Our Frame of Mind

A collection of tips, framing techniques and artist insights.

10 Tips to Help You Select the Perfect Frame for Your Picture

Bring Pictures and Frames Together for a Treatment You'll Love

Tip 1: Start with the art

What you're framing is the first thing to consider. What is the medium? An autographed photo, a hockey jersey, an oil on canvas and a child's watercolor have different feels. How does the item strike you? Casual? Formal? Is it a colorful piece you want to tone down or a neutral piece you want to make bolder? Is it a mosaic that needs a frame which will take a back seat or a landscape that requires a treatment with presence?

Some Rules of thumb:

  • Strong, modern works of art and photography can handle bold shapes and frame finishes.
  • Dramatic pictures on canvas are also stunning in extra deep frames or float frames. (Canvas float frames have bars in the back to which the artwork attaches instead of sliding into a channel like a typical frame. This makes the artwork appear to "float" inside the frame without touching it.)
  • Traditional canvas paintings and watercolors will showcase beautifully in carved woods or ornate gold and silver mouldings paired with linen liners or rag mat boards.
  • Color can change the entire mood of a picture, from calm to exciting, and can influence the “season” the image suggests, lending the same artwork a winter, spring, summer or fall feel depending on the color and sheen of the frame and mat. Use a color wheel to test various shades against the image.
  • Look at your pictures and choose the element you’d like to call out, then match that shade to the mat.
  • If you aren’t sure which direction to take, choose a high quality white or cream mat and use a simple frame in either black or a mid-tone wood. This approach will complement almost any item.

Tip 2: Decide where you'll display the artwork

Will your pictures hang in a living room with contemporary decor or a sunroom filled with wicker? Is it going to be part of a gallery display or the focal piece in a professional office? Both the context - residential, commercial, gallery - and the style of the space will provide hints on which frame to choose and what color of mat would be best.

Framing for galleries or gallery-style spaces tends to be classic and high quality. The frames should have clean lines in solid wood or fine metals, while the mats should be in neutral shades. Frames for residential or office settings are meant to suit your taste and décor. Color, style, and design can all be chosen to work with the image and its surroundings including wall and trim paint colors and textiles, like drapes, rugs, upholstery and pillows to create a truly unique, custom look.

Tip 3: Think about the scale of the piece

Have some fun with the image! You can play with proportion by varying the size of your mat’s borders and by choosing frames with narrow or wide faces. Make a big statement with small artwork by using extra wide mat boards with significant drop bottoms (in which the bottom border is wider than the other three sides), or constrain a large piece of art by using no mat. If you decide to keep your art small enough to display on desks, shelves or tables, we offer easels designed for custom frames

Tip 4: Remember - style isn't the only preference

Think about budget, ease of assembly, and eco-friendliness when choosing a frame. Standard (Nielsen #11) & Radius (Nielsen #58) are our most popular and budget friendly aluminum frames. Our wood selections range from the budget friendly Basics collection to the high design of our Mode collection. All wood frames arrive assembled (under 54 united inches) to simplify your framing task.

Also consider the inside (rabbet) depth of the frame’s channel. The rabbet should be at least 1/8 inch larger than the thickness of the stacked total depth of the artwork, mat board, mounting board and acrylic glazing. All frames at American Frame have sufficient depth for a single mat, artwork on paper, a mounting board and acrylic, but artwork on canvas, multiple-mats and other variations can make some frames impractical. We do provide exact dimensions of our frames, including width, height and rabbet depth, on our website.

Tip 5: Purpose and lifespan matter

Since the treatment is the environment in which your artwork will “live”, be sure you select the right materials for that lifetime. If you’re framing an original piece of art or anything you plan to keep for the long haul, be sure to order acid free or ArtCare™ backing boards and mat boards. Low cost posters and other unsigned reproductions can be economically framed in standard materials and mats.

Tip 6: Leverage the virtual before you spring for the actual

As you make frame and mat selections at AmericanFrame.com your choices will be displayed as a virtual mock-up of the finished treatment, including the specified art sizes and mat borders. You can play with endless possibilities before you commit to just one, which ensures you get the treatment you want at the budget you've set.

Tip 7: Request samples to double check colors, profiles and finishes

Request free samples from AmericanFrame.com. We ship them quickly so you can be absolutely certain of your material, style and color selections. Then, just as quickly, confirm your order and we will custom cut and handcraft to your specifications within two business days.

Tip 8: Trust your instincts

Remember; this is CUSTOM picture framing. You created the art or chose it for yourself, so trust your personal taste and use the online tools and resources we provided. Take your time, enjoy yourself, and create a truly original and beautiful look for your artwork.

Tip 9: Keep on Learning

We’ve created all kinds of tools and resources for the DIY picture framer. Order our book on Framing Fundamentals: a 70 page, highly visual tutorial packed with all the essential information you might want on custom picture framing. Or, visit our How-To page at www. americanframe.com where we provide links to videos, pdfs, and other useful information.

Tip 10: Give Us a Call

If you need personal help, we are here! Our expert advisors are available by calling (800) 537-0944 Monday-Friday, 8:30AM – 5:30PM EST . Or contact us at Customer.Service@americanframe.com. We love to hear from you.

May 1, 2014
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