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!

A3 clip frames

Picture frames online

Get to know your picture framer.

Picture framers are often moody, bearded, generally over-worked, under-paid and pernickety types (I speak for myself), but under an exterior layer of sweat and dust on their brows, on the whole, they are pretty genial characters. They spend their days alone in their workshops (let’s show some sympathy guys), so you don’t have to try too hard to convince them that its time for a chat. Establishing a good rapport is essential if you are to get the best price on a small job.

Camframe will cut A3 frames clip frames at a very reasonable price.

Black gloss picture frames

Photo Frames UK

Picture framers need to take extra care when handling high-gloss picture frames as they are prone to scratching. Handled with the right care they can be true stars, giving a glamourous twist to even the most uninteresting photographs.

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.

How to mount a picture

Picture mounts UK

Mount card has a magical ability to transform even a simple scribble into a beautiful object of desire. Mount card has real power, it’s well known. But not any old mount will do. According to the grandmaster picture framer who taught me, every picture has its mount in waiting and every mount has its picture in waiting! The more I work with mount card the more I understand its magical nature.

Not only do mount-cards have great transformational power they also perform an essential function. Mount card keeps the paper away from the glass which allows air to flow freely across the paper’s surface, which in turn stops the build-up of moisture. In case you didn’t know, moisture doesn’t like paper, it has the rather nasty habit of damaging it.

Mount-card should be PH neutral. Lignin that is not treated and removed will react with the paper and produce acid, and acid doesn’t like paper either, it doesn’t care for beautiful scribbles even if they blemish the paper’s surface with spirit and beauty.

Frames must also not be sealed too tightly so as to restrict the circulation of air. And this is where a skilled pair of framer’s hands can make a difference.

That folks is just another day in the life of a well-put-together common-and-garden, mounted picture in a frame and also an explanation as to why paper turns brown over time.

Swept picture frames

Custom frames UK

You will be familiar with swept picture frames from your visits to museums. A traditional moulding type for paintings such as landscapes and also family photos. They would sit pretty incongruously on a modern work of art!

Swept frames are manufactured in standard sizes and because they have ornate corners they cannot be cut down.

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.

The best digital photo frames

Picture frames online

Digital photo frames can be bought online and in store. Small digital frames are cheap and are perfect for photos and a no-fuss approach.

Most bespoke framers have odd-shaped ready frames laying around or will be only too happy to make one up for you out of off-cuts.

Don’t be shy! Ask your framer to cut your digital photo frames. You will be able to choose from a wider range of mouldings and the frame will be finished to a higher standard than any off-the-shelf frame.

Framers are always looking for ways to get rid of old stock and will be happy to make a quick frame while you wait. Cheap custom frames like a small digital photo frame can be cut in under 5 min. Flexibility sits at the heart of the framer’s psyche, or at least it should. So ask your framer whether they have any off-cuts that might get the price down.

Many time during my years working as a professional framer I would suggest this option as a way of reducing costs if I felt that cost was a determining factor in whether the customer would pull out or go ahead with a job.

Picture framers depend on having a good rapport with their local community. They know that a happy customer is a repeat customer, and that bad reputation travels fast.

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.

How a picture frame is made

Picture frames online

To make a well put together picture frame you need the right equipment.

The Morso is the workhorse in the production well crafted and put together picture frames. The under-pinner, which is used to join the moulding lengths together needs to be sturdy and powerful enough to shoot fastening pins into the hardest of wood mouldings. Oakwood frames are perhaps the most difficult woods to join.

The experienced picture framer will be able to judge how many pins to use in each corner and whether to stack them or not.

Remember, frames often need to be taken apart if pins don’t enter the wood correctly. This is a common occurrence when using hardwood mouldings as the pin has a tendency to follow the grain of the wood and can often end up protruding from the sides of the moulding or pushing the two lengths apart.

The secret is not to make joints that cannot be taken apart. Extracting pins from hardwoods often results in a broken length of moulding. Broken lengths to the framer are like throwing money away.