a later date.

3: Minimise the problem with dark mount board

Of course, if you really want to create a framed piece that wins the battle against the critters, a good way of doing so is to select a mount board that won’t make them visible when they are there. Black, blue and other dark-coloured mounting handles this easily, making it the perfect solution for many.

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A look at the many types of white mount board on offer

Written by chris pink on April 25, 2014 in Picture Framing

It’s a common scenario: a customer enters a frame shop and says to the framer “I’d like to have some white mount board [matting] cut, please”.

At this, the framer senses a long conversation, filled with explanation…see, if you weren’t aware, white mount board or matting comes in many different shades. In this blog post, we’ll look generally at 5 popular and very different options that are available – rather than examining in-depth the many different styles within each category – so that you have a better idea of what to order from us and what is out there for you to use.

Buy brilliant white mount board online UK

Brilliant/ice white mount board

Simply put, brilliant/ice white mount board (which also has a number of other names!) is the brightest and most sharp white mount board that money can buy. Offering the greatest contrast between a dark image and its mount, this option works very well for pen-and-ink sketches, black & white photography and anything else where you want to make the image the true focus of attention.

Versions are available with white, cream and black cores…so have a good think before you decide! (Note: this is the same for all the mount board types featured in this article.)

Buy different shades of mount board picture framing online

Snow white mount board

Snow white is commonly used for several reasons: it’s white without being so striking that it overwhelms the painting, and it goes well with the interior décor of most modern homes where white is a prominent feature.

On first inspection, snow white mount board may appear very white, but when placed against brilliant white mount board, it becomes obvious that the colour has a discernible amount of cream within it.

Eggshell mount board

With eggshell mount board, we move slightly further away from white, and – generally speaking – towards a more creamy level of colour than offered by snow white mount board. The name, of course, has less to do with the colour and more to do with the sheen that the mount card gives off.

Speckled-white mount board

Speckled-white mount board is actually just as much grey as it is white. Look closely at the card and you’ll notice that it’s half white, half speckled, tiny grey dots. This is a good alternative for those looking for something that won’t overpower their pen-and-ink sketches.

Marbled white mount board

Looking for something with a slightly rustic charm? Marbled white may be the one for you. Opinion on marbled white mount board varies from positive to negative, owing to the marbled veins that run through it, giving it a similar appearance to marbled stone.

The other many types of white mount board!

We don’t have enough time in this blog post to go into all the other types of mount board that are available (it also wouldn’t make much sense, seeing as different manufacturers tend to use slightly different names for the same product), but one thing is certain: white mount can come with hints of orange, red, blue, green, yellow, pink and just about any other colour that you can imagine.

Confused? As may already be evident, your picture or photograph will likely benefit from a mount which features elements of similar colours. There’s lots more advice on mounts in past blog posts here at Picture Frame Studio, but you can always send us an email if you need a little more help – or feel free to give us a ring.


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How to hang picture frames in a home space or gallery

Written by chris pink on April 18, 2014 in Picture Framing

How you should not hang picture frames

A poor example of picture-frame-hanging…it’s just too busy…and that plug-socket? Oh dear…


Looking around a room, it often appears that the picture frames hung themselves – that they are a part of the room that have always been there. Inside a gallery, for example, or within the home of a collector with years of experience in exhibiting their pieces, the appearance of frames and art can look effortless. This being the case, it can seem like there is nothing to learn when hanging one’s own pictures. That all that is needed is some enthusiasm and a bit of common-sense.

Yet when executed badly, an exhibition can verge on looking ridiculous. In this handy tutorial, we’ll explain how to avoid the picture frame hanging no-nos and create an exhibition in any space that looks the part.

Step 1: Organising what you’d like to hang/show

It’s a fact that it’s hard to keep adding art to a room and keep it looking good – particularly if all the frames are different sizes. So, to start with, it’d be good to hang at least one painting on each wall. Two is preferable. It will allow you to visually judge the weight of the paintings within the space and make vital comparisons (looking at the negative space between paintings is often the best way of doing it).

So, you’ll need to gather together all the framed works-of-art that you’d like to hang. If they’re a similar size, great, but if not, don’t worry too much now.

If you’re completely starting from scratch then it may be wise to try and use framed-art that is one of two or three sizes. This will allow for proper consistency and make your life a lot easier.

Step 2: Now you have your art, you need to make a sketch of where you see the art hanging

Hanging picture frames is a greatly debated thing. There is no true right or wrong (although there are things which many people strongly believe are right…and wrong!). Because this is a home exhibition you are doing, don’t worry too much about what the done thing in general is. Follow the guidelines, but remember that you’re the one who has to look at it in the end!

Making a sketch is always a sound idea because it enables you to accurately gauge the space. You can do this by eye, or you can measure the walls and work out how much space will fit between each picture. It goes without saying that you need an equal space wherever possible between the horizontal and the vertical sides of the frames.

A very important note, too: it sounds very obvious (and it is!) but you want to see your frames (the majority of them, at least) at eye-level. That is, you want the centre of the picture to be around eye-level. If you only have a larger piece, use this. If you only have two smaller pieces, then it’s OK if the upper one is slightly above your eye-level, and the second one is slightly below.

Step 3: Be wary of going overboard…

If you have a lot of paintings and not much space, it can be incredibly tempting to try to fit them all onto the wall. And with enough time spent, you probably can. But does that mean you should? Probably not, actually. You don’t want the room to be crowded to the point where 50 paintings or photographs are vying for your attention!

There are always exceptions, however. One would be that if all your paintings are the same (or similar) style, and they are reasonably small, you can probably get away with hanging quite a lot (as long as they are in discernible rows). But remember, the larger the piece, the larger the space needed around the piece!

Lastly, never hang paintings too close to the floor. They simply can not be appreciated this way, and besides: the frames are destined to get scuffed.

Hanging picture frames advice online

This illustration depicts a much better idea! While there is a slight issue with some of the paintings not being a similar size, the consistent space between the frames (and far nicer location of the plug-socket) means that the viewer can focus on enjoying the art


Step 4: Balancing colour

Colour is a critical consideration when you prepare to hang your pieces. It will dictate not just the look but the feeling of the room…and, thus, the effect it has on you and your visitors over time.

So you’ll need to give this some thought. If you have strikingly contrasting paintings, you may wish not to hang them together – unless the entire theme is abstract art and the clashing colours is what gives the theme its identity.

Otherwise, try and fade colours in as and when appropriate (as with more traditional paintings).

 Step 5: Other considerations

Will all your pieces have glass? Will the frame widths be different sizes/finishes? If so, try to separate them as best you can into certain styles. Equally, ensure that you can hang paintings all the way around the room and that plasterboard or pipes will not be a problem (plasterboard will dictate that only a certain weight of painting may be hung, while pipes may mean you have to alter your current plans).

Step 6: Unusual styles

Nobody’s saying you have to hang paintings in strict rows. You could stagger them diagonally, hang them in circles or other patterns. As ever, the key is consistency. Get this right and the rest should follow.

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How to organise a home workshop for picture frame fitting

Written by chris pink on April 11, 2014 in Picture Framing

Setting up a home studio for putting your picture frames together – and storing them while you decide what to do with them, which is often overlooked – sounds easy at first. Just take all the stuff out of the spare room, put a sign on the door saying NOBODY COMES IN UNLESS THEY’RE FRAMING! and you’re away.

But, take it from us – and we’ve been dealing with frames long enough that we’re confident you can! – if you do a few simple things first, it’ll be far easier in the long run.

Note: the following guide does not include instructions for setting up frame-cutting equipment and frame-joining gear. Instead, it’s intended to be helpful to people who buy their picture frames and then want to put them together and keep them at home.

Step 1: have you got the space you need?

You may only be intending to fit a few picture frames and mounts together here and there, but before you start invading the spare room and getting the wife’s – or husband’s! – back up, it might be wise to consider the issue of space. There is no set amount of room you need to put frames together at home. Instead, you can find that out by asking the following questions…

Step 2: your picture framing requirements

Will you be putting frames together with ready-cut mounts, or will you be cutting your own mounts? If you’re using ready-made mounts then you won’t need additional space for mount-cutting paraphernalia, so you can probably make do with a single desk. If you’re cutting your own mounts, however, you may wish to have separate table to do so on. You could do everything on the same table, but if you’re fitting any more than a couple in succession, it’s going to become a hassle.

Next, you’ll need to think about taping-up at the back of the frames. Is this something you’re concerned with? If so, you’ll likely be using tape which you first apply water to, before then adhering it to the frame when it becomes gummy. This is something to think about. Why? Well, because the gummy glue of the tape has a habit of finding its way onto the table…not ideal if you’re cutting mounts in the same place. Without a doubt, they will get marked.

If you’re cutting glass in the room, also be careful. Glass shards nearly always find a way of getting into carpet, so you may want to put a lock on the door (especially if you have a curious toddler wandering about!).

How to organise your room for picture frame fitting

Get the space right and the rest will follow

 Step 3: organising your space and equipment

Aside from ensuring that you actually have the space to start – due to its need for space and equipment, picture framing isn’t an activity that lends itself well to sharing – organising your space is the next crucial factor. So, consider these things:

1: Where will the frames go once you have fitted them with mounts and art-work? If you’re using big frames, you don’t want to be carrying them too far from the door. Equally, you don’t want to be bending down too much to pick them up when you take them out of the room, so it may be wise to make a strong shelf on which to stack them.

2: Is the place where you’re putting the table conducive to framing? What we mean by that is this: is there a power supply in the room? (Aside from plugging-in power tools or anything else, you may want to have a radio on.) Is the quality of light good? Are there any cupboards which you might frequently bang your head on? All worth a second-thought.

Once you’ve worked out where your table(s) are going, and decided upon how/where you’ll stack your finished picture frames, you’ll need to take one last look at the space you have left. In this space you will need to stock the following items and equipment (another good reason to put some shelves up!).

1: A hoover. Preferably hand-held to minimise space and make cleaning the desk space quicker and easier.

2: Glass-cleaning equipment (and glass-cutting equipment, if need be), as well as your mount-cutting stuff.

3: A good-sized bin for card. Don’t go for a small one and always opt for an open bin, rather than a pedal bin. You’ll be using it enough that the pedal won’t be necessary, and, anyway, pedals have a bad habit of breaking.

4: A strong bin for glass, if need be. This should be made out of a sturdy material which will not easily split from the weight of its contents.

5: A dust-pan and brush.

6: A feather duster (ideal for removing dust from acrylic).

7: A box to put unused, quality pieces of mount (matting) in. Mount/matting board soon accumulates and easily gets marked and scuffed, so it’d be a good idea to have a safe place to store it.

Step 4: keeping things clean and tidy!

Keeping the studio clean is probably the most hated job of every picture framer who has ever lived. Work-spaces – even large ones – quickly get filthy, and the shards of glass and card from mount-board gets just about everywhere. So the one thing you have to be is clean and tidy. And it’s not only about aesthetics, either. Grit, glass and dust can do irreversible damage to frames, card and art-work – photography in particular – so it makes sense to keep the place looking good.

Our advice would be to do a decent tidy-up after each session, and then have a more substantial go every so often.

That concludes this week’s blog post. Look out for more from us next week.


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How to cut glass to fit a picture frame

Written by chris pink on April 4, 2014 in Picture Framing

There’s no two ways about it, cutting glass by hand can be intimidating. Even for those with some experience, the risk of breakage still exists, and buying new glass isn’t always the cheapest thing. This tutorial probably won’t remove the overall fear of cutting glass by hand, but it will give you a number of handy pointers. That way, if you do accidentally smash a piece – it’s bound to happen the first time – you’ll know where you’re going wrong and feel more confident about not repeating that mistake when you try again.

Here at Picture Frame Studio, we send all our frames out with acrylic in (because it won’t break if the frame does happen to fall off the wall or get knocked), but in the future you may wish to replace this with glass. Particularly if you’re exhibiting in a gallery.

Step 1: Measuring-up

Your glass will need to fit inside your frame’s rebate without being too tight, but it’ll also need to fit without being too loose! Too-tight glass is hard to get in and may smash or crack if you force it, while too-loose glass is problematic for other reasons: it let’s tiny black flies in in summer and it moves around and could possibly fall out at one edge. To avoid this, ensure that the glass is around 3mm smaller than the inner size of the frame’s rebates (which is also probably the same size as your art-work or photo). Test it out before-hand with a piece of card – making sure it sits perfectly flush – and you should have a good template for the right size glass you need.

Step 2: Get a good quality glass cutting tool and some glass to practice on

Fortunately, glass cutting is a fairly specialist thing, meaning that the tools you can buy for it are generally of an acceptable, affordable standard. Look for one with either a sturdy tungsten carbide wheel, or one which requires oiling (both are ideal for cutting glass, and some of you may be familiar with these tools already: they can also be used to cut tiles to size). Otherwise, you ideally want a tool which is easy to hold and comfortable to apply pressure with. Think of it as if you would when choosing a pen and you’ll be on the right lines.

As for the glass, you ideally want a piece which is at least A4 size or bigger. Why? Because cutting a small piece of glass in two takes more skill and discipline (there’s less area to hold the glass down to the table, and also less to snap off).

Step 3: other things you will need

Now you have a tool and some glass, you’ll want to find a table to cut it on. This is also where you’ll break the glass (hopefully in the right way!).

Next up, you may want a cloth or towel to lay the glass on. Some people prefer to cut glass directly on a hard surface. The reasoning behind this is sound: in this case there will be less give between the glass and the table, meaning that there’s less chance of the glass cracking when you cut it.

Firstly, wipe any grit, dust or wood chippings off the table. Then lay your glass down, either on the table or on the towel/cloth you’ve first put on it. The next stage is to measure at the top and bottom and mark however far in you would like to cut your glass. Do this with a black marker pen. You’ll then need a ruler to lay onto the glass (a long metal ruler carrying some weight is best, and it’s even better if the under-side is felted, enabling it to stick to the glass without scratching it). It is possible to cut glass without a ruler, if you absolutely have to, but we wouldn’t advise it. You’re looking to get a nice straight line, after all.

Step 4: scoring the glass…

Scoring glass can be an unnerving experience. But in reality, providing you do it with confidence, you’re probably going to be alright.

Take your long metal ruler and line it up with your top and bottom marks. Now pick up the glass cutting tool and hold it as if you would to write. The next part is important: make sure you’re holding the tool the right way up! You want to contact the glass where the wheel protrudes more from the device.

Start at the very top, rolling the wheel slightly over the top edge before you begin to apply pressure. Then push down until you feel the wheel bite slightly into the glass. Be careful not to press too hard…unfortunately, this is simply something that comes with practice!

Now you’re ready to cut the glass. We say cut, but in fact we really mean score the glass. Cutting glass is more like scoring a piece of cardboard or leather that you’d like to fold, so don’t try and cut all the way through with the wheel (it’s a sure way to smash it!).

With the same pressure applied, pull the tool slowly towards you, running its side along the flat vertical edge of the ruler. You should hear a clean, crisp sound as this happens. You could liken it to ice breaking.

When you get to the very bottom, roll over the bottom edge and remove the ruler. Pulling the ruler away, you should see that there’s a faint but discernible white score line in the glass. Turn it over and you’ll see that it doesn’t go all the way through. You won’t be able to feel it from the other side, but don’t panic, you’ve likely done good.

Step 5: snapping the glass off

If you stand and watch a professional picture framer who’s been cutting glass half his or her life, you’ll probably be standing there thinking That looks difficult and a bit dangerous! That’s because snapping glass off takes confidence and technique. If the technique is wrong, the glass will snap, and if you don’t follow through with enough force to break the glass cleanly, you guessed it…it’ll be time to start again!

Lay the glass at the edge of a table or clean hard surface. This might be the desk where you scored the glass, or it could be somewhere else. The main thing is that you want a surface which has a solid edge.

How to cut glass

Now put the glass half on the edge, so that the scored line you cut matches up with the exact edge of the table/desk.Happy? Then it’s time to put your left hand (if you’re left-handed, that is) on the glass on the table, and hold the glass you want to snap off in your right hand. If you’re unsure, you could use gloves, but be aware that gloves dull the senses and make it more difficult to know how much force to apply.

With your weight above the scored line, and your body to the left of the glass, push down once with a good hard action, allowing your body-weight to drive the motion. Hopefully, your glass snapped-off cleanly, leaving behind a perfect edge.

Step 6: what to do if you have a jagged edge left over

You usually get a jagged/imperfect edge when you don’t fully commit to snapping the glass. If this happens, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. With some care and attention and a good pair of metal pliers, it is possible to grab the individual jagged pieces and snap them off the glass one at a time (holding the glass on the table with one hand, as you did before). It’s not always the best solution, but if you’re fast running out of glass, it could be good enough to get the glass inside the frame.

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How to properly fill and finish a picture frame

Written by chris pink on March 28, 2014 in Picture Framing

The world is inundated with old picture frames that could be brought back to life, but are more often than not thrown away. Feeling guilty about that frame in the attic that’s been handed down through generations, only to end up in your hands as an item of practical despair and woe? In this blog post, we’ll explore how to tell if a picture frame is salvageable, what steps to take to ensure it’ll look the part when it’s filled, and how to finish it in such a way that nobody will ever know.

How to tell if a frame is worth keeping

Let’s say you’ve just found a frame and are wondering if it’s any good. First, ignore the finish of the frame – we’ll get to that in a minute – and examine the corners. Hold the two sides and flex it slightly. Is there any give? Depending on the wood, there should be a small amount of flex, but if you notice that it twists more than a few millimetres or that the corners are particularly loose, you either need to ditch the frame or consider fixing the corners with a nail (not the optimum solution but the best you can do at home without the right equipment).

If the finish isn’t perfect, like we said before, don’t worry. Providing large parts of the frame haven’t been ripped away, nearly all wooden frames can be saved. Don’t worry about large holes that go all the way through the frame either. This can also easily be fixed. Here’s an example of what we mean:

picture frame to be fixed

Preparing to fill and fix a picture frame

Filling and fixing frames is something that comes easy to some and more difficult to others. In principle, filling goes something like this: push filler (Polyfilla, for example) into the gaps, smooth it over and wait for it to dry. In practice, however, it’s wise to remember a few things before you start.

1: filler generally needs something to, for want of a better word, key in to. You can apply filler to smooth surfaces and get it to stick, but the chances of the frame having longevity are greatly increased when you make the surface a little rougher. Making grooves or drilling small holes is never a bad idea, providing the frame is sturdy enough to take it.

2: give yourself enough time. If you only have half-an-hour and you’re in a rush, wait until you have more time. Filler can dry incredibly quickly in hot environments. Which brings us to…

3: once filler has set in stubborn lumps or sharp edges, it requires harder work. Something to be wary of.

4: remember that you may still be able to see the filler once it’s painted. Especially if you’re only giving the frame a single coat of paint and it’s a dark frame featuring white-filled gaps…

Doing the filling and the sanding

Hands are great for applying filler, but ideally you’ll also need something like a credit card, and something sharper to remove filler if it gets in to grooves that you didn’t want filled.

Put the frame down on some newspaper and begin to apply the filler. You can apply it directly from the tube if you’re looking to inject it deep in to the wood, or apply it with the credit card and then use that same card to smooth it over. At this point, it’d be wise to remember that filler can bubble-up and get air pockets in it very easily. This is nothing to panic about. Simply burst the bubbles with something reasonably sharp and keep on going. Don’t worry too much if the initial filler begins to dry and you need to apply more. Providing it’s not completely dry, you should be able to do this fairly easily.

Now you’ve pushed all the filler in, you’ll need to ensure it’s nice and flush with the frame. As we said before, remember that filler has the capacity to dry incredibly hard – so before you leave the frame, have one last look to make sure you’re happy. Leave the frame somewhere cool where it won’t be tampered with, and where the dog can’t carry it off. You may wish to come back after twenty minutes or so to check that no air bubbles have come to the surface.

Sanding down the frame and doing the finishing

Now you’ve done the hard work, you’ll need to…wait, actually, sanding the frame is the hard work!

It’s nothing to be worried about though. Bad at DIY? Always panic when something needs hand-crafting? Have no fear. Most filler made these days is easy to handle and designed for anyone to pick up and use. All you’ll need is some medium and fine-grade sandpaper. Begin with the medium, using this to wear down the rough lumps and bumps, then finish with the fine-grade stuff when it’s time to smooth the filler out.

After that, it’s up to you how you paint or stain the frame. One thing to be aware of is that some stains won’t fully permeate the filler, which could mean that you still see the filler even after several coats of stain. That said, painting often yields more or less perfect results, so it often makes more sense to do this. Emulsion paint works very well. Apply several decent layers of this – waiting for each coat to dry – and then add a touch of beeswax to some cloth and lightly brush it over the frame. This is the ideal way to get a lightly-shiny coat and a great way to give your frame the finishing touch it has craved for years.





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Learn how to get the most out of multiple window mounts

Written by chris pink on March 21, 2014 in Picture Framing

The reasons for using mounts (also known as matting) cut with multiple window openings is long and numerous: you might be looking to have a set of family photos presented, or to have several certificates framed neatly. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to get the most out of this ingenious mounting method, along with a few other helpful things to keep in mind.

Deciding how to lay-out your art-work or photos

If you’re mounting a series of playing cards or images, the chances are high that you’ll also be having a frame made for them. The reason for this is simple: the highly custom nature of multiple window mounting means that it’s usually easier to have a new frame made than to fit a bespoke mount into an existing one (although with careful planning this can be done).

To work out how big your new frame needs to be, and where your images should go, lay the subject of your mounting out on a table, preferably on a blank white background so all the edges can be easily seen. Probably the easiest way of working-out where things should go is starting in the centre of the space. Are you looking to make one image the centre-piece and have the other art-work surrounding it? Or are you making all the art-work equal? In the case of the first method, your centre-piece may well be bigger, which is fine, as this is where you want the focus to be. In the case of the latter, you want the collective images to be presented as a whole, which brings us to the next part of this blog…

Example of window mounting where the distance is uniform, both between images and at the top, bottom and sides

Example of window mounting where the distance is uniform, both between images and at the top, bottom and sides

Space between the art-work is crucial

The problem with mounting a series of things within the same framed area is, often, that the spaces are different in different places. The good thing to know is that this isn’t absolutely vital. If you can’t make all the spaces equal, then the next best thing is to keep them consistent. So, if you can keep 3cm between each vertical image, for example, that’ll go a long way to making it all look right.

Having more space at the base of the mount is also a good way to go, but, generally speaking, there will be a similar space around each side, with much less space between the images.

Creativity never hurts

Most people who are mounting numerous pieces of art-work together will want the spaces to be equal and right. However, with a little creative thinking you can make off-balance mount openings that have a scrap-book quality to them or look a bit more arty. The key here is to exaggerate it, so that it doesn’t look accidental and just a bit wrong.

A unique diamond design requiring a more hand-crafted approach

A unique diamond design requiring a more hand-crafted approach

Research is key to finding out what’s right for you

If you’re struggling with the layout of your new multiple window mount, a bit of research will go a long way. You could mount your pieces in a circle or a star, or in cascading wavy lines. The choice is infinite, so think carefully about the look you’re going for and where you will be hanging the frame.


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How to lime a frame using liming wax paste

Written by chris pink on March 13, 2014 in Picture Framing

If you’ve found an old wooden frame lurking in the garage, it can be tempting to throw it out and buy a new one (we have plenty of options if you do want to start again). That needn’t be the case, of course – providing the frame and its corners are reasonably sound and the frame is worth keeping.

Last week we showed you how to wax a frame, and this week we’re showing you how to apply liming wax to frames to give a unique and distinctive finish. Particularly suited to open-grain woods such as Oak, liming wax has been used by framers for centuries with excellent results. The best part is, liming wax is readily available, affordable and simple to apply at home. As with anything, it’s all about learning the process and the pitfalls.

Liming wax application

Ideally, you want to start with a raw wood frame, minus any wax (as one would expect, any left-over wax residue will prevent the new liming wax from penetrating the depths of the grain. Some people like to use a wire brushbefore starting with the wax, to open-up the grain even further).

You can use liming wax on frames without any grain, resulting in a deep white finish, or you can use it to highlight the signature grain found in Oak, as we mentioned before (the more common way of doing it). In the case of the latter, a large amount of the liming wax will often be removed from the surface, leaving a translucent coat of wax and stark bright lines of white throughout the wood.

Apply a fair amount of liming wax as you go, and rub deep into the grain. Spend some time on this, until you’re confident that the wax has got into all the small spaces where you wanted it to. If your frame has been damaged at some point in the past, you’ll now also stumble upon another attribute possessed by this wax: the ability to fill unwelcome holes and gaps, making the frame more attractive and hiding any problems with the finish.


Figure A shows the frame early on. Figure B shows the same frame nearing completion.

Feel free to let time do all the work

The great thing about liming wax is its diverse application value. You can rub a light layer over a frame to give just a subtle white hint, or you can apply a thicker layer – or several layers, if you like – leave it for several hours and then buff it up. The latter will produce a glass-smooth finish of surprising brightness, and this can be done as many times as is needed.

Careful with those finger-prints

The only real thing you have to be careful of with liming wax is finger-prints and marks. If you’re leaving the wax to dry for a while, be sure to go over the frame with a rag so as to eliminate any areas where the wax has been applied too thickly or there are discernible marks. These marks will dry into the frame’s finish and may be difficult to remove once the wax has fully hardened.

Applying effects

One of liming wax’s finest attributes is its ability to apply texture to any kind of wood. For example, let’s say you started out with a frame which lacked grain, and you wanted to create the illusion of grain running throughout the wood. This can be simply achieved by applying streaks of liming wax as intended. Just leave it to harden, then buff it up to a fine polish.

Sealing the deal

How you choose to finish your frame is entirely up to you. The options are endless with liming wax. For example, if you wanted to create an antique distressed look, you could simply rub some wire-wool over the newly-waxed surface – preferably in the direction of the grain – or scrape into it with a craft knife, increasing the texture. Alternatively, you could apply several layers of Briwax, further enhancing the smoothness, giving the frame a better level of protection for the future.

Note: sealing the newly-waxed frame at the end of the process is certainly not mandatory – although it will probably increase the longevity of your frame.





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How to wax and polish a wooden picture frame

Written by chris pink on February 28, 2014 in Picture Framing

Waxing and polishing wooden frames is one of those things that comes as second nature to an experienced picture framer – easy if you know how, yet not so easy if you haven’t done it before or aren’t sure how the wax should be applied. That being the case, it seemed like the perfect subject for a how-to this week. So, let’s get stuck in and start with the basics…

 Find some quality wax

 A fine finish begins with buying or acquiring some quality wax. The best kind for polishing wood is often made of beeswax and other natural materials (we’d advise you avoid anything containing heavy amounts of unnatural chemicals). Generally speaking, these are suitable for all types of timber and available in a broad range of different colours.

Your picture framing options

We sell lots of different frames here on this site, but one of the reasons why you might be interested in waxing a frame at home is this one: almost any frame can be stripped down to the wood – or just stripped of paint – and revived with wax. And the results can be spectacular.

Let’s say you’ve found an old wooden frame. Firstly, you’re going to need to remove any existing wax or paint. Even if the frame looks like it’s never been waxed, it’d still be a good idea to take some sandpaper to it (you know you’re there when saw-dust begins to come off in your hands). It’s the best way to create a sound foundation which the wax can adhere to.

First off, something you should know is that there are different levels of waxing. If you’re in a hurry, and only want to protect the frame from the elements and give a subtle sheen to the wood, you might choose to apply just one or two layers of wax with a cloth/rag and then leave it at that (note: clear wax can look initially more yellow in the tin, but dries transparent without affecting the colour beneath).

If you have more time and the inclination, however, applying multiple layers of wax is where this technique really comes in to its own.

Simple steps to a perfect finish

First things first, there’s no need to be shy with the amount of wax you use – providing the layers are reasonably even. Apply your first generous coat, but don’t allow it to be fully rubbed in. In fact, you can feel free to leave it looking wet on the surface. Following this, the key is time. Leave the wax to dry slightly – enough so that you’ll be able to work it, but not so much that it dries hard before it can be polished (drying times will depend on the time of year, but as a guide, 20 minutes in a cool environment should be OK).

At this point, you’ll want to come back to the frame with a new rag or cloth (preferably one which is dry from old wax use or hasn’t been used before). That’s when the buffing and polishing begins. Use long, smooth motions up and down the frame to build up the level of shine you require (try to avoid sharp motions which might tear any thick areas of wax away from the frame, creating a dry spot which is hard to replace). Again, don’t rush this process. The key is to build up the friction and heat that exists between the surface and the cloth, creating a hard, even shine.

Completing the frame is simply a case of repeating the process as many times as you like. After three or four coats, a plain wooden frame will begin to look classy, and after six or seven or more, a frame moves in to a league of its own. As you go, you’ll notice that an impressive amount of heat is generated through the intense polishing process. You’ll also notice that waxing is one of the most satisfying things a person can do when it comes to creating a truly unique picture frame.

Better than leaving that old thing in the garage, right?

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Featured photographer of the month: Gareth Allcock of

Written by chris pink on February 26, 2014 in Interviews & Features


Loch Assynt

Loch Assynt

Taking a risk with a new career is something many of us think about. Gareth Allcock did just that, left his job in the city behind and moved his family up to Scotland. The objective? Start the photography business he had always dreamed of, along with the help and support of his wife and family.

With some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery within mere minutes of his house, Gareth is known for his meticulous approach and attention-to-detail – as well as his strict working routine, developed over many years.

Here’s the landscape photographer on why a pro will always say no, unusual sun-sets and his top tips for budding photographers looking for that perfect shot.

pictureframestudio: So who is Gareth Allcock? How would you describe yourself?

Gareth: How would I describe myself? A bit of a nutter [laughs]. We set up the business 5 years ago. We have a small photography studio business that works in landscape in England, and recognised the opportunity to essentially increase our portfolio by moving up to Scotland.

So at the start we had the classic, big family discussion, of which I decided to pack in my career as a marketing consultant and become a full-time landscape and commercial photographer. We were originally based in the Achnasheen area of Scotland, which is a very Jurassic area, and now we’re based in the mountains overlooking Loch Ness, which again, is perfect for subject matter.

I prefer to be on the mountain, and rarely come off it if I can help it – unless commercial photography work drags me from it! Essentially we specialise in mainly still-water photography. That is our expert area…that mirror-type loch scenery thing…sun-sets, sun-rise or a specific time of the day. We are now also branching out into mountain based and Munro based [the mountain] work. Everyone else has sort of done it already, but our approach to link water against it is has been responded to well by our client-base.

pictureframestudio: What does your main work comprise of – what would you say is your main area of interest?

Gareth: Well, the problem with landscape work is where we sell it. You see, we were originally a natural history business, and I have to say, I walked away from the wildlife side of things, despite having it on my door-step, on the basis that the buyer doesn’t really look for the quality anymore.

They usually go to Flickr first and take it from there. We sell a lot to basically people who come to the Highlands – as well as tour operators. They don’t want to see typical Flickr-type images…you know, dull rainy days, or endless tarmac roads alongside a loch. They want creative images, and that’s why we focus specifically on one of the hardest subjects to get, which is a perfectly still loch.

Loch Ness, Dores

Loch Ness, Dores

To give you an example, there’s one which we’ve just published for a local community trust…it had me standing up to my lower-thigh in not quite into the cold-zone, but minus 16…or the images of where we used to live, which was minus 26…

We always go for very specific images, we like to…we’re colour-driven, so I think that’s what we always look for. We don’t want to just capture an image. I’m trying to capture a specific type of colour. For instance, it could be the saturated blue of loch Garry. Again, the sky, and the colour of the leaves which here, at the moment, are just to die for. So…it’s that kind of rich colour against a perfect reflection.

Loch Garry

A stunning view of Loch Garry

pictureframestudio: Do you have any top tips for your fellow photographers?

Gareth: [Pauses for thought]. My top tip is a really, really hard one. There’s two, actually. Both were delivered to me in a rant by my wife, who had, if I’m honest, got tired of hearing me go on and on and on…I wasn’t getting that image that I was looking for. You know, that Glen Miller sound, the tortured artist thing…so the first tip is to say “No”. Where I currently live, I have to go past a hill, and on top of this hill you can see for absolutely miles. This Glen that I live in is often referred to as the lake-district of the Highlands, because there are lots of little pockets of lochs.

I saw a guy only yesterday with a 1 series camera – which is an expensive camera – good lens, in all his gear, and he’s taking a shot of a dirty, dull, rainy day. And you sit there and you say to yourself…what the hell are you photographing? I used to be the same as that guy, is the thing…you come up here for 2 days or 2 weeks or you go on a holiday, or you go into a specific situation – say on a Sunday – and you must take your photo. Now, in this situation, you must say “I’m not prepared to take that photo,” and you’ll then get the quality – keep going back until it is perfect. It’s a very hard thing to do, but it’s often the thing that turns an amateur into a pro – a pro will say no.

The second thing is…focus on one element of a landscape. For instance, the loch. Loch Ness, for example, is an absolute nightmare loch to photograph. It’s like a long river, which means that you rarely see the sides. So you don’t get a nice, converging image. So, how’d you break that up, how’d you do it? You work on something that is so specific in the foreground that it leads the rest in…so I go around, for instance, looking for stones that are protruding from the water…I only want two stones, or a single stump…something that causes you to focus on a single image. Rather than just trying to take a photo of a wonderful great big landscape where you might say “I can’t see anything here…” you focus on an image and, if necessary, break-up an image into a series of views.

Loch Ness, Fort Augustus.

Loch Ness, Fort Augustus

The other thing, I have to say, is buy the right gear – and you have to research this. For many years, I tried to use polarisers…now I only use glass polarisers, and I have to import them from Germany. They’re two-hundred-and-eighty quid a time…it can be painful…especially when you put one on for the first time, don’t pay attention and it smashes…my wife’s the accountant, she didn’t have a good day that day [both laugh]. I didn’t understand gravity: she called it stupidity. Getting the right things matters…using filters which don’t distort colours, that kind of thing.

There’s only so much you can do with a landscape, and then you have to start controlling the light. For instance, contrast and distortion. If you haven’t got the gear – the right gear – you won’t do it….you’ll always be sitting there thinking it’s not quite what I thought.

Loch Arkaig.

Loch Arkaig

And the last thing that I’d say, having said get the right gear, is that 98% or my work is research. I have a folder that is absolutely full with notes. Now I can’t really go wrong: I live in a weird place, where landscape is literally everywhere. But I can’t easily take a photograph today, because it’s bloody awful. But I know that I will go to a certain waterfall, and stand on the left-hand-side on the right day, and I’ll have a perfect landscape waiting for me. Because of the notes.

So I continually research…I never stop. In the evening, with a glass of wine, I build up a catalogue of views, by location, and even by suggested time, and time of year. So with the time, it’s quite specific. You don’t get it quite so much in England, but up here for instance I had to go and shoot a loch in a place called Brailbain, which is about ten miles off the coast, right at the top, not far from a certain nuclear power station. And the client wanted this because they were an estate owner, and this was on their estate. And I got there, and it was in March. I got back in my car and drove straight back. Said “No, can’t do it.” And they said, “well, I’ve got a photograph, you can do it.” So I said “when did you take it?” and they said, “oh, in June time.” So I said, “exactly, we’re in March…and the sun rarely leaves the horizon, is pure white and is in the lens in March – so we went back in June!”

But for instance we have other little problems. For example, direction. Lochs, for us, east/west determines which end we will take a photograph. Well Loch Ness, you can have a great scene, but, believe it or not, the sun rises here aren’t that brilliant. It’s the lack of pollution in the sky. We get cracking sun sets, though…absolute to-die-for sun sets. There was one only last week. The only way of describing it was a mustard yellow sky with varicose veins. It looked really weird, and where was I? In a car, travelling from a commercial shoot without my gear…so I was kicking and screaming. Happens all too often. So sun sets are great. Thing is, sun sets means westerly views, so if I find a great view and it’s pointing East, generally I don’ think again – it becomes a nice to have, rather than I must add it to the catalogue view and image [sic].

For instance, Strikers Castle that took me 9 years to get the photo I wanted. Dedication, or stupidity as my wife might say – I can’t work out which. And actually, the day I took it, it was completely out of character to what I wanted, but I happened to be there with my little girl, and I said “let’s just go and have a look and see if I can get it.” And there it was, it came out perfectly.

That’s the thing about this. It’s purely luck. You can put all the research in place, then it’s luck that often makes the image!

The research side I picked up quite quickly when I was a semi-pro, because when you’re in the right place, the loch works for you. It’s a matter of saying “is it going to work for me today?” If you try and rely purely on luck, and just driving around, you won’t do it. It’ll be worse in England than up here, because you have to be in a location with some fantastic views. When I was in Stafford for instance, it’s a lot of canal work, so it’s about getting those misty mornings. You can’t just turn up and think it’s going to happen. You have to already have researched and worked out the image, have taken the gear, and know that all you’re waiting for is mother nature to have done the job. I wish somebody had told me these things when I was starting out! The disappointment did used to hack me off.

But I’ve probably been more disciplined up here because…well, where do you go? I mean it’s literally anywhere and everywhere. I mean, this is my season now, theoretically. My season starts around September, through to about February, and I might get an extension of it because of the hour going back, where the light is perfect.

The big determinant for me is the ribbon test – I put a ribbon on a tree and if it moves I don’t go out. Now, I can have a perfect sky, I can have a perfect time, but if I’ve got any wind, and I haven’t made a note in my research that says there’s a shallow piece of water which will allow me to get that perfect reflection…also, I won’t shoot landscapes, generally, more than about a foot off the water. If there’s a ripple, that’s an easy photograph. But that doesn’t interest me at all – anyone can take a ripple. Now the fact that you haven’t got a ripple means that it’s been thought through. It could be either milked, if it’s a certain time of day, or better still, the water becomes a very, very thin white line in the distance.

Strath Barn

Strath Barn

The higher you are, the more you can see of the loch. The lower you are, the more you see of the foreground. And I’m standing in the water generally, so all I’m seeing is pure mirror. If I know I’ve got that, and my ribbon test is working, then I’m out like a shot. We don’t milk a lot of water, because it’s a technique that I think is a bit over-done these days – that’s where you put it on a low-shutter speed and hope that all the waves disappear, by the way.

pictureframestudio: And how about presentation: how do you like to see your work framed?


Gareth: Mike [from Picture Frame Studio] and I spent a long time discussing this. Purely a snow-white background, mainly, and a minimalistic frame. Because we’re working on colour, it only ever works on two formats – one is jet-black, the other is on white. Now, the problem with the black is that some landscapes can work extremely well. If it’s a mainly black picture, like in a sunset, however, then you have to push it onto white.

pictureframestudio: I’m sure some people are wondering who your favourite photographers are. Care to elaborate on that?

Gareth: Anyone that takes a good shot, I really do appreciate Colin Prior, I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy. There are others, but I’d say Colin…he looks for the colour, he looks for the structure and the composition. Very impressed by his work.

pictureframestudio: How did you get into photography? Where did it all begin?

Gareth: As a lad, I’d always done it. It’s just always been with me: my parents bought me an old Olympus OM, I was about 15 or 16.

pictureframestudio: Social media has grown immensely over the last few years, so what’s your take on it? How important do you think it is?

Gareth: As an ex-marketing consultant or as a photographer? [Laughs] Frightened by it totally, because it’s grown for all the wrong reasons and not the right ones. So I’m torn. I think it’s very important for my business, but Facebook, Flickr and so on definitely need to grow up when it comes to images…and therefore I don’t lose lots of money. So I’m looking at it from a commercial point of view. The fact that I can point a load of people to my web-page is great…I’ve got a few on Facebook and Twitter, the fact that none of the images are protected…I look at it from this point of view: Flickr structurally remove meta-data, so I find it very important to my business, but at the same time I’m absolutely terrified for it.

What upsets me [about social media] is that there doesn’t seem to be any discipline anymore. I know, or have heard about some people who have no qualms whatsoever about approaching someone on Flickr, rather than approaching a professional photographer. They’ll go to a Flickr person to give them a little bit of notoriety, without paying for it, and have no problem with copying or part copying the images.

To me, social media, lovely when it works, but I don’t see any of the engines trying in any way, shape or form to protect a content artist, and the new copyright laws that have come through in the UK don’t exactly provide us any real protection. In fact, it promotes the idea of taking, I think.

pictureframestudio: Lastly, how can clients book your services?

Gareth: The easiest way is to go online and do it that way, or, some of my clients have displays in hotels. A lot of our business comes from holiday makers wanting to re-imagine that vision of the landscape in their home…we get a lot from America. We even get a lot from China.

Another thing is, some people send us their images and ask us if we can improve them for them. Usually we have to say No, because the structure’s not there in the first place. Or you can have a go yourself at taking the images – we launched a guide recently on each image – where it was taken and how – all you have to do is follow the instructions and have a crack. Then give us a bell to discuss it if you want!

pictureframestudio: Thanks for talking to us today, Gareth.

Interview by Chris Pink.

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Mount board basics: how to make a statement, or let your picture do the talking

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Mount board is a funny thing – when it comes to complimenting a room or art-work, it’s amazing how much difference getting the right colour can make. Assuming you’ve chosen to order a mount for your picture, photo or print, here’s a brief guide to what’s on offer.

Note: as we said in a previous blog post…every framer & artist has a different idea of what’s right. Opinions will always differ!

Keep things natural and go off-white

Off-white mount board may sound like a simple kind of thing, but in reality there are dozens – if not tens! – of different shades of off-white on the market. Some are eggshell, while others verge on beige, grey or pink. The great thing about these mounts is how versatile they are. Off-white mount board is perfectly suited to black & white photographs or more colourful pictures (particularly when you want the picture to stand-out, allowing the frame and mount board to take a back seat, so to speak).

Contemporary paintings love colourful mounts

If you’re intending to place a modern impressionist painting in a Spanish villa – or a hallway in dire need of cheering up – terracotta, bright red and yellow always look stunning. The key here is to match the dominant colour of the painting with the mount (or as close as you can get it).

Dark mounts for that crisp, clean edge

Want to really focus the eye on the art-work? There’s nothing like a jet-black mount board. By creating a sharp contrast between the lighter tones of the painting, dark mount board can add the perfect finish. Always a great option for black & white photography.

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How-to hang a picture frame

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Hanging a picture frame is very easy when done the right way, but can go spectacularly wrong when the simple rules are ignored! For the purpose of this blog post we’ll focus our attention on hanging a standard picture frame using the traditional cord-and-D-rings technique. The best surface for this is always a flat surface – to keep the frame from slipping around, it’s always best to put a soft towel or similar down first.

Part 1

First things first – the picture framing supplies you’ll need

Number 1: a soft-lead pencil.

Number 2, the all-important cord: it’s a fact that you can hang a picture with any old piece of string. But it’s also a fact that using any old piece of string is nowhere near as good as using specially made picture hanging cord. This stuff is woven together using extra-tough, load-bearing fibres that won’t stretch of warp like string will. It also ties easily, allows the picture to hang evenly and doesn’t fray when you cut it (make sure those scissors are sharp!).

Number 3: D-rings. These come in 2 sizes – small or light-weight pictures should be fine with single-screw D-rings, whereas if you’re hanging something larger or more substantial, you’ll need the 2-screw variety. Unsure what your picture needs? Always best to go for the sturdier 2-screw version.

Number 4: screws. Small cross-head versions are best, and they shouldn’t go too deep into the frame or be so wide that they risk splitting the wood as you tighten them up.

Number 5: a screwdriver (generally speaking, using a multi-tool is fine, although we’ll get to that in a minute).

Number 6: a strong nail for the wall and a hammer to bang it in with (as many people are aware, there are numerous different fixtures for hanging pictures with, depending on the type of wall – for example plaster-board – but for this post we’ll cover the basics only).

Part 2

Fixing the D-rings and preparing the picture

Ask 5 different picture framers how to hang a picture frame and you’ll get 5 different answers (sometimes 7 or 8 – there are a few techniques you can use!). The thing with hanging pictures is that you have to find the way that works for you. Here’s a simple method which always works for me.

How-to hang a picture frame, illustration 1

Step 1: ensure the acrylic or glass has been removed from the frame. Now, with your pencil, make a mark three-quarters of the way up each vertical side of the frame. The screw for each D-ring ideally wants to go about an inch or so below this point. Before you go any further…check that the 2 marks either side are on the same level! It’s surprisingly easy to get this wrong.

Step 2: is the frame very narrow? Then you’ll need to make sure that the screws are precisely in the middle of the wood, not too close to either edge!

Step 3: time to screw-in the D-rings. If you’re not used to doing this, or the wood is quite hard, you’re best off using a manual screwdriver (if you’re using a power-tool, don’t be too trigger-happy!). First, press the screw into the hole and push until the tip bites into the surface. Now, start to turn the screwdriver clock-wise, putting enough pressure on the screw to ensure it keeps turning into the wood.

Step 4: Now your D-rings are secured in position, take the cord – ideally a long piece – and thread it through one D-ring, then the other. Tie a simple knot in the middle. The cord shouldn’t be so tight that it pings like a guitar string, but it also shouldn’t be loose enough that there is no tension. Hold the frame upright and hang it on your finger, as if it was on the wall. If your finger is above the frame or very close to the top of it, the cord is too loose.

Step 5: tie another knot, then shift the cord along so that the knots aren’t in the middle (you want a clean piece of cord for it to hang on). Leave several inches of loose cord on either side, and cut it here (if you want it to be extra-neat, you can use masking tape to fix it to the main body of the cord).

Step 6: now you’re ready to hang it on the wall. Assuming you’ve checked you’re not going to be putting that nail through any pipes – we can tell you, it happens! – bang your nail in and hang your picture. Shift the picture sideways until it hangs nice and level. There – job done.

Looking to measure-up your art for mount board? In that case, click here.

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How to: order the right size picture frame, each and every time

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

If there’s one thing a picture framer likes to get right the very first time – and that goes for the customer too, no less – it’s the size of the frame. Obvious we know, but please bear with us!

What we mean by that specifically, of course, is the size of the aperture that the art-work will go into – and remember, there’s usually a rebate of around 5/6mm which will cover-up the very edges of the art-work. The last thing you want when ordering a bespoke frame for your oil painting or photograph is to discover that the fit is too tight…but equally, a too loose fit won’t be good news either.

In this how-to, we’re going to cover exactly how you avoid the common problems, resulting in the perfect fit for your piece that’s neither too tight or too loose.

Step 1: work out what overall size you want your piece to end up

Do you know what size you want your frame to be? When considering having a piece framed, remember that you could cut the photo or art-work down if it’s currently too large, and end up with a smaller size of frame than you’d originally intended. Reasons for doing this could be practical (it looks too big right now for the space it’s going into) or aesthetic (you want a wide frame, and that’ll mean losing some of the width of the mount to accommodate the look). Either way, it’s always best to consider a range of options rather than just sticking with what you’ve got.

Step 2: adding that all-important extra room…

It goes without saying – or should do! – that the frame is going to be larger than the art-work by around several millimetres on every side. Contrary to popular belief, if a frame aperture is the same size or only just larger than the art-work, it’s going to be a tight fit that will be difficult to put together (this is particularly true of canvasses, which traditionally require more room to allow for pinning-in).

To get the right measurement, be sure to add around 5mm onto the width and the height. Just make sure you don’t add it twice!

Step 3: double-checking your measurements is never a bad idea

Once you have the correct size of your frame written down – always write it down for future reference! – you’ll probably want to go back to the frame just before you order to do one last check. Especially if a week has gone by and you’re beginning to have second-thoughts about if that 3 is really a 3. This final double-check is a crucial part of the process – when you’re in a hurry, it’s amazing how costly mistakes can be made.

Step 4: for future reference…

Once your frame arrives, put your mount/art-work into the aperture. Assuming you’ve left the right amount of room, it should fit comfortably, rocking from side-to-side and up-and-down just a bit, making a clicking noise.

Step 5: useful tips and advice on too-big and too-small frames

Our advice would be to never cram and push a piece into a too-small frame. Your best option, if your piece is too large for the frame, is to cut the mount down if it has one – although this can be tricky when you’re only trimming 2mm off each side of the mount! Cutting perspex or glass down is obviously even harder, although both are relatively inexpensive, so you probably won’t need to.

Some people will occasionally cut down the inside of the frame with a craft knife, but we wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re absolutely desperate or you only have to remove a tiny amount of wood to get the piece in (note: this only usually works with soft-wood frames anyway, so often it’s a waste of time to try).

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What to consider when choosing & buying picture frames

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Thanks to the efficient service that we provide here at Picture Frame Studio, it’s very tempting for our visitors to buy the very first frame they see and love. Much as that benefits the both of us, what benefits us mutually even more is when everything goes just right.

Anyone who has bought their fair share of frames knows that to get the very best out of their picture frame, it’s important to consider a whole lot more than just the piece which is going in it. In this blog post, we’ll first examine the basics, then move onto some crucial points which are often overlooked.

1: What kind of piece is it? It may sound obvious, but oil paintings, prints, watercolours and illustrations all require slightly different presentation. For example, many people choose not to put their oil paintings behind glass (unless it is being mounted) but at the same time, almost every watercolour painting must be behind glass as a matter of course – with very few exceptions. Prints and illustrations are another thing, and a simple square frame often works best here, for example.

At the same time as considering the need for mounting…

2: Have you decided where the piece will be going yet? If you haven’t, you may want to go for something more neutral which will work equally well on different colours. If you have, you’ll want to think about what else is in the room. For example, is there a lot of dark Oak furniture, or pine? Matching the existing colour-scape is always a good idea.

What to consider when choosing and buying picture frames, illustration 1

3: Now we’ve considered these things, let’s have a think about how chunky the frame is. Why? Because you don’t want a frame which overpowers your picture, but, similarly, you don’t want a frame which is too narrow, either. Exceptions include small oil paintings where you want to make a big impression, which can benefit from a wide flat frame. Equally, if you’re looking to put a focus on your painting and already have a wide mount, you may be better-off with a thinner frame on a larger picture.

4: Has your piece got a lot of texture? If so, you may want to replicate this with the frame (especially true of palette-knife oil paintings where a large amount of paint has been used).

5: Will the piece be receiving a lot of natural light? If the answer is Yes – and particularly if the piece is expensive or treasured – then you may want to consider using non-reflective glass (or a special kind of more expensive protective glass which guards against the damaging UV rays). This kind of glass is ideally suited to this scenario. Using it means that you’ll be able to admire the piece without having sunshine bounced back into your eyes.

6: Have you thought about the rebate of the frame? Some frames have a narrow rebate which barely infringes on the piece within it at all, while others have a large rebate which will cover as much as 7mm of your piece all the way around, and may take up part of the artist’s signature.

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Want to learn how to clean acrylic? Here’s how to master this picture framing essential…

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Here at Picture Frame Studio, we’re not exactly sure who created the first sheet of acrylic and realised it was a very handy thing to use instead of glass in a picture frame, but we know this much: if you do it properly, framing with it is simple and effective.

In its many list of attributes is the fact that it’s infinitely lighter than glass, making it ideal for posting out to our customers, and the way it flexes. Best of all – and probably the prime reason why we use it – is that if your frame does fall to the ground, your piece will remain intact, as it should do. No more replacing glass.

Unsure about how to clean your acrylic? In this simple guide, we’ll cover the set-up, the things to do along the way, and a number of essential tips. Most of these are common-sense, but some of them might take you by surprise – we’ll see.

Where picture framing is concerned, preparation is key

If picture framing is all about accuracy and ensuring you have everything at your disposal before you start the task in hand, cleaning and fitting acrylic is all about dust prevention. As you probably know, acrylic sheets are cut down to size for picture frames, with a sheet of plastic shrink-wrapped to the surface. Once this sheet is peeled-off – we’ll get to that soon – the thing is charged with static electricity, and that’s why the preparation is a vital first element.

So for this, you need a room which is out of the way. Preferably light – so you can see the acrylic well – and without any obvious draughts. You don’t want anyone coming in or out while you are cleaning and fitting the acrylic. Ideally, you also want to do it off and away from the floor, and you don’t want to do it when you’ve just come in from the garden and are covered with bits from cutting the conifers.

Now you’ve got somewhere to do the fitting, peel off the plastic and leave it there. The longer you leave your acrylic, the more static will burn-off and the easier it will be.

If you’re in a hurry, and can only leave it a few minutes before putting the piece together, be sure to remove the plastic slowly, to eliminate as much charge as possible.

The vital things you’ll need

Don’t panic – you can fit acrylic in a specialist workshop like ours, with access to air-guns, surrounded by skilled workers who know how important keeping the dust out really is, but you can also do it at home almost anywhere.

You know those soft colourful brushes that are made for removing cobwebs? They’re ideal for removing any last fine pieces. Personally, I like to put my frame down on a jet-black surface, as this enables all the dust and fine particles on the acrylic to be seen.

Depending on how meticulous you want to be, we’d also advise having a paint brush on hand – a thin and a wide flat one too, if possible – to give it the finishing touches. If you’re using an old paint brush, you’ll want to make sure that it’s clean and free of dried paint. As tough as acrylic is, it can get scratched easily, even by something as insignificant as this.

 Getting that acrylic clean

As we said before, it all comes down to the preparation. If you’ve taken the plastic off and left it for a week, your acrylic is going to be markedly easier to fit than if you’ve only just removed it in a hurry. That said, whatever the scenario, it’s about doing things properly and efficiently (some people even prefer to leave the inner acrylic on until the very last moment, peel it off and put the piece straight in).

Put the picture frame down, place the acrylic inside it and blow-out any obvious pieces. Sometimes the plastic sheet can get shredded on the edges of the acrylic, leaving tiny pieces. Assuming there aren’t any, get to work with that soft brush we talked about. You should be able to see any pieces by tilting the frame at an angle and reflecting the light.

Now, take your paint brush and get in those corners, sweeping the larger one across the surface carefully and methodically. As we said before, acrylic is prone to scratching, so make sure your finger-nails go nowhere near.

Feel free to hold the frame up to the light. If you’ve only recently taken the plastic sheet off, do so carefully, as even the smallest movements will attract fragments of dust that won’t always be visible until you put the piece together.

Put your photo or piece of art inside the frame, and blow around the edges or use a paintbrush again if need be. Job done, your piece is complete.

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How-to: measure up your art for mount board (plus lots more about mounting)

Written by chris pink on January 16, 2014 in Picture Framing

Mount board (also known as matting) is surely one of the greatest tools at the picture framer’s disposal. Acting as the ideal transition between art-work and surrounding décor, mounting is versatile and can achieve a number of effects. It’s more or less essential for watercolours, and a good idea for many other types of art as well.

In this week’s how-to blog post, we’re going to show you how to measure your art so that our framers can create the ideal mount. Along the way we’ll elaborate on the choice of mount board available, discover new textures and explore other intriguing options. So, with no further ado…

How to get the dimensions needed

First you need to decide how much of the picture you would like to see in the aperture. Do you want to see the entire piece, or would the painting benefit from being scaled down slightly? Mounting is a master of hiding empty white space, or cutting to the finest of edges so that it looks as crisp as can be (saying that, we’d advise you don’t cut too fine, or else your piece might fall through). When measuring-up, you’ll also want to consider the signature – don’t chop it off!

How to measure your piece for mounting, illustration 2

The width of the mount will determine how big the frame is going to be

Some pictures look excellent with wide mounts, and traditionally, many picture framers like to make the bottom mount one or two centimetres wider than the top and sides. When considering the overall size of your mount – and, in turn, the overall aperture of the size of the frame – you’ll need to be aware of how much space you’ll have available for the picture. Our advice would be to never compromise on the width of the mount to make it small enough to fit in the bathroom. Instead, to do the piece justice, it’d probably be a better idea to keep the picture the proper size and find a more suitable place for it.

How to measure up your piece for mount board, illustration

 Textures, bright colours and further mount board options

Thought mount board only came in eggshell, black and white? We can get hold of pretty much any colour, and we specialise in matching the colour of a photograph or painting with the surrounding mount. Texture is also more varied than many people realise – mount board is available in everything from smooth to rough, with lines, textures, white and black core. Some even come with gilded lines, so there’s plenty to choose from and it’s highly unlikely you will ever run out of options.

 Don’t forget about double mounts and multiple-window mounts!

Double mounts look great. A popular format is a painting or photograph with a lot of white in, which we then mount with around 0.5cm of dark mount on the inside, and a pale mount on the outside. Triple-mounting is also possible, as are multiple-window mounts within the same frame.

If you’re going in for a double mount, remember that the mount which will cut closest to the image is the inner mount, and this is the one which – with very few exceptions – needs to be darker. This may sound blindingly obvious, but picture framing is rife with embarrassed framers who have measured-up double mounts wrong!

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Welcome to the blog

Written by webmaster on January 15, 2014 in General

It seems like only a week ago, Christmas was fast approaching, yet now I look at the calendar and it’s the 18th January 2014. Where does the time go, eh?

Anyway, things have been very busy here at Picture Frame Studio. First we revamped our website and installed this blog — at the same time as doing all our regular framing work — and then we had the Xmas orders to sort out, plus a few surprises for 2014 which we’re keeping under our hats for now. Now it’s time to upload a few blog posts which were written back in late 2013 (which explains why they’re all being uploaded over a couple of days, rather than once per week). In the coming weeks we’ll be continuing that theme with a new blog post every week. So far, 2014 is looking good to us!

Have an idea for something you think we should feature here, on the blog? Or have any comments about the way you like to see things framed, mounted or finished? Feel free to drop a comment, leave a suggestion or email us with any feedback you might have.

Best wishes,

Chris and the Team

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