Our Frame of Mind

A collection of tips, framing techniques and artist insights.
Key terms in custom framing with metal or wooden picture frames

Framing Terms: “What does that mean, exactly?”

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Wood and metal frame options 

At American Frame, we realize there’s a lot of terminology associated with wood framesmetal frames, and framing. It can be confusing. Here are a few useful explanations/definitions.

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Metal frames

Key terms: Metal frames

Nielsen® is a maker of exceptional metal frames. The Nielsen manufacturing process is extremely thorough. No other metal frame maker operates a facility where aluminum is extruded, anodized, and painted for the express purpose of picture-frame moulding.

Extrusion is a process of forcing, pressing or pushing out to form shapes or objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile. At Nielsen, the process includes an aluminum billet – a solid, round block – that’s pushed through a die to create a cross section.

At Nielsen, anodization is the coating of aluminum with aluminum oxide. This makes the metal frame’s aluminum finish even more durable and corrosion-resistant. It also strengthens the aluminum (its Rockwell rating, used to measure a material’s hardness, is improved) and makes the metal frames less likely to dent.

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Wood frames

Key terms: Wood frames

Finishing refers to various kinds of treatment performed on wood in the making of custom wood picture frames to give it a desired appearance.  

Gesso is a molded plaster used to create detailed ornamentation on custom wood picture frames; it’s also used to prepare a wood surface for painting.

Stain is used to color the grain of a wood picture frame with a matte finish. It’s particularly effective in highlighting the character of the grain of oak, cherry, maple, and walnut when it seeps into the pores of the wood.

Paint sits on the surface of the wood and hides the wood grain entirely. It’s available in many colors and in different levels of sheen, from matte to high gloss.

Gilding is a thin coating of gold or silver leaf to the moulding of a wood picture frame. This decorative technique has been used since the 12th century.

Distressing (or washing) is a technique in which a final coat of paint of a custom wood picture frame is sanded and battered to create an aged look.

Antiquing is a finishing technique used to give a wood picture frame the apperance of being older than it actually is.

Laquer is a protective coating consisting of resin and sometimes has pigment added.

At American Frame, we want to make sure you understand every word when you’re shopping for framing products and services. For more framing terminology, check out our glossary. Need more info? Please feel free to contact customer service with questions.

April 6, 2020
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