Picture framing is an art in itself. The frame of a photograph or painting serves several purposes. First and foremost, it protects the artwork from damage or deterioration. It serves to draw the eye of the beholder into the photograph or painting. It complements the artwork and helps it to stand out from the wall background. Finally, it serves as a support for the picture, helping it to lay flat and giving it a means to stand upright on a surface or hang on a wall at a good viewing height.
There are a number of components to a good picture frame. The frame itself; the mounting board that holds the picture flat against the mat which serves as a boundary or border between the edge of the picture and the frame and helps to prevent moisture buildup; the glass which protects the picture from dust, dirt, and deterioration; the dust seal on the back of the frame that also keeps dust, dirt, and insects away from the back of the artwork; and the backing, usually a cardboard-like material that offers additional support. You can have a professional framer build a frame for your picture or you can frame it yourself. Professionals have the tools and training to do it right. They may even have training in conservation framing which is a method of framing artwork that is designed to preserve it for many years.
Framing a picture yourself
- First of all, determine what type of frame you want to use. Esthetics play a big part in the design of a picture frame. You want the frame to complement your artwork and draw the viewer into it. Avoid the use of frame moldings that will overwhelm the picture.
- You may or may not want to use a mat in your frame. A mat does serve a practical purpose but not every picture or painting needs or should have one.
- If you choose to use a mat, make sure that you purchase enough mat material that complements or contrasts with the artwork as well as the frame.
- Mount the artwork to the mounting board.
- Cut the mat to the proper size with a mat cutter.
- Cut the frame molding to the size of your mat using 45 degree miter cuts on each end of the frame pieces.
- Glue the frame molding pieces and clamp them together with frame clamps. Before the glue dries, you can make the joints more secure by adding joint splices across the back of the joints to hold them together.
- Install the glass in the frame rabbets first.
- Then install the matted picture on the mounting board.
- Lay in the backing and make sure it is flat against the back of the picture.
- Fasten the glass, mounting board with mat and picture, and backing in the frame with brads evenly spaced around the perimeter of the frame.
- Staple a suitable dust seal across the back of the frame to keep out dust, dirt, insects and moisture.
- Screw in the hanger attachments in the upper third of both ends of the frame.
Clean the glass thoroughly inside and out before installing it. Handle it with latex or clean cotton gloves afterwards.
Do all the frame work on a flat clean surface.
Cut the frame a little larger than the glass and do not force the glass pane into the frame or it will break.
Finish the molding with paint, stain, or clear finishes before cutting it to size and gluing it together
Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum