How to choose the perfect frame for your art
Framing isn’t just about being able to hang your picture up on the wall. It's an art in itself. There is beauty in how a work is framed.
Many factors are considered when constructing the perfect custom frame. From the archival protection needed for the said piece, to the aesthetic qualities of the framed work. The moulding, the mounting style and the glass type will all influence the final outcome.
Framing can be a little overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with what’s possible. So here’s a few common techniques used in custom picture framing that can enhance and celebrate your precious work.
The classic overmat
Overmatting is a popular way of framing paper works. The work sits within a window that is cut into the overmat, protecting the work from pressing up against the glass and essentially creating a frame within the frame. There is plenty of opportunity to customize an overmat to suit your work. Whether it be the scale, the colour, the shape, the thickness, or stacking mat boards on top of one another to create more depth to your work. An overmat is the most traditional method of mounting and does a very good job at protecting the work.
From top right: artist John McDermott with large 8ply overmat, a customer work with custom round matboard, a customer work with black overmat
Enhance works with a hinged float
Hinged floats are a great way to showcase artworks that have detail right to the edge of the paper, or where the edges of the paper themselves are a feature of the artwork. 'Floating' refers to the artwork sitting on top of the chosen matboard or backing using hidden hinges to hold the work in place. Floating isn’t only for paper works, many things can be floated using various different hinging methods; rugs, fans, medals, sports jerseys, almost anything! The work usually sits centered on top of the matboard, and spacers are then used to ensure there is an air gap between the work and the glass. The spacer depth can vary based on the dimensions of the frame and how boxy you want the finished piece to be.
Artist Mo Stewart creates incredible charcoal and ink works on paper, she chooses float mounting for her works.
Raised float, same same but different
A raised float has a lot of the same components as a standard float mount, and the general idea of displaying a work on top of a matboard to ensure all of the work is seen is the same. The difference is, with a raised float, the paper work sits on top of a hidden platform rather than directly onto the matboard. This allows a shadow to be created and gives a more dramatic feel to the work as a whole. Raised floats are most effective for works on paper, whether that be an old photograph you found in an op shop, or a limited edition art print.
From top left: Artist Naomi Faifai, artist Haser, a personal work from Helen at our workshop
The black and white range
The black and white range in the framing world are some of the most common yet diverse of all of our mouldings. Such a simple thing can create such different feelings to a work. Depending on the style and size of your work, a black or white box can be classic and understated, but it can also achieve a very contemporary and modern feel. You can really work with scale when using simple box frames. A slender black box pairs very well with 8ply mat boards and photographic prints. Whereas a chunky white box can look amazing around a tiny and delicate, hinged floated water colour work.
Left: Artist Charlotte Robertson with chunky matte white box. Right: Artist Michael Smither with double stacked matte black box.
Sleek and slight, the aluminium frame
Aluminium frames are a great way to achieve a sleek and modern look to a finished framed piece. Although aluminium frames don’t work so well on original oil paintings, they can really enhance photographic works, prints and drawings. There are a variety of different colours and frame widths available, all maintaining a minimalist result. Aluminium frames tend to be a lot lighter than timber frames, so if the weight of the finish work is something you are concerned about, aluminium is a good option!
A recent customer work using an aluminium frame in Champagne with a creamy 8ply overmat.
Raw timber mouldings
Box, wedge, tray; the raw timber mouldings come in them all. Whether it be a solid raw oak, or a seamless veneer, nothing really beats an exposed, natural grain. Using a raw timber finish gives a warmth to a work that is hard to achieve with any other framing material. Raw timber mouldings are very versatile, you can leave it bare, add a stain or varnish to it, or even apply a paint coat to it. Timber frames sit well with works of all ages and styles. Whether it be an oil painting from the 1800s, or a digital print produced just last week.
Left: Michael Smither limited edition prints. Right: Naomi Faifai original painting in an oak tray frame.
If you want something fun and cheerful, or you just want to add that little bit of drama to your artwork, coloured mouldings are a great option. They can be really striking when paired with coloured matboards with floated works, or slightly more subtle when used straight up to the edge of photographic prints. It is a really beautiful thing when you can pull a colour out from a work and match it exactly to finish the frame.
Left: Artist and designer Evie Kemp using colour blocking. Right: The Diver by Michael Smither in a slender blue frame.
We love a good wedge
Wedge frames come in a variety of timbers and painted mouldings, with varying angles and depth. They're a great way to give a little mid century feel to an artwork, or if you want a slender faced frame that still provides depth. Wedges traditionally work best with an overmat which helps draw the eye in to the artwork.
Left: Bowl and Spoon by Michael Smither in a deep slender wedge. Right: The Red Freighter in a small matte white wedge.