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After 30 years in business we’ve garnered extensive experience and expertise in providing framing solutions for even the most challenging projects. Just as importantly, we know where to turn with pieces requiring delicate craftsmanship or expert restoration. Now we’d like to share some of our, and our associates’, wisdom with you.

How much does framing cost?

How long is a piece of string? There are so many variables in deciding how much framing is going to cost. What is the artwork? A reproduction print, a poster, an original print, a cibachrome? How old is it? Does it need a matt around it? Does it need acrylic, museum glass or plain glass, does it need a spacer? This is why artwork should be physically brought into your framer for firstly identification and then appropriate framing to suit the piece.

What is a good frame design?

First, do no harm! Like good medicine, good framing should be understated. The frame should compliment the image, but remain subordinated to it. The composition and medium of the image will govern the style and proportion of the frame. A watercolour of an original print usually requires a matt and relatively narrow frame, while classical oils demand a wider frame. A busy composition will look better in a quiet frame, while a portrait with a simple background may call for a more ornate frame.

When a group of paintings are to be hung, should the tops or bottoms be level?

How you hang your piece depends on the space, the design of the grouping, and your own individual taste.

What is the purpose of mattboard?

Visually it isolates the image from its surroundings. By its colour or colours it may also outline certain characteristics of the picture. Physically, it prevents the glass from touching the artwork. Because of possible moisture condensation inside the glass, the contact of glass with the image is dangerous. This is most important when framing textiles. Your framer should always use a spacer separating the glass and textile. A bevelled matt allows the light to reach the picture without casting a shadow around it. The bevelled cut is more elegant, and it makes the mattboard appear more substantial. The difference in temperature between the outside and inside of the frame often causes the glass to perspire on the inside. This moisture may damage the inks and colours; but especially, the dampness will furnish a foothold for fungi, and open the door to mildew and foxing of the paper.

What is Float Framing?

Float framing is an ideal way to complete an artwork on canvas. The painting is stretched first over a canvas stretcher bar then sat into a frame so the frame does not encroach on the artwork. It is “floating” in the frame. Most indigenous works and abstracts are enhanced by this type of framing. The frame is adjusted to the depth of the stretcher and may sit flush with the artwork or show a gap between the artwork and the frame.

What is Archival Framing?

Who knows what artworks will be valuable in 50 years? Technology and framing materials are forever evolving. 30 years ago we used MDF as a backing board… now we know it is full of impurities which react detrimentally to the artwork. In all our framing we use only the best materials in today’s standards and look forward to new breakthroughs.

How should Textiles be treated?

The first rule of framing any form of textile is not to have the glass or acrylic touching the artwork. If so, this can create condensation in many environments causing the moisture to rot the textile. All the needleworks we frame are laced which is fully reversible. Tapestries are either wet stretched to straighten them before framing or stretched over stretcher bar. Old pieces of textile too fragile to be laced or stretched should be hand sewn onto calico before framing.

What do I need to know about framing photos?

Photography captures the here and now! Framing it should be forever. One can pay a huge amount for studio shots so framing them should be timeless. We always advise to stay with classic neutral matt colours and a timeless frame that suits the style of photo.

Why do original prints sometimes ripple?

Original prints will often refuse to lay flat. This is the nature of the print. The pressure of the plate in the printing process causes a tension and thinning of the paper in the centre which then causes the paper to expand at that point. Since the edges remain at their original thickness this expansion has nowhere to go- thus creating bulges or ripples on the paper. This also happens with watercolours which haven’t been wet stretched prior to framing. Extreme temperatures also cause paper to shrink and expand.

Can a print which has suffered such damage be restored to its original condition?

Yes, in many cases the darkening can be bleached out and the strength of the fibre restored by resizing, but this not a job for the framer. It should be given to the care of a paper restorer.

Where do I turn to restore my precious piece?

It takes a specialist to restore a watercolour, oil painting, hand coloured engraving or a photo. We offer this service using experienced people in their particular field. This is the only time that your artwork leaves the premises to be looked after by professional restorers.

What is an etching?

In pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The artist then scratches off the ground with a pointed etching needle where he wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The échoppe, a tool with a slanted oval section, is also used for “swelling” lines. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the mordant (French for “biting”) or etchant, or has acid washed over it. The acid “bites” into the metal, where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines.

The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened to soften it). The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print. The process can be repeated many times; typically several hundred impressions (copies) could be printed before the plate shows much sign of wear. The work on the plate can also be added to by repeating the whole process; this creates an etching which exists in more than one state. (attribution: Wikipedia)

What is a screen print?

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A roller or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink past the threads of the woven mesh in the open areas.

Screen printing is also a stencil method of printmaking in which a design is imposed on a screen of silk or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface. It is also known as silkscreen, seriography and serigraph.

What is a lithograph?

Lithography refers to a lithograph print that is made from an image which has been applied to a flat surface. Traditionally this flat surface was a specially prepared lime stone, but today grained aluminium-printing plates and the original stones are used. The process is based on the fact that oil repels water. An image is drawn, painted or photographically applied the stone or plate using a greasy medium. The image will repel water and accept ink. Lithographic inks are oil based. The plate is placed on a special press and is then rolled up with either leather or rubber rollers. Paper is then placed on the print and is run through the press by hand. Like many other printing processes one colour at a time is printed.

What is a Giclee print?

Giclee printing is a new form or producing artwork whether a poster, fine art print or photo. It is digital printing from an Ink-jet printer using fade resistant and archival inks. The image can be reproduced onto different types of paper and canvas and may be printed on demand rather than committing oneself to a finite amount. The colour resolution and detail is exceptional.


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