Friday, April 6, 2012

Framing 101

I used to work at a frame shop.  I really loved that job.  Although, the lady I worked for was mean, unforgiving, and she hated Democrats.  Now I am a firm believer that God allows us to experience things for a purpose, sometimes which remains untold, but of this I am sure:  I learned to have the most exquisite attention to detail in the back room of that art gallery.  

This is a frame I designed and built for Ben when we started dating.  Declare was the band he was in at the time--so dreamy!  

It went something like this:  Frame goes out front with a SPECK of dust (which she always referred to as junk) on the inside of the glass.  (Customer would never notice SPECK of dust.)  Boss lady sporadically nightly inspects each piece, and discovers an imperfection.  She is mortified.  I hear about it the next day, and get to spend the next five days with her breathing down my neck.

Without realizing it, I learned quickly to achieve perfection; there were no excuses, no wasted materials, and no missed deadlines.  Or else.

I have carried this skill with me through life, and I know that it will prove to be invaluable.  I just need to be careful about expecting everyone else to have the same drive for perfection.  It can, will, and does come across as obnoxious on my part.

All of that to say: I hope to encourage some of you who have the privilege of working for or with someone that doesn't quite mesh with your style.  View it as an opportunity for growth, and try to sit under the positive things they have to share--even if shared through negativity.

Andddd back to the regularly scheduled post: Framing 101!

We start out with what is called a "ready-made" frame.  These are what most people would call a frame that you would find at Michaels, AC Moore, Target, wherever.  Some of them are wall frames, which have no "stand", if you will.  I am working with wall frames.

Disassemble the frame, and separate the components into three piles. 
1. The backing and the padding, if there is any. 
2. The mat and the placeholder "art" that came with the frame.
3. The frame itself and the glass, face down so the glass is supported off of your work surface by the rabbet (the groove which holds the glass in place).

First, we will focus on the mat and the placeholder art.  I mentioned before that I was using scrapbook paper to "mat" the prints for the nursery. 

I chose this feather print, and then another charcoal style with a little bit of shine and texture.  Framing four prints, I decided to do two of each background to keep it exciting but still streamlined.  I am afraid to get TOO busy in her little nursery.

Since the opening of the mat was larger than the surface of one sheet of scrapbook paper, I joined the paper in the most inconspicuous spot, which keep in mind will be mostly covered by the print anyway. 

Next step: attach the paper to the placeholder art.  I used scotch tape, which is NOT archival.  It will not last forever.  I figure these will not stay the same for 10 years, so it probably isn't a big deal.  There are archival tapes and papers you can buy, but if you are that worried about preservation, you probably shouldn't be framing it yourself to begin with.

We line up the mat over top of the placeholder art, to be sure that everything is covered by the matting.  In this case, I was sure to place the join mark at the bottom part of the mat, since eye level in our house (we have 7 foot ceilings!) falls at the top of the frame. 

Trim the excess paper off, and hold it up to be sure everything is flush.

The white matting you see here is called a floated double mat.  There is a small bit of space between layers, which gives it a shadowed look for more depth.  

Next, position everything how you'd like it.  In this case, I chose to have even borders, but sometimes, it is more fun to leave more space on the bottom border.  

Attach your art to the paper with scotch tape, or something else that won't show through.  Again, not archival, but works for this case.  Be careful with glue, it often changes the texture of what you're working with.

Finally, we need to reassemble everything face down.  Be sure that the hanging hook is at the top of the frame, and that your art is facing upwards in the right direction.

And don't forget to check for "junk" inside the frame!  Nobody wants to see fingerprints inside the glass!

I had some wire on hand that I used to string through the hooks in order to have some way to hang them on the wall.  Wire works best because it is very durable!  Be sure you have a snug fit, and that if you are hanging more than one, that you place the wire consistently taut, or else you will have trouble getting everything to hang evenly.

Full nursery reveal coming soon!  We are waiting on these last two prints to arrive from Naptime Diaries!   Meanwhile, I need to figure out how to photograph the paint color accurately...

People often ask me how my pictures look so fancy, and this is how I do it.  Buy frames with matting, take your time in assembly, be sure they are clean from the inside out, and hang them with precision.  You will step up the look of your prints and art by leaps and bounds.

Happy Framing!

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