Framing fine art

Picture frames online

Mouldings are constantly being discontinued with only the most popular securing market longevity.

Artists are quite punctilious customers when choosing mouldings for their own art but their favourites without a doubt are plain wooden frames.

Plain wooden frames are as popular today as they were 100 years ago. They are a safe choice for framing fine art paintings.

Perhaps the most popular wooden moulding for contemporary paintings on canvas or board is a thin wooden hockey moulding. Its profile is deep enough to cover the sides of a canvas and when viewed from the front will not distract a viewer’s appreciation of the painting.

Large photo frames

Photo Frames UK

Large decorative picture frames can be sourced online but if you are looking for a unique moulding profile you will need to consult with your local picture framer.

They have supplier’s catalogues and should be only too happy to browse through them with you, and what’s more, they can order a sample so you can test it next to your artwork. You will be surprised how many mouldings framers don’t stock or display.

Swept frames are produced in standard sizes and cannot be cut down to fit non-standard sizes!

The cheapest way to source antique mouldings is from flea markets and car boot sales. With a few friendly smiles directed at your local picture framer, you can turn them into modern shabby chic frames.

So, the frame you purchased at a flea market should cost you no more than five bob, but the corners are as open as the English channel. Take the frame along to a local picture framer, and ask them to re-cut the corner joints and put the frame back together. That should cost no more than ten pounds.

Now that the frame has been put back together and is sturdy, give it an undercoat and a final finish with a coat of acrylic matt or gloss paint. To give the frame a contemporary feel I would suggest the use of strong and bright colours. There you have it, a pricey frame hanging on your wall for under twenty pounds. Shuu, don’t tell!

White photo frames

Photo Frames UK

Before visiting a picture framer it is a good idea to have an idea of your budget. Picture frames vary in price wildly and the price difference between a thin black frame and an ornate moulding is enormous.

The cheapest frames are usually narrow, non-elaborate frames. A third of the cost of a finished frame is frame material costs.

Picture framers always have off-cuts of the cheapest range of frames in stock, so to keep the price down you could always ask the framer if they have any offcuts. This is like music to the framer’s ears. They are desperate to shift old stock and will run out the back to find a suitable off-cut, with an animated step you probably had not witnessed before! The cost of a frame can be reduced significantly by not including a surround mount card. A mount will increase the overall size of frames and consequently will determine how many lengths of moulding the framer will need to order. Some artworks demand no mount but most art on paper is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a mount.

The framer is constantly managing old stock and new stock. Storage space is a premium and the framer needs to sell old stock as quickly as new stock is ordered in.

When a customer chooses a moulding that is not in stock the framer is more likely to make a loss or just break even. Framers make their money on using leftover stock and on large bulk orders.

Mouldings come in lengths of three metres and the framer has to manage where to store leftover stock and how to make some profit out of leftovers.

Until quite recently you could only buy mouldings in packs of multiple lengths, and so framers only offered a few mouldings. Today, suppliers sell single moulding lengths which means picture framers can now offer a greater range and save a few pennies to boot!

Large photo frames

Photo Frames UK

Any framer worth their gold leaf will be conversant with conservation framing methods. Knowing when to use a museum mount board or conservation mount card is essential to the picture framing craft. Picture framers should also understand how to protect valuable artworks from environmental damage; when extra crossbar supports are needed to strengthen a large stretcher frame, and what glass thickness to use with each moulding choice.

Large picture frames

Another important consideration when framing a large picture is the sturdiness of the moulding, and by that, I mean how secure a mouldings corner joints are when pinned and glued together. Will they be strong enough to support the combined weight of the picture plus glass?

A picture framer should know if the weight of a large finished frame will stress its corner joints. The bottom line is that large framed artworks need to be framed in mouldings with a wide profile so that the joints can be robustly secured with additional pins.

The type of wood also plays into it. Some softwood mouldings are not sturdy enough to support lateral movement when handling a large framed artwork and can result in the corner pins failing.

Lastly, the glass width must also be considered. There is a considerable difference in weight between 3 mills and 5 mills glass which can greatly impact the overall sturdiness of a frame.

Picture framers knowledge

If a framer doesn’t know his/her Picasso’s from his Shane Clark’s, whoever Picasso is, you should avoid their service! Handing a valuable work of art to a picture framer when the picture framer doesn’t know its value, is asking for trouble. Most professional picture framers should have insurance to cover the storage of valuable artworks, but if in doubt it is best to ask.

To test your framer let them lead you. If they seem confident with the framing language, if they talk about a mount card’s colour being too cool or overpowering, or make constructive comments about an artwork, or enquire about where the artwork will hang, you are probably in safe hands.

A3 white frames

Picture frames online

Your local picture framer is literally drowning in off-cuts. They simply don’t have the space to store off-cuts and unused lengths of moulding.

Wooden mouldings don’t age well, they bleach in light and are not suitable for commercial framing after a few years.

Framers won’t arm wrestle you over the price of an old moulding. To them, it is recouping lost profit and liberating space in their workshops.

If you are looking for a cheap frame don’t hesitate to ask your picture framer if they have any old mouldings laying around (They do!). The great thing about past-their-sell-by-date wooden mouldings is that with one coat of liming wax they can be transformed into expensive-looking shabby chic off-white frames.

Square picture frames UK

Custom frames UK

Even if your picture is square the picture framer will add an extra 5 mil to the width of the mount card at bottom of the picture. This is a common practice to stop the picture from optically appearing as if it were falling towards the viewer and to compensate for any imprecision in the cutting of the frame. When cutting a frame, framers allow enough wriggle-room for ease of putting together and taking apart. A common practice is to cut the frame a few mils larger than the sandwich of glass, mount card and backing board. The rebates of mouldings differ, some have a rebate of up to five millimetres. The picture when sitting in a frame will sit on the bottom length.  If the extra 5 mills are not added to the bottom of the mount card the mount will disproportionately lose width on the bottom, which will amplify the feeling that the frame is falling forwards the viewer.

Picture frames made to measure

Picture frames online

Asking your bespoke framer for made-to-measure frames.

When you think of ready-frames you do not immediately think about made to measure frames made by your local bespoke picture framer. How wrong can we be! Your local picture framer should be your first port of call. They should be only too happy to make you some ready frames. If they aren’t, never go back to them! It’s a simple equation!

The time taken in finishing a frame to the standards that customers demand, involves, cleaning the glass, taping it up, checking for dust, and that is all a time-consuming job. In fact, it’s probably 50% of the overall time taken.

Picture framers make much of their bread-and-butter money from bulk framing and often have plenty of mouldings left over. They should be only too pleased to make you a ready frame out of some offcuts and at a very reasonable price. If you go armed with a price of an equivalent frame you have seen online, they should be only too happy to match or undercut the price of online frames.

Another way to please your framer is to order multiple frames of the same size. This reduces their labour costs considerably. Take this into account when ordering your frames, you might be able to tinker with odd-sized images to make them all fit the same sized frame.

Picture framers buy moulding in lengths, (in the past they were forced to buy packs of lengths), but even today it involves a fair amount of wastage. The framer’s margins are small. They will calculate the moulding purchase cost and then calculate the time needed to make the frames to come up with a price. So ordering frames in quantities greater than single units is more cost-effective for the framer. With less waste and the lower unit cost, prices can fall.


So, in conclusion, if you are after a ready frame, instead of buying one online, first contact your local framer. If you encounter resistance, try another framer.

Choosing the right ready frame

Picture frames online

Is it easy to choose the wrong frame when buying picture frames online?
This question was posed to me recently and the answer is more complex than a simple yes or no! It really depends on what size of frame, what budget and if you have a very good idea of the type of molding you are after.

For example, framing a certificate is pretty straight forward. There are a few standard frames that are conditioned by convention and norms of presenting certificates and that makes it pretty straight forward decision. Gold wooden frames are very suitable, for example. Certificates are usually printed onto A4 paper and standard sized frames are as common as mud online!

Then there are black and white photographs and they are perfectly suited to black, white or silver frames and they are easy enough to source.

Choosing the right frame online is more problematic for fine art paintings and large pictures or photos.  These will require a more robust molding, not only to support the weight of glass and artwork, but also because size usually dictates for reasons of balance the need for a wider molding type.

You can get away with poor molding choices on small pictures, especially if you take the conservative route and stick to plain moldings. The problem arises when you are about to spend well over £100 on a frame choice and you don’t want to get it wrong!

Framing can be expensive, there are some very wonderful ornate and beautifully made frames and they do not come cheap.  Ordering one of these frames online can be a daunting prospect.  It would be far better to go to your local framer and to take time making the right choice.

Your local framer will not stock samples all of the frames under the sun but they usually have the major suppliers catalogs on hand to browse through.

Ask the framer to send for a sample and arrange to return to check the molding against your artwork.  It is always best not to be in a rush.  The picture framer will be only too happy to take time getting it right as they also do not want to buy in several lengths of the most expensive molding on earth to find that it is not what you are looking for.

In my experience it is the artwork that will always choose its own frame and that becomes evident when the customer and the framer put their heads together to help a solution to reveal itself. Team work will always come up with something, so work with the framer to go through and eliminate options.

Free parking picture framing

Picture frames online

Camframe is located just off Coldhams lane within easy reach of the Cambridge city centre.

There is no danger of getting a parking ticket while you choose a moulding. Just pull up and enjoy FREE parking at the front of St Barnabas press.

Parking in Cambridge is notoriously difficult and there are no other picture framers in Cambridge with on-site parking. Our framers are there to help and will offer the best advice on picture framing complex and simple.

Small picture frames

Picture frames online

Camframe can cut small picture frames to any sizes. Off-the-shelf small frames for photos can be bought cheaply, but cheap is often false economy when the quality of finish is exposed.

You pay for what you get. Cheap frames are produced cheaply using poor quality materials. Most cheap frames that claim to be wood are not, they are more often than not a composite of wood with a wood-like veneer. Nothing can compare to real wood.

Always get a quote from your local picture framers. A small frame cut by your local picture framer will last. Instead of making do with the standard-sized, standard-coloured mount cards of small ready frames why not try different coloured mounts and widths of mount card.

Any small deviation from the norm gives a picture its standing and uniqueness. With the cost difference being small it is almost a no brainer.