Process, cost and time explained. What are the benefits over buying a store-bought frame? What is conservation framing? How to pick the right frame shop? What are the different price points and how long does it take?
Dive into this article to learn the ins-and-outs of why framing is important to preserve your valuable artwork, prints and documents for future generations to appreciate and display.
1. Why choose custom framing?
The main purpose of having something framed is to enhance and protect an art piece, document, artifact or photograph. Framing offers protection from elements like harmful UV rays, dust, insects, humidity and other damaging factors.
While conservation and preservation is considered one of the leading reasons customers find their way into frame shops, custom framing also serves an aesthetic purpose. The right frame design can help bring your piece to the next level in terms of display and by working with a professional framer, you'll be provided with different options to fit your photographs and artwork specifically.
2. How do I know if I should chose a custom frame?
Figuring out if your piece should be displayed in a custom frame comes down to a few simple questions:
Do you want to preserve it?
Does it contain any sentimental and/or monetary value?
Does it hold any significance?
Is the visual display of the piece important to you?
Is the piece an unusual size or does it contain items that would require special mounting methods (I.e. fabrics, medals, plaques, clothing items, memorabilia, etc).
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, perhaps having it framed by a professional is worth a look. Most reputable frame shops offer free consultation and are happy to give you a recommendation based on the details you provide.
3. What does "custom framing" actually mean?
You've weighed out the benefits of having your piece framed and decided it was a good fit. Great! Let's talk about what actually goes into a frame.
When you bring your artwork or print into a frame shop, it'll be measured and every aspect of it will be taken into consideration when choosing a frame design. You'll provide details and talk about why you chose to have your piece framed and during your consultation, the framer will offer different options. Once you make a selection, the materials for your frame will be ordered. The frame will be precisely cut from long 8-9ft rails and the glass/matting, if applicable, will be cut to specific dimensions. Your artwork or photo will then be preserved with the correct materials and mounted on the appropriate backing. The assembled product will be a one-of-a-kind frame, created specifically for your piece and preservation needs.
Fun framing facts:
The concept of picture framing dates back to AD 50-70, with the first examples found in Egyptian tombs, almost perfected preserved. Though the development of free-standing frames—similar to frames we know today—likely began in Europe, around the 12th century, when custom framing became a skilled trade.
4. How much should I expect to pay for a frame?
Now that you know what goes into a frame, you're probably wondering what kind of budget you'll need. Here we'll look at ways you can save money, when it's fine to save by using less costly materials and when you shouldn't.
One of the most common misconceptions about custom framing is that it's unaffordable. A good frame shop will respect your budget and listen to your specific needs before presenting framing options. Though it's true that some framing methods will inevitably cost more than others, such as size, the need for glass, matting and choosing a more expensive frame. It's also important to note that you can get an affordable, great looking frame if you choose from a line the shop carries in-house or use simpler materials.
Let's use three common scenarios with different price points so you can see how the details play a big role in determining the price of a frame
A. Lisa goes into a frame shop with a poster and states she wants a simple frame. The poster is printed on regular paper but has a signature at the bottom. She doesn't think it'll be of any monetary value, but the event was very special to her. The reason she came in is because the poster wouldn't fit into a "standard" size frame but the event was memorable to her enough to want to frame it.
The two things we note here are that she wants to preserve the memory this poster represents to her but is also budget conscience. She's probably already tried using a frame from a store and realized she needs a specific size. With these observations, a good framing consultant would likely recommend a stock frame and discuss matting as an option. Because the poster serves a sentimental purpose, she'd likely be advised to use UV protective glass but is also given regular glass an a cost-saving alternative.
B. Andreas has some artwork created on paper by his deceased father. He's interested in preserving them and notes a few rips and tears around the edges. The artwork means a great deal to his family and it will be displayed in a main room of his home.
In this situation, preserving and preventing further damage is the main purpose of his visit, but Andreas is also interested in creating a nice display for his fathers artwork to be presented in. UV protective glass would be recommended here with possible options such as non-glare to elevate the presentation, if desired. Matting should also be discussed to lift the glass off of the artwork. A frame would then be selected based on the artwork style and customer taste.
C. Melissa and David have a fine silk scarf to be framed. They mention is has great personal significance and some monetary value. The purpose of framing is to preserve, increase value and display in a formal area of their home.
For this dynamic, the scarf should be inspected thoroughly and the framer should recommend the best archival method of mounting based on the piece and design element hoped to be achieved. Ideally, museum grade matting and glass/acrylic should be offered to elevate the display of the scarf, which should include a moisture barrier, and high quality wood frame. Various visual accommodations can be provided to add an extra layer of design of the finished piece, if desired.
Using the three examples above, you can see how communicating your needs upfront can help your local framer offer the best options and price points suitable for your project.
4. What if I order the frame online and try to do it myself?
As the world changes from a brick and mortar way of shopping to an "online to your door" way of purchasing goods, you might be looking at some of the different framing sites online to save a few bucks. And if you're decent with a tape measurer and don't require any special equipment for mounting, this might be an acceptable option.
However, where you might get in the weeds is when you need to preserve something or display something for longer than a year or two. It's amazing the damage a single strip of non-acid free tape can do or how quickly the acid of the wrong backing or mat board can deteriorate the value of an art piece or the color of a photograph. It happens gradually, so that you probably won't even realize it until it's too late.
Instead, consult a framer. Chances are good that they've fixed enough DIY framing projects and will be happy to guide you in the right direction. They might even offer a hybrid solution.
5. How long does conservation custom framing take?
Depending on the availability of the materials needed to build your frame, a typical order can take between 2 and 4 weeks from the design date to completion date. A lot of factors can effect this, such as size, amount of labor, and shipping times.
Some frames are domestic while others are imported. If time is an issue, be sure to mention this to your framer so that they can check on material availability and offer frame designs suitable for your time frame. Because many moulding manufacturers follow trends and are constantly coming up with new designs to replace old ones, it's not uncommon for a moulding to go out of stock or become discontinued altogether.
Other factors that can effect turn-around time are holidays, time of year and frame shop hours of operation. For instance December tends to be a busy time for many frame shops due to holiday orders while spring cleanings might bring in customers looking to change up seasonal decor.
6. How do I choose the right frame shop?
Your artwork is precious, so it's important it's framed correctly. While most cities have a few frame shops in town, not all of them handle artwork with the same level of care and professionalism. So how do you know you're choosing the right place to take your pieces?
One of the easiest and most effective ways is to turn to Google reviews. If enough people are leaving positive feedback, then you're more likely to be in good hands. Alternatively, if a place has been around awhile with very few reviews or even negative feedback, perhaps it's worth looking into and how they chose to respond to the negative feedback. Accidents happen, but did they do anything to fix it?
Another way to know whether your pieces will be taken care of properly is to look at how long the frame shop has been around in comparison to the reviews. If you're walking into a store that's been around for 20, 30 or even 40 years, there's probably a good reason they're still there.
7. Is framing exclusive to artwork and photographs?
Framing is for anything you want to preserve or display and can absolutely go beyond artwork and photographs -- and should! If you ask a framer the craziest things they've framed, you'll hear stories about full size quilts, wedding gowns, shoe and hat collections, and just about anything you can imagine.
Modern framing techniques have made framing 3D objects easier than ever. From flags to jerseys, to jewelry to fabrics and sports memorabilia, if you have a creative framer and can get it to their shop, chances are they'll figure out how to frame it for you.
Some more common and fun ideas are t-shirts, signed jerseys, photos with plaques, signed baseballs or bats, baby cloths, pet memory boxes with their favorite toy and collar, degrees, special documents, photo collages, stuffed animals, textiles, scarves or specialty framed artwork.
8. How will I know I've picked the right combination of framing ?
With so many options in terms of style, presentation methods, color and layers, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with choices. Luckily, if you've made it this far, you probably already have a general idea of what you're looking for and you're framer can help narrow down the thousands of frame choices to help find the perfect fit for your project.
And, even if you have no idea what you're looking for, a good frame designer can pull out some different looks from the wall and help you every step of the way.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, point to frame corners you like and tell a little more detail about the piece you're getting framed. The more details you give, the easier it will be for your frame shop to understand your framing needs and budget.
At Posterity Art & Framing Gallery, we carry over 30 years experience as your trusted local framing shop and offer a large variety of over 2000 frame choices. We promise to provide you with the very best custom framing service that is respectable to your time, needs and budget. Posterity features a fully equipped wood shop. Our frames are cut and joined in-house, which allows us to create true craftsmanship quality and pass the middle-man savings onto our customers. The difference is true quality. We only use real wood to build our frames and acid-free materials.
What we frame:
Awards, Certificates & Diplomas • Needlepoint & Fabrics • Sports Memorabilia • Jerseys & Team Shirts • Silk Scarves • Records & Albums • Flags & Medals • Photograph Collages • Pet Memorials • Wedding Invitations • Canvases • Family Photos • Original paintings • Art Prints • Photography • Posters • Mirrors & More!