View Full Version : framing

04-03-2000, 09:30 AM
What's the most economical option for framing? I think I've been getting gouged at the framing stores - $120 for a simple white matt and metal frame on a half sheet watercolor. How can I do better?

Cindy Agathocleous

"What if imagination and art are not, as many of us might think, the frosting on life, but the fountainhead of human experience?" - Rollo May from The Courage to Create

04-03-2000, 10:24 AM
I got a mat cutter for my birthday last year.
In the long run, this is a great money saver, but it cost about $200 up front. It is good, though, because I have matted prints and posters for friends for a nominal charge or for free if they supply the matboard.

As far as frames, for my watercolors, I have been using IKEA Klips frames. It is a piece of glass, backing board, and four steel clips. It is a nice, clean look which I personally like. For wood or aluminum sectional frames, I have found Frame Fit (www.framefit.com or 1-800-523-3693) and Graphik dimensions, LTD (www.pictureframes.com or 1-800-221-0262).

I do like supporting local art stores and all, but when it comes to framing, I think that you really get taken...


04-03-2000, 08:12 PM
I agree...the way to save on framing is to learn how to do it. I have a Logan matcutter that cost me around $100.00 at Pat Catans. I keep a stock of matboard and mat all of my watercolors and pastels as I finish them. Keeps me from going back for that 'one more dab of paint', too!
I usually only frame pieces that I'm showing or selling. I barely have space for all my work, let alone if it were all framed! There's also a wholesale framt outlet nearby, where I purchase my frames and glass. A couple of times a year, I hit the big estate sales--I've gotten some great frames that way, but not really cheap.
I did the math after my last show, and I saved almost $2000.00 by doing it myself and I don't skimp on frames or materials!!



s mckee
04-04-2000, 04:34 AM
If you decide to buy a mat cutter, make it a good one on an arm, and not one of those hand-held $30-$70 things. The cheap ones simply do not work. I think my Olfa mat cutter might actually be the reason I don't do watercolour anymore.

If you really want to save big on frames, you'd be surprised what you can cut for yourself out of a simple piece of 2x2 construction-grade lumber on a $200 router table. It's a lot of work, and you'll find yourself coughing up sawdust four hours later standing at a bus-stop... but an 8 foot length of 2x2 costs just over a buck; enough lumber right there to frame an average sized picture. My router has paid for itself several times over. Granted, I'm slowly dying of inhaling wood chips...

- Stevie

04-04-2000, 04:32 PM
Oh yeah,

Another source for frames, believe it or not, is tag sales and flea markets. My grandfather, also a painter, had some genetic defect which made it impossible to drive past a tag sale or flea market without stopping; it's the "pack-rat" gene. You'd be surprised what nice frames you can pick up for cheap, particularly at a tag sale. People would get rid of old paintings for 50 cents, and my grandfather would rip out the painting and keep the frame.

happy hunting!


04-04-2000, 06:58 PM
Thanks All!

04-05-2000, 12:56 AM
I purchase a lot of my frames online from www.graphikdimensions.com (http://www.graphikdimensions.com)
Check out their prices! you can get a catalog from them also and free samples of frames.

04-20-2000, 08:59 PM
I used to work in a frame shop in high school. They DO rip you, without a doubt. The owner always pushed us to do every piece 'custom', meaning it would end up being a frame and mat like say 15 3/4 by 18 1/8 inches. This way more money in her pocket.
I always suggested to people to try a ready-made frame in a standard size. You would not believe the price difference!!! The mat can be cut to accomodate the frame and the artwork. The ready made frames were the exact same quality as the custom.
Recently I framed a painting, they sold the ready mades in sections so I bought one package of 12" and one of 24", put them together and saved a load of cash that way.
Someone else mentioned yard sales, also don't overlook department stores if you're looking for a smaller frame. I just got a really decent 11 x 14 wood frame for 8.99, with mat!

04-21-2000, 09:43 AM
Just wanted to respond to Kims post.... and caution everyone at the same time. I often find great buys in dept. stores too, but the mats are not useable...not acid free! Even the mats you buy that claim to be acid free are not totally, and acid will eventually
migrate. Mats that are sold as 100% rag are safest... and museum board is my choice. I was taught this by a pro framer, so guess it is correct ?! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Carol

04-21-2000, 02:39 PM
Here's how I'm framing my 17x22 prints:

1) Buy metal sectional frame kits from http://www.utrecht.com
(Two kits make a nice sturdy frame. These are the same Nielsen&Bainbridge frame kits that usually retail for $14 each in my area... mail order they're $6)

2) Buy a mat cutter. It has a rail that the cutter rides along, and it's REALLY REALLY easy to use. My Logan 301-C was $90. The compact (C) version can't handle anything over 29.5 inches, though.

3) Buy museum board. I use white museum board for everything. Nice and archival, don't need a variety of colors etc. It gives your work a nice uniform look.

4) I just get the glass from a frame shop. $12.

So, for one 20x24 frame it's... $6 and $7 for the frame, $12 for the glass, and $8 for the museum board. Also $3 for some black foamcore to use in the back. That's $36 a frame. Not too shabby.

I don't ship artwork with glass included (due to the possibility of damage... I just wrap it in cellophane, and tell them to bring it to a frame shop and get glass), so, that makes it even cheaper. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

-=- Jen / Pixelscapes

05-10-2000, 08:15 AM
I'm not an experienced framer. Are there any rules that should be followed when you are choosing frame and mat styles and colors? Should the mat or frame be of a lighter or darker value than of the art work? Does the frame/mat have to contain any colors that are in the art work? I would like to break out of my "default gold" choice of frame. Gold always looks good to me.

05-11-2000, 11:57 AM
I can't help with the watercolor frames but i am a big advocate of yard sales for frames for oils! I come across a lot of good deals there. 'course, at these yard sales i also end up buying a lot of other 'junk'! Bob brings up a good point though, about matching frames to the paintings. There are no set rules that i am aware of,Bob. I think that if it looks right, use it. of course you don't want to over power a light painting with a dark frame & so forth. They're very easy ( & fun) To strip & refinish. Or paint them. I wonder if these yard sale holders really believe that i wan't the (usually ugly) piece of work that's in the frame! I have to 'fake them out' by ooohing & aaahing over the needle point butterfly in order to get the frame for a decent price!! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif Cheryl

05-11-2000, 02:55 PM

You're right about finding frames at yard sales. A friend of mine who lived in an old farm house in rural Illinois was getting rid of junk that was in her attic for many years and asked if I wanted an old frame that had to be at least 100 years old. It wasn't a fancy wooden gold frame but the beauty was in its simplicity. I cleaned it up and redid the gold appearance. I had to paint something old to go with it so I painted a clipper ship rounding the cape of South America circa 1800's. It's over my fireplace. So what you are saying is, if it enriches and enhances my work, then use it. Thanks....bob

05-11-2000, 03:21 PM

Your link is great! Thanks. Do you use their framing kits? How is that nonglare acrylic compared to glass?


05-18-2000, 04:19 AM
If you like wood rather than metal, as I do, then there are sectional wood frames which Dick Blick sells. Most are rather narrow, but they are a snap to put together.

God Blesses!

07-04-2000, 02:29 AM
A recent show really made me a believer on the wooden sectional frames. I was asked to put up some 30 paintings with about one week and a half's warning. Dick Blick was outstanding. On the same day I recieved two shipments, ordered two days apart, well before the deadline. The cost was about $400 for the 25 paintings I had to frame from scratch. Unfortunately nothing sold, but what else is new?

God Blesses!

Phyllis Franklin
07-05-2000, 12:12 AM
I'm not an experienced framer. Are there any rules that should be followed when you are choosing frame and mat styles and colors? Should the mat or frame be of a lighter or darker value than of the art work? Does the frame/mat have to contain any colors that are in the art work? I would like to break out of my "default gold" choice of frame. Gold always looks good to me. Yep....framing can make or break a painting.

One thing I have found to help me make decisions is to consider the weightof the art. Example... if it is a light and airy watercolor, you would not choose a heavy ornate gold leaf museum type frame.

Frame should be in keeping with the theme of the picture. Example...don't use a rugged barn frame on elegant portrait.

Paintings that are warm in coloration should be framed with a warm frame such as gold, tan, or brown.

Snow scenes, seascapes, or any painting that appears cool in temperature should be framed with slivers or types of gray.

Then there are the paintings that just can't be put into a category then just run down the check list and see where it best fits.

When you find the frame conflicts with the painting and you can not make a choice that pleases you, then consider using a liner. Using a liner can stop the eye from including the frame with your painting.

Pay special attention to other art work that has already been framed and you consider successful. Chances are, if your work is similar, then the framing will work for you as well.

Try not to consider the decor of a room when selecting your frame. The perfect frame for any painting is one that can be hung anywhere.

Don't get locked into framing all your pieces to suit your environment.

Personal opinion:

The smaller the picture, the bigger the frame or the bigger the mat.

The bigger the painting, the smaller the frame.

Watercolors look best with mats that match the background color. Example: Use white mat if your watercolor has lots of white paper showing through. If your watercolor is dark or has vibrant colors with little white…then choose a color mat that will fade into the background colors of your painting. If you don't …then the mat will get the attention and will make your painting look out of place.

Last thought: Always ask three people what they think about a particular frame. You can be the tie breaker.


Yep this is Phy...llis
Sounds like Lizz.
Visit the Virtual Cafe Guerbois Today! (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/cafe)

Joe Cartwright
07-15-2000, 05:51 AM
Thanks Phyllis,
I was just about to post a question on the subject of choosing mat colours and frame types when I found your reply. Very useful, just what I was after. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

07-15-2000, 06:31 AM
What have you done,
Sure framed this thread http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

John S. Priddy
07-18-2000, 09:27 PM
Moderator, someone needs to check this thread. It's spread across about three screens on my computer. Unlike any others.