One of the most common requests I receive is for recommendations on framing works on paper. While you don't have to frame your piece, it will definitely help preserve your painting and protect it from the elements. There are so many options! I've included some of my favorites, at varying price points, below.
- Whenever possible, make sure anything touching the artwork is 'acid free,' as the acid in regular paper will damage artwork over time. This includes matting and backing paper. For storage and shipping I exclusively use 100% acid free glassine paper. No acidic paper has touched your artwork before it made its way into your home.
- If your piece has chalk detailing, before shipping I coat the artwork with a spray fixative to 'seal' the piece and help prevent smudging. That said, if your piece's description lists 'chalk' as a medium then much of the piece's detail will be chalk pastel, which will always be sensitive to smudging, even after fixing. I'd avoid moving and handling the piece before framing, and if you're working with a professional framer give them a heads-up before you hand it off to them.
Finding a Frame
Option One: No Frame (Nakey!)
Our first option - don't use a frame at all! Get funky with some no-frame stylistic tricks. Frames can be an investment, and there are some beautiful and inventive ways to display your artwork without investing in a traditional frame. Your painting will be open to the elements, and may not last as long, but rules are for fools, right?
Option Two: Order a Frame (and Mat!) Online
If you choose to purchase a frame online, I'd suggest matting the piece, as glass directly touching the artwork will build up moisture and damage the painting over time. For example, if you purchased a 32"x24" frame, you could pair it with a 32"x24" mat with a 20"x 28" opening. There's a bunch of options available online (surf at your leisure!), though I've included some of my favs, at some pretty decent price-points, below.
- Michael's has a few online options, the best of which is this 36"x24" 'champagne' frame: http://bit.ly/2bfz7Ub
- Amazon has an entire searchable framing section! Here are some of the snazziest options:
Options Three: Send Away for Professional Framing
Simply Framed offers great floating and matting options (no mat with spacer! double mats! single mats with reveal!), as well as a variety of frame colors, and seem very reasonably priced for what is essentially a professional framer. If you opt for matting they'll choose a shade of white that suits the piece, and everything they use is acid free. Frame Bridge also offers floating and matting with a big array of stunning frames, and are at an even lower price point.
To give a gauge of cost - for a floated gallery frame in a beautiful neutral wood color, Simply Framed they quoted me ~$230 (and a matted piece is cheaper). For a matted piece in a beautiful frame, Frame Bridge quoted me $140.
Option Four: Visit a Local Framer
Professional framers will have infinitely more details and options than I could ever offer you here, and you'll likely be supporting a neat local business. Though, judging from past buyers who've gone the professional framing route, you should expect this to be an investment.
Curveball Option Five: Go to IKEA
IKEA have white and black frames with white matting that fit my 30' x 22' paper pieces for about $20 a pop. The front is going to be plexiglass (i.e. thick plastic), not glass, but hey, the price is right, their locations are everywhere, and the 'glass' is unbreakable. Aint no shame in that game.
'Floated' framing involves a 'lift' or hinging inserted and hidden behind the artwork so that it appears as though it's floating within the frame. When art is floated a spacer will be added to separate the artwork from the glass. Floating allows the edges of the artwork to be seen, and is a great option for artwork that has interesting or detailed edging that you don't want to lose when framing.
Matting involves a card 'mat' placed around the front edges of the painting. This is a common choice for framing photographs and prints, and has a really sleek and modern effect. The matting can come in a variety of colors. If you choose to mat the piece, my suggestion would be a white mat, or a light, neutral tone that compliments the colors of the piece.
If you're ordering a non-custom frame + mat online, note that the mat will cover the border edges of the artwork. For example, if you ordered a 32"x24" mat with a 20"x28" opening you'd lose 1" on each side of the piece (as it's 22"x30"). This is generally not a problem for most of my pieces, though I'd make sure it works for your piece before you order.
If you choose to visit a framer, they will likely offer matting in an array of colors and tones. Some framers will suggest multiple tiered mats in different colors or tones to compliment different colors in the artwork and/or the setting in which you're hanging it. It's up to you if you want to ball that hard.
No Mat with Spacer
Simplyframed.com offer this - they don't include a mat, so the frame would be the size of the piece, though there's a spacer that separates the artwork from the glass to prevent it being damaged. This could be a great option if you don't want to mat, especially as my artwork contains a lot of white space.
Full Bleed Framing
With full bleed framing the artwork is neither floated nor matted, and instead is smushed right up to the edges of the frame. This can create a rad simplistic and pop-arty look and can be a wonderful choice for prints or posters, though this is not my recommendation as the artwork usually touches the glass directly, and moisture can build up over time that damages the piece.