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.
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.
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.