What's in a Frame?

Framing has always been a part of the gallery life and an important part too. I buy and sell art for a living and this means that things need framing or re-framing. I source art from publishers and when it arrives it's always unframed so I have to work out what will look good on the piece. Usually, this is quite simple as tastes in frames change like fashion. At the moment Bauhaus style frames are very popular so I've been doing these a lot lately. I often try to match or accent the image to the frame. 


Using quality products is very important, as a matter of fact, I always change the mounts that come on pieces that I buy. I do this because older mounts from the '70s and '80s weren't as good as they are now, and they can get tainted with time. I replace them with brand new acid-free mounts and attach them with low tack acid-free tape. Anything paper will have a bad reaction to acid, it can produce blemishes or lines and detract from the cleanliness of the paper, or worse - the image. 

David Hockney framed in Black Polycore with Gold slip. Sometimes framers can use slips to add colour and accent to frames. Some framers for more expensive pieces will sometimes use two or three different frames on the same piece to make it look completely original.

A Vincent Van Gogh painting that has been re-framed for a museum (image from Pinterest)

The only Vincent Van Gogh in its original frame (Image from Pinterest)


Historically frames have seen a lot of changes, they're usually gold and gilt in museums, Vincent Van Gogh and many of the impressionists used to frame their works in battleship grey or natural wood, square edged frames, but when rich collectors or museums purchased them they would invariably make changes and have the paintings put into gilt finished frames. They look very nice like that, but I always thought it would be something to see them as a collection in their original frames just as the artist intended. In the new millennium framing is big business, and with it comes new ideas, better conservation and more sustainable products. We have so many different types of mount board and decorations that we can do, mounts can be finished in a variety of ways, with floating mounts, double or triple mounts, heavy set mounts, or no mounts at all and just making it seem like the paper is suspended in the frame. 


Polymer frames can give a fantastic finish and make an older work look like a new piece

A cross cut image of a polycore moulding.

For the frames, I use two different types of mouldings, one I use is a recycled polymer moulding which is helping with our planets plastic problem, and what better way to utilise excess plastic than by making beautiful frames that will last many years. The other I use is FSC wood, this is wood made from sustainable sources. Again it's important to me that we aren't adding to the planets Ecological problems. 


All the frames I make are made by hand by me on machines that aren't run on electricity or any type of fuel. I have one day a week that the gallery is closed and that is Monday so that is my framing day. Many things can go wrong when making frames, measurements have to be perfect, the machines need to be calibrated, blades have to be sharpened or renewed, the glass has to be cut perfectly. At any time one part of the frame can be slightly out by a few millimetres and then you have a problem. The mount won't fit in the frame, the glass is too small, there's a piece of dirt in the frame. So many potential issues. But when you get it right, it's a very satisfying job. The amount of times I've framed things and given the artwork a new lease of life, so it might be bought and loved by a new owner, this gives me tremendous satisfaction. There have been times when I have had second thoughts about selling pieces that I've framed because they look so different and so good. 


It can be time-consuming and troublesome framing up artwork, but when it's done right it can change a piece of art tremendously. Have a look at the below video and you can see what a change a new frame can make. Don't forget to like and subscribe to our Youtube Channel, I'm planning to do a lot more with it in the future and it will be one of the main sources of our online content.