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Glossary of Terms

Acid Burn
Yellowish-brown lines that can appear on artwork that was not framed using conservation materials. Acids can cause artwork to discolor and become brittle.
Acid Free
Acid free framing materials are pH neutral and will not emit harmful chemicals that may damage your artwork over time. See Archival and Conservation Framing.
Used in mounting artwork to a backing board and in similar applications where two adhesive surfaces are needed (i.e. double mats, mats to boards, dust cover to wood frame, etc.)
Archival products differ from acid free in that they actually help absorb acids that may be emitted from your artwork onto the mat and other materials. Archival products protect your artwork against pollution damage and slow the degradation of works on paper. Any product labeled “ArtCare” by Nielsen Bainbridge is truly archival. We carry the Alpharag and AlphaEssentials.
For technical reading on this subject, visit Nielsen Bainbridge.
Often referred to as plexi-glass and categorized under Glazing on our website, it is a clear, breathable and acid free alternative to glass for framing. Offered in four different grades, Standard, UV, Non-Glare and UV Non-Glare. We recommend the UV products for conservation framing. Acrylic can be purchased with or without frames.
Our FREE venue for artists and photographers to exhibit, sell and catalog their work. Wholesalers have been known to shop our site to find emerging artists. Participating artists and photographers are eligible to be featured on our site and in e-tips distributed nationally.
Backing or Mounting Board
This board creates the back of the frame, holding in the artwork and giving it support. We recommend the use of foam core, which is a sturdy, smooth white board with a foam center which provides the best long term backing for most works on paper and photographs. Boards are offered in Standard, Acid Free, and Self-Adhesive. When using Standard or Acid Free boards, we recommend that you attach your artwork to the board with linen tape or a double sided framer's tape. Using a Self-Adhesive board allows you to effectively glue your entire piece to the board so that it never wrinkles.
What your work will look like in our frames! All materials are top brands, and premium quality. We make it easy and affordable so you can frame as much as you’d like on a slim budget.
Bevel Cut (or Beveled Edge)
A 45 degree angle cut at the inside edge of a mat board window. Exposes about 1/16” of the mat board core, which can be white, cream, black or continuous (the same color as the mat board itself).
The American Frame Blog, A Good Frame of Mind, is easily accessed from the preceding link or at the bottom of our homepage under General Information. Check in periodically for updates, 'News and Views' pertaining to our world in art and framing.
It’s a frame that attaches to the back of the canvas stretcher and makes the canvas “float” within the frame. It’s a high style way to finish your work at an economical cost.
Our catalog, ‘The Essentials’ is available upon request. Our full product line with current stock status is always online.
Most computer monitors have never been correctly calibrated for color, which means that the color you see online may not be exactly matched to the product itself. When mat board and frame colors are critical, let us know, and we’ll send free samples of your choice for your confirmation. When printing fine art or photography, you may first want to order a proof on the paper or canvas of your choice to check how colors appear from your digital file before printing your final piece.
Conservation Framing
Most computer monitors have never been correctly calibrated for color, which means that the color you see online may not be exactly matched to the product itself. When mat board and frame colors are critical, let us know, and we’ll send free samples of your choice for your confirmation. When printing fine art or photography, you may first want to order a proof on the paper or canvas of your choice to check how colors appear from your digital file before printing your final piece.
Core Color
As it relates to mat boards, the core is revealed when the mat board opening is bevel cut (see Bevel Cut definition). Mat board core colors can be white, black, cream or the same color as the mat board itself. The core color can be found at the mat board selection page by placing the mouse over the color chip. The cores on Alpharag and AlphaEssentials selections will be the same color as the mat board. Consider the color of the paper you are framing when choosing a mat board/core color combination. When in doubt, request a free sample.
Protects the corners of a frame when in transit. Made from corrugated cardboard, they are adjustable to fit two positions: 3/4” and 1 3/8”.
It’s what we’re all about. We are simply here to serve. If you have a question or concern, we’re here M-F, 8:30am-5:30pm, 800-537-0944 eastern. Or email us anytime at customer.service@americanframe.com. We love hearing from you.
Picture framing is not a typical DIY project. It’s more of a collaboration between you as artist, designer and assembler, and us as the manufacturer, and takes very little if any skill. Our on-line tools make it simple to size and choose materials and visualize your frame online before you buy. You measure your art and choose your framing materials. We send you your ready to assemble, custom picture framing kit. All you need are a few simple framing accessories. (Word to the wise: this is so easy and economical, you may start framing everything in sight! We’re not joking. We’ve seen this happen.)
Double Mat
Technique where the artwork is matted using two separate mat boards, one on top of the other. The amount of the bottom mat you see is called the “offset”. Double mats and even triple mats are used as a design element, often with charcoal and pastel drawings to maximize space between the acrylic and the drawing’s surface. When using multiple mats, be sure that the rabbet depth of your frame is sufficient to hold all of the materials (see Rabbet in this glossary for details).
Drop Bottom
It’s a mat board sized to be larger on the bottom border than on the top and sides. Giving your mat a heavy drop bottom gives the framing treatment a chic, contemporary appearance.
A professional heat-activated method of adhering artwork to a backing board. It’s the process we use here for our Print & Frame orders. The Standard Mount is a permanent process and most economical. The Archival Mount is acid free and can be reversed by a professional; this is the option we most recommend.<
Paper which is adhered to the back of a wood frame to protect the artwork from dust which can seep into the framing treatment over time. Usually made from Kraft paper.
Handy tool used to trim the dust cover to the size of the frame.
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See Linen Tapes
Fine Art Reproduction
The process of photographing an original piece of artwork (or reproducing original photography) and printing it on fine art papers, photographic papers or canvas. We use the Epson fine art giclee technology with archival Ultrachrome inks. The results are beautiful and often not distinguishable from the original. For best results, make sure your artwork is properly photographed, and order a proof sheet to confirm color.
Floating Artwork
Matting technique where the art work is placed on top of the mat board, hence the mat is ordered with no cut. The art is adhered directly on the mat board with its edges exposed so it appears to “float” within the frame.
Foam Core
Stiff, lightweight material used as a backing or Mounting Board to give rigidity to the image being framed and create a back for the frame. Foam makes up the center of the board with a layer of paper on its surfaces. Standard, Acid Free and Self Adhesive options are offered. See Backing Board.
Frame Fairy
She’s cute, she’s zany, and she’ll teach you how to frame. See How-To Page for our entertaining tutorials.
Frame Pair
One pair is equal to two frame sections. Two pairs make one frame.
Frame Treatment
This term is tossed around loosely in framing circles. It’s the contents of your frame, and consists of your frame molding, glazing or acrylic sheet, single or multiple mat boards, and the backing board. A treatment can be standard, acid-free, or archival/UV resistant according to the materials you choose. Think of the treatment as the place where your art will live. It becomes a sealed environment, and protects and displays your work.
A method of canvas stretching that takes the image all the way around the sides of the stretcher bars. Our gallery wrapped canvas is mounted on thick, 1 3/4” stretcher bars and eliminates the need for framing.
Inkjet process used in fine art reproduction. We use the large format Epson Printers with archival Ultrachrome Inks, and depending on file size, can print up to 42” x 90”. Giclee printing allows us to “print on demand”, without minimums, on various choices of paper or canvas. We’re often amazed at how closely our reproductions mimic the originals.
Industry term to describe the clear glass, or acrylic (plexi-glass) used in picture framing. See Acrylic.
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Everything you order from us is touched by skilled craftspeople who care if your order is perfect. Even our ready made Picture Frame kits are hand manufactured. When automation is used, (with precision saws and mat board cutters) your order is handled and inspected by professionals.
A method of attaching your art work to your mat board with Linen Tape. Simply place your art work face up on a table. Tear off a few pieces of linen tape, peel, and tape behind the picture, sticky side up, with half the tape exposed, then place your mat board on top of the taped picture. When you pick it up, it will be hinged to the mat board and ready to frame. Note: as a rule, use a tape that is weaker than the artwork so that if stress is placed on the work, the tape will tear, not the art.
Visit our How-To page to view our Hinging video.
A digital file format we accept for printing. When preparing files to upload for printing, make sure they are saved as either a .jpeg or .tiff, up to 50MB. If you have a larger file to print, simply send it to us on disk and we’ll take care of the rest. See Art Printing for additional information.
A protective covering for canvas prints, applied using a heat process in a dry-mount press. It is not reversible and therefore not archival but is recommended for the ultimate UV and scratch protection and required for stretched canvas purchases. Available in matte and luster finishes.
Used instead of a mat and mainly with framed canvas pieces, this is a rigid, linen-wrapped cardboard that creates a “frame within a frame” to add dimension. When a liner is ordered with the frame, we guarantee the dimension and fit. Our liners are offered in two sizes, with a natural linen or white linen covering.
Every framer should have roll of linen tape at their disposal at all times. It’s a lightweight, acid-free (pH neutral) adhesive used for hinging artwork to a mat board, or for taping the back of artwork that has been torn. This product will not flake or become brittle over time.
- Filmoplast P90: Brand name tape used for hinging artwork. It’s a self adhesive tape with a high tear resistance and is pH neutral.
- Filmoplast P: Brand name tape used to repair torn paper or to hinge very thin or semi-transparent, lightweight artwork.
- Filmoplast SH: Brand name tape used for strength. Ideal for hinging mat board to backing board.
A board, generally 4-ply or 6-ply, which serves decorative and functional purposes. As a design element, mats provide a visual transition from the art to the frame, and the colors and proportions you choose influence the feel of the artwork. Mat boards also functionally separates the acrylic sheet from the art, which allows air to circulate within the frame. All of our mat boards can be custom cut or purchased in full sheets (32” x 40”) if you prefer to cut your own.
See Backing Board, and Foam Core
Multiple Mat Board Openings
We happily cut multiple mat board openings to your specifications, although the web site does not currently handle this function. Simply draw out your board with opening sizes, and email or fax it to us (419) 893-3553 for production. An operator will contact you if we have any questions. Extra openings are priced at $3.00 each.
A method of stretching a canvas where the image sits on the front and the sides of the canvas are white. Stretching the image produces a slight 1/4” overlap to the sides. Museum Wraps are mounted on thick stretcher bars. Framing not necessary for display.
This measurement relates to the use of multiple mat boards. It is how much of the bottom mat will be showing underneath the top mat. A typical offset is 1/4”.
The measurement by which a mat board overlaps your artwork. A slight overlap, typically 1/8” on all sides, keeps the art within the mat board window.
See Acrylic
The thickness of a mat board. Mat boards are offered in 4 and 6-ply. The deeper the ply, the more dramatic the bevel cut of the mat.
We offer an easy and accessible online custom printing and framing service on demand. Print and frame your art and photography on a variety of papers or canvas. Upload your digital file, and we will offer appropriate size options accordingly. Select your frame treatment and we will send you a framed print, ready to hang. No minimum orders. Quick fulfillment. Low pricing, just as you would expect.
Professional Photography
In fine art reproduction, having your work professionally photographed is critical to a good result. Paintings and drawings should be photographed in even light, with long exposures and a low ISO camera setting. Consult our video in Framing Basics for tips and hints, or if you want guaranteed results, we will photograph your work for you.
The cross section illustration which displays the Height (H), Width (W) and Rabbet Depth (R) of the frame, giving you a better understanding of its size.
Proof Sheet
In digital printing, it is a tool we designed for checking color on your choice of paper or canvas. Each substrate absorbs inks and reflects light differently, so when color is critical, we recommend you order a proof. We print out five 4x6 renditions of your image at different hues and saturation levels. You choose the proof that fits your vision, and we keep that on record for future printing. It’s the only way we can guarantee color. Recommended but not required for professional artists and photographers.
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The inner channel of the frame which holds the picture and any framing materials. It is important to make sure that the frame you choose is deep enough for the materials you are putting into it. Profile information is featured with each frame on our website and in our catalog. When in doubt, just ask.
Rag Board
100% cotton mat boards used in archival framing. These are the highest quality, most beautiful boards we offer from the Bainbridge Alpharag line. These can be purchased in full sheets, with or without frames.
In digital printing, it is the image size expressed in dots per inch or pixels per inch. A higher resolution results in a higher quality print. Our website does this calculation for you so you don’t have to think about it. The minimum resolution we will print is 125 ppi, which ensures the quality you expect from a fine art printing house.
For more information see our Art & Photo Printing page.
Customers local to the Toledo area may enjoy some of the ‘deals and steals’ and hands on assistance available in our Showroom. Come see us! We love visitors!
It’s how we stretch canvases for framing. Canvases are stapled on the sides using 3/4” stretcher bars. The frame finishes the look.
Often made from foam core or mat board, it creates an area between the plexi-glass and the picture. Shadow Box frames can be made using spacers. Our Shadow Box metal frame has a built in spacer and is especially popular for framing pastel or charcoal drawings.
An accepted file format for fine art printing. Preserves all of the color instructions within the profile. See Art & Photo Printing for additional information.
We’re visual learners and assume that you are too. Video tutorials can be found on the How-To page of our website.
For nearly 20 of our 40 years, we’ve been framing in volume for businesses nationwide. When you have a volume need, let us be your Production Department. You can focus on marketing and we’ll get your work out the door.
The opening in the mat board which allows you to view the picture underneath. All windows are custom cut to your artwork size, less the overlap. We routinely cut squares, circles, and arches.