Laura Kesselring: Juried Show Venue
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Subject: The Juried Show Venue: Framing Your Work PROFESSIONALLY
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 15:59:59 -0800 (PST)
From: "Laura A. Kesselring" <>

Part 10 in an approximately 12-Part Series

You have two options when framing your art: make the frame yourself, or pay a professional to do the whole job for you. Either way is fine--it depends on your personal preference and on whatever is appropriate for each individual piece.

Even if you have your work professionally framed, you still have to go through a decision-making process. You can ask the framer's advice on various matters, but ultimately only you know the best display for your art. There are many points to consider carefully--and the first one is choosing the right framer.

You want someone framing your work who is a professional--meet with them first to talk about their framing ideas and expertise as well as the individual frame for your piece. MAKE SURE they understand what "archival" means (it means acid-free, museum-quality materials such as the mat board, the backboard, and the mounting tape) because your art will be encased in this frame for a while, and if the materials are not archival, it will have irreversible damaging effects on your piece. If you do not see examples of framing jobs (NOT just frame samples) on the walls, ask to see some. I get my work framed at FastFrame, which is a franchise framing shop that is moderately priced. I trust them-- when I first went there, we discussed what would work best for my pieces, and they actually listened to what I wanted and respected my opinions. I now go there on a regular basis, and they have all my specs (frame specifications like frame number, mat size, archival materials, plexiglass) on file.

Once you have selected a framer, you need to decide how you want your work framed. I usually get a plain black wood frame with a square mold (as opposed to rounded, curlicued, metal, etc.) but again, this depends on your personal preference. You need to select a frame that complements, not overshadows, your piece. For example, a common type of frame for a work on canvas is a "shadow" or "shadow box" frame, which does not involve glazing (most works on canvas typically are not glazed). You also need to decide how large a frame you want. This will be an individual decision based on the size of your image. You need to find a good middle ground--you don't want your piece swimming in a huge frame, but you don't want it crowded in a tiny frame either. If you're not sure, this is a good thing to get the framer's advice for.

You will need your piece matted and mounted archivally--this is *not* an option. This is a little more expensive, but will protect your pieces for years to come, as well as prevent you from having to reframe it at a later time; do it right the first time. Tell the framer you want an archival mat, backboard, and mounting, and go somewhere else if they don't have it or don't know what you mean. Generally, you will only use a mat if your work is on paper, but you can use one on other types of pieces as well if you choose.

A 4-ply mat is standard, but if your piece is mixed media or three dimensional in some way, you will need a thicker mat (8-ply or 12-ply) to ensure that the glass or plexiglass doesn't touch the surface of your piece (I use beads on several of my paper works, and these require an 8-ply mat) . Also, you will generally want a white mat - the framer may have several shades of white so you can choose which one best matches your piece. If you don't have a mat, your piece will still need to be mounted on an archival backboard (this type of mount is called a "float") if it is a work on paper, but pieces on canvas, wood, etc. are usually attached directly to the frame itself (make sure this is done without harming your piece--the frame should not damage the front or sides of your piece).

Finally, you need to decide on glazing. You need glazing if your work is on paper, but for other types of work, it is optional. Glass is heavy, relatively cheap, and can damage your piece if it shatters. Plexiglass is light, more expensive, but is flexible (hence "plexi") and is hard to break, therefore better protecting your art. Even though it's more expensive, I highly recommend plexiglass over glass. There is even a type of plexiglass called UV plexiglass that protects your piece from sunlight rays...but it is prohibitively expensive for an emerging artist. If you plan to ship your work, most shows require you to use plexiglass in order to reduce their chances of receiving a damaged piece with shattered glass everywhere. Whatever framer you choose will have plexiglass available as an option (or glass, if that is your choice).

When your framing is finished, make sure to inspect the completed job before you leave the frame shop. Also make sure that the back of the piece is protected (usually with brown paper and tape) from dust contamination, and that the framer has included screw eyes and hanging wire. At FastFrame, an 11x14 black wood square-mold frame with plexiglass and an archival mat, backboard, and mounting costs about $120, and takes about a week to complete. They sometimes send me coupons, and give me small discounts (like 10% off) on large jobs. Above all, though, I trust their expertise and their work...that's the most important thing.

Up Next: "Shipping Your Masterpiece"
Coming Soon: "Going to See Your Art, You Famous Person!"

Juried Show Venue: Table of Contents
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