DIY: Custom Framing Your Artwork

The professional polished look of a custom art framing can enhance any piece of art. What if it just isn’t in the budget? You can turn your art into a showcase piece yourself with a little ingenuity and some practical know how.

Decide on a style, it should compliment not conflict with the piece itself, so a shadow box would work with 3D multi-medium work, but not as much with an oil painting. Don’t be shy about it, a contemporary piece may be best showcased by a mosaic of tinted mirror or beaded glass, a rustic country oil might be offset beautifully with a barn wood look. You are only limited by imagination and if the choices overwhelm you try looking through magazines or online for pieces that inspire you.

Once you have decided on the basic size, shape and color it’s time to measure. If you want a stiff board backing and glass front you will need to measure for depth, now is when you want to decide now if you also want matting. For additional visual aid on that find towels, sheets, newspapers and layer them under your artwork to give a perspective of what it would look like with single matting, double matting, or the elegant thin triple matting. Measure to just beyond the edges, the frame will have a front lip so allow enough leeway for it. Give yourself some options on it, a maximum lip and a minimum one, you may change your preference when you see the molding available if one catches your eye unexpectedly. Measure twice and cut once is sage advice, but buy enough molding to give a bit of play. The cleanest finish is the 45 degree angle, but some styles will actually call for flat butting up or overlay, measure accordingly.

Shopping for the molding is the fun part, there are so many styles available. Keep an open mind, you have your measurements but your style choice may change. Wood, balsa, resin will all finish differently, so chose what is most appropriate for the finish you intend, and if in doubt ask, some adhesives and paints don’t react as well with resins as they do with wood, and balsa can soak up paint like a sponge.

Now you are ready to assemble your frame. Use a false back and a square, whether you use staples or picture framing nails, a touch of glue can help hold it and stop it from coming apart at the seams years down the way. Always keep it clamped until the adhesive has thoroughly dried, overnight if you have any doubt, your finish won’t adhere to unset adhesive.

Treatments options are as varied as the art can be, scorch and varnish wood for an upscale rustic look, glue pearl or stone on the corners to give the personalized touch, paint with whimsy or brush with metallic finish. Don’t be in a rush to let it finish set and dry, then insert your glass, your art, your matting and your backing. With a tight fit you won’t require any more than that, if you fear your art slipping add cardboard sheet(s) between the matting and backing to hold it firm in place. Staple on your backing and the wire hangers, thread your wire. The gauge of wire should be appropriate to the weight of your piece, balsa weighs almost nothing, some resins can be very light, or quite heavy so use reason. A final word on resins, staples have a bit harder time staying grasped in, so a few touches of glue between staples will give your backing the extra hold it may require. Now hang your masterpiece and enjoy.

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jantamaya profile image

jantamaya 3 years ago from UK

A very interesting hub on the high art of framing. I adore the beautiful way of matting and framing ans still have no idea how to do it on my own. I'll better let frame some of my artworks by a professional. Thanks for writing this hub. Voted up.

Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks jantamaya! There are so many cool framing options and sometimes it is best left to the professionals if you don't have the experience :)

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