Custom Framing Tips
We like to remember life's special moments, don't we? Whether it be through scrapbooks documenting certain milestones in our lives or through that pile of yearbooks we occasionally dust off to remember bad hair and weird clothes. So getting something framed shouldn't be so complicated, right? For many, choosing between a metal frame or a gold leaf frame sounds like another language. I talked to some local experts on what you should know before setting foot in a custom frame shop.
Tip #1: Framing is more expensive than you think. Even if you just paid $5 for that small watercolor you bought while backpacking through Europe a few years ago, it may cost more than $100 to frame. The cost of a frame is a per-foot rate, ranging from under $10 to more than $50 a foot depending on the materials used to make the frame. Even the glass can be pricey. One way to justify the hit to your bank account is to realize that this may be the only time you ever frame the piece if it's framed well, says Lisa Adams, principal of Adams Design Inc., in Washington. "You're not going to frame it again perhaps in your lifetime," she adds.
Tip #2: Be prepared to make a decision on four elements of framing -- the frame itself, the type of glass, the mat and the type of material used to seal up the back of the frame. "It helps if you go to a frame shop with a frame in mind or a color in mind," says Peter Bortz, owner of Georgetown Frame Shoppe, also in Washington.
Tip #3: If you're completely clueless about what to choose, a good frame shop will help. You will, however, need to have a clue about where the art might go in your house, what color the walls are, if the art will be in sunlight and what type of furniture you have. Frame shops have samples of frames and mats you can play around with and some smaller framers may let you take the samples home to try them out in the room where you plan to hang the art.
Tip #4: Consider buying a frame at a retailer like Pottery Barn and taking it to a frame shop to have them cut a nicer mat and put on acid-free backing. The cost could be under $50, depending on the size, and still have a professional look to it. Framers say this works well with photographs.
Tip #5: The more complex the piece of art, the more expensive it's going to be to frame. Duh, right? Well, you may think the supplies drive up the cost but it's actually the labor. Georgetown Frame Shoppe found this out when they were asked to frame a shovel from a groundbreaking last year. The hours it took to make a shovel fit in a frame dramatically drove up the bill. So think twice before framing the backpack you used to hike through Europe, too.
Tip #6: Going to a large retail framer could mean that your art is being shipped to another frame shop. The drawback is that framer didn't deal with you directly and some of the notes on the order may get lost in translation. Ask if they frame on the premises and ask the person who's helping you if they will be the one doing the framing. You'll probably want a "yes" for both those questions.
Tip #7: When thinking about how to frame something, don't frame it for the room it's going in but for the piece of art. The decor of the room may change over time or you may decide to move the piece of art one day.
Tip #8: Go to the best frame shop you can afford. "You want people who look at frames all the time," Adams says. "You want them to be familiar with how certain frames look on those pieces." One way to determine if it's a good shop, adds Adams, is to ask if they offer acid-free matting and if they sell museum glass, the highest quality type of glass available. You may want to consider shelling out the money for those two elements so the piece doesn't have to be framed again down the road.
What have you learned from getting something framed? Do you have a favorite shop? Post a comment and tell us about it.
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