Framing your work can be an expensive proposition. Once you get an archival mat, conservation glass, and a custom frame created for your print – you can start spending upwards of $100 for something as small as an 8×10 print. Depending on what it is you want to accomplish though, you could easily be spending as little as $10 per print to mat and frame. Here’s a few things to consider, and some explanations why:
Classics are called classics for a reason – they work!
I like classic looks, and the museum style frame suits that look – a thin black border, simple white mat, and picture inside there. Not only does it keep focus on the image, but because I can buy these easily and in bulk, which helps keep costs down. Also, it makes ordering new materials easier (these will never go out of style…) Even if you end up going through a frame shop, getting a classic style can make it easier to match things up down the road. So, what if classic is not your thing? That’s cool too – but remember, the more off the beaten path you go in framing, the tougher it can be to duplicate and repeat down the road (which can also increase costs).
Be aware of the learning curve
Buying things in bulk means you will have to do a little of the legwork yourself. For instance, say you buy 50 mats from some online reseller and save money there. Congratulations – but do you know how to mount a print to a mat? You can tape a print, hinge it, or even super glue it. Each will have pros and cons, and your results will vary depending on how much you know before dipping your toes in the water – so read up on attaching prints to mats before deciding to DIY. (Quick tip: You’ll ne to stockpile various supplies depending on your eventual display method including things like hinges, foam core board, low tack tape, perhaps a few cans of spray-on adhesive and perhaps a few Exact-o blades if you are cutting your own mats to custom sizes. Heck, they even make mat cutters that you can get at hobby shops!)
Don’t Go Overboard
Much like the mat work, framing can be tricky in and of itself. Making your own mats can be initially be pricey to get all the tools you will need (see above) . Framing is no cheap project either. Making your own frames involves getting long lengths of the borders, cutting at precise angles, and making sure it all seams together cleanly. It requires patience, attention to detail, and specific tools which can be a drain on the wallet (Have you priced a miter saw at Lowe’s or Home Depot? Even the cheap ones aren’t real cheap!) So, if you want to go the DIY route, know that some startup costs will be associated with it.
Physical prints, physical mats, physical frames, physical glass pieces – all of these take space. How do you store all this stuff and in some semblance of order? First off – find an understanding and encouraging significant other? Don’t have one? Make that a requirement if you do! The amount of space that is involved in storing not only the obvious stuff, but the not-s0-obvious stuff, can be staggering! I have so many boxes of materials it really is ridiculous. It helps to have a system though, and labels are always a good idea.
So, there’s my trifecta of tips for framing your work. It’s just a starting point, but will hopefully help when you decide to start framing your work for display. The results can be rewarding, but like anything else, with a little work, pre-planning and preparedness, you will be well on your way to having a gratifying gallery of imagery!
Keep in mind though – I certainly do not have a corner on the tips and tricks associated with matting, framing, and displaying your work…there are many other elements to consider and be aware of. Just peruse the comments here to see a sample of what I am talking about – oh wait, that means you gotta share your own tips, tricks and ideas in the comments too! So, sound off – what else do people do when preparing prints for framing? Any styles that work? Any vendors to recommend?
That’s it for today…thanks for stopping in, and be sure to stop back again tomorrow for more photo goodness. Happy shooting and we’ll see you then!