Monday, May 4, 2015

Money Saving Framing Ideas

Face it. Framing is expensive. REALLY expensive. But there are ways to get a good looking framed finish without breaking the bank. For this post, I'm going to focus on a three different approaches.

Me, with a piece that I framed with a re-used frame.

First, it pays to scour second-hand and thrift stores, as well as yard sales and flea markets. You'll find both empty frames and framed work. Depending on what you want to frame, you will be evaluating the usefulness of a frame. You want to make sure that it is sturdy first. Some frames have been beat up and the dove tails in the corners may be loose. Check the surface for scratches and dings. Then check the hanging wire (if there is any) on the back. It's easy to replace hanging wire, so that's not a problem. Whatever your purpose, you'll want to be sure that the frame is the right weight and has the correct inside edge measurement. For instance, if you have a print that you will be using with a double mat and glass, you'll want to make sure that it will all fit inside the edge of the frame. If the frame has glass but you don't need it, keep it. You may want it later. If it doesn't and you want glass, you can get glass cut at a frame shop or glass supplier. If you don't have mat cutting tools, most frame shops will custom cut mat board.

Here's a really good step-by-step tutorial of re-using a frame by Emil Evans.

Frame kits are also a good way to save on framing. They are very customizable (lots of options of materials, colors, and sizes), sturdy and easy to use. The best products are carried by art supply companies like Jerry's Artarama, Cheap Joe's, or Dick Blick. All of these suppliers carry good quality frame kits. You order them by the pair (buy two pairs, length and width), and they come in a wide variety of sizes.

I found a way to create my own frames for working on plywood. Wall-hanging mosaic art work needs a sturdy "canvas," such as plywood. It is possible to have a plywood surface framed, but a really cheap and attractive alternative is to create you own with screen or decorative molding. All you need is the molding, a miter box and saw, heavy-duty adhesive (E6000, LocTite, or the like), sandpaper, and clamps.

My work, "Prayer" with decorative molding frame

I start by measuring the length of molding for each side and marking where the miter cut should be. Miter boxes are marked with angle cuts in both directions and also straight cuts. I clamp the miter box to a sturdy table, line up the cut, and saw through. I like to match the corners as I go to make sure the cuts line up, and I sand the cut edge after each cut so the edges are smooth. Once all four lengths are cut, I apply a line of adhesive on each length one at a time and put the pieces in place. After everything is in place, I clamp each side and leave it over night. The next day I just sand any areas that need touch ups and paint or stain.

The variety of decorative molding offers lots of possibilities to get creative, so don't feel like you HAVE to use a frame shop and pay big bucks for nice framing!

May all of your scores run true!

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